Monday, March 30, 2009

Some Bunny Loves You

Remember how my sister-in-law Les is soooooooo good at gift-giving? Heh heh. Heh. I'm talking about her famous white-elephant gifts. The girl has a knack for finding "eye-catching" items at resale shops and the nerve to gift them to friends and family. Off the top of my head, I remember a stuffed owl, some kid's T-ball trophy and a glass vase with red and green tissue paper squares glued to it.
The lovely Ms. Rabbit was her gift to Janice this past Christmas. Dressed in her finest.

When Leslie's birthday came around earlier this month, Jan and I hatched a plan.
It started out with a sweet stack of home-baked goodness--strawberry cake on the bottom and carrot cake on the top, and I began to play Ace of Cakes, right in my own kitchen.

Serated knife, hot glue gun, yellow sock, red bias tape, pillow stuffing, florist wire...just mere tools of the trade. A little buttercream and a few hours later, Ms. Bunny looked like a million bucks.
Ready for a stroll down Cottontail Lane as this year's Carrot Trail Maid, she clutched a single carrot in her delicate paw.
Ms. Bunny wore a smashing frock of yellow, purple and red, festooned with miniature carrot accents. What a feast for the eyes!

What's that? Did Abby say "beautiful"? With ears like that, it's hard to miss any compliment.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Azalea Trail Run

Today, I did something I never would have dreamed of doing in high school. I ran a 10k. My time is nothing to brag about--a 74 year old woman beat me by seven seconds--but I finished upright and breathing.

As a child I was never obese, but I did spend quite a bit of time in husky pants. By the end of my junior year in high school, I was on my way to a full blown weight problem. Fortunately, a summer with Teen Missions took about 25 pounds off of me. My senior year in high school was the first time I could get through the dreaded 1 mile physical fitness run without walking. I nearly died doing it. Since then, I have managed to keep myself from getting completely huge. Recently, however, I have started to look like a thirty-something with three kids. Not good. I have a taste for junk food and have never exercised seriously in my life. Under these conditions, I will be forty, bald, and fat in a little over six years. The first two I can't control, but the last one I can.

About four years ago, Joyce started running to lose the weight she put on with our first child. I started running a little bit as well but never kept it up for very long. I would always get busy on the farm and quit for several months at a time. Since then, we have had two more children and with each one she has managed to run off the pregnancy weight--something I am very proud of her for doing. Last May, Joyce and I decided to participate in the next Azalea Trail Run. Today, we did it and actually liked it. Me, the fat kid who avoided running like the plague, ran 6.2 miles and thought it was fun.

Over the last few months, I have wondered why I am in the best shape of my life at 33. (Not great shape, just the best I have ever achieved.) What on earth was I doing in college when I had no job, no kids, no responsibilities, and access to free fitness equipment whenever it suited my wide open schedule? Oh yeah--studying for a useless degree I don't even bother to hang on the wall any more.

Several observations. The oldest runner today was an 84 year old man who ran with his 81 year old wife. How cool is that? I saw a man wearing a race shirt from the Pizza Hut 10k in Gulfport--circa 1983. This was really neat on several levels. Number one, he has been running for at least 26 years. (Or he likes to shop at Goodwill.) Number two, he was actually wearing a shirt. Something about seeing a shirtless old man wearing little nutter shorts running down the street makes you want to either pass him, run the other way, or go blind. I guess anyone who can still run into their eighties has earned the right to wear whatever they want to. Or don't want to.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Time to Clean

You know it's time to vacuum when your two-year-old daughter hollers, "It's DIRT, Mom! On my foot!! EWW!!" She plopped down and brushed it off, then got the whisk broom and dustpan, swept her circumference, dumped the dirt in the trash can and put away the cleaning tools.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I'm sick.

For the past week, I've been noshing my morning granola, mouth hanging wide open. I can't breathe much out of my nose, and my table manners have flown out the window. Can't taste much of anything, either. Can't smell. I couldn't even catch a faint whiff of the Vicks I slathered on the kids. And for good measure, I ache all over, have an off-and-on fever, and I'm coughing too.

So today I finally went to the doctor. Jason, who has been so patient, hauled me in, along with Owen and Helen, who have started their own loud, hacky coughs. Owen has been running a fever as well. Ms. Quinley wrote antibiotics, bless her soul, and Mucinex. Bronchitis for me. The Crud for the kids.

While we were marinating in our own germs in the exam room, Ruth kept Jack and did a load of laundry for us. She kept Jack the rest of the day and made supper for us too. What an awesome mother in law.

I'm hoping that once the medicine gets into my system, I'll feel like doing something more than running for the nearest tissue box.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bye-Bye, Night-Night Bear?

Here's a write-up of the State Farm Neigh-Bear recall. Helen was given one of these by a State Farm agent a few years ago, and we named him Night-Night Bear. She is extremely attached to it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Latest Project Completed

In my drawer that contains my address book, my 3-ring binder/household organizer that doesn't get out much and other notebooks and folders, there lies a great, big, long list of sewing projects that I want to complete. Some I started eons ago, and some I haven't even begun. I had been looking forward to doing this one for a long time, and I finally snatched up a few hours the other day that were begging for a fun project.

Look! It's's a......floating pillow of pass-along fabric from Heather??

That actually is a reusable shopping bag with a self-containing pocket! The fold-me-up-into-my-own-pocket feature is nice if you're only going to the store for a few items. It's silly for a cart-load of food, since it leaves me standing there, smiling artificially at the confused clerk, desperately struggling to whip out my handy-dandy homemade reusable shopping bag. Yep, makes for some odd looks. But I'm really happy with its carrying ability. The amount it holds safely is quite impressive. And it doubles as a nice diaper bag while the other one is getting washed.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

All he wanted was a little IHOP

Grandpa W. turned 84 yesterday! For his birthday, he wanted to go to IHOP. He had seen the commercials, and their relentless tantalization worked. Score one for slick advertising! Those ads work on me too. I love pancake restaurants.

Since it didn't work for anyone to go to IHOP with him on his actual birthday, his granddaughter Lynette planned an in-house pancake event. She, Janice and I whisked together a scrumptious brunch of pancakes, sausage and fresh fruit.

It was a very fun time, and Grandpa and Grandma got to enjoy a few of their great grands too. We took 6 of our 8 kids along; Jack and Allison stayed at their Grandma's house for morning naps. The kids paraded in and presented him with hand-made construction paper cards. It only added to the excitement of his birthday, since he had already had ten phone calls for birthday wishes, and it was only 9 am.
Before brunch and sticky syrup mouths: Ava, Helen and Brian are in front. Owen, PawPaw and Blake in back.
PawPaw's pancakes, complete with pineapple topping and that magical swoosh of Redi-Whip. Ava was the driving force behind the birthday candle.
PawPaw pretended he couldn't blow out his candle, and Blake could hardly stand it! Grandpa's TV tray held all the essentials--food, drink, phone, TV remote, list of people who had called with birthday greetings and special napkin holder made from a dish soap bottle--Grandpa's sister makes all sorts of recycled crafts. This one even had "Happy Birthday" embossed on it.
These kids did so well, I couldn't believe it. We borrowed my mother in law's little table and chairs, and I think that was one of the keys--that and light breakfasts. Owen holds the eating record with 2 1/2 pancakes. I think he out-ate every single person, adults included.
Helen, MawMaw and Aunt Net's cute piggy-toes and sandal. Hey, it was upper 70s! Not that I'm bragging or rubbing that in anyone's face.

And finally, my pancake recipe, originally from Miserly Moms, tweaked by me:

2 eggs
2 1/2 c. buttermilk or sour milk
4 t. melted butter or vegetable oil
2 1/2 c. flour (1 c. w/w flour, 2 c. all-purpose, 1/2 c. oatmeal, my tweak)
2 t. sugar
1 t. baking soda
3 t. baking powder
1 t. salt

Beat together until smooth. Spoon onto hot, greased griddle. Flip over when bubbles appear.

Coupla tips: I don't beat the fire out of the batter. I mix it with a spatula until I don't see any more flour. And then, it turns out better if you let it rest for a few minutes at this point. That way, you don't get super-thick pancakes at the beginning and super-runny ones at the end. And, I never had any luck with pancakes until I bought a nonstick electric griddle. And even with the "nonstick," it does better with a few teaspoons of oil before each new batch of pancakes. I drop blueberries and chocolate chips into each pancake, rather than stirring them into the batter. That way, the batter isn't dedicated to any one flavor. My exception is pecans. Those are best mixed in. And sometimes, I mash up a banana and mix that in. One time I mixed in pumpkin, but those were a little weird. Then, I freeze leftover pancakes and heat them a few at a time in the microwave for a fast breakfast on other mornings. The End.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Owen and I were chatting about heaven.

"After supper, can we go to heaven?"

"No buddy, we don't know when we are going."

"Can we fly to heaven?"

"We can't fly there."

"Can we drive to heaven?"

"We can't drive there either. Hey, you know what? Heaven's going to be awesome! It is beautiful there. And no one will be naughty, and there won't be any time-outs or spankings!"

"Can we go potty in heaven?"

"I don't know."

"Because it's a dirty bathroom?"

Leave it to my son to be so obsessed over public restrooms and their lack of cleanliness, he's already thinking of heaven's options.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Early Risin'

I think Owen must have a built-in Mommy sensor. Somehow he is able to tell when I get up in the morning. It doesn't matter if I use an alarm or not, if I tiptoe or softly shuffle, if I leave all lights off, if I forego coffee because of the noise from the bean grinder and if I don't use the toaster oven because of its loud DING!! I think he reads my mind.

Don't get me wrong--I love my kids and I like being around them, mostly. But usually the first thing I want to do in the morning is to eat a quiet bowl of cereal and have a great cup of coffee. Ideally I would read my Bible, plan my day and maybe even get dressed and start on my work while my kids would sleep peacefully on.

This morning I thought it was going to happen--The Morning I Get a Lot of Work Done Before the Kids Awake. I fed Jack, then put him down to play. I poured my plain shredded wheat with a few grape-nuts on top--yep, I'm a mixer. My Bible fell open to 2 John, the command to love others. Three bites in, I heard a pitter-patter of little feet and a perky "Hi, Mom!" And can I say it? I can say it. My annoyance meter sky-rocketed.

I fed him breakfast in the basement while I did computer work. He didn't eat well. He said his tummy hurt. He whined for milk in a straw cup. He interrupted me multiple times. He fiddled with the computer speaker. He needed to go #2. He washed his hands and played with the water so violently it soaked his face and shirt and the floor. Then he was placed firmly on a couch with a stack of books and a time limit, which was semi-successful.

So...what's a good way to handle mornings for a momma who ain't a mornin' person at all?