~my thoughts about life~

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December Musings

December is shaping up to be my busiest month in quite some time. Every day on my phone's calendar has a little dot on it, meaning that something is scheduled. Fortunately, I got a small jump on my Christmas shopping over Thanksgiving weekend. There's still a lot to be done.  (Special shout-out for the $8 blazers I bought myself from H&M on Black Friday!!!)

November passed by with lots to fill it also. For me, it involved a lot of doctor appointments. I guess when it rains, it pours. I finally made it to see the endocrinologist, after a couple month wait. I had my thyroid scan Tuesday & today. I have to carry a card with me that basically says I have a radioactive tracker inside me!  Ha!  Glad I'm not going to the airport...they told me it would be sensed there. How weird is that???

Two days before Thanksgiving, I had surgery. It was to help with my lady problems, but it didn't go well. I was warned of that possibility. I don't believe the surgery was effective, but we won't know for sure for a few months. Oh well. I had to take the chance and I'm still glad I did. 

Now the medical bills are arriving, right in time for Christmas. With Hubby's income reduced, that's gonna be a little tough. Come on, Obamacare!  I know you're not working for anyone else in the country, but we're holding out hope that you're going to come through for us!!  (Notice my forced optimism.)

Christmas cards are nearly done!  We weren't able to have our family photos taken with my cousin earlier this Fall. I really wanted a picture with all of us, instead of just the kids. The family was not willing to go through great lengths, like I was, so I set up a tripod in the back yard and took them myself. They could have been better, but this will work for now. My images are not quite as sharp as they should be. I'm wondering if something is off in my camera or lens?  Not sure what to do about that.

By the way, I'm down 24 lbs. now!  With the weight continuing to come off, I'm beginning to worry that it's related to my hyperthyroidism, rather than my dieting. I'm happy to remain where I am, yet I keep losing very gradually. Hopefully it's strictly due to my lifestyle changes. I'm concerned that the weight might come back on once my thyroid is regulated. Lets just hope that doesn't happen before the wedding I'm in in March!

I'm pretty fed up with people. They've let me down again, talking about my mother and me behind our backs. They've criticized us and made up things that aren't true. The good news is that I don't need these people. I'll be just fine without them. I have plenty going on. I've had other people who have left me out in the cold, waiting and suffering. As with the people mentioned before, I'm choosing to discreetly remove them from my life. When they finally do contact me, I'll smile sweetly and and behave as nothing more than a casual acquaintance. I will not sit on pins & needles begging someone to include me in their life. So over it. 

Totally zoomed in cell phone shot.  :(
Something positive is Son #1 played in his first high school game last night!  No, it's not a sport....my boy played sousaphone for the first time!  It's actually comical how proud I was to see him play!  I found it way more fascinating than if he was running up & down the court dribbling a ball (which he also does quite well).  Music will likely take him much further in life than sports could and I'm proud of his decision.

I'm trying a new cookie recipe today.  Something I kind of put together from a couple different recipes.  I'll let you know how it goes. 

Hope your life isn't quite as busy as mine and that you have a moment to stop and enjoy a good cup of coffee or tea.  No matter how busy it gets, I always make time for tea.  Happy Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Out of Mouth of Babes

Holding Baby Girl today, I commented on how skinny and tiny she was.

Me:  "You're too skinny.  You need to eat more food."

Her:  "If I eat a lot of food, I'll get fat and have to ride a scooter."

I think she discovered the meaning of life. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I Am the Little Red Hen

I had a difficult day yesterday that turned out to have a pretty happy ending.

The part that made it difficult was the unreliability of other people.  Do you ever feel like other people take care of your helpfulness and no one is willing to step out and help you?  The Little Red Hen would understand what I'm going through. 

The first thing to throw me was when a friend called last minute and asked me to pick up her daughter from school.  She got stuck at work and couldn't get there in time.  I absolutely didn't have time to do that, but I surely wasn't going to make her daughter stand out in the cold for 40 minutes.  So I drove her across town, which made me ten minutes late to pick up Big Sis.  That's the kind of person I am.  Yes, I ended up putting out the teacher and my daughter in the meantime, but I had to step up and help when necessary.

Last night was a big event I organize every other year.  I teach all teenage girls in my club, and their mothers, how to make homemade pies.  It's a huge ordeal and it's expensive.  I have to haul trunk loads of stuff up to the church, sterilize and cover tables, wash dishes that have been stored for two years, print recipes, and instruct the class.  Each mother is supposed to work with her daughter, listening to my instruction while helping her with technique.  Every year, there are moms who can't make it.  I get stand-in moms who come out and team up with a motherless girl.  It seems like those helpers bail out on me every time.  I ended up calling my lifelong BFF and asking her to fill in last minute.  She was a peach who jumped in to help, but I needed more help.  You would not believe the number of people who flat out told me no.  People just aren't willing to help any more.  I never did find enough help and we had to make do with what we had.

I asked Son #1 to go to the church to help me set up tables.  He pitched one of his teenage hissy fits and I was in no mood to argue with him.  I stormed out the door and did it myself.  That task resulted in me carrying 8' tables up a flight of stairs.  No fun.  Thankfully, I didn't drop any of them or hurt myself, which I thought was likely to happen.  Finally, someone gave Hubby word what I was doing and he stormed right up behind me and yelled at me for doing it myself.  He helped with the last couple tables.  I vented my frustrations to him, using a word I rarely use, "People suck," I said. 

I did have one helper show up early.  She was a tremendous help, as was one mother who was somewhat early.  The two daughters of the early mom fought and screamed at each other, which made me a nervous wreck.

The instruction went pretty well.  Of course, there were the people who didn't listen to anything I said and messed up.  We end up wasting a lot of ingredients because people don't pay attention.  When it was over, there were the people who left without cleaning up after themselves.  It blows my mind!  I found one of our bowls filled with apple chunks and juice that someone just left for other people to take care of.  There was flour and juice all over the floor.  There were Crisco covered measuring cups that no one even tried to clean.  I looked at the giant mess and almost cried.  One of my helpers stood around, watching everyone else clean up.  She spent most of the time texting.  Yes, this is an adult.  I couldn't quite figure out why she was still there....moral support, maybe? 

Then there are the angels....those who stay until the very end.  One in particular, named Elizabeth, whom I barely know, was one of those angels.  She's a woman whose daughter started coming to church and she really fought her about it.  She wouldn't attend with her and really limited the daughter's attendance to certain events.  Maybe a year ago, the mom started coming a bit.  Now, she comes every service and is nothing but a joy!  I really developed respect and appreciation for her last night.  I plan to get her a small gift and write her a note of deep thanks. 

Then the icing on top of the cake was 14-year old Abby.  As she was leaving, she turned to me and said, "Best night ever!"  It's reasons like that.  Happy ending indeed!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Organizing The Crap Out Of My House

I fell behind with organization and not-so-important household chores sometime during our busy summer. I still haven't quite recovered from the mess I got myself in. I blame it on the huge undertaking that was moving the kids' rooms around. That project unhinged several related projects and I became overwhelmed. When I get in that big of a mess, I tend to step back, take a breath, then procrastinate ever finishing. The first big side project stemming from the renovation was the yard sale overflow. I dug tons of stuff out from every nook & cranny in our house. It all went into the garage, waiting to be organized, cleaned, & priced for sale. Some if it never made it to the yard sale. I just ran out of time. That junk lived in my garage for over a month while I parked outside. Finally, I broke down and did nothing else until the mess was taken care of. The result is that our garage is now cleaner than it has been in years and the local clothing shelter got a huge donation from the She Says kids. Win/win.

I felt so much better completing that project that I started taking on new projects that have been hanging over my head forever. Some of them are so big that they make me want to hide under the covers and cry. So- I'm trying to take one itty-bitty project at a time. This week has been the week of projects. I've decided to tackle each day whatever is getting on my nerves the most at that very moment.

Yesterday, I organized my coupons, which was supposed to be a start to cleaning up my desk. I've been kicking booty lately with coupons & I'm quite proud of my achievements. That means I have coupons coming out my ears though. I brought the coupon binder out of retirement, removed the coupons that expired in April, and filled it with all kinds of current lovelies. I'm pumped now and ready to tackle some serious savings!!

Wednesday, I moved The Box. The Box has been sitting in the upstairs hallway causing a hazard to any person who needs to get through. It was ridiculous and I will never admit to you how long it sat there. It was falling apart because of being kicked, tripped over, and filled past maximum occupancy. I just didn't know what to do with it or the stuff that was taking residence inside it. I ended up carrying it downstairs two flights to its new home in the basement. No, that's not the best solution, but it works for now. Plus, I don't have to worry about one of the children killing themselves in the middle of the night. I also organized two kitchen cupboards that day. They were the kind of cupboards that housed things I hadn't seen in so long, because I couldn't get to the back of them. I ended up finding a basket full of baby head bows that I hand washed & passed down to a friend expecting her first baby. That was a definite feel-good moment, although it was bittersweet. 

Tuesday, we got our first snow. That prompted me to clean out the coat closet. I hate that chore, but it must be done every year. During the summer, the hats & gloves tend to party and move all over the place. I like to keep a segregated closet where hats are not allowed to interact with gloves or scarves. It's done now and I was able to check another thing off my list. 

Monday turned out to be sock matching day. Hubby & the boys have been complaining lately that their sick supply hasn't been lasting from one laundry day to the next. I sat on the basement floor and matched for a long time. It was shocking to see the size of the pile of sock balls I created. But the better news was what else I found. I had been missing an adorable owl t-shirt since summer. It was new and I only wore it two or three times. The last time I remember wearing it was to Big Sis' Field Day at the end of May. Ridiculous. It was buried under the unmatched socks, thanks to one of my sons who had laundry as a chore one day. They are so lazy & will do whatever possible to avoid work. Sometimes, their avoidance of work takes more energy than the original chore. Who is raising these people?  The bad news is now the shirt is too big, due to my recent loss of 22 lbs.!

So, the moral of the story is, whenever feeling overwhelmed, take one small thing at a time until you start seeing a difference. The end results make you feel so good & you end up energized to complete the rest of the tasks. Yes, it may take until I'm 97, but I'm going to get this place clean & organized. Wish me luck on my journey!

Thursday, November 7, 2013


When you have pretty girls, they're going to have boyfriends.  Try explaining that to my overprotective husband without him losing all restraint.

A boy from school decided to make Big Sis his girlfriend.  She agreed.  I tried not to make it a big deal because, even at this young age, I want her to feel comfortable discussing relationships with me. I would have rather died than to talk to my mom about a boy I liked.  The notes this boy sent her were enough to cause a serious rise in blood pressure (in her father)!  Even though he told her he loved her more than he would probably love any other person, he dumped her after two weeks.  I asked her what she said when he did it.  She told me, "I just said OK."  She demonstrated by shrugging her shoulders.  That's my girl...don't let them loser guys get you down!  He's already moved on to a new chick.  Playa.  It's probably because she told him no when he asked to hold her hand.  Again, that's my girl!!!

Baby Girl has had a boyfriend for a year or more now.  It's her brother's best friend.  He's 7 years older than she is and is as sweet as sugar to her.  If we ever take him anywhere with us, he holds her hand as we walk through the parking lot.  He's never acted embarrassed of this little girl who's smitten with him.  She tells everyone that she loves Brevan.  At church last weekend, I asked her if Clayton was her new boyfriend.  She's been showing him a lot of attention and asks to sit with and play with him.  She replied, "I have lots of boyfriends...Brevan, Dad, Jesus...lots of boyfriends!"  Good, I thought, as long as Dad and Jesus are listed in there, we're going to be just fine!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Life Updates

It seems like my blog has turned into more of a monthly synopsis of everything that's been happening lately rather than a daily update.  No, I'm not OK with that, but I guess that's the way it's gotta be for now.

Last week was rather crazy.  It started off with a doctor appointment and minor procedure for me and Destination Imagination for Son #2.  That left me feeling crappy for the rest of the day with a bit of recovering.  Tuesday was Son #1's first philharmonic rehearsal and parent meeting.  His skill has really improved over the last two years because he said the music was too easy for him.  He's just not quite up to symphony level yet.  Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday consisted of a kids' revival at church.  I am so glad for the emphasis our church puts on the children, but the whiner in me was not happy about having to attend three nights in a row.  It turned out to be very nice and the kids had a great time.  Wednesday also had another meeting; Friday was a belated birthday lunch with a friend and last-minute engagement photo shoot. Saturday was packed full with errands that had been put off for far too long.  I hate those kinds of weeks.

On a positive note, autumn here is the prettiest it's been in a couple years.  I'm really enjoying it.  It's about over now, but I feel like I've soaked in as much beautiful color as possible.  The photo of the tree above was taken on my shoot last week.  I may frame it.

Remember my trip to New York?  I took some awesome shots that I can't wait to frame.  I've done nothing to make that happen.  I need to buy some serious frames, but I'm way to cheap to do so.  I actually still have one of those prepaid Visa cards that someone gave me as a gift.  I need to just take the plunge and spend a couple hundred dollars on nice frames.  Maybe my next day off will involve a trip to Hobby Lobby.  (Who loves that place???)

This week is almost as busy as last week, yet I'm neglecting my filthy house for some relaxing blog time.  It's that part of my month where I just want to sit here and complain.  I know you all feel my pain.  I had crazy grocery shopping Monday, yet I saved some serious money with coupons!  Three kids had dentist appointments and the day ended with some complaining about the ridiculous darkness, Destination Imagination, and my bi-weekly youth group meeting.  Yesterday was a tile cleaning job and babysitting two of my cousins.  Their mom and dad just sold their house and have to already be out Friday.  So I'm telling myself that things could be much crazier!

The craziest part right now is some minor health issues I'm facing.  Most of it's womanly and I know you don't want to hear about that.  But in case you do, I'll speak vaguely.  My least favorite Aunt Flo starts her visit lightly and early each time.  She hangs around for far too long, which my doctor says is not a good thing.  We need breaks from those annoying aunts, don't we?  Her intensity has caused me to become anemic, requiring high doses of iron.  By the time she finally packs up and leaves, I only get two weeks or less before she returns again.  Last week after my procedure, I had some extra Aunt Flo time.  Her visit took me right into the effects of the procedure.  Then, she decided to show up early again.  So, I've been "with her" for about a month straight.  It's getting old, people.  I have a more serious procedure coming up soon, though it's yet to be scheduled.  This procedure should hopefully stop all future visits from this unwanted visitor.  I'm hoping and praying that's the case.  My four C-Sections could pose a problem, so I'm hoping all goes well.  Hopefully they'll call soon with an appointment.

I have my appointment with the endocrinologist in a couple weeks.  I can already tell this office is going to be difficult to work with.  This doctor has great reviews.  Why does it always seem that the best doctors have the worst office staff?  The quack down the street has the greatest office staff, even though the doctor doesn't seem competent enough to diagnose a cold.  That's how it goes, I guess.

I've goofed off long enough today.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What's For Dinner?

In my recent search to find new meals to make for my family, I stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest.  While Hubby is not a fan of Alfredo sauce, I thought I could try this homemade version and maybe, just maybe he would like it.  I figured it was a long shot with the kids, but I'm tired of the same few things for dinner and I needed another option.

Disclaimer:  I found this recipe BEFORE I set out on my venture to lose weight.  This recipe does not fall in line with any type of weight loss program!  In fact, I made it for the second time a week ago and I think I gained about 3 lbs. after eating it!  (I also had a Snickers that day.  Hmmm....)  BUT, it's heavenly!  I called my cousin over to taste it and she nearly melted on the floor (melted, I guess, because of the amount of CHEESE in it)!!!  My cousin requested that I make it this weekend for our Bridesmaid planning get-together (AKA Girls' Night In).  Done and done.

The author of the recipe called it Chicken Alfredo Roll-Ups.  I refer to it as Alfredo Lasagna.  Either way, it's delectable!  (Her picture is better looking than my cell phone shot.)

The Ingredients:
½ cup butter
2 ounces cream cheese
2 cups heavy cream (or substitute half and half)
2 teaspoon garlic powder
½  tsp. fresh minced garlic
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp dried oregano
⅔ cup parmesan cheese

9 lasagna noodles
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
garlic salt
3 cups shredded Mozzarella, or cheese of your choice

The Process:
In a medium to large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add fresh minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the cream cheese and whisk to smooth and melted. Whisk in the heavy cream. Season with the garlic powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and whisk frequently until sauce thickens, around 15 minutes. Stir in the cheese and when melted, remove from heat.

While sauce is simmering, boil lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse the noodles with cold water to prevent them from sticking to each other. Then, lay out each noodle individually and blot dry with a paper towel.

Spread about 2 Tbs. alfredo sauce over each noodle. Sprinkle oregano and garlic salt on top of sauce. Take 1/9 of the shredded chicken and spread it out evenly over each noodle. Sprinkle with mozzarella. To roll up, start at one end and roll the noodle over the toppings. You will need to lift the noodle a little to prevent squishing out the inside ingredients while rolling.

Place the roll-ups in the pan, one by one, seam-side down so they don't come undone. Once they are all in the pan, pour the remaining alfredo sauce over the top. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted on top.

My Notes:
I used half & half and it tasted just great. Real cream is just way too fattening. Next time, I'm going to use light cream cheese also. I omitted the pepper and oregano. I used one clove of garlic instead of the minced garlic and garlic salt. I only used 2 C mozzarella and it was perfect. There is no need for another full cup of cheese. Also, I think I'll cut down the butter to 3/4 of a stick, as it was just a tad greasy.  

We had leftover fried chicken from a family dinner. I brought home 3 breasts and de-boned them. That worked out perfectly and I didn't have to take the time to cook chicken!  

Also, in both of my experiences making this dish, it took way longer than 15 minutes for the sauce to thicken. So if you're impatient or in a hurry, plan for extra time to thicken the sauce.

I hope you try this recipe...it is so good and I think you'll love it!

Friday, October 11, 2013

I Got Skinny Eating PB&J

A pretty bad pic of me taken in May
'Tis true.  It wasn't the peanut butter and jelly that made me skinny though.  Let me explain...

A couple months ago, I was just plain disgusted with myself.  I was at my heaviest ever, even though it didn't fully show.  My face still appeared thin because all that weight settled right in my middle.  Boy, was my middle ever thick!  Hubby never complained and always told me I looked beautiful.  But I was disgusted.  After all, I was running two to three times a week, several miles, and I was still fat.  That is so not fair.  I decided that, with my age and metabolism, running 10 miles a week alone was not enough to make me lose weight.  I had to quit "rewarding myself" with snacks and buckle down for a mean and nasty diet.

I've tried dieting in the past and have almost always failed.  There was only one other time in my life that I lost a descent amount of weight.  I tried that method again (and even blogged about it), but it didn't stick.  When so much time passed and I didn't see any results, I gave up and threw in the towel.  So, in my frustration, I contacted a cousin of mine who lost a significant amount of weight and looks amazing.  She recommended the app she used.

Me today.  Photo credit:
Baby Girl, the only one home.  :)
It's called My Fitness Pal (myfitnesspal.com) and I decided right then and there that I was fully on board.  I remember her talking about it a while back, but hadn't paid much attention.  This time, however, I was paying some serious attention.  I plugged in my information right away and tried to recall everything I had eaten that day so far.

The first thing about the app that works for me is accountability.  I am a rule follower and will not allow myself to cheat.  I won't put anything in my mouth that I did not enter into the app.  The second thing that makes this program work for me is realization.  I like to enter the food into the app before I actually eat it.  That way, if I realize that particular food has a ridiculous amount of calories, I can pass on it.  It blew my mind how many calories are in some things that I thought weren't that bad.  Another thing that I love is that any calories you burn while exercising are added to your total for the day!  So I can reward myself for working hard!  The combination of those three things were enough to make this work for me.

I have a friend who is a professional dieter.  She's a Weight Watchers fanatic, but has gained and lost hundreds of pounds on that program.  As soon as she quits, she puts it all back on.  I decided to invite her to try this program with me.  It's cool how you can do it with friends.  The competition and public display is another big motivator for me.  My friend is very competitive, so I thought that would be a turn-on for her too.  Right away, she snubbed her nose at it.  On WW, she could eat as many fruits and vegetables she wanted for "free."  On My Fitness Pal, calories were still registered for fruits and veggies.  She didn't like that.  I explained that it's not as scientific as WW, but it's FREE!  No hefty monthly fees to pay....not even a cost to download the program!  How much could you expect?

One thing I hate about dieting is eating disgusting food.  I refuse to do that.  I have to put something in my mouth that tastes good.  Every day for breakfast, I eat two pieces of buttered toast and hot tea with Splenda.  240 calories.  Every day.  Most days for lunch, I eat a PB&J sandwich and one serving of Pringles (as opposed to the multiple servings I ate before).  425 calories.  Almost every day.  Yeah, I'm kind of a boring eater.  It's just easier for me to eat the same thing day in and day out than to worry about what I'm going to have.  That leaves enough calories for a pretty good dinner or a descent dinner and one snack.

Snacks.  That was one major place I had issues.  I ate several snacks a day.  But on this plan, I could no longer "afford" them.  That was so hard for me at first.  At this point, I've gotten used to that.  I no longer require something before bed.  I'm perfectly content being done with food after dinner.  (I never thought I'd say that!)

Desserts.  That was another huge pitfall for me.  But when you realize that one muffin is as many calories as an entire meal, you learn to pass on desserts.  I can have a pretty good snack for the same amount of calories as a sweet tea.  Crazy!

I've changed my ways, changed my habits.  I'm living a new life now and I'm so much happier about it!  I hit the goal I originally set for myself and may possibly go just a few more pounds for safety.  Like I said, I am now accustomed to eating this way.  I just want to maintain where I am right now.  My total as of today is 18 lbs.!

Has anyone else tried this app?  Did you have any success with it or did it not work for you?  I'd love to hear your experiences!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I Heart New York

Hubby and I were supposed to take a couples' trip to New York with some friends of ours.  That didn't quite work out and we ended up going alone.  We made a great trip out of it and had a blast!

We stayed at The Manhattan at Times Square hotel and had a view of the Times Square ball!  I would recommend this hotel to anyone travelling to the Big Apple because of its great location.  It's easily accessible to some of the most popular attractions without the high cost of the most popular hotels.

One thing I wanted to do in New York was spend some serious time photographing the sights.  Last time we were there, I took a small, borrowed camera that I could fit in my purse.  This time, I took The Beast and carried it around my neck for three days.  (If you must know, my back did ache for a few days afterward.  Ridiculous.)  Hubby supports my photography hobby and was more than patient every time I wanted to stop to shoot something.  I've been wanting to hang up some of my own work in our house, and what better than New York photography?  When we fixed up Son #1's room, we decided that black & white urban shots would look perfect in his industrially themed room.  Now I have the photos...I just need to find the frames.

We ate some serious pizza in New York.  The day I craved a bagel, there was not a vendor in sight for blocks.  I finally asked a local what the deal was and he explained that bagel carts are only available Monday through Friday.  Shaft!  We saw and heard Cher sing (very briefly) outside the Today show.  We also ran into some sports guy that I recognized from TV and Hubby went nuts over.  I have no clue what his name is.  He's the sportscaster who wears the crazy suits & ties at basketball games.

We spent lots of time in Central Park.  I love it there!  I enjoy the street musicians, the stunning trees, and the calm, green grass in the middle of that bustling city.  It's really kind of mind blowing.

Every neighborhood you go to has some sort of activity going on.  We enjoyed checking out some of the less touristy sights and getting the feel of what New York really is.  We got lost on the Subway, walked countless miles, did a little shopping, and paid far too much for a bottle of Diet Coke.  It was a fantabulous trip!!!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Oh dear, I know it's been a while!  I'm worried that life won't slow down til I die.  Hmmmm....

Many updates to fill you in on.  First and foremost- I ran my half marathon!!!  Well, to say I ran might be an overstatement.  I finished it.  My final time was 2:38.  Yes, that's hours!  I'm not at all ashamed of that time.  I was just striving for completion.  To be honest, my actual goal was to do it in under three hours.

The best part of the whole thing is that Hubby stayed with me throughout the marathon!  Well, at mile 10, he couldn't take my slow pace any longer.  He ran ahead and I lost sight of him for a while.  When I rounded the corner onto the final street, I saw him up ahead on the side of the road, jumping in place and waiting for me.  What a prince!  With his long legs and athletic form, he could have easily finished in under two hours.  But it was more important for him to cross the finish line with me!  The emotion of it actually overcame me and I began sobbing for the last block.  I could see the end in sight and we were about to enter a stadium full of cheering people.  Have you ever tried to cry while totally exhausted?  It's not easy.  It comes out as more of a gasp, like a dying patient taking their last breath.  I got myself under control and was smiling in my final photos (which they watermark with a moving logo so you can't share it at all).  My legs were complete and total jelly when I finished and it was very difficult to stand still.  (You should have seen me trying to use the porta potty...I kept crashing into the disgusting side walls like an intoxicated person!)

The worst part of the story is that I got sick almost immediately after.  I had a sore throat the entire day before.  Then I guess because I wore myself down, I became victim to the attack of all sickie bugs.  I got a horrible cold and a UTI.  I'm just now starting to get some relief from that.

BUT- I have my silver medal and my 13.1 shirt.  I'm one very proud mama.  And if you're wondering....no, I'll never do it again.  It's a bucket list thing and I'm very proud to cross it off.

My second greatest accomplishment since you've last heard from me is that I lost 15 lbs!  I'm so much happier with my current state and feel like I look pretty darn good.  No, I'm nowhere close to looking like those models in the magazines, but for a 37-year old mama of 4....I think I look quite good (not in a haughty, bragging way, of course).  I'll share more later about how I did that.

Baby Girl celebrated her 5th birthday, which blows my mind.  She's not a baby any more and I'm going to have to stop referring to her as one.  We celebrated at Chuck E. Cheese at a joint party with her twin cousin.  They had a great time and I've yet to send out thank you notes.  Ugh!  She always says she's a monkey and requested a monkey cake.  I was relived because it was much easier to design than other things she's asked for in the past!

The kids are back in school and are doing great.  Our district has a new online progress system that is extremely easy to use.  Son #2, who is so very smart with no self-motivation, is doing better than ever.  We check his grades and assignments every day and then Hubby or myself helps him study for any tests.  He currently has one B and the rest are all As and A minuses.  When I know what my kids are capable of, I can't help but demand it.

Hubby has made a big change at work.  Instead of working the inhumane hours he's been accustomed to (leaving before 5 AM and getting home between 6 & 7, or even later during peak season), he's sold his route and truck to the guy who helped him get hired almost 20 years ago.  This guy has been almost like a father to him.  Hubby works directly for him now and does half the work he did before.  He is still leaving early, but after 5 AM.  He gets home most days around 1 PM.  You guys don't understand the difference in his life.  He now has time to do small projects around the house and to be a father and husband to the kids and me.  Yes, his pay went down, but the quality of life he now has is beyond explanation.  He is trying to supplement his lost income by mowing apartment buildings (which he was doing anyhow in his "spare" time).  Come winter time, he might try to get into plowing.  He is also getting a lot more tile cleaning jobs (his other side business) and my photo booth is taking off.  We're going to be OK.  We won't be moving into a mansion anytime soon, but we're OK with that.

Other than those major things, it's just the same old, same old, and some new.
- I'm still doing my teenage girls club at church.
- Son #1 auditioned for, and again was accepted into, the philharmonic orchestra in our area.
- My running buddy got engaged to my "fake" cousin and asked me to be a bridesmaid.  :)
- Some very, very close friends of ours separated due to infidelity and addiction.  It was heartbreaking.  :(
- I still have a messy house most of the time and I'm still saving money couponing.  (Last week, I got all these groceries for $35!  It was my best haul yet!!!)
- My cousin was ordained as pastor of our church over the weekend and my uncle is now the bishop.  It was an exciting weekend and I was able to see a lot of great friends from time past.
- I went to New York City, which was amazing!  (I'll save that for another post.)
- I finished the kids' rooms and realize I still haven't posted Before/After photos.
- I'm still struggling with a mouthy teenager and trying hard to be a firm, consistent mother.
- Son #2 entered the youth group at church, which means he's growing up too.  He seems a lot younger than his brother and I still struggle allowing him to go on outings without me.
- My friend, the designer, finally came over and spruced up my house a bit.  The changes she made make me so happy about how my house looks.  I need her to come over one more time and fancy up one more room.  It's amazing what she can do with very little!
- I'm still taking portraits and even had my first still life photo shoot.  I've never worked with non-humans before and I was out of my element.  My client was very happy with my work, which will be displayed on the website of her brand new business.
- I redid my photo booth website, which is amazing, I must say.  Exercising my design skills has made me improve so much.  I'm really digging graphic design now.

OK, there's lots more, but that's quite enough for now.  That's what happens when a blogger neglects her blog for so long.  I can't make promises that I'll do better.  It's just tough to find the time.  I know all you busy ladies know exactly what I mean.  If you've stuck around- thanks.  I still appreciate you and feel bad I've dropped the ball.  All I can say is I'll blog when I can!  Such is life!  Hope you're all having a very good one!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

First Job - TBT

I am a person who has not had too many jobs, but the story of my very first job is kind of funny.

I was always good with computer design work, even when the only programs available were laughable.  It seems like the first graphic design program I used was called something like Wizard.  It did very little, but I was advanced in it.

The summer before my Junior year, a job came available for a beginner graphic artist at a local advertising company.  I thought that fit me perfectly.  The job also included making those giant banners that you see hanging across the street or tied to a fence around a baseball field.  They put decals on vehicles and made other promotional items.  I love that kind of stuff.

The bad news is that the job was full time.  I interviewed with the owner of the company, a morbidly obese man who was extremely grouchy and smoked like a chimney.  I explained that I could work full time over the summer but would need to go part time once school started.  He said that could be arranged.  I was offered the job right away.

It seems like the job paid around $5 an hour.  This was 1992, so that wasn't bad for a kid my age.  I showed up for work the first day to a literal sweatshop.  It was a garage attached to an office with no windows and no A/C.  The other person who started the same day was a 40-year old man.  I was embarrassed for him that he was doing the same job as me, a high school student.

The old dude could not get the hang of the job.  I caught on right away and was left to work alone.  He needed constant coaching and supervision.  The old dude and the supervisor (the only two people there) both chain smoked.  Smoking was only allowed in the garage, so the two of them took regular breaks to fill their lungs with tar.  Since I didn't smoke, I ended up working about twice as much as they did.

The job was exhausting.  I had never worked before, so 8 hours in a sweatbox was physically draining.  I remember when I took my lunch break, everything in my lunch was warm and my chocolate cookies were melted.  I was too hot to eat anyway.  When I got home, my mom realized the job was too much for me.  She called the supervisor and asked if I could reduce my hours.  After all, 8 hours was a bit much for a high school student. The supervisor said she'd talk to the owner and get back with me.

Me- bottom row, second from the left
We had tickets to a concert that night and were staying overnight in a hotel.  I needed to know what time to be at work in the morning, so we called home to check our messages.  Remember those days?  You used a pay phone, called home, then pushed a certain number to access your answering machine.  There was a message that they didn't need me to come in at all.  I was fired.  The owner thought I was a Junior in college, not a Junior in high school.  Even though I worked harder and better than the other employee, even though I advanced in the first day and they were starting me on computers the next day, and even though I was the best person for the job, they fired me.

Looking back, I certainly could have done something about that.  I was legally old enough to work.  I didn't want the job back though.  I was embarrassed to have to tell people I was fired after my first day.  Now, I think it's funny.  Back then, not so much.  I cried.  The next day, I dropped off the computer manuals they sent me home with and picked up an envelope of cash.

I didn't get another job that summer.  In fact, I didn't get another job until I graduated high school.  It was a job I kept until I started my student teaching.  After graduation, I had two other teaching jobs.  That's it for me with work experience.  I've been a mom now for over 14 years.  I'm very happy with my unemployed status and really enjoy owning my photo booth.  The good thing about being the boss is that I know no one can fire me for a stupid reason.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Throwback Holidays - TBT

Obviously, Bon had this topic scheduled for the week of 4th of July.  I'll answer it anyway.

The only 4th of July I can remember that has anything funny associated with it was when I was a teenager.  Every year, my church had a big picnic for the 4th.  It was a huge deal.  As kids, we played all day, barely seeing our parents, and came home utterly filthy.  Good times.

When I was a teenager, the picnics were spent sitting at the ball fields, watching the guys play softball.  The best was when I got a boyfriend and actually had someone to cheer for.  I remember being 16 or 17 one July 4th when it was really, really hot out.  We had some couple friends, which was a new and exciting thing.  We decided to hang out afterward, since we could.  We had cars now, ya know.

Someone came up with the idea of go-carting.  There were two couples, primarily, that we wanted to hang out with.  A third couple kind of invited themselves.  They were the annoying couple, the people we tolerated because we were good Christians.  Since we couldn't all fit in one car (Actually, I'm kind of surprised that stopped us.  We were stupid.), we decided to split up into two couples per car.  Of course, Hubby and I (Yeah, that was the guy I was dating.  Awwww!) got stuck with the annoying couple.  The girl was older than the guy and he couldn't drive yet, so she offered.  Fine.  We were already ticked about being paired up with them...we decided to just go with the flow.

As we started cruising down the road, the driver rolls down all the windows.  "By the way," she told us, "I don't have air conditioning.  Hee hee!"  Grrrrr.....  this unpleasant experience on this 90 degree day just got much worse.

We made it to the go-cart place, a little worse for the wear, and had a good time.  The time went quickly and we weren't quite done hanging out yet.  My parents had a rec room in our basement, which was always freezing cold.  We made plans to secretly meet there afterward, without inviting the annoying couple.  We drove back to the church, said our goodbyes, then met at my house.  When we went inside, we realized that my parents hadn't turned on the air conditioning that day.  It was horribly hot in that house.  I guess that's what we get for purposely excluding the other couple.

Ah, good times.  6 dating teenagers don't snuggle up too closely when they're hot and stinky from a very warm picnic, car ride, and house.  Hmmm....I might have to remember that one when my kids bring over their dates.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Questions of Life

Question - If I just stop yelling at the kids to quit fighting, will they eventually kill one another?

Question - When I'm at a green light and I hesitate because a truck in the cross traffic appears that he's going to run the light, and then he does, why does he give me a dirty look?

Question - On the same note, when I am the first to a 4-way stop and the guy to my right looks like he's going to blow the stop sign, but eventually stops, why does he get mad at me when I go first?

Question - When I spend the day baking for a bake sale, to make $35 minus expenses, and am left with a gigantic mess that takes me more than a day to clean up, is it worth it?

Question - If I'm running three times a week and eating the same amount of food, shouldn't I be losing weight?

Question - What is the big excitement with teenagers to stay up all night long?

Question - Why do people who live in the same house publicly Facebook one another things like, "Call me?"
Question - If my house was twice the size it is now, would it still be packed to the brim with all our junk?

Question - Is there any hope for this country with people being forced into early retirement, the cost of insurance skyrocketing, the cost of groceries going up, school levies failing, more people on welfare than ever before, celebrities continuing to overdose, children and women being kidnapped, internet scams, such a decrease of common courtesy, identity theft, and privacy invasion?  Sorry, things got a little deep there for a minute.

Friday, August 2, 2013

About Me

Yeah, I know that's a pretty self-centered post title, but isn't that kind of the point of a blog anyway?  It's always about me, baby!  Ha!

I heard from my doctor about the blood work that was done at my last visit.  Turns out, I'm anemic.  She asked me a bazillion times if I was tired all the time.  For a person with 4 kids, I don't think I'm all that tired.  Sure, the nap demons hit me every day at 2:30, but isn't that normal for everyone?  She said taking iron supplements should help pep me up a bit.  I'm sure not going to complain about gaining pep!  I've noticed that, when I run, I'm tiring out way earlier than I should.  I'm training pretty hard right now and I shouldn't feel like dying after a mile.  Maybe this will help.  Until then, I've let my family know that I will be totally working this anemic thing.  I haven't been getting attention for being tired, because I didn't know I was.  I will be making up for that now.

Also, I have hyperthyroidism (again? still?)  My thyroid level is .05, which I'm told is "quite low."  I had problems with my thyroid when I had Baby Girl.  I wasn't producing enough milk to nurse her, so I sought help from a lactation nurse.  She ordered blood work,which revealed the thyroid problems.  At the same time, I was having abdominal pain, which turned out to be appendicitis.  (It was a fun couple of months.)  When I went to have my thyroid scan, they routinely asked if I had had any contrast within the past XX days.  I replied yes.  Surprised, she asked why.  I told her I had a CAT Scan for abdominal pain.  They couldn't find the problem.  So, instead of having a thyroid scan that day, I ended up staying overnight (leaving my 3 week old baby at home) and having my appendix removed.  Talk about a weepy new mom!  The very small amount of milk I produced had to be pumped and dumped.

Look how thin!
Back then, I had obvious symptoms.  My hands were very shaky and I couldn't do anything that required fine motor skills.  Mixing a bottle of formula was a great chore.  I was also very nervous.  Like, if anything out of the ordinary came my way, I flipped out...possibly crying, yelling, or losing control.  I was also very thin, especially for just having a baby.  I have none of those symptoms now.  That's why I was so surprised.  I never got my thyroid checked again.  By the time I recovered from the surgery and past the newborn stage, my symptoms had diminished.  I always assumed it was pregnancy related hyperthyroidism.  Now I'm not sure if it's back or if it never went away.  But the #1 question on my mind is- If I have an overactive thyroid, why am I not thinner than this????

The doctor who gave me these results told me to follow up with my family doctor.  My family doctor is going through a divorce and is pretty much in the middle of a nervous breakdown.  He's losing it.  I really don't want to go to him because I no longer trust his judgement.  He calls his office manager on a regular basis, crying and wanting to talk for hours.  I never respected him highly as a doctor anyway.  His location is awesome and the office manager is a friend who is extremely efficient.  My old family doctor, who is awesome, is further away and his office staff is made up of a bunch of jerks.  So, I just sit here in limbo, not sure what to do.

On a good note, my running is improving, even though it's oh-so-very-hard.  My buddy and I have been trying to run 3 times a week!  I looked at my Nike app and realized I ran 22.7 miles in the month of July!  That's definitely a record for me!  On Tuesday, I ran a 5K in 34:45.  I believe that was my best time ever for that distance.  Tonight, I think we're supposed to run 3 or 3.5 (my buddy keeps track of our schedule) and then 5 on Saturday.  It really helps me to have a schedule to follow.  If I set a goal to run 3 miles, I can stop short.  I'm only disappointing myself.  If the schedule says I have to run 3 miles, I must.  I can't go against the schedule.  I don't know...it works for me.

A weird thing though, my right foot has been falling asleep when I hit 2.5 - 3 miles.  It starts out tingling, then it goes dead asleep.  I've never experienced that before.  I've tried hydrating more and using sports drinks.  If I stop and walk briskly, it eases up but still tingles.  When I stop completely, the feeling comes back right away.  Anyone ever heard of that?  I have never felt like I was in danger of falling.  I don't feel like it affects my run.  It just feels super weird.  I'm wondering if it's related to one of the problems above?

Even though I'm still only running short distances, I'm much better off than I was the past three years at this time.  I am doing more of a run/walk combo, but I can keep my speed up if I do that.  My friend runs consistently without walking.  I walk 3 or 4 times briefly during a run and end up finishing with or before her.  I'm still not sure about this 13.1 miles...we'll see!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Retro Birthday - TBT

Today's Throwback topic is:
Throwback Birthday!

I always had great birthdays as a kid.  Looking back, my mom didn't spend a lot of money.  She didn't rent petting zoos or magicians and she didn't invite a hundred kids.  My birthday was at the beginning of summer, so it was usually nice outside.  My parties typically involved my parents, brother, and cousins outside playing with water.  I still vividly remember the year we got a Slip & Slide!

My mom always made me a homemade cake of my choosing.  I remember one year that I was very specific.  I wanted a yellow cake with chocolate icing and red writing.  I also wanted a big #8 candle instead of 8 regular candles.  That's exactly what I got.

As a parent, I try to hard to make each birthday unique and memorable.  My birthdays were no big event but they sure were fun!

This was an actual Chuck E. Cheese, not the surprise party.
I remember complaining one year that I never had a surprise party.  Seems like the next day, my mom took me to a place similar to Chuck E. Cheese with some bogus excuse.  Out from underneath the table jumped my brother and cousins.  I'm not sure how I didn't see that one coming.

Now when it came to my 16th birthday party, my mom went all out.  I was allowed to invite the entire youth group from church, which was huge.  My mom moved all the furniture out of the living room to prepare for my Mexican Fiesta.  I remember our coffee table in the middle of the room.  It had a punch bowl on it with something floating in it....shaped ice?  umbrellas?  I can't remember.  She hung colored lights all over the room and turned off the overhead light.  There was Mexican music playing.  She decorated with sombreros and pinatas and served tacos.  I remember is as one of the best nights of my life.  I do remember that the man who is currently my husband did not attend.  I was just starting to get my crush on him.  When I asked him later why he didn't come, the girl who ordered him around, who he thought was his girlfriend, told him he couldn't go.  Nice.

My mom still tries to make my birthday very special.  I appreciate that.  As a mom of 4, I sometimes get overlooked.  June 2 is one day I don't mind taking all the attention and making it all about me.  I'm still a kid at heart.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday Randomness

Nothing specific is going on today, so I'll just talk about all the randomness that's wandering around in my head.

Tonight, we're going to the calling hours of a grouchy, old man who liked no one.  Except for my husband.  He absolutely adored my husband.  Hubby has that way of making people like him.  I do not possess that quality.  If I like you, I can usually get you to like me.  But if I don't care for you, I'm certainly not going to put forth the effort.  Sometimes, being nice is way too much effort.  It's rewarding in the end though.  The family asked him to be a pallbearer at the funeral.  So very touching.


I was a good girl today.  I went to my first Lady Doctor appointment since having Baby Girl.  I know, I know...I'm supposed to go annually.  I didn't like my doctor, he makes me wait for an hour to see him, the copay costs a fortune....I could go on and on with my list of excuses.  I finally decided to try my mom's doctor and I absolutely loved her!  She's extremely close, young, and has an awesome personality.  She talked to me through the exam, which distracted me.  When it was over, I barely realized it happened.  We've got some issues to work out and I really like her attack plan.  It sounds very doable, not at all scary, and wise.  Now, I'm feeling relief at finally getting this over.  It's been nearly 5 years.


Baby Girl just asked me, "Mom, can I go try to get some freckles?"  I kissed her little face and asked how she was going to get some freckles.  She squished up that little face and said, "Just go outside, I guess."  That was her clever way of asking if she could play outside, I suppose.  How precious is she?


Today, it was Fall outside.  That's awesome for me.  I could live in a steady, cool climate all year.  I looked kind of cute in my short striped skirt, cardigan, summer scarf, and bare legs.  THE perfect outfit.


I told you about my friend who got engaged.  I made her a crafty gift that I was quite proud of.  Following this example on Pinterest, I printed out a map of the location they got engaged.  He took her to a mountain in Virginia.  I cut a heart from the map, glued it onto a white background, and printed their names and engagement date in a very trendy font.  I framed it in a perfect frame found at the fabulous Hobby Lobby.  Yeah, I'm just cute like that.  :)


I'm also making my own stick props for the photo booth!  I'm just getting too crafty for my own good!  It's all Pinterest!  I choose projects that are extremely easy and see them through til they're done.  I bought my first stick props online, but they're quite costly.  They get destroyed pretty quickly at events, and I want to keep them fresh looking.  Pretty scrapbook paper + a masquerade mask patter = a very simple project!


I saw a post that said something like, "All of us who got married before Pinterest should get a redo wedding."  I totally agree with that statement!


I didn't plant tomatoes this year.  That makes me so sad because this is about the time they would start ripening.  I could really use a great tasting garden tomato right about now.

Monday, July 29, 2013

I'll Have a Steak Sandwich, and a....Steak Sandwich

Bonus points if you know what movie this post title came from.  Hint:  Just put it on Mr. Underhill's tab.

I made something else new for supper last week.  Hubby declared it to be in his top five, or maybe even his top three.  Son #1 agreed.  Son #2 picked, cried, gave dirty looks, and yelled at anyone who was looking at him.  You do the math.

I noticed Beef Round Thin Sandwich Steak in my grocer's meat case.  I had never seen it before.  It was 6 very thin slices of steak, each about 2-3" wide.  The packages were around $5 and were BOGO.  I bought two.

I went to the bakery section and bought the best looking sub rolls I could find.  At the deli, I bought thick slices of Mozzarella.  I already had onion, but my mushrooms were bad.

I thinly sliced sweet onion and sauteed it in oil.  Before it was done, I added thinly cut strips of the steak.  I seasoned them with salt, pepper, and a dash of garlic powder.  I cooked it all at a medium high heat for just a few minutes.

I spooned several strips of steak onto one of the delicious buns, topped it with cheese, and popped it in the hot oven.  I added mayo and tomato to mine.  The guys took theirs plain.

For a side, I made oven fries.  Those went over very well!  I sliced 3 medium-large potatoes into 1/4" strips.  I tossed them in 2T oil and 1/2 t salt.  I layed them out on a greased cookie sheet and baked at 450 for 30 minutes.  They were a little tricky to get off the cookie sheet, but they were delicious!  The guys fought over the crispy fries.

The verdict:  I'm definitely adding this to the rotation.  It was quite simple and half the family liked it.  (Those are the best odds I can expect right now.)  One package of the meat (.64 lb.) made 4 sandwiches for us.  One of them was kind of skimpy though.  3 potatoes did not make enough fries for us.  I'll do 4 next time.

Anyone else ever make steak sandwiches?  I'd like to try a Chicken Philly version!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Throwback Photos

I know you've been on pins and needles since yesterday, wondering which kid in the class picture was me!  Was I homely looking or adorable?  Come on now...I was a cutie!  Check me out!!

First Grade
 Pink Jumper and White Bow

Second Grade 
A crocheted sweater from my great-grandma and pigtails

Fifth Grade
I've got braids going on and some sort of loudly printed shirt, which I loved!

Also, I found Shawn from Kindergarten, the one who smelled like eggs.
I'm on the left and he's on the right.  Ah, the bowl cut!  Girls sported it too (see chick in the red jumper.)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Romance on the Playground - TBT

Today's Throwback topic (courtesy of Bon) is:
Elementary School Crush

Hmmm...not sure I'm willing to go back THAT far!  The only boy I can remember liking in elementary school was named Ricky.  He had one of those bowl cuts that most boys in the early 80s had.  I remember when he got a regular haircut.  I thought he looked weird and I quit liking him.  I do remember him exposing himself in third grade and the huge deal that was made over it.  The principal came in and talked to us and I got a long talking to by my mom.  Back then, I didn't really see the big deal.  I had a brother...I knew what was up.  I haven't heard boo from him since graduation.  Wonder if he's a pedophile or anything???

In Kindergarten, this kid named Shawn apparently had a crush on me.  He smelled like spoiled eggs.  He leaned over one day and planed a kiss right on me.  I was appalled.  I turned to the person next to me and made him switch me seats.  I don't believe I ever spoke to the kid again....not that I spoke much at that age anyway.

Those two stories make up the entire romance chapter of my elementary school years.  What about you???

Second Grade - Can you tell which one is me?

Fifth Grade

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What's for Dinner?

I've been talking a lot lately about changing our typical dinnertime routine.  I'm sick of the stress over what to make, followed by the complaints from my family about what I made.  I'm sick of the kids not eating, sick of the husband half-heartedly eating, and sick of having to clean up after it all.  I decided to lay down the law, list my demands, and try out some new recipes while trying to conform my picky eaters to a normal family.

Pinterest is a great site to find new recipes.  We are extremely picky eaters, so I can only even consider about 1/50 of the recipes on there.  I'm not going overboard here...just trying to stick to somewhat normal things.

This week I tried Italian Chicken Casserole.  I would describe it as a creamy chicken spaghetti.  It is very similar to the Mexican Spaghetti I make, but with Italian flavor instead of Mexican.  Plus, there are no "cream of" soups, which I'm totally over at this point.  I can always taste the fakeness of that soup when I use it in a recipe.

The verdict:  Awesome!  I really enjoyed it.  Hubby said it was good, but 3 of the kids had to be force fed.  Big Sis said that it honestly wasn't that bad.  It's something I'll bring back again with no concerns that it's another thing added to the list of things my children hate.  And by the way, it's definitely not low fat.

Italian Chicken Casserole

2 T olive oil
1 C onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
3 C cooked chicken, cubed
2 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes with garlic, basil, and oregano
1 C heavy cream
3 oz. cream cheese
2 C shredded Mozzarella
8 oz. angel hair pasta, cooked

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9x13" baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large skillet, heat oil.  Add onion and garlic; cook 3 minutes.  Stir in chicken, tomatoes, and cream.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened.  Add cream cheese and 1 C Mozzarella.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the cheeses are melted.  Add cooked pasta, tossing gently.  Spoon into prepared dish.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake 30 minutes.

My notes:  I dialed down the onion and the garlic, as I always do.  I salted the chicken when I cooked it, as some of the commenters said it needed salt.  I didn't actually measure my chicken, but I think it could have used a bit less.  The chicken seemed to overwhelm the dish a bit.  Several commenters said that their family did not like the chunks of tomatoes and they used pasta sauce instead.  I used my potato masher to crush as many tomatoes as possible.  The kids still complained about the chunks, but I loved it that way.  I also used a half pint of cream, without measuring.  Is that a full cup?

I had leftovers for lunch today, and while it was a tad bit dry from being refrigerated, it was still delicious.  I recommend giving this one a try.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Don't Worry, Be Happy!

To make up for yesterday's post, I'm going to talk about the things making me happy today!

First of all, one of my dearest friends got engaged yesterday!  She's marrying my "adopted cousin" and we've all been waiting for this for a while.  I knew they needed to be together years ago.  I knew she liked him, and I was pretty sure he liked her.  He was just too much of a stick in the mud to do anything about it.  I started teasing him about it, in an encouraging, big cousin kind of way.  When he was ready to finally ask her out, he asked my opinion about what to do for their first date.  I've also helped him decide on birthday and Christmas gifts.  I thought he might ask me to help him pick out the ring, but he did that all on his own!  Proud of them!  They got engaged on a mountain in Virginia.  How sweet!  

Another thing making me very happy today is that I am finally done painting!  3 gallons, multiple paint swatches, and what seems like ten hours of cleaning paint brushes later- all the hard work is done!  Now I can concentrate on putting my disorganized house back together!  I need to have my yard sale and get rid of all this extra junk!  

I have a great friend of mine scheduled to come over next week.  She is an interior designer and her skill is second to none!  I'm going to have her walk around the house and do her magic.  I have a certain style I like, but just don't know exactly how to execute it.  I have a little bit of money to spend, but I think she'll be able to move around what I already have and make it look better.  The kids have nothing hanging on their walls yet, but I'm sure she'll know the best way to handle that.  She doesn't charge much, and tries not to charge me at all.  But I want to pay her what she charges everyone else.  Then, I'm going to watch her kids so she can go out alone with her husband.  I'm excited!  

At this very moment, it is not raining.  Yes, it's supposed to rain most of the rest of the day, but it's not raining RIGHT NOW.  I'll take it.  

I made a delicious new recipe last night for dinner!  Of course, the kids didn't like it, but I thought it was fabulous!  I could best describe it as a creamy chicken spaghetti.  Thanks, Pinterest!  I think I'll post the recipe tomorrow.

60 days 'til I leave for New York!

Something that puts a little smile on my face is that my brother bought back our car.  Quick back story- right after Son #1 was born, we were ready to upgrade from our tiny Honda Civic to something larger.  We had our eyes set on a CR-V for quite some time.  We were on a waiting list for like 3 months because of the popularity of the vehicle.  We finally bought one in silver, brand new.  I loved that car.  It was probably my most favorite vehicle ever.  We drove it from 1999 until 2012.  It was still a great car, even though it had a cracked windshield and no A/C.  We repaired the windshield and sold it to my little cousin.  He really enjoyed having a car of his own and just dealt with being hot in the summer.  A couple weeks ago, his dad gave him his newer CR-V.  I hated to see the car go, and they offered it back to us, but it's going to be a couple more years before Son #1 is driving.  I thought it would be so cool for him to drive the car we bought the year he was born!  Anyhow, my brother drives a little sports car that our SUV could run over like a monster truck rally, and it doesn't perform well in our arctic winters.  (I'm worried the deep snow could actually cover it at some point.)  He bought the car back just to drive to work in the winter!  I told him to come see us in 2 years and we'd make a deal!  I love things that stay in the family!

Hubby just got a huge job for his side business!  He's ready to hire some help and really try to get this business going.  Since his day job just gave him the major shaft, he's pursuing what he really wants to do!  His other side job mowing grass is thriving too!  He's ready to collect an $850 check from the landscaper who contracted him!  That's sure going to come in handy with school shopping this year!  At our photo booth Saturday night, I had 2 or 3 people who told me they definitely want to book a gig of their own!  Business #3 taking off!  We're going to be just fine!

Life is good!  Share your warm fuzzies with me today!