Thursday, September 27, 2007

My Wonderful Week

We have been so busy this past week. Here is a little bit of what we've been doing.

Last weekend, my mom and sisters came down to help paint Mary Alice's room. It is a work in progress. I learned that our walls soak up paint like a dried-up sponge! (We went through three gallons of paint, and I still have to buy even more! This is only for one coat of paint!!!) If I'd had it to do over again, I would've finished the easy painting, so that my talented mom and sister could focus their time and talents on the artsy stuff. The room took so much time to paint that my mother and sister ended up having to leave without completely finishing the room. They are painting several different things on her walls. It is a French themed room. I can't wait to see the finished product! One funny thing... Mary Alice saw that Mom and Taylor were painting several French locations on their walls and asked if they would please add another location. Her request was that they would paint a Starbucks on her wall, as it is one of her favorite places. Silly girl.

Monday (an absolutely perfect day): I took Mary Alice to her ballet class in the morning. Mary Alice takes ballet with a home school ballet group. It has really been fun to see her learning so much and making so many new friends. I think there are about twenty girls in her class or so? I know absolutely nothing about ballet, but I have always wished that I did. Now is my chance to learn all about it. :)

After ballet, we decided to run some errands, since we were already out and about. The kids were cracking me up at every turn. We had one of those days where there was no fighting, with peace and joy all around. Everything was running like clockwork. I took the kids to Pei Wei (my favorite restaurant right now). It was so fun to eat a late lunch during the school day. Mary Alice and Major told jokes to me and each other the whole time. They only fought one time, and that was over who was going to sit by me at lunch. I don't normally give in to arguments. Usually, I try to give them the opposite of what they want when they are fighting or complaining. This time, though, I just couldn't resist. The three of us squeezed tightly into a booth, sitting three to a seat that was meant for two, the kids sitting on either side of me. They are such blessings.

After Pei Wei, we went to Target. We drove past "Car Toys" on the way there and Mary Alice said, "Look Mom! Car Toys! Oooh...We should go there. I'll bet Major would really like that store. I wonder which car toys they have? Do you think they have Lightning McQueen?" :) I smiled.

I entered Target and loaded Major into the shopping cart. For some reason, Major felt like singing/screeching "All You Need Is Love" over and over and over again. People were smiling and looking at us. They either thought Major was extremely cute or extremely annoying. I couldn't quite tell, but didn't want to stop him from singing because I love that sound more than any other. We passed the produce, along with a sign that said something like: "Try our ripe red savory tomatoes today." (Mary Alice can read fairly well, but still has trouble sounding out unfamiliar words.) When we passed the tomato sign she gasped and said, "That is UG-LY mom! They should not be talking about our Savior that way!" She thought that the sign was being disrespectful about our Savior, calling Him ripe and red. We discussed the word "savory" and how the sign was talking about tomatoes, not Jesus. :)

About two minutes later, we were passing down the cleaning products aisle. A few weeks earlier when we were grocery shopping, she mentioned that she really thought that we should buy the paper towels with the cute bear on them. We compared the price between the cute and cuddly bear paper towels and the store brand paper towels. The paper towels with the cute and cuddly bear looked to be the same quality as the store brand, but with a much higher price. We discussed the "tricks" of the people selling paper towels, how they try to get you to buy their towels by showing you a cuddly bear, how the bear wasn't for sale at all, just a trick that companies use to try to make you buy their towels. Mary Alice thought that was a mean trick, to charge you so much when you weren't even going to be getting a bear!! So anyway, as we were passing down the aisle with cleaning products, Mary Alice picked up a bottle of Mr. Clean and said, "Is this another trick, Mom? I'll bet these people are trying to make us think that a bald man comes with this cleaner. We WON'T be buying this trick!" Meanwhile, Major was singing "All you need is love!!!" repeatedly. A fellow shopper looked up at us an smiled. Mary Alice proceeded to ask me all about Mr. Clean, if he was a real man. She said that she thought that he looked too nice to play mean tricks on people. :)

My day was absolutely perfect on Monday. I was feeling so great that I even decided to buy myself a dozen and a half roses while I was at Target. Fresh flowers made the day seem even better.

I regret to say that our friend the wiener dog showed up again on our back porch, this time with no tag or collar! The dog was half starved. It was pitiful. We fed her a whole can of dog food and four hot dogs, which she gulped down in about ten seconds. One of Josh's employees was kind to find a home for the night for dear old Lucy the wiener dog. Her owner has been contacted AGAIN and hopefully will keep her dog collared and gated.

Tuesday and Wednesday: A little less drama....We stayed home.

Thursday: After Mary Alice had finished much of her schoolwork, the kids and I went to visit my friend Elaine. Elaine has a home schooled daughter who is Mary Alice's age and a daughter who is Major's age. The kids played with friends that morning while I visited with Elaine. We also went to a local park to feed the ducks. All was well until some rather unfriendly looking geese decided to come out of the pond and come towards us, honking all the while. Of course, Elaine didn't seem bothered by the scary looking geese, but calmly told the geese to, "Get back in the water." Elaine also merely laughed when the geese nipped at her legs. Her girls followed her example and laughed and shewed the dreadful looking geese, who were almost as tall as they were!

Of course, I did NOT remain calm. I freaked out. I reacted by snatching the kids' bread away from them and throwing their remaining bread into the pond, then grabbing their hands and running away from the geese and up a nearby set of stairs. My children did not remain calm either. Mary Alice announced to Elaine that this little excursion had not been so fun after all and that she was now ready to go. Funny how our kids follow our examples, both in big and small things. I need to strive to be a better example in the way I handle life's challenges, knowing that my kiddoes are looking to me to know what they should do. I think I'll try this out on some of my other fears, though. I will not be making a return trip to the pond of angry geese!

Friday: The kids went to visit their Grumpy and Nonnie (Josh's parents) for the weekend. I went to Canton with some of the ladies in our class at church. We stayed at my friend Amy's parents' lake house. It was fun to spend some time with these girls at such a beautiful place. We had a great weekend.

Everyone is home again. The kids are sound asleep in their beds. I'm so glad to have all of my family back in one place again. I'm looking forward to more time with my precious kids and wonderful husband. The last few days have been so full of blessings. I am so thankful to have had another week with the three people I love the most! Have a great week!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

This Post Is A Real Wiener

This past weekend, Josh was out of town so the kids and I went to my hometown to "Dachshund Days". There were people from all around who brought their wiener dogs to participate in this event. It was really funny. There were several dogs in costume, including a dog dressed as Elvis and several dogs in hot dog costumes. The kids and I had so much fun.

Oscar Meyer's weinermobile was at the event and was holding tryouts for the next singer of the Oscar Mayer wiener jingle. The kids had fun singing the famous "My bologna has a first name..." and "I wish I was an Oscar Meyer wiener..." They were each given a wienie whistle for their efforts. They were pretty cute, if I do say so myself!

We really wished that we hadn't sent our stray dachshund to animal control so soon. We would have liked to have had her around for the dachshund races. This was really really funny! At the event, they also had several "rescued" dachshunds that were waiting for adoption. Mary Alice mentioned how she really really really wanted to adopt a dog about a dozen times while we were there. Maybe one day...

One of the many silly costumed dogs at Dachsund Days

Mary Alice and The Maje in front of the wienermobile

Two buddies, getting ready...

Mary Alice, singing by herself...

Here are some pictures from today. I went out to the yard to work in the flower beds. Mary Alice pulled some huge blooms off of one of our crape myrtles and mads a little "field of poppies" for herself. Notice she is also wearing her ruby slippers. :)

Major, rounding the corner on his bike. He saw me with the camera and decided to be silly, as usual. He has been quite the jokester lately and constantly comes up with new ways to make us laugh.

More sillies from Major. I promise I didn't prompt this. I said, "Big smile, Major." This is what he did.

The girl laying in her "field of poppies". She has a medal around her neck that says "winner" on it. She wore it all day. I asked her why she was wearing the medal and she said, "It says "wiener" on it. I told her that it actually says "winner". I asked her why she would want to wear a medal that said "wiener" anyway. "Because I really really want a wiener dog," was her response. Good try, Mary Alice. Good try.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Few Recipes

I just wanted to share some of the yummy things that I have been cooking this week...

I rarely follow recipes. Part of me just won't let myself do it. I always think, "This would taste just a little bit better with such and such." or "I wonder how this would be if I added ______ instead." I simply cannot help myself. This drives Josh crazy! He says that if I ever do happen upon just the perfect combination of ingredients, it can never be duplicated as I can never remember exactly what I put in!!!

I decided to try out a few recipes this week and hit a few home runs. I typed them up for my recipe collection and thought I'd share them with my blog readers. The first recipe is made out of leftovers from meal #1.

For meal #1,I slow cooked a pork tenderloin for most of the day. I bought one that had been pre-marinated with a Mesquite BBQ flavoring. For meal #1 we had slow cooked pork tenderloin, turnip greens, potato salad, and Spiderman mac-and-cheese (Major’s pick). :)

For meal #2, I chopped up the leftover half of a pork tenderloin and used it to make this recipe:

BBQ Pork Quesadilla Torta (from my Southern Living Magazine)
Very good and very easy (especially if you just use leftover pork tenderloin from the previous day)

½ lb. (about 2 cups) chopped Barbecued pork
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup barbecue sauce (I used Stubbs)
4 (10 inch) burrito size flour tortillas
1 cup seeded diced plum tomatoes (about 2 large)
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Mexican style cheese blend
Avocado Mash
Toppings: sour cream, cilantro, barbecue sauce
Garnish: Fresh cilantro sprigs

Stir together barbecued pork, black beans, and BBQ sauce in a medium bowl.

Place 1 tortilla in a lightly greased 10 inch springform pan, and spread with 1/3 pork mixture. Sprinkle with one third each of tomatoes, green onions, and cheese. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining tortilla, and gently press. Cover pan with aluminum foil.

Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove sides of pan and cut torta into wedges. Serve with Avocado Mash and desired toppings. Garnish, if desired.

Avocado Mash
2 medium sized avocadoes, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp salt
Mash together all ingredients with a fork just until chunky.

And now... I am going out on a limb and sharing the turnip greens recipe that I made with Meal #1... Turnip greens are my favorite vegetable. These taste like they came from a homestyle type restaurant. If you think that maybe you don't like turnip greens, you must try this recipe before you make your final decision. Josh loved them...and so did my kids!

Turnip Greens
1 cup chopped cooked ham
1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 ½ cup chicken broth
1 (16 ounce) package frozen, chopped turnip greens
½ (16 ounce) package frozen seasoning blend (onions, celery, peppers)
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp pepper

Saute chopped ham in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
Add chicken broth and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer; stirring occasionally,25 minutes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Isn't She Cute???

First of all, let me start by saying that I do not like dogs. I never have. My disinterest in all things furry may have started when, at age three, I was attacked by a poodle. My parents said that I was gently petting the dog, not pulling its tail or hurting it in any way, when it attacked my face, biting me in the lip. It was a minor injury. No big deal, really. I still remember it, though. It was very traumatic.

I managed to get past that incident and grew to the point where I liked dogs again, even begging for a dog. When I was seven, my parents took in a cocker spaniel, which we named T.J. The dog wasn't very intelligent and only knew how to do a few things, which included jumping up on each and every person that entered our back yard and barking non-stop through the night. My sister, Taylor, wouldn't even come outside during T.J.'s brief stay at our house. Each day, when I came home from school, my chore was to use a plastic cup to scoop up that day's doggy poo and put it into a grocery bag. memories of dogs are not fond ones.

Fast forward a few years to college. It was during my pre-Josh time at school.
I met this really great guy and we started talking. I went out with him, once. He seemed pretty nice. One day, we were talking on the phone and he mentioned that he absolutely loved his dog. And then he said it.....He sleeps with his dog, always had and always will...or something along those lines. It was at that point that I knew that we had no future. Silly, huh? (I'm sure that his comment was all part of God working His plan...repelling me away from this guy...straight towards Josh, my perfect match, a few months later.:)

All of that just to get across the point that I'm really not a dog person. This brings me to my story...

A stray wandered into our garage the other day. Just as the door was shutting, I saw a little streak of fur run inside. I quickly opened the door again and saw the cutest little dog come running out. She ran over to the gate where the kids and I were standing, ran several circles around us and around our yard, jumped up into the air a few times as if to say, "Look at me!" Major was laughing and squealing with delight. Mary Alice was freaking out, trying to get inside and as far away from the dog as she could. The dog was so adorable, I just couldn't resist. She looked up and me and wagged her little tail.

I checked her for tags, knowing that someone must've been missing this dog. She had a collar, but no tags. The kids and I carried the dog all around the neighborhood, knocking on doors and asking if anyone knew her. Nobody did, but we did meet a few of our neighbors. :) We took her down to the local vet to see if they knew her. They didn't know her either, but gave us some free food and a leash. I called around and asked my dog-savvy friends for some advice. I mean, I don't even know the first thing about dogs, other than how to clean up their doggy poo with a cup.

After hearing their advice I decided to put her in our garage. I turned on the lights so that she wouldn't be lonely or scared. She cried, so I tied her to our fence with an extra long rope so that she could run around a little bit. (Our yard is missing a gate, so I didn't want her to get away!) Anyway, she cried and cried, so I (and this is very uncharacteristic of me) LET HER IN!!! She ran all around our house and played all day and night. At night, we put her in our bathroom and made a bed for her out of an old comforter and a towel. She snores.

Anyway, in a little over a day, Mary Alice went from being scared of her to considering the dog to be her best friend. This morning, we put the dog on a leash and walked her all around the neighborhood again. She is definitely an indoor dog, which I don't want right now. It is almost like having a toddler running around underfoot, except for the fact that I like toddlers in my house.

I finally called animal control, who promised me that they would not put her to sleep, but would contact me first if her owners fail to claim her. Anyone want a dog???

Monday, September 10, 2007

First Day of School

Today was officially Mary Alice's first day of Kindergarten. Today was also Josh's day off, so we were able to go to breakfast as a family. We celebrated Mary Alice's first day of school over a very delicious breakfast. Our sweet girl is getting so big!

We originally planned to start school last week, but decided to take a vacation instead. :) This was our first vacation in 9 years!! We had an amazing time, but were so glad to get back to see our sweet kids! Josh and I went on a cruise. We went to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozymel. Honestly, the itinerary didn't matter at all, we just wanted to have some time together. The cruise was just what we needed. We decided that we will definitely not be waiting another nine years to go on a vacation and that next time, we will take the kids.

Here are the best shots of us on our vacation. The others involve me in my swimming suit. Not happening... We spent lots of time on the beach while we were there. We also went snuba-ing, (which I highly recommend) and golfing in Cozymel.

Here are a few shots of Mary Alice on her first day along with a picture with Mary Alice and her teacher. :) I was a little disappointed in these pictures. It was a little overcast outside, so the lighting wasn't the best. She is as precious as ever, don't you think?

We're ready for a wonderful year full of learning and fun! I'm so excited...and so is she!