Thursday, September 6, 2007

My heart swells with pride

I know I talk a lot about my boys. But I have my reasons. 1 I love them so very much, they play such a huge part in my life alone. 2 I feel that they need to know that they are loved, that they know exactly how I feel about them, and 3 Why not? Life is too short not to be able to share and to show my pride in them.

Ok, well, we have been in school 4 weeks today. Progress reports are coming out for the middle school. Ya know, I was scared when Eric went to middle school. I had met several times with resource in elementary school for him. And I was really concerned about him going into middle school, with nearly 500 students in the 6th grade alone.

I was worried about him not meeting with resource, and with him being unorganized and non-chalant about school. He didn't care about elementary school. He was laid back about it. He loved going to resource, well, it was easy. And it helped him get on silver honor roll.

But when it came to middle school, that is a different world. We all have been there, and done that, and not going back again. It was an awful age, and it was a miserable time in my life. I don't know about y'all.

Anyway, we get the K12 planet. This is where I can go online and view everything that Eric does in school. If he was absent without me knowing, if he got in trouble, or how he did on ALL of his tests.

I get it today, and sit down and view everything. Well, to my surprise his grades are outstanding. Now he did fail the test last week, and we are doing extra credit tonight to bring that up. But even failing that test, he has a B in that class. All of his classes are A's and B's. I never expected that out of him. I know what he produces and I have fought with him to get good grades. But he is so self conscious about his grades, about how he looks, about his performance in school.

I am so happy about that. It has taken this much to get him to do this well in school. But at least he is trying. And that is all that I ask of him.

Now, PJ brought home his week's worth of work. He got an A on his project!! Yippee! I was so happy. He also got A's on spelling, sentences and math! He does try. With him, everything has to be perfect. His room is a different story, but in his life and with school, it has to be perfect. That is just him, he doesn't get it from me! But I do try to encourage him to do well, I try to encourage both of them. And I am happy when we get good reports from both.

I feel sorry for Eric. Usually, it is the younger in the shadow of the older. But for us, it is opposite. Eric is in the shadows of PJ. PJ is smarter, everyone knows that. He is like Chuck, it comes easy to him. Eric, is like me, he has to work for all of his grades. PJ is cuter, but then again, Eric is going through the awkward stage. PJ is funnier, more popular, more torqued up too. Eric is in his shell, he is trying to make more friends, and very laid back.

When they were in the same school, it made it very hard on Eric. He was known as PJ's brother. When PJ started Kindergarten, it would take him 10 minutes to get to the end of the hall to meet with one of us to go home. Why you may ask? He would stop and talk to anyone and everyone. He would go into classrooms and greet the teachers, he knew kids in 5th grade, while Eric was in 3rd. Girls in 5th grade would go down the hallway to hug him before he went home. It took him 2 weeks, and he knew the entire school. It was unreal, I was floored with all of this.

But for Eric it was hard. It made it very difficult on him. He was shadowed by PJ and his popularity.

Now, it is his turn to shine. He doesn't have to go to school with PJ until they are in high school together. And hopefully by that time, Eric will have found his own identity. He would have found himself as a student.

I try so hard not to compare. It does make it hard when PJ comes home from 3rd grade saying it is easy. Knowing that Eric struggled from day one. Knowing that I had to follow up on Eric everyday. I don't have to worry about PJ. And it hurts Eric because he told PJ that he would struggle in 3rd grade. He sees that it is a breeze for him, and it hurts him, but he is also supportive of his brother too.

It amazes me that no matter how much they fight, no matter how much they argue, no matter how much they hate each other at the moment, they love each other unconditionally. They are very close as brothers.

So, I am proud of my boys. I am proud of them as brothers, sons and students. They deserve the grades that they get, they work very hard for them. And for Eric, it is a struggle to get them, but now he is not giving up.

Well, Chuck's asst manager got married this past weekend. It was a nice day, and cool enough in the mountains for a ceremony.
I have never been to any of the chapels in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg or Wears Valley. I didn't know what to expect.

I knew the wedding started at 5. I kept telling Chuck that we need to leave by 2:30. But he kept insisting that 3:30 would be fine. Ok, you know what you are talking about.
We are walking out the door and I told him that we HAVE to leave, the wedding is at 5. And it takes all of an hour and half or more to get up there.
Ok, he is already aggravated with the fact that we are gonna be late, now mine you, I told him 5 times what time the wedding was and what time we need to leave. But he had it stuck in his head that it was 5:30 and we had plenty of time.
Instead of taking the interstate, we hit 411. Nice ride not much traffic, but you have to watch the speed limits. We get all the way to Maryville, and I goofed up, I told him take 411 when we should have gotten on 321. Oops, not like that 3 minutes detour is gonna hurt much. We were already late.
I see him tapping his finger, getting madder and madder. Apparently, I should have reminded him again that it started at 5, even though I had already done that many times in the past few days. I also should have reminded him that it takes 2 hours to get up there, even though I have only driven it once. And I should have gotten him up off his butt at 2, to make him get ready to go. So, in turn, it was my fault.
Anyway, we finally get up there. And after all that garbage in the car, I didn't want to be there. But I got out of the car and stayed far, far away from Chuck. Didn't put on my smiley face either. Just there. Nothing else but there.
We get there in time for pictures.

We missed the I do's. But come to find out, so did a lot of people. There was an accident on I 40, seems like a woman wanted to make her own lane, down the shoulder, over the guard rail and down the hill. So, the only people that got to see the wedding was the family. Even her one brother got there right before we did.
It was nice of them to have everyone that came to the wedding in a group photo.

Something that I haven't seen before. This is just one of the friends that came were invited.
I took several pictures of them. Not knowing that the photographer had another wedding at 6. And another at 7 and at 8. The chapel apparently pushes wedding through like an assembly line.

Everytime that I went outside, I saw a different couple getting pictures taken. All of them were the same as what she took at this wedding. Generic photos, nothing at the reception, nothing when they left. I know that we all had cameras there, but you pay for the photographer to take pictures. So, the generic pictures aren't that special.
So, I am there with my handy dandy camera and start shooting some of the pictures.
I love these, I love black and white. And these 2 are perfect pictures for the black and white. I am thinking about getting them enlarged and in black frames for them as a gift.
They had a carriage there that was cute. I wanted to get the boys in there, but I didn't have a chance.

So, we go into the reception, and they have 2 beautiful cakes, and cookies with their names on them. Turns out, her mom made everything. It was beautiful and delicious.

The roses were on sucker sticks. She made all the roses out of fondant and she put them on sucker sticks to stick in the cake. It was pretty cool the way that she did that. I wish I had that talent!

I love this one! He didn't care who was there. He didn't care if anyone was there. He was just happy that she was there.

And then this one too, I think I will have poster size of this done and have Chuck post it at work.

Well, since this was at a chapel, we were pushed to leave at 8. They have 3 reception rooms and the 4th wedding was needing the room. Now, I know you pay for all of that, and you get your cabin to stay in for the week. But a little romance would be nice.
We leave, and once again, I am not talking to Chuck. Don't care if he apologized half way through the reception. I have nothing to say to him. From now on, when he asks what way to go, I won't have an opinion in it.
When having a wedding on Labor day weekend, in the busiest city in TN, what do you expect. Their family came in from CA, GA, FL and Chattanooga. The family that traveled to get there, couldn't get reservations. They got the invitation and tried to make reservations, but they couldn't get rooms. The place was packed. Reservations 6 months ahead is what you need to have up there.
Well, we get home, and there is a sign, road work. At 10:15????? We asked if we can just get to our house, and were told that no driveways were blocked. None, but ours.
Cleveland Utilities were out digging a hole in my front yard. Now I understand that they have to do this, but when they were out at 2 that afternoon, you would think that they knew there was a water problem across the street.
There was a water main break, and of course it had to be fixed.
I didn't give Chuck a chance to get out, I am out there in no shoes, pointing my finger up to the foreman, asking him what was going on? Ok, it wasn't that nice.... but I wanted to know why there was an 8 foot deep hole, 10 x 10 wide in my front yard. Yes, I understand the water main break. But they ripped up my yard. Yes, they have right of way, BUT that is my front yard. And of course I want to know what they were gonna do to repair it. Well, the local nursery will resow the grass and they will fix their mess.
About midnight, while we are still awake watching UT get beat up by Cal, Chuck looks out the window. Well, they moved to the other side of the road. They didn't know where to fix it from. They didn't know what side to dig up. So they started on one side and then decided that since the people across the street from me had no water, that it was coming out of my side.
When we got up the hole was filled, but it looks like crap right now.
It isn't pretty when me at 5'5" is yelling at 10:15 at a guy that could stomp me like a bug. Yep, I pretty much ticked them off!

Funny, PJ said, "I was gonna tell them to stop" What were you gonna do PJ, kick them in the shins?" We all weren't too happy about it. But you have to deal with it.
This is the 2nd water main break in the past 3 weeks. I wonder what is going on with this. We are in drought situation and all of these mains are breaking. But only one at 10pm has to be the one directly in front of my bedroom window.

Rockin Robin

Today was 50's day at PJ's school. I didn't dress PJ up, because, well, it is kinda hard to find something for a boy to wear. The girls all wore the poodle skirts, some of the boys dressed in the white t shirt and blue jeans.
The Fall Festival is tomorrow, and the theme is the 50's. And there was an album cover contest, and the dress up contest. We got to see the winners to the album cover contest, and then the 3rd grade did their dance.
They all get up, line up, and the music start. Rockin Robin, toot toot, rocking robin.

PJ looked a little confused, along with the others. But when they started their dance. It was so funny, so cute, you couldn't help but laugh.

So, they dance back and forth, flip their wings, spin in circles, dance some more and take a bow.

I go to these things, no matter how silly it may be. No matter how long it takes. No matter what they do. I go, because I love my boys. It was nice that the principal acknowledge the parents, the support of the school. That this was the backbone of the school. It is nice that parents are there for their children.
I know that some can't go. But this place was packed out today. It was SRO! All of the school was there, but the parents that showed up, it was unreal. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters. That is what is all about, family. To enjoy the time that we won't get back. To spend those precious moments, capture the laughs, the smiles, the flips and the flops, the bumps, spins and turns.
So, for me, to take the time to go to something as silly, but something very important to PJ. It may not seem to me as a big deal to me, but that "HI MOMMY" or even "HI MISS PATTI" from the pastor's son, that is more precious to me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Comfort food on the menu!

My family loves my cooking. That is a good thing! But when I found this recipe for good ole comfort food, I just had to try it. It is funny, the first time that PJ tried box mac and cheese was when he was 4. A lady at the store looked at me and told me it was a shame that he never ate mac and cheese. He corrected her, "no, she makes homemade mac and cheese." He put her in her spot!

Baked Ziti and Cheese casserole
1/2 lb ziti, uncooked
2 tbsp butter or olive oil 2 tbsp flour
1 tsp dry ground mustard
1/2 tsp salt
2 3/4 cup milk
2 cups shredded Sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Cook ziti according to package; drain. In a medium saucepan, melt butter; stir in flour, mustard and salt. Gradually stir in milk; cook and stir until mixture thickens slightly and bubbles. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup cheese; stir until melted. Add ziti. Spoon into a greased 8 inch square baking dish. Top with remaining 1cup cheese. Bake uncovered 25 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes. Refrigerate leftovers.

Ok, now for my opinion, because it counts! Anyway, I start the sauce up first and then about half way, I start the ziti. Because it does take about 15 - 25 minutes to get the sauce done, that would mean the ziti would sit around and get sticky. I also don't cook the ziti all the way though, it will cook in the oven, and if you cook it all the way in the water, you will have mushy noodles in your finished product. And I just don't care for mushy noodles. Nothing special for Labor day. I made this with ribs. I am always on the lookout for new stuff.

I have blog subscriptions to 2 REAL chefs, they have really neat stuff. But I am so down to earth with my cooking that I like the everyday food!!!

Happy eating y'all

Breakfast with some old friends

I decided to take the boys to breakfast this morning. It is something that I don't do often, but if we are to go out, I want to go to breakfast. I am tired of going to places that are fast food or even Cracker Barrell, not that the food isn't good. But sometimes something different is nice.
We went to the Rebel this morning. It is an old, popular place here in town. Let me put it this was, it was AN old place. The original location is now the home of the new location. They relocated many, many years ago on a very busy corner of town. Eventually they closed that one down and in 2004 they reopened in the original location.
The boys hadn't ever been there, so I decided that this morning we would go and enjoy a different kind of breakfast, a real home cooked breakfast. Real eggs, huge biscuits, and homemade gravy.
Of course we got there and we had to wait for a table, um, maybe 5 minutes. But the original owner is the hostess and she sat and talked with us while we waited.
We got seated and looked over the menu. Eric wasn't sure what he wanted, but he ended up with an omelet. PJ got the biscuits and gravy. And moi, well, bacon, eggs, bicuits and gravy.
PJ didn't care for the gravy too much, but he chowed down on his cat head biscuits with spread (EW) and jelly. Eric devoured his omelet And I ate and watched the people come in and out.
I love watching people that know each other, they come in, they wait to be seated, they stop and talk to their friends. They stop and talk to people they haven't seen in years. They sit down beside you, smile, and greet you. The waitresses are real people, they don't have to go through all that training that is required from Corporate office or the chain that owns them. And when people come in they greet them with a real smile.
I loved watching the waitresses greeting the people that they have known forever, because these are people that have been eating there forever. They hold up a pot of coffee and see if you need more. They laugh and hold real conversations with you.
Breakfast was delicious. The boys said that this was the best breakfast they had out. The biscuits were great, and the service was wonderful. They told the waitress this too, she got so tickled that she told the other waitress, the cooks in the back and the owner. Isn't that nice to know that people still share good news with all the others.
We left looking at the history in that little place. We enjoyed the not rushed atmosphere. We loved the food, the friends, the entire place. Stop in at
Look at the history. Glance at the menu. Take a minute and look at the way it was in Cleveland many years ago.

Projects, seeds, and lots of glue

We just finished our 2nd full week of school. This past Friday we received a paper noting that there was a project due this coming Friday. Ok, that is nice. We aren't in school a month, and the projects are already starting. That is what happens in 3rd grade. It is hard, it is a pain, it is a lot of work. We have been through this before, and made it through, barely.
So, PJ comes home telling me that he has a seed project due this coming Friday and we have to collect seeds. What kind of seeds? All kinds of seeds. Edible, non edible fruit seeds, flower, edible tree seeds and non edible tree seeds. That was a lot! At least 3 of each from the above catagory.
This is not the time of year to collect edible or non edible tree seeds. The squirrels are collecting the nuts and acorns, pinecones or anything else that falls from the tree. So, finding stuff was hard.

I bought some fruit that we can eat, mango, pluot (plum/apricot cross... try them, delicious!), grapefruit, kiwi, and some veggies too. Tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden, zucchini.
The flower seeds were quite easy since we had the garden. So, teddy bear sunflower, vinca, mustard seed and peppercorn seeds (that was my idea!)
The edible tree seeds were rough too. Everything is falling to the ground, and you know, as soon as it hits, the squirrels and chipmunks gather up the goods. But I had some one give PJ a walnut still in the husk. Our neighbor donated the pinecone that contained pine nuts, and a pecan finished that catagory.
But now, where do you find the tree seeds. It has been dry and very hot. The leaves are starting to fall and finding seeds are difficult right now. But once again, PJ had some donations. Someone gave him the dogwood seed and a redbud seed. We had a tree come down close to the house, and it is still there. But I found a seed off of that.... hackberry, that was interesting, and of course the ever faithful maple.
Ok, so now we have everything, what do we do? Posterboard and lots of glue and one good writing sharpie. PJ had me take pics of the fruit and the veggies and ouf course someone had to eat it too. So I did that part for him.
He and I discussed how to lay them out. And let the gluing begin.
This is the unfinished project.
Rubber cement works wonders. The seeds ended up being in plastic so they would stay on the board. It is a wonder that he got everything on there. He wrote everything, listed all the catagories. Told me where everything went. He did a lot of the work, and I was proud of him.
So, we get this baby to school, and I take it in his classroom. There is another one already there. It was neatly written (by mom), and mostly everything was packaged food. Ok, that was their idea, and that explains why the poor kid is about 200 lbs.
I asked PJ when I got him on Friday how did his project go over. Well, he was the only one that had pics or the actual plant on his board. Very creative, very well listed. Neatly done.
OK, he should get an A +, at least I think that he should. But then again, who am I to be partial.
I am happy that he used his imagination. He took his time, he laid it out, he looked and moved, glued and wrote, taped and glued some more.

I see one of them has my creative gene! LOL

I made it in the paper !

Ok, I never thought that when I sent in a picture to the local newspaper last week that it would be actually in the paper. But when I went to church yesterday and Pastor told me that he saw my picture in Friday's paper, I was a little surprised.
"I saw your picture in the paper on Friday." "oh ok, what picture?" "Your picture of the eagle." "Eagle? You mean the hawk?" "Yes, that was it, it was on the front page."
So, I had to go home and get my neighbor's paper and noticed that it was right there on the front. So, what do I do, I start texting Chuck, calling my mom, my dad and whomever I can think of.
Today, I go and buy 4 copies of the paper, so that way I can send out a copy to my mom and friends. And I tell all here at work about it too. It was rather neat to be on the front page. I know that it is not the Times, Atlanta Journal, but it is the local paper.

Open House at school

Last night was open house at the middle school for Eric. I really didn't want to go, but I did. I did because my dad never did anything like that with me, never showed any interest in anything with me. And I just refuse to be like that. So, the 3 of us piled in the car and went on our way.
We all meet in the auditorium and wait for the time to leave to go see the classrooms. Of course they announce that sweat shirts are on sale for $20, and then the booster club was selling entrances to the dances for $5. So, you know that I have to buy that stuff. And I did.
I asked Eric who he was gonna ask to the dance, and he looked at me. "What are you talking about?" "Well, Eric, you ask a girl to the dance." "HUH? I thought that was for the dance team thingys." "Nope, you go to a dance and you dance with a girl." "Oh,well you just wasted your money, I am NOT going!"
So, we get to the classrooms and he shows me his locker, where he sits in each class, shows me around the school. I meet all the teachers, talk to them, grab some stuff for their wish list and end up getting lost.
In the process of all of this, I end up meeting the other PE teacher. He is friend's with our neighbor. And the Teen Living woman is another friend of theirs. So, I mentioned to Eric that I don't want to hear anything about him causing problems, because it will get back to us. But I know not to worry about it, because he is such a good kid.
I was speaking to the Teen Living teacher about Eric and all that he can do. Now, I didn't know what Teen Living was, so I will explain it to you. This is where you learn how to do wash, iron, use the microwave, cook, things like that to prepare them for life. It is not home ec, but on the lines of it.
So, I was talking to her and I told her that Eric is looking forward to this class. And I also mentioned to her that he already knows how to do all the things that this class teaches. She looked at me like I was crazy, but I told her that he can do this stuff, because I have taught him most of it already. She told me that he may be too advanced for her class. Well, isn't that nice! LOL! I was kinda shocked that she would say something like that, but I just smiled and went on my way.
I teach them things to survive through life. I do this for one very good reason. I don't want them to me like me when I got married. I didn't know how to do anything. I lived at home until I was 22 and I had mom doing all my wash, I didn't cook because my dad did all of that, I didn't have to pay many bills because all I had was my car and a few credit cards, I really didn't know how to do anything at all. And I had to learn, and in some cases the hard way. But still I learned, willing to learn, and now I am the teacher.
But back to open house, I was proud to see that the locker was clean, that he is organized with everything. That he moves promptly to each classroom and class without problems. It is nice to see that he is trying to be more responsible with this,and he is taking is seriously.
I am proud of him, he is trying so hard in school. It is nice knowing that teachers are pleased with him, and mostly that he is pleased with himself. It is starting to show.

Pass the potatoes please

I haven't blogged a whole lot here lately. Sometimes I forget, sometimes I am too busy to even think straight. But I am catching up this week with some things in life that is going on.

Ok, I didn't know what I wanted to do this week. I looked at this, I looked at that, I thought about a dessert, I thought about an appetizer. I decided that the everyday meatloaf was something worth blogging about today.

I love this recipe, and if you don't have Italian breadcrumbs, use the regular breadcrumbs and a tablespoon or to your taste of Italian seasonings.
Once again, if you make anything that catches your eye, please let me know what you think. I am always open for suggestions and comments!

I have been making this recipe for years. If you want a meatloaf recipe that people won't turn their nose up at, try this one.

1 lb. ground beef
2 eggs
¼ c finely chopped onion
1 c. Italian style bread crumbs
¼ c. fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 14 oz can tomato sauce or marinara sauce, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In large bowl, combine, ground beef, eggs, onion, bread crumbs, cheese and pepper.
Fold in 1 c. sauce.
With wet hands, pat mixture firmly in 8 x 4 inch loaf pan.
Pour remaining sauce over loaf and back 1 hour. Let stand 20 minutes before cutting to serve.
I don't use onion, never have.
And I usually bake mine for about 45 minutes, THEN pour the remaining sauce over the top and bake for an extra 15 minutes.