Friday, July 30, 2010

Picture of the Week

This is my Gracie girl.  One of her favorite things to do is take pictures.  For this one, she set it up and asked me to take her picture with her babies.  Gracie has spent the last 3 weeks as an only child while Logan has been in Salyersville, and I think she will have a difficult time adjusting to sharing my time with him once he's home. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Makin' a Splash

On the first official day of our vacation we went to SomerSplash Water Park in Somerset.  This was added long after I left Somerset, and the only time I've seen it was in the building stage.  I thought we'd have fun and I knew the kids would enjoy it.

I wasn't sure if Logan would do any of the slides.  He has been known to be timid sometimes when trying new things, but Logan, Jessica, Dalton, and I walked up all the steps (all...the...steps) and stood at the top of a set of three slides trying to figure out which slide to go down.  I suggested Logan take the yellow slide, since it seemed to be the level one stage.  He surprised me my going right on down.  I could watch him from the top and saw his huge grin as he came around the first time and heard him talking and laughing the second time I saw him.  I followed him down and remembered how much fun it was.

At the bottom, both he and Dalton were eager to go again so we walked back up all the steps (all...the...steps).  Logan took the red one this time, which was level two of three and loved it again.  I was so surprised, but so delighted!  We rejoined the group after this and spent some time in the wave pool, which I didn't care for.  Personally, I like it fine - trying to make sure my kids aren't drowning, I didn't like it at all.  I convinced Grace and Breanna that we should go to the kiddie pool/play area.  There were three little slides (which were actually pretty fun for adults too) and a lot of water shooting things surrounded by a pretty shallow pool.  The girls, and even the boys, had a blast.

This is where Grace surprised me, though.  Jessica and I were sitting in the water watching the kids play and Grace ducks her head right under and swims over to me.  What?!  And she did it over and over again.  I was so proud of her.  I have no idea where she learned it since it wasn't something they covered in the swim class, but she has done it since in deeper water, so I know it's for real.  What a fish!

Jessica and I then went around the lazy river a couple of times.  While we were there we saw Becky, Dalton, Kaleb, and Logan in line for the slide where you swirl around in the bowl before shooting out the bottom.  We decided to go there next, but as we're walking up the steps we can't find Logan and the gang so we assumed we'd missed them.  Not so!  All of a sudden Becky and Kaleb shoot into the bowl on a double tube, followed next by Logan and Dalton.  We got to watch them swirl around and see their big grins, which is funny since that's the only way we could've seen them.

We finished the day with more play time in the kiddie area and went home tired and hungry.  It was a great day. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Top Five Favorite Meals

The following are some meals that I'm always happy to see:
  1. Hibachi style Japanese with steak and sometimes shrimp - when I used to go to Myrtle Beach with Julia's family over summer break, we always ate at this delicious Japanese place.  I've long since forgotten what it's called, but it started my love affair.  Joey and I found a little place between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg that is also entertaining and delicious that we stop at every time we're there.  And nowadays, I eat it at least once a month because across the street from my building in downtown Charlotte is Tin Tin, a to go Hibachi style restaurant. 
  2. Mom's Beef Stew - I have no idea where her recipe originated, but I love it.  When I was growing up we got to choose what dinner to have for our birthday.  This was my regular choice, along with sweet corn muffins.  Closely following mom's beef stew is her pot roast, but they're both beef, carrots, and potatoes, so they're stuck together in the number two slot.
  3. Grilled hot dogs, Joey's moms baked beans, and my homemade potato salad - if we're grilling, I'm going to choose the hot dog over the hamburger.  I love them burnt and kind of puffy.  And for a side you must have Joey's moms baked beans.  I've recently learned how to make them and they turn out pretty well, but it always tastes better from her kitchen.  The perfect accompaniment is my own potato salad, with potatoes, eggs, and bacon.  Yum.
  4. Stouffer's Lasagna with Meat & Sauce - I've heard a rumor that people actually make their own lasagna.  I can't imagine why when this is so delicious, and it doesn't get easier to make than taking it out of the freezer and putting it in the oven.  This has a perfect amount of cheese and gets nice and crispy on top.  If I buy the party size, then there are leftovers too.  Win win, right?
  5. Tacos - I love them from Taco Bell or made at home with a kit from Old El Paso.  I like them crunchy with ground beef, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, and a good dollop of sour cream and with a side of refried beans.  Grace has followed in my tastes in this area and will eat 2 or 3 when I make them, but no tomatoes for her.  While she'll eat them off a vine, she doesn't want them on her taco.
So those are some of my faves.  Excuse me while I go wipe the drool off my chin...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Walk Down Memory Lane

On the last day of my recent vacation in Bronston, KY I decided it was time to do some exploring of my old stomping grounds.  I took Logan, Grace, and my niece Breanna along for the ride.

Our first stop was at Haney's Appledale Farm.  It's an apple farm (obviously) that has been around probably longer than me.  We used to take field trips there to pick apples when I was little.  I really wanted some apples, but apparently peaches are in season now.  So I got a bag of those and some apple butter (which Joey has eaten almost all of).

First we went to my dad's grave site.  He's buried in Mill Springs National Cemetery in Nancy, KY since he fought in Vietnam.  Although I think fought isn't really the right word.  To the best of my knowledge (and it's not too great in the first place) I don't think he did any actual fighting.  I could be wrong though. 

Anywho, I took pictures of the headstone and the kids and then we wandered around the cemetery a bit.  Logan thought it was pretty cool to look at the old headstones, some of which even had pictures on them.
I also found a registry that lists all the people buried.  And found dad on it.

After we were done looking around (and thankfully avoided the coming rain) we headed to McDonald's for a quick lunch and some playtime in the Play Place.  After that we stopped by Wildcat Warehouse because I have wanted something UK to go on the back of my car.  We left with a UK magnet and a t-shirt for Logan.  As soon as we got in the car it began pouring rain.  And pouring doesn't even do it justice.  You couldn't even see to drive...but I did anyway. 

Our next stop was at the house I grew up in.
A lot has changed since I lived there - we didn't have a garage or a fenced in back yard (although we didn't need a fenced in back yard, either).  There used to be bigger bushes in front of the house and one is now missing.  We also used to have a rhododendron to the right of the garage.  And you'll have to excuse the minor blurriness of the picture - it was still raining.

Then we went to my friend Robyn's new salon.  I didn't take any pictures, but it was super cute.  Very clean and fresh feeling.  Robyn offers pedicures and manicures, as well as spray tanning.  I'm so proud of her.

This concluded our day out in Somerset.  It's so strange to go back to the place where you spent 20 something years of your life and see the changes.  But I guess I've changed too, so it's only fair.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Quote of the Week

There is only one way to happiness, and that is to cease worrying things which are beyond the power of our will.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Picture of the Week

This is me and my momma.  One of the fifth grade teachers, Mrs. Barnett (?), led a hike up Mt. LeConte each year.  We went along with Robyn and her mom, Joey Wilson, and I don't remember who else.  Funny enough, Joey (my husband) and I stayed in a cabin in Gatlinburg after graduating from college and our view was of Mt. LeConte.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

No pros here...

While we were on vacation at Woodsen Bend Resort in Bronston, KY Joey wanted to do some golfing.  Not playing 18 holes or anything, but hitting a bucket of balls on the driving range.  We finally got it together and Joey, Kelly, Dalton, and I drove down the road to the pro shop where I got 2 buckets of balls and the privilege of borrowing a cart to get Joey to the driving range (it was more of a walk than we expected).  The following are some pictures of their fun.
Joey taking a swing.

Kelly's about to shoot into the trees on the right.

Dalton trying it out.
Showing Dalton how it's done.
All the men (don't ask what Kelly's up to - I don't know).
The wild turkeys we saw on the way to the driving range...
and the deer that walked right in front of my car as I was leaving.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Change, change, change

Here in our casa we're making a big change.

Four years ago we were forced to declare bankruptcy due to ridiculous amounts of medical bills.  One of the results of the bankruptcy was wiping out all of our credit cards.  We vowed never to use them again.  See where this is going?

We have managed to re-accumulate credit card debt.  It has driven/drives Joey crazy.  I (being the purchaser) simply look at it as, Logan needs new shoes (for example), we don't have the extra dollars in the checking account, they go on the credit card.

Today that changes.  No more credit cards.  We took out a loan against our car and are paying off the credit cards.  The loan is for 36 months, so in three years that debt will be gone.

Our van will be paid off in two years, and Grace starts school  next year which will save us about $930 a month in daycare.  Of course, we'll have to get her set with some kind of after school thing, but presumably it won't be as expensive as full time daycare.

So what does this all mean?  In about 3 years, we'll have extra income of over $1,000 per month.  Yowza!  Having an end date and knowing we can make it there has really helped me as I consider new purchases (even in the few days that this has been the plan).  I'm more dedicated to it now that I've ever been, and the reward for the frugalness will be a new house, which definitely helps keep me on track.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cumberland Falls

During the week of July 4 we went on vacation with Joey's mom and both of his sisters and their families to Woodsen Bend Resort in Bronston, KY.  One of our day trips was to visit Cumberland Falls.  I, of course, have been there multiple times.  However, I thought the kids would like it, it was outdoors, and it was free.  Winner all around, right?

Everyone in our family knows Logan and curvy roads don't really agree, but I thought he would survive the one to the falls.  It doesn't go on forever and I would take it slow.  In the beginning he did great.  However, right before we got there he said, "Mommy, I'm going to throw up."  Off the road I pulled as quickly as I could, but he was fine.  We got back on the road and two minutes later we pulled in. 

We had a great time even though it was a little hot.  Here are some pictures.

Me and the monsters.

The boys - Kaleb, Dalton, and Logan

Mawmaw and the boys - Kaleb, Chastin, Logan, and Dalton

Grace, aunt Mimi, and Breanna
Logan took lots of pictures...of rocks

Cooling off with some ice cream afterwards. (Barb, Chastin, Kaleb, Dalton, Missy)
The rest of the group - Grace, Breanna, and Logan

Monday, July 19, 2010

Can this girl bake or what?

A few weeks ago one of my coworkers brought in a homemade coconut cake for the office.  I am not a huge fan of the shredded coconut pieces, but it looked so delicious I tried it anyway.

And was rewarded for my bravery.  It...was...delicious.  Three layers of cake with boiled icing in between and all around.  I had never heard of boiled icing before but it was shiny and not too sweet and totally yummy.  I was hooked.

As we were preparing for our vacation this year I knew I wanted to make a dessert to bring with us.  And since the kids weren't home I knew I'd have time to make one.  I decided to tackle the coconut cake.  Cecilia brought in the recipe and I looked it over realizing that (1) I had all but one ingredient on hand (coconut milk), and (2) it didn't seem too terribly difficult.

I got to work on it as soon as I walked in the door from work on Friday evening (we were leaving Saturday morning and I wanted it to be fresh when we got there).  Mixing the batter was quite simple.  Problemo numero uno was that I only had one cake pan.  So the other two layers went into pie pans and I figured I'd work it out.

Once the cake was done baking and started cooling, I began on the icing.  However, I was halted quickly when I realized I didn't have any eggs, and it called for 4 egg whites.  (This is not normally like me, but in knowing we would be gone for a week I let them run down to the 4 I needed for the cake.  I didn't realize they were also required for the icing.)  Anywho, off to Bi-Lo I went.  For the boiled icing you melt sugar and water in a saucepan then let it boil to a particular temperature.  While that's going on, you whip the egg whites and cream of tartar to soft peaks, then slowly stream in the sugar syrup and beat until stiff peaks form.  I was amazed that it worked perfectly.  And no worries that there wouldn't be enough icing - there was more than enough.

I forgot to trim the edges of the pie pan cakes until they were already stacked together with icing so I just went with it and crammed the sides full of icing.  It may not have been perfect, but it looked just fine for me.  Since it wouldn't fit in the cooler, it got it's own cooler bag with ice for the trip to KY.  It shifted a bit during the ride, but all in all was just fine.

And let me tell you.  It...was...delicious.  Just ask my brother in law Kelly who I'm pretty sure ate about 70% of it.  I'm a loser who didn't take any pictures, however, so I'm going to make another one soon and I'll post pictures then.  Until then...

Quote of the Week

The fact is, that to do anything in the world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can.

Robert Cushing

Friday, July 16, 2010

Picture of the Week

This is Joey and I in November 2000.  We had taken our first trip together to visit (and in my case, meet) his family.  In this picture we are at his Aunt Ann's house and I can't get over how ridiculously young and skinny we both are.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

We'll See

Since Grace's return from Kentucky I'm trying to get her back into the routine of sleeping in her own bed all night, by herself.  Last night she was upset as I was trying to leave her so she said, "Will you sleep with me tomorrow mommy?" tears and all.  Trying not to upset her further, but knowing that wasn't going to happen I replied "We'll see."

"No mommy! Don't say 'we'll see'!  That means you won't do it!" my smarty pants little lady replied.  Uh oh.  She has me figured out.  I ended up telling her we were going swimming tonight after we got home and she had to have enough rest for it, which calmed her down and she eventually went to sleep.  After she was pulling her socks off her feet and her hand got flung into the wall behind hurting her 'fumb'.  It was a long night.  But we're getting there.

*She has also taken to not wanting to wear pajamas to bed. Or anything else except her pull up.  I know this wasn't something she picked up at my in-laws so I'm not sure where she got this idea.  I just go along with it.  I mean really, what is it hurting.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Proposal (part deux)

On Friday July 2 I checked my e-mail to find one from my mother's boyfriend.  It was to my sisters and I letting us know that he intended to ask mom to marry him in the not so distant future.  I thought it nice that he did that, and also appropriate that he wasn't asking our permission.  They are grown ups after all.  My sisters and I responded that we had expected that for a while and were happy them.  I also made the minor request to avoid tax season as a time for the wedding.

That evening I got a phone call from mom.  We chatted about our upcoming vacations (me to Kentucky and she to Canada) for a bit, and of course the kids.  Then she somewhat shyly said that she thought Pete was going to ask her to marry him while they were on vacation.  I had to stifle a laugh as I remembered the e-mail I received earlier that day.  She told me how she thought it would happen and I had to monitor my responses to not give anything away.  We hung up with the promise that she would call if anything happened.

Thursday evening of the next week I got "the call."  Pete had asked her to marry him that day as they took a break from kayaking (not at all what her scenario to me had been).  She sounded very giddy as she described the ring to me (diamond with a solitaire on each side), and reassured me they probably wouldn't do it during tax season. 

All in all, I'm very happy for them and will pray in the meantime that if I'm a part of the wedding I won't have to wear a bouffant dress.

An Apology and a Congratulations

I wanted to apologize to my mother and her fiance Pete for the post earlier today.  I did not mean it as it came across, only as a way to explain the akwardness of my mother moving on with life following my father's death.

I am truly happy for them and wish them a happy, healthy, long marriage (which seems like a no brainer since they've been so happy together so far).  Congratulations.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ode to the Birthday Boy

Today my Logan turns seven.  Unbelievable. 

My Logan is
and many other things I can't put into words.

I am so lucky.

Happy Birthday baby boy.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Quote of the Week

The aim of education should be to teach us how to think, rather than what to think.

James Beattie

Friday, July 9, 2010

Picture of the Week

This is a picture of (from left to right) my mom, Aunt Jackie, and Aunt Beth (mom's twin sister).  I don't know when it was taken, but aren't those some cute kids?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Raindrops on roses....

and whiskers on kittens...these are a few of my favorite things.  We all know most girls love to shop (with the exception of my sister, Jessica).  I count myself within that number.  However, I'm not crazy about clothes shopping.  I have trouble finding styles I'm comfortable with in shapes and sizes that work for me.  But....things that always work for everyone are shoes, bags, coats, and containers. 

For shoes, I love to dream about all the tennis shoes I would purchase, or the sandals and flip flops, or the dressy shoes, or the casual weekend shoes.  I love to look at kids shoes and imagine all the kinds I would buy for my two little monkeys.  I look at shoes at Target and Rack Room.  I don't actually purchase many shoes - I survive with one pair of tennis shoes, two pairs of work shoes (one flat and one with a heel), many flip flops, and a pair of winter casual shoes.  But a girl can dream, right?

Bags includes mainly purses and totes for me.  If I had the money, I would have a room full of these things.  Lately I've been on a Vera Bradley kick.  I was at a yard sale helping Logan's Cub Scout group when I was informed there was a lady selling Vera Bradley bags cheap.  I hustled my way down to her table and scored a blue purse and matching wallet, and a big black tote bag for $12 total - all in like new condition.  The wallet is the kind that zips up so you don't lose stuff and it has a little strap to carry it with - perfect!  I wasn't sure why I needed the black tote, but at $5 I wasn't passing it up.  This inspired me to check eBay for more VB items and I ended up with a small blue purse that hangs across the body, a small pink hobo purse, a small pink wallet, and a new hard case for my glasses.  I told myself Happy Mother's Day as I paid for my loot. 

Another kind of bag I'm diggin' are the reusable shopping bags.  Weird, right?  I figure - they're cheap (most cost $1), they can be used for anything and bought almost anywhere, and I'm helping the environment.  I'm slowly building up my stock - I have 3 from Wal-Mart, 2 from Aldi (they're mega huge though - and pretty heavy when full), and one from Old Navy.  It has a picture of a bumblebee and says "Bee green."

The next thing I love to dream about are coats.  Rain coats, winter coats, plain, patterned, with a hood, light jacket, whatever.  For some reason coats just catch my eye.  There are so many different types to have, in so many colors.  And they're usually pretty friendly to all body types. (jacket from Lands End).

Finally, I love containers.  I love baskets, I love plastic tubs, I love little boxes to sit on dressers, I love storage pieces.  I love it all.  I thing it's the organizer in me coming out.  I see a cute basket and try desperately to think of somewhere to put it in my house.  I see a mail sorter and try to figure out if I have counter space for it (I don't).  I see a mess of baby doll accessories and Matchbox cars on my living room table and mentally go through the house to locate something to put all the stuff in.  I just love having a designated place to put things.  It makes picking up so much easier.

So those are the things I love, for real and in dreams.

*Jacket from Lands End, container from The Container Store, shoes from, bag from Vera Bradley, reusable bag from Envirosax.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Top Five Fruits

And now, in no certain order...wait, they are in order.  #1 is the BEST.  And now, without further adieu, my top 5 favorite fruits:
  1. Watermelon - juicy, sweet, and delicious, I could eat it all day...if someone else would cut it up and keep Logan away from it :-)
  2. Banana - perfect for a quick snack and kind of filling.  Pairs well with almost any other fruit.  For example, ever had a Kiwi Banana Starburst?  Delicious.
  3. Apple - I like them Golden Delicious or Gala...with Fuji on occasion.  Or I'd definitely take a Granny Smith baked into mom's apple pie.  I love them dipped in peanut butter, and have even tried one chocolate covered.
  4. Pineapple - when they're perfectly ripened, sweet and yummy.  Again, could someone else cut it please? And keep Logan away?
  5. Honeydew melon - the green melon you always find in a fruit salad.  I think it's just a bit sweeter than cantaloupe, and maybe a little mushier.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Extended Family

When I was growing up, my immediate family included my mom and dad and my two sisters. My father was an only child so there were no aunts or uncles on his side, his father died when he was 3 so there was no grandfather, and his mom (my Grandma Colvin) lived in Evansville, IN, approximately 4 hours away.

My mom has two sisters, one of them being her twin. One lived/s in Evansville and the other in Jacksonville, FL. Her dad passed away when Catherine was a baby so there wasn't really a grandfather on her side either. Her mom (my Grandma Baggett) lived with her stepdad in Louisiana.

I tell you all of these facts as a preface to this statement: I didn't have much contact with any of my extended family. We saw Grandma Colvin pretty frequently (unfortunately she passed away when I was 12), and towards the end of her life she lived with us for a while, and then in a nursing home two streets from our house. We saw Aunt Jackie frequently, either us going to Evansville or her coming to us. I think there were a few times she took me and my sisters on trips or we stayed at her house with her. I only remember seeing my Aunt Beth, Uncle John, and cousins Erica, Seth, and Sam a handful of times. There was one fabulous Christmas when both aunts and their families came to our house to celebrate. I wish I knew the logistics of how all those people fit in our house, but I love looking at the pictures. I also remember visiting Aunt Beth in Florida one time, but I think it was a stopover on our way home from Disney World.

I never really minded any of these things, I accepted it without questioning.  It's just how things were.  The only time it ever bothered me was at Girl Scout cookie sales time.  I had a friend, Casi, whose entire extended family seemed to live in Somerset.  And she always sold a ton of cookies because she had family who bought them.  I had to go door to door through the neighborhood to sell just a few boxes.  I was so jealous.

Now that I'm grown, I do mind that I don't really know any of my extended family.  Joey spent the first 10 or so years of his life in Maryland surrounded by his mom's family, including aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.  Because of that, he still stays in touch with them now.  I have only recently reconnected with two (of three) of my cousins and both of my aunts on Facebook.  If not for that, our only communication would be an annual Christmas card.

I always said I would do it differently when I had kids.  I would want my children to know all their aunts and uncles and cousins.  And for the first 3 and a half years of Logan's life, that's how it was.  We lived about an hour and a half away from their cousins.  All three of them.  They saw and played with them, regularly.  They knew all of their aunts from both sides of the family and often spent weekends with their grandparents.  That changed, though, when we moved to Charlotte.

Now we are approximately 7 hours away from all of our Kentucky family and we're about 7-8 hours away from Catherine who now lives in Tallahassee, FL.  My newest niece is now 6 months old and I've yet to meet her.  My oldest nephew knows me and is comfortable around me (I think), but my two younger nephews and my other niece need some time to warm up to me each time they see me.  My kids miss their extended family all the time, especially considering they have a "twin" cousin each.  I hate that it is like this.  Joey and I both love and miss our families, but Charlotte is more practical for us right now.  Charlotte has better (and more variety of) doctors to manage Joey's care, plus a great job for me.

Plus we really do like living here.  We just miss our families.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Quote of the Week

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

Deuteronomy 31:6

Friday, July 2, 2010

Picture of the Week

This is my grandmother, Alberta Yaggi Colvin, on September 14, 1932.  Wasn't she gorgeous?  I think she was around 23 at the time, but I'm not certain (a lot of backwards math involved since I don't know her birthdate). 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pixar Goodies

The recent review of Toy Story 3 in Entertainment Weekly included a list of the reviewers top 10 Pixar movies (I can't find the article online).  They ranked them as follows:

  1. Toy Story
  2. The Incredibles
  3. Wall E
  4. Finding Nemo
  5. Up
  6. Cars
  7. Toy Story 2
  8. Ratatouille
  9. Monsters, Inc.
  10. A Bug's Life
While I love all these movies, I would rank them a bit differently.
  1. Toy Story
  2. Finding Nemo
  3. Cars
  4. Toy Story 2
  5. Wall E
  6. Monsters, Inc.
  7. The Incredibles
  8. A Bug's Life
  9. Ratatouille
  10. Up
What do you think?