Friday, January 25, 2008

The most recent project

My next project was going to be the quilt for PJ, but the beloved child informed me last night when I picked him up that he would be attending the lock-in at church tonight.

Ok, so that is one less child that I have to deal with tonight. Eric and I can start a puzzle or something. Or maybe even play some video games. So, I thought that he could go and have some fun with his friends from school and church.

I had to stop and think what he needed to bring with him, pillow, blankets, pajamas, toothbrush. But with it being so cold here lately, I don't think his short pajamas will be of much assistance to him. Now what? I know, make his lounge pants. But I didn't have anything done, pattern not cut out, material not iron, hadn't read the instructions, nothing. Oh it was gonna be a busy night.

First of all, I wanted meatloaf for tonight, and the best thing for me to do was to make it last night, but I had to go out and get bread crumbs. Then help Eric with his homework, help PJ with his extra vocabulary, math corrections, spelling, and whatever else needed to get done. Not to mention that I had to help clean up the mess from where Eric made biscuits. It was just too much to do for all of us in a matter of hours. But we all got done and I found a spot to cut the pattern and then pin the pants.

I followed the instructions with mass confusion, but once I got the inside seams done and had my hands on it, I figured it out. The way that these pants were made they didn't have an outside seam, just the inside one. So, I had to make them differently than what I was used to before.

Got them put together, and then create the waistband. Not too hard, I sat and watched the debate while pinning that. At 9:48 I got up from the couch, turned the iron on, set up the board and was pressing the area that was to be sewn. At 10:05, I was sitting at the machine sewing the waistband. At 10:15 I found some elastic, pinned it and started working that through, until the pin decided to open in the middle of the waistband. NUTS ! I had to open that up and secure the pin, gee whiz, what an ordeal. I was only hoping and praying that they fit fine, and that I wouldn't have to do much of anything else in the waistband. I finally put it down and went to bed.

PJ tried them on this morning and they fit! Yes, they fit! So today at lunch I will be heading to the house, and put in the hem. Perfect! And another project checked off the list. It didn't take all that long to do. I am glad that they are done, that way he has something warm to wear tonight, but they are lounge pants for him around the house.

Mmmmmm, I may have to make me a pair too. It was really that easy!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My next project

I know that Eric is attempting to do all the chores, but I also know that there is a lot to be done. So, if he helps just a little bit, it would make it easier on me to do things with them and to get on my sewing machine to make, well, things for them. I don't expect Eric to do everything, I never did ask for that, I only asked for a little help.

Anyway, about a year ago, maybe more, I spotted this pattern in a magazine.
It was too cute. I figured that I can do this, maybe. Yes, I can do it, it is only squares that are sewn together, anyone can handle that. So, I found the main fabric online and ordered it. Since that moment in time, my machine decided to go bust.

I was so excited when the fabric came in,

but there was nothing that I could do but wait. Eventually, I did forget that I had the pattern until PJ reminded me.

Well, I got my machine for Christmas and since I have taken it out, it hasn't left the kitchen. There are 3 things that I would like to get done shortly. One is this quilt that PJ has be patiently waiting on for about a year. So, I do believe that this is on the top of the list. There is also a pair of flannel lounge pants that PJ would like to have. Does he need them? No, but Eric is making his own pair, so, of course PJ wants his own pair. And then there are the curtains for the kitchen, I have plenty of the material that I covered the chairs with last year. So, I have my work cut out for me. But in the long run it is worth it. My family and my home reap the rewards!

This past week I decided that I needed to get some of the other fabric for this quilt. I am just a beginner, so when a pattern says tonal and mottled, I have no clue. I think that tonal is what it says, tone on tone. But the others, well, I really don't know. And I was not gonna bother my neighbor with that, so I just took PJ to Walmart and had him pick out what he thought would be good. After all, it is his quilt, he needs to have some say so in what goes in it.

I had gone to the older Walmart earlier in the day, and their selection was, well let's put it this way, squat. So, I decided to take him to the other Walmart, and their selection was wonderful, in Walmart standards. But I found two patterns for him to pick from. I knew that I needed the blue, red, green and yellow. But finding something that wasn't going to put a dent in my pocket was a challenge. So, the first place I hit was the $1 and $2 table. And there were the 2 patterns that had all the colors that I needed.

Now, I have this fabric. I think he did a good job picking out the right one. Kids have an eye for this kind of stuff. I just need to go back next week and get the black and the checkered flag fabric. Then I can get started. I know they aren't the right colors for the blanket, the green matches perfectly with the flags on the flag fabric. But this isn't for anyone that expects it to match right. This isn't for my neighbor that would pick it apart and comment on it. This is for an 8 year old that appreciates anything homemade.

Surprises never cease

I got home from work last night, dreading of all the stuff that was needed to be done. You know, dishes, wash, sweeping. All of it. But I got a surprise that I didn't expect.

Earlier in the day I had asked Chuck to help me make a checklist for the boys in what they can do to help out around the house. Yes, I have complained several times about them not doing anything at all, or passing the buck, and then I end up doing it. I got tired of hearing the lies how they don't make the messes, the other makes it and they just won't clean it up. No matter, in the long run, I ended up with the mess, the cleaning and got tired of hearing the stories.

So, I thought with Chuck's managerial experience that he could help with a checklist for both of the boys. Not something that is everyday, but with things that need to be done weekly, and nightly. I forgot that his computer is not working right and he couldn't do it for me.

Well, I got home last night and was shocked by the greeting that I received from Eric. "I made a chart. For the next 6 weeks I am overtaking all the chores." Why, well his birthday is in 6 weeks and he wants money to buy a PSP. "I have the list on the fridge, and I am gonna do this to help you out."

Now, I orginally thought that Chuck put him up to this. Nope, he didn't. Eric got home from school and went right to his room, did his homework and then started on that. He came out of his room, showed his dad and explained to him what he was planning on doing. Chuck told him that if he did everything like he was planning on doing that he would pay him $30 for the job. Ok, that is far enough. Sweeten the pot a bit.

Now, PJ is a little upset with all of this. His chores have now been taken away by his brother. Ok, I can fix that. There is more than one room in the house. I am sure keeping his room clean and wiping down the sink is something that he can do.

I am not gonna sit around and have them do everything. It is the little things that seem to pile up, that get looked over, that never get done. Those are the things that I need for them to help with. And it seems as if they will be helping with it now. At least I hope they will.

I told Eric this morning that it is a big undertaking that he has taken on. And it is. I didn't expect him to do all of that, I still don't. I just would like for him to clean up some things. We shall see what he does. He still has school, homework, projects, and this, along with the occasionally video game. But he is old enough to help out around the house. With Chuck working 60 - 70 hours a week and me being out of the house for 40 or more a week, they can pitch in and help out.

And it looks like it has sunk into Eric that a little help will make a great difference.

Chicken Mushroom Quesadillas

PJ saw this on TV not too long ago, and he is begging me to make it.

Chicken-Mushroom Quesadillas

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
8 ounces white button mushrooms, (about 3 cups) (I don't prefer the mushrooms)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked chopped skinless, boneless chicken breast (1 breast half)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups baby spinach leaves, sliced into ribbons
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 (10-inch) whole-grain flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese mix or Cheddar
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook until the mushroom water is evaporated and they begin to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add chicken, cumin, chili powder and oregano and stir until all spices are incorporated. Add spinach, salt and pepper and cook until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.

Lay 1 tortilla on a flat work surface and sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Spoon 1/2 chicken and vegetable mixture on top of cheese, then top with an additional 1/4 cup cheese. Top with another flour tortilla. Heat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray over medium heat. Carefully place 1 quesadilla in pan and cook 3 minutes. Using a large spatula, gently flip quesadilla and cook an additional 3 minutes until lightly browned and cheese is melted. Repeat with second quesadilla. Slice each quesadilla into quarters. Place 2 quarters on a plate with 1 tablespoon sour cream and 2 tablespoons salsa.

It sounds good, I may have to make it this coming week. I love stuff like this

Too Stinkin' Cute!

I have had this material for many years. I initially bought it to make a dress for Chuck's neice, Kaitlyn. But I didn't know what I was doing, I didn't want to bother anyone with it, and then my machine decided that it was gonna go a little crazy with the bobbin area. So, needless to say, I never got started on it. Part of it, may be a timing thing too. There is so little time for life anymore. And my problem is, I love to sew and do things like that, that when I don't get to do it, I sorta get disappointed that I didn't make the time for it. But then I have the boys and spending time with them is more important than any craft or quilt. So, I have to choose what is priority. So, taking things in steps to make them is the way that I have to go. Of course, starting one project at a time is the key right now. One day I will have the time to do this stuff, so I have to have my priorities in order.

It always amazed me how someone can take a piece of material and do something with it. I am in forever awe of people that can make beautiful clothing for themselves and their family. Or my neighbor that has the time to run to quilt store after quilt store to get material. And then make these quilts that are just amazing. I am just happy that I have gotten just a few done, and only one is in my house. I would love to do that stuff, but I don't have the time to run to all the stores everywhere. And in the process of raising 2 boys, I simply don't have the energy to sit for hours on end cutting and creating. For me, that takes time. PJ's quilt took me 3 years to get done. I did have a crappy machine, so that was part of the problem.

Back to the material that I purchased many years ago. You already know that I stumbled upon it not too long ago. So, I figured that since there is only one little girl in my life, that I would make it for her. I made the vest, trimmed the material, hemmed the skirt, cut the larger patterns for a purse. I did all that I needed to do. I got the purse done.

Isn't it just too cute. I have sewn a pocket inside of it too, to make it more purse perfect. I thought about quilting it, but I really struggled with my strap, so when I got done with it, it was done and ready to be used.

I then did the best I could with the skirt portion. I hemmed it, and then started to gather it. Now, I haven't done this in years, and I mean way back in High School years, I had to go on my memories of how things are to be done. I do remember that when you gather something, it needs to be doubled the size of what you are doing. Got that. Loose stitches, got that. Now to attempt to put it on the correct way. The first time, I had the top on wrong, nope that won't work. Gee whiz Patti. Ok, take out the pins and go again. I fought with it, cussed at it, threw it down several times, and gathered my thoughts and started over. Yes, I finally got done with it, after all that, I now have a dress. Of course, my mistake, I took it to my neighbor. Get ready to for some constructed critisism. And it did come in handy, not that I will be making too many dresses like this, but I did learn some things that I may need to know in the future. I am so glad that I don't have girls. Really, making stuff for the boys is much easier.

Now, considering I am a beginner, I don't know the ins and outs of certain things, zippers and button holes. So, with button holes I have to improvise on what I need to do. I thought about snaps, no, really that would not be right for this project. I thought about velcro, that would work, but then all you would hear is her pulling it and putting it back together, that would get on your nerves after a while. Ok, I settled for ribbon. I was going to thread a needle, pull thought both pieces of the vest and just tie like that. I didn't have a needle with an eye large enough, now what? What is it, necessity is the mother of invention? I didn't invent anything, but ingenuity is always right around the corner! I figured it out! Yes, thank you brain, I figured it out.

See, when I put my mind to things, I don't do half bad!

Now, will I attempt something like this again. Probably so, but right now, I have 3 things that I would like to get done. Curtains for the kitchen, pj bottoms for PJ, and a race car quilt that I finally got the rest of the fabric for to get it started.
These things may take some time, but I am getting to do something that I really enjoy. I still spend some time with the boys, and I still have time to get whatever needs to be done in the house.

I did buy Eric a pattern for, basically, lounge pants. He wants to try to make something. Wish me luck!

Sewing Away

I am so tickled with my new sewing machine. I just love it! It is a simple machine, nothing fancy, I am quite happy with anything at this point. I don't need anything that I can't figure out, as long as I know how to work the stitches, I don't care.

I made the curtains for the bathroom, and I am really pleased with them and the way they turned out. It has been so long since I have sewed anything that I thought I would be a little rusty, but I did just fine. And with a machine that works right, well, things have a tendency to go smoother.

Well, several years ago I found some material to make a dress for one of Chuck's neices. I couldn't figure it out at the time, I didn't have time, and it sorta got put on the back burner. I found it the other day and I thought that since I do have a new machine that I will attempt to make this little dress for a friend of mine.

I got everything put together and I think it is rather cute.

See, the inside is lined with bears too. Now, I did have a time with this. I do believe that I did something wrong somewhere, so I had to release some seams and get it to look somewhat right. I know where there are a few problems, but no one else has to know anything.

I have all this material for the skirt part and I am just waiting on a measurement to finish off the dress. I decided that since I do have so much left over I am going to make a purse. So, I cut the strip that has the alphabet on it and made a strap for the purse from that. And then I am going to cut 2 bears and the excess blue and have a purse with lining.

I do wish that I had a girl to sew for. Not that it isn't nice to make the boys things, but still, they don't care for the frilly stuff, of course. So to make anything really cute is out of the question.

I would like to get this done shortly and send it off as a birthday gift. I can't wait to see the finish product. I think I will have a hem in it so that way the only thing I have to do is gather and sew it all together.

I am thinking about ribbon to tie the top shut. Because I still don't know how to make button holes, but that will come.


It snowed! Yes, it snowed!!! I am so excited that it snowed. If you haven't figured it out yet, it snowed and I just love, love, love snow!

I lived in New Jersey for 22 years. I loved the winters up there. Yes, they were rough, but the snow was great. I didn't care if we had snowdays, I was one of those very strange children that actually liked going to school. We lived 2 blocks from the ocean and for us to even get 6 inches of snow was a miracle, but we would sit out there with a ruler and wax the sled getting ready for the snow. It is a part of me and I love it.

Fast forward about 100 years, I am here in southeast Tennessee. Why? Well, that is beyond me. But I am here and I don't mind for the most part living here. But what I do mind is that we don't get a lot of snow. So, when it does snow, I am absolutely beside myself. I am like a big kid, I never had the chance to be a kid, so I make up for it now in life.

It started snowing last night about 6 or so, we just got done with our walk, and I noticed on the windshield that it was snowing. Not much, but just enough to notice it. I got home, parked close enough to the MB to where the windshield won't be covered in the morning and then it started. I was sitting on the couch, looking out the window and the flakes were getting bigger and multiplying by the minute. Oh it was so pretty. I was just too excited. So, I called for PJ to come outside and just look at it, I was tickled. It was snowing!

Eventually, I had to take pics. Only to prove to people that it does snow down here, although occasionally.

So, we are watching the news and the weather updates and they are saying that it will snow for a while, it was not sticking to anything but the grass, and that the sleet then rain was to move in. Ok, even though it was just a little bit of snow, it was still snow, and we got it.

It started to rain before we even got in bed, so I knew that it would be gone by morning. They had already several school closings before 10 and there was that feeling that we would have no school either. Even though the school director knew yesterday afternoon that it was turning over to rain, he still decided to close school.

Eric was up at 5:30, wanting to have snow on the ground to play in. PJ was up at 6, hoping that there was snow on the ground too. But it was gone. It rained nearly the rest of the night, the temperature did not go below freezing, so you would figure that kids go to school in the rain all the time, so what is the difference today. To let them play in the snow? What snow? It was gone.

I got up to find out was going on. Eric is freaking out, he can't find anything on tv or on the computer if there was school or not. I just called the school transportation and found out that there wasn't any school. Nope, not today. So, now the ordeal of what to do with the boys.

Eric is at home, wanting to be here. PJ is here with me on the computer. I don't think Tennessee gets it. Snow day means that there is more than a trace of snow on the ground. Not rain, not drizzle, not wind. Snow. This has happened before and it is irritating. If they aren't going to be in school, there better be snow on the ground for them to play in. The kids are bored, they can't go outside due to the rain, so they sit in the house. Or at work with me. Either way, this one should have been thought out a little better.

Cars and the trouble they cause

I have had a day from, basically, hell. Yes, I know what I said, and I really don't care right now.
It all started last night. The boys and I went for our short walk. We got done and got in the car. Started it up, backed up, and then it started. The engine light flashing, the car sputtering and jerking, the get up and gone had just left town. I drove it home and got out, oh my goodness, the smell of rotten eggs was everywhere. Inside the car and eventually inside the house. It was that bad and yes, it was GROSS! So, I decided to start it up again, and it ran just fine. I was hoping that was all there was to it.

Nope, got up this morning to take Eric to school. Backed out of the driveway and went on our way. Then it happened. I got to the red light and it started the same thing that happened last night. The sputtering, like it wasn't getting enough gas, the engine light flashing, the jerking that it was causing. I was sitting at this light praying that it would change so I can get to a turn around and head back home. I made it home, parked in the yard, and told Chuck what was going on.

We thought that since it doesn't have quite 50K miles on it, that it should be covered under warrenty. But that means to find a good tow company, one that will not rip the bumper off the car type company, contact the insurance company that way I will be reimbursed for the tow bill, contact VW of Chattanooga and find out what needs to be done.

First off, I parked the car in the yard the wrong way and boy did I get yelled at for it not being parked the right way. All I wanted to do was get home, I could care less how it was parked. I had a kid in the car and I had to crossover a busy intersection to get this said child to school. So, really now, do you really think that I was thinking about how a car is parked in the yard? Nope, could care less at the moment.

Get Chuck up and tell him what was going on, asked about a tow company and then I get this, I hate your car. I just go on my way, get PJ up, get his breakfast ready, get my lunchbox ready, since I don't have a car to go home in, put my breakfast in the lunchbox, because I was already too upset to eat, get coffee poured for me and jackass, and then get dressed.

I asked him repeatedly, "Where do you want me to put the car? How do you want me to park the car?" This is the response that I get, "Just wait. It needs to be towed. Just wait." So, I did just that, waited and waited and waited. And when I proceeded to ask again, "Well, think will ya? If a tow truck has to get it, how does it need to be?" Yes, I know how it needs to go, but ya know, where in the yard or driveway do you want this piece of crap?

I moved the car and got it in the yard the right way. Not that big of a deal. But then I get greeted with this, "You really need to learn this stuff, it would be nice if you knew how to do something." Ok, I lost it.

When I got married I was 23. I had no clue on how to do anything. I didn't know how to cook, clean, iron clothes, balance a checkbook or anything else. So, for him to tell me that I need to know how to do something. Well, it is high time he got off his ass and learned half the stuff that I know. In the 18 years I have been married, I have learned to cook, better than anyone in the family. I clean more than anyone in the house. I pay all the bills, I sew, crochet, quilt. I iron shirts all the time for everyone. I lay flooring, hang paneling, change light switches. I paint rooms and tear down wallpaper. I also teach the boys what they need to know, help with homework, work on projects, play games and go walking with them. Now you tell me, who needs to know how to do something else, it doesn't look like I need to know anything else.

But, apparently I need to look into a tow company. Ok, will do, I will get right on it. Just like I am gonna kiss you goodbye when I get out of the car. I will really get right on it.

Well, I get the key in the car, unlocked all the doors and get PJ to school and then myself to work. Find out that the warrenty expired on 11/03/07. Great, so if it is the catalytic converter, like it smells like it is, it comes right out of pocket. And being a German car, there is no telling how much it is. Hopefully it is a spark plug that can be an easy repair.

The place that we take the car to comes out to the house to get the car, and well, guess what...... the car is locked. Now, I know that I opened all the doors, I unlocked the car and made sure it was unlocked with the keys in the car. Nope, locked up. Great, anything that Chuck has to leave work and open the car. Hey, I unlocked it, double checked it, and it was open. Guess not.
I got an email stating that I will have to find a way to get the loaner car from the automotive place. That he can't leave work to take me there, that is fine. I don't mind, there is a good soul around here that is willing to run me somewhere to get a car. Ok, I get there, and my driver leaves. I thought that would be ok. I get in there and realized that I don't have my driver's license or insurance card. Crud! Thankfully in the Jetta is my insurance car. So I did get back to work without a problem.

I asked him while I was there if he found out what the problem was. A little longer, great! Ok, I get back here, gonna fax a copy of my driver's license to him and call for the fax , well I thought I would ask again, not yet Patti. I told him that I am sitting on pins and needles right now. I am a nervous wreck, he offered to call me when he was done and I told him just to call Chuck that way I only get yelled at once and that would be it.

Shortly thereafter I receive an email from the beloved. Apparently it was one spark plug that burnt up and burned a coil too. Thankfully it is JUST $350 tax and all. It could be worse. I didn't know that it needed a tune up at 40K. I just assumed that it was like any normal car and was about 50K to 80K. Nope, the spark plugs need to be changed every 40K miles. Now that I know that, I will be watching that like a hawk. Also, moi is getting the book out to find out what is next for the 50K checkup.

So, gentlemen out there, don't yell at the women in your lives if the car breaks down, it is not her fault. Maybe it is yours because you didn't read the manual.
Ladies, unfortunately, EVERYTHING IS OUR FAULT!

Another Successful Project!

I finally got my new sewing machine out. Now, I know I got this well before Christmas, it was my gift from the boys. But I could not use it until after Christmas. Nuts! I wanted it, I was like a kid, couldn't wait to use it.

Yes, I know it is 3 weeks since Christmas, and I finally took it out of the box to do something with it. I had looked at it, and I read the manual, so I knew what to do. But Saturday I took it out, made a bobbin, threaded the machine and decided that I was gonna sew. And there was no one standing in my way.

I bought material when the store in town was going out of business. I knew that I wanted to do something in the Master bath, but I wasn't sure of what I really wanted to do. I knew that that nasty wallpaper would have to come down. Ok, we got that done. That was the easiest wallpaper that I have ever taken down. The boys pitched in and in no time that pieced together patch job was taken down. I am now left with a cream color bathroom with some holes that needs to be filled and sanded. That will have to wait until Frebruary before I can get to the painting. And the color, well, I am not really sure yet what color I want in there. I am picky about it, because I have to live with it. And I would rather do it right the first time then have to go through that all over again.

So, I have this material that I just loved. And it was all about finding the time to make something that is worth while.

I started with this, you have seen it already:

Now the daunting task of using my imagination and what I wanted to do and how much work was to be put in it.

I got this far and thought about stopping,
but I have a plan, yes, I have a plan on what I thought would be good to make this a completed project. I have made curtains before for Eric's room and a shower curtain for the other bathroom, so I really didn't want to do something along the same line. But it turns out that I did something similar to Eric's room. Although on a much smaller scale. This was much easier than 80" curtains that I made for Eric's room. Trust me, to tackle that again is not something I look forward to. But PJ needs curtains, and he has 2 80" windows in his room.
I ended up with this.
I still have somethings to do with them. I don't care for the spring rod holding the curtains. So, I am on the lines of getting a cafe rod and then mount that right next to the bracket that holds the topper. The topper, I do believe that I will tack it somewhere on the side so that way it stands out better. The interfacing makes it rather stiff, so I am really pleased with that.

Well, I am so happy that I have a new machine. My first new machine. I always had something that someone handed down to me. Ok, so it is a simple machine that has nothing fancy on it, but it is mine. And as long as I can sew, I am happy with it.
Now, on to my next project! I had this material to make a little girl's dress and I have the perfect little girl to make it for. I have started it, and I will have it done by the end of the week.

Oh! I am just so excited about all of this!!!

Exactly how old are you?

This question was posed to me by my beloved son of 12 years. Now he knows exactly how old I am. He knows the hour and the minute that I was born. He asked, I told him and on my birthday he generally greets me at that spefic time with a 'Happy Birthday Mommy!' So, he knows how old I am, but for this one reason only, he just had to ask.

On Wednesday he got home from school and called me. He told me all about his day and then proceeded to do his chores. About 45 minutes later I get this call:"Hi Mommy.""Hi Eric, what is up?""Well, I was watching Nick and there was a commercial for Shirley Temple. Do you know who that is? ""Of course I know who she is. Why?""Well, I was just wondering. I saw a commercial for her and I was wondering if you knew who she was. Did you like her?""Yes, I did. I know the songs and the movies, all if it. Why?""You know the songs and the movies?""Why sure I do! That is what I grew up on.""Ok, and exactly how old are you? This stuff is in black and white. This stuff is pretty old. I can't believe you know all about her.""Eric, I am not THAT old. It was a fun time when she came on TV and we would watch them as a treat.""Well, I saw a commercial, and I thought you would like the videos. Do you think you would like them?"
And it goes on from there. But it was quite funny for him to ask me how old I was. Or more like Exactly how old I was.

They don't understand that we only had 3 channels to watch, there wasn't that much on FM radio, so we listened to AM. We didn't have a colored TV until I was about 12. I grew up on a B&W tv, just like most everyone else of my generation.

He loves to hear stories of when we were growing up. And, of course, there are some that I won't tell him, some that I can't tell him, or some that I would prefer to erase from my own memory. But I look at him when I tell him about my childhood, what I can remember of it, and he looks at me in awe, like it was really cool to grow up like that. Ok, there are somethings in my childhood that was really neat, but the rest, well, it was not how I would have wanted a childhood.

They both get a chuckle out of our lives, the food that we ate, the shows that we watched, the things that we played with. It is fun to tell them the things and watch the expressions that I do get. Walking 2 miles to the bus stop was nothing, not like today, dropped off right at the door.

Ah, the luxuries of life!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Paella Italiana

Ok, I have read things from some of my dear friends about how they will be cutting out the Rice-a-Roni, the boxed mac and cheese, basically anything that comes in a box that has to be rehydrated. I understand why and I am moving away from that junk too. It isn't good for you, there is no reason in the world why we have to have processed foods in our lives anyway. So, due to the enlightening of my friends, I thought I would share this recipe that I have made on several occasions. I have to tweak it a bit, but when you try it the first time, you will make your own adjustments. My family loves it, they enjoy that there is so much there to have leftovers for lunch.
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 2 pounds total
Finely ground sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces spicy dried Italian sausage, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch slices (I use Italian sausage, I don't care for anything dried, and it gives a great flavor) (quartered if large)
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
3 1/2 teaspoons Spanish paprika, divided
2 tablespoons whole fresh oregano leaves
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
3 cups arborio rice
6 cups chicken stock
1 small can (12 ounces) peeled crushed tomatoes (or 1 pound fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded or quartered)
1 teaspoon saffron Pepperoncini, for serving
Remove the tenderloins (small muscle on the underside) from the chicken breasts.
Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise. Cut all the chicken into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pot over high heat. When the oil is almost smoking, add the chicken. Cook until well browned on 2 sides, turning once, 6 to 7 minutes total.
Add the sausage to the pan. Cook for 10 seconds.
Season the shrimp with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the shrimp to the pan, stir once then cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika and the oregano. Pour the mixture onto a baking sheet to cool.
Return the pan to high heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Pour the juices from the baking sheet into the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the vegetables are soft, but not brown, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Raise the heat to high. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 2 teaspoons paprika. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice. Stir to evenly coat the grains with oil. Cook for 1 minute. Add the stock and bring it up to a simmer. Add the tomatoes and stir to incorporate. Sprinkle in the saffron. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Cook until the liquid comes back to a simmer. Cover and put the pan in the oven. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Return the chicken, sausage, and shrimp to the pan. Cover the pan again and put it back in the oven to cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until everything is warm.
Serve the paella warm with a bowl of pepperoncini on the side. Invite guest to add a couple pepperoncini to the servings and drizzle some of their vinegar on the paella.

Getting on with life

We all have suffered losses in our lives. It is very hard to go through the death of a loved one. I don't care if you didn't care for either one of your parents, when they are gone, they are gone. And even though you may have separated yourself from them, it still hurts.
But when death comes quickly, it seems harder to deal with. Any death is hard on anyone that has a heart.
A little over a year ago, a dear friend lost her 18 yr old son to a very tragic car accident. This young man was every mother's dream. Never caused any problems, was always well behaved, never gave them anything to worry about. Typical kid in the aspect of not listening or cleaning the room, but other than that, he was an excellent student, very responisible, very polite and mannerly, athletic, basically a well-rounded child. And he was a child that the parents should be extremely proud of. And they were. He was an only child, loved very deeply by his parents, admired by his friends, recognized in the community.
He worked at the local grocery store, so the boys not only saw him in church but they would also insist on seeing him when we would go shopping. They had a blast with him, PJ would attempt to wrestle this kid that was 11 yrs older than him. It was funny. To this day, they still miss him dearly.
I was shopping at the store where he had worked and I spotted his dad. So, I decided to chat with him for a few minutes. Asked how he was doing, he told me that it is hard, but he realized that he had to get on with life. He misses his son dearly, they were a very close family. I then asked about his wife. Instead of the good hours and the bad hours, she has gotten to the point that there are good days and bad days. A great improvement from when I saw her last year at this time. She went back to work in August, after taking the rest of the year off. But they moved her from the HS where she worked, where he attended and put her somewhere else, to make her feel comfortable about working. The HS was full of too many memories for her, and she couldn't handle it any longer.
When I was talking with her husband he made mention that she can't go grocery shopping any more. He told me that since the son worked at the one store, she could only buy flowers for his memorial twice a week. She was having panic attacks. So he told her to go shopping in Chattanooga, and she did this for a while, but ended up pulling over on the interstate, calling him because she had another panic attack. He said that when you shop for someone for 18 years, you have a hard time looking at things that they would have liked to have had. Yes, this year marks our 18th year together, I don't think it would be easy on me if something happens to Chuck.
I told him that it would be very hard on me, as a mother, if something happened to either one of the boys. I told him that I didn't care what kind of mother you are, when your child is ripped away from you, it does hurt. I also told him that I treasure the moments with the boys more now after what happened with his son. Not that I didn't before all this happened, but little moments seem different now. He told me that other than his own wife he hasn't seem a better mom than me out there. He told me that you always treasured your kids, and it shows. Thank you, I do appreciate that.
While we were talking, he told me that he has picked up the shopping and the rest of the things that was too hard on her to do. Now, that is a very sweet gesture, but he is working full time and doing all that is too much for her to do. She is depressed, she told my little Saturday morning date that all she does is go to work, goes home and goes to bed.
For me, yes, I would be devastated if anything happens to either one of the boys. But I know that for me, for Chuck, for my other child, and for my family, I have to go on with life. Would I miss them? Of course I would. But I also know that I am still here, the Lord has me here. And He will comfort me. It is hard, I know it is. I have seen my dad suffer for 40 years. He never let go, he never lived life like it should be lived. And that is only after 4 years of marriage.
Life goes on, we all know this. We just have to live it every day.

75 and counting

My mom turned 75 today. Isn't that neat! I know when I turned 25 I was a quarter of a century, it was a big deal. I haven't hit the half way mark yet, but my mom has officially hit three quarters of a century. And she is having a time with this one. I called her with a Happy Birthday greeting and then proceeded to mention to her that she was three quarters of a century old. She laughed and told me that this was a rough one. But she is getting on with the day.
Now, I call her mom, because she has been the single most influential woman in my life. And trust me, I have had plenty of woman in my life. Some not even worthy of the air that I breath. But, mom, well, she is a wonderful woman, a terrific grandmother, and it took me a while to notice that she is a great mom.
I love to pick out cards for her, but it is hard, she didn't brush my hair when I was little, she didn't hold me when I skinned my knee, she didn't walk me to my first day of school. So finding a card for her takes time and sometimes tears. But I always end up with something very appropriate. I want her to know that she means so very much to me.
She came into my life when I was 15. I lived alone with my dad for 8 years, and I was bound and determined that I wasn't going to let anyone take him away from me. Looking back, it was a good thing, a little stability is always good. But she didn't know what she was getting into. I was a teenage girl that had zero female tendencies. A young girl that craved some kind of femininity, spoiled rotten brat that didn't need a mom in her life. Trust me, I didn't want anyone in my life, but I needed someone in my life. I needed someone that would put me on the right path. And that was mom.
She came into a marriage, only being married one time before, not knowing all of the story with my dad, and only knowing that I was involved. She didn't know all of the baggage that came with it. She also came into the marriage only having one son.
She came into a marriage, not being accepted by a girl that was not willing to give up the relationship, alone, with her father. Looking back now, well, we all know the outcome there. She took me on, argued with me, put me in my spot, questioned my way of life as I got older, and did all the things that a mom was supposed to do. .
As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that it wasn't all that bad with mom around. She was a good woman. She put up with a lot. Not only with me, but with my dad. She supported me when I didn't want to go to nursing school. She called the shots when I had to plan a wedding from 800 miles away. She got the first phone call when Eric was born, she was the first to know that there could be a problem with PJ.
So, today I honor my mom. I know that she isn't my biological mother, she is more important to me. I also know that one day she will be gone. I can't look at that right now. I look to her for guidance to this day. I look forward to calling her, she loves the boys so very much. Right there on top of things when they do something, when they bring home report cards, when they play a game or have something exciting to tell.
I called her this morning. I wanted to make sure that her cards came in the mail. They did, but, "mom, did you get the picture that PJ drew for you?"
"There wasn't anything in there."
"Well, I will have him draw another one for you. Just tell him you liked it so much that you need another one."
"I think I threw it away. I can't believe I did that. I put everything they send me on the fridge. Where could that be?"
"Don't worry about it mom, he can draw another one for you."
"Oh my goodness, I bet you it is in the trash. I don't know what I was thinking."
I told her not to worry about it, I will cover it and take care of it. Not a big deal, just get him to draw something else, that way he has practice and he has fun with it too.
We hang up, she is frantic over this. I reassure her that it is ok, it will be taken care of and I can have something in the mail to her tomorrow. Not a big deal, it is nothing that I, as a mother, can't handle properly.
I got a phone call shortly after we hung up.
"I found it. It was in the trash, and it is not wrinkled. So, don't tell him anything." All I could do was laugh. I have seen her go through trash before to get something that she tossed. I knew that is where she was heading as soon as we got off the phone.
I love my mom. No, she didn't make me the mother I am today. No, she wasn't there to hold me from the moment of birth. But she is my mom. A woman that I never thought would be in my life. And I am forever grateful that she is still here. If not for her sister, husband, and son, for me.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

House Projects

We have lived in our house for 7 years now. It is perfect for us, good location, good school, close to both jobs, close to grocery stores. I love it, although it is on a very busy road. The house was our first house and we are less that 9 years in paying it off! That a plus.

I am the only one that does any kind of home improvement. I was raised by a contractor and if I didn't learn anything by watching him, he would question me, "didn't you learn anything?" Of course I did, but I won't admit to it, that would mean that I have to do everything that comes to the house, and I just don't want to add anything else to my plate. But I have a tendency to want things done, and I end up doing it.

The master bath is a small one. Trust me, it was not by choice either. The house is 50 years old, in very good condition. Granted there are things that previous homeowners did to the house that wasn't done the right way. I go back and look and think "what moron did this?" And it is irritating to the fact that it should be done at least somewhat right.

I look at the master bath and wonder if it was added on. It just doesn't seem to fit well in the area. Maybe the shower was added, half ass if it was. I have been meaning to take the wallpaper off and start from scratch. And that is what I did this weekend. I started pulling the paper off in little sections to see how easily it would come off. Well, just pull and get a sponge to get the glue off. This stuff was pieced together, ran up the side of the mirror, they didn't bother to take it down to paper. Patched here and there, molding in places that didn't need to have it, I mean just a sloppy job. I have put it off because I know my luck with wallpaper and I didn't want to have to fix something that was going to be a major set back. I went through that ordeal in the kitchen and to this day I still look and think how can someone not fix it the first time. I have 50 years of wallpaper to pull down, talk about a mess, talk about frustrated, talk about sitting in the middle of the floor at 2AM and crying. It was awful. But I fixed it.

I decided I had some time left before coming back to work, and considering I didn't do anything on the 2 weeks that I didn't have to do, I might as well take the stuff down. It was this hideous hunter green textured paper, and above the shower, well, they painted it with this awful flat hunter green paint. The same paint that they painted the Great Room in, before we paneled it. They only put about 5 coats of paint in there to cover up a beautiful wallpaper. I wanted to hang this idiot up by his toes.

I got in there on Monday, and forgot the trash bag. I yell down the hallway to Eric for a Walmart bag, he comes in, looks at me, and then asks, "and why is this the first time hearing about all of this?" Well, I didn't think he would care, so I didn't tell him anything. The bag obviously was not big enough, so he got PJ to get a bigger bag. Now I have Eric in there pulling paper off the wall and now PJ wondering what is going on. Eventually, I had them both with washclothes getting the glue off the walls. Eric was on the step stool and counter getting stuff off close to the ceiling. That was a big help on me.

By the time that we were done, it looked a whole lot better than what I have had to look at for the past 7 years. I should have done it sooner, but because of the history I have had in that house, I was really hesitant in doing anything. But in the end, it wasn't all that bad.

And now that I have a new machine, that means new curtains. That isn't all that big of a deal. I just don't like what is in there now. But I have to find a color that would be good for the room. Darker colors, like that hunter green, make that smaller space look a lot smaller. So, I am thinking of the color of a pink blush. Problem the floor is hunter with some white and gold going through it, and I am not up for the task of taking up another floor and dealing with what or what isn't underneath it.

Get rid of the mini blinds and put up more of a day shade or a sheer underneath it. But add some color, add some life to it. Something new like this always makes me feel good, especially when I do it myself!

Looking back, no regrets. Looking forward to a New Year

I have spent the day with the boys and I guess that is more important today than a blog. But they are on the PS2 and forgot that mom is even alive, so I am taking my turn in the Goodbyes of 2007.

Funny, just 8 years ago at this time we weren't sure if the computers were gonna crash at midnight. Looking at 01-01-00 was strange. But as the decade has moved on, so have we.

I have ZERO regrets this year. I have been so very blessed over this year. And I look forward to another year of love, blessings, FRIENDS, and of course, my beloved family. Another year older, another year of watching my boys grow and learn, another year, hopefully, with a dad that I am trying to mend past years, another year with Chuck.

I don't care for resolutions. I have never kept one. Yes, we all know that I need to take off many pounds, but I will do that little by little this year. I am not going to kill myself to keep some resolution. But I do hope that over the year I teach the boys to eat healthier, to help others more, to know that voluneteering is something that just doesn't have to happen at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but throughout the year. It doesn't matter if it is at the Food Bank or at the local, non-profit animal shelter.

I want Eric to cook more, so, I just have to let go of the reigns in the kitchen and let him in. Ok, that may not be easy, but it will be something that is good for him, very good for him, and good for me too. Learning to let go.

For PJ, I don't know what is in store for him. He got some very nice art sets for Christmas and I know that he has a talent somewhere under there and I would love for them to come to surface this coming year. I also would like to get him more involved in theater, he loves it and he has taking a true liking for it.

For all of us, eat better, laugh louder, smile more, love harder. Give back to the environment. I have to thank Johanna for opening my eyes to several things. Whole Foods, recycled stuff, giving back to the world around us instead of taking from it. I starting using the recycled bags for my groceries. I want all of us to use more organic safe products than chemicals. To take a trip to the GreenLife once a month will be one the list for us.

The more important things in life are in order for this coming year. Why? Well, why blow away a chance for the boys to be boys? Why look back at another year saying "I should have done this or that"? Why regret anything? I don't this year, and I hope that next year brings the same.
I know there will be tears of joy and of sorrow. I know there will be words said that shouldn't be said. I know there will be things that will come out of nowhere. But I am ready to take them head on.

I want to get closer to God. I want to be a better mother, a better wife, a better daughter, a better DIL. But I also want to take the time to pamper ME! I have given so much to everyone, so it is my turn. Not going to neglect anyone this year. But to take better care of me. Bubble baths, foot soaks, highlights in my hair, and yes, get in somewhat better shape than what I am in now.

Maybe sew more, maybe craft more. Hopefully read a lot more. More little roadtrips for us. More pictures, more memories. That is what life is all about, isn't it? Memories, not only for me but more importantly for the boys. Because what is life without the wonderful, fun memories of a simple childhood.

Organization is another. There are days that I just can't find jack! But that will come when I put my mind to it.

So, after all my ranting, I lift my glass to you all. The blessings you have brought to me are overwhelming. Thank you for all that you have brought into my life. Just a simple card in the mail, that smile with the comments.

Happy New Year to all! May you be blessed richly!

Days following Christmas

Since I had been home, my days seemed to have ran together. I have asked on several occasions, "What day is this?" Understandable, I hadn't worked since the 14th, and I haven't really thought about the days since I don't have to work until Wednesday. It has been nice and I have gotten quite a bit done around the house.

Chuck was off on Wednesday, so there were things whether I liked it or not that needed to get done. Like take down the crappy tree and put it by the road. Now usually when we put anything by the road, it is gone within a matter of minutes. We put my cradle out there, tried to sell it, no one wanted it. And we put our coffee table out there, both on Christmas. Well, in about 10 minutes the cradle was gone. And before it got dark, the coffee table had also gone on to a new home. Living in the area that we live in, it doesn't surprise me that things are picked up rather quickly.

So, Wednesday the tree and all the decorations came down. That is one thing that makes Christmas seem like it wasn't 4 days ago, but more like a month or more ago. I do miss not having the tree up, but considering the cat would frequent under it to sleep, I felt that this was a better thing to do, that way I don't break anymore ornaments. I am seriously thinking about getting a smaller type tree next year. Yes, I am acting like an old fuddy duddy, but it would be easier. Oh hell, just get one for each of the boys to decorate, that way they can do it themselves and leave me alone! LOL

So, taking off the lights and putting up the ornaments, made Christmas go away a lot faster than I would have preferred, but it was for the better.

Thursday brought the boys little friend back over. They have had a blast with Sarah, and I am so glad that they had the chance to have her over. Her mother seems to think that it is too much on me to have another child in the house. It doesn't bother me. I enjoy it, I don't have to entertain either of the boys at one point in time, and it gives them such good interaction with other children. She is a sweet little girl and seems to have a good time over here.

Well, she has a Webkinz, and each of the boys have more than one too, so, at one point on Thursday, I had 3 computers going all at once. It was so cute. They had a blast with each other. I ironed, so I was right here the entire time anyways. She really isn't a problem, and I was looking forward having her there for dinner. But mom thought it was a burden on me, and picked her up right before we got to make ice cream.

Ok, I bought the boys an Ice Cream Ball. If you don't know what it is, go to, they have 2 sizes. Pint and Quart. I bought the pint size and it was for both of the boys. Basically, you put the ice and salt in one end and then you put the cream and everything you want in it in the canister. PJ picked S'mores. So, go get marshmallows, I had chocolate chips, and instead of graham crackers to scoop it out with, why not sprinkle graham cracker crumbs on top? It worked out well. The boys shook, rattled and rolled for 20 minutes, and when they got done, they have homemade ice cream. It was fun, and I am so glad that I bought that. So, when friends come over, we can do something creative. Ok, so what, I am into kids being a little creative! I know they go home and they tell their parents what they did at our house. Trust me, I would prefer them to say that they made ice cream, decorated a gingerbread house, or did something new, than for them to go home and tell their parents bad things that they did. I know that if they boys came home from a friend's house and told me that they did things that were not right, played a game that was not appropriate, I would have to think twice about letting them go over there again. I am just like that. Yes, I know I am over protective, but I want them to be safe and have fun at the same time. I don't see a problem with that.

Friday was a chance for me to sleep in a bit. Not much, I forgot to make coffee, Chuck hurt his back, so I figured it would be a good idea to get up and make coffee before he got out of the shower. But I did get back into bed and slept for a little while. I woke up to a rainy, dreary day. That is fine with me, we need the rain, so we pretty much did things in and around the house. Of course, had to go out once or twice. We were planning on heading to the Whole Foods Store, GreenLife Grocery, in Chattanooga.
But with the rain and the holiday traffic, I thought putting that on the back burner would be a better idea. So, I did some more cleaning and hanging of the curtains. Back several months ago, I bought some gorgeous curtains from TJMaxx. I hung them but not well enough to look like they should look. So, down comes the curtains, move the TV, go to Ace, buy some screws, look for the power screwdriver, find the step stool, and get to work. Yes, they look so much better now. After all that work in getting the brackets out and back in again a little higher up, the support in the middle (a little too high), I have curtains that look like they should. Well, then head to get a cable for the TV, and move that too. The living room is a little empty to my standards, but the boys have room to play on the floor and there is actually room to walk.

Saturday we headed to Chattanooga. But before doing anything, I needed to go shopping. I hit Walmart and ran into my Saturday morning date. Ok, let me explain. We went to a little church for many years. There was a lovely older couple that adopted the boys, and in the long run, they have become my spiritual parents. They are a treasure and I love them to death. Well, she is diabetic and handicapped, so, he does the grocery shopping all the time. For many months we have been meeting up at Walmart on Saturday mornings. Since Christmas was coming, I had stopped going there due to the heavy traffic. But I was sitting in the car this morning and I saw him drive by. I was so glad that I did. I knew that his wife had a book for me, "God Calling." It is a powerful devotional and they wanted to share it with me too. Now, they don't have to do that, but it means so much to me that they did. Just a few days from now is the New Year's. A perfect time to start a devotional.

Anyway, we got in the car and headed to GreenLife. Oh my goodness, who would have thought that there was that much natural foods out there. The store is huge! And the selection was amazing. I was overwhelmed. I am so used to their other location, smaller store, less of a selection, that I was lost. They had a wonderful hot food bar, gorgeous fish, the meats were to die for, and I can go on and on. I got to the coffees and looked at all of them. I wondered what type Johanna would like, does she have a grinder, so I didn't buy any. I actually went in the store with my recycled bags, not intending to buy anything, but that didn't work. Eric wanted a fresh salad with an all natural, organic dressing. I ended up at the register $53 later. Yes, I always say that I am not buying anything, but I end up with things that I just can't do without. I have told the boys that a trip down here once a month may be in order. Whatever I buy there, I will just take off my list for the week. Balance it out. I do believe that I will be moving the cleaning and wash products to all natural. It is better for all of us, and this puts money back into the local economy.

We hit Books-A-Million on the way home. I am a book freak, and since I have my new card, I decided I needed to use it. Well, I found 2 things that I was looking for, and got Eric the Jr Betty Crocker cookbook. I told him that I want him to cook more next year. It is important to know how to cook and that you need to clean up behind yourself. He loves the book, it is basically the 1955 edition of the book. He was so excited that he got home and started going through the cabinets, looking for things that he can use for anything. He discoved that he wanted to make French Toast tomorrow morning for us, and then he found it. "I have to make it, I just have to do this right now." Before I go any further, let me tell you, the instructions and some of the ingredients in this book are a little backwards, shortening for butter, fat for oil? I don't think so. But Eric did want to bake, and so I let him. He discovered Peanut Butter cookies. And he was so impatient, but he had to wait a little longer for the butter to softened.

He was so tickled with his cookies, but he thought that he needed more peanut butter and a shorter cook time. I told him to write it in his book. He looked at me and asked, "Is that ok to do?" Of course it is ok, it is your book, you make the adjustments that you feel is needed. He was beside himself! I am so proud of him, he tries so hard to overcome so many challenges. I know if you look at him you see a normal child, but deep down, he wants to be just like anyone else. Maybe it is our fault, maybe it is my fault. I want them to be well rounded children. I want them to know how to do the little things in life. Like sew a button, hem pants, cook a meal. Maybe I do push it on him a little much. But to know that cooking pleases him, makes him happy, has him being creative, that means so much to me.

Well, tonight we head to the neighbors for Christmas with them. They have adopted the boys as their grandchildren since their daughter doesn't have any kids. I guess to please everyone once in a while is ok.

Life is good, life is fun. And I am not looking back and regretting anything this year. I have been blessed with family and with friends that I wouldn't trade in for the world. The internet has brought some precious, precious friends in my life. Can't wait to meet them FINALLY next year!

Christmas Day!

Let's get onto Christmas and our day. Our kids are a little different than the normal child. How so you may ask? Well, they wake up whenever they want to, like 7:30 or later. They don't go running through the house at 5 waking the entire family up, they don't spy in the room to see if Santa came. Generally, we are up before they are. Now, that is strange! One year it was after 8 and my dad called to see if the kids were ready for him to come over, we were all still in bed.

This year was no different. Chuck and I were up about 7, got our coffee and waited for the boys to get up. It wasn't too much longer that they got up, and then the fun began.

Let's see what Santa got us first. Well, you saw already. PJ was so excited, Santa told him that he may leave him a special surprise and he did!! HE DID!!! He left him 2 Webkinz instead of just one. And Eric got a surprise too, he also got 2 Webkinz. Now, yes, I know Eric is 12, but he loves to play on the website with PJ. They interact together. And trust me there are things out there that I just don't want him getting involved in.

PJ played Santa, until the tree came crashing down again.
So, he sorted and looked through and shook while he was passing things out. That is always fun. Chuck got behind the tree to get out stff for me. I had some fairly large boxes. I didn't care if I got anything, but he went out and spent too much money, as usual.

The boys are so very patient. They wait until all the gifts are passed out and then they open what they have. It is fun to watch them tear into the stuff. And oh the mess, well, that is part of it for all of us.

Eric got some really nice things this year. Every year, he gets nice things. I went a bit overboard this year though. It is ok, not like they get stuff like this all the time. He got a really cool MP4 player, VT jacket, American car puzzle, movies, video games, personalized pens and pencils, and a few other things.

PJ got a bunch of things too. He is my budding artist, so he got 2 art sets with sketch and drawing pads, TV History puzzle, movies, video games, personalized pencils, speciality teas, Sorry the game, Electronic Monopoly, some kind of Rudolph games, Harry Potter the set, and lots of other things.

Chuck, well, he doesn't care if he gets anything. But I always seem to find something for him. Last year when we went to Dauphin Island there wasn't a grill for us to use. We had to go to the next town over on the main land and get a cheap little kettle grill. So, when I was shopping in October I found this Fold and Go grill. Cool! It holds up to 15 burgers, it has it's own carrying case, and I thought it was a good gift. We are going somewhere on vacation that has a grill, so that may have been a waste. I like to buy him books. You have to understand Chuck, he is borderline genius. His IQ is around 180. So, buying him books, that is always the safe way to go. He prefers literature, but I did that last year. Of course I was down in Chattanooga on Monday buying him that one book, and there were several others that I knew he would like and enjoy.

Me, well, I am typing on it right now. Along with a new sewing machine and new crockpot that he broke over the summer. I am happy with what I have, a little disappointed that he went out and spent that much, but there is no use complaining at all. So, why bother! Yes, I look wonderful!

This year was a huge Christmas. It is always a good time with family. I don't think Eric even got out of his sweat pants at all. Neither did I. My dad and his wife came over for dinner. I have a very nice ham, some pototoes that Lisa told me that I just had to make, green beans, homemade rolls that my dad made. A cheesecake that Eric made, a chocolate cake that my dad made for Chuck, the cookies that I made for my dad, and of course peanut butter fudge. It was good eating at this house. Chuck told me that my dad went back for more of the potatoes, and if I told him what was in it, well, he or she would not have gone back for 3rds! To top off the evening, my dad and Bonnie played Sorry with PJ, it was cute to hear them in here playing the game. I should have gotten some pics, but shame on me, I was not getting up. I was tired from cooking all day long.

I love Christmas, I love the holidays. I love the chance to have this time in my life to spend with Chuck, the boys, and the family. I treasure these moments forever. And I know that the memories for the boys will be lasting ones.

Our Christmas Eve

I have to say that our Christmas Eve tradition probably doesn't differ from anyone else's Christmas Eve tradition. We are a boring little family, so we don't go too far off course when it comes to Christmas traditions. Except this year there were some changes.

It is usually a very busy day, and this year was no different. I was planning on making some homemade soup for dinner, but Chuck told me that he would bring home dinner. Ok, that works for me. Because I knew what the day was bringing me.

I got up that morning and we went to feed some of our friends pets. And while going there I decided to call Barnes and Noble to see if they have this one book in. Caroline Kennedy's A Family Christmas. They had one left, so of course, I had to go to Chattanooga to get it. Now, I know that getting it after Christmas online would have been cheaper, but Chuck commented after he saw her doing an interview with Tim Russert. I just had to find it.

Finally I get home!!! Yes, rejoice! Only to discover that I have to get the dough done for my dad's cookies. Eric had a cheesecake to make and also another batch of peanut butter fudge. Now I had everything ready to go, everything softened, everything ready to get over and done with. So, I started on the cookies. As previously noted, I don't roll things out very well. Not at all, either I have too much flour or just not enough, so I had to be very careful with what I was doing. I got it all mixed up, looked just like my grandmother's cookies. And I put them in the fridge to chill. Meanwhile, Eric started on the cake. And of course, it had to be his way and not the right way. So, getting him to make it the right way is nearly impossible. But once he figured out that he can't do things his way, then it went a little smoother. He got it done and in the oven, and was very patient when it came time to get it out. Except for one tiny thing, when he was looking in the oven, the door slipped and slammed. Yep, that is one cake that graciously fell.

PJ has this map of where Santa will be around the world. So, along with and the map, we tracked him all afternoon.
It is a good learning experience for him. He would go on Norad then come back to the table to find it on the map. Or he would go in Eric's room and go on the World map and see where Santa would be. Now, Eric had to get in on it too. And it was good for him to look on the map for the places that he has never heard of. And, you know me, well, I had to play along too. It is only fun like that!

Chuck has inventory every Monday night and even though this was Christmas Eve, it didn't matter. He had to do it. They closed at 8 on Christmas Eve. He made sure that the schedule was packed full so that way they could start on the inventory. Of course he came home for a little while and brought the pizza home for dinner, and then let the boys open the gifts that they bought for each other.

Eventually he had to go back to work. He thought that he would be home before they went to bed, but because of a computer glitch, he was a little later than what he had preferred.

So, since he wasn't home, we went on with our storytime. Yes, "The Night Before Christmas" Now this is typically Daddy's job to read this story. And sometimes we read different ones throughout the night, but because someone had to read the Traditional story, we decided just to stick with one. PJ popped up and asked if he could read it this year.

Sure, why not? I don't see a problem. It was fun and different. I thought they would look at me and have me do it like they do everything else. But it was cute. He would read and then show pictures,
he would share and let Eric read some and then had the book to me. He would hold the book up so that way I could see the pictures too. He did a nice job on it, he used expression and read it so nicely. Of course he loves to read, so that was nothing new there.

After they went to bed, I got some more things done. They had placed the cookies and milk out for Santa, and cleared a way for him in the living room. I just organized the chaos and took some last pics for the night. I always take pictures after Santa has been to the house. That way I get to them before the boys do.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.

Santa has been here, and had some cookies with milk. He left behind some very nice things for the boys.

Well, another Christmas Eve with more stories and less excitement. It was a busy day, but it was worth it so much. I enjoy this time so much because I know one day, it won't be here. It will be empty in the house and it will be quiet. So, the laughter, the fussing, the clacking coming from the kitchen, right now, I don't mind it. For it will be long gone in no time at all

Christmas with the family

For the last 3 years we have been going to the in-laws either on Christmas Eve or the 23rd to celebrate with the entire family. It seemed to make it easy when we started. I know that the boys love to sit around and play with their gifts and not have to go to Nana's at noon. So, between my SIL and myself, we thought that it would be best to go over before Christmas. That way we all get together and have somewhat of a good time.

This year we went over on Sunday. I planned on bringing the meat tray and some different salads. Ok, so I got Eric involved in this one. I didn't want to make anything much, considering that on Monday I would be making all kinds of stuff for Christmas dinner and desserts, and my dad's cookies. I got Eric in the kitchen and told him what he was to make and make something that would really knock their socks off. I had all the major stuff done, he had to mix and taste.

He started out with egg salad, put the egg in the slicer 2 ways and got started. A little of this and that, a sprinkle of this, and a dash of that. It was very good. On to the next item for dinner, tuna salad. So, I chopped the celery, and he drained the juice and kept that aside and went on his way. Turned out to be a better tuna salad than mine! I need to keep my secrets to myself! LOL. And then he made something that neither one of us ever made before, chicken salad. I told him how to break up the chicken and then to go on with what he wanted in there. I put some chopped Black walnuts, and he mixed other stuff in it. Very good, and I was very proud to eat what he made.

We were the first ones there, and we had to sit and wait until everyone else decided to show up. I told Chuck next year, we should just wait until the rest get there and then show up. But we waited and played football and chit chatted with them family. It was ok, thankfully everyone else showed up withen the hour. I don't think we could handle too much more of the boredom.

So, the kids sorted out gifts, opened, fought over things, yelled at each other. You know how it goes with cousins. But they had fun with things. It was a good time by all. The kids each got some nice gifts and they had fun when they got outside to play flag football.

I got my FIL another book, something about the "Strange People, Places and Things in Tennessee." I buy him books, because I really think that he appreciates the thought that someone looks down on him due to the lack of education. Yes, I can buy him stuff for the car, but he seems to enjoy a simple book. And in turn, he picked out a book for Eric. And I think that if it wasn't for me putting so much interest in him with books, he wouldn't have picked out something like that for Eric. And I was very pleased that he did that. It meant a lot to me, but I think it means a lot to him too. He calls PJ the bookworm, and that he never has seen a child so happy to receive a book. And that is PJ, he loves to get books, and to get him to get rid of them is like pulling teeth.

That is Chuck's BIL checking out the book that I bought for my FIL.

Eric received several nice things. Like I said, my FIL picked out a very nice cookbook for Eric. He also got the UT sweatshirt, and some Atlanta Falcon stuff. He was happy! PJ didn't get too many different things. But he did get the entire series of Lemony Snickett Unfortunate Events. And he was beside himself! This is the first full series that he has ever gotten and he went nuts over it. He also got a cute red sweatsuit, he looks like a Santa's helper when he wears it.

I made blankets for the kids.

My MIL, well, I got her an angel and a calendar, just like the one that I made for my mom. She loved it. Now her grand-daughters bought her a set from Victoria's Secret.

It was a very nice bath set, they only requested that she not carry the purse around in public. I can see why they asked that, but it was a nice set that she did receive. I wish she would tell me what to get for her, because I would make sure she got something that she would like. At that age to get something that you really need is always nice.

Dinner was good. Chuck told his BIL, Odas, that not only did Eric make the peanut butter fudge, but that he made all the salads too. He looked at Chuck and questioned him about him having help. No help from me, he just tasted and added like he has seen us do in the past. He was very impressed that a 12 year old made such delicious salads.

And Chuck's other sister's boyfriend, who does some caterering, was extremely impressed that he made it too. I am proud of Eric. He has watched and paid attention on how we make things, and he has learned what things need to taste like. How things should look and when something needs some flavor, he knows what it needs.

It was a nice afternoon. We were glad that we got to go and be able to spend time as a family on Christmas morning.

Chuck got a phone call the next morning. He and Odas had tried to get my FIL to let them move a TV that was bought for Adrienne. He was stubborn and told them that he would get it. He is 65 and it would be easier for the 2 of the men to move it than for him to move it alone. So, when he moved it, his thumb got stuck between the TV box and the post on the porch. Ended up in the ER that night. We were behind my SIL and her family when we left, they turned around and it was then that they realized that he was hurt and had to go to the ER. They told him there that if it was just an 8th of an inch more, it would require surgery. He cut it straight to the bone. Stubborn, runs in the family!