Grown Up Snow Day

 

Yesterday  I walked out my door to this:

 

 

I’m not usually too worried about driving in the snow, but yesterday we received about a foot of the fluffy cold stuff and so I decided to play it safe and take a PTO (personal time off) day from work.

Its the other people driving that scare me.

So, I realized that yesterday was an unofficial Grown Up Snow day and I felt like a kid again (except for when I needed my readers glasses to read tiny print).

G1 got out to clean off the cars, our driveway and 5 other neighbors driveways, he’s such a good neighbor.

I walked around taking a few pictures along the way.

 

 

This is our back patio where on warm days a few Margaritas are sometimes enjoyed.

Oh how I long for those days now.

 Then I walk around the corner to see that one of my neices or my silly nephew left a little hot handed artwork on my storm door from the suprise birthday party G1 threw for me a few weekends ago.

It pretty much sums up my mood for this grown up snow day.

Half Way to Spring

 

Snow.

There’s been a lot of it this year. Even the U.S. South which closes schools and roads when there is only an inch or 2 is just recently melting from several inches which totally shut them down (Cough-Wimps-Cough) for darn near a week. Here in Mo, they’re calling for more snow this week.

 Sigh.

 After the snow there is always the soggy, muddy mess that is left behind until the warmer/drier days reappear to dry up the mush. Days are still gray and dull here in mid Missouri and I am looking forward to the signs of life, the sprigs of green to appear on the ground and in the trees, when spring is on our doorsteps.

Here are some pictures I took last spring to remind us all what is just around the calendar corner. Spring waits to greet us in the matter of more than a few weeks.

 Hang in there!

Chicken Fajitas

 

I make these chicken fajitas at least 2 times a month. This is one of our favorite dinners.

The ingredients below don’t necessarily tell you how much you should have because it all depends on your preference, you decide. I’ve listed the ingredients I personally like.

Get creative, add some of your other favorite ingredients. Peppers, onions, etc.

Flour tortillas (soft taco size)

1 Tbsp Olive oil

Butter

1 to 1.25 (approximate) lbs chicken

1 packet Lawry’s fajita seasoning

Shredded sharp cheddar

Pace salsa

Sour Cream

avocado

Put 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in skillet & heat. Add chicken and cook well.

When chicken is thoroughly cooked, chop or shred. I prefer to cut it with my kitchen scissors into little chunks.

Add packet of seasoning and mix with water as directed on packet. Mix well.

In a separate skillet, melt a pad of butter and spread around. Keep your burner on medium heat.

Put your tortilla in your skillet and cook until its slightly golden or starts to ever slightly stiffen and flip over.

Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top while still in skillet. While the other side of the tortilla is cooking, this will melt the cheese nicely.

Once the cheese starts to melt, place tortilla on your plate to start topping with your other ingredients.

Then place some of your chicken in a row down the middle of your tortilla, making sure you have enough room on the bottom and sides to fold over.

I personally love Pace salsa, a little light sour cream and some slices of avocado to make the perfect fajita for me.

Once you have your toppings on, first fold up the bottom, to keep ingredients from falling out when eating.

Then fold over each side and enjoy! YUM I tell you, these are delish!

Now you could just slap your ingredients in an uncooked tortilla, but I prefer them warm and slightly crisp. It just gives it that extra tastey UMPH.

Goodbye 2010 and Bye to My 30’s

  When I was little, I used to think that people got the day off because it was MY birthday. It just so happens that my birthday falls on New Years Day, that may have been the real reason,

 just possibly.

So every year I guess it’s a little different for us New Years birthday people, we not only look favorably on the new year as a fresh start, but its also mixed with checking yet another year off the old age meter.

This year is a big one for me, I turn 40.

Goodbye to 2010 and goodbye to my 30’s. (sigh)

I’ve heard so much about 40 and how its all downhill from here.  I’ve even recently bought my first readers glasses because I’ve noticed that for some reason every label, set of directions and even some menu’s have decided to ‘Go Green’ and conserve ink by printing much smaller type. Sometimes avoiding the truth can be uplifting, so let me be in my little happy denial bubble!

Most people make resolutions on New Years, and I’m among the masses that have made a few myself over the years. Last year I actually accomplished one resolution, I quit smoking and I can proudly say I’ve been smoke free now for about 5 months. Yay me! It feels good to tackle a goal and then reach it.

The past few weeks have reinforced one important thing that I really took to heart about 10 years ago,

life is precious & it’s short.

It’s shorter for some than for others and we really don’t know what our future holds or if we hold much of a future on this earth.

I’m not depressed or crying over this,

I want to take life and grab it by the ears and just…

LIVE.

That one word can mean many different things to many different people. In my case, I don’t need to lead an exciting, action packed, adventurous life but I do want to do my best to lead a happy, peaceful life. I want to stop worrying about things that really don’t matter. I want to be kinder.

Instead of making new resolutions, I hope to instead just keep in mind everyday that I don’t want to waste my life crying about my eyesight waning or a line on the face appearing or the fact that I’ve reached a big milestone birthday. I want to thank God for my life and the people he’s blessed me with. I will thank him for everyday, even the ones that suck.

I don’t want to worry what others may think of how I look, what I say, etc.  Now I’m not saying that I go to Walmart in a Moo moo with my arse hanging out, I do want to present myself in a positive light. At the same time I refuse to obsess over the little things that don’t matter in the big scheme. It’s all about finding balance, the right balance for your life.

Life is a gift to every single one of us.

If you find yourself crying or depressed, fight it.

 I’m not saying that sadness isn’t a part of life, and creeps up on everyone at times, but let it out,

then fight against it.

Live

Laugh

Love

There’s much wisdom in those 3 words.

May your new year be filled with Peace.

May you laugh more, cry less.

May you count your blessings, and learn from failures.

May you see the beauty that is everywhere and thank God you can see it.

May you take the time to see it.

Be good to others and forgive old hurts.

Be good to yourself, and don’t just exist…

 LIVE.

Happy New year to all of you!

 

Mom’s Got Cooties!

Approximately 8 years ago, my husband was getting up at 4 am to get ready to go in to work and while he was getting ready, I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep.

It was a Friday,

 not just any Friday,

THE Friday,

Black Friday.

As I sat and drank 2 of my overly large cups of coffee, I felt a sudden burst of energy and started looking at the ads that sat taunting me on my table. I had never gone to a Black Friday event before, I thought those people who did had completely lost their marbles but I wondered if I were missing something, I secretly wanted to try it and there were some great prices on toys that would save me some money and hey, I was all ready up, bonus!

While I was still contemplating this, my eldest daughter got up to use the bathroom and I spotted her as she walked back towards her warm, comfy bed obviously still 3/4 of the way asleep, her eyes seemingly still shut.

 I, in my highly caffeinated state, said, “Amber, do you want to go shooopiingggg?”

At that point, my daughter stopped, and, in slow motion, turned to look at me and the look on her face was priceless. She looked at me as if I were an alien who had just landed on Earth and asked her if she wanted to go to Mars. I honestly wish you could have seen it. She then, in an equally incredulous voice said “Mom, it’s still DARK outside!

I then had to guide her sleepiness over to the couch where I was sitting and explain to her the concept of Black Friday. I assure you, she was wishing at that point in time that the woman who gave birth to her wasn’t a bit of a nutcase. In fact, if I read the expression on her face correctly, I think she was trying to figure out if she were living a nightmare. All she wanted was to make her way back to slumberland. She just sat there….speechless, trying to figure out how to get out of this.

I didn’t give her the chance. It’s the ‘attack while the brain’s still sleeping’ strategy.

Next thing we all knew, I went in, woke up her younger sister, told them “Get dressed! HURRY! Oh and dress warmly, we’ll have to wait in a really long line in the cold until the store opens!” Good times!

 My poor, defenseless daughters

So I too readied myself, bundled us all up, grabbed the ads, some hot chocolate & we bolted out the door. Ok, I bolted, they dragged their butts still in utter, complete shock at the abuse I was inflicting on them.

As we  arrived at the store and saw the line, the adrenaline hit me. It’s that feeling that we Black Friday shoppers know all too well, the “OH no! I have to hurry, the line is getting long and I may not get the things I came for” feeling. I believe my main shopping goal was a radio for an unbelievable low price and a few games for my nephew who was 4 at the time.

So we made our way to the line. Ahhh… here we are, we’ve now assured ourselves amongst at least the first 100 or so to get in the store! The girls, a little more awake now, shivered beneath their layers of clothing. I got the ad out and we huddled & strategized.

Ok, I strategized, they glared

and shivered.

 Before we knew it, it was time. The line was moving. I told them to stay close, and hold on to my clothing so that we would all stay together. (For the record, I purposely did not take my gentle offspring to one of the stores that are known for causing violence during this tradition. I took them to one of the milder ones for all of our safety.)

So there we were, shuffling along with the line, towards that open door,

and warmth

and good deals

and chaos.

As we passed the “late arrivers” who were kept at bay by security so as not to rush to the front of the line that we early birds had spent freezing our noses and our toeses off, I couldn’t help but feel a little bratty schoolgirl come out in me and I secretly wanted to yell “Ha ha! No butting! WE actually got here EARLY” but now that wouldn’t be a good example for my impressionable teen & preteen would it? So I spanked that bratty schoolgirl and sent her to the corner of my mind while I walked exactly 2 inches from the lady in front of me, grasping my children the whole way.

Once through the doors, we hurriedly grabbed a cart and walked quickly towards electronics.

The adrenaline & excitement were palatable.

As we neared the area where the radios were, I could see a palette of them towards the back of the aisle. I guided the girls to a safe area out of the flow of traffic “Wait here and hold on to our cart. I’m going in there” and pointed towards the huddle of about 40  sandwiched people sardined in the aisle waiting to get their deal, the same deal I wanted. The girls looked at me with that all too familiar “Are you crazy” look on their faces. I do believe I also saw fear for the safety of their caretaker,

 their mommy. 

I think they thought I may not come back. I assured them it was ok. I will return to go on to our next goal. And with that, I left my young to guard our cart while I threw myself into the hoard of feeding shoppers.

Making ones’ way towards the loot is not for the chlosterphobic. You are squished in a small area with strangers, your fellow humans, all hoping to get a good deal on an item that will make you the family hero, all while saving a few bucks.

As I emerged from the crowd, holding the radio above my head, not in victory but because there was no room to hold it in front of me, my girls spotted me and I could see the relief and the pride on their young faces. I had gone into the fire and emerged not only in tact to feed them another day but also with loot! They started jumping up and down cheering “YAY MOM! You got one!!” because they’re a little crazy too.

 I felt like the champion provider of tunes that day! I think it was that moment that their attitudes changed. Something in their minds ‘clicked’, I had created 2 little black Friday monsters.

 NO time to waste relishing this moment though, this store had games like Ice Breakers and Cooties for $1.88 a piece! What a STEAL! Carry on to the toy department!

Again, the loot we wanted was at the very back of the toy aisle, as I swiftly set my youngins in a safe, quiet place just steps away from the chaos, I said, Wait here, I’m going in! And this time I did not see fear on their faces, I saw pride! They too were pumped with anticipation and adrenaline. I even heard them chanting as I walked into the hoard of people “GO MOM, GO MOM” I was never prouder to have 2 supportive nutcase daughters.

I again, made my way back to the poor, defenseless underpaid workers at the back of the aisle handing out these games off of big palates. I grabbed the game “Cooties” for my nephew and holding it above my head (this time for victory’s sake) made my way back towards the edge of the crowd. Before I reached the end of the crowd I heard my youngest exclaiming at the top of her voice “Mom’s got COOTIES!!! Mom’s Got Cooties!!!” When I finally reached her, through my hysterical laughter I told her she may not want to yell that too loud and the 3 of us laughed our butts off as I saw the realization of what she had been saying fall across her face.

Good times for sure.

I thank God for my little nut cases, they’re the best daughters in the world.

In the end, we stood in an all too long line for the check out, relishing our victories as a team, packed our loot into our car, went to breakfast and relived it all, giggling the whole time.

Now, years later, with my oldest away at college, I called her a week ago to tell her how much I couldn’t wait for her to come home for Thanksgiving. When I asked “So, should we plan to get up at 3 am to go Black Friday shopping?” She answered without hesitation “YES!!!!!!!”

 and so it continues.

Wish us luck!

 

Wrangling Rascals

I recently had the opportunity to take 4 little rascals that have a strong hold on my heart, to the park for pictures.

Taking portraits of kids, any kids, can be a bit of a challenge at times.

Children are so full of energy!

 I’m one of those few million people who wishes I knew how to bottle that energy!

And so, you can’t expect when you have 4 bundles of energy, to get every shot just right.

I don’t care whether we’re talking kids, or adults, when you have more than one person, it can be difficult to get them to look the same direction, pose the way they should, smile at the same time, not blink, not scratch, I could go on and on and on,

but I won’t,

I’m sure you get the idea.

Oh and you also have to beware of those other pesky photographers! (Notice the upper right  & left corners?) Yes, they just stepped right into my frame. Not that I did that to anyone that day, no way, not me!

 (Sorry if I did!)

And then you always have the wise guy…or girl in this case.

Dang I love these kids!

Then, you get the photos that you came for, Cheesy smiles and all!

I was fortunate enough to get some pictures that captured their individual personalities. We have here a ball of energy & the slightly more subdued and reflective one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the end was able to also take home a photo that shows the connection & comfort they have with each other.

 Thats a wonderful day.

Taco Soup

This is a tasty recipe that is good for you.

I started making this when I was on Weight Watchers.

It is low in points yet filling. It’s even lower in points when you make it vegetarian style, without the burger. I personally, like a bit of beef so that is how I’ve made it for you here.

Am I crazy when I say it felt good to cook a little again?

It’s just so much better than ordering out.

Unless you’re incredibly busy, as I’ve been (and honestly still am), but sometimes you just have to make time for things like a good home cooked meal and after ordering out so much, I need some seriously low-calorie meals like this.

1 lb (or less) of lean ground beef (optional)

1 medium yellow onion (chopped)

1 Tbsp minced garlic

3 cans diced tomatoes

1 Can Great Northern white beans undrained

1 can corn drained

1 package McCormick Taco seasoning

2 cups chicken broth

 

First if you are going to cook with beef, I recommend buying a pound or less of the leanest burger.

Brown your hamburger, drain the grease and add chopped onion & cook for a few minutes on medium heat.

Add all other ingredients.

 Make this recipe for your heart, it’ll thank you.

I know, I’m not right.

Don’t drain the beans, put the whole can in the pot.

 

Add the chicken broth. I state 2 cups in the recipe, use your judgement for your liking.

Stir ingredients until combined well.

Cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occassionally.

 A filling, light, warm lunch. Yum.

If I recall correctly, 1 Cup of this soup (vegetarian style) is only 3 points, with the burger it’s approximately 5 points per cup.

A slightly higher calorie option is adding a little light sour cream to your individual serving, top with a little shredded cheddar.

I hope you enjoy!

 

My Baby is Looking at Colleges

Monday I took my baby to look at a college.

Ok, so she’s not exactly an infant as that may sound, she’s 17 and a Senior in High School deciding where to go to college.

But she’s my youngest of 2, so she’s one of my babies. Don’t judge me, they will always be my babies.

She’s my artist child, my right-brained thinker, my music lover.

My oldest will save the earth and the animals, and my youngest will paint the world with beauty and music.

No pressure though kiddos.

So she’s 95.5% sure she’s going to a college close to home, it’s a commutable distance but she still wants to dorm it. I completely understand and am just glad she will be close. She’s also decided that while she wants to be an artist, she also loves kids and wants to major in either Music or Art education as a career.

We went on the tour of the college Monday. When we entered the Arts Auditorium, her face lit up and I could see the excitement in her eyes. Then came the old familiar welling up of tears. I choked them back, after all, I didn’t want to embarrass my baby girl almost grown daughter. I’m all too familiar with this feeling, I had a similar feeling when I took my oldest to college. I unloaded her stuff, walked around the campus with her, ate lunch in the cafeteria then we walked together to the parking lot for my 4 1/2 hour drive home. I had been choking back those tears all day too but I thought it was mostly because she would be so far from home, and I’m sure that was a lot of it. As I got in my car that day, I told myself, “Stay Strong!” and somehow held back the flood of emotion and sobbing until after I had driven out of her sight. I wanted to remain strong for her and I didn’t want to embarrass her. As soon as I was out of sight though, I had to pull my car off the road and let loose. I had to release the flood as the dam walls were going to explode. I cried and I wasn’t even sure why. It wasn’t that I was horribly sad, it was more a cry for the swift passage of time, the pride, the fact that she was 4 1/2 hours away, and something else I just couldn’t put my finger on. After I gathered my composure, I got back on the road & called my oldest baby girl and admitted to her that mommy had to pull over and sob. She chuckled a little and admitted she too went back to her room and cried a little. Let me tell you mom’s & dad’s, cutting that umbilical cord is a strange mix of emotions.

So back to my youngest baby girl (something tells me I haven’t completely cut the cords yet….hmmmmm). The entire tour I choked back those feelings again. I was puzzled because I am pretty sure she’s going to be close to home. I’ll be seeing her often (like when she needs her laundry done!) so why these feelings now?

I looked around at these kids, young adults milling about, busy on their way to class, some sleeping on the sofa’s in the library, some studying diligently, some giggling with their friends,  that is when I realized this feeling encompasses so many things.

It’s about pride.

It’s about the realization that these little bundle I gave birth to, what seems like just yesterday, is getting ready to move on to the next phase in her life, she’s getting ready to cross that bridge from teen to adult.

Being a parent is about caring for these little lives, feeding them, loving them, nurturing them, guiding them and watching the milestones pass one by one then sending them on to make their mark on this world and start the cycle all over.

It’s such an exciting and unsure time for them, such a mixture of emotions for us.

It’s All About You! Again!

Again today, it’s not about me. It’s all about YOU! Yes, You!

Ok, I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised when my idea for “It’s All About You” post last Friday was received so well.

Even more, I enjoyed the memories that the picture I posted brought forth in some of my readers. I mean I REALLY enjoyed them!

The word ‘really’ doesn’t describe my feelings well.

I authentically, categorically, honestly, no…INDUBITABLY enjoyed them. You guys are awesome!

I was touched by every one of your memories.

It evoked memories of loved ones,

childhood,

camp,

 family vacations,

 peaceful moments

 and even memories of a favorite movie.

I think its a great chance to remember how similar and how different the experiences that shape our lives can be.

Ok, ok, ok, enough of me babbling and getting all sentimental.

As I was saying, I enjoyed this so much, I’ve decided to make this a regular or semi regular part of my blog.

On Fridays I will post a picture and I will ask you to tell us what memory or feeling it brings out in YOU. You can post your memory or feeling short & sweet in the comment section, or if it inspires a tale better left for your blog, please link said tale back to the comment section so we can all share in your creation.

This last Monday, when I took a day off work to wander aimlessly around the country side with G2 (my camera) and a good friend who lives in the area, we stumbled across something interesting. On some winding country road that I probably couldn’t find again if you paid me, we decided to pull onto a gravel road to turn around. As we did, we were at first taken by the view, but as I was turning around, something caught my eye down a slight hill off to the side.

After I knocked away the “What a shame this classic sits here, rotting away” feelings, I remember weekends during the decade of big hair (yes the 80’s) and teen angst. I remember a local Hardees parking lot where everyone cool cruised around in their cool, and not so cool cars and hung out sitting on bumpers, walking around, some smoking, until the cops came and chased us all away.

Ahhhh, the memories…..

Wait, this isn’t about me today, it’s about you.

Close your eyes (ok, wait until you’ve read this first) then close your eyes and go back, or not so far back…….

What memories does this picture bring forth?

Today, it’s all about You!

 

Hello! Today I’d like to try something different.

I would love to hear about YOU! Yes, you!

One of the things that attract us to artwork, whether it be photography or something different, is the emotion or memory it stirs.

Sure, sometimes its about aesthetics but most of the time it’s not.

So this is where you come in.

See this picture below?

Does it stir a memory or memories for you?

If so, what are they?

Does it stir a feeling or an emotion? If so, tell us about it.

Maybe, just maybe, you don’t like to go outside and you’re a complete homebody or city person and this just doesn’t stir up any emotion or feeling at all,

thats o.k. too.

We all have different experiences & perspectives in this tapestry of life.

Rules, there are no rules. Just tell us all about your memory short & sweet, OR,

if this has inspired a longer tale, you can link the story about your tale in the comment section below.

For now, I will save the memories that this picture reminds me of for later.

Today I want to hear from you.