Lessons Learned, Parenting Pearl

Morning Glories


imageThere’s something about morning glories.

In the evening they look like weeds, snaking around my porch. It’s almost impossible to crank the garden hose in, the vine has it so tightly gripped.

But in the morning? It’s a different story. Blue flowers peer through huge green leaves, giving a completely different perspective.

Mornings do that–offer a new way to see things.

Nights can be dark and lonely, perfect places for worry and fear to hide out. Grip us tightly. Make us  feel as though there are no answers

But the morning brings new hope, changed thoughts, and fresh ideas.

We remember things are possible.

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

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Lessons Learned, Recipes

I’m Just a Wannabe

I posted this last Easter. I’m still just a wannabe, but this Easter I made easy peasy Banana Pudding. Happy Easter!

I’m a Cake Baker Wannabe. My problem is I lack two qualities necessary to bake a beautiful and delicious cake—infinite patience and laser focus.

I saw this beautiful Strawberry Mousse Cake in Southern Living and decided to give it a try. It was a bit complicated with three separate lists of ingredients and directions for: 1) cake, 2) mousse filling, and 3) frosting. Usually this is the sort of thing that sends me running back to something simple like triple chocolate cupcakes, but for some reason I was up for a challenge.

And to look at it, you’d think it was a huge success.

But looks can be deceiving.

Oddly, you can learn a thing or two while baking.

And not just that when faced with the choice to: a) follow the directions and chill the mousse for at least 30 minutes before spreading it on each cake layer and b) putting the mousse in the freezer for only 10 minutes, you should choose a.

Because underneath this pretty cake, was this

What a mess!

It’s amazing what a little (make that a lot) of frosting can do. It can cover a multitude of mistakes.

And so I am reminded this Easter that my Savior looks at me with all of my cracks, lack of patience, and poor focus and HE loves me anyway.

Happy Easter!

And another lesson I learned was it really only matters how it tastes, and that was great! Three sticks of butter and heavy whipping cream have a way of doing that!

Lessons Learned, Recipes

I’m Just a Wannabe

I posted this last Easter. I’m still just a wannabe, but this Easter I made easy peasy Banana Pudding. Happy Easter!

I’m a Cake Baker Wannabe. My problem is I lack two qualities necessary to bake a beautiful and delicious cake—infinite patience and laser focus.

I saw this beautiful Strawberry Mousse Cake in Southern Living and decided to give it a try. It was a bit complicated with three separate lists of ingredients and directions for: 1) cake, 2) mousse filling, and 3) frosting. Usually this is the sort of thing that sends me running back to something simple like triple chocolate cupcakes, but for some reason I was up for a challenge.

And to look at it, you’d think it was a huge success.

But looks can be deceiving.

Oddly, you can learn a thing or two while baking.

And not just that when faced with the choice to: a) follow the directions and chill the mousse for at least 30 minutes before spreading it on each cake layer and b) putting the mousse in the freezer for only 10 minutes, you should choose a.

Because underneath this pretty cake, was this

What a mess!

It’s amazing what a little (make that a lot) of frosting can do. It can cover a multitude of mistakes.

And so I am reminded this Easter that my Savior looks at me with all of my cracks, lack of patience, and poor focus and HE loves me anyway.

Happy Easter!

And another lesson I learned was it really only matters how it tastes, and that was great! Three sticks of butter and heavy whipping cream have a way of doing that!

Lessons Learned

My Mom Divorced my Father on my 50th birthday…Or something like that

I’ve been writing all year about turning the big 5-0 and it’s finally here.

I’m sort of in shape (from all that walk-jogging), I’ve taken a few risks by changing jobs and trying to write a novel, and I’m still blogging (although a little less these days).

I figured today would be anticlimactic since my husband invited a few friends to dinner to celebrate last night. But noooooo-

First, I woke up to a Happy Birthday email from my favorite Mexican restaurant. We go there every Friday night so getting birthday greetings from Alejandro, Jorge, and Sal was like getting one from a family member.

Then my husband shared a bit of shocking news. I hadn’t even had a cup of coffee yet.

Him: “What’s up with your mom?”

Me: “What are you talking about?” Really thinking, “why didn’t you say ‘happy birthday?’ Alejandro and his friends already have.”

Him: “She texted me. It says, “No, no, no! I can’t take this anymore!’”

Me: “Oh my gosh! She’s divorced my father on my 50th birthday!”

Him: “But, why did she text me?”

Me: “It’s my 50th birthday! Hello?”

Me: “Wait, what time did she text you?”

He looked at his phone. “10:36 last night.”

Me: “Hmmm….Downton Abbey.”

I had warned her that things were too cheery last week. I told her to prepare herself. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all those years of watching All My Children, it’s that when something seems too happy to be true, it usually isn’t. Or something like that.

So, I called her. She’s not divorcing my father. She meant to text me, not my husband. It was Downton Abbey and she’s refusing to tell me what happened. (I missed the show and will watch it right before Season 4 starts.)

So, crisis averted. I’m having birthday cake for breakfast.  And all is right birthday cakewith the world.

Lessons Learned

What I Learned While Walk-Jogging

On my last birthday, I had a thought—When I turn 50, I’m gonna really get in shape.

Then it occurred to me that it was perhaps a better idea to start now and by the time I turned 50, I would already be in good shape.

I hated to act on any new idea unless I’d slept on it first.  Then, if I woke up and it was still lodged in my frontal lobe, I’d do it.

Unfortunately, it was.

I had been in pretty good condition but after a job change two years ago, I’d become rather sedentary.

My efforts to get a walk station installed at work had been unsuccessful, so about six months ago I decided it was time to start walk-jogging again. (Definition: walk-jogging  – a combination of walking really fast and intermittently breaking into a full jog.)

I walk-jog about the same time every other day at the local park and I’ve noticed a few characters in the walking/jogging/running crowd who show up about the same time as I do.

Angst Girl – Angst Girl is about 17-years-old and  1/3 my size, but you can hear her coming from behind you as she pounds on the asphalt. I want to say, “Hey, take it easy. You’re scaring the squirrels.” But I don’t. She holds her arms perpendicular to the ground, bent at the elbows. The look on her face says, I hate this.

Bad Manners Man – Bad Manners Man is somewhere between 30-35.  He has bright orange running shoes that probably glow in the dark.  Heaven help you if you should meet him on a turn. He hugs the inside lane like nobody’s business.  I was slightly ahead of him once and he almost knocked me over. I wanted to yell, “Hey share the road. Old ladies are everywhere.” But I didn’t.

Poodle Man  – Poodle Man walks willy nilly, criss-crossing the path as his tiny white poodle walks him. I almost tripped over the stretched leash once. I wanted to yell, “Hey, get a real dog.” But I didn’t.

Shuffling Senior Man – Shuffling Senior Man is at least 80 and he shuffles on the balls of his feet.  When he passes, he has the sweetest grin on his face. It’s like he’s saying, “Hey look at how fast I’m going.” And as I pass him I want to say, “Look at you!” But I don’t.

Cross Country Team – Sometimes I’m there at the same time as the local high school’s Cross County Team. The boys and girls run in separate groups.  I try to always run in the opposite direction as them so I don’t show them up. 🙂

When the boys come my way, one of them always shouts, “Hey scoot over and give the lady some room.” Proving the next generation of boys will be alright.  And when the girls go by, they always wave. I think they want to say, “Hey look at you!” I’m glad they don’t.

I’ve learned a few things while walk-jogging. Sometimes I get an idea for a story or blog post, or I work through a problem I’m having, or I realize that stretching is a really good idea, or I simply enjoy the trail and nature around me and think how blessed I am.

And sometimes I learn some really valuable lessons like this one.

horses

Always be in front of the horses. IN FRONT.

Anywho, I’m glad I’ll face 2013 in semi –shape.

Happy New Year!

Lessons Learned

Fifty Shades of Beige and Why 50 is the New 30

This post has nothing to to do with Fifty Shades of Grey. My page views have been down lately and I wanted to see if this would stir some interest.

But it does have to do with turning fifty. Not me of course. I’d like to discuss other people who have recently turned fifty.

Take my husband, for example, who just turned the golden age. Luckily on his birthday he didn’t have an enormous amount of ear hair that needed clipping… (Actually, at forty he got that under control.)

…Or a sudden desire to wear black socks with sandals… (although it does seem to be a new fad at the middle school. See my son below.)

But he does ask our kids to read the small print on just about everything to him and he says he’ll pay them 50 cents a toe to clip his toenails. (Bad hip prevents him from that chore.)

But other than that, 50 was just like the 49 years and 364th day of his life. We’ll see what it does to me. I’ll find out sooner than later.

I thought I was only 48 until I bought my sister a Happy 50th Birthday card. My daughter asked, “Didn’t we celebrate her 50th birthday last year?”

“Crap! that means I’m 49 this year!” I said.

“I thought you said 50 was the new 30,” she reminded me.

“That’s right! Fifty is the new 30, only better!”

Looking fit is no longer a necessity.  If I were to lose too much weight what would I do with all those shorts and pants with stretched-out elastic?I couldn’t possibly keep them up.

And when I forget things I no longer blame my ADHD (which no one was buying anyway – it’s way over used), but instead I blame my early onset Alzheimer’s.

And when my middle schooler does something stupid I can say, “Hey, I’m the kid’s grandma. Take it up with his mother.”

Yeah, I’m gonna be just fine. And…

it beats the alternative. 🙂

Lessons Learned

My Love Affair…with Butter

I had to have a health screening done for my insurance. Apparently, we were told back in July that employees would have one year to do it,  and yesterday I got an email saying it had to be done by the end of the month.

Because we are heading out of town it meant it had to get done today, so I went to the drug store clinic.

While I was sitting in the waiting area (or row of four chairs), I noticed that the girl beside me had the same form that needed to be completed.

I asked, “Can you believe they waited to the last second to remind us that we needed to have this screening done?”

“I know. It caught me totally off guard,” she said.

“Right! I mean, why do we have to be responsible for our health care?”

Then she said, “Yeah! And the worst part is the fasting?”

“Huh?”

“You’re supposed to fast before you have it done,” she explained.

I thought back. For once it would pay off medically that I hadn’t eaten breakfast. I was good.

A few minutes later the nurse practitioner called me in. Without any warning, she whipped out her tape measure and measured my waist and then called out the number. With a little heads up, I could have sucked in and gotten that number down a bit.

She asked, “You’ve fasted, right?”

“Absolutely.”

As she took some blood and put it in the machine I remembered that I had drunk some coffee earlier. And maybe eaten a few skittles. But surely this wouldn’t skew my results.

If I come clean, she might say I’d have to fast and come back another day. I don’t have another day.

She checked my blood pressure.

“Very nice. One hundred over sixty,” she said.

Next she took my pulse. “Do you exercise? Your pulse is slow.”

“Why yes—I do,” I answered. Thank you for noticing. Never mind the fact that you don’t know me from Adam’s house cat and have no knowledge that I’ve put on about ten pounds since last year.

The timer went off and she took a look at the test results.

“Everything’s good, except your cholesterol. It’s a little high.”

“What? How can I have high cholesterol?” I asked.

“It’s only borderline high. You just need to look at your diet.”

I don’t think so. There’s got to be mistake. I’m NEVER sick. I’m the epitome of health.

“Okay, I had some coffee this morning and I put French vanilla creamer in it. And then on the way here I ate about three Starbursts and a handful of skittles. Maybe that’s skewed my results.”

She just stared at me.

“Okay, and maybe last night around 9 o’clock, I had some frozen yogurt, but it was frozen yogurt.”

She turned back around in her chair and wrote, “Patient did not fast.”

“So it’s probably really normal, right?”

“Actually, the fasting has nothing to do with the total cholesterol part of the screening. Do you eat a lot of fried foods?” she asked.

“Not really.”

“How about fast foods?”

“No.”

She looked at me like she wasn’t buying it.

“Once a week, tops.”

She explained that genetics played a part and all I needed to do was watch it and have it tested again in three months. I wasn’t satisfied. I had to know why it was high. While she continued with the paperwork, I kept thinking about it.

“Okay, I think I know what it is.”

I’m not sure, but I think she wasn’t really interested in hearing my theory. The fact that her back was turned and she kept writing was a tipoff.

“It’s the butter. In the summer I’m off from work and I like to bake. I make a cake probably once a week and they usually have about two sticks of butter in them.”

“Oh,” she said as if someone had just died. “Butter is not your friend.”

And she handed me my paperwork and showed me the door.

I have a long history with butter. My Grandpa showed me how to improve a warm brownie with a pat of butter. I only eat bread for the butter. It just can’t be the butter.

Come to think of it, I have recently discovered Doritos Spicy Sweet Chili chips. It’s possible that I’ve eaten more than my share of them. I’ll have to cut back.

Whew! That’s it. Crisis averted. Mystery solved. And to celebrate, I think I’ll bake a cake.

How about you? Do you have any guilty pleasures? (The eating kind.)

Lessons Learned

4 Cooking and Cleaning Tips to Make Life Easier

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with things that can make my life easier–things to use to make cleaning or cooking much quicker. Some of them are pretty simple, and chances are that you’ve used them for years, but because I’m a slow learner, I’ve just discovered them.

Dinner Ease

Some nights it’s too late or too hot or I’m too tired to be very useful in the kitchen. But if I already have ground beef ready to add to a meal, it makes cooking SO much easier.

About every other week, I brown 5-6 lbs of ground beef and put it into 5 different containers and freeze them. For extra flavor, cook the beef with chopped green, red, and yellow peppers and onion.

On those nights when I’m too something, I defrost the beef from one of the containers and make spaghetti, chili, tacos, burritos, cheeseburger pie, you name it!

Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing this tip with me!

I am not a big Hamburger Helper fan. It’s something about that big white oven mitt that turns me off. That and the thought of tuna helper.

But, I’ve found a product that really is pretty tasty – and oh, so quick!

Velveeta Skillet Dinners

You just add ground beef (can you say hello, frozen ground beef?) or chicken and dinner is ready in about 15-20 minutes! My family absolutely loves these! (Of course, it could have something to do with the sodium or the cheese or the sodium and cheese!)

Cleaning Ease

The household chore I hate the most is emptying the dishwasher. I think it’s because it’s one of those tasks that has to been done every day – sometimes twice a day. To avoid it, I’ve started washing more pots and pans by hand.

Enter this little scrubber. You put your detergent  in it and scrub away. The scrubber detaches so you can put it in the dishwasher or soak it in a bleach/water combination.

(Thanks, Sherelene, for this little tip!)

My life could really be much easier if I hired a cleaning lady to come once a week. But, because we live like pigs, I’d have to spend two days cleaning before I’d let her step foot in my house.

That’s why these wipes are so wonderful! Cleaning the bathrooms and the kitchen was never easier. They are a little pricey, so I stock up when there’s a buy one-get one free sale. But I figure, these wipes save me money – I can’t tell you how many clothes I’ve ruined from spray bleach splatters on my clothes when I’ve used the spray bottle and sponge technique. (Here’s a little tip – a black Sharpie pen goes along way to cover the bleach spot on any black clothing.)

Disclaimer: I have not received any financial incentives for mentioning the wipes or skillet dinners, but if Lysol or Kraft wants to send me a lifetime supply, I’d gladly accept.

Dawn Wells (aka Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island) has a You Tube video on a super simple way to peel potatoes. Check it out here. (Thanks, Mom, for sharing this!)

That Mary Ann! I knew she was the smart one! I’m sure she knew how to get off the island, but the crush she had on the Professor kept her quiet! Am I right?

If you have some ideas for making life easier, please share them!

Lessons Learned, Uncategorized

Poor Punctuation and the Dangers of Facebook

Facebook should be banned.

It’s been blamed for damaging relationships, costing people their jobs, and now for almost ruining my life.

Let me explain.

My 18-year-old daughter has taught both of her grandmothers how to get on Facebook. I tried to warn her – Do you really want Grandma and Nana on Facebook? But she wouldn’t listen and now it’s come back to bite…

me, of course.

The other day I got a phone call from my mother.

After five minutes of small talk, she got to the real reason for her phone call.

She was concerned about her granddaughter. And I quote, “I’m a little concerned about your daughter. According to Facebook, she had five guys at the pool yesterday.”

Excuse me?

I’m not sure what she said next, because I immediately went into a dissociative state—you know, the outer body experience where you watch yourself in a very stressful event. Usually,  it’s some sort of life or death situation  like a car accident or major surgery.

Or as in my case the moment you discover your daughter might not be studying for that biology exam like you think.

When I rejoined the conversation and my actual body I said, “A…..she was referring to noticing five guys at the hotel pool when we were in Charleston last weekend.”

Yeah, that’s it.

My mother seemed satisfied. And while she began giving me the updates on the extended family, I logged onto Facebook to take a look myself.

And there it was… Good day so far – had five guys at the pool tanning then work at 3.

Once my heart rate returned to normal I noticed the date on her post and remembered she indeed had five guys –

as in Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – punctuation is important! One lousy comma and a little capitalization could have prevented this near catastrophe.

Whew, I really dodged a bullet this time.

But there’s always the next post…

Have any Facebook stories you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them!

Lessons Learned, Recipes

I’m Just a Wannabe

I posted this last Easter. I’m still just a wannabe, but this Easter I made easy peasy Banana Pudding. Happy Easter!

I’m a Cake Baker Wannabe. My problem is I lack two qualities necessary to bake a beautiful and delicious cake—infinite patience and laser focus.

I saw this beautiful Strawberry Mousse Cake in Southern Living and decided to give it a try. It was a bit complicated with three separate lists of ingredients and directions for: 1) cake, 2) mousse filling, and 3) frosting. Usually this is the sort of thing that sends me running back to something simple like triple chocolate cupcakes, but for some reason I was up for a challenge.

And to look at it, you’d think it was a huge success.

But looks can be deceiving.

Oddly, you can learn a thing or two while baking.

And not just that when faced with the choice to: a) follow the directions and chill the mousse for at least 30 minutes before spreading it on each cake layer and b) putting the mousse in the freezer for only 10 minutes, you should choose a.

Because underneath this pretty cake, was this

What a mess!

It’s amazing what a little (make that a lot) of frosting can do. It can cover a multitude of mistakes.

And so I am reminded this Easter that my Savior looks at me with all of my cracks, lack of patience, and poor focus and HE loves me anyway.

Happy Easter!

And another lesson I learned was it really only matters how it tastes, and that was great! Three sticks of butter and heavy whipping cream have a way of doing that!