Monthly Archives: September 2011

Friday Fragments: Disney Stepmoms, Betsy Ross, and Friends

I haven’t had a chance to blog much this week so I’m condensing the posts I would have written into little snippets for you to read today.



Kelly has been out of town a lot the last couple of weeks so I’ve been the sole disciplinarian. We’ve had a pretty good week, but for some reason we had some “issues” last night that led to me posting these status updates on Facebook and Twitter:

Reduced one child to tears because I wouldn’t let them ride bikes because they hadn’t done what I asked them to do.

Another child is crying because I won’t let her go to a drop-off, 5-hour party for a school friend whose family I’ve never met or talked to (she’s 7!).

So even though I know I’m making wise parenting choices, I feel like a Disney stepmother.

Can I get a witness? Like my friend Gretchen always says, “Parenting is NOT for sissies!” But Daddy gets home in a few hours so this “Bad Cop” will have backup. I’m so thankful for a husband who takes his parenting job just as seriously as he takes the one they pay him to do. I’m also thankful for mom friends who text, Tweet, post on my Facebook wall, and call me to express encouragement and mom solidarity support. I can’t imagine any people I’d rather be doing life with than you all.


Who knew she made pizza, too?!

I had about eighteen Cub Scout badges that needed to be sewn onto uniforms. (Did I mention that Kelly and I are co-leading a Webelos group this year? I definitely didn’t see that one coming. By-the-bye, we’re selling popcorn. You can order online and have it shipped to your house! Let me know if you’re interested. My boys would rise and call you blessed.) Around here it costs $3 per patch to have it done by someone who actually knows how to sew. Eventually, I plan to buy my own sewing machine and have someone teach my daughter and I how to use it. She is fascinated with people who know how to sew, I guess since her mother has been asked not to even sew on buttons anymore after her last attempt resulted in a thread snarl so large that the button could no longer fit through the buttonhole. Her mother also has the rare ability to iron wrinkles into clothes, so she tends to avoid all things fabric-related. But my across-the-street friend assured me that she could at least teach me how to hand sew the patches. I walked over for a quick tutorial and then after the kids were in bed, I sat on the couch and sewed while I watched some of the new fall shows I’d recorded on the DVR…..until 2 a.m.  Speedy I am not. I have a new respect for Betsy Ross.  But I actually enjoyed the process! In fact, I want to learn some sort of mindless needle craft that I can do this fall. I used to love to latch hook, but I’ve never found a use for my finished products. Let’s face it: craft manufacturers are not churning out super cute latch hook patterns and  I’m long past the unicorn and rainbow stage of life. Anyone have any good ideas of an EASY handcraft to try?


from (which sounds like a weird place to purchase soup)

We’re supposed to get some fall-like temperatures this weekend and I’m excited. The change in the air makes me want to pull out all my fall decorations and make some soup. I was thinking one of the vegetable variety. Do any of you have the best vegetable soup recipe ever that you’d be willing to share? I’d reciprocate with a really good chili recipe that I tried last week.  I’m also jonesing to pull out some of my pumpkin recipes. ‘Tis the season! Although I’ve heard rumors that the pumpkin crop was bad again this year. I hope we don’t have a repeat of the Great Pumpkin Crisis of 2009 and part of 2010! Those were dark and scary times that I’d soon as not repeat.

4.  HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW. I cut off all my hair this week. Well, that sounds scarier than it actually was. I didn’t cut my hair, I paid a trained professional to do it. I’d been trying to grow it out, but I had so much happening on the top of my head that the stylist and I agreed that the easiest thing to do might be to cut it all off and start from an even base. It looked like I had four or five different cuts going on simultaneously. I had one thing happening with the bangs with some weird mullet-looking thing in the back with some other funky wonkiness on the sides. So now it’s chin length and we’ll just see what happens from there.

I’m telling you about my haircut because I noticed something funny. I have never made a major hair decision when I was in a place of emotional calm or when it was just an everyday day. The day my family dog died, I died my hair red. When I was pregnant with my first child and preparing to move further from my family than I’d ever lived, I cut off all my hair. I did that again when we moved to Boston. Sad about a college breakup? I had my hair permed and layered, which by the way should never be attempted even during a time of emotional stability. This week? Well, it’s been a good week, but it’s had more than it’s fair share of unexpected news, changes in plans and lots of mental stuff, good and bad, that I have to eventually sort and process. So I cut off all my hair. I figure it costs about the same as a counseling appointment and at least I look different on the outside when I leave. Does anyone else do this or am I alone in my crazy ways?


It’s Albany’s birthday. I could send you to her  work page  to see a picture of her looking resplendent in her gorgeousness. Or I could direct you to this post I wrote about one of our family secrets. But instead I think I’ll show you one of the pictures that I’ve saved to keep us both humble:

We had decided to make “green” velvet cake. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was Saint Patrick’s Day. It doesn’t matter. It was as disgusting as it looks.

I love and miss you, Albany, and I hope you get to do something today especially for you. Wish I were there to be part of the party!




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Behind-Your-Back BFF’s Birthday

My daughter’s BFF is having a birthday today. We wish we were there to celebrate with her, but since we aren’t, we decided to post a video message instead. You may not even know sweet Ruby Jane, but if you have or have ever had a BFF of your own, I think you’ll like this video.


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I’m Not as Sweet as I Used to Be

My Coca-Cola sugar shaker aka Public Enemies #1 and #2

I gave up sugar over the weekend.

I had been thinking about doing it for awhile now. Several of my friends, including Sus, have done it for one reason or another. For me, my sugar cravings were out of control and I found myself needing more and more sweet to feel satisfied. I had also started to wonder if maybe some little nagging health concerns I’ve had lately were related to my excessive sugar consumption. I’ve always had a sweet tooth. At restaurants, I read the dessert menu first and plan my order accordingly. I’ll eat less of the main course to save room for the good stuff at the end. I love to bake. It’s one of my favorite hobbies. I like to eat what I bake. If you don’t believe me, you’ve obviously never seen my “Looks Good Enough to Eat” Pinterest board.

I also love Coke and Dr. Pepper. In fact, my Coke habit (that sounds a lot worse than it actually is) was probably the big red stop light that set me on this course to detox from sugar. The other day I was out shopping with the kids and I was stressing out loud over a deadline I needed to make and other things that I needed to accomplish. My oldest said nothing, went over to the coolers beside the check register, bought me a Coke, handed it to me, and said, “Here, Mom. Maybe this will help.” When your kid buys your “drug of choice” with his own money to settle you down, you might have a problem.

You’d think someone so dependent on sugar would give it up with a well defined plan and the pantry staples necessary to make such a drastic change. You would be wrong. Basically I just woke up Friday morning and declared myself sugar-free. Which may explain the many Tweets, texts, and frantic phone calls to Susan  and other friends that followed. Like these:

Me: When you say “give up sugar,” what exactly are we talking here?

Gretchen: She means everything white. The end. 🙂 (By the way, if I, Whimzie, may interject here, that smiley face did nothing to lessen the blow.)

Me:  What about whole wheat bread? And honey? Do you not eat anything that has sugar on the label?

Sus: Yep. No dairy, taters, bread, sugar. Or fun.

Me:  People lose weight when they give up sugar? NO DUH! THEY’RE STARVING BECAUSE THERE’S NOTHING THEY CAN EAT!!!! Perhaps that came across a little harsh. IT’S BECAUSE I CAN’T FIND ANYTHING TO EAT AND IT ISN’T EVEN 8 AM!!

Becca: Try a banana with peanut butter. Or eggs and bacon. Breakfast is always the hardest for me.
Me:  I don’t guess we’re talking Peter Pan honey blend here, are we? #startingtoseespots #istheroomgettingdarker
I was being silly, of course, although I do think snacks and breakfast have been the hardest challenge so far. However, with help via texts from Susan, I was even able to eat a sugar-free lunch at a restaurant with friends on Friday.
The weekend was trickier. We took a little family trip to a town about an hour from here and ate fast food a couple of times. Did you know that the chili at Wendy’s contains sugar AND corn syrup? Fast food choices are limited unless you want to order a salad every single time, which I don’t. I never realized until I decided to try this sugar-free experiment how much sugar is in our normal everyday diet that we don’t even consider. I started imagining what life is like for people who because of medical conditions can not have sugar. Or what about people who can not have dairy or gluten? Even though we have many more sugar-, dairy-, and gluten-free choices than we did twenty years ago, maintaining those diets still takes a lot of careful thought, planning, and diligence.
This weekend I researched several sugar-free diets on the Internet. Wow, that was confusing! So many plans with so many differing opinions! So many more questions! Agave nectar, honey, stevia: are they okay? What about Splenda? Is oatmeal okay for people who are trying to avoid gluten? What about fruit? All fruit or just low-glycemic ones like berries? Is dairy okay or is cow milk only for baby cows? I emailed my friend Meredith and asked her some questions about the diet she’s been on the last few months and she graciously gave me some good insights into what has worked for her.
For me, I knew I needed to do something pretty drastic to stop the sugar cravings and to try to get my nutritional health back on track from a summer of eating more junk than my body is accustomed to ingesting. But one interesting side effect has been that since I started this plan, I have not had a headache. For the past few months, I have had at least a dull headache at some point of every  day. At least one or two a month become full-fledged migraines. I was actually prepared to have withdrawal headaches, but the reverse has been true. I’m not even sure whether this is just a coincidental byproduct or if something I was eating was causing my headaches. I guess time will tell.
I’m not giving up all desserts and bread and dairy forever. Life’s too short. I just need to find a way to have them in moderation, which seems to be the key to healthy living all around, don’t you think?
I’m curious. Have any of you given up sugar? What food are on your “absolutely not” list? What benefits have you noticed from you changes? What in the world do you eat for breakfast and snacks? (Besides eggs and bacon. I don’t like really heavy stuff first thing in the morning!)  Any tips or helpful hints you want to share?
P.S. I’m not sure why the formatting on this post is so wonky. Maybe my blog is operating without sugar today, too!


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Deciphering Plantation Casual: The Real Reason We All Need Facebook


Recently my husband and I were invited to a fundraiser/silent auction and I found myself stumped by the dress code requested on the invitation. Flummoxed when not even Google could provide me any clues, I decided to take my question to my friends on Facebook.

ME: On an invitation for next week the dress code is “plantation casual.” ???? Would this be like what Scarlett would have worn to Piggly Wiggly?

FRIEND WHO GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL WITH ME:  Maybe you need to make your clothes out of the kitchen drapes instead of the formal living room drapes

COLLEGE FRIEND WHO WASN’T REALLY A FRIEND UNTIL WE RECONNECTED ON MYSPACE AND NOW FACEBOOK:  Hoop skirt with sandals for the girls, tank top with seersucker for the guys

NEWEST AND ONLY LOCAL FRIEND AMONGST THE COMMENTERS:  Ha ha! You’d better make sure “it’s fittin’, ’cause if “it ain’t fittin’, it just ain’t fittin’.”

ME:  And now I want to watch Gone with the Wind.  My FB friends are the best commenters ever! Thanks for the laughs!



SOUTHERN BELLE FRIEND WHO GIVES EXCELLENT ADVICE ON HOW TO SURVIVE A FUNERAL:  If the left top corner of the invitation is folded down, then a straw boater hat is required. If the top right corner is folded down, no hat, but corsets and linen are a must. And if the bottom left corner is folded at a peculiar angle, be busy that day!!!

MY HAWAIIAN SISTER: I wait patiently for the photos.

MY HAWAIIAN SISTER WHO IS THE BLOOD SISTER OF MY OTHER HAWAIIAN SISTER: What day is the party? I will have my phone in my pocket that day. Or in my bra strap if it is a day with no pockets. I am just THAT interested and amused!!!!!

I included the long-winded descriptions of my friends because I don’t get their permission to use their real names on the Internet, but as I was laughing through the comments I realized that each of these commenters represented a different season of my life and somehow or another through Facebook, everyone was in one virtual room sharing some fun on a pretty regular Thursday afternoon.

I know social media gets a bum rap and it can be a big time waster if you let it get out of control, but I’ve also been amazed at the good it can do. I’ve had the chance to  actually hug the necks of friends I had previously only known through their blogs.  One of my dearest friends on this whole planet is someone I’ve never even met. Social media hasn’t just brought new people into my life, Facebook has brought me back in contact with friends I haven’t heard from in decades. I’ve enjoyed being invited to be part of their lives again.

Nothing takes the place of real life community with the people you get to see on a daily basis, but the relationships modern technology affords us is pretty amazing.

Unfortunately, I still have no idea what I’m wearing to the fundraiser next Friday. Was it just me, or did my high school friend’s comment remind anyone else of this?


I think they were all pretty funny, but which comment do you think was the funniest?  I’ll give the winning commenter bragging rights on my Facebook page, which is worth absolutely nothing. I’m just curious to know which you liked best. Better yet, if any of you are well-versed in plantation casual attire I would LOVE it if you would enlighten me. Quickly. Anyone?!?


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How I’m Not Like Martha


This summer, I found a really good deal on a subscription to Martha Stewart Living magazine. I admire Martha’s creativity. I’ve learned the proper way to do many household tasks under her expert tutelage. Several of her recipes have made her way to my family’s list of favorites. But let’s face it: I’m no Martha Stewart.

This point has been driven home to me every time I read “Martha’s Month,” a regular feature of her magazine that details “gentle reminders, helpful tips, and important dates” for the month. I thought you might enjoy seeing how my life follows a markedly different path from Ms. Stewart’s.

In July, “Martha often spends summer weekends in Lily Pond, her house in East Hampton. She makes the most of sunny days by inviting friends over for a farm-fresh meal served poolside.”  This July, I spent summer weekends doing huge piles of laundry in The Laundry Room, which is actually a misnomer because my washer and dryer are crammed into a corner of my kitchen. I prayed that the neighbors wouldn’t want to be invited in, but just in case,  I crammed all the piles of stuff (that somehow end up living beside the front door) into every spare corner of space I could find in the guest bedroom closet. I served the children frozen pot pies and patted myself on the back for not calling Domino’s again.

Also in July Martha urged her readers to take time to clean their garbage cans inside and out with a solution of biodegradable dishwashing liquid and water, leaving them outside in the sun to dry. I urged my family members to be that hero: the one who finally admits defeat and takes out the trash instead of insisting that just one more piece of garbage will fit in that can.

In August, Martha advised us to make sure to stay “road-trip” ready. She recommended that we pack a first-aid kit, paper towels, a car fire extinguisher, bungee cords, flares, jumper cables, duct tape, and a flat-repair kit in our vehicles before we take a road trip. Before the kids and I went on a road trip this August, I cleaned out the van. I didn’t find a band aid or duct tape, but I did accumulate enough petrified fries for at least one Happy Meal. I also found two light sabers, three library books, two Nintendo games, and the remnants of an ice cream cup from Baskin Robbins, which is odd because I haven’t taken the kids to Baskin Robbins since before school ended.

This month, Martha will be disinfecting her flower pots, composting leaves, planning her Halloween party, and storing her onions separate from her potatoes.  I will be cleaning the base of the toilets because my boys have poor aim,  resisting the urge to buy candy corn because I have little self control, and reminding the family to eat the bananas before they go brown because we have no more room for frozen ones in the freezer.

Nope, I’m no Martha, that’s for sure.

I thought that after junior high and high school, girls would grow up and not worry so much about what other girls think. But in many ways, I am still that insecure thirteen-year-old who wonders if she looks okay when she enters a room full of people she doesn’t know. I want people to think I’m a 21st century Proverbs 31 woman. I want to be dressed with coordinating accessories when I drop the kids off to school, not wearing the same t-shirt and gym shorts I slept in the night before. I want to be the mom who brings the healthy snacks and makes her own bread. I want to knit and crochet and make my own tablecloths. I want to be able to invite people into my tidy home where there’s a place for everything and everything is in its place. I want to be able to find junky pieces of furniture at Goodwill and turn them into showroom pieces with a can of spray paint and a hot glue gun. I want to actually do all the stuff I keep pinning on my Pinterest boards!

But I also want a nap and just five minutes to look at my Martha Stewart Living magazine without feeling guilty that I’m not mopping my nasty kitchen floor. And I have to keep in mind the big difference that exists between keeping a home and making one. The people make the home, not the cute decorations and magazine-picture-perfect living rooms.

I will probably always be a remedial student in the How to be a Happy Homemaker class, but I’m enjoying the lessons learned along the way. I’ll keep my Pinterest boards full with inspirational ideas my friends have found. I’ll try new recipes and decorate my home with bits and pieces that remind me of autumn. I’ll organize and clean and work on making my house a home. But Martha doesn’t live here. It’s just me and mine. And a few issues of Martha’s magazine that tempt with new ideas as long as I remember that in order to dream, I have to get some sleep!

The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” Luke 10:41

So when are you most like Martha? What do  you do (or not do) that you think would make Martha cringe?


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And the CDs Go To…

Candace and Mich!

Congratulations, girls! You should have an email in your inbox. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Third World Symphony is available on iTunes, Shaun Grove’s website, and Third World Symphony’s website.

Today’s post will most likely be late because it’s a day full of appointments and meetings. Don’t wait up for me.



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This Just In: Spongebob Makes You Dumber

Taken from

Mom friends of mine, I want you to take just a moment today to celebrate a small victory with me. We spend many minutes of our day making unpopular decisions our kids don’t understand. We are sometimes perceived as the cosmic killjoys in our family’s universe because we insist on such trivialities as clean underwear, brushed teeth, and limits on time with devices that require batteries or have to be plugged into the wall. But once in a long while the method to our madness is revealed in such a way, we have to ask the whole world to pause with us for just a moment to acknowledge our rightness. This morning was one of those moments for me.

Almost every morning I turn on Good Morning America while the kids are getting ready for school. Until Phineas and Ferb includes a news crawl at the bottom of the screen, my morning time with George, Robin, Sam, Josh, and Lara will probably be my only chance at knowing what is happening in the un-animated world. I get the weather forecast so I know whether or not to send the kids to school with a jacket, I hear the latest news stories, and I might even find a recipe that will help me solve my daily dilemma of what to make for supper. But today I received something unexpected: sweet vindication.

Today Josh Elliott reported what I’ve been telling my kids for years: Watching Spongebob makes you dumber. A recent study showed that watching the undersea pineapple dweller for a even a few minutes affected preschoolers’ abstract thinking, impulse control, and short-term memory, i.e. made them dumber. All three kids just happened to be in the living room and they all heard the report. With wide-eyed astonishment they slowly turned their sweet little heads to me to see if I’d heard. With heartfelt conviction and at the top of my lungs, I declared “I TOLD YOU SO!” And then I may or may not have done the victory dance.

I saw Spongebob for the first time in 2002. A pastor friend of mine who was planting a church in Kauai, Hawaii asked me to write some Vacation Bible skits for him using the puppets he had on hand: a dinosaur, a Hispanic boy puppet, an Asian girl puppet, a Caucasian boy puppet, and Spongebob Squarepants. Oh, and if I could work the plan of salvation into one of the skits, he would greatly appreciate it. Not able to back away from a good challenge, I accepted his request. Since I had never watched Spongebob, I didn’t know how to write dialogue for him that would sound like something he would actually say. So one afternoon, I sat down and watched an episode. I could feel brain cells dying as I watched and had to turn it off after about three minutes. My oldest was only a year old at the time, but then and there I added Spongebob Squarepants to the list of shows that would no longer be appearing on our TV. I’m sure Barney and Caillou were glad to have a new friend on the banned list.

When my kids were old enough to realize that a lot of their friends were fans of the little yellow sponge they started asking why we didn’t watch Spongebob. I answered truthfully, Spongebob will kill your brain cells. They always looked at me like they thought I was just making stuff up, but today I was able to present them with scientific proof. I’ll be anxiously awaiting further studies about the effects of Pair of Kings and Zeke and Luther.

I had no other reason for this post except to gloat. Honestly, I needed something lighthearted after  the raw emotions of all the 9/11 commemorations and special programming this weekend. Plus our church just started a series based on the book Radical by David Platt. Apparently, I was the only person in the world who had not read this book. It has been on my shelf for months now, but honestly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it, because I knew it would  (as my initial reading of it is proving to be true) be irritating. Light and fluffy it is not. So today’s post is light. And spongey.

Also, since I didn’t get Friday’s post up until late Friday night, I won’t select CD winners until tonight. Remember, all comments for both Thursday’s and Friday’s posts are going into a drawing for one of two copies of Shaun Groves’ new CD Third World Symphony. I promise ( if the good Lord’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise), I’ll tell you the winner tomorrow.

In the meantime, I want to know which kids’ shows are banned at your house. And are they banned because you don’t like the values, morals, or lack thereof, or because they get on your very last nerve? (I’m looking at you, Caillou.) Are there any kids’ shows that you actually don’t mind watching? My husband and I were caught watching Phineas and Ferb after the kids had gone to bed and have been known to DVR episodes that the kids have already seen but we haven’t.  What do you guys like to watch?



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