Friday, June 20, 2008

Family visit and upcoming conference

Hi all-

Well, things this summer have continued to be quite busy, but I'm having a blast. This week has been especially nice because my Momma, niece, and nephews came to visit. I wish all of you could have seen me waiting for their arrival. I was literally like a child waiting for Santa Claus. I couldn't sleep even though it was the middle of the night when they arrived.

Oh it was wonderful to have all of them here for a few days. We had many adventures. The first day they were here I took them to Wild Adventures. It was amazing! The park isn't very crowded during the week (except for Friday). Every ride that the children wanted to ride had very little wait. In fact, there were several rides that they literally had the ride operator running the ride for only them.

And then there was the Veggie Tales show! Wow! That's all I can say. All the children thoroughly enjoyed it. Amazingly it was the perfect show for each of them, and that's not an easy accomplishment since they range in ages from nine through two.

Finally, there was the water park. They loved it. I discovered what a true dare devil Danny is. We slid down many water slides together. I'd explain to him that the water was going to splash his face when we got to the bottom, but he honestly didn't care.

We finished up our visit at the park by all having dipping dots. But the best part, for the five of us the entire admission cost just $30. Okay, let me explain. Josh and I have annual passes to the park and Danny was free because he's not yet three. Josh and I also had two guest passes (for free) so only Momma had to pay to get in...and we found a deal online to help with that. Not bad, huh? I'd definitely say it wasn't bad at all.

The next day, Annie and I took Josh down to the airport and Momma, Gabe and Danny went to the children's movie. It's a great deal, free admission and $2 for a child size coke and popcorn. Wow! Anyway, they had fun watching Mr. Magorium's Magic Emporium or something like that. And Annie and I had fun visiting with Josh on the way to the airport and singing country music songs and talking on the way home.

When we got home, everyone had lunch. The children played and then we had "rest time." I do believe rest time is one of my favorite parts about summer. It always reminds me of naps during college or lazy summer afternoons as child. So we all rested and read books, or rather Annie, Momma and I read books the boys napped.

Once rest time was over the children began to play some more and I decided rather than visiting the pool down the street that the children could play in the sprinklers and pool here. They loved it! Interestingly enough it all culminated with them actually asking to take a bath. :) I'm sure our jacuzzi tub had "nothing" to do with that. Ha ha!

(pictures of "the sprinkler playing" soon)
But our day was far from over. After the bath and supper Momma and I decided to take the children back to the movies. This time we all watched Kung Fu Panda. It was a good child friendly movie and was thoroughly enjoyed as was demonstrated by playing "Kung Fu Panda" when we got home.

Things have been a bit more quiet since they've headed home. But I've still had more than enough to keep me busy. I headed back to PT yesterday and learned some new exercises. I caught up on my house cleaning. Thankfully, I'd done my "house blessing" (dusting, moping, sweeping, vacuuming, polishing mirrors/doors, and changing linens Sunday night so I had Monday free and Tuesday is always my "free day." So the visit worked out just perfectly.

This week coming week will be a bit more complicated though. I'm going to be out of town, but I am determined not to fall too far behind on my cleaning. SO I went ahead and did the cleaning for this week and next week (Wednesday, Thursday, and today). Thankfully, I've finished it all up now.

And no, I'm not talking about just a light cleaning. Honestly since beginning Fly lady, the surface cleaning of the house has been simple. So I've found I've been able to go more deeply. This week alone, I've cleaned out the medicine cabinet, the cabinet and drawers in the bathroom, the drawers of my desk in my office, my vanity and nightstands drawers and my dresser drawers. WOW! Lots of trash going out this week. Well...I didn't clean out my keepsake drawer in my dresser, but that's a LONG job just itself. Last week, I cleaned out my decoration closet, guest closet and straightened up my closet some. Whew! But you know, the accomplishment that I feel when I'm more powerful than I can describe.

So why is all of this falling into place and why do I have the time to do all of this? The best answer I know to give you, is to check out Fly lady. It helps set up a routine and helps keep the house us well enough that there's time to do the deeper things.

But enough about the cleaning let me tell you a little about my upcoming trip. I'm going to a workshop for Advanced Placement certification. In lay terms, this means I'll be able to teach college level classes in high school once I've finished this workshop.

I'm getting the feeling that the studying this next week is going to be very vigorous. But I'm up for the challenge. And I have to admit I'm particularly excited about this next week because I'm going to be rooming with a co-worker that is one of my closest friends. I'm convinced we are going to have a blast (at night) after each day's hard work is done.

I'm already looking forward to many of the restaurants and night life of the town. Of course,my husband has reminded me (on more than one occasion) how important it is that we take this course seriously and don't play too much. I've assured him we'll be good...but nonetheless, I'm sure we're going have fun too.

What can I say? Men. After all he's off to Las Vegas this week for a conference and I have to admit I've never once considered that he might be focused on other things that work. :) Guess it goes with the territory that he'd worry about us when we, ladies, are off on our own and such.

Nonetheless, I look forward to telling you all about our adventures when I return, that is if I don't manage to do so before that.

But until then, enjoy your summer!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Good morning all-

This is going to be a quick entry, but I just had to post a "ta da!" After my first back surgery just over three years ago, I lost a good bit of flexibility. In fact, I lost so much flexibility that I wasn't able to touch my toes. However, after this second surgery, I was horrified to discover that I could only reach my knees when I bent over. My body simply froze up and I couldn't get any lower.

However, today after returning from physical therapy and thinking about how wonderful I feel, I decided to try it again! Guess what! Not only can I touch my toes, but I can do what the physical therapist told me would most likely never happen again. I can put my hands flat on the floor. Now granted, I couldn't have done that even before my back surgery so it's SO nice to know that I can do it now.

And so this post is simply to say, "YAY! I can touch my toes!"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ellenton Clinic luncheon, sunburns, outings and scrapbooking

Hi all-

Welcome back! I can hardly wait to tell you about all of the stuff that has been going on down here. But let me start by telling you all about the Ellenton Clinic Luncheon. It went really well. I am looking forward to sharing some pictures with you of it. And I would paste some in now, but my poor hard working husband (who has had a migraine since Saturday) has finally fallen asleep. But do not fear the photos will be forth coming shortly. And yes, I took many photos as the event progressed. I began snapping pictures as we were setting up and concluded while we had a full house of health care workers.

(The setting up begins)

I'm always amazed by how grateful the Ellenton clinic workers are and truly feel like they are blessing our lives much more than we could ever bless theirs. What I mean by this is that they are actually out in the fields doing God's work. They are being good neighbors to the poor and downtrodden. They are vaccinating, providing physical therapy, medicine and medical care for many migrant workers that would simply do without.Therefore it seems like the least that we can do to provide a good meal and desserts for these health care personnel.

Everyone is busy fixing drinks and finalizing details for our guests to arrive.

The first guests arrive and beeline it for the back table where there are an abundance of homemade desserts.

The masses descend upon us, and we are ever so thankful that they have.

Ah, good food and good company! Everyone is eating their fill.
We can now rest at ease that our event was a major success.

I was amazed by the number of people who were able to take off from work at St. Margaret's to help out with the luncheon too. Honestly, everything just fell into place. Each individual had a job...and everyone fulfilled their roll. Granted the subway sandwiches with lettuce and pickles were a snafu that we'd not expected, but since the tomatoes were recalled due to salmonella fears, we were thankful for the pickles.
Of course, I've not stopped serving tomatoes,here at home, (since the vast majority of our tomatoes come either from our garden or the local farmers market). Also, Georgia (thankfully) has been cleared from any Salmonella potential. Yay! After all there's nothing better than a good tomato sandwich during the hot days of summer.

Although, we've actually received a break from the overwhelming heat we'd had before this week. And even more impressively we've had nice thunderstorms come through our town each evening to provide water for our vegetables and flowers. Thank you, God, for taking care of the watering for us! :)

So since the weather has been a bit more mild (in other words it doesn't feel like 110 down here) I decided it was time to begin working on my summer tan. However, I made a rookie mistake. I should have known better. I didn't want to, nor did I have time to, lay around the pool all day long just to get a tan so I took myself back to the tanning salon that I'd visited during the later parts of last summer. And I got into the *same* tanning bed that I'd used then. I should have known better. It's a super bed, meaning that it's stronger than a normal one. Now, IF I'd gone to a normal tanning bed, I probably would be almost over my sunburn, but since I forgot myself (as I do most summers although rarely in a tanning bed) I have my annual beginning of the summer burn.

Thankfully, I'm not life guarding this summer so I can simply give my burn time to heal. And then, ladies and gentlemen, I'll head to a normal tanning bed (or outside) and build up my base before trying a super bed again. :) At least I've learned my lesson and I'm not overly blistered in the process.

However, I wish I had thought this through more fully, because I initially planned to head to the amusement and water park today. Needless to say, I decided against it since I've acquired a new skin shade for a few days. So instead, I enjoyed my time having a leisurely lunch with a good friend. We'd been at an educational workshop today (which was free oddly enough) and then decided to hang out for a while. And you just can't beat the Atlanta Bread Company! Yum!! I do so enjoy their's so vegetarian friendly...and the chilled spiced Chai with whipped cream. Yes, I felt quite spoiled.

And since I was in this metropolis, I decided to visit Michael's. Craft stores can be a dangerous place, because there are so many great things to buy! Ya know? Well...several dollars lighter I can out with many treasures. I managed to gather up poly fiber for some new pillows that I'm sewing for our guestroom. If you come to visit I'll show them to you...or perhaps I'll even post a picture of them here when I'm done! I also got super gel, I assume and it seems to work much like super glue. Our little ceramic bird, in our bedroom is so thankful for it's beak back.

I found some nice faux flowers, purple of course, that I absolutely adore...and some accent beads to go into a vase in our bedroom. They fit in quite nicely with the chevan rose I recently received.

Then I found tubes of colored icing for cakes. I'm planning on making a cake for my husband for father's day with a tie on it, but wasn't sure how I'd make the tie I know! Yay!! I'll definitely post a picture of it on here when I get it finished.

Finally, I found SCRAP BOOKING stuff. My supreme weakness and one of my favorite hobbies. Thankfully, they were having a sale on the stickers for the scrapbooks 40% off. WOW! So needless to say my wallet is no where near as light as it could have been.

And yes, I've already begun scrap booking again. In fact, I've carefully placed all of the stickers on their appropriate pages and now...I've simply got to print out pictures to go with them...well...for the pages we have pictures I went ahead and designed a "Paris, France" page for an upcoming trip.

I also picked out a page for the 4th of July and began working on it. Then there's the page for my garden, and finally the one for my husband's birthday. So needless to say I'll have plenty to record.

Well, I've talked every one's ears off today...but do tune in next time. Because I can hardly wait to tell you all about my next adventures. But until then, toodle loo! And Good night!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

First wedding and sprucing up at home

Hi all-

Yesterday, my dear husband and I headed out to our first wedding visit since we got married. It was one of my former debaters and a very good friend that was getting married. Wow was she a beautiful bride. And I just know that she's going to be a wonderful homemaker. When we talked a few days before the wedding, she told me that she was going to be a stay at home wife once they were married. I'm confident that she'll be an excellent one.

So I decided that the most fitting wedding present for them would be a nice cookbook, some pretty decorative hand towels and some recipes from my own kitchen. Surprisingly, early this morning, before church, I got a phone call from her thanking me for these gifts. She said the recipes and cookbook were probably going to be some of the most useful gifts that they'd received. I was thrilled, but surprised. Obviously, I didn't expect to hear from her the day after her wedding.

I told her again how beautiful she was yesterday and expressed my surprise at hearing from her. She told me that her husband had gone out to the drug store to pick up some she decided to call me. I can't begin to express how much it means to me that she decided to call me, today.
I told her once again how much we enjoyed her wedding, which we truly did and retold some stories from ours to put her mind at ease about the things that hadn't necessarily gone according to her plan, so that she would realize that happens at every wedding.

I am so looking forward to talking to her more this summer, though. Once she's back from her honeymoon, of course. It will be so nice to have another fellow homemaker friend.

Speaking of homemaking though, I've come to the realization that this is far from an easy job, but it's not overwhelming hard either, but the hours are LONG!

Nonetheless, I try my best to make it appear that it all comes together with ease. Isn't that what every good southern lady does? At least, that's been my impression.

And I know like most southern ladies that I can thank my Momma for a lot of this. I can't imagine how I would be able to manage a household if it were not for all that she's taught me, and continues to teach me. I have no idea what I'd do without her. Even though we ate separated by several hours, I treasure our multiple daily conversations and I often reflect as I'm cleaning or preparing supper or simply doing laundry many of those gems of wisdom. And I laugh to myself over jokes we've shared, and yes, I even find myself pondering solutions to difficult situations allowing my momma's legacy to guide me.

But I also find that it's not simply just my Momma that has helped me to delve into the life of a homemaker, although it's probably one of the largest influences. I've also found many helpful tips from other ladies at my church, ladies in the community, and even Good Housekeeping.

Although, it's not the most current issue of Good Housekeeping that guides me the most. No, indeed it is not. Rather it's an article from 1954. Odd, huh? But I've taken this article and adapted it. I've removed sections that don't apply to me and chosen to ignore certain pieces of advice. I've added other gems of wisdom here and there all while creating my own version of advice for being a good homemaker.

Fly Lady and my Momma have been the predominant forces that I use when it comes to cleaning. Whereas Momma and her example along with the Good Housekeeping article are definitely becoming my guide in welcoming my husband home after he's had a hard day of work.

As many of you know, even when I'm teaching full-time during the school year I'm determined to have a hot meal ready for my husband when he arrives home from work. But now, that I'm not working outside of the home I've found there are many more things I care to do for him too.

In short these are some of the issues from the 1954 issue that I've adapted for myself. Feminists beware, some of you may think these ideas are antiquated or outdated, but for us they are working quite well. I've never claimed to be much of a feminist and truly feel like although the feminist movement was needed when it first formed, it is not something that needs to be actively pursued in the status quo society.

So here are those adapted wifely tips:

Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal, on time. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal are part of the warm welcome needed.

Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so that you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, run a brush through your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. Be a little lively, cheerful and a little more interesting. His day may need a lift.

Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the home just before your husband arrives, gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper, etc. Then run a dust cloth over the tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift, too.

Be happy to see him. Greet him with a warm smile and be glad he is home.

Some Don'ts: Don't greet him with problems or complaints. Don't complain if he is late for dinner. Count this as minor compared with what he might have gone through that day. Make him comfortable.

Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Allow him to relax and unwind.

Listen to him. You may have a dozen things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first.

Make the evening his. Do not complain if he does not take you out to dinner or to other places of entertainment. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure, his need to be home and relax. ** Obviously if we have plans to go out I'll expect to do so, but we rarely do so during the week. He eats out every day at lunch so a home cooked meal is much more appreciated by us both.
The Goal: Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit. ** Isn't this what a home should be to us all?

With all of these tips in mind, I just had to smile this last week, when my husband commented that he didn't know how I did as much as I do during the day and still looked so nice when he got home. And I had to smile to myself. After all it was simply a little age old wisdom making this all possible.

Now, don't get me wrong. I know these tips may not work for everyone and no advice does, but for the two of us it is working wonders. And I am finding myself to be ever so grateful that someone took the time to write down these small gems, from a time when families regularly did sit down to meals together. And families were the central focus.

I can't help, but wonder how our world would change if more families ate their meals together , had true conversation and included each other in more of the day to day workings of their lives.
My guess, crime would go down. Children would be more well mannered and successful in school and the trend of a falling divorce rate would continue (even though it's already at the lowest rate since 1970 it still has a way to fall).

Perhaps, just perhaps with our changing economy these changes will begin to occur. I for once can only hope. So won't you join me, not only in sprucing up your home, fifteen minutes at a time, but also in helping to give our society the face lift it needs. Take the time to sit down and truly talk to your loved ones. Pay attention to what they are saying. Share your own life and interest with them, and invest yourself once again in family life. After all, we can choose our friends, but family will be there no matter what. So isn't it worth it to spend some more quality time and enjoyable moments with those who have to be there for you no matter what.

Now go give your family a hug, or call and tell them how much they mean to you and how much they've influenced your life. That's where I'm headed now.

And I look forward to telling you soon, all about the Ellenton clinic luncheon that I'm helping to host tomorrow with my church for the medical personnel traveling to South Georgia so that they can vaccinate the migrant workers in our community. See you soon!

Friday, June 6, 2008

"Boomerang garden!"

Hi all-

Today, I spent the majority of my time outside in my flower beds and garden. As I'd mentioned the weeds had grown massively while I'd been in North Ga. Last week I attacked the larger weeds, but the smaller ones were still rampant. So today was "operation attack weeds."

As I worked on all of these outdoor areas I thought about our world today and I thought about the world in the past. And yes, many of my thoughts were about gardens, but they were also about the way our economy is functioning and even how marriages have worked in the past and how they work now.

So where did my mind wander in garden land? Well, honestly it wandered to the Civil War (or as a proper Southerner I should say, the War of Northern Aggression). As I worked in the dirt and looked at my fingernails, YUCK (lots of dirt under them) I thought of Scarlett O'Hara. Now, yes she's a fictional character, but one that has always intrigued me. And I thought about how she, even worked in a garden. And it was this very garden that provided food for her family, children, sister, brother-in-law etc...

Then my mind wandered to World War II, and many Americans had "Victory Gardens" in order to help provide for their families and reduce the pressure on the public food suppliers. These gardens also were what kept many families going.

Of course, my mind then wandered backwards in time to the Great Depression. Now, when I began to think of the Great Depression I thought about how gardens once again could and most likely did provide for a great many families.

Finally, I thought about our world today. Here we are in war again....and who knows when it will or can end. Don't get me wrong, I don't think it should end until our objectives are complete and I wholeheartedly support the war, but it did create a parallel for me.

People today are so used to getting what they want, when they want it. Instant gratification!! Gardens don't work like this nor do flower beds. Instead they require, time, care and diligence. Then if the care is effective and the time is well spent then slowly the herbs, flowers, vegetables, and fruits begin to develop.

So why don't more people realize their need for a garden, today? I don't know. But what I do know is that our economy has slowed. We are heading into a recession if not a depression although no politician will ever admit it's a depression since that word scares people too badly, but if the economy remains slow for more than 3 quarters then we will be in another depression.

But will this economic strife change the way people function? I don't know, but I doubt that it changes the way many Americans work. Instead they'll borrow money or put more debt on their credit cards. Once again, seeking that oh so status quo goal of instant gratification. The "I want it all and I want it now," mentality."
But I, for one, refuse to fall into that pattern. Rather, I'm hopeful and determined that our garden will help us through many of these economic hard times, just as gardens have done for many families before us.

Let me show you some images from our garden...and how incredible it can to reject the instant gratification mentality and embrace the slow but steady mindset. And also just to brag on my garden. :)

See this little green circle? It's a baby watermelon. Isn't it amazing? It's hard to see in this picture, but is almost exactly in the middle of the picture.

Then there are the tomatoes. We are already reaping the benefits from these.Oh and don't forget the cabbage... (also easily seen in this picture) And note the green pepper that almost blends in on the far right side of the picture. It's also almost ready for picking! It will be our first pepper of the season.

Here are the beginnings of a baby eggplant. I'm holding the flower in which it's forming.

The picture above is magnified to try to enhance the flower image. And here are the broccoli plants.

I forgot to take a picture of the many blooms on the squash and cucumbers. I can hardly wait until we reap the rewards of this harvest. Then of course, there's the herbs and lettuce, all of these we are already being able to use in our meals!

And as I thought about how this small little garden will provide for my family, both now and through the winter (yes I'm going to can/preserve food from it), I decided it needed a name. I didn't want to call it a victory garden. My garden has very little to do with the war. I thought about calling it an "economic garden" but didn't care for the sounds of it. And finally, it hit me. It's a boomerang garden. Why? Because this garden will change how my little family functions during economically hard times. Hopefully, and perhaps it will keep us from being hurt as badly by the rising prices of foods. It will definitely save us gas and honestly will make us feel like we have an abundance even during a country wide, economic slow down. So with that in mind, boomerang seems to fit....because although we pay out some during these economically hard times to get things started the benefits from it come right back to us in abundance.

And yes, my mentality is changing during this time about more than just the garden. We're recycling more and trying to conserve in each way we can. Rolling down the windows in the car when we are going under 40. The breeze is nice.

Or conserving and saving what can be reused in the kitchen. Just tonight I cleaned off some aluminum foil and scrubbed it thoroughly so that we could use it again. Yes, that took my mind back to the Great Depression ideology.

And you know...I'm hopeful many others will begin to re-evaluate their priorities. Perhaps the higher prices of gas, the inflated food prices and simply the higher price of living will be good for us all. It will make each of us re-evaluate our priorities.

Now with all of that said, are we economically hard off? Absolutely not and far from it! But just as the ants stored their food away for winter while the grasshopper played in Aesop's Fables, I find myself feeling the same need.

And maybe we won't need it, but I am surely thankful we have our "Boomerang Garden" nonetheless. Because none of us really know, what tomorrow may bring, but with the right decisions (such as conserving, saving, recycling and preserving for our needs) we can find ourselves much more prepared.

I guess the only question left in my mind on this subject is this? How will this new economy change your life?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

SAHW, the homemaker!!

Hi all-

Things down here continue to go well, but BUSY!!! And to think that I worried about not having enough to do. Now I'm wishing I had as many arms as a bee so that I could get through my to do list during the daylight hours. :)
Here it is mid-afternoon and I've finally sat down for the second time today. Thank goodness for lunch!!! :)

Honestly though, I'm loving being a stay at home wife. My husband is beginning to realize the flexibility that this gives me and asked me to do half a dozen things for him today...but I didn't mind in the least. It was really nice to have the time to do that.
I've found a really neat site, for all women stay at home or not, that struggle with keeping their house up. It's called Fly Lady. WOW! It's definitely inspiring and I have no illusions that our home would look very different about now if it were not for this site.
Heck it's even motivated me to clean my car. As most of you know, cleaning the car is no small feat for me!! :)

So how am I filling my day? Actually it depends, each day brings new challenges and new adventures (much like each day of teaching school). Some days are filled with cleaning activities at the house. Some are mainly errands and socializing and some are doing projects. The mix definitely keeps things from getting dull around here!!

Yesterday I had lunch with a really good friend. Then I visited my husband at one of his job sites. It was so cool to get to see the work he does, in the works (pun intended). Tomorrow I'm going out to lunch with a friend and to the movies. I'm really looking forward to that.

I'm convinced I'm going to start being able to go sunbathe before the week is over. And take a bubble bath!! Only one more day until the doctor clears me to bathe instead of shower! YES! I can hardly wait.... Josh will probably have a hard time getting me out of the tub on Thursday. I have SO missed my baths.

Then of course on Saturday, my dear husband and I are headed out to a wedding. It's one of my old debaters that is getting married. I can hardly wait. I was talking to her yesterday and she was telling me that her job after she's married will be to be the homemaker.

As I reflected upon what she was saying, I began to think about how much our society and women's perspectives have changed. For generations women were not allowed to work outside of the home. Then can the liberation and women rushed out to work both outside and inside the home...however as more time passes, many women are realizing that the most precious job they'll ever do is to be a homemaker.

I realized the tide was changing and that more women were deciding to work at home when I started thinking about what many of my friends do. And to be honest, as you know it's my dream needless to say I feel like I'm in heaven this summer. Yay!

Nevertheless, Josh and I aren't to a place where I can do this year-round yet! But, assuming that the things we have in mind for the fall bear fruition then within a few years I will be a fulltime homemaker while our children are small. I can hardly wait!!! In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy this wonderful opportunity called Summer Vacation to be a full-time homemaker. Or perhaps I should a fulltime Summer homemaker.

Well, I would love to chat more, but duty calls. Sometime soon, I'll try to get back and share all about the new projects I'm working on. See you soon!