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!

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!