My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Friday, December 31, 2010

a few favorite pics from today

Pictures are, as usual, in no logical order. Accept it. I have. Me and Purple Michael after his show... we usually take great pictures but today... he's cute and I'm not. Go figure.

Here the Ghost of Christmas Present presents herself to Scrooge...

Checking out things at the Crachett homestead...

In the opening of the show... how cute is my PM? A few days ago... me... after work... without much makeup... just hanging out...

Can't believe I caught this on camera... Scrooge lets Austin know that he's got his eyes on him! Ha!

Before the show... opening his gift from us...

Waiting for the show to start... this is me... "after" 2010... "before" 2011. I'm on my way, baby!

Some of the leftover White Christmas in White County. This photo was taken on 12.27.10

btw, this is our Historic Courthouse on the town square. Beautiful, isn't it?

Jamie and her Bitty Baby, Angie, and Sarabeth with her american girl doll "Julie"... how beautiful are my Gant girls? I couldn't love them more!

More tomorrow... I'm settled in with the laptop watching football... it's a very peaceful NYE here in the nest. Happy!

grand central

I've got so many trains of thought going thru my head right now... I've renamed my brain "grand central"... Never can remember if it's "station" or "terminal"... but... it's crowded, for sure...

Speaking of Grand Central (whatever it is)... my Manhattan dwelling brother somehow escaped the winter wonderland that is NYC and found his way to Atlanta this week on business. I'm not sure how HE got out of Gotham when the rest of the world seems marooned there. I'd like to hear that story...

I'm so attention deficit lately that I realized this morning that *at some point in the week* whenever the last time was that I shaved my legs... I only shaved one leg... as one was much more... unkempt than the other... you see... I've been wearing tights and boots during the day and thick, warm socks and pj pants at night. Haven't really seen my legs other than the shower... so... I caught the growth pattern up this morning.

Stayed up late last night texting with Crunch&Munch and the Bear Hunter. Also heard from an old flame yesterday. My stock is up for some reason. Hope that's an indication of a very fun (but chaste) year to come. C&M has already texted this morning and I've got him on pins and needles with the teaser, "I dreamed about you last night... " but told him I was busy blogging and would have to explain later. Tee hee.

The Christmas bloat seems to be dissipating, thank the diet gods. I went from a low of 182 in early December to as high as 190 when the worst of the fluid accumulation from the pleurisy was plaguing me. I'm back to a respectable 185 today but with *my new exercise program that begins NOW* I am certain that I'll reach a new low when I weigh in on January 8th. I'm stoked.

I continue to have pain behind my left rib cage... and my mother hen co-worker pointed out that THAT pain has been coming and going for quite some time. I looked back over my catalogue of aches and pains (aka this blog) and realized how right she is. That particular pain has been around most of the past year. I also noted that the pain seems to begin in the morning once I have my first cup of coffee... and exacerbates after lunch... which led me to wonder if it wasn't a digestive issue instead of a lung issue. I just kept thinking the scar tissue in my lung was bothering me. I called my doctor and got the answering service... so although I think it's a "don't let this fester" kind of issue... it will have to wait until the new year. I researched these symptoms more carefully and believe that quite possibly I have an ulcer. Which makes UH-LOT of sense... the pain got worse when I was on the mega drugs for the bronchitis... and it's worse after coffee... and after lunch when I almost always have a piece of fruit - usually a tangerine.

Not that I want to start the year with medical expenses. Not. At. All. And it's not a BAD pain which is why it's been sort of forgettable. It's just a recurring, nagging sort of discomfort. And since it's not a bad pain, my gut (pun intended) feeling is to not spend a lot of time or money on it... however... this is the only body I've got and I have to keep it in good running condition.

It's the time of year for resolving things and I will... predictable as the weather is Heather's annual goal setting time. Heather's annual goal ACHIEVING time is less predictable... I seem to be great on ideas and poor with follow through. One thing I know for sure about my personality... I'm a creature of habit. For me to be successful with anything, it has to become HABIT for me. Once it's a habit... I don't vary much from that routine.

I plan to find quinoa today in my travels around the city.

I'm leaving here in a just a bit (once the glam routine is complete and I've settled on a wardrobe and cleaned out the car, etc)... will head to Riverdale, south of Atlanta (about an hour and a half away) to retrieve my Austin, who has reportedly had an enjoyable visit with the biological father... and we will head to Stone Mountain to visit with his REAL father, Purple Michael... I picked up a nice bottle of wine from the Habersham Winery so he can taste our local mountain wine - which I, admittedly not a connoisseur, find very decent. Although I'm sort of a "one glass a month" kind of girl... having been raised southern baptist and all. Too much wine is of the devil. A little wine is just fine, in my opinion. I bought myself a bottle of a very sweet Riesling with which to ring in the new year. It's a step up from Boone's Farm.

The bear hunter is spending his New Year's hunting. Go figure.

Do any of you remember me talking about the boy that my kids grew up with who was jailed for vehicular homicide because of an accident where his girlfriend was killed? It was a very tragic situation... he was charged with reckless driving and her family had some clout so they were able to get the figurative book thrown at him... well, that young man is finally out of jail and doing very well... working... in love... happy... and the part of my heart that has spent the past five years fearful for his future can now relax.... and find something else to worry about.

Pop had an accident last night... at first he was afraid his car wasn't driveable but... turns out, it's ok. Looks to be mostly cosmetic damage but he's taking the car to his mechanic this morning to make sure. It's been a bad year for cars in the Gant family... mama's accident in May... my little... um... financial difficulty... with my car... Angie's had a few hiccups with her land yacht and now Pop. Praying that we have safe and secure transportation in the new year.

Time is ticking away... must get this act on the road... will take pictures! Love and hugs, y'all!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

the last thankful thursday of 2010

Jamie gives a hug to her newest cousin... my daughter in law, Marquee...

It's hard to believe that another year has flown by... it may sound cliche to say that... but it's true... and what. a. year. it's BEEN!

I'm going to try to get in the waaaay back machine and put together a Thankful Thursday post that includes the whole year but I have a feeling I'll have to keep coming back and adding things...

I'm thankful for adding to our family this year. I worried about Cody and Marquee getting married so young but they are so perfect for each other and so good to each other. I'm proud to have her in our lives and thankful for how wonderful her family has been to Cody. It's a blessing to see your children so happy.

I'm thankful for Ryan's sweetheart... Sara (with no H)... she's a beautiful girl and she brings him a lot of happiness. She makes Pennsylvania more like home for him.

I'm thankful for our Joshy and Megan... they've been loyal friends to my boys... they've been family for me... I'm proud of how hard they work and thankful for the influence they have on my boys.

I'm thankful that Austin is at home here in Cleveland. He had to move around a lot there for a few years and I'm so glad I've been able to give him a hometown here... he's got a lot of good friends... he can ride his bike up to the town square and knows the local business owners. When we stopped by the bakery to pick up a treat for Christmas Eve brunch, the lady who owns the bakery said, "Austin, I can't believe how much you've grown since you first came here"... to live in a town where people remember your kids like that... and for him, to live in a town where people watch out for him so he knows he can't get away with nonsense... it's awesome.

I'm thankful for Loganberry Heritage Farm... for the hard work of Organic Rose and her helpers... that's my "country home"... and I look forward to going there to share hugs, pick up tips for cooking and the use of herbs... and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to purchase food that I can trust. It has truly changed my life by changing my diet.

Living in a small town has such great benefits. My co-worker's daughter works at a local gift shop... they had these gorgeous scarves on sale... I didn't have time to go by the shop yesterday so when she closed up the shop she DELIVERED the scarf to my office. That don't happen in the city, folks!

I'm thankful for my church. I'm not much of a Sunday morning attendee... I want to change that and I'm trying to get myself motivated on Sunday mornings... but my Wednesday night ladies are my family... there are three ladies who are my sisters... who I know always have my back and love me just as I am. They demonstrate Christ's love to me each and every week and I'm so grateful to God for them.

I'm thankful for the improvements I've been able to make in my health over the past year. I got off a lot of meds... I improved my diet... I stayed much healthier than I had been in years past. I got off of anti-depressants, I didn't need anything to help me sleep at night, I got off high blood pressure meds, I was able to avoid respiratory illness MOST of the year, although doctors had told me that it was UNavoidable unless I stayed on steriods and antibiotics and other preventative meds. I showed them! And I'm thankful for the upcoming improvements over the next year.

I'm thankful that mercies are new every morning... and that we get do overs and do over overs and chances every single day to improve and correct things that aren't right in our lives.

I'm thankful for my fur babies... they bring me a lot of aggravation but they also bring me a lot of companionship. I'd be lost without them... if they weren't here... I'd just be talking to myself.

I'm thankful for a car that runs... that is ALMOST paid for...

I'm thankful for my job and for the co-workers that make those 9 hours a day funny and fun and anything but dull.

I'm thankful for a nice, warm, cozy nest... especially with the addition of the electric blanket.

I'm thankful that Christmas is over and thankful, so thankful that it was the best Christmas I've had since the beginning of the Darby era. It was a great time for me and I'm not just grateful, I'm relieved. It feels like the evil spell he cast has been broken and that happiness has truly returned to my life.

I'm sure there's more... lots more... for me to be thankful for...and I'll come back and add to this...

Thank you for sharing my life... I pray that you find reasons to be thankful... not just on Thursdays but on every single day. Be humbly grateful, not grumbly hateful.

love and hugs!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

in honor of Amanda James Gant, age six

Six years ago today a beautiful little chubby red headed baby was born in Habersham County, Georgia… the second baby girl born into our family since me…
And around that same time I started blogging. I think my first entry was talking about Jamie’s birth and the emergency surgery her mommy had right afterwards.
After so many years of Gant family births being blue ribbon celebrations only… there was Michael, Bryan, David, Ryan, Cody, Austin, Cory, Matthew… then finally, Sarabeth… then another baby boy, my nephew Caleb and then our Jamie-doll. You can see why we would be excited about a pink event! Only two out of 11 at that time had been girl births! We have two beautiful ladies who joined our family by marriage… Tiffany and Elizabeth… but to have that “it’s a girl!” moment is priceless.
And Jamie has lived up to all our girly hopes and dreams.
She loves lip gloss and jewelry and dolls and pretty clothes.
Jamie loves flowers (her birthday party this year is a flower theme) and ladybugs (last year’s theme) and butterflies (the year before that).
She is a zhuzhu pet and Barbie connoisseur.
She sings and dances and skips and twirls.
She makes the most amazing, astute observations that crack us all up…
Like the time she was singing the days of the week to her daddy and stopped and said, “HEY! It’s like a circle isn’t it, daddy?” And he said, “more than you know, honey”.
Or the time she told me I could find another husband… like Cinderella’s daddy.
Or the time she was putting on a puppet show and peeked out behind the curtain to shush me when I was chatting and not paying attention.
Or the time she saw that someone had written “I love Cody” on the bathroom wall at La Cabana and she laughed and said, “I like Cody but I LOVE Auggie”.
Did I mention that she can read? ANYTHING she wants to read?
I never pass up a chance to walk with her down their “bumpity bump road” and pick flowers or berries or watch for bunnies.
Pushing her on the swing never gets old.
She is reluctant to try new foods and always wants to know if it’s good for you.
She loves riding in the backseat of my car with the windows down, wind in her face, wearing my sunglasses that are way too big for her.
She loves for me to set the Garmin on the “scary voice”… Dr. Nightmare… and cackles like a mad hen at the scary things he says.
She knows how to prepare fresh green beans.
She loves playing “order up-er” (waitress)
She doesn’t like the “hot gum” so I have to keep “sweet gum” in my purse for her.
She is a cuddle bug and will climb up into your lap still. I hope she always will.
She loves my earrings and always puts my hair behind my ears so you can see them.
During the Christmas Eve service she held my hand.
She is outgoing and bold and bright and beautiful.
She is a second-born child in a family of first borns… and she is… just slightly different from the rest of her family… a little less of that first born over-achiever syndrome.
For her… it just all happens naturally. Like me.
She is so much like me and her and Sarabeth’s interactions remind me so much of me and Jim at times that it’s eerie.
She’s more outspoken than her sister. She is a caregiver. She loves being with people.
I was there when she scored her first soccer goal and when she asked Jesus into her heart.
I’ve been to her preschool programs. I’ve seen her sing in church. I know her little friends and a lot of them call me “aunt Heather” as well.
She has tiny strands of tinsel sewn into her hair at the beauty shop… I refer to it as her “sparkle weave”.
She is one of my reasons for getting out of bed every day… she makes me want to be a better person so I can be a better example for her… she brings inexplicable amounts of joy into my life… she is my treasure… my love.Happy Sixth Birthday Miss Amanda James!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

more newsday tuesday

Additional random unimportant details....

I love my cute boots that I bought myself for Christmas. I’m thinking about buying a brown pair too. Love them. It’s definitely a look I enjoy sporting. They were cheap so they won’t last long but I love ‘em. Perfect for the chilly temps we’ve been having.

The snow has been on the ground for 4 days now. There’s an old wives tale that says if the snow stays for 3 days, it will be back again that winter. *crossing fingers*

My co-worker just accidentally seated people without an appointment in the conference room to meet with D – they didn’t have an appointment but there was another couple scheduled to come in who didn’t show. She’s horrified at her mistake… and I couldn’t quit giggling. Then she burned her finger making coffee for the non-appointed folks. It was scheidenfreude, I’m telling you. (This is a german word meaning, “happiness at the misfortune of others”)

My brother reportedly braved the blizzard yesterday to get to the office. I worried about him reinjuring his bum knee. Apparently he did ok. I’m hoping he’ll post photos so I can snag some.

My attention span is dwindling in direct proportion to the number of days left in the year. In other words… it’s short.

Postscript to the earlier scheidenfreude episode… they apparently WERE the right people, they just came for something other than what their appointment was for, as it turns out.

I almost said to a customer, “do you have exact change because I don’t have any cents”… I caught myself. But it was there…on the tip of my stupid tongue…

What do you think about Hugh Hefner and his latest engagement? Besides the sixty year age difference… I just feel bad for Holly (his last serious girl who really wanted to get married). She really loved the old coot. But … props to the young lady… she stands to inherit quite a bit in … less than a decade, I’d say. Very Anna Nicole-ish.

People up north make fun of us southerners with our "milk/bread casseroles" when it snows... you know, the rush to stock up on milk and bread when we're expecting an inch of snow. Laugh all you want, yanks... least our people aren't stuck in subway trains. We know that you stay home when the weather outside is frightful... that way, our sad little story isn't plastered all over CNN.

I'm jes' sayin'....

My belly has been aching for the past two days... think it might be the return to fiber. It's pressing on my (still) tender lung and yesterday I was purty uncomfortable. My weight was waaaay up again, just like it was during the worst of the pleurisy. There's some kind of pain/excess weight connection. Maybe in 2011 I'll figure it out.

Meanwhile... I'm just gonna keep eating healthy. I'm in no way deprived... this morning for breakfast I had a hot steamy bowl of warm barley with organic pumpkin and smashed banana. I think warm bananas are about the yummiest thing in the world! I added a little brown sugar... cinnamon... nutmeg... mmmmm!

Lunch is going to be lentils with ham, I suppose. Although, I blame the increase of salty pork in my diet to part of the weight increase.

I've got that yummy veggie rice that I can have for dinner... or... I bought some really pretty yellow squash that is just begging to be steamed... haven't tried the steam feature on the rice cooker.

Someone asked me to describe the cooking function of a rice cooker... I'm not sure I'm qualified as I'm just figuring it out myself... here's what wikipedia had to say...

Basic principle of operation
The bowl in the rice cooker is usually removable, and beneath it lies a heater and a
thermostat. These form the main components of the rice cooker. A spring pushes the thermostat against the bottom of the bowl for good thermal contact to ensure accurate temperature measurement. During cooking the rice/water mixture is heated at full power. The temperature cannot go above 100°C (212°F) — as any heat put into the rice/water mixture at that point will only cause the water to boil. At the end of cooking, some of the water will have been absorbed by the rice and the rest is boiled off. Once the heating continues past that point, the temperature exceeds the boiling point. The thermostat then trips, switching the rice cooker to low power "warming" mode, keeping the rice no cooler than approximately 65°C (150°F). Simple rice cookers, like the one below, may simply turn off at that point.

So there you go. I think it's that it's controlled heat or something like that.

I think we're going through the media stages of a weather disaster with the blizzard in the north...
Prediction - "the sky is falling" warnings
The event - complete with reporters out risking life and limb to explain why people shouldn't go out
The horror - stories of the absolute worst scenarios
The blame - government officials who failed to "rise up" to the challenges of nature
More "sky is falling" warnings - impending financial doom due to the ravages of mother nature, proof either for/against the global warming philosophy

We're definitely off on Friday and I'm definitely heading south to pick up Austin and see Purple Michael at Stone Mountain before he heads back to Chicago.

Still trying to accomplish our year end goals at the office - but its hard because people are NOT in the mood to do business. I can't believe the year is almost over.

I got snail mail from my friend Melissa in Minnesota yesterday with a little sumpin' sumpin in it. I LOVE snail mail! I giggled all the way back from the mailbox. She's about to start blogging again... a fitness blog... I'll link you up when she gets it going. She's a way better writer than me... she's even PUBLISHED... so you'll enjoy it.

Crunch-n-munch is thinking of blogging as well and I've encouraged him to do it. He's very witty and tells a good story. That makes for an interesting blog. I'll link you to him as well...

No news on the romance front... not a peep out of Next Guy over the holidays even though *I thought* we had plans to go to the movies on Christmas day. Obviously... we were snowed out but... a text saying, "we're not going, right?" would have been mannerly. He's done for sure. The Bear Hunter is in the same category. Done. Basic communication is paramount.

Wow. Time is slipping away. Time to slip into something more appropriate for the office than my pjs. Have a great Tuesday, y'all!

Monday, December 27, 2010

here's what's in the rice cooker tonight:

Just a quick disclaimer: I am not on the payroll of any rice cooker manufacturer. I just really like mine.

Here's what I did for dinner tonight:

  • heated one teaspoon of olive oil in the bottom of my rice cooker and sprayed the sides with olive oil spray
  • chopped half an onion (with my new chefs knife, thanks Boo!)
  • added this to my oil
  • added a cup of shredded carrots (I bought them already shredded)
  • added a cup of sliced mushrooms
  • added a cup of chopped collard greens
  • added one clove of garlic (used my new garlic press! woohoo!)
  • let this cook until the onions were clear and the other veggies were getting soft
  • added one cup of jasmine rice
  • added two cups of water
  • added a sprinkle of sea salt
  • put the lid on the rice cooker and waited until the little timer went off

IT WAS SOOOOOO GOOD! By the time the timer went off, the veggies were perfectly tender... the rice was cooked perfectly and the flavor was uh-mazing!
I could have added meat... I actually meant to add some chicken and forgot. I didn't miss it. This really would have made about 4 servings for a side dish OR... about two big pig out servings for my feast tonight. It was ten Weight Watchers points... about 1/3 of my daily points, which is appropriate for dinner. The only labor involved was chopping the onion and measuring the rice and water. Seriously... go get a rice cooker... or dust that one that you got at your bridal shower fifteen years ago off and see if it still works. I've got a feeling it's going to continue to be the most often used appliance in my kitchen... other than... maybe the coffee pot.

Now if I could just get my hands on some quinoa...

reasons to love Monday

What a delicious, luxurious 3 day weekend I've had! It was the perfect balance of socialization and nesting to make me feel rested, relaxed and loved. And although there is a part of me that would love to be in the nest for a few more days... I still found REASONS TO LOVE MONDAY!!!!

1. Winter break for the school system = no traffic on the roads! Not that there's ever MUCH traffic here in the sticks but I do live near an elementary school so there's a little bit of traffic. Today there will be NONE!

2. Lots of people get the whole time period between Christmas and New Year's off... so even LESS traffic!

3. The wind has been strong over the past day so I *believe* the roads are clear. Will have to be more alert than usual for icy patches but I think it will be an easy drive in.

4. I'm on 4th day hair. Since I was nesting yesterday and not seeing anyone... although it was hair washing day (every other day for me) ... I skipped it and went with a greasy ponytail. I didn't have to impress anyone so why waste the shampoo? Monday means I have to glam... and I love looking good.

5. No staff meeting today! I think D is pretty much an absentee boss this week... he's always just an email away but he isn't coming into the office which means no Monday morning staff meeting.

6. Getting out of the house makes it easier to get back on track with Weight Watchers. I had a serious case of the munchies yesterday and although I had promised myself to only use my daily points for the rest of the week since I didn't TRACK on Christmas day and almost definitely used up my weekly points... or at least a big chunk of them.... but yesterday... I dipped into those weekly points.

7. At least yesterday when I was over-indulging, I was over-indulging on bran muffins and lentils. Lemme jes tell ya... that is a combination that will get rid of any past indiscretions... if you know what I mean. Starting my week with a clean... um... slate.

8. There's a lot of snow still on the ground and it will stay around freezing all day so I can probably get some pretty snowy photos today.

9. I solved the problem of Bitty peeing on my bed. He's scared of tinfoil. When I get out of bed... I put two big long pieces of tinfoil on the bed and he won't go near it. Ha!

10. If all goes according to plan... I'll be heading to Stone Mountain Park on Friday to see my beloved Purple Michael. I say... if all goes according to plan... because we haven't yet received a confirmation about our holiday schedule. We're *supposed* to have New Year's Day off and if it falls on a weekend, it's D's discretion as to which day we have the holiday. Last week he was talking as if we might not get a day off at all- which will be a huge bummer because I have to get to the southside to get Austin and I planned to do that on Friday in conjunction with a trip to Stone Mountain.

11. Blog readers. Y'all give me a reason to love Monday because I just KNOW *hint hint* that lots of you come here every single Monday looking for inspiration. Do me a huge favor today and leave me a comment either here or on Facebook letting me know that you stopped by... and sharing YOUR reason to love Monday!

Hope you have a great Monday! Stay safe, warm, dry and happy!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

reality confessions...and other random factoids

I want to be best friends with Sarah Palin.

There. I said it.

I think we'd have a great time together. I want her to teach me how to have that little bouf in my hair.

AND... I think every girly girl like me who is afraid of guns, needs to have a ballsy gun toting friend in her ... um... arsenal. Pun intended.

I think Kate Gosselin is a shrew but she still amuses me.

Michelle Duggar is, I think, the sweetest lady anywhere. I sense such a great peace in her.
(my sister in law Candice just gagged)

Since receiving an electric blanket as a gift, I've been able to cut the thermostat back from a balmy 66 degrees to a money saving/pipe thawing 64 degrees. At least while Austin isn't here.

I'm considering getting him his own electric blanket for that reason... although... Austin + any heat source makes me nervous.

Candice & Bryan got me this fabulous book, "What I Eat - Around the World in 80 Diets". I'm always fascinated with other cultures and their dietary habits so this book is the bees knees for me.

I'm halfway through it already.

There's a website but I can't seem to locate the address that I saw in the book... so google it.

My daddy got me a Beth Moore devotional book and I plan to make good use of it. She's having a scripture memory contest/promotion in 2011 and I plan to do that too. Gotta remember to get me a little spiral notebook to record my memory verse in. The goal is to memorize two new verses every month. Any suggestions on verses?

I'm now a complete rice cooker devotee. I want to quit my job and travel the world teaching people how to cook in a rice cooker. Only half serious (since my boss reads my blog).

Patty always talks about me writing a cookbook... IF I DID... it would be to teach people how to eat healthy on the cheap and the rice cooker would be an integral part of it... for people, for instance, who are living in rented rooms with no kitchen... a rice cooker would enable them to eat at home cheaply and nutritiously. Using dried beans and rice - the kind of things you get at food banks - with minimal ingredients. I bet I could make a mean tuna casserole in it...

I even found a recipe about how to make a frittata a rice cooker!

I ate too much over the past week. I'm going to regret it on the scale. I'm having a hard time getting my appetite back under control... glad to be going to work tomorrow, that will help.

I love how they talk about when confronted by a bear... you don't have to be able to outrun the bear - you just have to be able to outrun at least one person in your group. Teehee.

I've absolutely loved the winter wonderland we've had. I snagged the photos from a fellow church member's facebook (without permission but she won't mind)... because although I think the roads are pretty much clear now, I didn't venture out.

I think there are a few icy patches but for the most part, the roads seem dry.
Global warming, my rear.
Remember my "hope" ring that I lost? I wore it in place of a wedding band... and then when I lost it, i replaced it with a beautiful thick silver band that I bought from premier. Last week that ring broke... and for Christmas... Angie gave me a new silver band that says, "faith". The "hope" ring was a great reminder for me to have hope... as long as you have hope, you can keep going. This new ring... reminding me (duh) to have faith... which is similar, isn't it? Except... the word "faith", to me, means so much more... it's hope in something bigger than me... something more than what I can see... it's believing the unbelievable... trusting in a higher power... and my goal, is to do a better job of demonstrating my faith.
On a completely related subject... I haven't heard from Next Guy or the Bear Hunter all weekend. I have chatted often with Red Flag Guy. I guess... the moral of that story... platonic guy friends are much better friends than romantic interests.
I want "Just dance" for Wii. I think that would be a great exercise plan for me.
Tonight i'm having an early bedtime. Work tomorrow.
Love and hugs, y'all.

I'm in love...

I'm in love.... with my new rice cooker.
I have no idea how much they cost (since mine was a gift) but if you don't have one... and you want to eat healthy/cheaply.... buy yourself a rice cooker.
I'm having a blast cooking up the assorted grains and dried beans that I keep stocked in my pantry.
I've fixed... brown rice... super easy... split peas with garlic and ham... also easy and YUM!... this morning I made warm barley with organic pumpkin for breakfast... UH-mazing... and right now I'm doing a batch of spicy lentils. No recipes, really, it's just dump in the dried ingredient, add water and a few spices and... turn it on.
AND... it came with a steamer basket so I can steam veggies and fish! How cool is that?
AND... you can make soup in it!
Now I'm just waiting for the roads to thaw so I can buy more grains to practice on.
Any of y'all have rice cookers? Do you use them? Any tips or recipes you want to share?

*Just tasted the lentils and they are absolutely perfect! It's so hard to get lentils to be done and not mushy. Rice, rice baby! That rice cooker is the perfect lentil maker! Here's what I did:

pour one bag of lentils (one pound) into the cooker
add six cups of water
add 1-2 tablespoon of red curry paste
add one chopped onion
add a tbsp or so of turmeric (it's a yellow powder, very good for inflammation)
add a good sprinkle of black hawaiian salt (but any salt would do)

Plugged the rice cooker in and turned it on. I think they took about half an hour... and I stopped the cooking before the timer went off... when they were tender but not yet mushy. The flavor is amazing... the texture is awesome... warm, filling, healthy... and sooo cheap! A pound of lentils is less than a dollar and that batch will make several servings for me...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

White Christmas in White County

My White Christmas... first measurable snow in Atlanta since 1882... and it won't be gone at least until Monday.

It's still coming down out there... has been since about 11am today!
(pictures aren't in order... sorry) Yesterday Sarabeth asked me to bring my snuggie when I came to spend the night. She remembered that I had gotten one last year and she wanted to borrow it. Little did she know that her mommy had bought her a snuggie of her very own!
It's hard for me to get a good picture of Stubby the 3Legged Wondercat since he's so dark... I thought this was a nice shot of him watching the snow... he has been absolutely mesmerized by it.
If this isn't the CUTEST blue eyed red headed freckle faced little girl that ever lived... I don't know who could be... how can you not love that little face?
My Bubba and his family on Christmas Eve... while Jamie explains a gift that she made for him... (the girls are wearing outfits that I bought for them... aren't they cute?)

After church on Christmas Eve... my three little dolls... Jamie and Sarabeth and in between is their good friend Emily.
Jamie loves her cousin Cody...

me and my two younger boys... Austin and Cody...
my beautiful daughter in law, Marquee...
me and the Codester...

I asked for a good chefs knife... this is what my son Ryan sent to me...
I love this baby girl! She'll be six in four more days... it seems like just yesterday she was born... but yet, I also can't remember a world without her sweet spirit. She is too precious for words. Last night at bedtime, she prayed to ask Jesus into her heart. She'll be baptized in January. Her faith is so simple and honest... it really reminded me how we need to come to Jesus with such faith and trust...
Christmas was about as close to perfect as it could be... full of food, faith, family... I had a great time spending the night with Jim and Angie. Loved being there when the girls opened their gifts. And made it home before the snow started... by about an hour. I used that time to take out the trash and pick up a bit so that I could just settle into the nest for the duration of the storm. It's been a very peaceful day. My parents got me an electric blanket and Bitty and I have been curled up under/on top of it. Jim and Angie got me a rice cooker so I've been experimenting with it. So far I've made brown rice... perfect!... and split pea soup with ham. I've got a pantry full of dried beans and grains so I'll be experimenting.
There's a good two or three inches of wet snow out there and once the temperature goes below freezing, it's going to stay there for the next 36 hours+. I'll be tucked in the nest for a little while still to come... and that... to me... is a PERFECT Christmas!
Hope yours was Merry too!

Friday, December 24, 2010

very Merry

Sampling my first lowfat sausage ball... fresh from the oven. I think I need to make another batch... will do that in a few. They aren't bad, actually.

Got a little extra sumpin sumpin from the boss yesterday so I was able to get a little extra for the loved ones. Sometimes the best gift is to be able to give gifts to others.

Austin opened his gifts last night. The idea was to do it this morning... but he realistically pointed out that he's such a grouch in the morning that he would be unappreciative. I saw his point. I let him open his gifts (which was really just one really big stocking filled with gifts).

The picture above is me in Cornelia last night before the office Christmas party. I had NOT been indulging in adult beverages, I'm just naturally goofy like that.

Yesterday I wore the bridesmaid dress from Jim and Angie's wedding sixteen years ago... it's a cute dress, it's a deep green and I altered it to knee length. It fits nicely but hopefully this will be the last year that it ever fits. It had this sort of short lace covered jacket that buttoned in the back... I wasn't a huge fan of the jacket but the dress itself is a classic style and sort of timeless. I took photos but I think they make me look fat. Not sure if I'll share.

I think the heart healthy bisquick must have less sodium because oddly... the lowfat sausage balls seem to need salt. I may add some in the next batch... and maybe some red pepper flakes for a little bite.

I was thinking this morning about what Christmas means for Christians... and it truly is a precious time... for those of us who relate to our Savior as a real, living being who did come to earth and did serve as the ultimate sacrifice to save us from our sins.

But you know... Christmas can be special even for those who don't believe in Jesus as a Savior. I think most people will acknowledge that he did live on the earth and was a great speaker/teacher. So... if you can't accept him as your Savior... respect him for his good deeds... for his positive philosophy... for being a great speaker (such as Martin Luther King... ). Appreciate the philosophy of loving your neighbor. Appreciate this time of year when people pause for a day to gather with friends and family. Appreciate the traditions that the celebration of Christmas brings.

I mean... in my heart... he is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But... we appreciate the writings of Shakespeare... the teachings of Buddha... we even celebrate the birthday of Dr Seuss. As a civilization we recognize outstanding accomplishments. If you can't accept him as Savior, at least respect what he meant to the world. There's no reason to reject Christmas any more than we should reject Martin Luther King's birthday.

I'm just sayin'. What does Merry Christmas hurt?

I have absolutely no reason to go to any store today and that makes me really happy. I even topped off the gas tank last night.

Our snow is looking.... like it won't be much. Maybe a little over an inch. I'll still take it and I'll still stay in my nest. Let it snow.

Getting ready to make another batch of sausage balls... glam... and then load up the sleigh for a very special day. I hope that wherever you are, whatever you're doing, that you feel loved, are well fed, healthy, happy... and very Merry.
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

seasons eatings

Let’s talk about holidays and diets, shall we?

My weight shot up with the extra fluid from the pleurisy. It was discouraging but I knew what was happening. No panic. Not much anyways.

The holidays have brought a few extra treats… homemade banana nut bread… homemade apple butter… chocolate covered pretzels… the candy for the stockings that has been in my closet for the past week. I’ll admit… I had a few fun sized butterfingers.

I took Austin out for dinner last night. Our tradition has been to have a nice dinner on Christmas Eve. For the first time since I’ve been a mommy… I won’t be with any of my babies on Christmas Eve. Our office Christmas Party is tonight so last night was the last chance for a “Christmas Eve” meal. We had Chinese. I haven’t had Chinese in months… I ate a whole order of potstickers… dipped in that oily sauce… and 1/3 of an order of Mongolian beef. Ok. And a bite of Austin’s crab Rangoon.

Tonight our party is at a diner type place… burgers, chicken tenders, that sort of thing. I’m going to look for a grilled chicken type thing… do the best I can.

Tomorrow is our family Christmas brunch… ham and biscuits, sausage balls, breakfast casserole… all kinds of goodies and special treats. I’m going to eat.

Tomorrow night Angie’s making chili – frito pie, actually. I will eat.

And on Christmas morning… I will have my full fat eggnog with nutmeg.

It’s a lot of food. Guess what? I’ve tracked every bite. I’m not out of points for the week. (not yet, anyways – my tracking runs from Saturday to Friday) I’ve used a lot more of my extras than normal. I may even run out of points this week for the first time EV-UH. (ok, maybe I would have on Thanksgiving if I tracked it all).
I even went to the trouble of calculating the points for a sausage ball (about one point each, using the heart healthy bisquick, the lower fat cheese and sausage)

I’m just not allowing myself to buy into the mindset that *just because I’m eating a few extra seasonal things… that I might as well throw caution to the wind and completely pig out* that’s a dangerous place for a girl like me who really, really loves to eat and who is a pretty durn good cook (if I do say so myself).

If I bite it… I’m gonna write it. I may not like the way it looks on paper… but I’m not going to drop the habit of paying attention to what I eat. It’s too easy to slip back into old habits. It’s too easy to let one day of not tracking turn into two (like it did over Thanksgiving).

And… I have a plan.

Because my meetings are on Saturdays, I won’t weigh in again (officially) until January 8th. Whatever damage I do over this festive season… I’ll be back on track and one hundred percent hardcore on plan starting on December 26th. That will give me two full weeks to reverse the damage.

My New Year’s Resolution is activity. Every day. That's the only way it can truly be a habit for me is every day. The tool that’s missing in my arsenal is exercise. I’ve got to tone up, strengthen my lungs, build up my strength… and that starts ASAP.
I’ve talked with my friend Melissa in Minnesota who is a running FIEND… she has run all the way up until her delivery date with her last two babies. She used to me soft like me… now she’s toned, fit, fabulous… and she’s my goal. I want to run like Melissa.

Also… whenever I can go to NYC again… and I hope it’s in the next few months… I have to run in Central Park with my sister in law.

So… once I’m off the meds (finishing the antibiotic today)… and back on plan… and moving my lazy game-playing butt… these few extra Christmas treats will disappear!

My philosophy is to make this a lifestyle. Everyone eats more at Christmas. Even those with the strongest willpower will have some indulgences. My lifestyle includes me tracking every bite I eat – and for me to be healthy- I will probably ALWAYS have to. I’m being realistic, enjoying myself and not getting out of control. I’m also not freaking out over every bite making everyone around me miserable.

I’m also realistic enough to know that eating more means losing less and I know I have to have a plan to balance the scales. Literally.

I’m excited about what the new year has in store for me… I plan to reach my goal weight in 2011 so it’s going to be a VERY. GOOD. Year!

Twas the night before Christmas - State Farm style

'Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the Farm,
Not a claim file was open
No shouts of alarm.

The phone lines were silent
No faxes in-coming,
The desktop workstations
Were peacefully humming*

I was on duty
–Emergency Call –
But I didn’t expect
Any trouble at all.

And since all around me
I heard not a peep,
I soon nodded off
And drifted to sleep.

When out on the lawn
There arose such a clatter
I sprang from my desk
To see what was the matter

Away down the hallway
I flew like a flash
As if I was running
A 50-yard dash.

I tore into the bays
Trying not to be frightened
As the door slowly rose
My anxiety heightened.

When what to my wondering
Eyes did appear,
But a battered old sleigh
And eight tiny reindeer.

Contrary to logic…
Against nature’s laws,
Standing before me
I saw Santa Claus.

His eyes were all misty
His hair was astray
He said, “Sorry to wake you,
But I’ve damaged my sleigh.”

“I don’t know who did it –
Must have been hit and run…”
(How many times
Have we all heard that one!)

“When I saw the damage
I just about cried,
Until I remembered
State Farm’s on my side.”

“You’ve got the wrong slogan,”
I said with a grin,
“But that’s enough talking
We’d better begin.”

Now pull in the reindeer
And we’ll handle this claim.
So he whistled and shouted
And called them by name.

“Now Dasher, now Dancer
Now Prancer and Vixen,
On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner…
Where’s Blitzen?”

Then Blitzen limped in
A tear in his eye,
And I thought to myself…
Aah – PD to BI!!
(sidenote from me- that's property damage to bodily injury)

Then I turned to the sleigh,
Feeling a bit nervous,
And wishing this claim
Could go through Select Service®*

But I picked up my tools
With a glance at the clock and
Heard, “I’m just grateful that I have
A piece of the rock!”

“Wrong again, Santa,”
I said feeling glum,
“But never mind that,
This job’s almost done.”

“On my Christmas Eve travels
I’ve seen many lands,
I’m just lucky I found
The folks with good hands!”

I thought to myself,
“This guy’s really thick.
Whoever said,
He was lively and quick?”

But I said not a word
As I went back to work
And a few minutes later
I turned with a jerk.

“It’s ready to go, Nick,
So hop in the sleigh!”
“Ho, Ho, Ho,” said Santa.
“You’ve saved Christmas Day!”

Then he picked up the reins,
To his team gave a call,
“Now dash away, dash away,
Dash away all!”

And I heard him exclaim
As they rose in the air,
“Like a good neighbor,
State Farm was there!”

The original State Farm version was first published in the Nor’easter in 1980 (a region publication).Authors: Peggy Miles and Beth TiloveChristmas 1980Rochester, NY
*Updated from original version
© 2010 Factiva, Inc. All rights reserved.

thankful thursday, the Christmas edition

Yesterday I was standing at my printer/fax/copier gazing out the window at the beautiful day. An older gentleman was in Kevin's office right next door to mine. I could hear their conversation over the hum of the papers I was scanning... Kevin asked about our client's plans for the holidays. You see... this dear soul had lost his wife of over 50 years earlier this year. It was his first Christmas without her. He described to Kevin the plans that his kids had made for the holidays... how they had gotten together last Sunday as a family... how they would do certain things around the holiday but... Christmas day... he was going to be alone. My eyes welled up with tears... for this sweet man... and for others like him... who find themselves alone at the holidays.... not that he isn't loved... not that his children didn't find time to spend with him around the holidays... but Christmas morning, for the first time in his life, he will wake up to an empty house.

This Thankful Thursday... I'm thankful that I'm not waking up alone on Christmas Day. I'm thankful that I do have options, that I've had several invitations of people I can spend the holiday with. I'm single but not lonely and I thank the Lord for that.

I finished my shopping and wrapping yesterday. There is one more thing I want to get my mama... one little thing I want to pick up for Jim and Angie but they are both easy stops and I can easily handle them in the time between work and our office Christmas dinner tonight. You should have seen the huge smile on my face when I finished up! I didn't do an extravagant Christmas. I didn't buy all the things I wish I could buy. There are so many wonderful people in my life who deserve so much more. But i know there's not a single person in my life who would want me to face financial hardship to buy them a gift. I'm pleased.

Austin understood that this wasn't going to be a big ticket Christmas and he didn't mind. I'm thankful that he's not a greedy child.

Our office Christmas dinner is tonight at a local restaurant. I'm glad we're doing it so close to the holiday... on a night when we don't have to get up for work the next day.

This is the last day we have to work before Christmas! I have a 3 day weekend ahead!

The last time Atlanta had measurable snow on Christmas day was in 1882. The predictions are that we will almost definitely have an accumulation of snow here in the mountains from Saturday thru Sunday. I'M GOING TO HAVE MY FIRST EVER WHITE CHRISTMAS!!! I'm so excited!

And the threat of bad weather settles the debate of where to be on Christmas day... I'll be right here in my cozy little nest. Happy as a clam.

Austin and his best friend Logan had their little Christmas get-together yesterday. I'm thankful for their friendship. Logan has been through a lot of the same dad issues that Austin has and they understand each other. Austin wanted a gift for Logan that was more than I normally budget for a friend gift... Austin told me to take the money out of HIS Christmas budget so we could buy this gift for Logan. That sacrifice was sweet in and of itself. Logan's mom is a little more frugal than me... Logan didn't have a gift for Austin... so he shared the gift Austin gave him... with Austin. Heartwarming.

Spice tea made. Some sausage balls made. I will probably make another batch later. It's all good. No more stress. It's all done. Peace on earth, good will toward all men.

Some of you go off the grid at the holidays... so if this is the last entry you'll read before Christmas, I just want to tell you how much I appreciate that you come here to read my bipolar little blog... I appreciate your comments... your prayers... your emails... your friendship, whether here in my little corner of the world or from a distance... as long as I can blog, as long as you will read, I'll never walk alone. I thank God for you. Merry Christmas and God bless.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

no whiny wednesday here!

These are my co-workers... I don't have permission to share their photos on my blog so I'm blurring them out. *teehee*
I just thought this was funny because you can see how ridiculously short I am.

I'm determined not to have any more humbugs. I made the russian spice tea last night. Someone asked for the recipe and to be honest... I just toss a bunch of stuff in there and do it by taste but if I had to guess... it's three parts ice tea mix (the powder kind) with lemon... one part tang... and a tablespoon (which seems like a lot but... that's how I do it) each of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ground cloves. I mix the whole deal in a large ziploc bag, it's a lot easier to shake it all up.
You add a generous tablespoon (or two) to a mug of hot water... it's a nice Christmas-y drink.

Today Austin and Logan are making sausage balls. It's a risk... but heck... if they mess up, we just make more. Here's my sausage ball recipe because inevitably, someone always asks for it: 3 cups bisquick (or any baking mix, jiffy works well) mixed with 3/4 cup of water. Add one tube of sausage and one package of shredded cheddar. Again... I play with the amounts of the sausage and cheese depending on my mood. Many people make sausage balls without using water to mix with the baking mix. I've had those. They're ok. This is better, in my opinion.
*Forgot to add cooking instructions* I cook them at 425 until they're slightly browned. Usually we make a huge batch and freeze them raw... then put them out frozen on a cookie sheet to bake. It takes slighly longer but they're still just as good.

I have a dilemma in that Cody really wants me to come down to see him and Marquee on Christmas Day. The dilemma is... that's a lot of holiday driving... I have to work around his time with his dad and her family... although they did invite me to come with them to her family gathering. The weather is supposed to be wet and snowy (depending on where the temps end up... so I could get down there and possibly not be able to get home). Last year was just a clusterf*ck (excuse the word, that's the only way I could accurately describe it) of anti-Heather sentiment on Christmas which was INCREDIBLY hard for me to reconcile in my heart... being uninvited to my family Christmas gathering hurt so deeply... and the fact that Cody and Ryan both made plans that didn't include me. Well. It's not that I can't forgive and forget. My kids were young... they wanted to be together... they couldn't figure out a way to include me and Austin in that... I understand. It HURT but I understand. It's just... well, I don't intend to be the disposable guest. I'm not going to live with the worry, Christmas after Christmas of whether or not I'll be welcome and whether or not I'll fit into someone's plans. I don't want to be a burden or an afterthought. I want to just do it my way, on my terms and not put myself in a position of ever being hurt that way again. It just changed those traditions for me forever. Once I became an optional guest, I realized that I have options myself.

I haven't told Cody absolutely no... but I think the weather, in the end, will be the deciding factor for me.
Ryan made the decision not to come home for Christmas and I supported him in that... mainly because it was an expense he couldn't really bear and I am against any expenditures at Christmas that impact your ability to pay your bills. Plus... he has a girlfriend who he wants to spend Christmas with. They're not at the point of traveling together on the holidays... but he does want to be with her.

I say all of that not because I'm still humbugging. I'm not. I'm actually feeling pretty upbeat today as my strength is coming back and the work week grinds on by and details fall into place... as they always do... I think I'm past the worst of the stress and am just appreciating the season. I guess if anything, I'm just weighing my options out loud and opening the floor for comments (as long as they're not anonymous and rude like those i had yesterday. Jerk.) and input on the whole deal.

Thinking the date with the Bear Hunter is a no-go for tonight. I'll be surprised if it happens. And at this point... I don't really care.

For my Cityville friends... a few tips... expand toward the water so that you can put up a pier and have boats. The boats bring goods and you can free up some of the land you've been using for farming to have more homes/businesses. Also... put up those free franchise spots. Yes, it uses your energy to collect from them and it uses your goods to stock them, but the further along you get, the more stars you get for those businesses and you can even get more energy from them. Some buildings don't have to be connected with the road - your franchise headquarters and storage buildings, for example. If you can put those buildings together, you can save the road space.

For my Frontierville friends... I can't stay signed on. It freezes up. That's why I haven't been on much. Sorry.

I have to make ONE more Walmart run before Christmas. It may happen in the middle of the night to avoid crowds.

I enjoy Christmas music SSOOOOO much during the last week before Christmas. Other than that, it seems premature.

I got the cutest little matching outfits for Sarabeth and Jamie for Christmas. I got them more than just clothes, don't worry.

Better post and start the glam routine.

Hope you have a Wonderful Wednesday!
Oh... and PS... (for Mary's comment) Cody and Marquee DO want me to spend the night Christmas Eve... but they won't be home... they'll be at her family's dinner... they want me to spend the night with my parents (where I have a hard time sleeping) so that I'm there first thing Christmas morning and can be there with C&M then... so that by the time Cody's dad is up and stirring - oh, say, midday probably - they'll have spent their time with me already and can send me back over to my parents' house so that Cody can visit with his dad. I completely support him spending time with his dad... and I understand how tightly knit her family is. They're figuring out how to include everyone and I respect that. I just don't want to be out of my comfort zone to be handy for their obligatory visit with me. In my mind... I'll just make it not obligatory. We'll see each other Christmas Eve morning... and then they're welcome to come back up at any time to hang out with mommy and Austin. Am I missing something?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

one more grumpy post to get it out of my system

Last few minutes of lunch. I didn't shop. I read this great Francine Rivers book I've been working on for the past two weeks
I got a hot apple cider from Starbucks (thank you again, Linda!)
I needed a break.
I can't understand that comment on the last two entries... same comment... same illiterate, anonymous person...
I guess forgiveness comes easier to some than others.
Next Guy isn't going to ever be The Guy. But that doesn't mean I hate him or have banned him from my presence.
I guess it's easy to throw stones under the cloak of anonymity.
I never said I was perfect. I think the whole tone of my blog is being humble enough to admit my imperfections.
Let he who is without sin...
Or something like that.
I don't feel good physically but I've definitely decided to not stress over what does or doesn't get done.
I texted Austin and said, "no clean kitchen, no sausage balls".
He's home all day doing nothing but messing up the kitchen. Let him help.
It's raining.
I have a run in my stockings.
I'm out of mascara.
I keep forgetting to buy tape.
I still have a few gifts to buy.
I have to put together the ones I HAVE bought.
Jesus didn't come to earth to make us all miserable for a few weeks in December and to make us spend January trying to catch up our bills from the money we overspent in December.
It's not humbugs... it's just perspective.

Christmas with a dose of Jewish guilt

Happy Tuesday! I made it through a full day of work yesterday for the first time since December tenth. It wasn't easy... I was in a fair amount of pain... which can be distracting... and there were a few times I had to just lean back in my chair and catch my breath... but I did it. Sometimes... we just have to do the best we can with what we have, know what I mean?

If Christmas is a Christian holiday, why do I have all this Jewish mother type guilt? I just can't stop thinking about the things I haven't been able to do yet... and...

It seems like the only stories on the local news this morning were economically motivated... this charity or that charity not able to get enough donations to meet the demands. Gas prices going up. The county where we used to live has put an embargo on evictions until the end of the year. Local communities who are bankrupt. What happened? I'm not asking for a detailed explanation of economics (Miss Hansard cured me of caring beyond supply and demand back in Junior High School.... a little less bitter might have made the subject more interesting)... I'm just trying to figure out what happened to the Reagan generation of my teenage years. What happened to living within your means? What happened to people being able to support their family by working a 40 hour week? I had a talk with a co-worker yesterday who is struggling as much as I'm struggling... and it's discouraging... to be highly trained, licensed and skilled and still struggle so much.

Anyways... fighting bah humbugs... trying to do the best I can with what I have. Such limited resources of time, money, strength...

Austin has decided he very much wants to spend Christmas with his dad, which is very much ok with me. I think he's going to ride back to the southside with his grandparents after our Christmas Eve brunch so I won't have to make the drive down there. Of course, that puts me in the position of driving back down there at some point to retrieve him as his dad never ever ever has been willing to assist with the transport of the children. Right now... I don't have the strength to make a four hour round trip drive... maybe in a week. The last thing I want is for him to head down there and feel like he can't get back home... but I don't have another day off until the 31st.

Do you think I managed to get the Russian Tea Mix or the sausage balls made last night? Nope. I came home and crashed and was asleep before 9pm. Hoping to rally today. I picked up two more gifts on lunch yesterday... so I was going nonstop from 7am to 6pm... which was just too much. Today I have a lead on something I wanted to get for Marquee (my daughter in law)... and I have a couple of bills to take care of on lunch as well... so starting in about thirty seconds, I'm going to have another marathon day. Lord, help.

I don't want to skip Christmas. I don't want to have a bah humbug attitude. I want to appreciate the holy season but it just gets to be too much... more that needs to be done than I can possibly do.

Time to glam and dash... cue the starting gun... and SHE's OFF!

PS... ok... I've made a decision... Austin can either help with the Christmas prep or there will be a sausage ball embargo in our house. HA!

Monday, December 20, 2010

reasons to love Monday

Hey y'all! It's a glorious Monday morning here in the hills and it isn't hard this week to find reasons to love it!

1. It's a Merry week... before next Monday we'll celebrate the birth of Jesus. that's good stuff!
2. I'm feeling better. Still some pain... and that has me concerned because I think the bronchitis is mostly gone but... we're less than two weeks from a new year and I'll postpone any major investigative medical work until then... so it applies to that 2011 deductible. I can make it!
3. Staff meeting this morning. Ok. Maybe that's not a reason to love Monday but I'm just so glad to be able to work... even staff meeting is ok.
4. I get to get out of this house for ten hours or so. I'm so tired of this nest, beautiful though it may be...
5. Sausage balls and russian tea mix making are in my future! Those are the two items without which it would NOT be Christmas! I'm experimenting with a lower fat version of sausage balls using reduced fat sausage, lower fat cheese and the heart healthy bisquick. I'm worried they'll be dry but I'm going to give it a shot so I can indulge guilt free.
6. I didn't see the Bear Hunter yesterday but we talked a bunch and so far... I like. We have a date planned for Wednesday.
7. Low and behold, guess who came to see me yesterday? It was the Next Guy! He came over for a little while... we watched a little football and just hung out. I'm not about to get relationshippy with him again... because I still don't understand why he pulled away... but we have plans to go to the movies on Christmas Day.
8. I've done all the food shopping I need to do for the next week or so... save a dairy or produce item here or there... so I can avoid the grocery store madness.
9. Austin's on Christmas break so there's no wrangling with my truant child for the next two week, praise the Lord.
10. Stocking stuffers have been purchased... that's always my last minute thing. There are a few things I want to get for my loved ones between now and Christmas day, but if I don't have time/energy/strength I've got enough to make for a decent Christmas.
11. I bought a fabulous fruitcake from the bakery for my mama and Aunt Ginger - the only two people in my life who actually like fruitcake. I'm excited for them to have it.
12. The coffee is extra good today. I bought a vanilla spiced rum creamer and it feels festive.
13. we have eggnog! I even found low fat eggnog for me!
14. I purchased an unlimited talk and text package for the little po-phone for the next month so those of you who have my digits, feel free to call! Our home phone is kaput so unless I put minutes on the cell, I wasn't going to be able to communicate. I'm so very much liking not getting Michael Darby's collection calls that I just might not replace the home phone.

Must glam... staff photos today... hope you all have a Marvelous, Merry Monday!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

what are we afraid of?

I've been watching Fox and Friends this morning (in between old movies on TCM) and there's a big stir about the whole "Don't Ask Don't Tell"... ban on gays in the military.

I don't get it. I mean... I'll admit that I've never been in the military... and I have no idea what it's like to be in combat... but... I think about the gay men that have come thru my life over the last ten years and I can't imagine that we should be afraid of having them in our voluntary militia.

I wonder (because I wasn't alive to really know) if this is similar to the fear that people had about desegregation. I mean... why should black people have had to drink from different water fountains? Why couldn't black people marry white people, if they loved each other? Why did they have to sit in the back of the bus? Why couldn't they go in certain places and why couldn't black and white children go to school together? What were we afraid of? It's not contagious.

I've had friends of all colors, shapes, religions and creeds during my journey here on this planet and there's been good and bad in all of them. I don't know how I would have survived those single mom years without Purple Michael and Barry. A gay man and a black man helped me raise my children... and raised them well. It's rare that Austin will call or text his dad but he texts Purple Michael all the time. A large part of Cody's work ethic came - not from his biological father - but from Barry, who coached him for so many years but more than that, emulated his own strong work ethics and calm demeanor for him. And I know you all love reading the incredible advice that Mr. Drake leaves on my blog - my precious, Jewish friend who has been a great influence on my life. Ryan learned his trade, gathered all the skills that allow him to have the good, solid income that he has thru my friend Charlie - also a gay man. It was Charlie who helped Ryan set up housekeeping in Pennsylvania... who taught him to cook... who, to this day, is his roommate and the reason I don't worry about Ryan. I know Charlie is keeping a close eye on him.

My point is that there weren't a lot of straight, white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant men who were there for me during that time of my life. I was blessed... and yes, I believe these men were heaven sent... to have the ability to think outside the box and to get beyond the prejudices that you would expect from a southern conservative Baptist woman. And I would not presume to speak for the Almighty but I feel that He has honored those friendships and that my life has been richer, my journey more pleasant and my world enhanced because I wasn't afraid of people who are different from me.

Even now... I find myself bending and opening my heart and mind to people who are different, here in this small little community. People who think that the King James Version of the bible is the only one holy enough to bother with. I disagree but those people are still valuable and still have a lot to offer. There are people in my life who think a glass of wine is an abomination against the Lord and... well... I don't... but I would not do anything to offend them. There are people in my life who don't like cats. People who think your socks always have to match. (why?) People who hate coffee. People who thinks Starbucks is a waste of money. People who eat transfats. People who are into a bit more hocus posus stargazing than me. People who are fat, thin, beautiful, ugly, talented, boring... and I am better for having known them all.

I'm against "don't ask, don't tell" in anything... because I think it's the differences that make our world a beautiful place. I want to know people, I want to know their deepest, darkest secrets. I want people to be transparent with me because I want to be transparent. I think it is in our humility and honesty that we are able to truly connect with people. I know... without a doubt... that it is my openness that brings a lot of you back here to read my blog day after day. I know that I'm not one hundred percent biblically correct one hundred percent of the time and I think admitting that makes me closer to what God wants me to be and allows others to not be afraid to approach my God. I mean... if He could love ME... couldn't He love you?

During my whole marriage to Michael, I never knew that he hadn't paid taxes in years. I never knew about the tens of thousands of dollars of debt he had amassed. I never understood the financial pressure he was under... and it was impossible for me to reconcile his elaborate spending habits with his demands that I live frugally. He wasn't willing to be vulnerable with me enough to share his burden... and so the burden stood to divide us, to the point that our marriage, in all honesty, was a complete sham. Had he told me what he was facing, had he been willing to trust me, I could have helped. I would have helped. I would also have discouraged him from some of the foolishness he was participating in... $600 for fireworks... for example... and he didn't want my opinion.

I didn't ask. He didn't tell.

But when I met Purple Michael... he was transparent with me about who he was... and his honesty allowed me to be honest with him... and throughout our friendship, I've been able to tell him things without fear of judgement... things that I wouldn't even tell my blog! I asked. He told. He asked. I told.

I would think... that it would be a better world, a better military... if there was that kind of transparency among the people who have to depend on each other for their very lives. And honestly... how can you live and work with people without them knowing your true self? Wouldn't that put added stress on everyone? Are we afraid that gays are in the military on some kind of recruiting mission? Is that what we're afraid of? Are we afraid for them to see a Private's privates? That it may make them lust and be a distraction?

I ran across a small town boy who was uncomfortable with the gay men in my life... and when I pressed him for a reason... he said, "as long as they don't come on to me"... is that what we think? That they're on the hunt? I'd say they are no more on the hunt than any heterosexual young man or woman. And so what if they ARE attracted to you... being crushed on never hurt anyone and just might... in the heat of battle... make them work a little harder to protect you!

So... in the spirit of the holidays... in the spirit of peace on earth, good will toward men... I encourage you to find someone different from you... and love them just as they are. Don't let fear prevent you from enjoying the kind of blessings that can come from being open minded.

Love and hugs, y'all!

pictures of my happy little home

Happy Sunday! I'm feeling better today... stronger, less pain, less coughing... I surmise that I am really, truly, on the mend. Yesterday I got a bit of shopping done and then came home and crashed... took a 5 hour nap... and then went back to bed 3 hours later. I think it might have something to do with my scrumptious new bedding... and you can tell that Bitty does NOT approve!

My sweet friend Angie worked on the kitchen yesterday... she put away all my "spring" teapots and made sure I only had seasonal decor. It does look a lot better... and she added the greenery..

Here's a view of the main living area (aka the space I rarely ever use since I'm always in my nest). You can see my little pink tree ... Austin's bike... the baby pictures of my boys... It looks much nicer now.

Here is a picture of my lazy layabout kitty cat who thinks that my legs covered in a snuggie create the most perfect cat bed. He's so cozy! I don't mind the added warmth but it takes an act of congress for me to get up.

Isn't my living room MUCH more charming now? I had let Austin and Logan arrange the furniture and it was not conducive to company... I would actually not be embarassed to have people over now. There are curtains coming... actually there ARE curtains... the curtain rod was being exchanged so at some point in the near future, I will actually have curtains on my windows.

In addition to the two end tables (I had none) my friends added this little table by the back door... and how cute is that shelf with my little doll and teacups? I collect antique tea cups and teapots.

Once again, I have to mention that the ladies who did this have tons of stuff to handle in their own lives... Angie... who cleaned the carpets and did a lot of the decorating... is a single mom with four kids under the age of 12. Cyndi... who is responsible for the wonderful bedding and my pantry filled with healthy stuff is the mother of four. Alisa... who worked like a slave girl getting Austin's bathroom clean and did hours of backbreaking labor on my house is scheduled to have surgery herself this week. It was no small sacrifice on the part of my girls... and I love them more than I can tell you!
They also got me a new shower curtain which Austin hung yesterday... and new bath rugs which Bitty absolutely detests. He keeps moving them and trying to flip them over... all part of his usual objection to anything new. He's a creature of habit, for certain.
I bought a few things yesterday and started putting gifts together and realized I didn't quite have that much energy... but I'm about halfway there. Must order Ryan's Christmas gifts and have them shipped to him in Pennsylvania... that's on the agenda for today. I also have a *tenative* date with the Bear Hunter to watch a movie. I'll let you know how that goes. There's just a bit more laundry to put away and I'd like to do some cooking for the week BUT... I'm pacing myself. More than anything, I have to make sure I can work for the next four days.
I've got another post brewing about some current political debates... but I don't want to include that in this happy little post. Love and hugs and Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

turning straw into gold

One of my blog readers is my adopted mom/guru and she always gives me honest, sage advice. Her Christmas card came in the mail yesterday... I opened it this morning and there was a little treat *YAY* and an advice column with a little passage underlined. It said, "when you don't have something you want, it's your job, and no one else's, either to get it or spin your straw into gold".

Here I sit... on top of this haystack... with a spinning wheel... all ready to go. The only thing lacking is vision. As in... I've lost the creative ability to see how to change my circumstances. I've settled. I've gotten lazy and... well, stuck.

Last night... I laid down on my beautiful bed with brand new REALLY soft sheets... new pillows, shams, new duvet cover... and I laid down on top of it. I know that sounds weird... but with Darby... I was under so much pressure to keep things perfect at all times (or to give the appearance of perfection) that when he was out of town, I slept on top of the covers so that I didn't have to make the bed until he came home. I was afraid to even use my own bed. And since I've been single... guess what crazy habit I've continued? You guessed it... sleeping on top of the covers. The rest of my house might be in absolute shambles but the bed was always made... because it was never unmade. I laid there for about an hour and then thought... I'm wasting those fabulous sheets... so I slipped under the covers and... slept better than I have in a week. I even slept until 7am!

After the disappointment of the missed love connection with Red Flag Guy ... and the abandonment without explanation by Next Guy... my inclination was to put away the lipstick and take another break from dating. But... I don't want to be stuck like that. Will I wait another two years... grow older... lonelier... more set in my ways... will I miss out on LIFE for another two years because of some minor disappointments? No. I refuse. I've got a date tomorrow with a guy I'll call "the Bear Hunter" (details on that later, I'll let you know how it goes)... and am talking to another guy, who, like me, sleeps with the tv on. (this may not make him my perfect match but if you've got a non-tv sleeper attached to a tv sleeper, it can make for a lot of sleepless nights). I'm back in the game. Not giving up.

I may have mentioned a slight fluctuation in my weight over the course of this illness... at one point I was 8 pounds heavier... and really, really freaked out about it. In the past... my tendency would have been to eat everything in sight because... I mean, if I'm not going to be able to lose because of illness and meds and all those things outside of my control... why bother? Well. I bothered. I stayed the course, kept counting points, stayed on plan, did what I could. And this morning... even though I knew I was going to register a gain... I went to weigh in. Consistency. Accountability. The next two Saturdays I won't be able to weigh in (Christmas and New Year) so I wanted to set a benchmark and goal... to know that I've slipped a bit (through no fault of my own) but I don't have to give up. I was up .8 pounds from my last weigh in... a total of 2.5 pounds from my lowest weight. And it's ok. My leader said, "It's going to melt away once you're well... keep doing the right thing".

I can't make myself instantly be well but I can do healthy things... eat healthy... take the meds I have to take and avoid the unnecessary meds. I stayed off the codeine all day yesterday and ... yeah... it was painful... but it's such a drain on my energy. I knew that the only way I was going to feel better would be to shake the meds. (don't worry... I'm still taking the antibiotic although I hate it) I am not about to run a marathon but I am trying to move more and reconnect with the outside world.

The thing that drew me to Next Guy ... more than anything... was the fact that he made me feel like a treasure. He made me feel beautiful, wanted, needed, desireable, attractive... and although I'll be the first to admit that there were probably more differences and reasons for us NOT to be together than what I had with Red Flag Guy... I (foolishly) thought that as long as I felt like a treasure, I could overlook anything. (Anyone noticing how God/fate/karma protects me from myself?)

All this begs the question... why do I need some random guy to make me feel like a treasure? All around me... every day... people in my life make me feel treasured. Trust me... you can't have three people slaving away cleaning your home while you sleep... and not feel special. And... the comments, emails, cards, etc that I get every single day from people from all over... I'm treasured. Appreciated. Needed. Wanted.

Empty nesting has been hard. I feel so far removed from the only life I ever knew as an adult... mommy... that I felt unwanted. Un-needed (I know it's not a word). If my kids don't need me anymore, what else is there for me to do? And because I had built my own self-esteem with a dependence on approval from the opposite sex... not having a man in my life made me doubt my worth. BUT... I have so much value as an aunt, friend, sister, cousin, blogger... there is still so much that I can contribute to the world, even if it's a different contribution than what I had envisioned.

The more I've complained about my loneliness at this time of year... the more invitations have rolled in... people who DO want to spend time with me... who do appreciate my company... who DON'T see me as an obligation but a treasure. I've had this perception of myself as a burden, that I failed to see the value that others see in me. The truth is... the haystack I was sitting on was already a pile of gold... I just failed to see it.

Maybe I'm a work in progress... I think everyone is... when we stop growing, we die. Over the past week I've felt impotent and unimportant. It took a few special elves... and a message from afar... to remind me that I'm not straw... I'm gold. And although there is so much more in life for me still... this stage is not wasted time... it's valuable. I'm valuable.

Time to eat some breakfast... take some meds... do a little (very little) shopping and enjoy the warmer (42 degrees) weather we have. Love and hugs to you... all my treasures...

Friday, December 17, 2010

the elves have visited

I seriously have the best friends in the world.
While I stayed cozy in my nest today and dozed off and on... three of my friends came over and scrubbed my house from top to bottom, redecorated, shampooed carpets, filled my pantry with healthy stuff... it's amazing.
It's still a work in progress or I'd take pics to share.
There is all new bedding... new end tables, lamps, shower curtain, rugs, towels, pictures, shelves... it's amazing.
I'm so grateful and so humbled. I mean... God bless Alisa... she scrubbed Austin's bathroom and I'm afraid to even GO in there.
My laundry is done.
My house looks all comfy and cozy.
It smells so clean.
It really is simply amazing. With all due respect to my Garmin last year... and the Valentines Day makeover from years ago... it's the best gift ever.
Just to make my house feel like a home.
And honestly... I have done nothing. I barely moved all day.
AND it's not as if these ladies have nothing to do... two of them have four children a piece... the other has two that she homeschools. This was a huge sacrifice of their time and talents and money.
It's inspiring.
Makes me want to get up and finish everything but I won't.
Not feeling very good.
Going to have another early night and pray that I have the strength tomorrow to do the shopping and prep that I need to for Christmas.