Friday, December 26, 2008

Holiday Rundown

As always, the holidays have gone by way too fast.  We've had a great time together.  We're worn out.  Late nights, lots of cooking, constant cleaning up, games, games and more games!  We played Loaded Questions, Pack the Car, and Texas Hold 'Em.  Texas Hold 'Em was challenging---to put it mildly.  The kids bet like crazy on absolutely nothing. They are really into bluffing, but haven't quite honed those skills.  That makes it really frustrating for those of us that actually know how to play the game.  Mitchell won $12.00 one night, so there was no telling him how to bet!  Morgan also won about $13.00.  Jordan was busy texting while she was playing. Victoria and Elizabeth played around on the floor UNDER the table. People getting up for drinks, bathroom breaks, food, spills, etc.---it is pretty much chaos. Our card games would totally drive the Zimmermann's nuts!  We do have the noise level in common with our Zimmermann family gatherings.

Damage Report:
Vacuum cleaner power head "frozen"
Drinking glass (actual glass) "stuck" in the garbage disposal (that can't be good)
Drinks spilled---9
Remote control for the television---LOST (I'm hoping it will turn up rather than think that it might have gotten thrown away)

Food Consumed:
4 cases of soda
7 lbs. beef tenderloin
7 lbs. ham
5 lbs. boiled shrimp
7.5 lbs. turkey breast
3 dozen petit fours
14 dozen cookies
120 cakeballs
2 bottles of champagne
3 bottles of wine
Not to mention all the veggies, dips, spreads, crackers, beer, vodka, gin, seagrams 7, assorted breads, pizza, nuts, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.  

Movie Review:
We saw Marley and Me.  Even those of us that do not like animals---loved it.  Bring a box of kleenex!  Also, a must see for anyone contemplating acquiring a dog!

Santa was very good to all of us this year!  

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Mindy is a Gift That Keeps on Giving!

How else can you describe a kid that keeps you on your toes?  Here's the story:

Several weeks ago, Mindy told us that it was unlikely that she could get off work to come home for Christmas.  Ever the optimist, I booked her flight for Christmas Eve anyway (returning the day after Christmas).  I gave her a deadline of December 17 to let me know one way or the other.  All along, she kept saying that she felt bad asking for time off since everyone wanted off for Christmas.  And when she handed the business manager her request, she said he just laughed.  

On the Monday after Thanksgiving Mindy called me to whine that she wasn't getting any days off for the next two weeks.  I immediately responded, "That's ridiculous!  You need to tell your boss that you need a day to take care of personal business (besides her car issues, her brand new dryer hasn't been working for months)."  She quickly cheered up and said, "Oh, no, mom, it makes me feel really important!  I just wanted you to feel sorry for me!"  I swear, if she was standing in the room, I would have smacked her.  After that, we discussed the possibility that if she was working so long and hard, that surely she would get Christmas off. (Her longest day was 5:30 a.m. to midnight---but she averages 12 hour days. Butch and I figure that the great salary she makes really averages out to about a buck 65 an hour).

Last Wednesday, as I was sitting at Stephanie's for 4 hours waiting on the plumber (yes, we're back to those kinds of duties again), Mindy called to say that she couldn't come home.  Although I didn't ask, I knew that she didn't ask.  I think she knew they would have said "yes" and then she would have felt guilty.  I swear, if she was standing in the room, I would have smacked her!  When I got home, I was happy to be able to change her flight for Christmas day, but unhappy that the first flight was booked.  That meant that she wouldn't get home until after noon.  Oh well, better than nothing.  

After much discussion with the family, we decided to completely switch all of our festivities around---no small feat as it involves changing things with the "in-laws" and "ex-laws" with the Lapps and Jacksons.  We got it all worked out.  

On Saturday night at 11:30 p.m. Mindy called to say, "Mom, guess what?  I'm off on Christmas Eve!"  I swear, if she had been standing in the room, I would have smacked her!  Here I am at midnight, keeping my fingers crossed that I could change her flight.  I guess God really wanted her home with us because I was able to book her on the earliest flight. Yippee, we were all happy!  We went about re-arranging all of our plans back to how we usually do things:
Christmas Eve
Big breakfast in the dining room
Santa of the sleigh
Clean-up and food prep for the evening
Family movie (this year A Christmas Story)
A Christmas Story trivia game
Naps
Fun, food and gifts begin
Late night poker game

Butch got up this morning first---a little before 6 a.m.  I got up shortly after and was reading in the living room in front of the fireplace when the phone rang.  Not unusual as Mindy always calls to let us know if her plane is on time.  Butch answered and I immediately knew something was wrong.  He kept saying, "Mindy, Mindy, calm down.  I'll have your mom see what she can do.  We'll call you back!"  She missed her flight!  She was sobbing that her phone, upon which she had set the alarm, battery died during the night, thus didn't go off.  She was hysterical and she couldn't do anything with Southwest online.  I swear, if she was standing in the room, I would have smacked her!

I got on the phone to discover that there were still some seats available on the 10 a.m. flight (thank you God).  There was a slight catch, she had to check in by 9 a.m. as Southwest has a 2 hour grace period for no additional charge.  The woman told me that they are very strict about the time limit. Not wanting to take the chance that the few remaining seats would be gone, I was willing to pay $172 for the flight. The agent told me that I really didn't need to do that as there were plenty of seats.  (Side note:  Southwest is by far the best and easiest airline to work with---cheap and flexible and you don't have to pay for luggage! How is it that the other airlines can't follow their business model?).

We called Mindy back with the good news.  But, I swear, when she gets here, I'm going to smack her! After that, we're going to have a very, merry Christmas!  I hope you all do too!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Eads Family are Trivia Winners!

Yep, we won!  50 bucks to be exact!  This is one of our favorite family activities during the holiday season.  We started it 3 years ago when we invited all of our friends, their children and grandchildren to compete in a trivia contest.  We had each family bring 10 questions, $10. entry fee, and an appetizer or dessert.  We had 36 people that first time (pretty much the size of an average Zimmermann gathering). I announced that the losers would have to host the party the following year.  Last year we were at the Black's house.  They lost again this year, so we amended the rules so that if you already hosted the party, you didn't have to do it again until everyone had a turn.  That means that the Potter/Bohan team came in next to last, so the Bohans volunteered for next year.  The Potters have a reprieve---they better start studying for 2009!  Malinda and Drew might be in town to help.

We really enjoy seeing our children and grandchildren together.  With so many living out-of-town, there aren't many opportunities for all of us to be together.  

We try to make sure that it's a friendly game, but a few still don't get it.  There was a set of questions where it was more than just a single answer---like, name all 7 of the Harry Potter books,  or name all 4 of the Hogworth buildings.  As it turns out, our questions were pretty hard too---which kind of surprised us since we used the Junior Trivial Pursuit game (ages 8 and up) to put our list together.  We had questions like---in a 14 oz. bag of M&M's which color has the fewest (orange) and who is Phoebe Anne Moses better known as (Annie Oakley) and which of these does the average American family eat the most of in a year, bananas, ice cream or potato chips (bananas).  We felt kind of bad after as we didn't think our questions sounded so hard.  Either that or our friends and their kids aren't as smart as most 8 year olds!!  Really, I should talk---we came in second to last in 2007.  Everyone thinks that since we have the largest team, we have an advantage.  But, as I told them, we have a problem with that.  With so many "know-it-alls" in the family, we tend to decide on the "wrong" answer only to have the person who actually had the right answer give us the old "I told you so".

However, this year, we really kicked it!  The kids were really an advantage---especially on all of the history and geography questions---oh and Jordan got those Harry Potter answers.  Mitchell called the 5 sided Nepal flag for us when we had no clue.  Morgan was our team captain and Victoria was our "police woman" making sure that no one spied on us.  Elizabeth was our spy---listening in on the other teams. Looks like we've settled on a winning strategy.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Halleluiah---

---or however the heck you spell it!  The oven is working again.  It started out a little dicey yesterday when the 12 yr. old showed up.  He started in on how he had been thinking over the weekend and now thinks my problem is electrical.  He said he should have checked that first.  If that is the case, then the appliance company would not be responsible and I'd have to find an electrician.  Not exactly how I want to start a Monday.  About an hour later, he called me down to report that it was electrical---sort of.  Again the lecture started about the self-clean feature---"when you use the self-clean, the oven gets so hot for such a long period of time, that it can do all kinds of damage.  See these wires?  They have completely melted.  If it had been these wires (at which time he points to some blue ones), you would have had a serious fire"!  Duh, I consider ANY fire serious!!

To make an already way too long story short, he made a trip back to the office to get some new wires.  He fixed me up, told me that I would be reimbursed for the initial service call due to my 5 year extended warranty, and headed for the door with these parting words, "I'd think twice before using that self-cleaning feature"!  Again I say, that's the best part of an oven! For sure I won't be cleaning the oven while I'm away from home---which everyone knows is the best way to do it so you don't have to endure the smell and burning eyes---or in the middle of the night for that matter.  Even this self-proclaimed, non-worrier will be worrying about this.  What to do...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Oven Update

Well, the 12 year old showed up today to finish fixing my oven.  Just my luck, the new parts didn't fix it!  He spent 2 hours working on it and now I'm still without an oven.  Apparently, there is tech support for oven repairmen, but, they aren't open on the weekends.  He's coming back on Monday morning and will call tech support from here to be "walked through" the repair.  While he had the ovens out, he had me look inside the top---about a million wires---resembling our tv/sound system wires.  I guess I was supposed to feel sorry for him.  I didn't, just made me feel like maybe he's an idiot or something.

On a happier note, when I got out the manual, I had all the other paperwork and bill of sale with it.  Holy Cow!!  I had paid for the extended warranty!  It must have been really cheap, because we never get the extended warranties---as they wouldn't sell them if they didn't make money on them.  The repairman called the office, but they couldn't find anything in their system about my sale.  So he took my paperwork with him.  I guess I should have made a copy in case it would suddenly disappear, but I'm not that paranoid.  Now I'm going to fight with them to get my service call refunded from the last time.

Now I'm back to "how in the heck am I supposed to bake my cookies for the cookie exchange".  About that time, Steph walked in.  As soon as I saw her, I started smiling.  She said, "What"?  She actually agreed pretty quickly to bake them for me in her Easy Bake Oven (my nickname for her mini oven that a regular size cookie sheet won't fit in).  Unfortunately, I can't help because we're going to be at the Titan's game all day tomorrow.  

Actually, Steph volunteered Jordan because she needs service hours for school.  I sort of freaked at that as Jordan doesn't cook (Morgan does and is quite good). Jordan is a space cadet besides.  I already had the dough mixed, it is just a matter of baking them---and no eating until they figure out if there are 9 dozen.  Steph promised to oversee the baking and will let Jordan do the "bagging"---at which time, I told her to remind Jordan to wash her hands and handle the cookies carefully.  Steph sort of rolled her eyes in that "mom, is being mom" kind of way---like she doesn't know what she's doing, so I have to tell her every little detail. What was I thinking---Jordan has a problem with washing her hands too much anyway.  In fact, they stay chapped all winter long.  

I look at it this way, even if my cookies are crap, my friends are getting a nice meal and evening out of me.  Now, if the oven isn't fixed by Wednesday, they won't even get the nice meal.

You know, you don't realize how much you use something until you don't have it.  I had some bananas that were getting over-ripe, so I thought, "darn, I wish I could make banana bread, but I can't because the oven is broken, darn, what a waste of good bananas".  Then I said to myself, "Barb, who are you kidding, you haven't made banana bread in 10 years"!  But this week, I wanted to!  Maybe I would have made banana bread if I had an oven, but probably not.  Actually, I really only miss the clock!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas Decorations




The battery died on my camera before I could get more photos.  I'll add more later.  This is my Murano Christmas tree collection.

Thanksgiving Pictures



Here are a couple pictures from Thanksgiving.  Steph's girls were in Virginia with their other grandparents.

Monday, December 1, 2008

It's Snowing in Nashville!!

I don't ever remember it snowing this early here---since we rarely get any snow!  Not to get too excited as it was in the 60's last weekend, so there's no way we'll have an accumulation.  I would prefer this on Christmas Eve, to remind me of Christmases growing up and walking up to midnight mass.  But, I'll take what I can get.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

'Tis the Season!

Yep, it is---and I'm ready!  Always with Thanksgiving, it's the start and this year was no different.  

Sandy and family arrived on Tuesday night.  Before even saying "hello" or a hug and kiss, Victoria (age 7) was quick to report that her dad had been stopped for speeding.  Greg only got a warning, but would rather have settled for the ticket if he could have avoided Victoria checking up on his speed for the next 4 hours!

Sandy and I picked Mindy up from the airport at 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday and went straight to the mall for their annual boot shopping.  Somewhere along the line, Butch told the girls they could buy new boots over the Thanksgiving holiday and voila' a new tradition was born.  It's like that in our family---do something once and it becomes a tradition.  Steph wasn't able to be with us as some people have to work, but we didn't forget her.

We met Butch for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory which got off to a rocky start.  We were to meet at 11:45.  Sandy and Mindy were waiting for Butch.  I met up with them at 11:50, so we decided to go in.  We were just being seated when Butch called and wanted to know where we were.  Somehow, we missed each other and he was already seated---and mad that we were late! There really was no explaining that we weren't late.  

Then I made the unfortunate mistake to ask about Mindy's car (which has been in the shop for nearly a month).  Come to find out, what was only a battery problem at the beginning, turned out to be burned wires and other expensive stuff because Mindy and/or her friends hooked it up wrong to "jump" it.  Right away, Mindy said we were ruining her lunch---and you don't mess with Mindy's food!!

We ended up having a nice lunch after which Sandy remarked,  "looks like dad is crabby too when he's hungry".  That's about the closest we've ever come to seeing Butch actually hungry!!

We played poker---I staked Mitchell for his first time.  After about an hour, I took out the $2.00 I started him with.  He had about $5.00 left and immediately quit.  It was okay to gamble when he thought it was with MY money.

Dinner at the club was fabulous---boiled shrimp, broiled scallops, prime rib along with turkey and all the trimmings.  Always fun with the family.

Then it was home to watch those Titans!  I guess we've officially become one of those families who plan their social lives around the football game.  The first time I ever encountered this was in the late 80's when I invited Jack and Connie to go to dinner.  She turned me down---Connie style---apologetically---due to a UT game.  Since I did not grow up in a house where anyone watched football,  I had never heard of planning your social life around football games.  

Anyway, back to the family.  We played more games---put this one on your Christmas list---Loaded Questions.  Sandy brought it last Christmas.  It is an absolute riot.  We had friends over this summer to play. One of the questions was, "What is something you say all the time"?  Jack still swears that he says "hi ya' kids, hi ya' " everyday at the office. They must think he's strange! We sure did---or---old---as he said it was from some kids show when he was little.  No one had ever heard of it. Jack is entertainment all by himself! He's still trying to live down Charades from 20 years ago!

One of my favorite lines from Loaded Questions this time was---in response to a question that Steph decided NOT to ask---"Who would you NOT want to see naked"?  Victoria was quick to say "grandpa"!  Truly, it's a laugh a minute and great for a crowd. Great game for kids too---aside from the naked question, they are all pretty tame.

Mindy had to leave on Friday morning which put a bit of a damper on our fun.  Butch, Steph, Mindy and I went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast before taking her to the airport.  The Lapps' were with the Lapps's.  Steph and I went to the movies and saw Australia (very good, but long---2 hrs. 40 min.) and then The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (also very good, but a downer). I like to stay gone on Black Friday so that my "ladies" who decorate the outside and stairwell can come.  I wouldn't be caught dead in the stores---unless it is 4 a.m., but no one wants to go with me that early!!  

We did our decorating yesterday.  It just about kills me every year to do it all in one day, but I just want to get it done.  Butch and I got along great---nary an argument---even with the Christmas music on all day. 

After church, Butch finished up trimming the live tree today while I wrapped some presents and did laundry.  Butch did have to come to Steph's rescue as she had a clogged sink.  She had a murder mystery/dinner party last night.  It was a huge success.  Her menu:
stuffed artichokes, pumpkin soup, bourbon pecan pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes, hot fruit (Connie's recipe) asparagus and chocolate mousse for dessert.  The clogged sink---who tries to put artichoke leaves down the garbage disposal anyway?  

Butch is back to maintaining two houses.  That's okay, he's pretty good at it.  And he fixed our hoosier mailbox.

I guess that about wraps it up.  Say a prayer that my oven part is delivered this week!  I've missed my oven---well at least the clock!  You never realize how much you use something until you don't have it!  And now I'm stressed about that d**n cookie exchange that sounded like such a good idea a few weeks ago before I had oven problems and might have to bake at Steph's when everybody knows it's better to cook in your own kitchen where you know where everything is!

Happy decorating!!  I'll post some family photos later.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

BIG Problems!

So, what's about the worst thing that can happen right before Thanksgiving?  My oven has gone out.  Yes, that's right, my new (20 months), Bosch is toast.  How can an oven burn up?  The service tech (who looked to be all of 12 years old) said, "Oh, I would never use the self-clean feature on an oven".  What?  Why in the heck have it then? That's about the best feature on the oven. He then says, "if you have to use the self clean feature, then NEVER use it on the top oven.  Think about it, heat rises.  What's up here---all the controls and the clock".  Yeah, right, I was about ready to "clock" him.  

I had set the self clean feature on Friday night.  On Saturday, I noticed that the clock was not working.  When I turned it on, it didn't seem to be heating up---but how can you really tell with the noise from that stupid fan that's supposed to keep the air circulating so it never really seems hot anyway.  I called the appliance store where I bought it for a service call.  The prognosis is that the clock is out, the motherboard is burnt up and he won't know about the thermostats until he pulls the entire thing out and replaces the aforementioned parts.  It gets better.  The parts are on backorder until Friday.  IF the parts are available then (and that's a BIG IF---get it, big IF), then they won't ship until then.  It will be late next week before they will arrive.  The cost, you ask?  We won't even go there.  Let's just say, I'm basically buying one of the f*****g ovens over again.  Do I have any other choice?  I think not.  The only good thing is that we're going to the club for Thanksgiving dinner.  I'll just re-arrange the other meals to make sure nothing has to be baked.  

I'll be up a creek next week if the parts don't come.  I've planned a "cookie exchange" for December 10.  It will be my luck that I'll be the only participant that couldn't actually bake the cookies! 

I guess it could be worse.  Two years ago, our tv went out the day before Thanksgiving.  But God smiled on me that day.  I found someone that actually was able to come out and fix it on Wednesday afternoon (and I only discovered the problem at 2 p.m.). To not be able to watch football on turkey day would be a tragedy.  Way worse than not being able to cook.

Come to think about it, God smiled on me this year too.  How else do you explain the fact that I made dinner reservations at the club a few weeks ago?

Learn from me---only use your bottom oven since that's the only one you can clean and let your fingers do the walking to dial your favorite restaurant. Oh, an NEVER plan anything that requires baking.

To be continued.....

Monday, November 17, 2008

November Surprise!


Wow, 3 posts in less than 24 hours!  A record for me.  The truth is that I forgot to add this---too cool.  I discovered this jackmanii clematis with this little, lone bloom in the garden.  Excitedly, I told the girls I had a surprise for them and took them outside.  All they said was "great, grammy", in a dull, bored kind of voice.  I guess the thrill is gone!

Go TITANS!!

8 pt. Buck!



No, I don't mean Butch!!  This morning at breakfast, we saw an 8 point buck in our backyard.  We've been seeing a lot more deer lately, so I think they've taken up residence where the turkeys used to live---a small patch of woods on the edge of our backyard.  I guess I can add them to the critters eating my garden.  Great!  Now, if I could only get them to eat squirrels!  When I mentioned this to Butch (of course I was kidding), he said, "Barb, deer are vegetarians"!  Seriously? Sometimes, I think he might really think I'm an idiot!

The turkeys---don't know if I've ever mentioned them, but we've had a family of about 20 or so since last spring.  They are gone now---I guess it's getting a little too close to Thanksgiving for their comfort!  

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Star Sighting

We went to the "Rain" concert last night.  Rain is a group formed in 1982 to pay tribute to the Beatles.  It was awesome!  Their sound was unbelievable.  They followed the Beatles from their early years.  When I'm at a concert, there is no way I can sit still!  I was on my feet a few times.  I did actually see Butch's head slightly nodding a couple times.  He had the girls laughing this morning by making fun of how I acted!  He said he can enjoy a concert without arm waving, dancing and screaming.  Go see it.  I couldn't sit still during Mama Mia either.  

Oh, the star sighting---Martina McBride was in the row in front of us about 10 seats to our left.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Beware of Scams!

I heard the saddest story this weekend.  There was a lady sitting behind me that asked me how old I was.  At these scrapbook retreats, there are women of all ages.  I had my iPod and everyone around was asking me to turn it up.  Pam and I had young girls (30 somethings) all around us. They all liked my music and decided that we must be pretty cool to listen to Gwen Stefani, Crowded House and Boyz II Men along with some of the older classics (Footloose, Aerosmith) and assorted country.  

Anyway, back to the lady who asked how old I was because of the music (she was 47, but Pam and both thought she looked older than us).  She told us about what has just happened to her this week that put quite a damper on her weekend.  I felt so sorry for her.  

She and her minister husband have just re-financed their house to pay off some bills.  He doesn't make much, so they decided to take advantage of the lower interest rates.  They also had some car from 1980 that her husband had restored.  They put it on Craig's list for $7500. and got a buyer immediately.  He sent them a check right away.  When they received it, the check was made out for $11,500.  He called the following day saying that his secretary had inadvertently included what he was going to have to pay the shipper in the check and could she wire him $4,000 to avoid all the bank "holds" etc. so he could proceed with the deal. Of course his check to her was still on "hold" at her bank.  But, since she had the re-finance money in her account, she sent the $4,000, but told the buyer that she couldn't release the car until his check cleared.  The email came back.  

She said that then she had a sick feeling and realized that they'd been scammed.  They have absolutely no recourse as the check to her came through a UPS place, so there's no mail fraud involved.  Of course, the scam artist never wanted the car to begin with.  It's just so sad that there are people out there that think they have a right to your money.  Ooops, didn't mean to get political.

Great Weekend

Pam and I went on our annual fall scrapbook retreat at the Barren River State Park in Glasgow, KY.  We've been doing this for about 4 or 5 years now---always great fun.

On the way, we stopped at a huge antique mall.  I got several really neat things.  A few of my finds:  

Vintage typewriter (you know, the kind we all learned on---not electric---the finger nail breakers).  It's really cool and blue to boot.  I bought myself a really neat pink one on eBay a while back.  Our day group decided this year that we were going to have one of those gift exchanges where you bring just one gift and draw numbers.  We decided on vintage items for our scrapbook rooms.  Knowing how much they envy my pink Royal, they will flip for this one.

Old scale---bought this for another scrapbooker friend.  She doesn't read my blog, so she won't know.  

Then, my best bargain---but here's the story before I get to that.  Awhile back, I found an old scale with a label "My Old Kentucky Home" manufactured in Louisville, KY.  Susan Dawkins is from Louisville (another friend), so I picked up the scale for her.  Paid $25.00 for it, got it home, loved it, decided to keep it.  Feeling guilty, I started checking eBay and finally found another last week.  Paid $8.50 plus $7.85 for a little over 16 bucks.  I just finished helping her organize her scrapbook room, so this will be a perfect addition.  Anyway, while at the antique mall, we saw the exact same scale for $89.00!!!  I seriously doubt it's worth that, but surely somewhere in between.  Feeling really good about that.

I also picked up a full S&H green stamp book for $4.00 and about 10 vintage photographs to add to my collection. My limit is $1.00 each for those---the professional type, not just old snapshots---unless they're cool.  I'm calling them my adopted family. Ever since I started scrapbooking, I keep remembering all the photos that I sent to Goodwill of Grandma Pierson's (my adopted grandmother).  I felt bad at the time for getting rid of them, but couldn't see what I would do with those.  Now I'd give anything to have them back.  There were some beautiful ones.  Now, collecting these old pictures is sort of my little way to pay honor to all those folks whose photos have wound up in an antique shop because no one in the family knows who they are.  Sad, really.  That's why I scrapbook!

Lastly, I picked up some little cute bottles---more junk to put on a shelf.  

I need a bigger room.  There.  I've said it.





Monday, November 3, 2008

The Concert




Well, Steph pretty much said it all about the New Kids on the Block concert.  But there are a few things I need to add.  As I was waving my light sticks, the 30-something gal behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I'd stop waving my light sticks as she wanted to take some pictures.  I lowered them immediately and then got a little "mad".  I was thinking, "what the heck, I paid $85.00 for my ticket too"!  Then I quickly got ahold of myself and thought "for crying out loud Barb, you're 56 years old---what do you think you're in your 40's"?  Anyway, I did wave my light sticks again, but I moved to the aisle seat as Connie was sitting down holding a sleeping Analise.  At one point, I leaned down and said "looks like you are enjoying this as much this time as you did the last"!  

When the "Kids" were performing on the mini stage, we were only 10 ft. away on our side.  I didn't make eye contact, but they did make eye contact with my light sticks!  Our group was one of the few that had them.  Amanda surprised us with them---great idea.  When the "Kids" left the stage, they were slapping hands---that's when Donnie "got" me!!  I raised my hand high and pointed to it to brag to the "young uns".  

The concert was high energy and really great.  I didn't need those back-up dancers---too distracting.  And I was impressed that I could stand pretty much the whole time.  I do believe I would actually camp out for tickets again if the opportunity arose!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

From Sandy...

Sandy doesn't have a blog, but I thought this was too good NOT to pass along.  We'll see what you think.  A little background:
Mitchell didn't want to dress up for Halloween at school as he would not be trick or treating and thought it would basically be a waste of time.  Sandy talked to him about being a good sport and having fun with it.  He decided to keep his idea a secret and really surprise his buddies.  We all thought his idea was hilarious---and so out-of-character for him.  So now, for the story from Sandy:

So get this...
Mitchell isn't allowed to dress as Hannah Montana at school on Friday.  Long story short, after I put a call in to the principal (only because of a comment that Victoria's teacher made to the second graders), assuming of course that she would laugh and say "of course he can be Hannah Montana", she said that no, in fact, Mitchell could not wear the costume because it was "inappropriate".  We apparently have a new rule this year that boys can't dress as girls and vice versa.  Have you ever heard of such a thing before??!  I don't know what I am more frustrated about, that fact that she has gone way too far in deeming what's appropriate or not, or the fact that I spent $50 on a costume that can't be worn, not to mention the fact that I now have to come up with a new costume in a mere two days time! And to think that I was gloating to my friends about how I had my costume situation taken care of a month ago!  So now that Hannah Montana is out, I'm thinking Kidd Rock is in.  Mitchell can still wear the blond wig and I'll only have to buy a fedora, sunglasses, and a white tank shirt.  Does anyone else see the irony in the fact that it would be appropriate for my child to go to school dressed as Kidd Rock, but not as Hannah Montana?  It sure makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Go Titans!

Yayyy! The Titans are 7-0---the only undefeated team in the NFL.  We have PSL's for the Titan's games and have had from the beginning.  Not really my "thing", as it's so long---and I can't multi-task, but I've figured out a way to really enjoy the game.  I actually like watching the game in the air-conditioned or heated comfort of my own home while stitiching, playing on the computer, or thumbing through catalogs at the same time.  Not only can I follow the game better, I understand it more with the commentary.  At the beginning of this season, I got the bright idea of listening to the radio at the same time while watching the game.  That's worked out really well for me.  Also, I like the tailgating---which brings me to last night's game.

I did the food on Sunday---made potato salad, deviled eggs, guacamole, and a snickerdoodle cake. I bought deli meats, cheeses and assorted breads to go with it.  Since the game was to be against the Colts (and UT homeboy Peyton Manning), we knew the game would be a big one---plus, it was Monday Night Football which I found out is a really big deal.  With all of that in mind, we decided that I needed to get down to the stadium really early to scope out our "spot". Of course, we have our favorite place.  I picked Morgan up from school at 3, swung by the house to load up the car, picked up Steph from her office and got down to the stadium by 4:15.  Too late!  Even though the game wasn't starting until 7:30, about 65,000 people beat us there.  We had to go with our back-up plan and park at the 5 ft. strip of remaining grass.  As it turned out, that was okay since we mostly needed to stay in the back hatches of our cars.  It was freezing cold with gale-like winds.  We knew it was going to be cold, so MOST of us planned accordingly. Somehow, Morgan forgot her socks.  I guess "wearing" socks to school is not required on an out-of-uniform day and must be "uncool" to do so.  She thought she had put socks in her bag with the rest of her warm clothes and blankets.  Once we got there and discovered the problem, she asked her grandpa if he'd buy her some Titan's socks.  He agreed and took her to the pro-shop.  Turns out they didn't have any, so she was out of luck.  They were giving away t-shirts, so that was cool.

The game started with Hank Williams, Jr. singing the national anthem to wild applause.  Then it was the soaring eagle flying into the stadium.  The game started---with an unparalleled enthusiasm.  That was quickly dampened when my friend, Pam and I discovered that the 4 guys in front of us intended to stand for the entire game.  So much for being able to snuggle under our blankets and be comfortable in our seats. 

We weren't too far into the game when I took Morgan to the bathroom and gave her my socks. Right before half time, Butch surprised us with hot chocolate.  It wasn't very good, but it was hot.  Morgan's was almost completely water, so he took hers back.  He was so busy watching out for us, that I didn't think he'd been able to enjoy the game.  He said he did and it was even better since we won!  

Now we have another game on Sunday.  It's not supposed to be so cold, but it's still the whole day!  

Friday, October 17, 2008

Teenagers..

...are pretty much the same as I remember---except for the permanently attached phone/iPod to their head.  The girls were off school today.  We left the house at 8:30 a.m. for doctor's appointments and got home about noon.  We watched a movie together, but they pretty much laid around for the afternoon.

When my girls were teens, plans were never made until the last minute and even then, they changed 13 times before we left the house.  The same is true with teens of today---except, with the phones, the plans can change on the fly.

Here's how it went down:
I asked the girls what their plans were for the day.  Jordan said that she was probably going to the mall with her friend.  Morgan didn't know what she was doing.  They both had plans to go to the football game tonight at Greer Stadium---a Father Ryan game (a good distance from the house).

At 3:20 p.m. Morgan asked me if I'd take her to their house so she could get her stuff.  She was going to the mall with Jordan.  Why she didn't bring her stuff with her, I don't know.  After J called her friend, they got into a huge fight because J didn't want to wait so she "dis-invited" M. We jumped in the car, I told J to call her friend and tell her we'd pick her up right then.  I made her promise to be nice to M.  I dropped J and friend at the mall even though it was way out of the way.  I then took M by her house to get her stuff.  Then it was back to drop her at the mall. Realizing that they would have to carry their Vera Bradley duffels around the mall, I agreed to drop them off at the friend's house where they would be getting ready for the evening.  

From then on, the ball was in their mom's court.  I was finished for the day.

All this running around took me nearly 2 hours.  I left the house at 3:30 and got back home at 5:20---just enough time to change my clothes and meet Butch at the Club for dinner.  If I hadn't had to run out of the house unexpectedly at 3:30, I would have been ready and driven straight to the club, thus saving me another 15 minutes and the gas too.  With the gas I have left, I'll never make it to Thursday!

However, I had the enjoyment of yelling at teenagers again.  I told them that this was the last time I would be involved in last minute plans that were not well thought out---and they had better be prepared with their stuff too.  I'd forgotten how much fun yelling at teenagers was!!  I really had them over a barrell.  It's about the only time I don't get any smart alecky remarks and rolling eyes.  They know I would turn the car around and they'd be going no where.  Then I felt bad and gave them each 20 bucks to spend!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Italy

The Colliseum was unbelievable.  About the size of a stadium---it held 70,000 people.  You can see part of the floor which ran across the entire top.  The grassy area is what was beneath the Colliseum and housed the animals and people waiting to perform.  Sometimes, they flooded this whole area so they could have boats on top.
When we were leaving the Colliseum, I saw this Roman and wanted to pose for a picture.  He handed me his sword.  It then cost me 7 Euros---Butch had a fit.  From then on, I didn't make eye contact with anyone!

Pictures from Italy

This is the view from our villa in Tuscany.  The place was originally built by the Medici's in the 1500's and became a hunting lodge for a cardinal.  It later became a nunnery.
Just enjoying the view and a glass of wine at the villa.
Butch feeding the pigeons in San Marco Piazza in Venice.
Just one of the many gorgeous views in Venice.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cousins Crop




We had our first annual cousins crop this weekend. We all had a great time, many laughs and good food. The weather was gorgeous although we didn't spend much time in it. We worked hard and finished an entire album. When I got home, I unpacked and then took a 2 hour nap. Then, I decided to take a jacuzzi bath to sooth my aching lower back. I was in the tub for 45 minutes. When I turned off the jacuzzi and the "froth" and turbulent water subsided, I discovered the water was a disgusting color (see photo above). Could it be that this is the result of going shower-less for the weekend, or the fact that the jacuzzi hasn't been used in 10 years? You be the judge.
PS I won't mention who else went without a shower the entire weekend....but, Jeanne, Janet and Judy were there. You be the judge.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What I learned on my trip to Italy...

I learned that I can make a 10 hour plane ride without using the bathroom after consuming 1 glass of champagne, 1 glass of wine, 2 iced teas, 2 bottles of water, 1 orange juice and 2 hot teas...

There are many ways to flush a toilet---none of which are familiar to us...

English isn't a foreign language in Italia...

As thrifty as Butch can be, when push comes to shove, he'll pay $18.00 for a beer...

My love of tablecloths is perfectly natural in Italy...

The Vatican Museum is the largest art gallery in the world...

Venice is my new favorite place...

It's always good to get back home...

AND:
I can lose 2 lbs. in 11 days eating Italian food and walking 10 miles a day...

I'll post pictures soon.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Few More




When I decided to do a layout about Nonna's punch bowl, I asked my mom to tell me something about it. I was thrilled to get it (Aunt Stella gave it to me since I was the oldest great-grandchild). I never heard back from mom, so I did the layout and speculated about the meaning of the punch bowl---perhaps I inherited my love of entertaining from Nonna, blah, blah, blah. Well, mom finally got back to me and said: "Well, I talked to Aunt Marie and neither of us could ever remember the punch bowl being used. It just sat on top of the china cabinet collecting dust. We don't even know where it came from." Sheesh---now I just wove a whole story about the darn thing. I'll have to go back and edit the page and put "NOT" over the journaling! This is exactly why I scrapbook----let's not forget the stories!!!

Recent Layouts






I did this layout for my Not Your Ordinary Book Club. It was an olympic theme---I racked my brain and this is what I came up with.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Update

Hey All,
I hope Steph updates her blog soon, but in the meantime, here's a little peek into how the move went. As you already know, the movers from hell did not deliver Labor Day weekend as promised. They arrived on Tuesday about 1 p.m.---gosh, this can be long, so I'll try to make it short. They refused to take any boxes upstairs. They piled the boxes to the ceiling in the family room and blocked the hallway. You could barely move. They also refused to put together what they had taken apart. They wouldn't take any of the empty boxes with them or break them down for us. What a huge mess! They were just jerks.

I left for Cape Cod on Wednesday, so Steph was left to work alone. She started her job on Thursday, so basically had the weekend. I was so impressed by how much she accomplished. I've worked yesterday and today and have pretty much gotten everything hung. I'm going to start on her scrapbook room tomorrow---I'm not sure I can get the furniture re-assembled by myself, but I'm going to try. Butch and I are going on Saturday morning to finish it up---break down boxes and haul them away.

It looks great. We'll post pictures soon. I'm not sure black was such a good idea---really shows the dust!

My trip to Cape Cod was so much fun. I really thought that I wouldn't have such a good time with all the work hanging over my head, but surprisingly, I didn't think about it very much.

My friends have given me my very first alcohol job. I am the official Bloody Mary Maker! They tell me I make a good one!
The Bohans, bought a condo in Mashpee. Just gorgeous! We shopped everyday---considering I don't like to shop, it was really fun. I had tons of seafood---shared every meal with Pam. We stayed up late and scrapbooked too. Just a great trip all around. Can't wait to go again.

Butch and I leave for Italy in two weeks with Walter and Chris. Busy, busy, busy!

Monday, September 1, 2008

You know there are teenagers in the house when...

You leave the kitchen in perfect order to come home and find salsa dripping down the side of the island and a mess that looks like at least 10 kids made....

Loud music is blaring and seemingly no one is home....

The t.v. has been left on all night....

The house is lit up like a Christmas tree---all day and night....

The laundry has reproduced to mammoth proportions....

You wake up to the sound of the door bell at 12:30 a.m. because they ordered pizza....

Their friends stay for days on end....

Your car is full of back packs and sports bags that don't even belong to "our" kids....

Strawberry Fanta is spilled/stained on your new decorative towels....

Soda cans are randomly placed around the house....

Navigating the bedrooms is like walking through a maze....

They have their friends over to get ready before the "big" game....

Your new duties include running the gang around to any of the following: mall, pool, MBA football, Father Ryan football, Ensworth football, cheerleading practice, friends houses---and picking them up....

Doling out money because their friends "forgot" theirs (did you know that it costs $8.00 these days for a high school football game?)....

Your tweezers, brush, razor and other assorted personal care items disappear....

Here's the evidence---Just a few more days.....




Random Observations

Random Observations

Did you ever notice that when you do something different to your hair, it goes one of two ways? Family and friends will either say nothing at all---which really means they are saying that they don't like it, so it's better to say nothing at all. Or, they'll go on and on about how much they like it shorter, darker, whatever, which really means, it looked really crappy before, so it's about time you changed it!

Backing my Solstice out of a parking spot near a couple of teenage boys was a mistake. Even though I think I look cute in my little red convertible sports car, I could tell by their stares what they were going to say to each other as soon as I pulled away, "That's just plain wrong"!

With the Olympics going on, everyone thinks sports. Last week at bridge, one of my "old lady" friends commented on how tan I was. I mentioned that I had been in our pool more this summer than all the previous 13 years put together. She then asked, "oh, do you swim"? I replied, "well, uhhh, no, I float". That immediately added another 10 lbs.

While visiting my doctor for my annual physical, she reported that I needed to drink more water. (I try, I really do, but when I fall of the water wagon, it's hard to get back on). She kept saying how it would really help with my weight AND my skin---translate---not only are you chubby, your skin is crappy too!

And my favorite: a couple weeks ago, when the whole gang was in town, Elizabeth followed me into my bathroom. I was going to change into my swim suit for the pool. I told her she'd have to leave because I didn't want her to see my big "butsy". She had a quizzical look on her face when she said, "But I WANT to"! I can still entertain kids!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Another Busy Week

I guess all my weeks are busy these days---since Steph and the girls have been here. I haven't cooked this much since---well, since two weeks ago when the whole family was here---or when Mindy was home with her friends and requested 4 meals that they were only here for 2 meals to eat!!! That girl does love her mama's cookin'! But truth be told, most of the recipes are Connie's.

To some of my family members that have not heard the news, Steph and the girls are back in Nashville. To make a very long story short, Bryan, Steph's husband, told her 3 days before our family vacation that the "blended family" thing was not going to work and he wanted a divorce. For Steph, it came out of the blue. Sure, she knew there were issues, but nothing she considered a "deal" breaker. Anyway, Butch and I are happy to have them back. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity as we got everything set for school (uniforms, school shoes, summer reading and workbooks). The girls will go back to Overbrook and are in the 7th & 8th grades. They picked right back up with their friends---as if they'd never left---and I've got the messy house to prove it. Having teenagers in the house again has been quite an adjustment for us---the late hours, cooking at midnight (them, not me), friends spending the night, all the lights left on, the toilet flushing over our heads at 2 a.m. and the laundry---not even going there.

We've bought them a house (we close on Friday). Later, we'll get it transferred to Steph's name. She is going to accept a job on Monday at HCA where she worked before she left---she came back from Kohler with a stronger resume, so she has qualified for a better job and more money to boot. The actual move itself hasn't happened yet and we don't really know when it will. Steph will be blogging about that experience soon---too crazy. We had hoped to get them settled over Labor Day weekend, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. Still, with all the stuff they have here, we'll have plenty to keep us busy.

We've been shopping fools---furniture, bedding, window treatments, etc. We went to the flea market this weekend and "snagged" two oval tables that we're going to use as bedside tables in Steph's room. They are old (probably 1950's and have been spray painted black. They're really cool. They were asking $110 for the pair. The guy told me they were from Lammert's. Not knowing furniture brands, that meant nothing to me. I offered $80. He then opened the drawer to show me the label. They were from Lammert's in St. Louis! Of course, I knew that store---long St. Louis tradition---just didn't expect to see that name at a flea market in Nashville, TN! I knew it was a sign. We got them for $85---great bargain. We also picked up a magazine rack and a few other little things. Oh, and I bought myself the coolest purse---new, not used.

The Nashville flea market is really good. I haven't been in a few years, but they have everything you could possibly want---new and used. Butch got 4 dozen golf balls (new) for 10 bucks. At that price, he can afford to lose them.

I've spent the afternoon cooking (did I mention that Steph is NOT a good cook?). I'm going on a scrapbook retreat tomorrow and needed to make my Tuesday night dinner. I made Connie's Chicken Pockets recipe (for tonight) and cooked extra chicken for Rotel Chicken. Got a little carried away with the chicken, so had enough to make 2 Chicken Almond Cheese Balls. At least the family won't starve while I'm gone.

Over the past couple weeks, I did manage to spend some time in my scrapbook room. That is such a stress reliever for me. I planned 12 layouts for our 1st Annual Family Scrapbook Retreat in October at KY Lake. Jeanne, Janet and Judy are coming this year. Chrissy can't make it, but I planned for her too. In addition, I planned another 20 layouts for myself---12 for this week and 8 for next week when I go to Cape Cod with my friends. I'll post some pictures when I get back.

Over and out....

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Busy Week

We had a great week with the family. Even Mindy came in on her days off---Thursday and Friday. We did everything on the list We clothes shopped, we school shoe shopped, we ate, we swam, we played games, we watched a movie, we went to the club, we went to Cheesecake Factory, we had a swim party with all our friends, we went to a birthday party, we went through my jewelry and scrapbook supplies and had a fashion show. Steph and Sandy took the kids to Nashville Shores. And of course, there was our expensive movie day. After everybody left, I realized there was one thing I forgot to put on the list---so therefore we didn't do it. I bought an ice cream maker. We haven't had an ice cream maker since the 70's! I think the kids would love it. Next year.

We had a little excitement on Thursday morning. I was taking Morgan to cheerleading camp in the Solstice. She was in a foul mood because her mom had forgotten to put her cheerleading tee shirt in the dryer. I suggested that since we were in the convertible and she had on a sports bra, that she could take the shirt off and just hold it over her head to flap in the wind. It was dry long before we reached school.

Back to the excitement part. When we pulled out of the drive-way we discovered that our brick mailbox had been smashed to smitherines. The kids wanted to drive around the neighborhood to find out who had hit it---they had to have serious damage. Surely it was a kid. I'd love to know what they told their folks. Anyway, I couldn't believe that we didn't hear it. Finally, Steph said that she actually did hear something around 11:30 p.m. She was still up reading. When she heard it, she said that she thought it was a really big bug hitting the window. For crying out loud---that bug would have had to have been a Volkswagen beetle for all that damage.

When I got home from dropping Morgan off, I started calling around to find someone to build a new mailbox. No luck. I tried again on Friday morning and had two appointments set for Saturday. In the meantime, I had propped the box on top of the rubble. Later that day, I got a note from my mailman that he would not be delivering my mail because he was not "required" to get out of his car! I was sooo mad! There was a phone number to call. I called. I was fired up. I asked the woman who answered to explain to me why he was able to get out of his car to put the note in my box, but couldn't leave the MAIL!!! She said, "well, maybe he didn't have your mail with him". I lost it then. I said, "Why the hell would he be at my box then?" She started to say something else and I rudely cut her off and said, "Never mind. Just tell me how I'm going to get my mail."

She proceeded to tell me that I could pick 2 days to have my mail "sent up" to my post office so that I could pick it up. I couldn't believe that I wasn't able to get my mail everyday. I picked Tuesdays and Fridays. As soon as I got off the phone, I went online to the USPS to file a complaint. I hit the "contact us" button. My "problem" was not on the list, so I selected "other". I went into a rant about "whatever happened to 'through dark and snow, sleet or pouring rain', blah, blah, blah and how we don't have a choice when it comes to our mail service---service that we don't actually get". When I finished, at the bottom, it said "continue here..." Oh my gosh, I about stroked out---it was NOT clickable!!!! There was no place I could file a complaint! No wonder they think they have 100% satisfaction!!! My blood pressure went through the roof---in fact, I'm getting worked up right now all over again!!! Uuuuuhhhhmmmm! Serenity now...

Then to top it all off, the 2 different guys that were supposed to come on Saturday to give me an estimate, didn't show up or even bother to call. I started making calls again on Monday after sending an email "help" to my friends. They were no help either. I finally called the Jones Stone Company where I had purchased brick for my flower beds. They recommended a guy who showed up, did the work for a reasonable price $590. (Butch and I were speculating that it would be $1000, so we were happy). He finished the job today---it looks better than it did before. But wouldn't you know, when I called the number to have my mail delivered again---no one answered. No telling how long it will take to get my service (or lack there of) started up again.

Here's the note I plan to leave my mail carrier this Christmas:
To my most considerate mail carrier. I realize that you are expecting your usual gift card. However, I had to use your Christmas bonus to purchase GAS to pick up my own mail because you were too frickin' lazy to get out of your frickin' car when I had my little mailbox problem last summer and was totally inconvenienced by you! Merry---frickin'---Christmas!!! There goes the blood pressure again----uuuuuhhhhmmmmm!

On to more pleasant stuff.

Friday night was designated our family game night. The Lapps family had given me a kareoke machine for Christmas. This was our first time using it. What a blast. Even Elizabeth got in on the act. We just gave her the mike, so she sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and On Top of Spaghetti (Mindy had never even heard that one).

About midnight, I looked around and asked, "what's wrong with this picture"? All of the kids had gone to bed (except Morgan) and we adults were still singing! It was so much fun. Greg didn't want to do it at all, but after a few drinks, he did. He sang "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" while facing away from the screen---basically showing off that he knew all the fast words without looking. And to top it off, he actually had the best voice of the bunch. He just doesn't like the performing. The first time we took him on a family trip with us (he and Sandy were in high school), we played charades. Also, Steph and her friend, Malinda sang. After the weekend, Greg asked Sandy if our family always performed. He might not like it, but he's a good sport---and we're still performing.

I "wowed" the gang with my rendition of "At Last" by Etta James. Sooo very much fun!

Mindy left on Saturday, and everyone else left on Sunday (except the little girls---who aren't so little anymore---12 and 13). Then the reconstruction began. When Margarita came in on Monday morning, I just looked at her and shook my head and said, "I'm sorry"! She worked hard---pretty much every room in the house needed attention! I didn't really feel too bad as she doesn't have to work too hard for me. Half the time, I don't even make her go upstairs. And I give her vacation pay when we're out-of-town. Actually, she totally loves me. Of course she doesn't know how to say it, or maybe she is and I'm not understanding it. But she does hug me a lot!!!

Yesterday, I had a great time with my friends in my day group. I'm lucky that they are always so willing to go along with whatever crazy things I want to do. I got us involved in a mystery bus trip. We had no idea where we were going (unlike the time a couple months ago that I took them to the Duncan Hines exhibit in Bowling Green, KY. It was sort of cool, but very small---we were done in 5 minutes---still it was very interesting).

The cost of the trip was $80.00 and billed as something that they were 99% sure we had never been to. We arrived in Hendersonville (about 40 minutes from Nashville) at 7:15 to catch the bus. 4 hours later, we were near Chattanooga (normally only a 2 hr. drive)---our bus driver went the wrong way. We had to change our plans and do the lunch and show part first. We went to Whitwell, TN to the Buttonwillow Church. It's no longer a church, but had been turned into a 19th century performance hall. The dinner was made from recipes that came from the Confederate White House Cookbook---from the 1800's. Everything was delicious---chicken, copper pennies, green beans, cornbread dressing, biscuits, sweet tea, followed by blackberry cobbler. Just FAB!!

Then the show started---consisting of 2 people (the husband and wife that owned the place). It really wasn't a play at all, just a historical oratory---2 FRIGGIN' hours long! What a snoozer! I ended up reading all the brochures that I had picked up, the People magazine I had in my purse for the bus and even worked the cross word puzzle (I was in the back). My friends were jealous that I had something to do. You know me, I can't stand to waste time. I was thankful that at least the best was yet to come. Had we arrived on time, we would have done the "main event" and ended with this lousy presentation. Okay, parts were interesting, but it was just too long. I swore that if the guy said "there ya' go" one more time, I might actually throw something at him!!

If you've never heard of Whitwell, you might have heard about the Paperclip Project. The principal and 8th grade teachers of the Whitwell Middle School were trying to figure out how to teach their students about tolerance. They are a very poor community with only 4 black students and 1 hispanic student in their school. So the 8th grade teachers started teaching about the Holocaust. The students couldn't imagine what 6,000,000 looked like, so they started collecting paper clips. Paper clips were used during the Nazi regime to symoblize that Jews were welcome by anyone that had a paper clip on their lapel. To make a long story short, it is incomprehensible to see 6,000,000 of anything. You wouldn't think that 6,000,000 paper clips would look like much---but it was incredible---and to translate that to Jews---unbelievable. This project grew---they have had concentration camp survivors come to talk to them, 10's of thousands of letters accompanying the paper clips and German correspondents from Washington doing the documentary. They even spear-headed a project to purchase an actual rail car from Germany that was used to take the Jews to the camps. The old rail car houses the exhibit. Just fascinating. I bought the dvd documentary and plan to take the family next summer when they are all here. I just wish we could go to Buttonwillow for the meal and skip the show!

However, my friends and I decided that we don't want to do anymore of the "blue-haired" bus tours. The gal in the seat in front of us got car sick and started vomiting. Of course we have so much fun---and all the laughter, that some of the old gals behind us kept butting in to our conversations which was driving my friend, Nancy crazy. We didn't get home until 9 p.m. I was exhausted!

We're done with the bus. I'm planning our mystery trip for next year. It'll be good!
Later...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Goin' to the Movies ain't like the Good ole Days!

The whole gang is here this week. We plan the week and post the schedule on the refrigerator so everyone knows what's happening each day and, of course, the meals. Well, today was to be a pool day (actually everyday is a pool day at some time or another, but today was to be a stay-at-home all day pool day). When we saw the weather last night, they were predicting storms all day. Soooo, we decided to alter our plans and take in a movie. "Swing Vote" with Kevin Costner was the majority choice. Sandy and Steph went off early for manicures and a stop for candy at Walgreen's. The kids and I (minus Morgan as she was at cheerleading camp) met the girls at the theater at 10:45. By the time I bought 4 adult tickets and 2 kid tickets ($38.00), 2 large popcorns, 5 medium drinks, 1 nachos and 1 slushy (the total was $50.00) and the $10.00 for the Walgreen's candy, it was a $100.00 outing! That is absolutely insane! And to think, besides economizing with the candy purchase, we brought lunch bags to share the popcorn. When we went into the theater, there was one kid (about 12) already seated. No one else came, so that made 8 people watching (counting Elizabeth who we didn't have to pay for). Now wouldn't you think with the cost of the refreshments, they would sell tickets for a buck, fill the theater and make a "ton" on the food?? Seems like a pretty clear cut idea to me. But what do I know...

Remember when we were kids and you could go for a quarter? It was a dime to get in, a nickel each for the coke, popcorn and candy. And in December, if you brought a toy, you saved the dime ticket fee.

I can remember about 20 years ago when I first started complaining about the high cost of going to the movies. Connie and I would take our girls. I would complain that it was a $50.00 day then! It's no surprise that Butch doesn't like movies.

Bring back the good ole days! And the "bite" of it? We didn't get a drop of rain. Now I'll have to water the plants. Our weather guys are ALWAYS wrong. Why in the world did I think they might be right this time?

Movie review: "Swing Vote" was funny the first half, but heavy with the message and political agenda the second half. Probably worth a rental. But definitely NOT worth 100 bucks.

Mindy has called every day to find out what we've been doing. I didn't have the heart to tell her that we had a HUGE pool party on Saturday (especially since some of her friends were here). She arrives tomorrow morning, but when she called this afternoon, she asked us not to have anymore fun today without her. Sorry, we just can't do it. But, all I can say is that it will be MORE fun when she gets here!!!

I'm exhausted (wink);) Whew!

Oh, and did I mention that someone ran down our mailbox last night? It's fully encased in brick and smashed to smitherines. I managed to prop up the box on top of the rubble, so I received mail delivery. Yeah!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

UGH!

Obviously, I still can't seem to get the pictures coordinated with the wording. You'll just have to figure it out!

More Photos


Jordan, Stephanie and Morgan

The Lapps Family: Sandy, Greg, Mitchell, Victoria and Elizabeth

Mitchell during the atomic fireball challenge---he lost!

Sandy, Stephanie and Mindy

Here is our view from the pool. The villa is set into the side of a mountain---very steep. The ocean is actually closer than it looks. It's supposed to be a 10 minute walk, but believe me, there is no walking in this area!

Vacation Photos


From this picture, you can get an idea of the "open air" concept that I've described. This is the bottom level which contains the pool, kitchen, eating area, and 5 bedrooms.

Friday, July 25, 2008

If it Sounds too Good to be True...

It usually is!!! And that's what I have to say about our vacation!!! Don't get me wrong, it was fun, fabulous, ultra clean, but there's a little more to it than that. Here's the story:

We arrived in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico to HEAT and HUMIDITY. My hair frizzed up and stayed like that for the week. My make-up melted off in 2 minutes flat. After gathering the gang, luggage, and navigating through customs, we piled into a huge van to Villa Mystique---10,000 sq. ft., 8 bedrooms, 9 baths, swimming pool, 4 servants, overlooking the city and ocean. The road to the villa was cobblestone and straight uphill---all winding with parking garage mirrors all over the streets. Near the top, the road flattened out. We pulled up to the house---beautiful doors set amidst lush foliage. The houseman opened the door to the most incredible view. The entire back of the house was open to the ocean. But, it was HOT and HUMID!! The kids quickly claimed their bedrooms and got their swimming suits on. We adults sat around the pool while being served frozen margaritas, the best home-made guacamole and fresh salsa I've ever had---and way more than our family could eat. But, it was HOT and HUMID!!! As I was sitting there, I was thinking---"well, I guess we never have heard of anyone going to Mexico in the summer, obviously because it's too friggin' HOT and HUMID!"

I had ordered a Mexican dinner for that night, knowing full well that it would not be the type of Tex-Mex that we were used to. Still, I thought it would be fun to experience the local cuisine. Of about 6 dishes, everyone managed to find something they liked. For me, it was just the cheese quesadillas---I mean, how can you mess those up? We were all pretty full anyway from the guacamole and salsa, so no one starved. Then, the mosquitoes started to eat us alive. To say I was disappointed is an understatement!! I did not expect the place to be completely open-air---no doors, just some shower curtain type thing to pull to keep the rain out. But, considering the beauty of the furnishings, gorgeous artwork, sculptures, fabrics, flowering containers, etc, it was amazing to me that it all held up to the elements. We were all tired from our pre-dawn flights, so we retired early. The cool of our air-conditioned rooms was a welcome treat. I took a shower, counted the days I'd have to endure this torture and went to bed.

The next morning, I was in the best mood!! I start everyday feeling like I can conquer the world!! Then, when I opened the bedroom door, the HEAT and HUMIDITY hit me all over again! I decided to change the way I was looking at it. We were luxury camping!!! From then on, we had an absolute ball!!! Of course, we had the houseman secure a couple cans of insect repellent---a scent of OFF that was actually pleasant! A huge breakfast awaited us. We lounged around the pool all day. We went to a really nice restaurant on top of a building overlooking the ocean. When we got home, we started the first of a zillion games for the week. There were fans all over the house that really helped make us comfortable in the HEAT. We started the week off with "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader", went on to liar's poker, modified bunco, charades, picture changes and a guessing game. We even had a challenge to see who could suck on an atomic fire ball the longest. Everyone managed to get through it except Morgan and Mitchell.

On Monday, we went zip-lining through the jungle. It was an awesome adventure, but very strenuous with having to climb flights of railroad-tie stairs to reach each level. There was one section that I didn't think I could make (I have to add here that Jeanne asked me if it was really hot. My response was that I didn't notice the heat at all as I had bigger problems with the climb to think about being hot---besides climbing, you have to carry your "wheel" which weighs 5-10 lbs. in a harness with a helmet). It took 2 hours with about a dozen rides through the valley seeing a flock of parrots, the river and ocean. A great experience that I would do again--even knowing how hard it was.

Butch and Greg played golf twice---expensive, HOT and HUMID. We shopped, bargained, ate at the Hard Rock Cafe and a local Mexican restaurant. We enjoyed being waited on, the pina coladas, and, for the most part, the food. One night, during our game playing, we ordered Dominoe's pizza. Butch about had a stroke when 4 large pizzas were $100 (that was the servants day off, so we were on our own for dinner).

On Thursday night, we went to a Mexican fiesta with all kinds of entertainment. Mitchell said that he learned something about Mexican dancing---"it's just really, really, loooonnnggg!!! It was a bit on the campy side with the dancing horse and all, but the food was really good (for which many family members paid for later in the way of some gastro-intestinal discomfort).

On Friday, the whole family went horseback riding. I decided to stay behind because I had brought lots of reading and my stitching---which I never got to spend much time doing. I enjoyed a relaxing morning and part of the afternoon. When the family all "crawled" in, they said that I had made the right call by staying home. Everyone was completely sore and worn out. Jordan suffered the worst (Jeanne, did I use that correctly?). She had bleeding sores on her ankles because her stirrups were too loose. The trail ride went straight up the mountain through the jungle for over an hour. Then they let the horses rest an hour. All the kids thought a truck was going to pick them up, but they had to ride back down. Steph said that 2 minutes into the descent she though she was going to die---it hurt that much. About half way down, as some of the horses started to run, Butch asked who was up for a Dude Ranch next year. Mindy was the only one up for it!

That night, I asked everyone to write down their favorite activity and memory from the week. Little did they know that they were doing the journaling for one of my vacation layouts! I'm always thinking!! Anyway, I turned it into a game. I read each one and everyone had to guess who they think wrote it. A few of the favorite memories were:

*Elizabeth playing charades and acting out Solja Boy and YMCA---over and over again when it was her turn.
*Catching a glimpse into the mind of a 12 year old boy who said his favorite memory was when the "balloon man" at the Mexican Fiesta wrote "mucho, sexy babe" on Aunt Mindy's balloon hat.
*Grammy speaking Spanish to the cab driver---asking "Que hora es?" (what time is it), only to have the driver respond in English, "I don't know". Jordan totally cracked up.
*Stepping into our air-conditioned bedrooms at night, a cool shower and clean sheets.

We had the best time and decided that it doesn't really matter where we go, as long as we are together. We'll all be together again next Friday for another week. One of our favorite family traditions is spending the first week of August here at the house lounging around our pool, as a last "hurrah" before school starts. And the games continue...

Check out Villa Mystique here---I'll post some pictures later:
http://villamystique.com/

Friday, July 11, 2008

On the road again...

So far, my summer has been one long vacation! Starting with Memorial weekend in Indy, New Orleans, Wisconsin, the beach, St. Louis and now tomorrow, we leave for a week in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. We're all looking forward to it. We've rented a house with a pool and cook, maid and houseman! Sounds and looks too good to be true. We'll see.....

I'll report when I get back---maybe even while I'm there.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Few Photos


1). Jackie's engaged. Greg and she have set the date for September 19, 2009. Notice Jackie's beer---she just pretends to drink!

2). Truly the most beautiful ring I've ever seen and huge! The picture doesn't do it justice.

3). The cutest little pregnant couple---Jessica and Mike. Baby Max is due to arrive in October.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

St. Louis is Not a Vacation Destination

Here's how it went down. I arrived yesterday afternoon. I was reminded that I had to get "stuff" out of the trunk in the garage. Well, last time I was here, mom "enticed" me with the knowledge that there was genealogical stuff I might like to have in there. I took one look at the trunk with stuff piled to the ceiling on top of it, completely boxed in around it, also piled high and decided that even if the Shroud of Turin was in there, I wasn't going for it.

Jeanne came over for dinner and went out with me to get to the trunk. Turns out, it wasn't so hard after all, because most of the boxes were empty! Seems like I inherited my box issues from my mother. We unburied the trunk and started hauling the stuff inside for mom to go through. Jeanne and I discovered what is going to be our family competition on Saturday. Mom had prom pictures for each one of us---and are they hilarious!!! Talk about hideous dresses---oh wait, that's a category for the competition (but Janice is going to win that one "hands down" for her floor length purply plaid floral number).

After Jeanne left, mom said, "yeah, I've been meaning to clean out my garage". Translated: "Barb, will you clean out my garage"? I learned a long time ago, my mother never asks for what she wants, just hints as in "I've been meaning to hang these pictures, move this stuff, inventory my safe deposit box---translated: "Barb will you, blah, blah, blah. Since I live away, I always take the hint as my sisters, Jeanne and Jennifer have to do everything else.

Fast forward to today. Bright and early this morning, I started on the garage. Mom was a little nervous about what I was going to do. She was hovering until I made her go inside. I promised that I wouldn't throw anything away (I lied about the boxes). I also promised that I would not look at the private papers she had stored in another box (okay, I took a peek---I really don't care about the make and model of the phones she has). Don't get me wrong, my mom is the queen of organization---always has been. She doesn't keep a lot of junk. It wasn't that hard of a job except that it was a garage. Thank goodness it was only a one car garage. Sweep, sneeze, drip (as in sweating), sweep, sneeze, drip, etc.---you get the picture. I also discovered little mouse droppings, but won't tell her that. When I finished, I had a pretty significant pile of crap and crud. Now what should I do with it---no dustpan. Even unbelievable to me, but I scooped up a bunch of it with my BARE hands. With the rest of it, I have a choice, sweep it into mom's grass, or the neighbor's grass. I chose the neighbor's. Not really. Okay, yes, really. What the heck, they were still sleeping. By the time they see it, the garage will be closed and they'll have no idea where it came from.

I've also been assigned lamp shopping as Jeanne has reached her frustration level with that and Jennifer has reached her---I'm going to jump off a cliff if I have to take mom shopping one more time---level. She had the unfortunate task of taking mom mattress shopping a while back and needed two stiff gin and tonics to survive the ordeal---with nary a mattress bought.

Okay, sure, I can get the lamp. Then Jeanne hits me with all the stipulations---can't cost more than $64.00, can't be made in China, has to be the correct shade of antiqued brass to match the other lamp and so on. I must say, I'm pumped for the assignment and I have an ace in the hole! Jennifer has some Made in the USA stickers to only be used as a last resort. We wouldn't want mom to catch on that all the stickers look alike!

I get along shopping with mom pretty well. I just treat her like a little kid. My last assignment was shoe shopping for my niece, Jessica's wedding. I took her to ONE shoe store (none of this driving all over tarnation for me). I found a place and told her to sit down. I asked her what size she wore and proceeded to find shoes---not too tall of a heel, no sling backs or open toes, no made in Taiwan, not too slippery, ivory---not beige, white or taupe, preferably cloth since they look more formal, etc. She found two pairs she liked and couldn't decide between the two. She asked if I was taking her somewhere else, I said "no" and made her buy both pairs. She returned the pair she didn't wear the following week.

I've also taken her bra shopping---should be pretty simple----doesn't need anything sexy, just utilitarian. Took me about 5 minutes. I just tell her what she has to buy. End of story. I predict the lamp shopping will be pretty much the same. Maybe she complains about how bossy I am, what do I care, I'm gone.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Worst Kind of Shopping is....

All together now----Swim Suit Shopping! Ugh! Never have liked it. I found the perfect way to do it a few years ago. I sent Mindy and Steph with these instructions---get me anything in black, size *** (surely you didn't think I would give that away)! Perfect solution---they brought something home, I put it on and have been wearing it ever since. The catch is that I have never, repeat NEVER, actually looked at myself in it!! If swimsuit shopping during the best of times was depressing, you can imagine how it would make me feel now. Well, I've taken my new concept one step further. Today, I went and bought my own suit (s) without either trying them on, or looking at myself in them when I got home. I figure if I'm not going to see myself in a suit, I can at least not see myself in a cute one! Wink ;)!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tanned and Relaxed!

Last week at the beach was AMAZING!!! Considering I'm not much of a beach person (don't really like the sand), I can't think of one thing I would have changed. The weather was fabulous---just a bit humid the first two days, but no humidity Wednesday and Thursday. I "let" (yes, I'm the boss of my friends too) my friend, Pam plan the schedule. It went something like this: 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. walk, 7-ish, breakfast, scrapbook to 11, 11-1 beach, lunch at the Smiling Fish Cafe, 2-4 pool, then scrapbook the rest of the night. We brought bagels and cereal for breakfast, I made sloppy joes to eat twice and Pam made chicken salad to eat twice. We ate out once a day either lunch or dinner. We can't wait to go back---probably next summer. I got 11 double-page spreads done. Check them out below!