Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Cliffs of Insanity

Yesterday was full. Today is full. I am looking forward to vacation--Grandpa and Grandma B love to help with their lovable grandchildren!

My mother in law and I put cookie plates together, on behalf of the farm. Jason and his dad are delivering them this morning to the busy businesses they do business with. I guess Hendrix Tractor will still get one, the dealership that sold them the ill-fated International!

On each plate are monster cookies, peanut blossoms, chocolate-chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip, chocolate-ginger crinkles, chocolate-almond spritz, Rice Krispie squares, candy cane fudge, decorated gingerbread cookies and dipped pretzel sticks. Peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate were added later.

Last night, our family opened presents after a candlelit meal of fish sticks and tater tots. (My family's old tradition.) We also added potato chips to the menu. Hey, if you wanna make it fun for the kids... Besides, we don't normally eat that kind of food, so a little part of me gets excited too at the delicious goodness of cruising through the frozen section at the grocery store, and the indulgence of potato chips...yum.

Helen got an "H" pillow, made by Mommy out of hot pink velour. She also got a supercute set of stainless steel pots, pans and utensils, which was were the hit of the evening with both kids. Mommy got a toaster oven, and I let Owen play with it, with the new dishes of course. Today he is having a difficult time realizing that the toaster oven is not a toy. I made him a play toaster oven out of the box, but when he realized it was not like the real thing, he burst into tears all over again. Then he played with it until it got smashed several times and he burst into tears again.

Owen got a toy combine and a tractor mat. He had been playing with the mat while I was making it. It wasn't the hit I was hoping it would be. Oh well. Just my ego. He played with it a few minutes this morning.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Changing Colors on the Farm

Last week, Jason and his dad bought a new (used) tractor. It was an unprecedented event, since they bought red instead of green. Owen refused to ride in the International. He's been indoctrinated with all the John Deere merchandise.

It turned out Owen might have had some sort of premonition. Red decided it couldn't take the pressure of performing in a field where Green had been king.

Jason was bush-hogging cotton stalks. He smelled smoke, but didn't see any trash fires around. He got out of the tractor to perform a cursory check, and saw flames. So he threw the contents of his water jug on the fire--sort of the equivalent of spitting. Then he climbed back INTO the tractor to grab a rag to beat out the fire--probably sort of like waving at it. He briefly contemplated driving the tractor to a water source. Yes, with flames underneath it, burning next to the fuel tank. (It must have been the man in him. I would have been running for my life.) Then he dialed 911.

Thank God for insurance.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Rude Noises

Yesterday and today Owen finally figured out how to hold air in his mouth and "spit" it out noisily, and he's been entertaining all of us in the house, in the car, at the table, and playing in the livingroom. We're just so proud of ourselves. He's been spurting water like this in the tub for a long time, but couldn't do it with air until now. I feel like calling his speech therapist and breaking out in celebration. We've got a long way to go, but finally a start! Tonight I walked into Owen's room while his daddy was putting him to bed. "He's making rude noises during prayer, and I don't even care!" Jason announced.

His speech therapist, Mrs. Stafford, or Mrs. Wendy because it's easier to say, comes every week. So far sessions have been less than great, mostly due to a certain little someone's attitude. Mrs. Wendy brings lots of fun stuff to do, but Mr. Owen likes to do anything but what she brings. We've been working and working on P and B sounds, and all the little mechanics that go into them. Put your lips together!

Owen's pretty solid on H, M, N and a little on W, all sounds that require very little effort. We're trying to get a referral to a different ENT who would be able to evaluate his palate, but so far haven't had good luck getting an appointment with the one of our choice. We really don't know what is going on with his oral mechanics, so I find myself in a hard spot with the speech therapy. How much progress is he capable of achieving, how much is he just refusing to cooperate, and how hard do we push him?

On a different note, we had Jason's family Christmas yesterday. I got some treasures, I tell ya! My sis in law is quite crafty, and made some matching earrings for Jan and me. I'm thinking about asking her for a coordinating necklace for my birthday. If you're having trouble seeing the picture, Les passed over the fancy beads and chose useful bobby pins instead.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


Helen insisted on wearing her gloves one day this week. She even took a nap with them on. I removed them, and she protested loudly. I replaced them, and she happily played until supper. She was a might upset with her drink until she figured out how to grip her cup just right. Now why won't she leave her socks on?

Owen helped Daddy wash his truck today. He was allowed to scrub the tires, but spent most of the time getting his rag and brush soapy and wet.

Friday, December 7, 2007

New Word

I'm not a morning person, but the other week I woke up with a sense of humor. Jason groggily raised his head, eyebrows all matted, eyes squinting, one side of his hair sticking straight up and the other side plastered to his head. "Nice hair!" I smirked.

"Does it look like some kid's traddlehook?" he yawned, half smiling.

"What's a traddlehook?"

"Huh? I said 'Does it look like some kids try to look?'"

So now, around our house, the word for bed head is traddlehook. That's quite the traddlehook you've got going on there, Owen. Helen, your car seat gave you a traddlehook. Ooh, mommy's got to comb her hair to get rid of her traddlehook.

It's a good thing I've got a shelf-full of traddlehook solutions.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Shopping and Junior Miss

My Black Friday shopping trip did me well. I found lots of great bargains, and I stuck to my list. The worst store was Joann Fabrics, which had two lines--one for the cutting counter and one for the cashier. There were lots and lots of people out for the deals--I had no idea Pensacola had so many creative women. While waiting, I browsed, along with everyone else. I found myself getting stuck in the middles of aisles, with slow-moving/stopped women at either end. Near panic attack. I was joyously relieved when my cutting number was finally called. A young, hip-looking girl smiled smartly, back from her break, and proceeded to assist me at the cutting counter. She complimented my fabric choices, like a good fabric cutter does. I thought--ha! I got the fast one, the one who knows what she is doing with these electronic fabric receipt thingamajigs with all the technology that confuses most fabric cutter-people! She slowly and surely proved me wrong, I am sad to say. She ran into loads of problems with her techno-gadget-thingie, and had to ask her coworkers for advice numerous times. They inattentively and somewhat distractedly responded. I finally had my ticket in hand and was about to get Jan's fabric measured, when I noticed an error in her entry--she had only punched in 2 1/2 yards of my flannel instead of the 4 1/2 I had gotten. Even though it was a measly two bucks we're talking here, my conscience won out. So I very politely called her attention to it, and she debated me. (Insert internal roll of my eyes--I'm doing your store a favor, chick, don't question me; thank me!) Then she re-measured my fabric to make sure, and said, "Oh, you were right. I'll have to redo the ticket." I asked her if she couldn't just make a new ticket for 2 yards (since, you know, 2 + 2 1/2 = 4 1/2.) She didn't notice the feverish desperation in my eyes or the sweat on my forehead. She certainly didn't notice how extremely patient I was being. "No, you see, this ticket is WRONG," and she grabbed it, crumpled it, pitched it, and proceeded to re-enter all the information for the third time, having to go out onto the floor to find one bolt of fabric that had already been put back in its place. Meanwhile, my phone is ringing every 2-3 minutes. Jan wants to know when I'll be done, since she is holding a place in the cashier's line for me, and she is getting closer and closer to the end. Just 5 more minutes, I kept reassuring her, nearly in tears of panicky desperation and annoyance. Can't this girl just hand me over to someone who knows what she is doing?!

Fortunately, we all survived. Some of my fabric turned into a little red-n-white number for my kitchen. What a fun apron. Even pie crust answers to its siren call, and obeys my rolling pin's every move. Just kidding.

Here are some outtakes of Helen's 1 year shot. I didn't end up with anything.

This morning, I taught the 2s &3s at the 9:00 service at church. Since we had a lunch meeting after the 11:00 service, Jason brought the kids to the later one. While I was on the floor with 7 sweet toddlers, telling them the Christmas story with the manger scene--what a privilege!--Jason was at home, getting our kids ready. He got Owen in the tub, and left to dispose of a really nasty diaper. He told Helen to stay put. While he was out of sight distance, he heard a clunk, but no crying she made. Lo and behold, when he arrived back at the bathroom, here she was. Little stinker! The soap you see in the background has a tiny mouth-shaped piece gone from one corner, complete with little teeth marks. We haven't had a problem with her playing with the bar of soap since that bath, but we have seen bubbles in her diaper. Just kidding about that last one.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Children of the South

Today for lunch, the kids ate rice & gravy and baby lima beans. They also had cooked carrots, but those didn't fit the category. Their Southern lunch wasn't complete; no crispy-sides-and-bottom cornbread or sweet tea. I didn't have any around.

Monday, November 26, 2007

What happens in Atmore.....

Check out the Poarch Creek Casino development.

farmers in atmore have joked for years about taking our operating loans to biloxi and "getting it over with." now we can skip the drive to biloxi. cool.

several months ago, i noticed a bulldozer clearing some land in an area just outside of atmore. a company called "c&s chemicals" purchased the land and planned to manufacture a chemical used to purify municipal water supplies--i think it was aluminum sulfate. the plant would be a steel building (no smokestacks or emissions) set well off the road and piles of aluminum ore outside. the company chose the site because it was next to a railroad line with good rates and, more importantly, was located outside of city limits. escambia county has little or no zoning regulations, so a landowner can do pretty much whatever makes them happy. joyce and i have remodeled two houses and never pulled a permit or had an inspection. this is good. two men recently started a private junkyard next to one of my fields. this is bad. the land the chemical company purchased was in a primarily residential/agricultural area free of zoning requirements, so they can legally build a chemical plant and no one can stop them. this is not to say that no one will try.

there was a town hall meeting and, as often happens at public meetings, the loudest and least informed seemed to dominate the proceedings. the idea of living next to a chemical plant that used sulfuric acid (part of the manufacturing process) was more than some people could handle. community meetings continued on a weekly basis, prayer vigils were held, and homemade signs started popping up along the road near the plant location. the ordinary soon turned to the absurd. "no c&s chemicals" became "are you for US or THEM" and my personal favorite, "sulfuric acid is toxic." correct. so is gasoline, household bleach, cigarette smoke, drain cleaner, chocolate (to your dog), and beer--if you drink too much. i did a double take the morning the coffin showed up.
about a month ago a patient came to my brother-in-law's office and told him that the plant location was chosen for population control purposes. huh?

when too many people who think exactly the same (on any issue) spend too much time together, they tend to become extreme. "i don't want to live next to a chemical plant" turns into conspiracy theories about racism and population control. go figure. why didn't anyone have a problem with the two farm chemical warehouses three miles away or the airplane spraying cotton across the road or the farmers (like me) driving past with pesticides on the back of a pickup?

not much has happened for the past month or two. rumors are that the coalition against c&s wants the poarch band of creeks to purchase the land but i don't know for sure. for now, the signs are still up and the coffin hasn't moved. maybe i should put a plastic santa and some christmas lights on it.

finally, if you are into cars, this is funny. what's not to like about a volvo 740 cut into a pick-up truck?


Saturday, November 24, 2007


This pleasant looking family is dear to my heart. What happy faces they all have! What joy everyone shared as they worked together to take a family photo--color-coordinating outfits, keeping clothes clean while at church, smiling through pre-Sunday-lunch hunger. What patience and understanding they had of the need for a family photo.


Scratch head.

No, it wasn't quite like that.

Oh well. It's headed off to Cedarville to appear in the next issue of Inspire, the alumni magazine of the stars.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Feastus Giganticus

Stabs of jealousy were ripping through my chest as I lay in bed listening to Jason lightly snore, all the while desperately trying to go to sleep. It's a losing battle, because...

I'm just too excited!!! Tomorrow is the day I forget about the kids, forget about the husband, the house, the chores, but hopefully not the budget, and go shopping! I am ready, baby! The kids' bag is ready for Grandma's house. The kids' clothes are laid out for daddy to get them dressed. Their oatmeal is pre-raisined, sugared and cinnamoned with cooking instructions taped to the container, and is in the bag. My oatmeal is similarly made up, on the counter, without the cooking instructions. My outfit is planned. My make-up is laid out, in the order I use it. My purse is cleaned out and re-organized. My checkbook balance is caught up. My list is rewritten and grouped according to store. My Jo-Ann's sale flyer and coupons are freshly re-read and neatly stacked. My felt scrap from a bootie that needs matching felt and a matching onesie is in a Ziplock sandwich bag in my purse. Chocolate is in the purse. Am I missing anything? Maybe I could pre-grind my beans and get my coffee ready to brew. I'm meeting my sister-in-law Janice in Atmore at 5:00, and we're planning to hit Pensacola, so watch out for us if you're at Kohl's or Target! I've only ever done this Friday-after-Thanksgiving thing once before, and wasn't planning to this year either, but when your mother-in-law says, "Hey, I'll watch your kids and Jan's kids the day after Thanksgiving so you can go shopping," you say, "Yes, ma'am!"

This tryptophan thing is bogus. I ate turkey, so I should be sleepy. Am I sleeping?

This wonderful Thanksgiving day started out with Jason letting me sleep in until I got up--a little after 9. I haven't slept that late for years! I drifted in and out, but while awake, listened to him with the kids and just smiled to myself.

"Owen, do you want cereal or oatmeal?"

"Helen's highchair!"

"No, you sit in Owen's chair. Now do you want cereal? Or oatmeal?"


I finally stumbled out of bed while Jason was giving the kids a bath. Helen didn't really care about seeing me, but Owen hollered, "Mommy!!!" Helen was a self-proclaimed daddy's girl for almost the rest of the day. What a nice break for Mommy. I made up for my Mommy-time-off later in the evening by changing 3 poops in 5 minutes. I won't say whose.

We had a wonderful feast with the extended Weber family, over at Mant Airy Hane's house, as Owen calls Aunt Mary Jane. He loves Mant Airy Hane's house because of the cool toys. Right before prayer, Great Grandma requested the Doxology. Aunt Velma started it high, so we smilingly screeched away as we sang. I saw one little cousin holding his ears. We had a great time with everyone, and we had some great food too. We got us some good cooks! Homemade dinner rolls that melted on your tongue. Baked turkey. Fried turkey. Creamy garlicky mashed potatoes. Gravy. Bread dressing. Cornbread dressing. Gingerbread dressing. Some kind of wonderful, creamy, full-o-goodness California vegetable casserole with mushrooms in it. Creole sweet potatoes. Broccoli salad. Cranberry salad. And let's not forget the most wonderful appetizer--an impressive fruit sculpture complete with toasted coconut ginger fruit dip and 3 different flavored yogurts to dip, dip, dip! Goooo Lisa!

I was puzzled when Helen didn't eat as voraciously as usual. (She out-eats Owen nearly every meal.) I fed her before the official mealtime, and she only ate half of what I thought she would. Later, I saw her hanging around her grandparents, getting fed pumpkin pie and pumpkin dessert, spoonful after spoonful. Aha--she was holding out for the sweet stuff. Owen ate as expected--he downed his mashed potatoes and didn't want to try anything else. I put a piece of cooked cauliflower drowning in cream soup and cheese in his mouth. It came right back out, head shaking, "I doan wannit!" Same tale with the cornbread dressing. He was more interested in Airy Hane's cool toys.

I love this season of the year, Thanksgiving and Christmas and the excitement leading up to it. It's the weather. It's the time with family and friends, the good food shared, the thinking and planning of gifts and all the special thoughts you have of the ones to whom you are giving. It's the full heart that comes from quiet reflections with God, thanking him, loving him, adoring him, basking in his love.

Speaking of quiet reflections, I am finally getting sleepy. I'll have to speak with Airy Hane tomorrow to see if the coffee I grabbed from her pot was decaf, or regular pretending to be decaf.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Foaming Brine

Oh my darlin', oh my darlin', oh my daaaaarrrrlin' Clementine! Thou art lost and gone forever, dreadful sorry, Clementine!

Enough of the goofy song. I had it in my head because I just baked my Best and Juiciest Turkey Ever, thanks to the brining process, where you soak a thawed bird in a salt solution for a great long while--at least 12 hours--I soaked mine over 24 hours. It is a fabulous prevention from dried out, need-more-gravy, stick-in-your-throat white meat.

Jason found this recipe in the Mobile Press:

3 c. Kosher salt
3 c. brown sugar
3 T. cracked black pepper
8 or so bay leaves
8 or so garlic cloves
Enough water to cover the turkey

And then you can add apples, oranges, cinnamon, rosemary, or whatever's clever. I threw in 3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary.

I baked the turkey breast side down, according to Perfect Turkey.

And, since so many of you asked, I found the Bitty Booties pattern link on beesnest. Heather is a fun crafter to follow.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2007


The day after my family left, I watered my favorite house plant that I haven't managed to kill yet--according to its handwritten stake it is a Hoya Rope. I noticed three tiny little shoots peeping from the potting soil. I rolled my eyes and dialed my brother's number. Fortunately for him, Sherri answered. Once again, Kev-O left dry soybeans all over the house. The last time this happened, I was finding beans for the next couple of years. And yes, in case you're reading, Kevin, I found the pecans in my vase cupboard. I left the shoots as a reprisal of one of my freshman biology science experiments.

Today I am watching Ava. She slept while my kids ate lunch, then woke up and ate while my kids entertained her. Ava's like Helen in that she doesn't need much encouragement to eat. She is such a neat eater--if even one macaroni fell off her fork, before she could take another bite, she had to search until she found it. She didn't eat as much as I expected her too, but maybe that was due to the huge Charms sucker--the kind with that nasty gum in the middle--that I gave her before her nap. Heh heh!

And here is a little pair of Mary Jane-style bitty booties I made for a friend who is having a baby very soon. Owen thinks they belong to Aunt Mary Jane, and told me she was coming to get them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Birthday Time!

Owen turned 3 on October 19, and Helen turned 1 two weeks later. Rather than having two separate parties, we waited until Helen's official birthday and then combined them. How handy, since some of my family from Indiana was visiting! Since we've combined parties for Owen and his cousin Abby (born the day after him) the past two years, Owen still has yet to have one all to himself, but for now he doesn't know and he doesn't care! (And we as parents shall take full advantage of that fact.)

Since Owen's favorite TV show is Wheel of Fortune, my brother Kevin found this so I could plan out the cake. (The other cake possibility was a smoke alarm cake that really beeped, but that required too much energy.) Dear, sweet Helen will have to wait until next year for her historic first-year birthday lamb cake. Mommy was too tired, and Daddy heaved a hearty veto. She savored a cupcake with one cute little candle on top.

Here are all the little cake eaters that came to the party. Cousins and more cousins! It was noisy but fun. Across the table from left to right are Abby, Blake, Owen, Caedmon and Kaiya. In the back are David holding Helen and Jace holding Brian. What a bunch of good lookin' kids getting ready for a sugar high!

Owen was grandly excited, but subdued by the shock and awe of a party. He still can't blow out candles, but sure thought he did when Caedmon lent some air. (This was the second go at it--I think Blake may have extinguished them the first time around!)

Here are the cupcakes! Heh heh heh...ahem.

Helen had just eaten supper and was a little sleepy. I couldn't believe that she didn't rip into her cupcake. She needed some encouragement to get started. She eventually got going and grabbed all the frosting off. My mom put the cupcake in a small bowl, poured milk on it and fed it to her with a spoon. Atta girl! Cake + milk FOREVER!!

We had a great time with everyone at the party. But we're sooo glad birthdays only come once a year!

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Helenator

Helen Update:

Turned 1 year old on November 3rd! (cake pictures forthcoming)

Has 14 teeth

Weighs 24ish pounds; haven't measured her length recently, but is tall

Wearing size 18 months (I finally figured out why she hated putting pants on--they were too tight!)

Has a mammoth belly

LOVES food

Wants to feed herself. Refuses food if I hold the spoon (unless it is something yummy like yogurt or cake)

Propels herself solidly on her bottom with one leg bent in front of her, and the other straight out to the side--this one she uses as a sort of paddle

Can stand alone for flash seconds, but is too chicken to try for longer

Cruises expertly

Walks when both hands are held

Is very curious about objects and how they fit together or how she can maneuver them

Is very precise with finger and hand movements, and will quickly and steadily move pecans or peanuts from one bowl to another. (this is the female selecting/shopping gene coming into play!)

Likes cause and effect--putting pegs through Owen's tool bench, dropping a play knife through the fingerhole on the train table and picking it up again, playing peek-a-boo, throwing her bear out of her bed (a Mommy game where Mommy throws it back)

Pulls as much stuff as she can reach off her changing table when she is done napping and throws it on the floor

Is learning to open screw-top lids (I had to clean up olive oil and Jason had to clean up Burt's Bees baby bee lotion)

LOVES people, and Mommy is a people

Loves to have people ALL to herself. (Doesn't like to share Grandpa B with cousin Kaiya or Grandpa W with cousin Brian)

Screams quite loudly, loudly enough to make Owen cover his ears

Screams exceedingly when her nose is being cleaned

Is learning to blow her nose

Is a quick imitator

Blows really cute giant bubbles (from her mouth)

Laughs very easily and smiles even more readily; has a fabulous belly laugh

Takes 2 naps a day, total of 3-4 hours and sleeps from 8 pm to 7 am

Is fast friends with everyone she meets

Her pet name is Stinkerbell (but not because of bad smells)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Monkey see, monkey do, (monkey get in trouble too). No children were harmed in the making of this picture, or in the aftermath. They both have a fascination with the window crank. We have since replaced the sheet with bamboo blinds, which hold a grand temptation themselves, especially for our daughter.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Another birthday!

Happy birthday (this past Sunday) to my mother in law. She loves her hot tea, so this cake was especially appropriate!

Monday, October 29, 2007

What's for lunch?

This past week has been one of those nursery rhymes. Old Mother Hubbard, to be exact. So what is there to eat today, kids? Yank open pantry-- Campbell's Goldfish Soup (Mama makes a gagging sound--it's just glorified chicken noodle.) Next day--Campbell's Golden Select Cream of Carrot Soup. Open freezer--applesauce. The next day--Tomato soup. Pears. Sorry, no more crackers, but we can crumble a bit of this stale bread into your soup and, look, it's *special crackers*!

"We are sick of soup," my kids communicate. Helen, who has never met a food she didn't like, sticks out her tongue to refuse any more, so that the spoonful of *special crackers* just lovingly placed in her mouth tumbles onto her bib and tray. Owen clenches his mouth shut and hides his face in his shoulder.

Yesterday Owen rediscovered our hot tub room. Jason's grandpa bought a hot tub for health reasons a number of years ago. He added a room, right off the master bathroom, to house the 5-seater. The hot tub is not in working order anymore/yet, and the room itself needs some work. It's unfinished, and certainly not air tight. So while I was putting on make up and overhauling my hair--I mean arranging my long, full, luxurious tresses--Owen played in the hot tub room.

This morning, while I was in the shower, he introduced Helen to the room. When I checked on them, I still didn't have my contacts in, but I could tell Helen had something in her mouth. It was that furtively busy, desperately trying to avoid attracting Mommy's attention look she had. I squinted and bent down. Mmm...good choice, babe...a dead, dessicated frog body.

Later today while I was scaring up some lunch in the kitchen, Owen was busy painting at the table. I turned just in time to see him sipping some lovely greenish-black paint water out of his cup.

Other morsels my children have sampled of late:

Owen's leftovers set out for the cats,

raw pizza dough,

and a green satsuma off the tree.

There have also been healthy doses of dirt and rocks on Helen's part. Do I need to buy stock in liquid wormer?

I am also finding field corn in her diaper. This is from the corn/candle arrangement I have on my end table. We leave it there so she can learn to leave tabletop objects alone. I think it's working.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Yesterday I was running errands in town. I needed more coffee beans, and since Roaster's Gallery was closed, I had to go around the corner to the Community Cup. I parked on a side street to avoid Main. I was carrying all 23+ pounds of Helen, grasping my purse, stowing the keys, and holding Owen's hand. Suddenly, Owen hollered, "Himey!" (Kitty!) Yeesh!! NOT a kitty, but a huge rat, lying dead on a grate right beside the bank building. I said calmly, "No, that's not a kitty," and entreated briskly, "Come, let's go to the coffee shop!"

I was a little suspect. This didn't appear like the average nasty sewer rat, but looked almost like a domesticated rat, if there is such a thing. It had a white body and a brown head. And usually the sidewalks in Atmore are kept clean.

Today I was running errands again, and since I only bought a 1/2 pound of beans yesterday, decided to try again for Joel's shop. The doors were wide open, and he yelled, "Hey, Owen!!" from the back, and promptly came up to offer Owen a coffee bean, which he ate with gusto. I got another 1/2 pound of coffee, my favorite, Monsooned Malabar. I found out that the "strange" woman who kept waving to me at the park on Sunday was none other than his wife Celia--how embarrassing that I didn't recognize her!!

I like the feel of the shop. He has his art hanging all over the walls, several claw-foot tubs he is restoring, a few potted plants, some worn couches and braided rugs. And more often than not, downtown business owners will stop by for a cup of coffee and a chat. Today, Mr. Joe Brantley came in. Helen took one look at him and dove for his arms. He just had that grandpa look and sound.

We were about to go when Joel piped up, "Hey, Owen, wanna see some RATS?!!" He strode over to the fridge, yanked open the freezer compartment and withdrew two gallon-size Ziploc bags stuffed with frozen rats, exactly like the dead one we saw yesterday. Apparently before the pet shop two doors down closed, the owner lost track of some rats. When he cleared out, he left them behind. When they ran out of food, they started running the street. And when Joel sees them, he shoots them with a pellet gun or something else of that nature, and then saves them in his freezer. He rolled his eyes when he recounted how the bank ladies wouldn't even go in their door because of the dead rat. "Tell Jay-Bob I said hi and I miss him," he imparted as I went to the truck.

I drove home shaking my head. Only in Atmore.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

In the Kitchen

Happy Birthday, Mom! and Cousin Wynette! Hope your days were wonderful.

Today I decorated two cakes for Jason's cousin who just turned 40! I baked them yesterday to get that out of the way. The baking of the cakes was an adventure in itself, since I used a total of 4 cake mixes. What else did I make but a "4" and an "0" to celebrate such a momentous occasion? I used a straight-sided 9x13 pan and did a cut-up cake style for the 4, and I used a 10" round for the 0. It was loads of fun to make, but I barely got it done in time! It went straight to the Expedition for the surprise party at the park--it was almost surprise, no cake! And so, sadly, I didn't get a picture. They were frosted with chocolate icing and decorated with circles in shades of purple. (And so of course, I had to wear my purple t-shirt.) In my dream world, the cake would've had a marzipan woman popping out of the 0, celebrating her wonderful life, but not in any lewd way--children at the party!! I bought marzipan, but since I was probably the first resident of Atmore to buy marzipan at Winn Dixie in the last two years, the tube I got was totally dried out. In fact, I could have knocked out someone with that brick. I have never worked with the stuff before, but something just told me that a hardened brick wasn't we looked at Wal-Mart last night for it, and no luck. Either I'm blind, or ain't noone in Bay Minette ever heard of marzipan either. I didn't ask for help. It's hit or miss with Wal-Mart sales associates, and noone was lurking around to ask, either.

And so, on a different note (no pun intended), I leave you with a much-loved recipe for red beans and rice.

1 lb. red beans, soaked overnight
1 med. onion, chopped
7 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. parsley
1 rib celery, chopped
1/2 c. ketchup
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. Tabasco sauce
2 bay leaves
1 t. thyme
salt & pepper
1 lb. smoked sausage, cut into 1" pieces (or raw bacon--totally awesome)

I soak the beans in my crockpot overnight with lots of water. The recipe says to drain them in the morning and add 3 quarts fresh water, but I cheat and just skip that step, because deep down in my soul I am L-A-Z-Y!!! In the morning, I put in everything else, minus the salt, and turn it on high. (Don't add salt while your beans are still hard or only partially soft; it prevents them from softening.) I keep my crockpot on high until the mid afternoon, after my beans are soft, and then turn it to low. Serve over rice, and top with shredded cheddar, sour cream and extra hot sauce.

This past week, I also made Cincinnati chili. So your heart out, Les! kitchen still smelled of raw onions the next evening.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Today's New Word

...courtesy of Jan's spare copy of Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary (yes I read dictionaries, doesn't everyone?):

synophrys [Gr. syn, together + ophrys, eyebrow]. Condition in which the eyebrows grow across the midline.

More popularly known as the unibrow.

This is quite silly, but we all need a few laughs.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A barrel of monkeys

Tell me again why we buy toys? Current favorites are cardboard boxes and formula scoops.

These two monkeys of ours can really hit it off, but they are also starting to clash. Owen will stake his claim on a toy, but then big, bad Helen comes along and tells him otherwise. She is not even a year old, yet she is not shy about giving anyone a verbal dressing down. The other day I caught them fighting over a Mega Bloks wagon. They both were tugging at it, and it was rolling back and forth between them, literally a tug-o-war, complete with angry screams. Owen was defensively hollering over the whole matter, and Helen was just plain livid with rage. I want it so GIVE IT TO ME NOW!! They both went to bed, since it was only a few minutes before naptime. Lovely.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Today I have extra kids running around my house, David, Jace and Abby, Jason's nephews and niece. While the three youngest were napping, and David was on a ride with Uncle Jason, Jace was watching me make a top-secret Christmas project.

"Is that work?" nodding toward my sewing machine.

"Not for me. Some people don't like to sew, but I enjoy it. It's relaxing to me, so it's not work. Do you know what I mean?"

"Weeeell.....I like to paint. And some people don't. When I grow up, I'm going to paint big pictures, and people will buy them. And then I'll give the money to poor people...I think I'll live in Africa. There are really, really poor people there."

"If the people are poor there, then who would buy your pictures?"

"You." Of course!

"So what else do you like to do, that's not work for you?"

"Um...long, thoughtful pause...I like to write!"

"Oh, wow. Some people really hate to write."

"Well, I don't like to write something I HAVE to write. But when I get older and can read and write bigger words, then I'm going to write TEN chapters!"

I respond with the appropriate measured excitement.

"And you know what it's going to be about?! About SuperTeeth! He is SOO cool, and his best super power is this, watch!--stands back, bares teeth and spews a loud K sound--and his teeth are really, really sharp, like razors, and they fly out of his mouth and--KSH!!--cut things like this--KSH!!--countertop. And they can--KSH!!--cut through like your sewing machine, things that are metal."

"What does SuperTeeth do when he spits out all his teeth and he doesn't have any left? Does he just have to eat stuff like grits then?"

"NO! He has strings attached to his teeth, and he just pulls them back in right after he spits them."

I hope SuperTeeth uses ADA-approved toothpaste. And good luck to Jace, my dreamy nephew.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Here's my version of mom's favorite kitchen decoration. The one on the plate is Owen's--he stuck his finger in it. Tasty.

Friday, September 28, 2007


Tuesday after The Biggest Loser, I went running on the lane. Gorgeous night. Full moon. Perfect humidity and temperature. Had an awesome run and went much farther than I've been able to lately, since I slacked off like a bum this summer. I've hardly been able to do 2 miles without wheezing like a COPD patient, but that night I ran 3 1/2.

But of course, now that I'm wanting to get serious about running again, I step on my ankle. It happened during that great run, on the squishy soft gravel that's more sand than gravel right now. It didn't hurt until the next day, though, and I didn't realize how much it hurt until I went for a walk pushing the babes in the stroller last evening.

So now it's lippity, lippity, not very fast, hobbling across the house from washer to dryer to kitchen to basement.

Maybe it's a good thing. Jason just came in to pick up Owen for a trip to town. Owen had locked the garage door, so Jason couldn't get in. Then Jay said maybe I should be locking them myself right now since there are several helicopters out and rumors of a jailbreak out of Pensacola, with the homes of the convicts being just a stone's throw from here. And then he made sure I knew how to load the gun and fire it, and briefed me on Alabama's self-defense laws. Apparently you can shoot if someone is inside your home, but not if he is outside running away. Great. Small-town Mennonite girl shoots intruder. What would the bishop say?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A difficult eruption

Yesterday Helen went to the doctor. She had a swollen lump in her gums, which normally one would think...uh, tooth!...but there was a bluish spot under the surface that had me worried. Plus, Little Miss Sunshine had been replaced by Little Miss Thunder, Little Miss Clingy and Little Miss Tantrum. Since her previous 8 teeth sprouted easily with a total of two tears, I feared something must be terribly wrong. Diagnosis: difficult eruption with resulting hematoma. Give her Tylenol and Orajel. Bring her back if the tooth isn't through in a month. (a month!?) Lord, help us all.

Here are some sunshine pictures to remind me of the good ol' days.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Why my work is undone

I was tidying up the kitchen this morning after having put Helen down for a nap, when along came Owen, asking me for something which I coudn't figure out. "Show me what you want, buddy, Mama can't understand you." He points at the freezer,"Hoo-hee!" I should have known. "We're all out of cookies, sweetheart. I need to make some more. You go watch Elmo and then Mommy will bring you a cookie."

So even though I needed to get my typing done, I found myself baking a quick batch of cinnamon oatmeal raisin cookies, because Mr. Weber ate all the chocolate chips (Mrs. Weber helped a little too.) Along came Owen, wanting to lick the beater. And because young Mr. Weber recently discovered that where one beater is, there also is another, I immediately plunged the other one into my soapy dishwater. But then I caved and gave him a glob of dough. His daddy taught him. And then I "fixed" his Tike bike, his "motorcycle" which is his main method of transportation from room to room, where the handle broke off this morning. Now he is learning to steer with his left hand. Too many wheelies, I guess.

I was halfway through baking when along came daddy and grandpa in grandpa's truck, on their way to the grain elevator to pick up a check. They had come to grab the trash bin because today is garbage pick up. So I rushed around the house corralling the stinky diaper trash and the kitchen trash that was brimming over with crushed cardboard boxes. Of course, in the process, I discovered that Helen was awake and playing happily in her crib. And mommy can't resist taking her to grandpa, whom she loves so much.

The guys left, and here we were, pushing lunch time, but not quite. I had some laundry to hang, so the kids and I went outside. Our busy mama cat just had another batch of kittens. Owen is obsessed with throwing them into the back of his car and giving them rides. The kitties bail out, and then he almost runs over them. Helen is obsessed with the cat's food bowl. I extracted a handful of cat-chow Xs from her mouth and flung them, only to have flung them overly enthusiastically, and they ended up sticking to a clean t-shirt that was drying on the line. Undaunted Helen then filled her mouth with dirty stones collected from the porch's edge.

"Owen, let's make spaghetti." He was into that. I started some water to boil, and he fished around in the utensil drawer and came over to me with the spaghetti server. He helped me season the sauce, since I always buy plain canned tomato sauce and put my patented signature on it. Ha. I cook with a lot of garlic and herbs. Poor Helen has had more than one occasion of garlic breath, which she exudes with lots of drooly exuberance. Which causes the one holding her to fuss over the bad smell, which makes her laugh--open mouthed--and exude all the more. The spaghetti was a hit with the kids. I glanced at the clock and noted it wasn't too much longer until naptime. (Silent cheer.)

I sat down in the living room to fold laundry while Owen watched this episode of Reading Rainbow. Along came Helen. She is the destroyer of folded laundry piles. Stacks of washcloths see her and quiver. She found one of my socks and chewed happily on it, until I couldn't resist her and stuck the pair of socks on her arms. She pulled them off with her teeth, giggling all the while. Good ol' Levar Burton on Reading Rainbow had an interesting program that both Mommy and Owen enjoyed. It was about African musical instruments. After the show was over, Mommy made some instruments for Owen to play. The rubberbands on a Velveeta box was the favorite, until the young maestro broke a band. Helen was fascinated by the shaker I made with an empty spice canister and pearl barley. The barley made a better sound than the brown rice. She agreed. She carried it around until her nap time.

Owen got put down next. I told him the story of a little boy named Owen who only wanted to eat spaghetti, and then told him to go to sleep.

Unplanned interruptions. It's why it takes me several days to vacuum the floor. Before we had kids, I used to clean my entire house, do all the laundry and bake bread on Saturdays. plus maybe entertain in the evening. Life is so different now, but the kids are growing up quickly. I can't help but play with them as much as possible!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

i Caught

...Helen lending a hand with freshly laundered towels,

and then emptying the laundry room wastebasket. Guess how dryer lint looks on a baby with a cold?

...Owen helping Vanna select the correct letters. Wheel!! of!! Fortuuuuune!!! is one of Owen's favorite shows. This is both a motivator--Owen, finish your supper and then we can watch Letters!--and an annoyance--tear bursts at commercial breaks. He is now learning the sounds of the letters, and hits the correct letter on his Leapfrog bus when given its sound.

...Helen's toe rest. Those poor little piggies have quite a job to do, helping her balance. They deserve an occasional break.

...and a dirt-covered Jason. That is Jason, right?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I am happy to say that my daughter can officially don GRITS wear--items that proudly bear the "Girls Raised in the South" logo. Here she is taking a bite out of okra. Raw okra. Atta girl!

Friday, September 7, 2007


I'm waiting to finish the last Harry Potter book. Unfortunately, Jason called dibs on it and he's in the middle of it. He's also watching Raymond reruns. Hmmm... I smell a plot.

**I'm actually waaaaay ahead of him in the book, because yesterday I delayed several tons of housework to read, and then I stayed up til nearly 2.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Project: Scrap denim rug

Owen finally has a rug in his room! I was inspired by Grandma B's hand-made scatter rugs, although she made hers out of doubleknit fabric so they wouldn't ravel. Her garage and house were and still are always neat as a pin, partly due to throw rugs by all her doorways. She custom made these rugs to fit any surface, and I do believe she even has some in her vehicle. She made a tiny one for me out of red and pink fabrics when I was little, and it is now in Helen's room--that is how long doubleknit fabric lasts!

I made Owen's out of old denim. I used thinner fabric, not the thick stuff like jeans are made from. It was satisfying to cut up yucky old denim clothes. One day I was sick of wearing a pair of old shorts, and the next they were part of a rug! Also included in the rug are at least two jumpers, one dress and a pair of denim slacks my mother in law donated to the cause, a nasty work shirt of Jason's and a skirt of mine that my dear husband abhorred. (He said it looks better as carpet!)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

And we're back

This morning, I baked pumpernickel rolls for Jon & Kimberley's beach wedding. My mother in law is coordinating the food, and this is my small way of helping her. I tried not to cough or sneeze over the dough, heh heh. I even tied my hair back. Ever have an experience with hair in food? The one firmly etched in my memory is--back in the day, now--a piece of homemade pizza at my school's weekly hot lunch, served up graciously by school moms. I have that old Saturday Night Live sketch playing through my mind--I forget who was in it, but someone had on a black, long-haired wig and was stirring up some spaghetti sauce. The taste testers kept pulling long strands of hair out of their food and gagging. Eww, gross. I'm making myself queasy.

This morning I also got my computer back from Southern Computer, with sparkling new memory and wonderfully restored e-mail.

Owen is now allowed to climb the tree just off the back porch. I expanded his boundaries. The little booger has handled his new freedom carelessly, I'm afraid. I have already found him out in the shop, "driving" the mower, which he clearly knows is off limits without an adult along. (We found a black widow spider out there several weeks ago.)

Helen is just getting over 3-4 days of fever and a runny nose. It took both Jason and me to hold her down and suction her nose well with the snot sucker. Yesterday, she was finally over her fever, but she dished up a huge helping of cranky with a side of mommy-hold-me. Today we finally found our sweetheart underneath all the crabbiness that sickness can bring.

And here is the little flirt making the acquaintance of one little gentleman we were babysitting. This was after a meal of--gag me--baby cereal eaten rather distractedly, which was after getting sweaty while playing on the back porch, attracting all sorts of dirt and bits of yard clippings with said sweaty limbs and face, which was after a new sweet and clean girlie outfit (yellow eyelet lace skirt is hidden), which was after her bath.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


so it's not really been my week.

Tonight the dryer was still running after I put a large load of whites in it this afternoon. We got our used Maytag W&D from a girl who had them in storage, complete with a packed lint trap and a load of her clean, dry clothes. When we moved, we found out our washer had a small oil leak that apparently wasn't big enough to worry about, according to our appliance-handy friend, but was still big enough to leave a ghastly mess behind. Our handy friend did say the set was probably on its last leg(s). And I'm growing more skeptical of the washer every week. Two days ago it was lub-dubbing along, and then some pesky GRUNGHs and skaweeeeeeeeeeeeeks began issuing forth. It's been awhile since it's done my favorite noise, though, the--KACHONK-KACHONK-KACHONK-KACHONK--that signals an unbalanced load. That's a fun noise. That means I get to drop whatever I'm doing, run to the laundry room, push the washer back into place and sit on top of it until the cycle is over. It's of no use to try to redistribute the load; the machine is too picky. So tonight I was extremely bugged by my dryer as well, until I remembered that I had never reset it to "High Heat," and it was still churning away on "Air Fluff." Grrrrr. However, lest anyone be smirking, last week, with all the right settings, that old almond Maytag DID take over an hour to partially dry a load consisting of two bath towels, a hand towel, a couple of kitchen towels and a handful of washcloths.

This week I called Jason while he was working.

"Hey--you know how we're always so busy?"


"Well, I went ahead and took care of one thing for us."

"What's that?"

"Uh, well, I deleted our e-mail program off the computer."

Yes, our computer lied its hiney off to me. I was trying to clean up some programs that we never use, since we are running out of room on our hard drive, thanks to all the pictures I've been taking. I thought I was deleting some other stuff, and somehow, Outlook Express got thrown into the mix. And seeing as how our good ol' computer friend Leo is in China for this right now (Congrats, Jon & Kimberley!) , we're up the creek without a paddle.

In feel-good news, I made a chocolate peanut butter pie today for Jason and he loved it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Need Hangers?

Last summer when Helen was still a bean, I had a fabulous wardrobe. Maternity clothes used to be just awful, but thanks to our friends at Old Navy, Gap and Motherhood, a woman can now carry a child to term in style. Thanks to Lynette who let me borrow her preggy clothes, and to a few other women who offloaded their wardrobes on me, I had some cute, fashionable clothes to wear during a time most women don't feel cute and fashionable.

And I snickered to myself the whole time, comparing the up-to-dateness factor of my maternity clothes with my regular clothes. My normal clothes lost. Big time.

When we moved, our closet space was cut at least in half, if not more. I was forced to go through my clothes. With much glee, I tossed. Out went the old stuff that I hadn't worn for a couple of years. And the stuff that was just hanging there, good for nothing, not even paying closet rent, that I knew I wasn't going to touch again. I didn't listen to the voices in my head that said, "Oooooooooh, you'd better keep that... maybe some time it'll be just what you need to make a perfect outfit." Yep, I ignored that voice. Because if I felt stupid wearing it the last time I wore it because it was (slightly faded, slightly out of style, a bad cut, the wrong color, all of the above), it for sure wouldn't be enhancing my feelings about myself the next time I wore it EVEN IF it gained back the privilege of gracing my body. I also got rid of some of my *gulp* favorite things that I found out Jason HATED.

What I had left wasn't much. So THAT'S why Joyce kept wearing that purple T-shirt! And I discovered something. I thought I was going to feel like I had a hard knock life, like I was greatly wronged or mistreated by not having a closet full of all the right clothes, poor lil ol' me. I was so wrong, misled by my emotions or by culture or by all the lies I'd been believing about what I HAD to have to be happy. And interestingly enough, I felt a new freedom. Freedom from stuff. And a very practical freedom, too. For instance, if I had to get ready to go, I didn't lose time picking out clothes. (Guess it'll be the purple T-shirt. That was a good buy!) I even found myself able to genuinely compliment others on their new cute clothes and not be jealous, but to truly be happy for them. (For me, that's a wow.) I also didn't panic about getting new clothes or have what-if-I'm-stuck-with-this-purple-T-shirt-for-the-rest-of-my-life visions, because I knew that God would provide what I needed when I needed it.

Well, I really didn't have very many clothes, and Jason knew it. I couldn't believe it when he sent Owen to me the day before Mother's Day with a card, and a hundred dollar bill fell out! And Helen gave me a card too--with another chunk-o-change!!

Being the thrifty shopper that I have come to be, I first let the money rest up in a cupboard for a while until I was able to plan a good shopping day. For a girl who usually uses her debit card, large denominations of cash are elative but sobering, inspiring awe and trepidation. (Do I really want to break my $100 on this?) Then I visited various and sundry places of business, scouring the clearance racks. I finally spent the last of it a few weeks ago. All the clothes I bought with this money were new. I got:

a white eyelet lace skirt--very cute
a white Liz Claiborne polo shirt
an orange tank top for layering
a black tank
a white tank
a black/white sleeveless top
brown dress capris
a polka-dotted top with frilly sleeves that make me feel pretty darn cool
casual brown capris
a Nike t-shirt
a supercute sundress with coordinating sweater
2 necklaces
a brown t-shirt
a red Reebok tank top
green shorts--that new really cool shade of green that I'm in love with
black running shorts that even have built-in undies in 'em
a swim suit (a sort-of halter top and a skirt bottom)
a black t-shirt with some cute feminine detailing
a black floral dress top (which I'm planning to return because I brought it home and decided it was a no-go)

I bought all that and even dipped into the cash for some babysitting money! And with some other money--a very paltry sum--I bought a few clothes at the good ol' Economy Shop and a few things off Lynette at her garage sale and a pair of gold sandals at a big box store that starts with W. I'm enjoying my new clothes, but my closet is pretty tightly packed. Soooooo, what can I get rid of now?? I'm trying to be discriminate.

Really, I believe that clothes should make you feel good about yourself when you wear them. But true happiness can't be found in your closet, either!

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Today Helen pulled herself to a standing position (repeatedly). She just turned 9 months old on the 3rd.

Helen still hasn't put together your standard issue hands-and-knees crawl, but she is doing an adaptive army crawl which consists of her pudgy arms hauling her legs n' belly forward by sheer might. I'm sure the hardwood floor assists her. (And if we had wall-to-wall carpeting, could we say "carpet burn"?) She nearly went down the stairs the other day, because I didn't realize how fast she was getting at her army wriggle.

Helen reaches for people and squirms to get down.

Helen is giving kisses. Sloppy, open-mouthed, a little toothy, right on the kisser.

Owen and Helen can make each other laugh like nobody's business. They are quite the tag-team with their belly laughs. Owen splits a gut like nothing I have ever heard before. That boy can hardly maintain a standing position when he gets into it. It's like he loses all muscle tone and just melts into a puddle of funny. I'm sure he's wet his pants multiple times while laughing, because he sure has lost his manners (i.e. shot a bunny, stepped on an African barking spider) a few times during an especially great laugh. If I could find a way to bottle that laughter and market it, I'd be turning my thermostat down to 72! (see following)

Owen and Helen had their first swim of the summer at Ms. Kaiser's pool on Saturday. They used swim rings and LOVED it. We were able to let go of Owen, and he could handle the water by himself. Helen was irritated when we took her out of her floatie, and squirmed to get back into it. She loved Blueberry the dog until his overly aggressive doggy kisses knocked her over backward and her head met the cement--just after I grabbed that picture.

Owen loves music and request-demands it most of the time. He listens to his VeggieTales Christmas CD 3 or 4 times a day. He loves all musical instruments. He loves when Grandpa W. plays his violin, and makes pleading requests for encores. He loves to be in the worship service at church, and thinks it is his right to go up on stage afterward, because after all, his daddy plays bass. He loves our old piano and can pick out all the C's. His keyboard, a lovely handmedown from Aunt Les, finally ran out of battery juice--YES, thank you LORD!!

Owen likes to help me empty the dishwasher. However, for various reasons, I've only run it once since we took our Indiana trip. (One reason was an unmentionably high electric bill, which is also why our thermostat is set on 80.)

Owen loves thunder and roosters, both of which get a hand clap to imitate. Didn't you know a rooster clapped? Paw Paw's battery-operated, noise-activated rooster needs a nice, loud clap to make him crow.

Owen also has a fascination with all things mounted on the ceiling and walls. Lights, fans, doorbells, air fresheners, thermostats. Clocks and smoke alarms are his specialty. I'm seriously considering making his next birthday cake in the shape of a smoke alarm. He would love it. Tonight before bed, he gave Helen and me kisses and then trod right past us to stare fixedly at the smoke alarm. His dream came true when I set it off baking cookies today. (No comments from the peanut gallery.)

Owen got tucked into bed tonight with Elmo and a Little Tikes pipe wrench.
Night-night or "Naht-naht!" as Owen says.