Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Grandmommy's House

We went home to NC for Memorial Day weekend, chiefly b/c we hadn't been home to see my Grandmommy since Christmas.

When we go to Grandmommy's house, the kids love to play the piano for her:
(See the portrait above the piano? That's little *ME* in the dark blue jumper with my brother & cousins, circa the early 80's. :-D)

This visit was super fun, b/c Grandmommy wanted to DANCE!
(The boy in the orange is my BFF Wendy's son. :-))

We got silly...

And then straightened up for one proper pic. :-P

The bittersweet of all this is that it may have been the last time we hang out & visit with her living in her own house (where she's lived for almost 45 years, my mom's last childhood home, the last home in which she lived with her husband.) She's 99, and the last month has been...not so great, (a couple falls & episodes and she's not eating much; but otherwise still in good shape! Esp. for 99!!!) It's not what she, my mom, or my uncle had planned, (much less right now,) but there's a small open window of availability at the best assisted living center in our home area...and it will be a good thing. She has friends there, and it is generally an active, open community with a full-time chef and really good food. :-) They have exercises every morning, shoulder massages on Mondays, manicures on Tuesdays, baking club, gardening club, dances, outings, socials with the seniors from the Baptist church across the street, and all sorts of activities. She'll go Thursday.

Please pray for her and my mom. Obviously it's not the end of the world - nothing will change re: where she can go & how much she can do, (it's not like she's become incapaciated.) It's truly a blessing to have a place like this - very spa/resort-esque, not like the drab "homes" we visited growing up! But it is a transition, (more emotional than anything else,) and some family members are acting like it's a nail in her coffin. My mom is left, as always, to be the anchor for everyone else, and it's draining. Please pray for strength for her and for this transition to be easier & happier than they can imagine. :-)

Thwarting Thievery

How do you stop a crazed beagle tomato thief from taking every cherry tomato before they can turn red?

Go on vacay for a couple days to let them ripen in peace! :-D


Thursday, May 26, 2011

THIEF!!!

Time for a garden update:

When we last met there almost 3 weeks ago, Will picked & ate his first cuke. We've now harvested about 20!!!

However, we do have a problem. Remember the HUNDREDS of green cherry tomatoes that we just wanted to turn red? Yeah, well every single one we still have is still green...because Bonnie Blue, our THIEVING beagle, STOLE & ATE the 10-15 red ones we *did* have!!! I am livid. Still.

But the garden continues to be a menagerie:
We've watched this little guy living in our cuke planter box for over a week.

Then today, as I flooded the planter with water, not one but TWO popped up:
Will & Sis are thrilled that they're married and living there together in wedded bliss. :-)

Groupon & Grace

If any of y'all haven't joined Groupon, yet, and are interested, please do it through my link: http://www.groupon.com/r/uu4926573 If you do join and find a deal that you choose to purchase by June 13th, I get a big bonus, and you'll get a great bargain! (And I'm sure it'll be no time before you get bonus offers, too; I'm not a "special" member. :-P) Seriously not trying to be pushy & sell anything here AT ALL, but I like their referral program, so I thought I'd share honestly. :-) We've gotten the best deals since we moved here - half off our RiverQuarium visit, half off a local coffee shop, 75% off a museum membership, $10 for a $50 bowling session at the family fun park, and $35 for a $135 eye doctor appointment! You can also choose deals for other cities, even if you don't live there. Lots of the smaller cities (like ours) have big internet deals more often - photo services, gifts, specialty foods, etc. - that get shipped to you wherever you are. Anyway, enough plugging, but if you haven't yet joined and think you might want to check it out: http://www.groupon.com/r/uu4926573

Ann Voskamp had the most beautiful post today: When You Feel Like You Just Keep Blowing It. I have a few people especially on my heart that I prayed over to really get this somehow today - including myself!
:-) Ann is such a wordsmith...

No one ever blows it so badly that the Spirit can’t still blow in.

And no wind ever blows so hard that it doesn’t carry hope, that it doesn’t blow in blessings too.

To kneel and receive both, the impossible made possible by Grace.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gloriously Great Granola Bars

My BFF Jackie sent me *THE* most amazing granola bar recipe EVER! I've seen so many that, while being "healthier" than cookies or candy bars, are still loaded with tons of fat & oil. (That's fine if you're running marathons, but if you aren't and are just looking for a healthier snack, you don't need all that fat!) Finally, the best recipe ever - full of healthy ingredients and NO oil or butter! I'll post her version first (which she always tweaks, too) and then I'll share exactly what I did:

Ingredients:
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
choc chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9x13 baking dish with vegetable oil spray.
2. In a large bowl, stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, wheat germ, salt, cinnamon, choc chips, nuts, etc. In a smaller bowl, thoroughly blend applesauce, honey, egg, and vanilla; pour into the flour mixture, and mix until the liquid is evenly distributed. Press evenly into the prepared baking pan.
3. Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are golden. Cool completely in pan before turning out onto a cutting board and cutting into bars. [I bake them for 15 min and check them every 5 after that. (Try not to over cook them - mine usually only take 17 min or they get too hard.)]

I have done them before with 3/4 cup raisins and 1/2 cup pecans. I have made them with dried cranberries and pecans. You really can't mess them up. I used 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1/2 cup choc chips before.

I let them cool and then cut & wrap them individually, and the kids can take them to school or whatever. Protein powder bakes up easily with this, too. You might just have to play with the amounts.

Susie's version from today:

Ingredients:
2 cups 100% whole grain old fashioned oats
1 cup unbleached King Arthur white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cold milled golden flax seed
1 scoop vanilla Muscle Milk 100% whey protein powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsweetened natural applesauce
1/4 cup blue agave syrup
1/4 cup local raw honey
1 egg
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1 cup choc chips

I baked them for exactly 17 (15+2) minutes, and they were PERFECT! I cut them with a pizza cutter into squares...and I cannot stay out of them!!! I can't imagine why I would ever bother making any other kind of cookie-esque treat when *I* plan on eating a large portion. ;-) I think the breakfast cookie recipe just got usurped as reigning queen!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Gems & Business

Annelise (extremely matter-of-fact) : "Last night when I got up to get a drink of water, I turned into a mermaid."
Me: "WOW!"
Will: "Nuh uh. How?"
Annelise: "Magic." ♥

Will lost his 4th tooth today - his left front, leaving him with both front teeth gone. :-) He doesn't sound any different, :-P but we're both glad it's out (fell out on its own while he ate a super soft banana at breakfast) b/c it's been almost sideways for a few days. [Ick! :-D]

Annelise had her 5-year well-check today: 3'6", 40 lbs., perfect health. ♥ For the first time in her life, she had to (with my help) pee in a cup...which became her {bizarre :-P} highlight. :-D She also had her first finger prick & took it like a champ; she prides herself on handling stuff like that with more bravery than Will. ;-)

LOVE our new pediatrician! It's the "dream" practice to get into around here, and I see why! I would go here to hang out. For fun. (Actually, I could b/c they even have a day spa & super cute boutique upstairs!) PRAISE!

After the ped, Annelise & I went out to Ladies Lunch together at my absolute favorite lunch place here, Cafe 230. (I still adore The Cookie Shoppe for chicken salad sandwiches, but Cafe 230 is a bigger, complete Southern meal for the same price.) I just love how it feels like Charleston, and being there with my princess today? (Who has no shred of toddler left in her! She is 5-going-on-20! :-)) Being "the girls"? Pure heaven.

When JB's parents were here, they brought the kids the best summer workbooks! Must recommend: for Will - Summer Bridge Activities and for Annelise - Ready-Set-Learn: Kindergarten Activities. (I don't think Annelise's is going to last more than another week or 2 max, though! She has torn through it! :-D Will's trying to hold himself to 3 pages a day...and he's not even officially out of school, yet! They got my workbook-addict genes. ;-))

Truth: chocolate malts are the BEST when you can crunch the malt with each sip.

Will brought home his first sign up for FOOTBALL CAMP!!! End of June. Can.Not.Wait.

For my last kid-free lunch of this school year last Thursday before Sis got out Friday, I made my beloved Oven-Fried Green Tomatoes...so I didn't have to share. ;-)

Thursday night was Will's Dixie Yankees season-end party. The whole team (& siblings!) went bowling before trophies & cake. (Will won at bowling, BTW. All those hours in front of the Wii must've paid off. :-P)

Zoo Atlanta

JB had to fly out of ATL for business yesterday, so since we had to drive almost 3 hours up there to drop him off, we thought why not make it happy (no daddy = major tears) & special? We planned to meet up with one of my old BFFs, Lindsay, from when we used to live there (we met doing a musical together; she gave Annelise her only baby shower ♥) & her fam! [I was 7 months pg with Will at her & Brian's wedding, and the last time we saw them in person - when we came back to ATL for my friend Amy's wedding (where Will was the ring bearer ♥) October 2007 - was when she told me she was expecting their daughter, Reagan, who's almost 3 now!]

It was a fab reunion, and the location was the icing on the cake: Zoo Atlanta! [The disco dust on the icing on the cake? WE GOT IN 100% FREE! Go me! ;-)]

"Thank you for the cotton candy, Mr. Brian!" :-D

The pandas were the only animals we'd never seen up close at a zoo before - highlight!

Kangaroo craziness:

Is there ever any doubt that my kids will find EVERY train?
Riding with Brian, Lindsay, & Reagan:

Wheeee! (On a cheetah & manatee carousel ride)

Right before leaving, all hot & exhausted...and really happy to have had such a good time & visit together:

We were just there for 3 hours, but we had such a quality time! The kids and I drove back south in time for Will to get to bed normally for a school night - less than 3 hours - and the final double-coat of disco dust on the trip? I got gas for $3.59. (It's falling, but it was $3.67 here & $3.89 in ATL. I pray that one day I'll reread this post and think, "Whoa! I can't believe that was ever something to be glad for!)

1st RiverQuarium Visit

Grandma & Grandpa Blake just stopped by for a visit on their way back up to MI from FL, and on Saturday, we all went to the Flint RiverQuarium together for the first time. Just like Chehaw, it was really impressive for being in such a small area here!

We had fun at this water table learning how flowing rivers cut into the landscape:

They also have a rare albino alligator that we got to watch being fed with his buddies!

We have the most fun at places like this! :-)

School-End Celebrations

Friday was a day of end-of-school celebrations! It was Annelise's last day of pre-k Montessori. (She'll do Montessori Kindergarten there starting in August, as well.) She has been talking up her big year-end show for two solid months; every single day when I picked her up, she'd share the latest rehearsal details. :-) Friday morning was *finally* showtime! Her entire show was in Spanish - very cool. (Her teacher, Ms. Isabel, is from South America, so having a native speaker makes it so easy for them to learn.) I brought her a rose for her performance, and she was so very proud!!!

One of the numbers included maracas! ¡OlĂ©!

With Ms. Isabel:

She brought me over to this planter, b/c *SHE* wanted to pose here for a pic! ♥

Friday afternoon was Will's turn. His last day isn't until this Wednesday, but they had his 1st Grade class party on Friday - an ice cream sundae party!

Mrs. Coley LOVED the plate we made her!

On the wall of his classroom, Mrs. Coley displayed the letters they had all written the day before to their future 2nd grade teachers:
I am so in love with this. He said he wanted to show he has a good attitude so the BEST 2nd grade teacher would want to pick him! :-D

Friday, May 20, 2011

Web Wonderfuls

I never watch "funny" videos people email or post online. If my phone won't open it in 10 seconds, I don't bother... But yesterday, TOOONS of people in my FB feed kept suggesting & posting the same few videos over & over, so much so that my curiousity won out.

#1 - I will admit I have baseball-on-the-brain lately with all of Will's games, but my super awesome college [that's always in the top 10 liberal arts schools in the country & never gets the recognition its counterparts (Princeton, Williams, Amherst, Middlebury) get] made national press yesterday for something actually FUN! During a several-hour rain delay on Tuesday, the Davidson & Clemson baseball teams tried to out-entertain each other...and it is AWESOME:


And Part 2 [including the Royal Wedding! :-D]


I can TOTALLY see the guys I went to college with (including my HUSBAND!!! Although he played Davidson football instead of baseball) doing this!!! I am filled with bemused Wildcat nostalgia, (even though these kids are over 10 years younger than us. :-P)

#2 - This is touted as the "Greatest Marriage Proposal EVER!!!" And you know what? I could have ABSOLUTELY seen my husband doing this for me. I think that's why I loved it as much as everyone else:


And since I'm on a "from the web" roll, two pics:

Stefanie Gordon was flying from La Guardia Airport in New York to Palm Beach International Airport in Florida. Stephanie had been sleeping for most of her flight but woke up in time for Endeavour's 8:56 a.m. EDT (1256 GMT) liftoff when the pilot of her Delta airlines plane made an announcement that the spectacle would be visible. Through the plane's window, Stephanie managed to capture this picture on her iPhone. "WOW" God!

And just to share, b/c it's so true! (Although if people would take the time to learn their loved ones' love languages, we'd all have a lot less trouble in this department. ;-))

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Biting the Dust

I was thisclose to shouting from the rooftops, "Everyone come over & visit RIGHT NOW to bask in the glory of my clean house!" (Yes, it is an event. :-P ;-)) ...But then the motor of our vacuum died a screeching, violent death (imagine the sound if it would have sucked up & shredded a few strands of Mardi Gras beads; except there was nothing where I was vacuuming there but dog hair & dust bunnies) and this right after it had rolled over (maybe breaking? owww!) my toe!!! *Sigh* With house guests (my in-laws) coming in less than 48 hrs, this timing stinks. Rest in peace after almost 10 years, pre-wedding gift Hoover WindTunnel Deluxe Mach 3.8. :-D My friend, Maranda, had the most brilliant revelation: people should throw 10th Anniversary showers to replenish all the stuff that has broken and worn out by then! ;-)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Teacher Gift

I wanted to make Will's year-end teacher gift with my Silhouette, but I was at a total loss as to what it should say. I tossed borderline-cheesy ideas back & forth for 3 days, and then this afternoon, I just asked him. "What do you want it to say, Bud?" I could never have come up with anything as clever & simple:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tournament Fire!

Will's tournament t-ball team, the Lee County Fire, played their 2nd tournament this weekend. Two games Saturday, two games Sunday, [after having practice Wed, and Dixie Yankees games Thurs & Fri! Can you say worn out??? (Me, not them. :-P) Our last Yankees game is Mon night :'( - we're not ready for the season to end, although school will next week & summer travel is about to start.] They played so hard, (& I *cheered* so hard!) I know I keep saying how much I love these games, but truly - the family time, the team spirirt & excuse to cheer my head off for my child, the new friends we've connected with - they are blessings beyond measure for me here!




Run, Will!!!


Catch it!!!




"You've GOT to be KIDDING, Ump!"


Cheer!

So how did the tournament turn out? Well, obviously we made it to day two...

And we medaled!!! 1st runner up of the whole thing! Pretty awesome for a conglomerate team who's only practiced together 3 times!

Congrats, Will!

And to our WHOLE TEAM!



Friday, May 13, 2011

Digiscrap Catch-Up

I've had a TON of digiscrapping to catch up on, and I've been lax in sharing my pages, b/c #1 - you've seen most of the pics, and #2 - I'm running out of pic storage memory on my blog account. Of course, I'm still going to post my pages from this year, and you'll still get a good overview, (but there won't be quite as much detail when you click them bigger as there is here.) Feel free to go back through the archived months to read the posts that explain the stories behind the pics. :-)

Back to the New Year and January! (Amazing to think that at New Year's we didn't know we'd shortly get to move back home to the South!)
Our last family weekend in MI at a splash park hotel:

Georgia arrival!
Lee County Dixie League T-Ball:

Mardi Gras:

March, Wisteria, Fishing:

Beginning of April:

Annelise's 5th Birthday:

Easter Weekend:
Easter Morning and into May: