Tuesday, December 23, 2008

O Christmas Tree!

Finally...Christmas tree decorating pictures!

Bri placing the star on top of the tree. It was really Brian's turn since he is a Senior this year...but he disappeared to his room for a little while.
You might notice that there are no regular Christmas ornaments on this tree. We each get a new ornament every year to commemorate something that happened in our lives. I tried packing up Kelli's and Meagan's a few years ago when they moved out...but they prefer to place their ornaments on the family tree. We still have their 'Baby's First Christmas' ornaments!
Meagan and Davin...rockin' around the Christmas tree!

The family...minus Kelli, Matt and Brooke who were unable to make it.

Meagan, Derrick and Davin.

Will and Brian hamming it up. Those Christmas lights are on, by the way. Please note the stockings on Will's feet!

Bri, Brian and Will in the cheerleader pose.

"Got a little Captain in ya?"
Tomorrow we will have the gang over to celebrate Christmas as a family. The married children are spending Christmas Day with the in laws this year...so we get Christmas Eve. Thursday we will have friends over for dinner and games. Friday morning we will be heading to north Arkansas to visit Jim's family. We are looking forward to a leisurely visit. YEAH, RIGHT! We will only be there one full day before heading home on Sunday morning.
If I don't get to talk to you before we get back...

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Progression Of A Santa Photo

I persuaded Meagan & Kelli to take the grand babies to visit Santa last week. I am envisioning a mantle laden with annual Santa pictures...looking back ten years from now and seeing them grow up right before my very eyes! It is something I had always intended to do with our five children, but in the hustle and bustle of Christmas, it was never accomplished.

Needless to say, the task did not go without a few hitches. Evidently Brooke took one look at Santa and burst out screaming. So much for cute, smiling, Santa pictures! Davin didn't seem to mind Santa too much...though with Brooke screaming, he determined not to get too close to him. Thank goodness for Santa's quick wit. I will let you see in photo format the progression of a Santa photo--all just to please Nonna.

And here is my favorite!

I just love Brooke's little 'hammy' tails. She looks like a little reindeer sitting there. Davin finally decided to smile, but alas, the picture crew had already taken six photos and were too busy for more! Next year we will have three grand babies to sit in Santa's lap. Better warn Santa now!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This Soup Was A Big Hit

I know I promised pictures today...but I ran out of the house without my memory card. I will try to post tomorrow. Instead you get tomorrow's post a day early. Isn't that a thrill!

I have always loved Olive Garden's Soup, Salad and Breadsticks with Zuppa Tuscana for my soup. I found this recipe last winter and it has quickly become a family favorite. We had this on Sunday night before decorating the tree and I think each of the boys (Jim, Brian, Will and Derrick) had at least two bowls...maybe three.

Sausage and Kale Soup
1 pound of mild Italian sausage
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large bunch kale, with center ribs removed
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 pounds of unpeeled small potatoes, washed and thinly sliced
2 quarts chicken broth
salt, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste
pinch of dried thyme flakes
1 cup cream
Crumble and brown sausage until no longer pink, then drain well. Set aside.
In large soup pot, fry onions in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook briefly. Add broth, beans and sausage to pot and simmer for 30 minutes.
Cut kale into medium shred and add with potatoes. Add thyme, salt and red pepper flakes. Simmer for another 30 minutes.
Add cream just before serving. NOTE: Do not boil after adding cream or it will curdle!
Serve with salad and french bread...sit back and enjoy!

A few hints:
1. I use the potato masher while cooking the sausage to make sure it breaks into small crumbles. I saw Rachael Ray do this a few weeks ago and it works great for chili and such.
2. My sister's complaint with most recipes is that she cannot find the 'specialty' items in her small town grocery store that I often take for granted. So, if you can't find cannellini beans, use great northern beans instead. They taste just as good.
3. In case you have never used kale before, it is with the cabbage in your produce department. I swear, it doesn't taste like cabbage...but it is in the cabbage family. If you can't find kale, I have heard that spinach will work as well.
4. I know it says to use mild Italian sausage, but since I double the recipe, I mix mild and hot.
5. Don't break the "no boil" rule after you add the cream...you will end up with a huge mess that you can't eat! I actually add the cream AFTER I have turned off the burner under the soup.
6. My two boys HATE onions...but they never taste them in this recipe. The onions honestly cook to nothing by the time the soup is ready to serve.

Monday, December 15, 2008

You Are Only As Old As You Feel

Hello All!

I am sitting at home today awaiting the arrival of my new refrigerator. The Sears truck should be arriving anywhere from 1:45 to 3:45. I am supposed to be working from home...but am having some computer issues (ain't it always so?). I haven't been on the laptop in FOREVER because Bri has been using it for school. Once I finally found all the 'parts' this morning and got it booted up it needed major updates and virus sweeps. I am now waiting for someone to get back from lunch at the office because evidently my desk computer is not turned on. I have been trying to access it for about half an hour now. So, I am writing to you instead!

I will have Christmas tree decorating pictures for you tomorrow. The memory card for my new camera doesn't fit in this computer...so I will post them from the office. Bri and I went out and bought the tree yesterday afternoon. Meagan, Derrick and Davin came over last night for soup, cookies and ornament arranging last night. Kelli, Matt and Brooke were not able to make it due to Matt's work schedule...so we hung their ornaments for them. I have some great silly pictures of the boys to share.

We had a pretty good weekend. The girls and I had a bridal shower to attend on Saturday afternoon for a dear family friend. I went to dinner afterwards with my "Best Girls". We went out for Mexican food...our meal of choice most Girl's Nights. After a long meal of nachos and fajitas with a large side of guacamole, we headed to the mall for our annual picture with Santa. We just started the tradition last year...but it is great fun! If you haven't had a picture with Santa lately, you really should do it now! We decided to turn the evening into a pajama party, so we bought pj's at the mall and got a hotel room for the night. I love being able to just hang out and leisurely catch up on each other's lives. It was a real treat...and I am thankful to have a supportive husband who is understanding and doesn't freak out over such things. We had a blast! Who says pajama parties are just for teenagers? Evidently our children think so...because the next morning we had been given a new nickname -- Rebel Grandmas! I guess they think we should be sitting home darning socks and knitting sweaters. Oh well, I will bear the name with pride!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend as well! I would love to hear from you.

Much love,

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Oh, Me Of Little Faith

Never doubt childlike faith. She wanted to build a snowman, and...

that is exactly what she did.

Actually, they made more than one!

Will made his first.

Brian brought in the first snowball...which Hoss promptly ate. Crazy dog!

It started snowing again just after dark. It was beautiful.

They said that Houston received between 1 and 3 inches last night, mostly on the east/northeast side.

And I didn't think she would get a snowman!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

We are having snow flurries in HOUSTON!!!! Can you believe it? All I want to do is sit and watch it through the front door of my office. And if you think I am excited, you should see this!

Stacy sent me this picture of Brianne at work in Tomball. She is so excited about the snow. She has already called me twice to let me know that it is getting heavier. She is hoping to make a snowman. I don't know if we will get that much...but at least it is beginning to feel like Christmas time!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Everybody Loves A Parade

Check out who's driving this SHARP car!

Brian drove one of his friends in this morning's Waller Christmas Parade. She is competing for Miss Junior Waller County.

Good luck, Desiree!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Kell-Bell!

In honor of Kelli's birthday, here are 23 things about her.
1. Kelli is our second child and middle daughter. (Here she is with her sisters on her wedding day.)

2. She took her first steps the day after her first birthday.
3. On her second birthday we had to take her to the hospital to get stitches over her eye after falling and hitting a cabinet.
4. When she was little, no one in our family thought she talked. She was nearly silent in front of others...but as soon as we closed the car door to head home, we couldn't shut her up!
5. Kelli fell off the porch and broke her arm when she was just 18 months.
6. When she was two, she punched her Pappaw Donald in the nose with a mean upper cut.
7. As the picture above bears witness, Kelli has always been a bit of a 'ham' and began her theatre career in elementary school when she had her first part in "Flight of the Geese".
8. In Intermediate School, she played the part of 'Roo' in Winnie the Pooh.
9. Kelli can sing a song associated with any word you throw at her! We have spent hours over the years trying to stump her...I can't think of a single time we succeeded.
10. She can also do a mean imitation of the howler monkeys at the Houston Zoo.
11. Kelli worked at Chili's Bar And Grill during and after high school. She taught us the lesson of always tipping well. I never realized the waitstaff was paid just a little over $2 an hour! Her other jobs include Guest Services, Nanny and Document Control.
12. Kelli was one of the Original 18 Taylor High School's Crimson Cadettes! (5...6...7...8)
13. Her favorite place in the whole world is Walt Disney World. She thinks she should visit it at least once every two years.
14. Kelli harvested her first deer on her 18th birthday...by 8 AM!
15. During her senior year, she became reacquainted with a young man from her childhood. They married two years later.

16. He made her an official 'Ham'.

17. She and Matt are the proud parents of Brooke (Brookie Bear).

18. Kelli is a wonderful mom and is teaching Brooke to enjoy life like she does.

19. She conquered Rock Band in less than two months.
20. Kelli and Matt just moved for the third time since getting married a little over two years ago!
21. She is a supportive sister and friend.
22. Kelli's driving is said to be 'eye opening' by her siblings...yet, she has the best driving record of all the licensed children.
23. She and Matt are expecting a little boy in February!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A New York Recap For November

We are back home. Rosa's flight was late leaving Houston, so she was really late getting home. I arrived around 7 last night.

We had a fabulous time at the shows...not so much with the sight seeing. It was bone chilling cold in NYC while we were there. (Thank goodness for Cuddle Duds and thick socks!)

Upon arrival Thursday afternoon, we went straight to the hotel. We had reservations at the W at Times Square. I am not a big fan. The rooms were expensive...which I expected for the location...but it was disappointingly tiny and had very little lighting. Maybe it was just a little too modern for my taste.

Upon checking in, we went down to the restaurant, The Blue Fin, for something to eat. Rosa ordered the California rolls and the Spicy Crab rolls...Spicy Crab, DELICIOUS! They were so good that we ordered more after the theatre!

We had tickets for Wicked our first night. I had seen it with the girls here in Houston in 2007. It was even more spectacular than the traveling show. We had wonderful seats...about seven rows back on the left. Rosa loved the show and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing it with her. We were both tired from the day of travel, so we headed back to the room for a few more sushi rolls and a good night's sleep. (One other good point of the W was their beds -- plush and comfortable.)

Thursday morning we slept in a little and then headed out for sight seeing. We walked down Broadway, over to Rockefeller Center (the tree was still surrounded by scaffolding), down 5th to Central Park. We took a quick carriage ride through the park then walked back down Madison Avenue toward 47th. I was tired...Rosa was cold...and neither one of us wanted to say anything. Finally, she decided that I looked tired and we needed to head back to the hotel. We stopped at a little deli on 45th for a bite to eat. When we sat down, she finally confessed that she didn't want to shop because she was so cold. We headed back to the room and took a nap! That night we had tickets to All My Sons. The theater was only two blocks away...thank goodness! It was one of the older and smaller theatres. We had good seats, but were a little far to the left. So, my ever clever sister went to the box office and had us moved to the box seats! What a view. John Lithgow was less than 20 feet away from me! I was in awe. This was different from any play I had attended before...my first non-musical. It is a wonderful drama...gaining in momentum until it reaches a very climactic end. Of course, watching such powerful actors as John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest would make a reading of the Sunday paper dramatic! It was the first production I have seen with the original cast. After the show, we walked around trying to find someplace to eat...finally settling on Bubba Gump's. The food was good, especially the hush puppies. Off to bed so that we could get up for the Today Show on Friday morning.

Well...we didn't make it to the Today Show. Who could blame us when we were able to sleep so well! We had picked up tickets to Shrek: The Musical the day before...so, we spent the afternoon visiting a few of the places that Rosa wanted to see including the Empire State Building. Have I said that it was cold in NYC? Well...that was nothing compared to the top of the Empire State Building. We took very quick pictures before heading back down to street level. A quick peek at the Macy's windows being dressed for Christmas and we headed back toward the hotel. Rosa picked up some souvenir's while I started getting ready for Friday night's show. We had 5th row center seats...and oh my gosh!!!! First of all, the back drops were incredible...even more whimsical than those of Wicked. Once again we were seeing the original cast and the show was very funny! I loved Pinocchio...as did most folks...and Fiona was extremely talented -- but Shrek took the show! And I couldn't believe that he was the same actor from Enchanted -- he looked so different in costume, it was unbelievable! After the show, we went back to the room for dinner and a good night's sleep before packing for the airport the next morning.

It was good to spend some time with my sister. I only wish I had not been sick the week before the trip. I was still too easily tired which led me to be very quiet at times. I hope our next trip goes even better. I now have three possible 'dates' for seeing a show...my girls (daughters), my 'Girls' (girlfriends) and now my sister who loved Broadway as much as I do.

I have three days to get us all packed up and ready for the next trip north. This one will include no dress clothes or heels -- it will be camo and hoodies as we head to Arkansas to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and spend some time on the deer lease. Talk about a walk on the wild side!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Update From New York

New York City is COLD! Daytime highs have been in the low 30's since we arrived on Wednesday. I am so very thankful for my North Face boots that I picked up here on Snow Day last February!

Rosa and I have been having a good time. We haven't done a lot of sight seeing due to the weather...but we have had some good afternoon naps! Hey, when you are a wife, mother and working woman...an afternoon nap is a LUXURY not to be missed!

We have seen two shows and have another one on the agenda for tonight. I will update you on our travels once I get back to Houston. The Internet here at the hotel costs $11.95 for 30 minutes! So, I will wait until I can spend some time on my posts.

Hope you are all having a wonderful week and looking forward to a relaxing weekend.

Love ya'!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Taking Another Bite Out Of The Big Apple

Just a few short years ago I could not imagine taking a trip to New York City...much less two trips in the same year. However, tomorrow morning I will be hoping a flight back to the Big Apple. This time I will be traveling with my sister.

As much as she has traveled, this will be her first visit to NYC. It is our birthday gifts to each other. I am looking forward to seeing more of the sights and spending time just catching up. We have tickets to see 'Wicked' tomorrow night and 'All My Sons' on Thursday night. Friday night we will buy tickets the NY way...at the kiosk. Plenty of sightseeing is on the agenda...and, of course, a little shopping!

I don't know if I will be able to post while I am away. If not, I will report back as soon as I get home!

Have a great week, ya'll!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Attack On The Crow

Remember that cute crow that I set out by our driveway in mid October? The one in my fall picture to the left? Well, he is no longer there. Actually, he has been missing for almost a week...and I did promise pictures. For the record, he lasted for one solid week with out being disturbed. Then, I drove home on the following Monday night to find him laying in the front yard without his hat or his beak! Poor thing! I set him back out, minus the beak, in hopes that he wouldn't scare anyone away. Jim and I have had to pick him up several times since then...always with a few more scars, but still able to stand sentry by the drive.

Well, this past Saturday, I awoke to find this sight at the bottom of the stairs to the back deck.

No hat, no beak, pants ripped and missing a foot. We finally had to say goodbye to cute crow!

Guess what I found lying on the top step of that same deck?

We believe him to be the instigator of this assault on a poor, helpless crow.

Bad Hoss!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Pumpkin Patch Picture

I just received the following picture from Meagan via email. This is Mickey Mouse (AKA Davin)as he appeared at the local pumpkin patch the weekend before Halloween.

Is he not absolutely precious? I don't have any Halloween pictures of Brooke. There was an incident involving a memory card and the washing machine that erased all of the Halloween pictures.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Don't Forget...

to VOTE today!

It is our privilege, our right and our duty as Americans.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Are You Kidding Me?

I ran into Wal-Mart after work to pick up a few groceries...and can you believe they were already playing Christmas music???? You have got to be kidding me!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Guess Who Had A Birthday Yesterday?

Our own Brookie Bear!

She is now one year old!

These were pictures taken at her birthday party on Saturday. Kelli was only able to send me a few. I was cameraless, as it was in Montana with Jim. Enjoy!

Opening presents...she was NOT interested!

Touching her cake. Like Davin, she was not sure what to do with a cake set right in front of her...neither did Matt!

She finally figured it out...with icing all over her face!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sleeping With The Lights On

What a night! I knew it was coming...yet it always catches me off guard.

I crawled into bed just before 11 pm last night. That is a little late for me...but with decorating the dining room table and posting, it wasn't too bad.

I picked up my newest parenting book and read the next chapter before dozing off around 11:30. (Yes, with two grown children and three barely at home, I still read parenting books.)

Just before 2 am I awoke with a start. As I lay there I could feel the fear rising up in my chest. Fear of what? I couldn't really put my finger on it. This happens from time to time...but usually it is brought on by a nightmare. I couldn't remember dreaming anything.

I listened intently to see if I could hear something out of the ordinary. Nothing....but the fear was growing.

I crept from my bed to the bedroom door. I was halfway expecting to see a Jason-like creature standing in my doorway...but nothing. (I don't watch scary movies, by the way. As you can see, I have an active enough imagination without them.)

I walked into the living area of our home. All the lights were left on. I guess Bri thought I would turn them off and I thought she would. I went to our sliding glass doors and peered into the night...nothing.

I turned off the kitchen light, the game room light and went back to my room.

After a stop in the bathroom, I slipped back between my sheets and began to pray for the fear to subside. I repeated the promises that the Lord is my strength and my shield. He is my protector and He never sleeps nor slumbers.

I began to doze back off, when suddenly I was bolted awake again by a strange smell. I was now able to be categorized as 'totally freaked out'. I thought I saw shadows above my bedroom door. The kind I usually see when someone is watching TV late at night. I slid back out of bed. I went back into the living room, I checked the laundry room, I checked the pantry, I checked the kids bathroom, I checked their rooms and then I started looking for my dogs.

I guess I have watched too many mystery movies, because I began to wonder if someone had poisoned them so that they wouldn't bark. (You can laugh....I know how crazy this sounds.) They came running from the other porch when I opened the back door. They were so happy to be paroled from outdoor banishment.

I went back to my room, turned on all the lights...checked every room, closet and corner before climbing back into bed. I left my bedroom door open this time. I would say that it was so I could hear anything going on in the house, but it was mostly because I wanted the light from the living room to shine into my room.

I suddenly felt like a four year old! I don't know why this fear grips me sometimes. It is most noticeable when Jim is gone...though I am not afraid of where we live. But it also happens at times when he is right there beside me, too.

I began to pray again. I drifted off around 4 am reminding myself that nothing can touch me that He cannot redeem and use to His glory.

All of that and I didn't even watch CSI last night!

Monday, October 20, 2008

What I Did Today

Thank you so much for the wonderful comments on our front yard! Ya'll were so gracious! Thankfully when I arrived home this evening the charming crow was still intact. (Sorry, Robin, Hoss didn't rip him apart today...but I promise pictures of the carnage should it happen.)

Either ya'll have created a monster...or I am really bored with Jim still out of town...because today I took on the task of decorating my dining room table for fall. I have to admit that this came to me after a discussion with a dear friend who just happened to mention that her daughter sets her dining room table for the season.

I purchased a few gold chargers last summer as I gathered silver ones for Meagan's wedding. I made a 'sanity' trip to WalMart during my lunch hour. I know; 'sanity' and 'WalMart' do not usually go together...but I knew that I would be able to find decently priced holiday decor and I needed the distraction of 'creating' because it was a highly stressful morning for me. (By the way...I barely found anything with a fall theme. It seems the whole world is preparing for Christmas already!)

I picked up a basic 'chocolate brown' tablecloth and some place mats in traditional fall colors. It took me a little while to piece it together...but knowing that the gold chargers were waiting at home, I decided on plates that are in the shape and color of fall leaves. I chose to use two colors of 'leaf' plates and two complimentary colors of napkins to jazz up the table a bit more.

I wasn't able to find a centerpiece that I liked...not even candles. So, I headed next door to Hobby Lobby and found a gorgeous centerpiece at half off. Actually, I found two that I liked and it was difficult to choose between them. One was in an oblong wooden basket with fall flowers and leaves. The other was made up mostly of faux gourds, berries and feathers. I went with the latter since there were already so many leaves on the table.

So, here is my newest creation:

Look at this centerpiece up close. I love it's glitz!
And finally, a close up of a place setting.

I think I am finished decorating until Christmas. I still need to transplant the bougainvilleas that I removed from the whiskey barrels. Oh, yeah, and I am looking for some sort of lanterns to hang from all those shepherd's hooks we have left after the wedding...then I am finished. At least until Christmas...or until Jim leaves on another hunt without me!

Happy Fall, Ya'll!

Finally Fall

I have had a plan for my front driveway that has been smoldering in my head for over a month. I finally got the time to make it a reality yesterday.

I love fall. It is my favorite season. I love the colors of fall (even though we don't get many changing leaves here in SE Texas). Last year I went so far as to buy hay bales to decorate my front yard...but it all ended up being bedding for Goat because I never got around to fixing up the yard.

This year's plan started one day in early September while I was running a wedding errand at Hobby Lobby. I found the cutest crow and couldn't resist taking him home. A few cute pickets for the mailbox soon followed. Brianne picked up hay for me a couple of days later, since Goat needed hay anyway. Since then I have only needed a few mums and a couple of pumpkins to complete my project. Seems easy enough...unless you drive a two-seater...then there is not enough room for pumpkins or mums!

Several times I had planned to drive Jim's truck home and stop by the garden center on my way. It seemed that something came up in either his schedule or mine at the last minute.

Today I finally made it to the garden center! We had to load it all in the suburban since Jim drove the truck to Arkansas before heading to Montana. It was quite a load...but we managed to fit it all in eventually.

After about an hour of unloading, potting flowers and moving everything into place...this is the view as you enter in our driveway.

I love it! It makes me smile to see the cute crow sitting with his foot propped up on a pumpkin and surrounded by the colors of fall.
Here is a close up of my charming crow. We had to prop his foot on a pumpkin because we could not get that leg to bend. It looks like his leg has been broken...poor thing! I still think he is cute though.
As usual, I bought too many flowers! I always have either too many or not enough...never just right! We put a mum in each of my Chinese water buckets. One we set on the back deck. This one we set on a stump with a pumpkin in the front yard.
And the one on the right is the one that will probably have my crow ripped to pieces by the time I get home tonight! He was already sniffing the crow while I was taking pictures!

Now, if I can just get my dining room table set with nice, festive, fall colors...it will probably be time for Christmas!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

FINALLY...Wedding Pictures

Wow! Meagan and Derrick have been married for a little over three weeks and I am just now getting pictures from the ceremony to post! A huge shout out to my Aunt Fran for emailing me the pictures that my mother took. (My mom cannot email me...she can get my emails but can't send them to me. Go figure!)
Our Princess Bride surrounded by the bridesmaids bouquets. Isn't she lovely?
This dress looked like it was created just for her. She always thought that her wedding dress would be a Princess dress with a full skirt...but when she tried this one on, she knew it was "THE ONE".
Our Princess and her Prince Charming. Don't they make a handsome couple?
And the Crown Prince himself surrounded by a bevy of beauties, as usual! (Isn't he just precious in that tuxedo?)
The bridal party. I love that the girls were able to choose the style of their dresses and no two were alike.
Jim and his fourth daughter...Meagan's Matron of Honor and best friend since middle school, Dori.
Sharing Matron of Honor duties, is Meagan's other best friend...her sister Kelli.
Lastly, a picture of the Bride and Groom with the bride's family. Front row: Grandma June, myself, Dirty D, Poppy, Memaw, Kelli and Brooke. Back Row: Brian, Brianne, Jim, Meagan, Derrick, Big Will and Pappaw Donald.
Okay...one more. This is a picture of Jim's parents that was taken at the rehearsal dinner. They were not only celebrating the marriage of their oldest grandchild...but also their 55th wedding anniversary! Wow! They are such an inspiration to us all!
Congratulations Memaw and Poppy! Here's to many more!