It may be Tuesday, but it feels like Monday

I’ve got the Monday blues today.

We had a fantastic weekend – a quick, impromptu trip to North Carolina that included mountain stream swimming, pizza by the rapids and culminated in horseback riding on Labor Day.  All in all it was a beautiful, perfect weekend.

We stayed in this sweet little cabin that was right on the banks of a mountain stream… I loved listening to the rushing water and was lulled to sleep at least once as I laid on the glider on the deck while SuperMan and the girls played in the creek.IMG_3728[1]

The girls weren’t too sure about the rapids in the stream and it took them a little while to get comfortable with the rushing water, but once they did, they loved it.

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I stayed clear of the 50 degree water – it was warm outside, but not hot enough to provide enough incentive to get me in that cold water!

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Sunday night we drove along the Nantahala River and had pizza at this road-/river-side pizza joint I’d seen on Yelp.  Little did I know when we set out to eat there that it was a really rustic place.  Bear in mind, it was raining… not pouring, but a steady drizzle coming down.

SuperMan got out to “check the place out” and told us to come on in, so we did.  And I got quite a surprise as I walked up and discovered that there were no chairs… and no tables … and virtually no walls!  It was, essentially, a shack on the river with a covered deck that went out over the river.  We persevered, though, because up there in the mountains your restaurant choices were limited and we figured at least we knew they were open!!

We ordered our pizza and settled in on the rustic deck benches to wait for it to be baked.IMG_3744[1]

The pizza was good and the ambiance (bluegrass music, rushing water, rustic place) was so typically Smoky Mountains.  I loved it.

Sunday was a lazy day, but Monday we were up bright and early and headed out for a surprise we had planned for the girls – horseback riding!  Big Girl has only been  riding a few times and never on a trail ride. Little Bit had only been on a horse once in a ring and never when she was “in charge” of the horse.  I was excited and anxious for them – hopeful that they’d have a good time and not be scared.

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We arrived at the stables and they were both a little intimidated by the horses and the prospect of essentially being on their own to guide the horse along the trail.  I knew they’d be ok – most trail ride horses are content to follow the one in front of it and the gentleman who owned the stables did a great job encouraging without “going there” and letting the girls chicken out.

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We had a great ride – up the ridge to see some awesome views and then back down through winding the trees and across a few tiny little brooks.  Even managed to canter a little bit.

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We headed home after our ride and meandered back down from the Smokies to our little foothill, filled with happy memories and making plans to do it all again soon.

Upon arriving home, we made a very sad discovery – we found that our sweet Gracie cat was no longer with us.  So, after unloading the car, poor SuperMan had to dig her grave and comfort three heartbroken girls.

Our hearts are heavy this morning. We really missed our Gracie girl as we got ready for the day. Normally, she’s following me step-for-step around the house and climbing on the girls, meowing and demanding attention.  This morning there were no demands only silent remembrance.

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Gracie was thirteen, a rescue that I saved from rush hour traffic one morning (while pregnant with Big Girl) and while demanding and obnoxious she was my constant companion.  My house is too quiet today and I’m really missing her.

So, while we had a great weekend, I’ve got the blues today.

Rest well, my sweet girl. I’ll see you on the Rainbow Bridge one day.

So then this happened…

So, we made a little trip to see the podiatrist today…IMG_3674[1]

Somewhere we didn’t think we would be going anytime soon.

But, my Big Girl’s foot has been bothering her the past few weeks and we decided to play it safe and get it checked out. (You may recall she had surgery last fall on the same foot.)  She’s been in a lot of pain and her foot was swelling so we wanted to be sure nothing serious was going on.

Sigh.

So, we saw the doctor. He checked her out and thinks that two things are going on: 1- she’s had a growth spurt and maybe her ligaments/tendons have not stretched as fast as her bones have grown and 2-she’s overdone it with going from “zero to sixty” in the past few weeks starting school, dance, etc. again.

So then this got pulled out:

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And then this happened:

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And now my baby is in a boot again for three more weeks.

Sigh.

We’re hoping the preliminary diagnosis is right and that there’s nothing else going on. Not ready to go down the same trail we went last year.

I want my girl to run and dance and spin and leap.

Not wear a boot.

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So, we’ll tough this out and hope and pray that this rest for her foot does the trick.

So, that’s where we spent our Monday.

What about you?

Summer Stories (part 1)

I thought I’d share with you some of the adventures the girls and I had this summer while I was on my blogging break –

One of which was a trip to Savannah to spend a week with Mom.  While we were there we went to Georgia Southern University and visited the museum of natural history they have there. The museum focuses on local cultural and natural history and the showcase exhibit includes a mosasaur. (yeah, I’d never heard of it either) 

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Isn’t he ugly? Those teeth!

Apparently, way, way, way, way back (like 78 million way backs) in time most of Georgia from Macon eastward was under water.  Scientists are finding evidence of all sorts of prehistoric sea life in South Georgia.  It was really interesting to see the fossils, including a prehistoric whale.

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Someone didn’t want to be a mosasaur’s lunch! Smile

They also had exhibits about the Civil War there as well.

It was a small museum, and we went through it pretty quickly, but it was a nice day trip and the girls and I learned new things.  We went with my mom and her friend Anne, who has become a special adopted grandma to the girls and I this past year. 

After we toured the museum we had lunch at a quaint restaurant (the Beaver House Inn) that featured home-style Southern cooking. We told my brother about it and he fondly remembers eating there in his college days with his buddies.  They loved the “all you can eat” aspect and the home cooking.  I’m sure the restaurant didn’t know what hit them when a bunch of hungry college boys showed up to get their fill of home cooking!

All in all it was a great day…

I’ll share more of our adventures with you in the coming weeks.

 

menu planning at the next level

Many of my close friends are teachers.  As we neared the beginning of school I started to think about how crazy our lives were about to become with schedules, homework and after-school activities.  And then I thought about my friends… the teachers who spend their days devoted to other people’s kids and often find themselves at the end of the day with tired bodies, hungry families and no plans for dinner.

And so I decided to start a new tradition this year.

We did a cooking day.  A monster, stock  the freezer, cook until you drop kind of day.

Planning & Preparation

After I suggested the idea, one of my sweet friends helped me to put together our menu of dinners and to complete all the shopping for our cooking day.  We picked five dinners we thought would be winners and made a spreadsheet (I’m that kind of gal) with the menu, the recipes, and the grocery list of all the items on the recipes we’d need to buy.

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We planned for one meal per recipe per family, included things like disposable casserole pans and freezer bags to make the storing even easier.  We sorted further into which stores we were going to purchase items from, planning to go to our local warehouse store, Aldi (for the bargains) and then finishing up whatever we couldn’t get at those two places at the grocery store.

And then we planned a massive shopping trip. It was a rainy day when my friend Cindy and I headed out with the girls in tow and our shopping list and grocery bags at the ready.  We started at Aldi and got as much there as we could, finishing up at our local grocery store.  (in a side note, I was amazed at the bargains we found at Aldi. They’ve got my business in the future, for sure)

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That afternoon, Cindy took the chickens (8 of them!) and roasted them at her house. I took the sausage and hamburger meat and got it prepped at my house.  That left us down to assembly and minimal cooking for the next day when the rest of the crew joined us to work.IMG_3545[1]

I also decided to go ahead and make the batch of spaghetti sauce that we were planning to freeze for each family.  That’s the most sauce I’ve ever made in my life, but it turned out soooo good.

I couldn’t help but think of my grandma (who taught me to make this sauce) and wondered if she was looking down on me and smiling at my massive cooking project.

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Cooking & Assembly

Saturday morning dawned bright and early and I was wondering what in the heck I’d been thinking with this cockamamie scheme to do a massive cooking day.  I sure hoped the promises I’d made to my friends worked out and that everyone was happy with the results of our work.

I sorted all of our groceries on the counter with each recipe, writing the basic measurements for the recipe and assembly instructions on a piece of paper with each pile of ingredients.  I was hopeful we could just move from one recipe to the next and follow those cheat sheets to do the assembly.

Once Cindy and Kim arrived, we tackled the most time-intensive recipe first (chicken spaghetti) and moved on from there.  The kids got in the game, too, helping with assembly and packaging also.

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I was surprised at how smoothly it went – and how much fun we had.  We worked hard, for sure, but there were a lot of laughs, a lot of fun and we loved spending time together.

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Here’s our finished spread of food.  The kids were pretty proud of themselves for helping us (and we were so appreciative)  We ended up with EIGHT meals per family (after our original estimate of five) because some of the recipes cooked up larger portions (11×13 pans) and we split them into two smaller casserole dishes.

The exciting part was that we ended up with a per-meal cost of about $8.  So, around $60 per family for everyone to eat healthy and happy for the first month of school.

In addition, we’ve all been thoroughly enjoying our dinners.  My friends have been reporting in when they’ve used a dinner and we’ve all agreed it was well worth the time and effort to do this.  It’s been so nice to pull one of the dinners out of the freezer at the end of a busy day and know that your family is going to eat some good food and you don’t have to kill yourself to provide it.

So, I am pretty sure we’ll be doing it again.  I’ll keep you posted on what we decide to do in September.  Here’s our menu for August’s dinners:

Oh, and one other thing – we had enough food left over that we were able to sit down together and have BBQ chicken sandwiches for lunch! A well-deserved lunch to celebrate our hard work.

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Just some “simple poetry”

My Big Girl came home from school today and asked me to type up some homework for her…

As I was typing it, I was just overwhelmed …

You see, she had to write a poem about herself …

And it just about brought me to tears.

So, I thought, rather than the post I’d planned for today, I would share this with you.

My sweet girl’s poetry.

She’s rather blase about the poem. Said it was just some “simple poetry.” But it touched me.

Her introspection, her perspective, and an insight into how she sees herself.

I love it.

I hope you do, too.

I am from salty beaches, from Southern home cooking.
I am from mossy trees and blue jeans.
I’m from beautiful flowers, from the historic city.
I’m from pine trees.
I am from hot summers and chilly winters.

I’m from yes ma’ams and no sirs.
I am from y’all and bless your heart.
I’m from home-made bread to intelligence.
I am from a family as sweet as candy.
I’m from heavenly cooked food.
I’m from a prayer before you eat to a prayer before I sleep.
I am from the positives and the happies, from Lois and Rob.

I’m from great home cooking.
I’m from the organizing of my mom, from the neatness of my grandma.
I am from the positivity of my dad to the thoughtfulness of my grandpa.
I’m from the living room shelves filled with billions of memories.
I am those memories.
I am from hopes and dreams.
I am those hopes and dreams –

I am a Southern child.

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Father’s Day

We spent Father’s Day at my Mom’s house – enjoying being together as one big family after being spread between three cities for the past week.

In the afternoon, SuperMan and I decided to take a little drive down to the coast and the girls came along.

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We rode into a local wildlife preserve and spent a little while wandering around and lazing on the dock on the river.

Took a few impromptu family pictures

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(they are almost as tall as SuperMan now!)

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(my current favorite summer shirt)

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And then we went northwards towards home with a little pit stop for dinner at a riverside restaurant.

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Love the view

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Inside & out Smile

We watched the sun set

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And then drove home – full of seafood and happy memories.

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Summertime fun

We’re getting into the swing of summertime around here – staying up late, later meal times, lots of trips to the pool, and some other random adventures along the way.

One day last week (I can’t remember which day, I was working) SuperMan and the girls went strawberry picking.

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It was a beautiful sunny day – although you can’t really tell it here in these pictures.  Just warm enough but not so hot that it was unpleasant outside.

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They had a great time picking the berries and then when they came home, Big Girl washed the berries and they trimmed the tops and put them in the freezer for us to enjoy later.

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The berries were tiny, but so sweet. Little Bit ate them like candy after they had been cleaned.

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My girls are getting so big – their faces are changing – and their little bodies are getting so long and lean.  My babies are growing up so fast!!

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Mother’s Day, Menu Planning and Counting Down to Summertime

Happy Day-After-Mother’s-Day everyone!

I hope those of you who are mothers (by nature or by heart) had a terrific day and were spoiled and pampered by your families.  We had a nice day here.

SuperMan and the girls gave me some beautiful plants ~ a fern and hibiscus for my back deck ~ and some very sweet cards that were made with lots of love and care by them.  I also got the devotional that I’ve been eyeing for a long time – very excited about digging into that one.

Little Bit made the cutest things for me at school:

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LOVE the answers she put – especially #10, #12 and #4.  A Spa Day at Disney World – so cute! And #7 – I guess she forgets that I do that for work! LOL

Here’s a shot of the three of us girls that SuperMan took yesterday –

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And moving on to Menu Planning and back to the real world, here’s what we have planned this week:

  • Fajitas (using up some freezer meats)
  • Grilled chicken breasts with pesto pasta
  • Hamburgers on the grill

What’s on your menu for the week?

We’re also counting down the days until Summer Break – 10 and counting. We can hardly wait!!!

 

Field Day

Today was Little Bit’s Field Day at school.  Since SuperMan had the week off of work, he went to watch her ~ about which she was VERY excited.  She’s really missed her Daddy while he was working those long hours the past month.  She was really looking forward to having her Daddy with her today – so much so that she wanted him to stay at school all day.

SuperMan got some great action shots –

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First, there was the mud course (apparently)

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And then the marble moving race (?)

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That nasty water gives me the heebie-jeebies…

Then they moved on to the very large, oversized ring toss

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And your traditional relay races – the sack race and egg race
(except in this case it was a golf ball and not an egg – a fact about which the boys were reported to be extremely disappointed.)

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More fun – not quite sure about this one with the baseball bat – apparently she was supposed to spin around three times with her forehead on the bat and then run back to the group?  I told her that I would’ve fallen on my face if I’d tried that one.

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Hula hoopin’

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And her favorite activity of the day – the Tug o’War. I think it is because she gets to use those oh-so-strong dancer’s legs and annihilate the boys. (that’s my girl!)

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Look at that determination!

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I bet she will sleep good tonight.  What do you think?

Around here

Well, we took the day off yesterday.

Or, rather, the girls and I took the day off.

Kinda.

Sort of.

They had a school holiday – the last “inclement weather” day of the school year.  So, I took the day off of work to spend with them.  But it wasn’t really a day “off” for us – we were busy bees.

We spent the morning planting our garden – cucumbers, peppers, jalapeños, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, radishes, etc.

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It’s not grand, but we’re pretty proud of it.  I’m hoping we get some yummy veggies out of it this summer.

While the girls were playing (school, no less!) I rigged up what I’m affectionately calling my “redneck irrigation system.”  I used a soaker hose and some random bits of flotsam to create a little irrigation track for the garden. I’m hoping we’ll actually remember to turn it on every day for a little while to keep things watered and growing.

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And then we spent a while spreading pine straw – 15 bales of it to be exact. And if that wasn’t enough, we went out to dinner and to a play that two of Big Girl’s friends were acting in.

And then we came home and collapsed. Literally.

Today is a little less ambitious although I have plans to catch up on the laundry and clean my floors… and maybe bake a cake… but that’s about it.

We got a new birdfeeder, too, today.  And we’ve been invaded by these cute birdies – a whole family of red breasted grosbeaks.

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Have you ever heard of them before? I’d never seen them until now but they apparently love this feed I’ve bought and they’re hanging around all the time nowadays.  They are a lively bunch ~ the only negative thing is that the smaller birds seem to be a bit intimidated by them and don’t come around as much. But I’ve got two feeders so hopefully they’ll all have a shot.

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Oh, and we’ve been battling the squirrels lately. I went to the feed & seed this morning and got some more of that habanero-coated birdseed. They don’t seem to like that too much.

Note to self: Don’t stir the habanero birdseed with your bare hands. Even if you wash them (twice) you’ll still end up sorry. Just sayin’

The girls saw this picture at the feed & seed and loved it –

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I told them I guess there’s always something to put our troubles in perspective, isn’t there?

And so now I’m off to do my baking and cleaning – and then tomorrow will be a day of rest for us.

I hope.

What’s up in your world?