Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Looking back

In honor of Miss Sophie's second birthday, here is the story of her birth. Both girls wanted to make a distinct entrance, but taking opposite methods. Emma wouldn't come out for anything, and after having contractions on and off since early December, Sophie wanted out no matter what!

She's nothing if not determined.

Here is the link. I first published this on my Skirt! blog, but when I started this one I moved most of the posts over.


Today, our Babygirl is two. Officially out of the "baby" stage and entering "big kid" stage. She can feed herself, undress herself, undiaper herself (!!), and put some clothes on herself. She is wanting to sit on the potty every time she gets her diaper off (it's a start!) and can climb steps like a pro.
Here are her favorite things:
Our dogs
Her family
VeggieTales, especially the Silly Songs
Chicken and dumplings
Fruit- bananas, apples, applesauce, oranges, and strawberries especially
Light-up plastic sword
Finger puppets
Baby dolls
Play kitchen
Soft blankies
Her Bunny!!

She's talking more and more, too. It's getting much easier to understand what she says, which is a HUGE help. Also, if I'm not quite getting what she's telling me, I'll say "show me" and she'll take my finger and lead me to whatever she's talking about. She's pretty darn smart, too, and figures things out quickly. Be careful what she sees you do!

I can't believe it's been two years already - time has just flown by!

Monday, January 30, 2012

A fun outing

On Saturday, we had planned a family dinner to celebrate both my father's birthday earlier in the month, and Sophie's birthday tomorrow. On Friday, my  mom checked her email and saw one from one of my cousins, asking if he could visit for the weekend before shipping out on his next... tour? (whatever a trip on a boat with the Marines is called) on Tuesday. So, he came! Then, Saturday morning my parents had to go to the hospital so they brought my cousin to our house for the day, before dinner that night. Last time I saw him, he was four. Now, he's about a foot taller than me (and I'm not short). Obviously the planned day of laundry was no longer an option (not a great way to entertain long-lost relative, huh?) so we decided to go to nearby Oak Ridge to the American Museum of Science and Energy. If you didn't know, Oak Ridge is the home of the Manhattan Project and the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan. The museum is lots of fun, lots of hands-on exhibits that kept us all engaged and learning things. There is so much history in our area! We all had a great time, and Sophie wore herself out. By the end of the tour, she was trying to go out any door she saw "want bye-bye!" After a few minutes in the gift shop, I carried her outside to wait for the rest of the family. When I stopped walking, she said "No! Want home, mama. Want home!" She slept very well that night.

Ready to get started


1500 lbs of coal

Replica of the bomb that dropped on Hiroshima

Experimenting with air

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Twenty questions

As I'm sure you've gathered from my last post, I am in need of inspiration. So, when I read this post on Glenneth's blog Let's Talk and Walk, I knew I had to do it, too. I'd love to read your answers, too! Leave in comments, or if you blog and participate, leave me a link to your post.

1) What is one of your favorite ways to spend a Saturday?
* Sleeping in, and family time
2) List your top three favorite TV shows.
* Bones
* Castle
* Chuck
3) Would you rather be in pictures or take them?
* Take them.
4) Why do you blog?
* I blog because I must. Writing, having an outlet, is as strong a need to me as chocolate and caffiene. Maybe moreso, if that's possible.
5) Share five websites that you visit regularly…
* Etsy
* Facebook
* Pinterest
* Netflix
* Amazon
6) If you could have lunch with one person from your Twitter list who would it be?
* I couldn't just pick one - it would have to be a group lunch with @mamasachs, @ga_freckles, @caseymisek, @kianaB, and @indigowolf. One big, Notchy, lunchfest :)
7) List a few of your favorite snacks.
* cheddar cheese and crackers, fresh fruit
8 ) Do you have a pet? If so, what kind?
* We have two dogs.
9) Which three material possessions would you struggle to live without?
* My iPhone
* My wedding rings
10) What’s your favorite drink?
* sweet tea. I am a true Southerner in this case (although I like my tea without lemon).
11) Do you enjoy cooking?
* I always do it, sometimes I enjoy it.
12) Do you have children?
* Definitely.
13) What are your favorite hobbies?
* Reading, writing, and creating things. All kinds of things. I jump from one creative outlet to the next like hopscotch.
14) Would you consider yourself to be shy or outgoing?
* Both, equally.
15) If you could change one thing about yourself, what would you change?
* My lack of confidence
16) Who is your favorite actor/actress?
*I don't know if I have favorites, exactly... I like Will Smith movies. Taye Diggs has always been a favorite. Nathan Fillion is pretty great.
17) What’s the coolest thing you’ve done this week?
* Had Emma to school on time.
18) Do you live near your family or far from them?
* My parents are an hour away from us, that's our closest family. Everyone else is out of state.
19) List three of your talents.
* Making pretty things.
* Making caffeine disappear
* Sarcasm.
20) What is your greatest attribute?
* I have no idea. What is a great attribute in one way is a great cause of trouble in another.

Showing up

I haven't written much this week, I know. I just haven't been feeling inspired. I read a quote this morning, the only useful thing yet from a newsletter I didn't know I was signing up for right before I clicked the unsubscribe link - something along the lines of "don't wait for greatness to happen, just show up." So, this is me, showing up.

Hi there :)

I've spent a lot of time this week just being "mom." Em still hasn't been feeling 100% better, and to be honest I haven't been feeling well lately at all. In the evenings when I get home from work, there is dinner to be made, cleaning up to be done, and time to be spent with the girls. And, I miss my husband. I can function on my own - the garbage gets taken to the street for pickup, I (mostly) have gotten up on time to get Emma to school, the dogs are getting fed and watered and walked -but it's so much nicer to have him here in person. It's been fourteen years and we still enjoy each other's company. I like sitting with him, talking to him, watching a show with him, sleeping with his arm around me. I love when the girls play with him. I love their laughter together. I love when Sophie runs over to give him a hug and kiss goodnight. Yes, I can function, but functioning isn't being a family. His days at home are even more special now.

I started a new book on my Kindle on my lunch break today. Les Miserables. I actually have the paperback version of this book, but have found that long books like this are easier read on e-readers. It cuts down on the intimidation factor. I'm still in the beginning section, all about M. Myriel, but am really enjoying the book. It's easier to read than I thought it would be. Also, some of the lines are just timeless - they apply to our 21st century lives just as much as they applied to people in the 1800s. "M. Myriel had to undergo the fate of every newcomer in a little town, where there are many mouths which talk, and very few heads which think." Also, "True or false, that which is said of men often occupies as important a place in their lives, and above all in their destinies, as that which they do." M. Victor Hugo was a wise man.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I did it! Inspiration from Pinterest

I confess, I'm a Pinterest addict. It's just so darn handy! I'm planning Sophie's birthday party using the site, both saving links I find and pinning pics of items I find when I'm out and about. It is so easy to keep everything together this way.
I also regularly use it for recipes. I recently had to make new pinboards to subcategorize my recipe board as it had become too large to manage. One recipe I made this weekend for breakfast, and it was delicious.
Mine did not turn out this pretty at all, but it was still delicious. I altered the recipe slightly, as I did not have any canned biscuits. I made some first using the recipe on the Bisquick box, rolling the dough and cutting them out. I think it made 12 biscuits. Other than that, I did everything according to the directions. One thing, though - when you're mixing syrup and brown sugar and baking them, no amount of non-stick spray in the world will keep the bread from sticking. I had to use boiling water to clean the cake pan! It didn't look pretty but tasted delicious. Will be making this again for sure.
Something else I tried was cleaning baking pans with a mixture of baking soda and peroxide. The original blog post with photos and insructions promised a miracle, but I did not have the same experience. In fact, nothing happened. My baking pans looked exactly the same. I was very disappointed.
Then, there is my favorite of the week. I found this pin during my birthday party searching.  What a great idea! I wanted to do this for Sophie, and also make her party invitations this way. The weekend was forecasted to be in the sixties, with only rain some of the day. Instead, it was cold and overcast. So, I improvised. I moved my dining table and chairs, taped a white sheet to the laundry closet doors, and covered her little folding chair with a white blanket. The results were fantastic! A little editing, and this is the finished product:

I am thrilled with the results! I printed a 5x7 for us to frame, and it looked adorable, so the grandparents and aunt are getting a copy, too. Of course after I had the prints in hand, I thought of more things I could have added, but I didn't want to clutter the picture, either. I used the same photo for her invitations, but put the details instead of her favorites on the picture.
Oh, and an added bonus - because I ordered the invitations as 4x6 prints, it was only $5 for 20 beautiful custom birthday invites.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


It's a quiet morning, now. Early this morning I was awakened by crashing thunder that shook the house. The next loud wave brought Sophie to my bed. Now, it's two hours later. The rain is still falling, and everyone else is still asleep. Even the dogs didn't want to go outside after their breakfast but lay back down on their comfy beds for further snoozing.

The house is quiet, except for the rain outside. No television, no radio, no video games. The dishwasher, clothes washer, and dryer are not yet in use. I should make breakfast, my growling tummy confirms that, but I hate to disrupt the quiet. All too soon little feet and bigger feet will be making their way down the hallway in search of nourishment. Then the furry feet will be everywhere at once, greeting each riser and pleading for a walk. Then, when the quiet is already disturbed, I will cook.

I think of my to-do list for today. Much of it is outside my house. Outside, it is raining. Cars are driving by, splashing through puddles in the street. Hills will be slippery. People will be in a hurry, trying in vain to stay dry. Errands can wait. Inside my house, it is dry. And quiet.

I need the quiet. It has been lacking lately. Quiet is calming. Quiet is restoring and refreshing.
Quiet is good.

Friday, January 20, 2012


It's been three weeks since our cat died and I still look in the spot where her food dish was for 12 years to see if she needs food.

Sophie will be two in 11 days. Two!! She's having a verbal explosion, learning new things so quickly, and really trying to dress herself. She is so proud when she accomplishes something, too.

I'm very happy my husband is home now. He was only gone two nights this week, and I think we did okay, but I much prefer having him at home. The next three weeks are going to be rough!

This morning I took Em to the doctor. She's had a stomach virus going around school, and didn't really need to see the doctor, but she was out of parent note days (only 5 sick days for an entire school year is INSANE, but that's another post). We had quite a shock when I called - Sophie's pediatrician (there are 2 in the practice and each girl ended up by chance seeing different ones) had a heart attack and passed away suddenly this week! She just saw him last week when she had an ear infection. Even though I know the staff was reeling (it was just two days ago) they were handling patients and the everyday business of running a pediatric practice very well. But it's true, you never can tell when something like this will happen!

Under "things I didn't know I'd have to say" - "Eyeliner is not lipstick!" Sophie found an eyeliner sample and put it on this week. Twice. Also, that stuff doesn't wash off very well with a washcloth! I had to put eye makeup remover on a Q-tip to get it off of her.

I've had VeggieTales songs stuck in my head all week long. Sophie is a new fan. It's so cute to watch her sing along, too!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Don't Say Gay" bill again rears its ugly head

Since this law, under new bill number HB0029, is back in our state legislation this week, I have decided to re-run this post from April of last year. This time, the bill was introduced by Republican Rep. Joey Hensley. The companion bill that is the subject of the post below passed last year.
I am very sad for my state.
Full text of HB0029 can be read here.

Last week, our relatively quiet state made national news when the Senate passed SB49, commonly referred to the "Don't say gay" bill. Senator Stacy Campfield of Knoxville introduced the bill, after failing six times as a member of the House of Representatives. This bill makes it illegal for any mention of anything other than heterosexuality to be mentioned in public schools in grades K-8.

On the surface, this doesn't seem like such a big deal. Who wants teachers to talk to kindergartners about sexuality period? Well, they don't. My oldest daughter attends a Tennessee public school, and they didn't have any discussions of sexual health until sixth grade. When I attended a Tennessee public school, it was seventh grade. Boys and girls are divided up, and the health teachers (women with girls, men with boys) discussed the basics of reproduction, what happens, things like that. Actually, nothing about "sex" or sexuality at all. I think the only mention was something along the lines of 'the sperm is introduced into the vagina.' The details are left up to the parents. My daughter informed me her class didn't even get that far along in the discussion.

I really don't think there is a widespread problem of teachers in our schools discussing sex, whether it's heterosexuality, homosexuality, or anything else, with their students. This bill is simply another example of Mr Campfield trying to make a name for himself and endear himself to his ultra-conservative supporters who, in my mind, would prefer to live in a time where dancing was immoral and women were not allowed out without an escort - and if they happened to be stuck outside after dark with a man, were forced to marry him out of "propriety."

We have a different reality, though. What about children of gay parents? Or who are themselves gay? If the legislation does somehow make it into law, what will happen to them? Many children who are dealing with the confusion turn to trusted teachers for help - but what will happen when the teachers are forbidden to tell them they are ok, and point them in the direction of organizations who can help them? And the children with two moms or two dads, who are perfectly healthy and happy and well-cared for - this just sends a not-so-subtle message that their families are wrong somehow.

Do we really want our state to draw attention for this? We, as a whole, have been bashed for a week now, and are made to look like backwards idiots, just because this one man and five others (it passed with a 6-3 vote) are putting their own careers ahead of the greater good. As one celebrity pointed out (validly) on Twitter, in Tennessee it is perfectly acceptable to bully a gay teen and call him or her derogatory names and slurs, but it would be illegal to show a gay teen where to get support and help.

And what is really ironic, when you consider that? The last line of the bill, which makes up the entirety of Section 2:

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.

Oh, please.

You can read an article about this bill in the Knoxville News Sentinel here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Let's talk undies!

Ok, ladies. I know I'm not crazy. Someone else MUST do this, also. It is impossible to choose your undies for the day without first choosing your outfit for the day, am I right?

My husband thinks I'm nuts. I think he just doesn't get it. Women's lingerie isn't a one-kind-fits-all-outfits kind of thing! Some fabric clings and shows lines. Some are more see-through. And there are other factors to consider, also. Like, "If I wear this top, will the lace trim on this bra poke out?" or "Is this v-neck too low for this style bra cup?" And then the bottom half. Some pants and skirts ride lower and don't need higher undies. How many times have we gotten dressed, only to realize that something is showing that shouldn't be showing, and have to either change clothes or get undressed again to change our underthings?

My husband just doesn't understand - but men don't have these kinds of problems. Men's clothing is not really designed like women's clothing. They don't have to worry about which bra to wear with off the shoulder, one shoulder, or halter tops, or if their top has spaghetti straps, tank straps, cap sleeves, or no straps. And this is just everyday stuff - I'm not even talking about the "date night" lingerie!

Please reassure me I'm not crazy. It makes perfect sense in Girl Logic, right? Just like shopping math. Women get it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Writing break

It's been a while since I had one of these posts. I had actually forgotten about them for a short time! But one of my Christmas gifts was an iTunes gift card, and I used part of it to purchase two writing apps. One is hundreds of writing promts, and I love it! This post is from a promt in that app, "Writing.Com writing prompts." Prompt is in bold print, the rest is all mine.

Since when is the hamster hiding in the cookie jar? I wondered as I heard scratching and nibbling coming from the belly of the ceramic gnome. I finished wiping down the counters and went to Lucy's room. "Lucy, what is Mr Sparkles doing in the - " I stopped short as I noticed Mr Sparkles happily running on his hamster wheel in his cage, safe and secure. Lucy, 8, came out of her little brother Mark's room where they were playing. Being only five, he didn't seem to have much choice in the matter. Lucy wanted to play, so play they did.

"What, mommy?" asked Lucy.

"Never mind," I answered. "I thought I heard Mr Sparkles in the kitchen but he's in his cage. I must have been mistaken."

"Maybe we have a mouse," Lucy said, skipping back to Mark's room, unaware of how not helpful that thought was to me.

I went back to the kitchen, to the cookie jar. Yes, I could definitely hear something inside. But how on earth could any mouse get inside and then put the lid back on? The kids can't reach, unless they dragged a chair in from the dining room. Anything is possible, I guess. I decided to be brave and open the jar. Outside.

I carried the gnome out the door into the back yard. Our neighbors had an outdoor cat; the mouse ate my cookies so he could take his chances with Fluffy, the fifteen pound tabby from Hell. That cat was all teeth and claws and attitude. I waited until I was at the back of the yard, away from the house, and lifted the lid.

"Finally!" a little voice said. "I was afraid I was trapped in there forever!" I dropped the jar, breaking it, as a little head popped out of the top. I looked at the pieces of gnome and scattered broken cookies, and cursed myself as I started picking up the pieces. I was surely seeing things. And hearing things. And now I had broken bits of ceramic in the backyard where the kids play. Wonderful.

"Sorry I scared you," said the voice again. I looked around and didn't see anything. Then I saw movement by the rose bush. Oh. My. Word. There was a little tiny person talking to me! He was around eight inches tall, and wore black tiny trousers and a green buttoned jacket. He had short red hair and a tiny little cap on his head. If he was inanimate, he'd be adorable. As he was walking in my backyard and talking to me, he was scary. I must have been looking at him with my mouth open, because he chuckled. "Don't worry, I'm used to the stares. But you might want to close your mouth, flying insects and all that." I closed my  mouth, but still couldn't speak. "My name is Percival. I'm a house elf, and I'm here to help you."

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Book marathon

I have been reading like crazy lately, and I love it. I received several books for Christmas, along with a Kindle. Currently, I'm at five books completed since Christmas day. Here's what I've read so far:

Heat Rises If you watch the show Castle on ABC, you know that Nathan Fillion plays author Richard Castle, who rides along with a NYPD team of homicide detectives as research for his Nikki Heat novels, based on Det. Kate Beckett. The show is amazing, and someone was brilliant enough to release Castle's novels for real. We now own all three books, and they are fabulous. I'm dying to know who is the ghostwriter. I have my suspicions, but that's all they are - suspicions. I have a feeling there won't be any information released until the show is over. The books are completely done in character, though. The author notes, acknowledgements, interviews with the author - all of it as if the character Richard Castle wrote them.

Red Mist I have been looking forward to the current Scarpetta novel since I finished the last one a year ago. Even after 19 novels, Kay Scarpetta and associates are still full of stories. I liked how this book wrapped up Port Mortuary but this would not be a good stand-alone book to read. If someone was not familiar with the series, and had not read Port Mortuary, they would be lost throughout Red Mist. I do love how the characters seem to be living, real people. After all these years they are still growing and evolving. Life events happen and dynamics change. Feelings happen. There are no cookie-cutter, formulaic characters here.

Smokin Seventeen I know Janet Evanovitch's Stephanie Plum series is not considered great literature. But I still love it. The books never fail to make me laugh out loud. Is it unrealistic? Of course. That's the beauty of fiction. If we want to escape the mundane with a bounty hunter who gets lucky whenever she catches a skip, but who has two to-die-for men in her life crazy about her, one a cop and one who is basically a Cuban Batman, why not? These are super-fun reads. I bought this one on my Kindle on Christmas day.

Explosive Eighteen And of course after the way Seventeen ended, I HAD to get Eighteen right away. What happened in Hawaii? I just had to know. I read both of these books in three days. The story continues for Stephanie, Lula falls in love (and out again, thank goodness), and Grandma Mazur doesn't shoot anyone. This time. I have to say, though, that as much as I enjoy the books I have no desire to see the movie One For the Money based on the first book in the series. The entire cast is wrong. As talented as the actors might be, not one of them is right for the role for which they are playing. I just can't bear to see it.

 Phantom of the Opera Another Kindle selection. I love that many classics are free! This is a story that I didn't know much about at all. I've never seen the musical or movie, so I read the book. It was slow to get interested in at first, but soon became very interesting and exciting to read. I have no idea how the book compares to the musical, but I was surprised at the way it ended. Although I didn't see the character of Christine as such a heroine as others see her. She was actually a pretty weak-willed character.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Noodles & Company - a review

Last Friday, I met a friend for dinner at Noodles & Company. I had been dying to try the restaurant, but for some reason hadn't ever made it in. I love pastas, so the name alone reeled me in.

I had looked at the menu online, and had my order narrowed down to two items, Japanese Pan Noodles or Indonesian Peanut Saute. I chose the Japanese Pan Noodles, and the "make it a trio" option of adding a protein (shrimp) and salad. The salad was very good, not too big, and had a delicious vinaigrette dressing. The main dish was good, but was too heavy on the sprouts for my taste.

The girl taking our orders was very friendly and helpful. We had separate orders, but she keyed them so we had only one order number and our food was brought out at the same time. The drinks were the usual fast-food setup where you serve your own. I had tea, and was happy that it was "real" (fresh-brewed) tea and not fountain-drink tea. The food came quickly, and was delicious. I had the small bowl, and with the salad was just the right size.

I will definitely be going back. There are many other dishes I want to try.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Happy new year! I had planned on writing more over the holidays, but instead chose to spend the time with my family. Soon my husband's job will take him away for several days at a time regularly instead of a few times a year, so I enjoyed us being all together instead of giving attention to my computer. We had a nice quiet holiday weekend, just the rest we all needed.

We did have our moments. Saturday night we all stayed up for the New Year. We usually watch movies up until around 11:30 and then watch the ball drop in Times Square. This year we played games instead. Sophie crashed at 11:30 and I put her in bed. I was awake until 2:30, but not really worried because Sophie is a late sleeper. Just that morning she had slept unitl almost 11! But January 1... no. She was up (REALLY up, not "going back to sleep in 10 minutes" up) at 6:30. First time ever she's been up for the day that early. At 7 I finally gave in. "Do you want to watch Elmo?" "Yeah!!" was her reply as she ran down the hall to the living room. I took my pillow and blanket and napped on the couch as she sat with me and watched Sesame Street. My wonderful husband made pancakes for breakfast. Guess where Sophie was, though, when breakfast was ready and the whole family was up? Sound asleep on the couch under my blanket, on my pillow.

Last night, as we were nearing the end of dinner, Sophie started a game of peekaboo with us. Daddy played along, and she'd say "Where Dada?" and squeal when he uncovered his eyes and said peekaboo. We went around the table playing for her, and then all of us covered our eyes at once. She'd name off two of us at a time - Dada and Mama, Mama and Aya (Emma) - then "Aya! Mama! Dada!" and shriek with laughter when we all three said "peekaboo!" The laughter of the entire family together is priceless.

This morning was interesting, also. We had our first snow of the season last night. Not much, just a dusting, but it was so cold overnight that it stayed until morning. Emma was convinced there wouldn't be school, but I told her not to count on that. She was up at 5:30 this morning, for her first day back after winter break. She checked the local news website for school closings, and hers was not listed. Five minutes into her shower, the phone woke me up. It was the auto-recording saying that due to icy roads, her school system was closed. I went into the bathroom to tell her. "You've gotta be kidding me! I checked the listings!" Our school system procrastinates sometimes I think. I thought it was hilarious.

On the way to Sophie's babysitter's house this morning, she and I were singing her favorite songs. ABCs, Wheels on the Bus, and Five Little Monkeys. My phone was in my lap since I had called to let her sitter know we were on the way. Apparently I accidentally touched Emma's name in my favorites list, because after the third song I glanced down and saw she was on the phone. She was able to listen in to all three songs. Isn't she lucky? :-)