Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Reminders for us all.

As a follow up to Monday's post, and confirmation of Stephanie's words and my encouragement to live life to the fullest, please take time to visit the blog A Cup of Tea With Carol for the post "If I Could Do It All Over Again".  Such fabulous advice for moms and dads in that post.  Read every bit of it and try to do one or two of those things this week.  I'm definitely adopting some of these great ideas!  I love the idea of reading a joke at dinner every night.  Great laughter and fun for the family.

As for us, the kids are at Camp Thurman this week.  Luke and Evie went there for the first time last summer.  It is just a day camp, but they loved it!  This year, George is old enough to go too.  Unfortunately (for me), his camp only lasts until 1:30 so I have to pick him up early and then go back at 4:00 to get the other two.  I end up doing a lot of driving, but knowing how much fun they are having makes it worth the effort.  I wish I had some pictures to prove how dirty, exhausted and happy they are.  I'll try to take some today.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Precious days

Kind of a rough weekend.  A friend of mine who has been fighting cancer for several years passed away on Friday.  She was a bad-ass lady.  Someone to admire.  I send her clients regularly.  In fact, I sent her a client just 4 months ago.  She made everything all better for clients.  How blessed we all are to have known her.  And way back when she started her first rounds of chemo, I, like many other friends, took dinner to her family.  I remember feeling terrible because I didn't actually cook them dinner.  Instead, I grabbed a meal from Central Market and took it to her house.  I berated myself and apologized profusely because I hadn't had time to make them a home-made meal.  Stephanie simply smiled at me in her care-free but wise way and said, "You're just like me.  Making yourself feel bad because you can't do everything."

Her words stuck with me through the years.  She was right.  Since then, I've tried to release some of the guilt I have imposed on myself because I am not able to "do it all."  Just a few words from a friend can change a person's perspective or even their life.  How amazing life is.

Needless to say, I've cried.  More than a few times.  And one of those times was when I was on the phone with my sister.  I simply broke down in sobs.  She was such a trooper to stay on the phone with me until we moved on to another subject (my casino injury - stay tuned for that story).  My heart aches for Stephanie's husband and three young boys.  She is a very special person and I'm sad that I won't see her for happy hour until we meet up in Heaven for the ultimate happy hour.

And then, not as close a relation but just as shocking, the local DJ, Kidd Kraddick passed away this weekend.  So suddenly.  Age 53. Not old.  I listened to him every morning on the way to work (and this summer is the first time I haven't listened to the show in the morning, because I'm not in my car dropping off kids and heading to work).  I laughed so often and loved starting my day like that.  I know I don't actually know Kidd (and Kelley, J-Si, Jenna, and Big Al), but it feels like I do.  Kind of like they are my friends that I hang out with in the morning.  I even would re-tell their stories and talk to my friends about the things that happened on the show.  So, it seems so strange to want to grieve his passing, but I do.  Chuck doesn't get it.  But, that's okay.  We're talking about my feelings here and not his.

With that, I'm starting my week on a bit of a low note, so I'm glad the kids are at day camp this week.  They love it and are exhausted when they get home, so I know I'll have a quiet day and evening ahead of me.

Sometimes, I think these things happen because God wants us all to wake up and remember how precious life is.  So, consider it done, God.  I get it.  Life is amazing and I'm going to recommit to living each day as I should.  Carpe diem, right?  Let's do this!

So, let me start by saying that I absolutely adore each friend that reads this blog (as well as all those who don't).  Whether we see each other occasionally, all the time, or even never, you all are precious to me.  You all have touched my life in some way.  And, I'm so grateful to know I have such wonderful friends out there. 

I hope you all know how much I love you.


Now, go seize the day!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dinner for Breakfast . . . and Lunch . . . and maybe Dinner

I made one of the most delicious dinners I can make last night.  "Chicken Divan" from a recipe on the back of a Velveeta Box that my sister (Cathy) and I found when I was young (maybe 12?).  I brought it to the marriage and we've loved it.  It takes a bit of prep, but I swear it's delicious . . . and fattening.  It's a combination of Velveeta Shells & Cheese, broccoli, chicken, and a cream sauce on top.  So, I made it last night for the family. 

  • Evie ate every bite with the promise of a popsicle after she finished.  She cleared her plate FAST!
  • Luke whined, delayed, and pushed his food around until I told him he would have to eat it for breakfast if he didn't eat it tonight.  After some negotiations, Luke ate two of the three ingredients: just the broccoli and chicken.
  • George flat out refused to eat it, even with the threat of making it his breakfast.  So, this was his breakfast this morning.

George has now delayed the consumption of this meal until lunch.  He has to be getting hungry, right?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

If I were an animal, I would not move into this house.

If you've been following me on Facebook then you would know that I've had quite the summer of collecting and saving wild critters.  It all started when I saved the baby bird you read about HERE.  Then things really started rolling. 

When we were up in Arkansas, the cousins (along with Luke, Evie, and George) found a wild tarantula scurrying across their grandparent's driveway.  They actually live in a neighborhood, so the discovery was somewhat of a surprise to all of us.  However, without any fear, the cousins lured the tarantula (with the circumfence of approximately a red wine glass - these are the things I can use to identify measurements), into their hands and several kids took turns holding it.  My boys were not so brave (to my relief), but Evie was fearless (to my great discomfort).  Still, I had a tarantula for a time while I was growing up . . . and I held it . . . and everything was fine . . . and most tarantulas are not toxic . . . so I stiffened my spine and dealt with it.  It was late at night though, so no pictures. You'll just have to use your imagination.

Once we got back home (with two cousins in tow), the kids decided to adopt a rollypolly (pill bug) family, gathered from our front yard. They put them in a jar together with grass and dirt and within just a few days (after having been warned by their mother), the family of rollypollies perished.  It was not overly sad.  I guess we've got a tough lot around here.
Searching for the beloved pill bug.
Gathering the family.

Displaying the wildlife.
Later, Evie found some snails in the backyard and decided to befriend them.  She picked them up and let them slide their slick bodies all over her hands and arms.  Disgusting (to me, at least)!  George was quick to follow in his sister's footsteps.


And after that, Evie was at the park with her cousin Colt and brother George when she found a tiny little baby frog in the creek.  She caught it with her bare hands and then they figured out a way to keep the frog (only just having turned into a frog from a tadpole) in a plastic waterbottle filled with a bit of creek water, some sticks, and some grass.  I was super proud (mostly because I'm not actually afraid of frogs).  She LOVED this frog.  However, I was not particularly fond of the idea of keeping the frog as a pet, even when she begged and especially when she named it camo and placed it in a square jar on our dining room table. 

Frog is sittin gon stick in this picture.
Can you see it?
Frog is up against the right wall in this picture.

And with Camo, chilling in our dining room, Evie found another frog and brought it into our house to share with me, except this time the frog was dead . . . in our pool.  This girl has no fear of anything.

I was thrilled to be presented with this dead frog that Evie found in our pool.

Being blessed, George's old daycare accepted the gift of a baby frog -- they have a bunch of animals there including guinea pigs, hermit crabs, worms, lizards, and maybe fish too.  George's teacher let me know that each year her class raises tadpoles into frogs so she was well educated on how to care for a baby frog and I left it there in her good and caring hands.  I was also excited because this gave me a reason to go back and visit the wonderful people who loved George as a baby.  George brought the frog to his class and held a mini show and tell session. 


Then we left for our cruise, promising to visit Camo when we got home.  Unfortunately, the frog didn't make it that long.  I blame myself because we kept it for several days and I know it didn't eat a thing on our watch.  Once again, no tears from Evie or George, and luckily, we had a new critter to distract them from the loss.

While we were on the cruise, Colt found and caught a big, nasty, scary, threatening, black spider in our front yard.  To be honest, I'm thrilled it's no longer on the loose in our front yard, but on the other hand, I'm wishing it was acutally dead instead of tucked away in a terrarium in my house.  At first, he was just hanging out in this jar in my kitchen.  I was not a fan.

No one is really sure what type of spider it is, but Colt's research indicates that it is either a trap door spider, a rat spider, or some other kind (I forget).  One type is not poisonous, one is a little poisonous, and the other is super poisonous and required a doctor's immediate attention if you are bit.  And, let me tell you, this thing has fangs.  It is not my friend.  So, I'm not sure why I agreed to feed it and house it, but it is ensconced in Colt's bedroom.  Having funded this insane project, I've claimed naming rights, and decided to call it Dante.  It's perfect, right?  I've adequately threatened him that if it bites him, I will not take him to the hospital, and if it gets out of its cage I will, without hesitation, kick him in the nuts.  There is probably more to follow if the spider actually escapes, but I have no idea what I would do other than freak out like the woosy girl I am.  But, since I had a spider in my youth, I'm less threatened by this critter.

Now, you might ask, "Hey, crazy lady?  Where do you draw the line?"

Well, I'll tell you.  I draw the line with snakes.  I. Do. Not. Do. Snakes.  At all.  Period.

So, to top off this story, our goldfish named Sunburn died a few days after we got home from the cruise.  Again, no tears.  He was a good fish though, so we gave him a military funeral (fish style) with a 21 flush salute.  (Kidding, one flush was all he got).  And, when we went to the pet store to get crickets to feed Dante, we picked up two new fish.  Unfortunately, they died within 24 hours.  So, you may understand, after all of this, why I am hesitant to get another pet/critter in our house.  I'm putting it off. Plus, everytime we go to the pet store, Evie begs me for a cat, and that is NOT happening.

So, my little animal lover will have to content herself with snails and rollypollies for now, and I promise she'll find and pick up just about anything that lives outdoors as she continues to befriend new snails.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fourth of July Fun!

Did you all have a happy 4th of July?  We definitely did!  We went to the lake with our good friends, Tim and Stephanie and their three girls.  It was so fun, but cut short because we had to go back to work on Friday.  The kids had a great time!

The 3 Amigos aka LEG aka Evie, Luke & George.

Chuck and Tim, George and Mary Clare (my goddaughter).

The best part was getting to take our nephew Colt to the lake.  Colt is 17 and staying with us for the summer to help out with the kids. He is also George's godfather, so that should tell you that we think highly of him and his character. Still, when someone works for you and lives with you, you get to know the person better than you ever could otherwise. He's been here for a month now, and we are finally adjusting to having an extra body in the house, and extra "kid" at the table, and an extra set of hands to help. So, Colt is a city kid. Seriously, he doesn't know how to ride a bike, he's never ridden a horse, and he's never been to the lake, among other things. It was so fun to take him to have him experience several "firsts" on the 4th, including: first time to go to the lake, first time to ride in a boat, and first time to go tubing. It was a ton of fun!

Colt on the tube (after I fell off).

And once the sun set so beautifully, we were able to enjoy our own fireworks show and all the other fireworks being launched all around the lake.  It was a great show.

Luke with a sparkler.

George with sparkler (looking like a wizard).

Evie with sparkler.
The kids were exhausted by the time we left and within minutes they were fast asleep (including Colt) in the back of our car.
Evie is hunched over in the middle, Luke passed out on top of her, and Kate (T&S's daughter) passed out on the window.

Did all of you enjoy your day too?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Whoa! I'm dizzy! Have I been drinking?

Turns out, I haven't been drinking, but I sure am dizzy!  I have been ever since I got off the cruise.  It's the strangest thing, especially since I didn't have any dizziness or equilibrium problems while I was on the ship.  After three days of being off the ship, I was still dizzy, so I decided to check it out.  I Googled, "Dizzy after cruise", and I was shocked to find out that post-cruise dizziness is very common, especially in women "of a certain age."  It's official title is Mal de debarquement syndrom or MDDS for short.  The article below says that 90% of the people who suffer MDDS are women and hypothesize that it has something to do with the inner ear and our hormones. 

Here's the article in USA today about it, "Vertigo After Cruise Ship Vacation."  Who knew?!  This is crazy!  So, I'm still dizzy, and constantly feeling like I should hold onto something for a little extra balance or start reciting, ". . .and the boat wocked and wocked . . ." [10 points to someone who can identify that quote].  Instead, this could last up to a month, with nothing to stop it but time.  Weird.  Anybody else ever have this???

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Cruise (our first!)

This family has been on vacation practically the entire month of June, and quite frankly, I am exhausted.  I am really looking forward to not traveling for a while - until football season, I guess.

So here's a run down on what we've been doing.  June 8th was Chuck's parents' 50th wedding anniversary. We went to Arkansas for the renewal of their vows and an intimate party for family and friends.  I totally teared up while they recited their vows.  I don't think I've ever seen them so happy.

Then, they took the entire family (Chuck's siblings, spouses, and children) on a cruise to Mexico.  It was  hell trying to coordinate 20 people, but the experience was definitely worth it.

First thing first, we got on the boat and had to check out Camp Carnival - the children's program that kept them busy day and night.  George won this book by bringing up a Carnival Cruise line receipt. This all happened right after we got on the boat, so we only had one receipt to give him and it was a reciept for two Jack Daniel's and Coke.  (Trust me, they were well deserved at that point).  Anyway, he won and got to go up there and announce his name, his age, and where he is from.  I swear that kid is a natural.  Everyone - and I mean everyone - knew his name after that meeting. The first time we dropped him off, they greeted him by name and told them how excited they were to see him.  Ridiculous!

George with his winnings.  We read this book at least once a day, but usually more.

So, the kids spent most of their time in Camp Carnival.  The allure of video games was all it took to get Luke hooked.  Evie was less enamored, and George was just not in his element, because the room he was in was geared toward 2 year olds.  He bored quickly, so he got to spend more time with his relatives and was quick to ditch his parents.  On the last day, we parents got to visit Camp Carnival to see what all the kids got to do.  It wasn't super exciting, but the activities probably helped pass the time - especially for the older kids.

Luke playing video games.  I have to admit, he's pretty good!

Chuck and Evie playing video games.
We visited Progreso and Cozymel.  Both were beautiful but SUPER HOT! Whew!  We visited Mayan ruins in Progresso first.

In front of old stones.
This is an iguana hanging out on the structure you see behind us in the picture above. 
They were everywhere!
The ruins had this super cool sink hole.  It is really deep and people could swim freely in it with the little fishies that would bite your toes and skin.  We just put our feet in, but it was definitely worth visiting just for this part alone.
We had lunch after visiting the ruins, but first we had fresh coconut water. Delish!

Then we spent some time on the beach in Cozymel, but we had to take a taxi to get there. George is obsessed with taxies so he was super excited that this was his first taxi ride!

George experienced his first taxi ride on the way to the beach and he was thrilled! 
Who knew this would be a life alterning experience?

But the time on the boat was most of what we did and it was fun for all! George was Captain Batman (or just Captain) most of the trip as he wore his captain's hat around the ship.  People saluted him and called him captain, but the best part was getting to go up to the Bridge for a private tour with the Captain's assistants.  It was so sweet. The crew were so kind to us and George was just as charming as ever.  Love that kid.

Captain Batman, ready for bed.

Here we are on the Bridge.  If you're George, all you have to do is ask and you shall receive.  All we did was ask Guest Services if there was any sort of tour that children could take to see how the boat works. They said no, but asked us to wait to see what they could do.  A few minutes later, two members of the crew showed up and escorted us to the Bridge.  It was awesome! We were the only people up there other than the crew.   Unfortunately, we didn't meet the Captain because he was conducting a wedding at that time, but it was a great experience!

Looking for ships on the Bridge with the Captain's binoculars.

G and the Captain's assistant.

We learned how to use the compass.

The assistant pointing out a ship on the horizon.
Here are some other fun pictures from our trip, just randomly placed in here.  Enjoy!

Breakfast - one of the few times during the day that we were together.

Evie and Pawpaw
Luke, Evie, and me. Good heavens.

We participated in a family scavenger hunt.  We did not win.
We still did all the ridiculous stuff though.
Evie and G in our room.  It was really much roomier than I expected.
Evie, Luke, George, and cousin Josh hanging out in our window.
This was, I swear, their favorite place on the boat.
George, Chuck, Evie, and cousin Lexie first night on the ship.

This is Chuck and me with our new best friends - our bartenders!

There are probably more pictures of George than the other kids because (1) we spent more time with him while the other two were hanging out at Camp Carnival, and (2) he's more tolerant of my picture taking.  Hope you enjoyed the review!  More pictures and stories to come later!