Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Little Flower Girl Who Wouldn't

As you all may or may not know, my daughter recently got married on September 11th. Lacey is a full time Nanny to two beautiful children. She has been caring for them since they were new babies. There is Anthony, who turned three in July and Alicia who will be two this month.

Anyway, Lacey didn't think her wedding day would be complete without "her babies" being a part of the wedding party. She knew they may or may not make it down the aisle, or they may scream, run away or throw themselves on the floor and spin while screaming at the top of their lungs; but she said she was okay with that because it would only make for funny memories.

The wedding day arrived and Anthony walked down the aisle just fine.  Well, he didn't stay at the alter and ran back up the aisle when he saw the Bride and her Daddy coming down the aisle.  Good thing his daddy was nearby and grabbed him quickly, otherwise he would have had no problem  helping Lacey's Daddy walk her down the aisle as he did for rehearsal.  Alicia on the other hand wanted no part of being a flower girl.  In fact, her mommy never got to see the ceremony because "little one" had to be removed from the sanctuary because she kept calling out Lacey's name.  LOL
Luckily my daughters and I do some photography on the side.  Three weeks after the wedding, we re-enacted a photo shoot with the "Little Flower Girl Who Wouldn't."  No one will ever know, right? I'll share a few with you here....

The last photo is perfect with Anthony in the picture.  Signifies a more realistic view of Lacey's life!

More photos will be added to my photography portfolio in the future!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Crazy Lady in the White Robe!

There I was, in such a nice sound sleep and Bang.. The DOG BARKS! The Big dog that is. We have three dogs, Micah, the 110lb. Akita, Cubby the 11 pound Peek-A-Poo and Bitty, the 9 pound Chihuahua/Rat Terrier. Being awakened by one of the little ones barking is one thing, but being startled out of a dead sleep by the Big Guy... your heart tends to jump out of your chest.

Next thing I know, the three of them are going crazy by the back door. I get up, grab my robe and let them out into the back yard. I don't know why it didn't register in my brain at that time, but they were way too eager to get out there, but I let them out anyway.

I stood there waiting impatiently for them to do their business so I could get back to bed. "What is taking them so long," I ask myself. "And why are they barking so much?" I open the door, and all three of them are going crazy in the back corner of the fence. GREAT, some kind of critter is back there under the bushes or on the fence, and these stupid dogs are not going to come in until they catch and kill it!

I go to run out the door and shoo them all back into the house, but remember my robe doesn't have a tie belt. I frantically look around to find something to hold things together. A dog leash. Yes, that will do. I tie things up with a dog leash, slip on my flip flops and grab the broom. So here I am, in the backyard at 2 am, running around yelling at my dogs as I swing this broom to try and get them to leave the critter alone. Not only are they making me mad, I am also scared to death that this critter (that I could swear was hanging for dear life on the top of the fence) was going to jump down and run after me. When Micah saw the broom, he ran into the house. He's afraid of brooms. Not the little ones. I literally had to dig them out from under the bushes and push them into the house with that stinkin' broom. By now, the neighbor's dogs were all barking and going crazy. This is not good. You see, even though I have a fenced in back yard, my house sits up higher on a hill than the others, so they could see the crazy lady in a white robe with a broom, VERY CLEARLY. Lucky for me, I didn't have my glasses on, so I couldn't see THEM.

Finally, I got the three stooges into the house, cleaned the grass off of my feet and got back into bed.

The next morning when I was telling my husband the story (that he conveniently slept through), I was pointing out to where the critter was hanging on the top of the fence, and noticed that there was part of the climbing bushes hanging in that spot. Hmm.. Not a critter at all. Well, I know there was a critter somewhere, because the dogs were insisting on finding it. The crazy lady in the white robe swinging a broom?? I have no idea what you are talking about!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Back to School in Midlife!

Some of you may be wrestling with the idea to go back to school during midlife. Either you already have a degree, but can't find work in your area of study, or you never went to college. I totally understand this agonizing decision! In 2003 I decided that I wanted to get my degree.

I'd like to share with you how that story has unfolded since I first thought about going to college. At the time, my daughter Kelsey was attending the local community college. I mentioned to my family that I wanted to go back to school and get my degree. They all cheered me on. Kelsey was so supportive. She went to the advisor's office with me and didn't let me leave the building until I was registered for classes. I have a confession to make, I was scared to death! I don't always do well in certain social situations, and the thought of attending classes with so many people I didn't know on a pretty good sized campus was very overwhelming. Kelsey was so sweet, she took some classes with me so I'd feel comfortable on campus.

That was in 2003. At that time in my life, I was still homeschooling my two younger children and I didn't have a lot of time to devote to my studies. The important thing was, however, I made a decision! I set goals and stuck with it. I took at least two classes at a time when I could. If I had a semester where I thought I could handle more, I'd take four classes. There were even a couple semesters where I couldn't take any classes at all. But, I got right back to it when my life allowed.

Seven years later, I received my Associates Degree. In today's world, an Associates Degree is really no greater than a high school diploma, BUT in MY world that is a great accomplishment for a mother who not only had a family to care for, but also had to work full time for most of those years. Plus, it gave me the courage to go further, and the knowledge I need to succeed in any further educational endeavors.

Today, I'm a full time student at the University of Central Florida in the Social Work program. Yes, I want to be a social worker. I truly believe that everything God has brought me through in my life, up to this point, has prepared me for this calling. To some it's a job, to me it's a calling.

Are you considering going back to school? Let me give you a few tips. First of all, find someone who will encourage you every step of the way, and will make sure you follow through on your decision. Second, pick a special field. With the job market like it is today, you need to have a specialty that you know will provide a job when you graduate. The general bachelors degree isn't specific enough to help you obtain a position as it once did. Third, set bite size goals and long term goals. Write these goals on paper, and cross off each item as you complete it. The visual will help you feel like you are getting somewhere. I think this is especially important for us mid-lifers because we tend to think our time is so limited. Well, maybe it is, but let me remind you, time goes by whether you go to school or not. Why not come out on the other end of a few years with a degree, and a new career?!

I will continue to post tips and share stories as I work my way through school. My goal... don't leave campus until I have my Master's Degree!!!

If you have any questions about how to take that first step, feel free to ask! If I don't have the answer, I'll find it for you!

..Back to studying!!!


Monday, September 27, 2010

New Family Traditions

Yesterday, we were invited to our daughter and son-in-law's for dinner. Of course, family dinner on Sunday isn't something new. We've tried to eat together as a family at least once a week in the past, but driving to my daughter and her husband's home was a totally different experience.

When we arrived, the table was set beautifully, and the new couple were working away in the kitchen together. Evan LOVES to cook and takes it very seriously. I asked if I could help in any way, and they both told me to just sit and relax. Wow. Someone pinch me!

Their home is coming together so beautifully. I enjoyed seeing how they are hanging things on the walls and decorating everything.

Soon they called us to the table, and after Evan said a touching blessing, we ate the most delicious meal. An awesome salad, sauteed spinach, salmon with some type of spicy tomato topping, wild rice and delicious rolls. Personally I think Evan should become a professional chef. Lacey said he does most of the cooking, and he's very gifted at it. I have never eaten salmon in my life, and it was delicious!

We finished the night with dessert (I made Evan's favorite pineapple cake and brought it with us), watched a movie and then said our goodnights. Lacey insisted I did not have to help clean up the kitchen. I carried things to the kitchen, and put some things away, but she told me, "Mom, I've got this." :-)

On our way home, my husband and I talked about how quickly life changes. Family dinners are going to look different now, but they are still such an important part of our life! The family is growing and stretching it's wings, and traditions may be changing their look just a bit.... but the one thing that remains the same, is that God has blessed us tremendously, and for that we are so thankful!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Wall are Echoing..

I'm BACK to blogging. I was so excited to begin blogging back in July, but had to step away for two months due my daughter's wedding. They were engaged in December of last year, and after nine months of planning like crazy, it was over in a blink just two weeks ago today. Everything turned out beautifully! I will post pictures and stories as soon as I actually see some pictures myself. (still asking myself why I didn't carry a camera......) Okay, to my defense, I was afraid I'd carry it all day and not take one picture. Either way, I took no pictures. I know many people did, and of course there was a photographer, so I will patiently wait until someone shows up with something (I'd take a blurry polaroid at this point)!

These past two weeks have been quite an adjustment period for me in my life. As I've previously written, I have four children. Up until two weeks ago, three of them were still in the nest. Now, we are down to two. My daughter Kelsey who lives with us is 24 and is very independent. My baby, Mack will be 18 in three months; so he doesn't need much anymore either. Yes, I'm guilty.. I'm the kind of Mom who loves to be needed. sigh My husband told me that he'll become more needy if I want him to. (um....)

I spent the first week after the wedding walking in circles, trying to figure out what to do with my extra time. Keep in mind, I am a full time college student, but I still missed all of the chaos I have grown accustomed to living with. Lacey is a nanny, and she brought her two little ones to our house everyday, so not only is she not here everyday, neither are the two and three year old who we have become quite attached to. Once all of their toys and things have been moved out, this place literally echoes!

This past week, I've done a lot better. I got out the fall decorations, put stuff away that we used for the wedding, and got myself back on a good study schedule. (including getting caught up from missing a week of classes during wedding week.)

So I hope to use my blog to share my journey as an "almost" empty nester, and an adult college student. And anything else God decides to throw my way in this next chapter of my life.

Thanks for being there as an encouragement to me, fellow bloggers... God bless all of you!

Mamahugs for everyone!!!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Madness & a Patchwork Quilt

Monday already? What an awesomely blessed weekend. Thank you Jesus - - you always know exactly what I need.

Today I've been busy with "projects." First on the list, addressing wedding invitations. I've done this in the past for other people's weddings (and got paid for it), but it sure does feel different addressing them for my own daughter's wedding.

I'm excited to share my next project with you. It's my animal print patchwork quilt. I've been sewing since I was about 9 years old, but quilting is something new for me.

I decided to purchase a package of squares already matched and ready to go from the local quilting store, with very easy to follow instructions (since this is my first quilt.) My husband helped me pick it out. I still had to do all of the cutting for the appropriate sizes, but it was an excellent experience.

Here is my "almost finished" product. I machine pieced all of it together. Don't look too closely for my mistakes. (My husband said that makes it look more homemade, instead of made in China. LOL)

Here is a little closer view. I love these prints.

I chose a rust colored backing fabric. It seemed to bring out the colors on the front better than any other color.

I am machine quilting this, and chose the stitch below. I hope it all turns out okay. I may have to put some straight quilting stitched across the squares as well.

This is what it will look like on the top.

Here is what is will look for on the bottom.

So.. I have to finish all of the quilting. I will post a photo when I have the finished product.

Have an amazingly blessed evening my friends!

Mamahugs for you all!!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Super Sunday and Meaty Manicotti!!

What a beautiful Sunday! I'd like to give thanks to my Heavenly Father for the Joy that He provides in my life!

My most important message to you today would be to stop trying to find your happiness through all of the worldly things... turn your focus toward God. This is the only way to find pure joy.

Now.. I know I mentioned yesterday that I wanted to work on my "projects" today- - BUT, when hubby says "let's go to the beach," I am packed and into the car in a New York minute. (now that's fast). But, I did accomplish something yummy today, and I'd like to share it with you.

Who wants Meaty Manicotti?? I DO!

Here is your recipe:

1 lb. loose sausage (I bought 2 pounds to use some for breakfast and cook some ahead for homemade pizzas this week)
1 lb. ground beef
lg. jar of your favorite spagetti sauce (or homemade if your talented like that!)
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 c. ricotta cheese
1/2 t. salt
Dash Pepper
Parmesan Cheese
Manicotti Shells (I made two boxes)

1. Cook hamburger and sausage until browned.

2. Put meat in a bowl, and add remaining ingredients.

3. Mix well.

4. Cook Manicotti shells as directed on the box.

5. Spread sauce in the bottom of your casserole dish. (I am using a meat sauce I had leftover in the fridge.)

6. Once your shells are done, rinse in cool water for easier handling. Then stuff them with your meat/cheese mixture.

7. Once your pan is full of stuffed manicotti shells, pour sauce over the top, and sprinkle on parmesan cheese.

8. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 5 or 10 minutes.

**As you can see, I made two pans of manicotti. The men in our house love meat. The girls on the other hand, only like cheese. SO... I stuffed most of the smaller pan with cheese only manicotti. If you want to make some cheese only, here is how I made the cheese stuffing:

Mixed the remaining ricotta cheese from the container(about 16 oz.) with a half cup of cottage cheese and a cup of shredded mozzarella cheese. Add one egg, a dash of pepper and a pinch of salt. Stir and stuff into shells.

9. Serve with garlic toast and salad! (Hubby said he liked this better than lasagna!)

My audience approves...

(actually he's just hoping I drop something...)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Wedding Planning and Other Things

This week has been full of wedding planning. Checking the guest list, AGAIN. On Thursday, Lacey and I drove to Orlando for her dress fitting for alterations. I still don't get tired of seeing her in that dress. I can't believe the Big Day is less than 2 months away. After the fitting, we made it back to Melbourne just in time for our Cake Appointment with my good friend Kathy (who I haven't seen in years). Not only was it great to catch up with her, but we feel so blessed to have her making Lacey and Evan's cake.

Today, I cleaned house and did laundry. All of my projects... well, I procrastinated on all of them. Boo.. I don't like when I do that. So tomorrow... I will get back to work so I can share what I've been up to.

I know I'm pretty much done homeschooling in this house, but I couldn't help but grab the camera and take some pictures of my son Mack putting a new motor in his truck. I think I just like to see the look on people's faces when they look out my back window and see a torn apart pick-up truck on my patio. Around here, that's schooling and a photographic moment to document progress. To others, it may just look like the rednecks have come to town. Well, maybe it's a little of both, but our home is a place of personal expression not impression. (I stole that from the movie "Yours, Mine and Ours".)

Seriously, with me, what you see is what you get. A simple sinner, covered in God's grace! How cool is that?!

I better get some rest. After all , my "projects" are staring at me, so I need my sleep to git 'er dun tomorrow. (that's me trying to sound redneck). My BFF should be proud! LOL

Mamahugs to all... and to all a good night!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Where's Everybody Going??

Okay, so here I am... Mother of Four, thinking I have all these children to raise and suddenly POOF... they are adults and LEAVING the nest. Where does the time go I ask you? And what does a mother do now? I've been easing into the empty nest for about 6 years now. My oldest son Christopher is now 25 and lives 1200 miles from us. Our daughter Kelsey is 24, has already been out of the nest for several years, but she's back for a temporary stay. Lacey, our third child (19) is getting married in September. Although she assures me we will see each other all of the time, I'm sure that life will suck her up just as it did me, and she'll have her own life to live. Fine! And then there's my baby, Mack. I told him he'll always be my baby even though I have to look up at him. Mack will turn 18 at the end of this year and is already planning his escape into independantville. (because it sounds like so much fun... LOL)

Let me explain something about myself. Besides being a Christ follower and loving Jesus with all my heart and soul.... I absolutely LOVE being a Mom. My life, for the past 25 years has been wrapped up in raising four children and trying to find time to spend with my wonderful husband. Let's not mention the part about working, running businesses and making a few great friends along the way.

About ten years ago, we embarked on a brand new adventure called Homeschooling. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when we suddenly decided to pull our children out of the public school setting, but I knew it was exactly what God wanted me to do. In that time, I grew to realize what a gift Homeschooling was to our family. My only regret.... not doing it from DAY ONE!

A few years ago, as my children started getting older and a few were finished with learning at home. I began taking classes at the local community college. Better late than never, right? In fact, my oldest daughter Kelsey and I took some classes together and loved it. I am blessed to have children who are not ashamed to be seen with me in public!

So here I am today... homeschooling is coming to an end. My chillins are leaving the nest one by one. I sold my business (so I'm currently unemployed). I finished a two year degree and have just enrolled into the university to work on my bachelors degree. I literally have time on my hands for the first time in .. well.. EVER! So I've decided to start this blogspot.

Join me, won't you. My goal is to be a source of encouragement and resources for Moms of all ages and stages. Whether you are just starting out with a brand new bundle of joy. Or, are you in the thick of the house-wrecking, life sucking munchkins who you swear will never live to see 18? What about those pre-teen monsters who show up one day in the place of where your sweet child once stood? Oh and let's not forget those teenagers. Aren't they grand? Yes, yes they are, and I'm here to tell you.. both my children and my husband and I have come out alive on the other side.

So... tune in, hang on, and enjoy the ride. You only get one ticket to ride this rollercoaster Moms. Make the most of it. Let me, with God's help, encourage you along the way.

Thought for the day... "where God guides, He provides.." Remember, if you have God with you, even parenting is survivable!

Mama Hugs and Blessings to you my friends......