Monday, December 31, 2007

Post Christmas Musings and a Few Pictures to Boot

I realize it's been approximately 5 days and 10 hours since I last posted, but let me tell has taken approximately that long for me to recover from one of the single most horrendous Christmas's I have ever experienced.

I kid you not.

All was not bad, but I can assure y'all that a significant portion of our holiday was nothing short can I say this....Hellish.

Yes. Yes, I believe that describes it quite well. However, I am choosing not to share that aspect of our holiday. Trust me, it's for your own well being. So, I will share the good parts. Because they were...well...really good.

Christmas morning with our children was simply wonderful and I can't say enough good things about that aspect of the holiday. I even surprised Monk by buying him Dallas Stars hockey tickets and a Voddie Baucham, Jr. book that he'd been wanting, amongst many other items of interest. And in return, he bought me an MP3 player, a PINK Texas Longhorns hoodie, 2 more Gooseberry Patch cookbooks, and the handy dandy One Touch Can Opener to replace the Pampered Chef one that has caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth lately.

And some pictures to share:

The Boy doing his dead level best to look like a dork. He succeeded, I think.

Baby Girl playing with a few stocking stuffers. Made in China, of course. Because we care enough to buy the very best.

Mad Girl opening her hard back copy of To Kill A Mockingbird. It also included the movie with Gregory Peck. She is a classic literature lover she is.

Can anyone say Littlest Pet Shop?

Sis with her new American Girl Molly Art Studio and Cookbook. It's a keeper.

Me with incredibly bad Christmas morning hair and my new MP3 player which currently holds some Andrea Boccelli.

Baby Girl loving her new gift from Aunt T.

The Aftermath

And that concludes our brief look at Christmas morning a la Castle Monk. Hopefully, I will share some more aspects later, but right now it's time to do some shoppin' for our rockin' New Year's Eve Party tonight. Church people are so fun to party with! I see some Apples to Apples in my future!!

See y'all next year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

The gifts have been unwrapped and the excitement has settled. The children are tucked in their beds and sleeping almost as soundly as the cat lying next to me on the couch.

It's been a good day.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Fresh Look At Homeschooling

And some of you thought we were weirdos! This family could be our best friends!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

All is Merry and Bright...almost.

As you may or may not have noticed, my posting has been sporadic at best. I promise I have not given up on entertaining the throngs who read here with my uncanny wit, ancient wisdom and superior photography skills my feeble attempts at blogging.

I'm just busy.

You see, I, the highly unorganized one, have volunteered to not only host my Monk's side of the family for Christmas Eve at our home, but I've also offered to host Christmas Day with my side of the family. I am nothing if not a glutton for punishment, y'all.

However, the way I see it, I will clean once to host twice. It's a two-fer. Besides, through my hubby's series at church on hospitality a while back, I have become seriously convicted on the subject. I can no longer use excuses of half painted rooms and holes in the wall the size of a small child as my reasoning for not following a biblical command. And so, here I am.

As I was sitting at my table this morning, I looked upon one of my kitchen counters and was pleasantly surprised that it was, for the most part, clean. I am making progress people. So, for your viewing pleasure, my counter top.

All I have to do is put the dishes away and I'm done. Impressive, eh?

May I point out a few things of interest?

1. The clock. It reads 7:50 am. I'm taking pictures for my blog before 8 am. Does that count as pathetic?

2. The small Pampered Chef batter bowl sitting on my cutting board. This would contain starter for Amish Friendship Bread. I have kept that one for myself and also have 3 gallon size bags with starter in it on the opposite counter. Have I no friends upon which to bless with these bags of starter?, my printer is not working properly for me to print the instructions as how to finish the starter, so for now...I'm stuck like Chuck (just who is Chuck anyway?). Friends? Anyone want some starter minus the instructions?

3.The large Pampered Chef batter bowl with some golden liquid inside. This would be leftover chicken grease my friends. Nectar of the gods. My mother informs me that this will be used to "flavor" our green beans on Christmas Day. Have mercy, life is good.

4.The large container of golden liquid in the floor. This would be a vast amount of peanut oil. This fried the chicken last night, which led to the golden liquid mentioned above. This is liquid gold my friends.

5. The Wal-Mart shopping bag lying next to the gallon of liquid gold. This is potato scraps. Wha?? Yes, I'm blogging about potato scraps. They are going into my much neglected compost pile that I have resurrected over the past few weeks. Why? Because people! My uncle gave me his tiller (to keep - it's ALL MINE!) so I will be able to put in a garden this year! Are strains from Green Acres filling your ears?

And there you have it.

I am still going to post the last of the vacation trip home. I will just need a fairly sizable amount of time to blog it though. And time, my friends, is of the essence right now. There are things that need cleanin' and meals that need to be planned and a baby that is calling my name as I type.

Until next time...

Friday, December 14, 2007

For Your Blogging Pleasure....A recipe and pictures of pie!

While I don't often post about my culinary adventures, I really do love to cook. And interestingly enough, I never really liked baking very much until just recently. I don't know why it took me so long to like it and I have no idea why all of the sudden I started liking it. All I know is that sometime after the birth of Baby Girl, something just clicked.

Call it The 5th Child Baking Hormone if you like, but just know this...I really like to bake now.

I have made so many Banana Chocolate Chip muffins and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins over the last five months I'm sure I have kept the Nestle Company afloat. And currently I am fermenting the batter for some Amish Friendship bread. It's puzzling to me that something so horribly stinky can end up being so delectably good. At any rate, I'm on day 8 of 10 and I am so excited about day 10!

Me? Excited about baking?

Miracles shall never cease.

And now on to the meat of my post.

I am a huge fan of Gooseberry Patch. Especially their cookbooks. They have normal, everyday recipes for normal, everyday people. Yes, I know I said normal, but for some reason I can still use them. Nothing in those cookbooks about Haricovert (pronounced hair-ee-co-vare with a snooty French accent, of course). Which is nothing more than a skinny green bean, y'all.

Anyhoo, I've been finding these cookbooks at Sam's Club and have grabbed a few there. Cracker Barrel sells them also. And just the other day I found some Christmas ones at Costco. I love the fact that they have "special" ones for certain times of the year. Which FINALLY leads me to my point.

I purchased their Autumn In the Country cookbook while on the way home from our trip to Michigan.

FOR HALF PRICE, YALL! This was big to me. Can you tell? Seriously, I read the thing from cover to cover. No joke. It was all that kept me sane while confined to the back seat with an unhappy infant.

See. Me staying sane while reading my cookbook. Bad hair, but good reading. You can't have it all.

Well, something that stuck out to me was a recipe for Homemade Apple Pie Filling. Cannned, Homemade Apple Pie Filling. Yes, I said canned. There were instructions for canning 6 quarts of apple pie filling.

Now, I have a confession to make. With all the cooking that I've done and all the baking that I've done...I've never made a pie. Nope. Not ever. I was pie shy. I had pie-aphobia. I was afraid to make pie. I was sure nothing short of an intervention and a 12 step program was going to cure me of my pie avoidance.

I was wrong. This recipe piqued my interest enough (or at least for the filling) to give it a shot.

However, since I've written the title of this post Monk has informed me that to give you all the recipe on my blog would be a copyright violation of epic proportions. And I wouldn't want the good folks over The Gooseberry Patch comin' after me. Or worse yet. Banning me from their cookbooks.

So. I'm not gonna give you the recipe. I'm sorry.

But don't you fret , for apparently either someone over at had the same recipe OR they have violated some sort of copyright infringement. Because if you want the recipe for Homemade Apple Pie Filling then go here. Ain't I sneaky? It's the same, exact recipe just minus a few intricate details. If you want to ask me questions then ask away and I will tell you. Just don't tell anyone you heard the details here or I might have to cyber-technically sabotage your computer or something else really mean and technical sounding.

Me and my techno-savvy terminology and all. I bet y'all are scared, huh?

Viola! The finished product!

5 jars of canned deliciousness. Why 5 and not 6? Because the bottom of
the sixth jar broke off as I was putting it into the canner. A slimy mess followed. Along with a few choice words.

Look! Apple pie goodness everyone! I did it! I made pie! It should have baked it an eensy bit longer, but overall it turned out well.
And the filling? Serendipity baby!
Now for those Martha Stewart types out there, let me just say that no, the crust was not from scratch. The fine folks at Pillsbury helped me out tremendously.

Baby steps, y'all. Baby steps.

And there you have it! My first adventures in homemade canned apple pie filling AND my first pie! It was a two-fer! What more can blogdom ask for? Uhh...content?

p.s. The final pictures of "The Trip" are coming. There's only so much posting one can do on the same subject before feeling like one might have to scream. Not me, of course. I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Value of Family

My thoughts exactly.

May I say that Voddie Baucham, Jr. has a whole slew of good stuff out there. This CD (click the link to see) has convicted me in ways I didn't know possible. Good stuff, people. Good stuff.

Monday, December 10, 2007

And FINALLY! The rest of my trip pictures...almost.

So, did y'all think something horribly tragic must have happened with my lengthy absence and all?

I didn't think so.

Honestly, it's Christmas time and life just seems to get a hundred times more difficult for a few days in December. We have something on our calender EVERY night this week! Ugh. But next week? Next week we got nuthin'! Woo-hoo!

Anyway, a few updates before the boring vacation pictures take over...again.


No really. He's a good driver and I'm happy for him. Well, mostly happy for me because now I can say to him, "Boy (and I do call him boy), go to the store and get some milk for your momma". Or how 'bout "Boy, go to the store and get Momma some medicine (medicine = chocolate around here). Anyway, it is nice to have another licensed driver in the house. Even if his insurance is an ever-lovin' fortune!

Alrighty then, on to the show.

Baby Girl learned to roll right before we left for Michigan. And that's pretty much what she did at Aunt T.'s house. She rolled
. Here, she's lamenting over the fact that her hair just will NOT lay down.

And this would pretty much be what Monk and my brother-in-law did most of the time. Sat in dual recliners with dual laptops. Should they be listening to "Dueling Banjos"? Okay, it's late and that was just stupid.
Somebody stop those wild and c
razy guys!

And this lovely shot would hav
e been taken on Thanksgiving morning when we awoke to freshly fallen snow. It looks as if we dragged our children from their warm beds and threw them out into the cold for some lame photo opportunity, huh? Well...we did. Just kidding! They are just Texas children and the thought of zipping their coats when it was only a mere 17 degrees outside just didn't occur to them.

And had we been playing charades, this would have been Baby Girl's imitation of baby Jesus lying in a manger.

Have you ever seen such
thunderous thighs in your life? And how about her cankles? (calves + ankles = cankles. It means there is not definition...they are one...can't tell them apart).

Only the single funnest game I
have ever played! We laughed until our sides hurt! This is a must have for your next party! Or family get together! Or family game night!

It is on sale at Target this week for only $17.99! It is normally $24.99! Quick, go there and get one!

Oh yeah. Monk also slept in the recliner. A lot.
But he was snuggling with his baby girl so it was totally allowed!
And just so you child does not have some weird hiney deformity. She wears cloth diapers and would appear that she has some major "junk in the trunk"!

And you couldn't find two sisters who loved each other more. They are truly a blessing!

And that would conclude day THREE of our trip pictures. But I did save the best for last. Yep. The trip home was certainly the best. Why, you ask? Because I was totally delirious and took some of the most insane pictures ever. I took more pictures of the trip home than I did the entire time we were actually in Michigan.

So, microwave the popcorn, pour an ice cold Coca-Cola and gather the children 'round, cause day FOUR is gonna be a hootin', hollerin' good time!

Or not.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday - Quick Fixes

So Shannon over at Rocks In My Dryer has changed up Works For Me Wednesday a bit this week. This week would be the Quick Fix Edition.

In other words, what do we fix for dinner when time is scarce and/or the cupboards are scarcer (is that really a word? I don't think so, but let's pretend just this once, okay?).

My first inclination was to say, um...order takeout. But in the spirit of things this is not always the best option. Especially for a family of 7. Okay, technically 6 because the Baby Girl really only eats, well, But we are a bigger family and it is not very frugal to eat out very often at our size. Especially when one has a 16yo boy that can eat his weight in tacos.

Interestingly enough, I had to use one of my "go-to" meals tonight. I'm really rather ashamed that I didn't photograph the whole thing, but I forgot that this week was a special week and before I knew it I actually let my my family eat before photographing their dinner. I'll be sure not to let that happen again. Eating before photographing? What was I thinking?

So, without further adieu, here is one of my best "go-to" meals when pinched for time or a budget.

Bean and Cheese Quesadillas:

-Flour tortillas
-1 can of refried beans
-grated cheese
-butter or margarine (depending on whether you like things a la natural or if you prefer eating something that is like one molecule away from being considered plastic. I'm just sayin' is all)

Now I have one of them fancy Quesadilla Makers that I never would have purchased full price, but my mother-in-love bought it for me second hand at the Goodwill for like 3 bucks. Sorry, can't beat free, y'all. I use my Quesadilla Maker for mine, but when I was PQM (Pre-Quesadilla-Maker) I just used a pan on the stove.

Lightly butter 1 flour tortilla and set aside(use your own discretion here - as we all well know that I love the buttah!). Spread refried beans over the other tortilla. Place a small amount of butter in a preheated pan. After it has melted place the bean laden tortilla in the pan (bean side up, of course). Sprinkle with a little or a lot of cheese (it is, afterall, your arteries). Then place the buttered tortilla on top with THE BUTTERED SIDE UP (I'm not yelling, just emphasizing). After the first side is lightly browned then flip the tortilla with a spatula and cook the other side until golden.

The large flour tortillas can be used for this as well, but you would do it a little differently. You would use only ONE tortilla. Spread beans over half of tortilla, then sprinkle with cheese. Place whole tortilla in lightly buttered pan and fold over the beanless side -- like a taco. When first side is golden simply flip and cook until the other side is golden as well.

Two of my children are of the anti-bean camp and so they simply receive a cheese quesadillas. This suits me just fine as it leaves more beans for me. The question we have to ask ourselves is, "is that really a good thing?".

At any rate, that's what I got for my quick, cheap, "go-to" meal. It works for me! Go visit Shannon for a heapin' helpin' of other Quick Fixes! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Me and My Evil Plan to Rip Off Wal-Mart

Okay, not really. But it was how they made me feel.

Monk and I went grocery shopping on Saturday, December 1st (this is important, really.) at our great, low price leader. I usually try and NOT go on Saturday, but due to our trip North and 157 other things going on last week, alas, it was the only day to go.

(I had planned on shopping Friday, November 30th, still important, but things went amok and that is why Saturday it was.)

So, on the way to the store I was sorting out all of my coupons that I had gathered together a few days prior to our shopping extravaganza. One of the reasons I don't like shopping on Saturday is because of using coupons. I know they hold up the line, so I really do try to be at least a little organized and courteous of the other shoppers. Another reason I didn't want to go this particular Saturday was because it was going to be a humdinger of a shopping trip simply because we had n-o-t-h-i-n-g to eat after being gone for so long.

Anyway, I am nothing if not completely meticulous (read: neurotic) in the checkout line concerning how I load my groceries on the belt (all cold items together, all canned goods together, etc... Why oh why can I not be this neurotic meticulous concerning my house?). This too, helps speed things along and is convenient for the checker.

After the lady rang my groceries I handed her my neat pile of coupons. I had two particular transactions that called for a buy a particular item and get a particular item free. I saved these for last so she wouldn't have to go digging through the receipt. I am the picture of courtesy while grocery shopping, am I not? So, she struggled through the first buy one get one and then right as she finished the second one, all of the sudden she exclaims, "This one's expired!".

Oh? It had expired the day before. November 30th. The day I was supposed to go grocery shopping. I had neglected to take it out of the pile because I just plain forgot.

She thrust the coupon back at me. I apologized and looked at Monk and said, "I was supposed to have come yesterday and I forgot to take this one out." He nodded. She frantically began pushing buttons to take off the now not-so-free box of Kandoo wipes. Even though they weren't free, out of courtesy, I still kept them.

Next thing I know she thrusts another one at me. "This one is expired too!" November 30th again. Again, I apologize. She then finds one more. Blast you Cascade Dishwasher Soap and Swiss Miss Pudding!

By this time I'm shifting on my feet because this woman is making me feel like I am a con artist of epic proportions. I had casually tried to explain about meaning to shop the day before, but uh-uh. Nope. She was gonna have NONE of that.

My eyes darted back and forth because I just knew the Wal-Mart Coupon Police would be there to arrest me at any time. I was sweating profusely as she continued through the pile, hoping and praying that I hadn't left any other offending coupons in there.

Thankfully, I was clean.

Okay y'all, let me just mention the total amount for which I was made to feel like a thief over.....


That's it. I was going to break Wal-Mart with $3.45.

I'll try not to mention the fact that I spent, including groceries and Christmas shopping, over $300.

Needless to say, Wal-Mart is on my not-so-nice list right now. Oh alright, I'd rather gouge my eye out with a hot fire poker than go there on a Saturday again!

Because as we all know....I might just have to take them for $3.50 the next time. Me and my evil ways, y'all. Me and my evil ways.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

And The Suspense Continues

So, now that you've witnessed our fairly boring, but beautiful trip Northward, I can now share what few pictures I took while actually in Michigan.

I have no idea what came over me, but I hardly took any pictures. I am such a complete and utter moron for this. Remember the cute basement room I told you about? The one my sister decorated and stocked?

I forgot to take a picture! Can you believe that?

Sis (my daughter, not my sister) had put up a sign and everything that read:


(Apparently we are having vowel issues in our homeschooling endeavors.)

And the room was even password protected. First, only girls could enter. Then, in order for us to enter we had to say: Pretty girl, pretty girl, pretty girl, pretty girl.

My child is nothing if not completely original (and possibly a little conceited).

Anyway, as far as pictures go,this is the best I can give you. Here it goes:

This picture may seem inconsequential to some, but this, my friends, is the fuel of the gods. This 24 ouncer is what enabled Monk to make the final leg of the journey from Ohio to Michigan. I felt it needed its place of honor.

This would be the MOST awesome Spinach and Artichoke Dip I have ever tasted! When eaten in conjunction with those new Triscuit Thin Crisps...divinity, baby. It too, deserves a place of honor in our journey because I totally pigged out on this stuff. This would probably be the beginning of my 6 lb. weight gain on our trip.

The Baby Girl bundled to the hilt. She hated the newly purchased hat almost as much as riding in the car seat.

Believe it or not, I am the proud wife of this man. Yes, he's acting like he is burning his hand in a fake fireplace. Quick. Someone run to his rescue. This was one of the weirder aspects of our trip as this was a local McDonald's that seemed to cater to the adult crowd. It had NO PLAYLAND WHATSOEVER! Didn't improve the food though.

Could the children get any weirder?
Please, don't answer.

Here is my girl. My strawberry-haired beauty with big blue eyes. She's helpful and obedient and loves her momma in spite of her downfalls.

(Do I look like I have curly fries on my forehead?)

I've commented before about how much Monk loves his girls. I don't think I've ever seen another man love his children so passionately.

But this one? She is all his. They are two peas
in a pod.

Why in the world I took more pictures at McDonald's than anywhere else is beyond me. I guess it was just an all-around good time and I was in a picture taking mood. Because apparently I wasn't in much of a picture taking mood the rest of the trip!

This little place is called Alpine Valley. This is where some of the Michigan folk ski. I, personally, have skied here and witnessed my best friend Julie rip a chunk of skin from the back of her thigh here. TMI? Sorry. Monk got a good chuckle out of this one as he has skied in New Mexico. But hey, it works, don't it?

Have y'all ever been here? This place is like Walley World and Tar-Jay on steroids! I LOVE this store and I've missed it dearly. This was the first place I had to go. Meijer is my idea of a good time! Monk, on the other hand, was not impressed and all my girls could do was beg, "can we please go back to Aunt T's basement?". Phooey.

Okay. I think that's enough for today. I mean, afterall, we need to pace ourselves here. I wouldn't want anyone to faint from over stimulation or anything. There are only so many pictures of children at McDonalds and random hills and stores that an individual can handle.

So, please bear with me once again as I say....

To Be Continued...

(That is if this blog doesn't spontaneously combust into flames for sheer lack of content. Sigh.)

More than you ever wanted to know about our trip to Michigan...and then some.

Okay, yes. I'm going to be like everyone's Uncle Bob and show you ALL of our vacation pictures whether you want to see them or not.

You can leave now OR you can hang around and be entertained for a mere 2.4 seconds more and walk away mumbling to yourselves, "now, why'd I keep reading?".

I can sense the enthusiasm through my computer screen already.

Bear with me people. Bear with me. It's not that painful, I promise.

As I mentioned in my oh-so-live blog posting while en route (you can find them here, hereand here and here), we didn't leave our home until 1pm. Mostly thanks to me.

Okay. It was ALL my fault.

Anyway, this was how we looked while all snug in the rental van.

The girls, watching the first of many DVD's. This was while they
were still happy to be traveling 1200 miles.

Me looking back when I was still happy to be traveling 1200 miles.

See, I told y'all there was such a place as Bucksnort,TN!

I wouldn't, however, recommend stopping there. It isn't the kind
of place you'd wanna go to the bathroom in, if you know what
I mean.

Our beautiful Sis in the midst of
the Fall foliage that seemed so strange and foreign to her. She was made for those Autumn colors, huh?

Liver Pie looking Fiendishly Fallish. Even with a big, green bruise adorning her forehead.

A man and his drunken baby. Relax, I'm just kidding. It was only Benadryl. Relax, kidding again. Sheesh, y'all need a sense of humor already.

Me trying (but mostly failing) to be artsy. Those leaves stayed in our van all the way to Michigan though. Apparently we felt as if Michigan wouldn't have enough leaves of it's own.

Lions and tigers and..DINOSAURS?
Oh, my.

And finally, revelling in the beautiful foliage of the hills of Kentucky.

I pretty much lost my sense of humor after this point and had no desire to take pictures of breathtaking scenery, much less my stain laden children. Basically, we made it to Michigan about 8 hours after this picture. It was late. It was dark. That's it.

To be continued.....

Monday, November 26, 2007

Coming To You Live From Memphis

Well y'all, all I can say is...I NEED TO GET HOME!!

Not that I wanted to leave my dear, sweet sister's house. I didn't. And even though I no longer am able to endure the sub-fridgid temperatures called Michigan, I would move there in a hearbeat just to be near her.

I need to be home because I am losing my ever loving mind in this van! And if I hear one more chorus of This Old Man coming from the back seat by two unassuming little girls I swear I will have to jump out the window onto I-40 and This Old Man won't be the only one who came rolling home! Just willing to take my chances is all I'm sayin'.

The baby is as close to a nervous breakdown as I am because she has more than had it with riding on her back in that carseat. And you know what? I can't blame her. If I had to ride on my back for umpteen thousand hours, I would be slightly grouchy too.

By the way, I am in fact, NOT fasting on the ride home like I mentioned earlier. Fact of the matter is, I just love food too much to do something silly like that. So, Milky Way bars (the little ones, y'all) and Double Stuf Oreos are the foods of choice to become ill on this time around.

Signing out for now and hopefully not doing this again until I'm home, on my couch, with a large glass of ice cold Coke, watching the baby roll all over the floor in front of me and not screaming in her carseat!

Bye, y'all!

Friday, November 23, 2007

It Aint' Over Til The Fat Lady Sings...or Throws Up

Oh. My Word.

I really wish I could just throw up.

I am so full I have made myself sick. Literally. I have sinned the sin of gluttony and I have asked the good Lord to forgive me a million times over.


Just so you know, two days of non-stop eating will do that to a person.

I told Monk I thought I might just fast on the drive home. For a girl that loves food as much as I do, that is some serious repentance.

And in case anyone is wondering...pumpkin pie and peanut M&M's might just be what pushed me over the edge.

Monk on the other hand is embracing his gluttonous ways and I'm quite certain he feels he the need to break some sort of food consumption record.

So. How's everyone else faring in their post-Thanksgiving eatin's?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Season of Thanks

Once again, it is that time to reflect on those things for which we are most thankful. I feel as Christians we should be thankful daily, if not hourly, yet this seems to be the time we tend to express our thoughts on our thankfulness. So, I will do just that.

This past year in particular, I have looked back over the last 20 years since I graduated from high school. I am amazed when seeing God's Providence at work in my life.

I moved from Michigan when I was 18 to a Texas where I knew four people. Four. That's it. I went to a small college where I new one person. Soon enough I was surrounded by friends. Two in particular I am still very close to. I've lived in Texas for 20 years now and have been blessed with many, many friends.

I am thankful for those friends.

The fact that I have 5 children after 20 years completely blows my mind. The blessing in that nearly brings me to tears. I cannot think of any other "profession" I would rather have than being a momma. The Bible tells us children are a blessing and I am so thankful God chose to bless me.

I am thankful for my children.

I married my college sweetheart while in college and had my son when I was 22. My daughter at 24. When I was 27 my college sweetheart left me and I found myself divorced and alone with two small children. How can I be thankful for that, you ask?

Because once again, in God's Providence, He brought Monk into my life not long after my divorce. We met through mutual friends. He wasn't interested in getting serious with me and I certainly wasn't interested in getting serious with him. My, how things changed.

I not only married the man, but I have had three more children with him. I call him my confidant. My best friend. My beloved.

I am thankful for my husband.

My sister T and I have not always been as close as we are now. It's not like we didn't like each other or anything like that, we just weren't super close. Over the last several years our relationship has blossomed. Our walk with God has also been similar and she understands me better than the rest of our family. I certainly love the rest of my family, but my relationship with T is extra special.

I am thankful for my sister.

Mostly, I am in awe of God's grace in my life. I am still so amazed that he saved me. Me? I am nothing but a filthy rag, yet in His good Providence He chose to save me. He has guided my life according to His perfect will and I stand in awe of His goodness to me.

I look at all of the things that I've listed above and I realize in all humility that I would have none of this if it weren't for Christ's love for me. I deserve none of this. I've done nothing to earn any of this. I simply believed.

I am certainly and most especially thankful for God's grace.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Sister is SO My Girl's Favorite Aunt!

My sister is a lot like me just shorter and more organized. She also talks with a Yankee accent and doesn't say "y'all", but you know what? Nobody's perfect.

She is basically a nut like myself. And while she isn't from Texas (of course, neither am I technically. However, I have lived here for 20 years which is longer than I lived in Michigan so I consider myself more Southern. But that's for another post now isn't it?), she has a heart the size of Texas. She is funny, talkative and laughs like there's no tomorrow.

And my girls just love her.

It doesn't matter that she spoils the livin' daylights out of them either. Like buying them ducks that sing If You're Happy and You Know It or animal puppets that MOO Old MacDonald and croak various songs. And we all know how much I love those kinds of toys.

My children love her for her and that's it. Period.

However, this week she has outdone herself. She has thrust herself miles ahead of the other Aunts. She has become the Creme de La Creme. The Big Dog. La Tia Suprema.

She is ...The Favorite Aunt.

How? Why? When, you ask?

Because she practically redecorated her basement for my girls! I know y'all are saying, "No Way". And I'm sayin'...


The woman decked out her basement with all manner of girly squalor so Liv and Sis would have somewhere to play and "call their own" while we were visiting. I'm talking giant pink pillows, ribbons and lip gloss, hair accessories and snow globes.

Yes people, snow globes.

There is a "Craft Corner" with everything from glitter glue to Fun Foam. There is a TV with DVD player. A CD player. Stockings filled with goodies (lip gloss, hair thingies and chocolate - she's a good woman). She even painted some flowers on the walls!What girl wouldn't want that???

Let me tell you, my children's eyes lit up like the 4th of July when they saw their cozy little room! They have squealed and played and about 100 times told me that they could practically live down there.

But the best thing of all. The pièce de résistance?


I kid you not, y'all. She put a mini fridge down there stocked with water, Lunchables and Capri Suns!

All my poor Brother-in-Law could do was whimper that he'd "lost his man cave".

Brother? With flowers painted on the walls? I'm not sure you'll ever get your man cave back.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sister Shoebox Swap - Cozy Goodies!

I signed up for a Shoebox Swap through one of my favorite blogs ever, The Homespun Heart. Monica is so crafty and creative she must be related to Martha! Anyway, she and her sister Carrie hosted this Cozy Swap and what fun it was!

We had to write about what Cozy meant to us and answer a few simple questions about our holiday likes, traditions, etc... Monica and Carrie then assigned us to a partner and we were given her (our partners) answers to the Cozy questions. Clear as mud?

That is when the fun began! We got to shop for Cozy things or make Cozy things for our partner, wrap them up in a shoebox and mail them off to her. Cute, huh?My partner was Leanne and she was so much fun to shop for!

Here is her box that I mailed to her:
Her box contained:

- Candle holders and candles
- Homemade Chocolate Dipped Ritz with Peanut Butter (Dee-lish!)
- Scrapbooking stickers (Fall and Christmas)
- Snowman cellophane bags for candies, cookies, fudge, etc..
- Martha Stewart Holiday DVD
- Cozy socks (I got that one from her blog! I'm so sneaky!)
- Christmas mug with copious amounts of hot chocolate.
- Snowman dishtowel
- Mitten cookie cutter
- Fall mini muffin paper cups
- Thankful Heart
- Tin Heart Ornament

When I got my box from her this is what I found:

It was wrapped up so cute! Individual things had been wrapped and labeled with such things as: Cozy for you hands and Cozy for your bath. My picture didn't turn out, but it was too cute!
Here are all of my Cozy things! This girl got me SPOT ON!

- The cutest quilted snowman bag (How did she know I love quilted bags? Was she lookin' at my blog too? Hmm..)
-Snowman napkins
-A snowman oven mitt
- A really sweet little wooden snowman plaque that reads: Rejoice (which I totally love!)
(If you have picked up on the snowman theme here then you are very observant. I LOVE snowmen and that is something I collect. Ironic, isn't it? To love snowmen and live in Texas. It's tortuous really.)
- Bath and Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar lotion ( Oh mercy! It smells SO good!)
- Bath and Body Works Simply Divine Cherry Pie body wash (Let me tell you - it smells Deeee-Vine! You just want to eat it, although I wouldn't recommend it.)
- And lastly, a bag of Hershey's chocolate! Does this girl know me or what? Chocolate!

I must dedicate a picture solely to the quilted snowman bag though. Words cannot express just how cute this thing is!It could be used as a purse OR a diaper bag. Sigh. What can I say? I just love it.

Thank-you Monica and Carrie for so much fun!

Thank-you Leanne for all the wonderful Cozy things you sent to me! It was so much fun getting to know you!

p.s. Oh, and Monica and Carrie? Feel free to make the theme of the next swap: What "chocolate" means to me. I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

We're Heeeeeerrrrrrre!

Made it in this morning at 1:30 am. And because we weren't tired enough we all stayed up talking until 3:00AM. We are bright people, we are.

We got up bright and early to get ready for church and had a wonderful time of worship at my sister's church (very friendly people, indeed). I didn't get copious amounts of sleep, I didn't get a big cup of coffee (although I did get in a few sips of Michigan Cherry Coffee- oh mercy!) and I certainly didn't get a danish the size of Detroit. But you know what?

It's all good.

Me and my sister can't shut-up talking to each other (imagine two grown women who love to talk with ADD tendencies trying to have a coherent conversation. Can we say, look, there's a squirrel.), Monk and my BIL are totally enjoying one another's geeked-out personalities and their love of football, Baby Girl is just so thankful to be out of the carseat that she's as happy as a bug and the little girls are having a pinked out, prissy party in the basement (more on that one later).

Life doesn't get much better than this.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

9:42 EST Somewhere in Central Ohio - Or the Middle of Nowhere

Oh thank you dear Lord that we are almost there. And I mean that truly from the bottom of my heart.

Since Nashville things have been a shall I say this?


Hope is waaaay beyond sick of her carseat and the new DVD player is not keeping the others to a point of tolerability. My back is killing me and Monk is just sick of driving.

But other than that things are great.

We will not be arriving until around 1 am which is only about, um, 3 HOURS OFF from our original time of arrival. I just keep going back to me and my 2 hour delay yesterday. Sigh.

My mind is so fried that I am unable to blog anymore at the moment. So, until I have more sleep, copious amounts of coffee and a danish the size of Detroit, then I'm callin' it quits.

12:41 PM Nashville, TN

Okay yes, I know it's taking us forever and a century to get anywhere, but you know....

We are learning not to have any predisposed expectations anymore. Because frankly, when traveling with children, especially a nursing infant, you're pretty much going nowhere fast.

We had a comfortable stay at the Comfort Inn last night because there was no room at the Inn. The Quality Inn, that is. Nice, big, comfy beds and my favorite amenity of all....CLEAN!

Sis woke up this morning and went to look out the window to see what Memphis, TN looked like.

Sis: Daddy?

Monk: Yes, Sis.

Sis: What's the red stuff all over the trees?

Y'all, my Texas born and bred child does not know what Fall foliage looks like!! She's read about it and seen it in books and movies, but when she got a real live glimpse of Fall, she just had no clue. This should tell y'all just how often we leave the state of Texas. Sad, really.

We had a lovely breakfast of Belgium waffles, sausage biscuits and Froot Loops, courtesy of our humble digs. It was delicious and better yet...FREE.

About 2 1/2 hours into our Northeastern journey we stopped at a rest area. Can I just say,'s getting colder. The girls played in the leaves and we took some cute pictures because we all know that Texas has no leaves.

Alright, technically it has leaves, it just has no seasons. It's all green and then one morning, after the temperatures have played 30 degree shift ping pong, we wake up and BAM! there are no leaves on the trees and it's winter.

We are currently trying to find sustenance in the form of Krystal's. If you have never had a Krystal's you are MISSING OUT! One can liken a Krystal's to the fine fare of White Castle. Or more affectionately know to some as, Gut Grenades.

What can I say? We're a classy bunch. And hungry too!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Still Surviving...Barely

9:35 p.m. Little Rock AK

Just left the Cracker Barrel. Bellys are full and eyes are sleepy. Except Baby Girl who is screaming her head off in the back because she has had it with that carseat.

She longs for the comfort of that queen size bed at The Best Western just like her Momma.

LiverPie is crying, "when are we stopping at the hotel?". Momma is crying the same thing.

I'm feeling a little responsible for everyone's tired discomfort seeing that we got going two hours late today because of my little problem with organization (or the lack thereof). I am, however, punishing myself by remembering that we could be TWO HOURS further if it weren't for me.

Monk downed three cups of coffee at The Cracker Barrel and he is buzzing out of his head, so I'm sure he'll be just fine. Plus I purchased his favorite candy. Black Licorice Drops. Have mercy, those things are disgusting. But if my man wants to eat candy that is black and smells like about 4 different kinds of nasty, then I will stand by my man and support his habit.

As long as he doesn't try to kiss me. That, my friends, would be a serious misdemeanor.

Speaking of Cracker Barrel. It was really weird to see all the Arkansas Razorback merchandise instead of Texas Longhorn stuff. I mean really, who would want to be called a HOG? I will say that as soon as we crossed over into Arkansas it certainly smelled like a pig pen. No joke, really. It just stinked stunk stank.

And a word of advice for those traveling. Anytime you walk into a gas station restroom and there is a plunger next to the toilet, it is never a good sign. I'm just sayin'.

Well, the baby is now sleeping peacefully, Liv and Sis are watching a video and me? I'm about to bust out my Razzles.

Because first it's a candy...then it's a gum.

4:09 PM in Texarkana Texas

How weird to be live blogging from the road. It's a dial-up connection, but's a connection, right?

Well, I haven't had the desire to kill anyone yet, but I have come under serious conviction. We brought along some CD's we bought from Vision Forum many moons ago that I haven't had the opportunity to listen to until now and let's just say...OUCH!

We didn't even make it out of the Metroplex (which by the way, we left TWO hours BEHIND schedule.) before I was succumbing to serious conviction. The CD we were listening to was The Centrality of the Home in Evangelism and Discipleship by Voddie Baucham, Jr.

Whoo-Wee, y'all. Good stuff.

We are currently exiting to invade a Best Buy so that we may purchase a handy dandy DVD player. Unfortunately, the traffic is HORRIFIC at this exit, so it is taking forever and a lifetime to make the turn. Ahhh...the joys of rush hour traffic on a holiday weekend.

In other news, the van we rented is a Chevy Uplander. Niiiiiiccccceee. The most incredible part about it is that WE DON'T HAVE TO TALK LIKE THIS WHILE WE ARE RIDING DOWN THE FREEWAY. That and the fact that the engine light isn't on is very...well...sublime.

Until this evening y'all...Life is a highway and I'm gonna ride it all night long.

Hittin' The Road

Today we will be loading up the rental van with the 7 and under crowd and hitting the road! Yeah us! It's the first vacation Monk and I have taken in almost 3 years.

I would love to say it's some highly exotic getaway location where we will run down the beach, splashing in the waves, tumbling to the sand in one another's loving embrace.

However, it's just Michigan. The best we can hope for is wet and 40-ish.

Besides if we were doing the whole exotic thing I can guarantee we neither one would make it very far running down the beach before we were both bent over wheezing, grabbing the stitch in our sides. Monk can't swim and I can't stand to have sand all over me. So, it's probably for the best that we're going somewhere that we're not expected to do more than wear our sweatshirts and lie around all day drinking hot chocolate and lattes. That's just how we roll.

Anyway, we will have a laptop and Monk tells me he has a special card for it so I'll possibly be able to live blog our roadtrip. Woo-Hoo! Aren't y'all excited?

Hopefully, nothing too exciting will happen. By exciting I mean vomitous episodes and others of the urinary nature.

So stay tuned my faithful few. There's more to come!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Book Junkies

Many of you know mine and The Monk's love of books is far reaching. For fun we go to bookstores.

I know. We are a trendsetting couple for sure.

The other day I determined we were a pathetic pair. Depending on how you look at it, we have have either stooped to a new low or ascended to a new high. Let me explain.

Several times a year we try and order a few or twenty new books. Most of them come from Vision Forum. We usually get a coupon from them around this time of year and that is when it's most convenient to take advantage.

Two days ago we decided we wanted these. And then I wanted this. We knew if we ordered them and had them sent to our house that they would arrive while we would be out of town.

New books. Here. All alone. With no one to read them.

We couldn't have that. So, guess what we did?

We had them express shipped to my sister's house in Michigan so they will be there when we arrive.

Yep. We're a sick bunch around here. Once a book junkie always a book junkie. What can I say? We like to read feed our addiction.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Somehow...I Already Knew This

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So this little test determines the readability level of one's blog. As you can see, mine is High School level.

Now really. Does this surprise anyone?

I didn't think so.

Lucky for me it didn't do maturity level. Because we all know how mature I am.

Let me just say this...I am so not going to do anymore of those lame blog tests.

So there.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - Gourd-geous

Does anyone else think she looks as if she is levitating above the pumpkins? Kind of creepy, huh?