Friday, October 31, 2008

Random Sentence of the Week

Maggie, to her big sister: "Hey Kate, do you think there are more 2-year-olds or Irish people?"

Thursday, October 30, 2008

More Comfort Food (and it isn't even winter yet!)


Hey, if you're looking for some comfort, and who isn't these days, Sophie, over at Boo Mama, is hosting a recipe exchange of sorts. All soup and crock pot recipes. So head there to find some "Num Yummy" goodness (have you seen that Campbell's commercial?).

And click here to find my sister's Pulled Pork recipe that feeds a crowd and is absolutely DELISH!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Travel Tuesday - Wednesday edition

The great thing about being your own blog’s boss is that you can post whenever you feel like posting. Or whenever you have time. Yesterday got away from me (most days do—I never seem to accomplish as much as I want to accomplish in any given day), so you get Travel Tuesday on Wednesday.

Oh well. Nobody’s paying me to stay on a deadline here.

Two weeks ago I ended my TT post by saying that pretty much the best parenting decision B and I ever made was to let me take each girl to England by myself when they turn 16. I still hold to that. Great decision for me. Not-so-great for B.

What can I say? The man is a sacrificial giver.

Anyway, the first great mother/daughter bonding trip took place last spring when Kate, our oldest, turned 16. We had planned for months and months beforehand, checking flights, looking for hotel deals, and trying to decide what we wanted to see and do in each city.

Kate, being the ever-sly-and-creative daughter suggested that while we were over there we might as well see Paris too. I heartily agreed, having never been to Paris myself, so that somehow got incorporated into our plan.

A word on planning . . . Make sure you check the school calendar before you book your tickets, especially if you’re planning your trip during Spring Break, because you might end up taking the week BEFORE Spring Break instead of the week OF Spring Break. But who would be that careless, really?


As I was saying, we planned for months for the great event. We knew where we would be staying and what we would be doing pretty much every day of our eleven day journey. We left some flexibility in each day that would allow us some time to stroll through the streets of London or take in a sidewalk café in Paris. It was going to be perfect.

But there’s just one thing you can’t plan for when you take a trip, any trip.

The weather.

Did I mention that we traveled in March? What was I thinking? Well, I’ll tell you what I was thinking. I was thinking that their weather isn’t as harsh as our weather and that the daffodils would already be in bloom (they were) and that it would be actual springtime in London (it wasn't). And I imagine that sometimes it actually is beautiful in London in March.

Just not March of 2008.

I kept a journal throughout our trip. Here are a few snippets:

Friday (arrival day) . . . “The day was sunny and COLD (they must have had a wind chill—it was terribly windy and just plain freezing!)”

Saturday . . . “The weather was absolutely awful and we needed to go inside somewhere.”

Sunday (Easter in London!) . . . “Now, getting to church was not that easy. We took the bus, which was fine, but the weather was SO terrible that the few blocks’ walk to the church was a real challenge. By the time we got to the church we were freezing (this will be a theme of our time in London) and sat with our coats on the entire time.”

You get the picture.

By Monday we had been so cold and wet for three days that we thought we’d never be warm again. And that day turned out to be the worst. We got up early to head to the TKTS Booth in Leicester Square in order to get theatre tickets for that evening. While we were waiting, the rain turned to sleet and took a new direction—sideways! Thankfully we did get some tickets to a show, but we had to cancel our plans to see the Changing of the Guard.

No worries. Knowing we’d need to be inside for a while that day, we decided to head over to Westminster Abbey. I guess everyone else had the same idea because when we got there the line was long. VERY long.

We were desperate, so we decided to wait, figuring that once we got inside we would just hang out there for a while and try to get warm.

We didn’t count on the Germans.

While we were standing there, patiently waiting behind a very nice family from Spain, I noticed a group of three people who were speaking German to one another. At first they were several places behind us in line. And then just a couple of places in line behind us.

Next thing I knew, they were right behind me, trying to scoot past me.

Now, my children will tell you, when justice is on the line, you don’t want to mess with their mom. And cutting in line when I am FREEZING, with the sleet and snow flying into my EARS, just will not be tolerated.

So I inched to the right to block their path.

They inched closer.

I inched a little more to the right.

They inched closer. We could have been sharing an umbrella by now.

It got to be funny, me not looking at them; them not looking at me. But we both knew the game was on.

Kate got uncomfortable--poor teenage daughter of a determined mom. She told me to just give it up and let them go past. But no, I would not.

By the time we got to the huge double doors of Westminster Abbey, we were in all-out line-jumping war. Elbows were thrown out a bit, shoulders nudged. I was not to be deterred.

And who do you think won that war?

We all did. The line-jumping war just made our 45 minute wait that much more interesting, and it made the time go faster. By the time we got to those doors, I didn’t care that they got to go in first. I was finally in a warm, dry place and that was my goal.

And Westminster Abbey wasn’t bad either.

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's All Kinds of Crazy Out There!

These are crazy days, aren't they? Just a quick read of this morning's newspaper gives me the willies. Gas prices . . . up and down. Financial markets . . . all over the place. Housing market . . . good for sellers or buyers? I can't keep up with it all.

One week from tomorrow we'll be voting in one of the most important presidential elections of our time. No matter which side of the line you fall, to the right or to the left, you've probably felt some desperation about the outcome.

And in my own neighborhood, just last week, someone tried to abduct a young girl--the friend of one of my daughters. More than the headlines, this has just about sent me over the edge.

I'm telling you, it's all kinds of crazy out there!

But last week I heard something that has helped a lot, and, just in case you're feeling as desperate as I am these days, I thought it might help you too.

I attended a large banquet last week at which Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham (who just happens to be my alma mater's most famous alumnus), spoke. He talked about these crazy days, about how many people believe that these days are pointing more than ever to the last days. He acknowledged that it's easy to become discouraged. Just look around.

But he pointed out that when Jesus was here on earth he didn't tell his disciples to be discouraged, rather he told his disciples to be alert. In Mark 13:33, Jesus is telling his disciples about the days just before his return. He tells them, "Be on guard! Be alert! You don't know when the time will come."

Did he tell them to be discouraged? No! He just said to pay attention to what's going on. Be alert.

So B and I were discussing this on the way home, about how we shouldn't be discouraged about the outcome of the election or about how we have no retirement fund left or about any of it. We talked about how the opposite of discourage is EN-courage. And there's way more talk in the Bible of encouragement than discouragement.

And then B had one more brilliant point, as usual. He said, "What's the root of both of those words?"


As Christians, we are to have courage when the going gets tough. When facing the future. When facing various trials. Courage and faith go hand-in-hand.

I was reminded about last year, when my friend, Amy, was going through a desperate time, and I sent her a note with this verse on it: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

I don't know about you, but these days I'm going to try to be encouraged, to be strong and courageous, no matter what happens. All is well.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Don't mess with me -- I'm in need of some comfort!

Well, it's been a week. I'm warning you, you don't want me to go into it too much, but its initials are P. and M. and S. Geesh!

What between that and the economy (my banker-husband says we're headed for another market crash again today) and politics (I don't think my heart can take much more of this!), I'm about ready for the weekend.

Good thing it's Friday!

When things get kind of desperate like they did this week, I do the one thing I know I can do well--cook. And eat. O.K., that's two things, but I warned you. You do NOT want to contradict me right now.

And what do I want to eat when I need comfort? Well, pretty much everything in sight, but this week it was risotto. There is just nothing like the creamy, rich goodness of a really good risotto. Now THAT does my heart good.

So today you get a cooking lesson. If you've never made risotto before, give it a try! It's really not as hard as it sounds.

My inspiration was a butternut squash risotto that I had last year in New York City at a restaurant called, ironically, Shelly's. This risotto was so yummy, I've dreamed about it ever since. Mine wasn't exactly the same as the dish I had last year, but that doesn't mean it wasn't as good. It was! I just did a couple of different things like roasting the squash first and eliminating garlic.

Now, the trickiest thing about risotto--seriously!--is that you need two pans. One, larger, for the risotto itself, and a smaller one to keep the chicken stock hot. That's the hardest part, truly. Oh, and the small matter of stirring, which we'll get to later.

So here we go! First, take a butternut squash, peel it, and cut it into small pieces. Place the squash on a cookie sheet with sides and drizzle it with olive oil (2-3 tablespoons should do ya), then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast the squash in a 400 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven.

Next (here's the part with the pots) warm about 7 cups of chicken broth in a pot on the stove. In a larger pot, melt 4 tablespoons butter and add one diced onion. Cook onion until it's translucent, about 4-5 minutes.

To the butter and onion, add 2 cups of Arborio rice (risotto rice) and stir to coat. Then add 1 C. white wine.

Cook the rice and wine until the wine is absorbed. It will look kind of like this:

Once the wine is absorbed, start adding chicken stock two ladels-full at a time (about 1 cup). And stir. The mixture should be a little bubbly, but not a full-out boil. Slowly cook rice until the chicken stock is absorbed, and then ladel more chicken stock over the top of the rice, stir some more, ladel some more, stir some more . . . you get the picture.

You'll repeat this process about 5 times or so, and the entire process will take about 15-20 minutes until the rice is tender. Be careful, though, that the rice doesn't get mushy. You want it al dente.

Once the rice is cooked, add the roasted squash, 1 tablespoon butter, about 1/4 teaspoon of fresh rosemary (not too much--rosemary is strong!), and some salt and pepper to taste.

Finally, the piste de la resistance . . . freshly grated parmesan cheese. About 1 cup. Add to the pot and stir.

Your finished product will look something like this:

Enjoy it with the rest of the white wine and some crusty bread.

Have a pleasant weekend, everyone!

P.S. Yes, that IS ice floating in the wine glass. See paragraph 1 above. Desperate times call for desperate measures!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The "Maggie Scale" of Autumn Decorations

You’ve heard of the Richter scale, right? That’s the way people in California know how big and how powerful their latest earthquake was . . . or something like that. It’s rated in levels so they know how bad it all was.

This weekend, while taking a long walk with Maggie, we started noticing that every house is decorated in different “levels” of autumn attire.

Maggie started ranking each house according to the “Maggie scale,” which isn’t quite as scientific nor as elaborate as the Richter scale, but you get the idea.

"Ooh, that one's a three," she would say.

Or, "Four, definitely a four. Look at that mask hanging from the tree. Yuck!"

So, in case you haven't begun decorating for autumn (although you should have by now), Maggie's scale might just be of help to you.

Maggie’s level 1: No autumn decorations at all. Not even a mum plant in a pot sitting by the front door. Nothing. Nada. Niet. Come on people, do something!

Maggie’s level 2: “Kind of like our house,” she said. Fall decorations, mums, a few pumpkins. All tastefully done, of course. This is the level to which the tasteful holiday decorator should aspire (if I do say so myself).

Maggie’s level 3: Halloween begins to creep in here. “Cheerful Halloween decorations,” Maggie called them. Any house with a carved pumpkin or a not-too-scary-looking witch outside of it would fall into this category.

Maggie’s level 4: Ghoulish. This is the “creepy” category. Houses with graveyards and skeletons in their front yard. Houses that don’t speak “friendly” in any way, shape, or form.

Why anyone would want a graveyard in their front yard, unless you live next door to a church, is beyond me.

Why anyone would want to scare the little kiddos away is also beyond me since the best part of Halloween is seeing the kids in your neighborhood who just yesterday were sitting in strollers come to your door and say “Trick or Treat” in their biggest kid voices. And then I get to “ooh” and “aah” over their costumes and ask them how their mom is doing and how school’s going and end up embarrassing them to death.

Makes you wonder which “Level” house is worse on Halloween . . . the one with the creepy skeleton guarding over the graveyard . . . or mine.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Travel Tuesday - A Travel Tips Carnival!

I was going to begin posting about my trip with Kate to London and Paris, but that will have to wait one more week since Antique Mommy is hosting a blog carnival which, interestingly, she’s calling Travel Tips Tuesday. And this is one carnival that a trip-lover like me could not pass up.

So, where do I begin? Well, that’s my tip.

When beginning to plan a trip, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. There are several great websites that will give you all sorts of insider information for planning your trip. And insider information makes all the difference between having a good trip and having a GREAT trip.

Some of my favorite trip-planning websites are TripAdvisor, Frommers, Fodors, and Rick Steves. Spend some time on these websites, learning some background about the place you’ll be going, and, especially, taking advantage of their forums.

I’d say that out of those, Tripadvisor is my absolute favorite. I have spent many happy hours on their forum boards, gleaning lots of insider information from people who really know "what’s what" about your travel destination. People are usually more than happy to answer your questions about your destination, as long as you’ve done a little homework first and you try to refrain from asking the most obvious of questions.

For instance, this summer, when I was planning a trip for 16 people to Switzerland and was the go-to gal in charge of the whole thing, I spent lots of time on Tripadvisor. It was there that I learned how to navigate the Swiss Rail system which can be veeeerry confusing. I even learned about getting group rates for train travel and saved our group a LOT of money. I also found out that in Interlaken you can watch paragliders come in for a landing in the park in the middle of town—lots of fun on a sunny afternoon.

But I didn’t just stop with Tripadvisor. I moved on to Rick Steves, even buying his book, because he provides some pretty interesting walking tours that you can do on your own—best part is . . . they’re free! We would not have known how to find Lindenhof Park, the beautiful park in the middle of Zurich that is so stereotypically European that old men even play chess with huge chess pieces there.

Nor would we have found the ruins of Roman baths down along a small alleyway in the center of Zurich without Rick’s help.

Travel website forums come in really handy when you’re deciding on a hotel. Say you’ve done some research and you’ve found three hotels you’re interested in. They are all in the same location, they all cost about the same, and they are all similar in terms of their amenities. How do you know which hotel to choose? Travel websites like TripAdvisor, allow members to post reviews and photos of these hotels, and, believe me, these reviews have helped me out more than once.

Last spring I was trying to decide which hotel in Paris to choose, and, thanks to the good information I got from these reviews, I ended up in a beautiful small hotel in a quiet neighborhood that was just right for my daughter and me. I also learned that this hotel would be about a fifteen minute walk from the Eiffel Tower and that there weren’t a lot of restaurants on the street where we’d be staying. By reading forums and hotel reviews before I left home, I wasn’t surprised by any of this when I got there.

So before you pack your bags, do your homework. Your trip will go from good to GREAT!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Random Sentence of the Week

While out to lunch:

B: "Abby, will you pray for us?"

A: "Sure, but I didn't bring any money with me."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Where's Mom When You Need Her?

I was beginning to wonder, and now it is officially confirmed: there is no such thing as common sense anymore.

In the old days . . . like when I was a little girl . . . my mom instilled common sense in me. She’d tell me things like, “Bundle up, it’s cold out there!” or “Wear your seatbelt!” or “Eat a good breakfast before school.”

Mom had a lot of common sense. She still does. She recently went on a trip to Europe, but stopped at my house first. When she was here I got to look inside her suitcase and saw that she packs every outfit for her trip in a Ziplok bag—one of those big ones they make now. Isn’t that great?! Such practicality.

I guess mothers today are not doling out common sense the way they used to because more and more I see stories on the news that just make me scratch my head.

“Like, DUH!” I want to scream when I see a story telling people to put all of their underwear in the same drawer so that like things are in the same place. Or to change their sheets every so often to prevent bed bugs. You know, just the every day, common sense stuff of life.

So I just had to laugh out loud when I opened my computer this morning to the most recent headlines. Were they anything about the economy or the election? Nope.

One of the stories was about stick bugs. They’re long.

One was about "energy" food to keep you going all day long. Eat a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Drink water. (My mom could have told the nation that one!)

And the one I loved the most that made me guffaw with laughter was about the latest threat to our health: cell phone rash.

Yes, you read it right. Cell phone rash. You know, that itchy, burning rash you get on your face and ear from holding your cell phone there too much. Haven’t heard of it? Me neither. Until today.

There it was, the ominous headline: “Doctors Warn of Cell Phone Rash.”

I read it out loud to B who said, “Gee, all they need to do now is put the word ‘syndrome’ after it and we’d have a national crisis on our hands.” He’s right. Can’t you just see the ensuing panic?

You would think that normal people, who can figure out how to actually work a cell phone, would be able to figure out that if you regularly repeat a motion and it eventually makes your skin break out in little bumps that they should stop said repetitive motion. Right?


Apparently our society today needs a little hand holding. Somebody to knock a little common sense into their heads.

Apparently our society needs a mom.

Lysa, You're a Pal!

Just want to say thanks to Lysa TerKeurst for the shout out today. I've gone from five to, like, six readers in just a day, so, thanks!

I'm kidding about the readers, of course, so if this is your first time here, please leave a hello in the comments section. And come back any time. I'd love to meet you!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Travel Tuesday - How It All Began

I think it was somewhere in Scotland.

B and I had been driving throughout England and Scotland in 2005 with my sister and brother-in-law, each couple celebrating our 20th wedding anniversaries. B and I had been to England together, once before, pre-kids, and we were reminiscing about that wonderful trip.

Backpacks. Youth Hostels. Trains. No money.

In 1991 we spent two glorious weeks traveling around England and Scotland and did the entire trip, airfare included, for $2,500.

My, how the times had changed. We packed rolling suitcases this time, stayed in the nicest accommodations we could afford (even in a castle for two nights!), drove an SUV that was outfitted with a GPS system (thank God for that traveling mercy!), and spent just a little more than $2,500.

So there we were, enthralled once again with the place that had captured my heart in 1984, when, as a college student I had the life-changing opportunity to kick around the country and study for a summer. I learned that summer what “old” really is as I toured 900 year old castle ruins, and I realized for the first time how big this world is. I also learned that Laura Ashley dresses could be bought for a lot less in England, and oh, how I loved Laura Ashley in the ‘80s!

So we were driving along, B and I, thinking about how travel changes us—had indeed changed us—and how we would love for our girls to see this big, beautiful world too and be changed.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could bring the girls here?” one of us dreamed.

“Oh yeah, broaden their horizons, it would,” dreamed the other.

The idea simmered throughout the trip until eventually was born what I consider one of our very best parenting ideas EVER. We decided that when each of our girls turned 16, I would take them on a mom/daughter trip. You know, to bond like we’ve never bonded before.

This past spring Kate and I “bonded” over tea and scones, fish and chips, and croissants and jam. I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Next week: Mom/daughter trip realized. Part ?? because I’m not sure how many blog entries it’s going to take!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Worth It

On Saturday we woke to the most spectacular sight. It wasn't the promise of a warm autumn day, although that was part of it. It wasn't the fall colors that were just beginning to burst, although those were beautiful.

It was a blank calendar.

Nothing, absolutely nothing was on our agenda for Saturday. And so, with the promise of a warm autumn day and the prospect of seeing some gorgeous color, B and I decided that we would have a "family day." Even the dog was going to come.

We thought it would be great to put everyone in the car and drive about an hour away to the farm where I was raised. We'd let Thunder off the leash for a while and let her run through the cornfields. We'd spend some quality time together as a family and everything would be beautiful.

Until we broke the news to the girls. They had other ideas for their free day. Plans that did not include being outside, getting dirty, or taking part in any excercise. Plans that DID include florescent lighting, air conditioning, and spending lots of money.

What to do?

Being the good parents that we are, we loaded up our disappointed girls and our car-sick dog (oh my, that's another story for another blog) and headed out to the farm.

At first we heard some whining, but that quickly settled as we threatened to leave the whiner home. Since nobody in our family ever wants to miss out on an outing, everyone came. And so did their books, their iPods, and their Nintendo DSs, but that's o.k. It made the car ride, which turned out to be much longer that we had thought because of the lovely Chicago traffic, just a little more bearable.

The day turned out to be lovely. And our walk was perfect. And when we got home, nobody said they would have rather spent the day at the mall.

Even though it takes some coaxing to get teenagers to participate in family activities, and even though it seems like a hassle sometimes to load everything up and drive for a while just to spend a couple of hours outside, it really is worth it.

I think we'll remember our free Saturday for quite a while.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Step Right up and Get Your Halloween Toy!

The best thing about Halloween has always been the toys, right? I mean, seriously, my kids just can’t wait to go Trick or Toying. Kids throughout the neighborhood are lining up at my front door to get a toy.

It’s all about the toys. Always has been.

You’re probably laughing right now, thinking I’ve lost it, and if you are, you’d be right. That is exactly the reaction I had when I read this article by the Associated Press this week.

The article basically suggests that people pass out toys or stickers or other such things on Halloween—anything but candy. Because candy is full of evil sugar and we can’t have our kids consuming anything so downright bad for them.

How ‘bout we give them toy guns instead?

And just in case your parental skills are really lacking, the article suggests several ways you can combat the ills of sugar-exposure.

Tactics like playing the “switch witch” with your kids. At bedtime, kids leave out as much candy as they want and the “switch witch” comes and swaps their candy for a toy. The more candy, the bigger the toy.

Or talking to them about nutrition because, you know, we don’t do that but on one night a year and kids are really in a listening mood on Halloween.

Or rationing. Whatever.

Here’s my tactic for Halloween. Send the kids out to get as much candy as they can possibly carry. When they get home, have the kids dump the lot in the middle of the floor for sorting. Grab the Baby Ruths and run.

They can eat the rest. But I know they probably won’t.

Every year, sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I clean out my kids rooms to find an entire stash of uneaten Halloween candy. I eventually throw it all out, and nobody even gives it a second thought.

By then, Halloween is a long-gone memory. The kids have moved on to Christmas and are already dreaming about the toys.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Reach Out and Touch Someone

Remember way back in July? How could you--I didn't have any readers back then.

Just to refresh your memory, I wrote this post about Kate calling us from Costa Rica to tell us that her flight was cancelled and that she wouldn't be returning from her missions trip until about 24 hours after we thought she would. We were glad to know that she was safe, and we were happy to pass the news on to the other parents of kids in her group.

Now, about the SECOND collect call she made . . . ? The one a few hours later just to tell us they were getting on the plane to Miami . . . ? The one when B kept her on the line for a while, just chatting it up about her experience . . . ? The one when I kept telling him to HANG UP THE PHONE . . . ?

Not only did I not know they still DID collect calls, I didn't know how much a collect call from Costa Rica would cost. I do now though. Oh, yes I do.

Wanna make a guess?

We didn't talk for more than three minutes each time.

So I guess that would be, oh, about $13.00 per MINUTE.

Yep, the bill came and the calls from Costa Rica cost over $40 EACH.

Can we all say "aye carumba" together now??

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Travel Tuesday - Inaugural Edition

Travel is, some would say, a passion for me.

And I know where it came from. When I was very young, my grandfather retired and from that point on, he and my grandmother traveled the world. They were gone--a lot--and when they weren't on a trip, they were planning the next one. I remember asking them, as soon as they got back from somewhere exotic, where they were going next. Grandpa always had an answer.

So I credit my wanderlust to Earl, and in his honor I want to inaugurate Travel Tuesday. On Tuesday I'll tell of a travel-related adventure I've had, or one that someone I know has had. Maybe it will ignite some wanderlust in you, too.

Today, since I forgot to do it when I got home, I'm going to post some pictures from our trip to Aspen. I had heard about Aspen in the fall, people would "oooh" and "ahhhh" when we told them we were going, but I had no idea how vibrant those Aspen trees could get! In fact, as we were flying into Aspen, coming over the mountains covered with an almost neon yellow, I said to my husband, "Hey, look at those fields of daffodils!" Boy, I hope nobody on the plane was listening.

Of course, I don't have pictures of those vibrant Aspen trees because on the one hike we took that was the MOST beautiful, I forgot to bring the camera. Will I never learn?

These are the hills of Snowmass, taken from the top of Aspen Mountain.

No thanks. I'll choose life.

Take note of that elevation. Amazing!

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Music being practiced, piano and violin.
The soft swish, swish, swish of the washing machine.
The quiet click-clack, click-clack of the dryer.
A football game playing on television.
The tap tap tap of a gentle rain on the roof above me.
All the sounds of a quiet Sunday afternoon. The sounds of contentment to me.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Random Things That Make Me Happy

I guess it's a random kind of day. And a day to steal other's ideas.

Yesterday Sophie at Boo Mama listed some random things that make her happy, so I thought I'd run my own list. Remember, it's random. I could come up with lots of other things on any other random day.

-My family which includes my always-generous husband and three delightfully fun and interesting daughters.

-Laughter, every day

-Books and time to read them

-Cousins Christmas


-Chicago pizza

-Reality t.v.

-My town in the summer

-My town in the fall


-My friends

-Coffee, strong and black

-Vanilla bean Frappucino with a shot

-Kiawah Island

-Travel of any kind but especially to Europe

-Long talks with my girls

-When the lightbulb goes on (in my head or my students’ heads)

-Buddy Holly

-The Trifecta: clean sheets, clean pajamas, shaved legs

-Thunder the Wonder Dog

-The smell of burning leaves

-My alma mater

-Holding hands with my husband in church

Random Sentence of the Week

My middle daughter, Abby, is a hoot. She makes me laugh on a regular basis.

She's also a quiet, listening type of person. She observes. She listens. She notices things.

A long time ago, probably a year or two, she started coming home from school with the "Random Sentence of the Day." It could be anything, as long as she had heard it sometime that day and it was, indeed, random. I've been the "victim" of Abby's RSOD many times.

So, in honor of Abby, and . . . well . . . O.K., to steal her idea, I'm instituting a "Random Sentence of the Week" on Fridays. Usually it will be a truly random sentence, but other times it could just be a sentence I like.

This week's entry is a sentence I heard from a woman in my Bible study group that I thought was priceless and completely sums up my feelings:

"Change is really great. . . . You go first."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Anything for the P's

On Monday morning one of the girls opened the refrigerator door and said, "Ugh, Mom, something has gone really, really bad in there!"

That afternoon, after a flurry of errands, dodging raindrops, and one blown-off lunch (thanks a lot!) I came home to this:

I just couldn't take it anymore--the smell, my family's complaints, and the fact that my parents are flying in today (that's pretty much what it takes to get me to clean out my fridge . . . parental pressure) all came together in what they call a "perfect storm." It had to be done.

Now, by taking a look at that picture you can learn a lot about me.

Number one: I like dairy. Of all kinds. Notice the whipping cream container--I didn't even have plans for the cream, it just sounded good one day when I was at the store. And somewhere back there is a container of Half and Half too, just in case I ran out of real cream. Funny thing is, I take my coffee black! And should things get completely desperate, there's also milk . . . and cheese . . . and eggs.

Number two: I don't like to use Tupperware . . . much. You notice the very large soup pot? Yup, just too lazy to transfer the soup to the appropriate container. I think the pot is appropriate. And the Chinese containers? Well, if it was good enough for the restaurant, it's good enough for me. Actually, I prefer the Glad disposable containers because when I find unidentifiable meat in one, I don't feel tooooooo bad just tossing it out. Like I did on Monday.

Number three: Well, this should be obvious. I consider cleaning my fridge a useless exercise that is largely a waste of time. I mean, seriously, the minute things get tidied up in there the refrigerator mice come out and mess everything up again. The next time you open the door it looks just like the way you left it BEFORE you cleaned it out. Honestly!

Well, with my hopes high that the refrigerator mice had indeed gone packing for the summer, I mustered up some courage and dove in.

Baked beans? When did we have baked beans?

Chicken? I shudder to think what would have happened if someone had actually found it and eaten it.

Well, after unloading much of the contents of that nasty refrigerator, wiping everything down, and replacing the few items that were actually still edible, here's what I had.

Ahhhh, the peace and tranquility of a clean refrigerator. Until I closed the door and the mice did their thing again.