Saturday, April 30, 2011

This Girl . . .

. . . .cracks me up all the time!

I work with Brittany. She's my son's age. She seems rather quiet, but she throws out these zingers that have me laughing a deep, belly laugh.

On this day, I asked Miss Nancy whether I needed to change the greeting on the phone before we left for the weekend. Brittany was sitting behind me, working on charts.

Miss Nancy thought the phone would be fine, but Brittany suggested we "record it using a Jamaican accent."


Say mon, we be gone 'til Monday, off to do our second and third jobs. Do you have only one job, you lazy goat? Leave de message, and we be callin' you back. Respect.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

One Writing Assignment

Glenna was handed a list of questions from her English teacher, Mrs. R. She had to come up with a specific object to answer each question, or an adjective or descriptive feeling. She was encouraged to use photographs or objects around the house in her descriptions, mostly that evoke items of heritage.

I've copied it below for the Grandmas. However, all of you may enjoy it, too!

I sure did. =)

Where I'm From
by Glenna W.

I am from dusty western horses,
From Publix sweet tea and wrangler jeans,
I am from the tan add-on house with boxy bushes,
Rusty, grainy, dirt-smelling shovels.

I am from the tabebuia, jasmine, and thunderstorms
Bold, powerful, and freeing.
I am from evenings spent watching the Masters,
And blue Irish eyes,
From Chester and Rosie.
I am from the spontaneous singing and movie quoting,
From besame mija and get in the car.

I am from a faith of grace and relation,
Of less religion and more relationship.
I am from Scottish glens and Irish shores,
From Beef Sammies and Moose Tracks,
From the sweaty blacksmith shops of an Irish man,
And pristine and crisp Harvey Girl aprons of German women.
From mining towns and hilly beaches,
And from the smoke of the immigrant’s ship,
From personal struggle to personal peace and joy.

I am from story reading and blankets on the grass,
From stone walls and a sister’s love,
From white backdrops and red dresses,
From brown curls and golf balls on the green,
And from paintbrushes and a family of trust.

I am change.

Friday, April 22, 2011

One Cute Pup

Although Missy has a bad reputation amongst our friends and family, she's actually not a bad dog.

Just don't leave your socks out where she can get them.

And don't leave anything on the coffee table.

And don't set your drink on the floor.

And don't leave your bedroom door open.

And don't open the freezer without giving her an ice cube.

And don't leave any pencils within reach.

And don't leave the gate off the stairway or she'll bark and scratch at the window.

And don't leave the bathroom door open or she'll find things or tear apart the rug.

If you can remember all of this, she's actually a good dog!

Recently, I took her and Jack to the groomer. Missy was finished first and tried not to go crazy while waiting for Jack.

She looked out the window for a while.

No, really. There was a squirrel and it came right up to the glass door. I thought Missy was going to bust a thread.

She paced a bit:

She looks so funny here:
Now that her face has grown back a little, she looks so much like an Ewok with large, brown button eyes.

The other night, I looked over and saw this:
They were both sound asleep.

I think Glenna heard me a little. See how Missy's tucked under her chin?
Once in a while, Glenna will scoop up her pup and head for the stairs, telling me she's off to take a nap.

Missy actually obliges. She's a great napper.

But she can be a yapper.

She's a kicker, but she can't hold her Licker.

She's a lover, not a biter!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

One Symphany, Four Movements

As a music major now in her SECOND semester of her JUNIOR year (ack! Still sorry about that!), Jessie has many opportunities to attend fine arts performances.

A week ago, she invited us to Symphony Under the Stars at her university. We packed a blanket and chairs and headed out with Jessie, Mrs. M., and Papa.

This was my first view:

Mrs. M tried to get me to move, but I could see fine if I just leaned to the right a bit.

There! See the orchestra?

Dude. Seriously? Sit down!


Since students, particularly music majors, are required to attend so many fine arts performances per semester, the lawn was filled. Jessie made sure she picked up a program as her proof of attendance, as did many of the other students. The view cleared considerably after several students felt they had met the requirement and could leave.

The orchestra was made up of music majors, professors, and even non-music majors. The piece they selected was Symphony No. 1 in D Major, for Large Orchestra by Gustav Mahler (1860-1911). It had four movements and each was wonderfully described in our program so we could follow along easily. Even though the violins sounded a bit cluttered in places, I loved it!

I also loved the eclectic mixture of students, families, and the elderly all around us.

Look at these beautiful people!
His Brown-Eyed Girl, Jessie; Tyler; and Glenna.

Oh no! They both heard the camera! How do I take the sound off?
Eyes narrowing, mouths flattening.

See the sideways glance? I love how Tyler's face is also telling me to put the camera down. Right after this photo I got "the Look" and a "Mom!" from him.


Mrs. M and her father:
aka Papa.

If one could let go of decorum and allow people to be people, he might find the Symphony Under the Stars to be a pleasant way to spend an evening. In fact, it was easy to turn it into a people-watching event backed by an orchestra!

At one point, Ty told me to look at the moon to our left:
See it there, through the trees?

I wasn't fooled. I knew this was the real moon:

Many universities have free concerts. I would encourage all of you to seek them out, get out of the house, and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One Sweet Perk

I was a stay-at-home mom for 21 years. These were the most rewarding, exhausting, wonderful, frustrating, and beautiful years of my life so far.

I returned to work part time; first to Space Mountain, and then to a local dental practice. When I began to work outside the home, I discovered something amazing: Perks.

At Space Mountain, this came in the form of free park tickets, letting family members in 16 times per year, multiple discounts, and the occasional cast member appreciation picnic.

At the dentist office, perks come in the form of food.

Many dental specialists know that their business thrive by recommendations from our office. Dr. D does almost everything himself, but once in a while we'll send our patients to different practices for different specialty surgeries. They, in turn, send patients to us for dental care.

Every once in a while, these specialist also send us a reminder that their practice is around, or a thank you for recommendations. These notices come in the form of cookies and candy at Christmas or other holidays.

Last month, a woman walked into our office and said, "Greetings from Dr. White! We've brought you an ice cream truck! Please come out and make your selection!"

She didn't have to tell ME twice! I was out the door in a heartbeat.

Sorry this is so dark. This is Dr. White, who has a pediatric dentistry practice. We certainly felt like little kids with an ice cream truck!

He had an entire spiel about "Making your day and your smile bright with Dr. White." He was great!

We all rushed out for our selections. I grabbed some almond coated/vanilla almond cream DREAM bar. I need to look for these at Publix.

Or maybe I shouldn't.

Miss Nancy had orders for Tabitha and Dr. D as well.

This came in on Thursday:
Thank you, Dr. Krieger! We don't know why, but we sure weren't going to question!

This was also brought into the office, but we didn't get to keep it:

He deliberately smiled at his mama for the first time while he was here!
Miss Nancy said she will never forget the joy and delight of that mama as her baby boy smiled for the first time! The mama was crying and laughing and trying to text her husband, then trying to get him to do it again for the camera.

Glenna has encouraged me to bring any and all cookies and goodies home. The girl has caught on quickly - if it's chocolate, I can't eat it.

But Glenna can!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

One Amazing Package

In what I felt was my worst hostessing experience ever, Dr. Stephen Lewis from Rocky Mountain Bible College and Rocky Mountain Seminary came and stayed with us.

I say it was horrible because I didn't get to do any of the fun hostessing things I normally do. We didn't go see the manatee. We barely saw each other, even! I was either working or driving Glenna to her various events. He was mostly left home with the dogs, and Missy nervously tried to entertain him by leaving a "deposit" in her kennel.

I die.

Evidently, the visit wasn't so bad to Dr. Lewis!

I came home from work on Thursday and found a huge package waiting. I called Himself and began to describe the contents. First, I found these:
Basic Bible Interpretation by Roy B. Zuck and The Disciplemaker by Gary Derickson and Earl B. Radmacher!

Also this:
Salvation by Earl D. Radmacher - two copies!

But then, I pulled out the following. I asked Himself if he wanted me to describe it or if he wanted to be surprised when he got home.

"Tell me what it is!"

"Are you sure?"


Amazing that the man who won't let us open even ONE GIFT on Christmas Eve could not wait another mile of driving to hear what the gift was.

Here it is!

A full set of golf clubs, with the bag!

Does this mean I don't have to share the books?

When Himself was actually home (he was out of town most of Dr. Lewis's visit), they had talked extensively of golf, golf clubs, and golf bags.
Himself insisted I describe each and every club as he was driving back from Miami. I peeled back the cover and did so.

Yes, that's a Nike driver! Suh-weet!

Now, you're not actually seeing the club heads here:
These are fancy rubber covers that protect each head in the bag.

Dr. Lewis, thank you so much! We were floored by your generosity and thoughtfulness. Thank you!

Monday, April 18, 2011

One Step Further

Last week, I mentioned how easy/wonderful it has been for me to use e-mealz. On Friday, I printed my list and did the grocery shopping, spending under $150.00 for a week of meals (and various sundry items) for a family of four.

Now, what you're about to see is not my idea. I wish I had kept the reference to the blog that I found this on! I would love to give credit where credit is due. If anyone reading this happens to have seen this on another blog, please leave a message so I can update! (*Update: An anonymous commenter sent me the link! Thank you, Anonymous Commenter!)

So remember; not my idea!

I tried this last week and it worked so wonderfully! Tyler came home, opened the fridge, and said, "Mom, you're brilliant!" I quickly mentioned that I got it from another blog and he came back with, "Yeah, but you actually did it!"

Ok. I'll take that one.

"Her children will rise up and call her blessed." Proverbs 31

[Cue the choir music]

Ok, where was I? Right! Bless-ed!

What this saintly woman had done was organize her meals in her fridge. She printed out the recipes with photos on the fronts and put them on cards. She then gathered all the ingredients for each recipe, placed them in the plastic bins, and put the recipe card in the front.

Now, I happened to have a ton of empty plastic shoe boxes that I was about to toss toward the church yard sale. I thought this was a great idea, but I couldn't see myself typing up recipes, finding photos, and then printing them out. In fact, I knew this would get old in a heartbeat and take too much time for me.

Then I looked at my e-mealz list.
All I had to do was cut the recipes into strips! I then stuck them into the bins and gathered the ingredients as I was unloading the groceries from their bags.

Meat, veggies, canned tomato sauce; all of these fit neatly into the bins.
I had to adjust my refrigerator shelves to make a little more room, but there they are!

Glenna did the unloading and assembling yesterday.
Since she was making dinner Friday night and using chicken broth, she remembered that one of the recipes called for 1/3 cup of chicken broth, measured it out, and put it in a baggie while she was cooking. Otherwise, I would have just put the can in there.

Now, any one of us can grab a bin and we're good to go! Dinner on the table within 30 minutes!

Ok, here's some FAQs:

1. Will the meat stay good?

Yes! The meat doesn't spoil since most meats can stay in the fridge for a week without spoiling. If you're worried about the meat being used at the tail-end of your week, go ahead and freeze it first and then place it in the bin. It will safely defrost in the bin and not on your kitchen counter.

2. Do the veggies get limp because they're not in the crisper?

I did notice the lettuce was a little wilted, so I put it in a baggie this time with a damp paper towel. I could also just keep the lettuce in the crisper, but the bell peppers, onions, and celery were fine.

3. Do you pre-chop the meats and vegetables?

No. That would take too much time and I would tired of this plan quickly. I'm already saving time by gathering all the ingredients. I spend the chopping time chatting with Glenna while I cook.

4. What about the side dishes?

I leave the side dishes in the pantry, but e-mealz suggests them at the bottom of the recipe. Since I've ordered the low-carb meals it suggests things like mashed cauliflower or spaghetti squash, but I just use potatoes and pasta instead. I tried making cauli-rice and cauli-mashed before and my family gave it a thumbs down. I'm not using the low-carb for the low-carbs! I just wanted meals that were devoid of processed foods and this is it.

It's a good idea to clean out your fridge, first. The bins do take up some room, but I was able to fit six of them in there. I have more than six meals per week so when I empty the first bin, I go ahead and assemble another meal, place the recipe in there, and it's ready to go. The remaining space in the fridge is for lunch foods and leftovers (also known as lunch foods). So far, all fits!

And, of course, room will be available as the bins are emptied and removed.

Try it!

Friday, April 15, 2011

His Brown-Eyed Girl

She's got Skillz.

Jessie, I'm reposting your Music Performance!

Jessie's Sophomore Recital *(CORRECTION! It's her Junior recital!) is this Sunday and this was a requirement of her professor that she perform in class. I can't wait for the recital!

Tyler's taking an important test right this moment. Praying for the outcome!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Patient

Vincent, age 87, is a joy to have in our office! We all walk around with smiles whenever he comes in.

Recently, Miss Nancy went over the extensive work that he had to have done. Tab told him, "See? We get to spend a lot of time together!"

"I WANT to spend time with YOU," he assured her. "It's the OTHER guy I don't want to spend time with."

He's had to come in twice in as many weeks. On Thursday as I walked past room 3 where Vincent was gearing up for his procedures, I couldn't help but smile as I saw Dr. D push his chair aside, throw back his head, hold onto his guts, and laugh and laugh. Tab was laughing as well and I was so sorry to have missed the joke. Later, I could hear Nancy's laughter as she was checking him out and setting up his next appointment.

Monday this week, when I walked into the office, Nancy told me Vincent had died. His family was going through his things and noticed he had an appointment, so they called to let us know.

We are crushed.

His family member said that as they are calling to give the news, they are finding that Vincent touched so many, many people.

He certainly touched my heart! Rest in peace, Vincent B. Thank you for brightening our lives for a while.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The English One

On Friday, I taught my last English class. It's the last because I have nothing else to offer these students; they've taken all the courses I offer. There are also changes with me returning to work that make teaching difficult.

I have enjoyed this last year immensely! We have had so much fun together. I have watched these students struggle and triumph and learn. I have learned so much from them as well!

Here are the two senior fellas, Stephen and Daniel, hard at work on their final vocabulary quiz:
These two have made me belly laugh every single class! I've had so much fun with them! Stephen has already earned scholarships for college and I believe is going to our local university. Daniel has honored us with the decision to serve our country in the Marine Corps. Hoo-ah!

The seniors also had the exclusive use of the Easy Button. Their comedic timing with it was impeccable.

I'm embarrassed at the amount of clutter in front of these girls. It was a bunch of snacks and goodies, so I hope that makes it better! Acacia (soph) and Cari (senior) test with sombreros on.
Do you think the SAT and ACT would consider letting students use these? They seemed to help concentration. ;-)

Acacia, on the left, is such a creative and talented writer. I always enjoyed her papers! Such a sweetheart, she always gives me a hug when she sees me at church. I love it.

David won't wear a sombrero, but he'll wear a Cookie Monster shirt. =)
David and Nick are the sophomore stingers. I never knew what they were going to say! Still, they could surprise me with their insights. I know they'll do well their remaining two years in English. (See the Easy Button next to Daniel?)

My students have had to study and learn in the worst conditions. There's no electricity in that room, so we have an extension cord to run a window AC unit. In the winter time, it's freezing and the cord ran a little space heater. One year, I was passing out gloves, hats, and blankets as they came through the door! I had a shop light that I clipped to the ceiling when it got too dark. We've worked in such a cave.

Then, there's this:
The last few days they've had to sit among the clutter of boxes and junk I've been collecting for the Mexico Yard Sale (next weekend). Tyler and I were going to haul it all to the church last weekend, but we both were busy.

Attempt number one at a class photo:
Daniel, put down the pop tarts!

Cari, sitting next to me in the dark shirt, was in my very first English class. She then attended each of the six years that I taught and is graduating this year. I'm going to miss her so much! She's grown tremendously as a writer and is so talented. She has been my top student this year and is more than ready for college.
Back row: Nick, Daniel, Stephen, and David
Front Row: Cari, me, Acacia

Sophomores and Seniors make a marvelous mixture. =)

Thank you, mis queridos estudiantes, for being such a joy. From Disney to Dickinson, it has been delightful!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Food Thing

I keep striving to find a meal plan that works for me and my family.

Let's see . . . there was 30 Day cooking. Loved it, but a ton of work.

There was creating my own menu and shopping lists from our family favorites . . . loved the food, but a TON of work and we eventually fell into a rut.

There was Menu Mailer from Saving Dinner . . . each week they would mail the menu, recipes, and dinner plan. I used this for years! I stopped my subscription when I had about two years of menus and shopping lists saved on my computer.

Then I heard about Dinner A'Fare, where I would go and assemble a 13 meals and have them ready in my freezer. This was so wonderful! I had to adjust each recipe to my family's tastes. Unfortunately, the store closed when the owner decided she needed more time with her family.

As many of you know, Himself and I have been snowballing our debt via Dave Ramsey. His site led me to my current passion, which is e-mealz. Similar to Menu Mailer, each week I access their site and download a list of recipes and the shopping list. Unlike Menu Mailer, however, I am able to choose which store to shop! E-mealz combs the sales before the stores even have them and designs the menus according to what would be the most economical for that week. Brilliant!

When I went shopping without my e-mealz list, I ended up spending twice as much as I normally do. It has proven itself over and over. Never a good idea to head to the store without a plan of some kind.

Whenever I share my cooking enthusiasms with family food frazzled friends, it amuses me to hear them come up with excuses as to why it simply won't work for them. The common reason why it won't work is basically because they won't make it work. I have never been a slave to any system I've used. Instead, I've adjusted it to our family's tastes, needs, and preferences. This is what makes me a happy consumer!

With e-mealz, I first opted for the Publix Family Plan. The problem I soon found was that while I was initially saving money by purchasing a lot of the food that was on sale, I discovered that as with most stores/coupons, the sale items were processed foods.

My family rarely eats processed foods. In fact, if I were to bring sugared cereals, frozen packaged meals, or anything that's not really cheese, my family often responds with, "Mom? Are you all right?" My cousin's wife, Vicki, was delighted when I returned from a shopping trip with ingredients rather than pre-assembled food, which is how she also likes to cook.

I solved this by adjusting the recipe while I was at the store. Where it called for a processed item, I bought the ingredients to make my own.

This worked well. After a while, I re-visted the menu options at e-mealz and decided to try the low-carb menu. This has actually solved the problem! While I'm not shopping for items that are mainly on sale, I am still saving money by going in with a plan, and the low-carb menu rarely has any processed foods listed. Sometimes the menu for that day is a bit lacking, so I just throw in a salad or some rice or pasta for my family. Again, it's all about not being a slave to any system, but making it work for you.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Jesus Visit

I love teaching AWANA JV.

Junior High is such an amazing age! With few exceptions, it's the age where kids who have gone to church all their lives begin to take the head knowledge of God and turn it into heart knowledge.

It's the age where God becomes personal, rather than just the God of their parents.

It's the age where God becomes real.

One of my favorite things to do is to have them ask any question they want about God or the Bible. We then try to answer them the best we can, and the evening could last for hours! Hands are raised continually - I finally have to stop and send them out to game time. I love this, and they do, too!

One of the lessons this year asked them what they would do if they found out Jesus was coming to stay at their house for a week. I asked them to write down their responses.

Some are comical, some are insightful. Some were so real they brought tears to my eyes.

(This guy gets it. No need for a job with Jesus here!)

Clean (maybe) and get a room ready. Do Jesus stuff with him

While he was here: 1. I would be a lot nicer to my sisters 2. I WOULD PANIC!

(Make samiches)
Tell young kids to be extra good.
Dress up.

Clean the House
wash the dogs
Buy groceries
I would be very friendly engaging.
I would say only nice things
Not talk bad about anybody

would tidy up my lifestly [sic]
and get up to date on the bible and try to be more like him so he wouldn't think I was a fool.

I would be like Oh my gosh, I would clean and sanitize the whole house then I would try to go and be good. Not a naughty little heathen I usually am. Eh more like an evil imp. I would try to go to awana more again like I am now.

I loved the P.S. on this one:
1. Change sheets
2. clean EVERYTHING!
3. I would try to act REALLY good :)
P.S. I would brag to everyone!

Who wouldn't want to brag that Jesus was staying at HIS house?!

This was from one of our college kids, JV Leader:
1. Clean Room
2. Buy unleavened Bread
3. Remove woopie cushion from guest chair.

This one has a full schedule:
Clean the House and ask Him about what it was like back then. and take Him Burger King and stuff, go shopping, thrown [sic] party and make His week fun. awesome

This one is sure to impress the Lord of Lords:
I had to chuckle a little. Pray one hour a day to whom? He's right there!

I can see the influence of mothers in so many of these. I can picture the panic and cleaning frenzies that a guest inspires! Look at this one:
Clean the house
make sure the house is PERFECT
as can be

One that I forgot to photograph but really made me laugh read, "Get a room ready. Get food. Take him to the Holy Land Experience." The Holy Land Experience is a theme-type park made by TBN that is supposed to look like the biblical Jeruselem. Um, didn't Jesus see the REAL Holy Land?

This one was really insightful:
Same as before because he see's [sic]
me all the time and he'll know
it's just because he's coming.

Here's one from our JV Secretary:
Cancel ALL other things.
Let my friends/
fam know He was coming
(schedule group time)
While there:
Soak HIM all up!

This one was from a sweet JV girl and I wholeheartedly agreed with her:
I would cry a lot.

The point of this, of course, was to help them understand that God is with them right now. Once we trust that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we become children of God. The Holy Spirit then dwells in us. We are never NOT in the presence of God!

As I read back over these for this post, I was also struck by how much we feel we have to do in order to be pleasing to God. I know of people who won't come to God because they (understandably) believe they are not good enough. They think they have to clean up their acts, put their affairs in order, learn more Bible verses, or scrub and sanitize themselves in order to be accepted by God. I also know many who won't set foot inside a church because they don't think they have the right clothes to wear in God's house.

Even though I understand that I could never make myself holy enough for a Holy God, I find myself falling back on this mindset on occasion. My default mode is to try to work things out on my own, to not "bother" God with my problems while He's trying to save the world. I put myself down when I don't say things perfectly, react perfectly, or live perfectly. I fall into the trap of thinking that once again, I have let God down or disappointed Him.

The truth is, God loves me.

God gave everything to make me His child because of HIS mercy and goodness, not mine. He knew I was a sinner when He died for me.

He knows I will still sin, as long as I'm here and not with Him in heaven.

He knows, and He did the hard work of cleaning me up to make me righteous. And now, He lives with me all the time - IN me.

"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5b)

Lord, I cannot clean and sanitize enough for You.
Thank You for making me clean.
Lord, I cannot live holy enough for You.
Thank You for living a perfect life for me.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers.

Neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the
love of God that is in Christ Jesus
our Lord
. - Romans 8:38-39


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