Friday, December 26, 2008

Up, up, and away

We're off! Well, kinda. We made special arrangements to drop our dogs at the kennel at 6:30 this morning. Well no body was there. So, here I sit at 8:21 waiting for the kennel to open so we can be on our way *sigh* I trust we'll be off soon.

1 day to Florida!

Have a happy New Year...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Oh how I love a good cranberry cookie!

I must start out by saying...gee I wonder if we'll have a white Christmas?!?

Here in Illinois we are on the verge of breaking a record for the most snowfall in one month. The current record goes back to 1800 something when they first started recording snowfall amounts. I do love a white Christmas but snow everyday is a little much. AND even though I love a white Christmas I don't love the constant shoveling that goes with it! Oh wait, I haven't shoveled at all, I just traipse through it in my backless shoes and then complain that my feet are cold and wet....yup! That's me! Since we have company coming today, I believe shoveling will be in order...I better get those kids up and now!


My brother's cat Woody sits and stares out the window at the snow...and just watches it come down. What do you think he's thinking?

It's Christmas eve...the day my babies have been waiting for...and I finally feel the need to make a list. There are a few things I don't want to forget, you know important things, like wash the entry way rug, clean out the fridge, etc. etc...all the really important stuff is done. So, I thought I'd take a moment to share some Holiday images with you...Of course, my baby Aubrey... during her first cookie lesson with Auntie :) Make a note here how clean the table is...And then there's Blue...my constant cookie companion. Ever hopeful that a crumb may fall to the floor....or better yet be nudged to the floor...He is a real cookie stalker...Compare previous clean table photo to this one...this is the aftermath of 150 dozen cookies!


After all is said and done...the final product is well worth it, don't you think?


And now...let me share with you my favorite recipe...on the very bottom of that tray...under the cornflake holly, please take note of the most delectable Cranberry walnut cookies of all time. I don't remember where I found this recipe...but if you love cranberries like I do...then this cookie is a must have...


Cranberry Cookies


Yield: about 72 depending how many you eat while they're still warm!


1/2 cup butter

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons orange juice or 1/2 teaspoon orange extract plus 1-1/2 tablespoon water

1 large egg

3 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

2-1/2 cups coarsely chopped frozen or fresh cranberries, or dried cranberries (I use Craisins)


Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease baking sheets. (I always use airbake sheets) Beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Stir in milk, orange juice and egg. Mix in dry ingredients. Stir in nuts and cranberries.


Drop dough by tablespoons about 2" apart on greased baking sheets. Bake 10 - 15 minutes. Allow to cool for 2 minutes on baking sheet then remove to wire cooling racks to cool completely.
Here's my little known secret to soft chewy cookies...since I love all my readers so much, I'm willing to share it with you! After you bake your cookies and they are cooled, place them in a ziplock bag for safe keeping. Add a slice of bread to the bag (no kidding it really works) and your cookies will stay soft and chewy!
Once completely cooled, or even while still warm...you'll want to enjoy a tasty bite!
Happy baking and Merry Christmas!
2 days til Florida

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

You ready?

I think I'm pretty ready. I'm surely more ready than I can remember being in a long time! We got so much accomplished today! We finished the final batch of cookies....twice. We got up early and made the batch of corn flake holly. They were all pristinely placed on wax paper on the table. I left to take Brennan to the dentist (no cavities), Stephanie was sleeping, and Kristina was in the shower. When I got home, half the corn flake holly was gone and there was a pile of red hots by the patio door. Evidently dogs don't like red hots, but they do like corn flake holly! I remade the batch and packed up all my cookies to deliver. We made our deliveries, stopped at the mall for one last present which was $29.99 and I got it for 2.14!!!! You can't go wrong with a deal like that, it's nearly free! Finally we stopped at Walmart and bought the Christmas dinner for tomorrow. The house is actually pretty picked up. We'll just need to do flat surface cleaning tomorrow, clean the bathrooms, and scrub the floors. Throughout the day I'll be doing laundry and getting ready to pack. My honey has to work til noon and then I'll get the kids to clean out the truck so we can start packing.

My brother and his daughter, son-n-law and granddaughter will all be here about 5 or 6 to eat, open presents, and have yummy desserts. The snow is supposed to stop at noon, so hopefully the roads will be clear for my brother to get here from Kenosha. We'll head to church at 10:30 for our peaceful candlelight service...the highlight of Christmas for me.

I have a few presents to wrap and a light dinner to cook tomorrow. I'm thinking there may be a nap in store for me tomorrow! Now that, is a perfect Christmas Eve. Hope you and yours are happy, healthy, and safe this holiday season.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I was pretty sure Christmas is a holiday...

It seems that our Christmas plans get less and less as time goes on. My mom is in Arizona since this weather just doesn't agree with her health at all. My Poppy passed away this year, my grandma Bee and Aunt Ruth last year. I usually end up with my brother's here. This year one is staying home out of state, one is in the hospital and the other has to work. That leaves my nieces: one is staying in Nebraska and the other has to work, so she'll be arriving in time for dinner. It makes me wonder what has happened to the holiday?

On my husband's side, his family seems to overflow with dysfunction during the holidays so this year we committed to travel at Christmas instead of stay home to wallow in dysfunction junction. We planned to leave the day after Christmas, since my children always want to be home for Christmas. [long pause for reflection] but then I wonder what kind of Christmas and merriment there will be with just us, my niece, her husband and baby? It'll be a small gathering, which oddly doesn't require any less planning on my part.

I am grateful I have all my shopping done. I have a very short list this year, so I got it done in two outings. The cookies are baked except for the final ones which used to be cornflake wreaths but have now turned into 'holly' to avoid covering my hands in butter to make wreaths :) EEEWWWWW how I hate sticky! I was laughing today that I think if we weighed all the cookies they would at least weigh 10 lbs! Tomorrow, I get to deliver...a big bunch to my friend Sandi...whom I'm so grateful is not in the hospital this year, a bunch to my friends at work, and then a bunch to ship off to my mama who is recovering from surgery. I'll have a bunch for my brother if he makes it for Christmas, a bunch for my niece and her husband, a bunch complete with special requests for my mother n law, and a bunch for hubby's sister. The rest will ride in zip lock bags to Florida with us :)

My precious one is just finishing up the last batch of dishes-- when it's 'cookie weekend' it seems like we do dishes non stop! The baking of cookie weekend included:

Two new types of peanut blossoms...guess what, we liked last year's better
The wonderful cranberry walnut cookies...returning from last year...our new favorite
Cut out cookies
Pressed sugar cookies (my son's new favorite-more on that later)
pecan sandies
toffee (new this year...still in the testing phase)
raspberry poinsettias (new this year and quite tasty and pretty)
Macadamia nut from a mix - fair at best
chocolate chunk from a mix - if flour was added to it would have been great
chocolate mint - yum.my (my big girl's boyfriends favorite)
strawberry sandwich cookies (returning from last year and a big hit due to their beauty)
corn flake holly (stole the holly idea from a recipe blog and love it!)

There you have it...the top 12 picks for this year. Will they all be returning next year? We'll let the reviews determine that! My precious one and I have sat at the kitchen table baking for two days. My precious one is looking over the list and asking why some were eliminated and some were added. We are especially glad the creme de menth balls that we threw out last year were not relived this year. Gosh they were awful!! Today... we took Lacey to the groomer, so she's all pretty for Christmas and to get some pesky hairballs removed and I completed a 4 hour training class for one of my new part time jobs as a professional development advisor. I do love sitting at home baking cookies, listening to a webinar and getting paid. I'm pretty sure that's as good as it gets!

Tomorrow, oh...I lied...I have one little present to pick up for my mama...then I have to send off her box, my boy has the dentist, Cookie deliveries, my precious one needs a swim suit...and thank God they sell them here in Illinois in the dead of winter, cuz we sure learned the hard way that they don't sell them in the south in December, but that's a blog post for another day. Laundry and packing is on the list, and shopping for Christmas dinner. Did I mention snow? Don't forget the snow 3 - 5" predicted for tomorrow and 4 - 6" predicted for Christmas Eve. I have a few presents to wrap, and then I plan to clean and nap.

You know that old saying if you build it they will come? Perhaps if I plan for Christmas they will come? After all, I was pretty sure Christmas is a holiday...

4 days til Florida

Sunday, December 21, 2008

We have secured the vanilla

Ok, so we might be winning the craziest neighbor award...but after much shoveling, pushing, peeling out, etc...we finally resorted to pushing one car out with another. I got out my trusty really old and junky mazda...maneuvered it around in the driveway, and pushed my daughter's car out! The hubby is on his way to the shop to bring home the snow plow...and I made it safely to the grocery store and back---whew!

snowed in and out of vanilla

This is cookie baking weekend...we went shopping on Friday night and bought all of the ingredients....or so I thought. Well, really I did buy all the ingredients...just not enough vanilla :( So...we're baking away...when we ran out of vanilla. Sad...just sad...but here's the rest. There are 30 - 40 mile an hour wind gusts here, and we live up on a ridge. What that means is there are 3 feet drifts throughout our subdivision and we can't get out. My daughter's car is stuck in the middle of a drift in the middle of our driveway. We own a snow blower, but it doesn't start. We own a snow plow, but it isn't here. We also own a four wheel drive truck but it isn't here. Let me finally add that we also own a FRICKIN tow truck, BUT IT ISN'T HERE ALSO!!!!! My husband...where is he? napping...where is all of our snow equipment...at the shop...where are we? STUCK IN THE HOUSE WITH NO VANILLA, TRYING NOT TO SWEAR!!!!

If you're out and about today in your four wheel drive, that you happen to have at home, not at your husband's shop, please feel free to drive slowly by, and throw us a bottle of vanilla.

6 days until Florida...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Close your eyes and remember...

One of the best memories I have as a child was the amazing decorating that went on at my Gramma Stockenburg's house and her sister's house...My Aunt Vi and Uncle Alan. Although they have all passed on...the memories are alive and well in my mind. I believe I've mentioned in a previous post the amazing holidays my Gramma Stockenburg used to host, and although it's not clear to me when we were at Auntie Vi's house (perhaps Christmas Eve at one house and Christmas Day at the other) (or perhaps they alternated every year) I don't recall, however, I do remember Auntie Vi's Christmas Tree. It always sat in front of her floor to ceiling front window, it was always flocked and it always had one of these on it...
A rotating Christmas tree spot light! Imagine if you will a flocked tree that changed colors as the light rotated. I found this light on ebay and man if I had an extra penny, I sure would have bought it along with the flocked tree to go with it! I remember as a little girl watching their tree change color in amazement, as the house was bustling with amazing Swedish cooks, generations of Aunts, Uncles, and cousins, and pure holiday bliss. I also loved to just peek behind the tree and watch the light go round. My Aunt had a full wall limestone fireplace with various bricks that stuck out...on every little brick sat holiday elves: Little tiny ones all in red and green. There were the best Swedish pastries and always an abundance of delicious food. I wonder when they were preparing for the holiday's if they knew it would stick with me 30 years later?!?
What was your favorite childhood holiday memory?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

5-4-3-2-1

How many countdowns can one person possibly have? It seems to me I'm always counting down something, yet trying not to wish my life away. Here is a list of the current count downs:

# of working days left at current job: 16

# of days to work until Christmas Break: 3

# of days til Christmas: 9

# of days til I leave on vacation: 10

# of days til graduation: 143

# of weekends left of class: 12

# of days that crazy shoe duckin W has left in office: 34

Hmmmmph...many many countdowns...too many? You decide...whats most important is the enjoyment I gather along the way.

Maybe for me I have so many countdowns because I'm a procrastinator. If I count down, then I can figure the very last minute I can start something. Perhaps. I'm in such a transitional phase in my life right now. So many changes. So challenging, yet so very exciting. Perhaps it's a midlife crisis minus the red car!

Hey! By the way, I got another job today...that makes 3. I got a job as a professional development advisor. Imagine me, counseling people on what type of job they want and how to get there. How fun is that? I applied about 6 months ago for this job, but it didn't work out then. Right now the timing is perfect. Again...very exciting. I'm not sure I'll ever be the type of person to only have one job at a time. It's not that I love to work, and I am definitely NOT a work-a-holic, but I love to learn, and the best way to learn is to teach others...and I love to help other people accomplish their dreams. My very final goal in life and something that I would so love, would be to be a motivational speaker. Oh...and write a book. Gee...I wonder if there is room in my life for 2 more jobs. Not today...

Anyway, after a few days down in the dumps, I'm sure feeling a bit better today. There's still some things stuck in my craw that are bothering me, but not so much anymore. I am telling myself "this too shall pass" and it makes it a bit easier.

Today, my mom was scheduled for surgery but they changed it to tomorrow. Makes me wonder if I've been praying for patience. I surely have not. Learned my lesson about that long ago! But I surely seem to need to practice it a lot. Please pray for my mama. She's having some Arteries cleaned out tomorrow. Thanks :)

Today I got my first two Christmas Cards. Two gals on the BFF list. Thanks for the cards :)

Today, my big girl texted me this question...what does written up mean and what is a referral?

Me: Who wants to know?

BG: Me...Sheez

Me: Why?

BG: No reason, just tell me.

Me: Written up is when you've broken a rule and they are telling you so in writing. A referral is something in school that normally means you have some kind of discipline coming.

BG: OIC...I have a story to tell you.

Me: Sounds like you do.

For the rest of the story...visit my big girl's blog here.

Off to commiserate with the laundry and TIVO!

tata!

Monday, December 15, 2008

How am I missing it?

A few of you know that a few weeks ago one of my clients sort of punched me in the face. Really, I was about a foot away from him and I sure didn't see it coming! I asked my supervisor...did I miss something? Did you see it coming? Nope... Huh...me either.

Today...round 2! I was proverbially punched in the gut by the passive aggressive type and I totally didn't see it coming. AGAIN! Here I sat all diligently listening to the question and WHAM!!! Out of the blue came the real purpose of the conversation...which was a personal accusatory slam and I totally missed it. Now...ordinarily I pride myself on navigating the waters of the passive aggressive. Perhaps I am losing my touch. I'm not sure...

I do know that tonight...I will need to ponder. My navigation system is in need of a recall, repair, rethink, re something...cuz it sure ain't helping me out.

So...help me out...if you're gonna punch me in the face literally, or punch me in the gut figuratively...perhaps you could give me a warning until I get my GPS repaired.

Feeling the crunch...bah humbug...

I must say that I'm feeling the crunch this year, and it's making me be a bit bah humbugish. I would like for this food item to not be on our menu next year. Although I would also like for this food item to not be on our menu,
my kids would be a little upset about that. And by the way...those 3 empty boxes and the package of Ramen would be dinner for my 14 year old son. Dear son...could you please just eat one TV dinner, not 3? We're trying to watch our budget!
I've only bought two presents so far and am desperately trying to ensure the kids have presents under the tree. It's tough. We are going to Florida, which is also a struggle, but we are determined to get there. I haven't had an unscheduled day off since January...and I believe a vacation is in order if I am not to lose my mind.
I believe a sure sign of the financial crunch this year, is that I have not received one, not one, Christmas card. Our cards have been cut from my budget this year as well. I felt it was either the cards or the Christmas cookies that had to go, so I chose the cards. Today it is 3 degrees here...actual temp, not wind chill-- so that can only mean one thing...many cars won't start or will break down, which will make my husband's shop busy, which may help the situation some. I have 5 days left to work until I have 2 weeks off. Aaaaaahhhhhh.
I just know that once I get through this week, it'll all be ok. I'll have a few minutes to breath...and some time to get ready for the holiday and to contemplate the true meaning.
Last week was busy as ever...I finished teaching on Wednesday night and finished school on Friday night: my car was in the process of breaking down, my son got in a fight after school, and it generally a downer day. I made it to school, and am super glad to be done for a few weeks. I have my research paper due in January...so I desperately need to get that finished while on the beach :)
Saturday morning, my girls participated in a Breakfast with Santa fund raiser for their girl scout troop. Not many people showed up and I think they may have lost money. Again...a sign of the times?
Saturday night, was my company Christmas Party...the last party for me...but oddly enough I didn't feel sad. In fact, I had quite a good time, despite not feeling in the Ho Ho mood. My BFF and I both wore make up for the occasion...
For us...that's quite a feat! When you work with puke and snot all day, makeup isn't usually a priority ;) I actually needed a picture of us for a scrapbook I made some time ago, and I finally have one that is decent!
Finally, I wanted to share this picture of my brother's fattest cat of all time...
Notice how he sleeps by the food bag ?! He believes you can never be too close to the food! I believe he has lost at least 5 lbs since living with us. Before when he laid down, his belly was round like a basketball! Now he just looks like a fat sausage!

He was only slightly annoyed by the flash. I do truly love his fatness...he's snow snuggly:) Very good on a cold winter's day.

Friday, December 12, 2008

To the Dope, From the Princess

The names in this post have been changed to protect the innocent. Any reference to any adolescent girls who are part of the Ruchus is purely coincidental.

It is a sure sign of the true Christmas Spirit and also a testament to the fabulous bond of sisterly love we have created in our house when, there, on a neatly wrapped Christmas present, under our lovely tree are these words, written in thick black Sharpie marker...

To: the dope

From: the princess

Gee, don't you just feel the love and warmth of the holiday spreading over every part of your being? I know I do.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Could I pulleeeez go back to work?

Yesterday I had a day off from work. I had visions of a nap, a good magazine read, watching my soap, doing some laundry, and greeting the kids with a June Cleaver smile and clean apron when they walked in the door. Did any of that come to be you ask?

Ummmm. No. Definitely. No.

I left the house at 8 AM for an 8:30 appointment that once again was rescheduled until next week. I had a gazillion errands to run...and while I was running I picked up my first two Christmas presents. Since we are so totally broke this year and going to Florida (that's an odd combination isn't it?) my Christmas shopping will be exceptionally light. I anticipate buying about 12 gifts total this year. Anyway, I digress...

I ran a bunch of errands, had to stop by work at least twice to drop stuff off, attended a retirement party briefly since I had a God-awful meeting with some Upward Bound folks, stopped home for a moment to throw dinner in the crock pot...which was tough and not very good (so much for slow cooking) and then taught class last night until 8:00. I came home and spent a few moments with my big girl, trying to help her make some choices in what things she wants to participate in...and then finally collapsed into bed. Gratefully my bu** isn't as sore from the fall as it was yesterday and I could actually be somewhat comfortable in bed.

So...today I am glad to be back at work. I do believe that my two weeks off during the holidays will be much more restful. Until then, I think the todo list is getting the best of me.

I read Jen the Dust Bunny Hostage' post on shopping, and I feel the same way. Why do I hate shopping so much? I think it's due to the internet. I REALLY prefer to shop from home, when I feel like it, in my jammies while sipping some hot cider. Not fighting the crowds, the lines, the limited selections, the sold outness (is too a word), and the 4 inches of salt melted mushy slow I had to trudge through yesterday. Also, this year there is a lot more list than dollars and that just makes it a bummer.

Here's hoping the new year brings renewed prosperity for the US and for us.

Signing off now, and glad to be back at work :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Nothin like a good ice storm

Ya gotta love a good ice storm...one where you take teeny tiny steps all the way down the curvy sheet of ice sidewalk, and then when you take the first step into the parking lot...WHAM!!! down you go...shoes flying, papers soakin, pants wet through to the undies, ars hurting, and all the while thinking...OH how I love a good ice storm!

Bruise report to follow...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

This isn't the one I was talking about...

Ok, I now on my last post I'd said I'd include pictures, but here's the deal...my weekend is very very quickly slipping away. I have at least 4 loads of laundry that have to be done tonight...That puts me at least at midnight...so I must be quick here.

I just wanted all you readers, friends, (readers are friends too, just not face to face friends) and family afar that I GOT THE JOB!!!! After 8 weeks, 4 interviews and two observations later I finally finally finally have been hired. Whew! My kids seem to be adjusting with trepidation to the change. Although it will be SO SO SO good for my family, it will be SO SO SO hard for them. You see, they have gone to work with me all summer long and on no school days for the past 8 years. So...it will be an adjustment. The big difference is that now...on most of their no school days I'll be home with them. Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus! Merry Christmas to me. I also have 4 weeks off in the summer. That thought alone almost brings tears to my eyes. I have worked so hard for so long in my life that the thought of working less and making more money seems actually beyond my comprehension. I guess I thought all through grad school, that gee I hope I really do make more and work less, but what if that doesn't really happen? Well, I'm breathing a sigh of relief. I'll work 6.5 hours instead of 9, have double the sick time, double the personal time, and double the vacation time. It's a dream come true...AND I'll be working with some really challenging children, so there will be a lot to learn. I don't have my start date yet, but I'm looking at the end of Jan. Keep a good thought for me on my new journey. I couldn't be more thrilled.

Gotta love a good meme...

Ok, I have a lot to say and a few pics to post...but I'll have to get to that later...but first...I stole this Meme from Givinya who is either a former stalker turned commenter or a new reader...not sure which yet, but glad to have her aboard! Anyway...a good Sunday Meme...here goes...

Ten years ago I:

*was 32. Hmmmm 32.
*Working for a big corporation...on call 24/7 loving and hating it
*Had been married 8 years
*Had just moved in to this our dream home. The same home I want to change 400 things about
*Was mama to a 6, 4, and 3 year old. Whew! That makes me tired all over again!

Five things on Tomorrow's To-Do List:

*Work at COL
*Work at UIC
*Turn in my written resignation
*Laundry (is there a to do list that doesn't include laundry?)
*Order my Christmas cards before it's too late

Five snacks I enjoy:
* Rootbeer (is too a snack)
*Candy
*Pie
*Cake
*Cheese

(The above is why I am so thin I can barely cast a good shadow!)

Five things I would do if I were a millionaire:

*Pay off every bill and then some (the some would be donate to my church)
*Save... a lot
*Buy a beach house
*Buy the MIL a new house
*Pay back my mama what I really owe her

Five places I have lived:

*Machesney Park, IL
*Roscoe, IL
*Rockford, IL
*Loves Park, IL
*Roswell, GA

Five jobs I've had:

This was already compiled in this post... plus I hate to type that much be redundant.

Your turn...I'm not taggin ya but join me if you'd like...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The job market...or not...

There's been a lot of talk on this ole blog about new jobs, old jobs, etc. etc...so today, I thought I'd share a bit, some random bits, about various jobs. Let me digress and tell you how I got there...the other night I was at my precious one's band concert. There I saw an amazing woman with whom I used to work. As she introduced me to her boyfriend, she explained that we used to work in hell together. (I know this is a family G rated blog, but really, it was hell!) Anyway...she went on to say how dumb it was, how unchristian, how crazy, and I replied yeah...and we all had to really stick together to not lose our minds! Aaaaaahhhhhh, the good ole days! So...here's some job related things you may not know about me...

#1 the very first job...waitressing in the back poker room at a local night club for special events. Yup I was about 13 I think and the old Italian men tipped very well :)

#2 the first regularly scheduled job...Pork Chop Alley...grill cook...yuck! The terrific thing about eating at Pork Chop Alley was that everything was covered in grilled onions. The terrific thing about working at Pork Chop Alley was that everything was covered in grilled onions....NOT!!!! Even after washing, my work clothes still smelled like onions! As did my boyfriends car after I rode home in it from work...sorry dude!

#3 Next on the agenda...Hardees...I was the quality control chick there. Someone saw some management potential in me :) I loved that job for about 2 months...I remember calling home one night to ask my mom if I could quit! Today the thought of asking my mom that question cracks me up! I'm pretty sure she said no, since I had a car payment to make, and I'm pretty sure I quit anyway. Gee, wonder why I bothered to ask.

#4 Chuck E Cheese. I worked this job the rest of high school and loved it. I was a birthday party hostess and Chuck E. himself. I got a lot of hours there (which at 3.15 an hour equated to a lot of money in my book!) and I worked with great people and of course children...I never could get enough of children :)

Hmmmm....then I moved to Georgia

#5 Richway...kind of like Target...loved that job too...hated the customers...I worked as a cashier and at the Service Desk...it was like shopping all day long!

Hmmmmm....then I moved back to Illinois

#6 Lawrences...I was a nail technician there...I loved that job too...although the money...not so much.

Finally

#7 Hell...oops I mean Illinois Bell. I was there for 9 years. Really good money, really good, really good friends, awful awful awful job and an awful company to work for. Working there required a lot of therapy.

#8 opened my day care home...the real beginning of my work with children :) Got to stay home with my babies for a time...

#9 E. Riverside Learning Center...infant teacher. I went to school with my kids and I loved this job. If this job paid well, it is the job I would be doing today. I do not think there is any more important position than giving a baby a firm secure foothold in life!

#10 West...back to the corporate world. I loved this job since I was very successful at it...it was also a wonderful income compared to daycare, but being on call 24/7 wasn't for me. I also loved the client entertainment portion :) Fine dining, sports events, etc. etc. AND, I made some wonderful life long friends there.

#11 Back to the children...where I'm at now...I do love this job...but I have a desire to have my skill and talent better utilized...and I want to continue to learn. I have worked with some amazing people during my time here, and learned a lot.

#12? Time will tell

Now, let's just say that you'd be here reading all day if I listed all the part time jobs...bartender, waitress, pet store, teacher, multi level marketing...oh yes there have been many!

It's been quite a journey. I hope to have about 25 years of work left in me...there's a great need, and a whole lot of help that can be given in that amount of time...

Now it's your turn...take a minute and comment what your favorite job was...I'd like to know

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Have I lost my mind, or is it gone?

I have been monitoring the ole blog for the 10,000th hit. So today like any other day, I scroll down to see if I hit 9,000 yet, which really I should have, and I scroll and I scroll and I scroll, and I go back up and scroll again...and WHERE HAS IT GONE???!????!???? Where is my 'counter' The very essence of my blog-- and knowing how many folks have stopped by...do me a favor...scroll down my blog and see if you can find it. There is a chance I've lost my mind...and if so, please let me know...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The brave new haircut

Without a photo...

Don't look for a photo here, there isn't one....but do know this...I finally, finally, finally after over 20 years of complaining...took the plunge and changed hairdressers. I struggled with my hair dude for the past year trying to get this certain concave bob hair cut, to no avail. Everytime I left, I had the same haircut I had the time before and it was not the cut I wanted. So...I finally got brave and started asking people where they got their hair cut...even strangers in restaurants! I finally realized that I not only had to know the where, I had to know the who.

There's a gal at my internship who had a haircut similar to the one I want...so I asked her, and she told me, and I finally called to make an appointment with 'John'. Weeeeeeelllll, John is evidently out for the next few weeks, maybe longer. WHAT?!? I've waited a year to take the plunge and now he's out for how long?!? "But Joiya can help you", they said. OK, Whatever, be brave, or not, hope she doesn't screw it up too badly. Finally the appointment arrives. The.longest.haircut.of.all.time. One hour and a half...I kid you not. Here's the thing: I think she only cut off about 1/4 of an inch. Really I wished for about 3 inches to be cut off. But...as the days wore on...I believe I have found a new hairdresser...I think I like this haircut...only shorter. Perhaps she was afraid that I was 'short phobic' which I am not! The shorter the better for me...So...I'm giving her another chance, after the first of the year...and I'm allowing a lot of time...if 1/4 inch took an hour and a half, 3 inches may take all of 2 days!

The kicker is my kids say..."What? You got your hair cut? I can't tell!" What? Who asked you?...I'm certain I got it cut, and I'm certain I like it better. So...stay tuned for January and if I actually get more than 1/4 inch cut off, I might even include a photo!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

From the Great JC

Ever have one of those times in your life when you know it's decision time...pee or get off the pot so to speak? During this next week, I face a lot of decisions...changing jobs...to a job that is less hours, which should equate to less work...but really equates to more work, more learning, more dealing with personalities, more rules and regulations to master, etc. etc...but mostly change. A lot of change.

I have also decided this week to contact a friend of mine who has always told me I could work in his office; to begin the transformation to private practice...to find out exactly what needs to be done...how to get licensed, how to get on insurance boards, how to build a clientele, etc. etc. again...lots of change.

When I embarked on this journey three years ago I probably didn't think of the actual transformation...I think I only saw myself in an office with clients, and finally setting my own schedule. That is still the dream...but the bridges to cross to get there seem daunting. I still have to make a substantial income, I still have to provide my family with health insurance...I can't just get me a 'start where I'm at and we'll make money later' kind of job. So it seems there are added pressures. I also want to take a percentage of low income clients, and so I'll need to learn how to do that without going broke! Anyway...

Today I went to church. It was lay ministry Sunday and by far one of the best services I have ever been to. We had an amazing musician Dr. Todd Payne at the service who sang and recited part of Dr. MLK's speech, I have a dream. Very fitting today for my struggles. Then, four members of the church spoke instead of our Pastor. A statement by one of them I thought was fitting for today is "The same Holy Spirit that was with Jesus on the cross is with me." How powerful is that? If the Holy Spirit can get Jesus through Crucifixion I can certainly get through a job change...and it'll all be alright! Dr. Payne spoke a lot of change today and his summary was, "God will lead you through change which is constant." No matter where I'm at, there is going to be change...constant change. One of my favorite sayings is "Be the change you want to see in the world." There is a lot I have to offer those teachers, children, and families at the therapeutic day school. Along with that, I'm certain there is a lot I have to offer the children and families that will be attending my private practice. Although it isn't easy...I am confident it'll be ok. It came to me today from the Great JC Himself...

Today we closed with one of my favorite hymns of all time...Here I am Lord...


Here I am Lord
Words and Music by Daniel L Schutte© 1981

Genesis 46:2
"And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night,and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I."

I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin,
My hand will save.

Chorus
Here I am, Lord.
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

I, who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?

Chorus
Here I am, Lord.
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people’s pain.
I have wept for love of them.
They turn away.

Chorus
Here I am, Lord.
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

I will break their hearts of stone,
Give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my words to them.
Whom shall I send?

Chorus
Here I am, Lord.
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of wind and flame,
I will send the poor and lame.
I will set a feast for them.
My hand will save.

Chorus
Here I am, Lord.
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

Finest bread I will provide,
'Til their hearts be satisfied.
I will give my life to them.
Whom shall I send?

Chorus
Here I am, Lord.
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

You lead me, I will go.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Thanksgiving Ponder...

A few years ago my Mom and I started the 'Thanksgiving Ponder'...thoughts from the day after. Although I didn't spend Thanksgiving with my Mama...I find myself participating in the ponder. The day after Thanksgiving we ponder what worked, what didn't, what we would change, what we liked. Here are the ponders from this year...

The guest list...loved it...would have only changed adding people to the mix, Grammie, Cassie, Gabe, Grandpa Moffitt, Bubba Bill & Karen. I long for the holiday's when we're all together and there's definitely NOT enough room at the table!

The meal...this is the part of the list where certain dishes die a slow and painful death. If no body eats you then your chances of reappearing next year are slim to none. This is why the 'Green Bean Casserole' is no longer in attendance! The food choices this year seemed to be right on.

Next we look at quantities...was there too much of something? Not enough of something? Hmmmm...let's see. Although we did have quite a few left overs, we attribute that to the fact that two families joining us had eaten another meal before they arrived. Ugggh! I remember those days all too well. We have lots of leftovers that are quickly disappearing even as we speak! The one thing that puzzles me is why none of my children like candied sweet potatoes. Do they share my genes at all? So far today, I'm on my 3rd serving of left over sweet potatoes. So...overall, we'll leave the amounts of food the same next year, unless the guest list changes.

We invited everyone over at 3 or 4. Most folks arrived at 5. We have decided to change this next year. We definitely felt like we didn't have enough time to spend with people. Next year we're gonna shoot for 1:00.

The cooking and cleaning were right on target. We had the house finished by 1:00. I even had time to shower AND take a nap!! Can you believe it? Take a nap on Thanksgiving?!? Amazing!
The most important part of the Thanksgiving ponder is that you write it down! Next year you won't remember what tweaks you wanted to make. But if you write it down...you will. Happy Pondering!

This weekend I am looking forward to completing or at least starting some long overdue tasks around here, working some more on the laundry, an finishing up some nagging homework.
What I love most about Thanksgiving is the culmination of recipes from cherished people in our lives. This year we had Grammies stuffing and turkey. Grammies fruit salad, Gramma Bee's Cranberry Jello Salad with Pineapple sauce, and for an appetizer, Aunt Ruth's Cheese ball. We added a new tradition this year, in honor of my friend Cheryl Pace, who used to bring the most amazing Red Velvet cake when she shared the Holiday's with us. Although not too many people partook of the Red Velvet cake...it is to remain for the next few years to see if it will take off as a new tradition!
Since Aunt Ruth's cheese ball got rave reviews this year, I thought I'd share that recipe with you.
Ingredients:
2 8 oz. package softened cream cheese
1 package Knorr Vegetable soup mix
2 packages Buddig Beef, diced
sliced green onions-about 2 inches of 8 onions
1/2 cup or so chopped Walnuts
Onion Powder to taste
Lowery's garlic season salt to taste
In mixing bowl, mix all ingredients except nuts until thoroughly mixed. Add onion powder and lowery's to taste...you don't need much with the soup mix, but some is good.






Roll concoction into a ball and then roll in nuts...pack the nuts lightly around so they stay put. Cover in waxed paper and store in fridge for at least 4 hours for flavors to blend. It's best if you make it the day before.
Voila!

Serve with crackers. Yum.my. As I was typing this my honey walked by and said, hey...where's the left over cheese ball? See...it's still having an effect...even the next day. Try it yourself...
My precious one is convinced that ALL Christmas decor must be up today. She's so much like me when I was little, not very patient, but very ambitious. Wait...that is still me today! I wonder where she gets that from? ;)
Drum roll please...the job you ask? Here's the latest...I got a job offer on Wednesday. I am waiting for the information on their health insurance offerings before I make my decision. Currently the offer is good. Quite a bit more $ than I make now...and of course only working 6 hours a day...with 6 weeks off a year. That would be a great opportunity for me to be able to start my private practice and to not be so exhausted by 9 at night. The health insurance costs however could easily eat up any increase in pay...so that is a major sticking point for me. I hope to find that out on Monday...and negotiate from there. Keep me in your thoughts...as I think this is the perfect opportunity for me.
Hope you all had a really terrific holiday!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Photo Meme

To kick off Thanksgiving...let's have a photo meme! You know...a picture speaks a thousand words right?


I'm not big on rules...so we'll keep them to a minimum...


1. List 5 things you are grateful for...using a photo
2. Nominate 5 others to do the same
3. Link the nominator to your blog
4. Have a Happy Thanksgiving...

That's it...

#1 on my list...God, Church, Baptisms, Confirmation, God Parents


#2 Family...the more the merrier




#3 Babies...I can't get enough of their curiosity, their baby soft skin, their beautiful eyes and their big slobbery kisses!



#4 Friends...it's a challenge for me to make time for friends...but it's definitely worth it!




#5 Honey...



Happy Thanksgiving!

Take a moment to wallow in Gratitude :)

I nominate...

Mrs. G

Jen and her dust bunnies

Lucky Girl

Heather and the short bus

Kacey

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Why am I stuck in a bad sitcom?

I believe that any house with 3 teenagers in it is a sitcom waiting to happen. Throw in one crazy husband for good measure. First of all, these days it is all I can do to stave off one sibling murdering another. I believe this could happen at anytime anyday. Why did these lovely babies I had turn into hateful siblings.

Here's another wonder of a real life sitcom...Why, when we own 5 TV's all with cable...and three computers all with internet would there possibly be a fight over the TV? Speechless...it just leaves me speechless...Now, sadly, since my family is SSSSOOOOO deprived, we only have TIVO on one TV. OK, I can understand that...perhaps. But really? It's TV and the beauty of TIVO is...it'll be there tomorrow...so again...why the fighting?

I just served dinner and ran for my life. Serving teenagers can be a dangerous task. One night last week I waited to long to serve my plate and when I got there...poof! No food left. AGAIN on that same evening, my precious one made cookies. Again...I waited...again...no cookies for me. Not one!

In a house with three teens there seems to be at least 8 simultaneous conversations happening at the same time...wait...I think that's what simultaneous means. Anyway...on top of that, they like the TV or the Radio on. Hence the term...what's all the Ruchus. I gotta tell you...there's a whole lotta Ruchus going on!

Friday my precious one committed a fate worse than death and wore the big girl's sweater to school...and not only did she wear it...she got something on it

*Sigh such is the life of the Ruchus...

At 3:00 the hubby was supposed to pick up the precious one, but decided on a nap. You'd think asking a newly licensed 16 year old to go get her sister would be a great idea right...not so! And then...the precious one once again committed a cardinal sin and left her things in the big girl's car. Nevermind that the big girls has left her crap in my car for 16 years and actually I'm sure there's quite a bit of her crap in my car right now...Does that matter? Noooooooooooo. When it's HER car...no one is allowed to leave a single thing in it...who knew.

So...such is the life in the Ruchus sitcom...

Tonight we went to the precious one's parade...her first even marching. I love this parade that opens the holiday season each year. This year we lucked out that is was 45, not 20 like last year. We took Zoe and Jason, Steph, me, Kev, & Gramma...We sat near the beginning of the route and got a ton of candy!

I must be off now to do...let me see...20 loads of laundry. NOT...the kick butt laundry challenge kicked my butt this week...but next week...watch out! With 4 days off, I'm sensing a 40 load week.

Until next time...

Blaring Christmas Music

I have blaring Christmas music in my head. It won't go away. I think it all started when I felt the strong urge to head to Walmart at 12:00 on a Sunday. Now...those of you that know me well, know I prefer to go to Walmart at 7:00 on a Sunday before the town arrives. Today...the baby girl and I slept until 11:00!! We far surpassed the 9:30 record we set a week ago. I just know her Mama & Daddy will be sad they missed the 11:00 wake up call. I, for one, was eternally grateful. So...with half the city in tow I braved the Walmart.

The last minute part of me has learned the Thanksgiving lesson the hard way: If you want just the right turkey at just the right price, celery hearts, cranberry jello, and rolls...do not...and I repeat DO NOT go to the store the night before Thanksgiving and expect to find anything you are looking for. Besides...I need 4 days to thaw my turkey and today would be the day it needs to start thawing (for the 20 lb. variety)

I learned the waiting til the last minute lesson again yesterday, when I couldn't go to scrap night because all the spots were full :( Eventually, Sarah called me to say a spot had opened up, but by then the hubby and I had already made plans for the evening. Let me tell you, they were some HOT plans! We were price shopping for a carpet shampooer. AND, we met up with his mom and picked up the turkey roaster that she had gotten me for my birthday. Thanks Gramma! I had originally thought I had wanted the roaster that holds an 18 lb. turkey and comes with three insert pans. We found that one at Target and discovered the insert pans were not very large and therefore not very useful for large holiday gatherings. I instead opted for the larger pan that roasts up to a 24 lb. turkey. Perfect! Someday, when my kids have kids, I hope to have all the family over every holiday and to get quite a lot of use from this roaster. Holiday gatherings are my favorite of all time. Hey Mom...if you're not mom, don't read this...just kidding. Hey Mom, book yourself a flight for Christmas...you can stay in our house while we're gone...and spend time with Tim, Shana, Fadil and everyone you haven't had a chance to catch up with. Then you won't be home alone for the holidays. Maybe I have some NWA miles you can use for free. I'll have to check. OK, if you're not Mom, begin reading again :) Let me see...where was I...OH...

Today, I bought the bird...all 21 lbs. of him. I wonder why we don't eat turkey more often. I surely do love it! To alleviate the cooking and cleaning crunch I find myself in every year...this year we were going to get started early with the cleaning. Sadly, that hasn't happened. I'm hoping to feel energized any day. That hasn't happened either. AND, I JUST REALIZED IT'S SUNDAY!! What? I knew it was Sunday, but somehow thought for sure I had another day off. Drats! Tonight Kristina is in a lighted parade...Actually she has to be there in about an hour and a half. Probably I should take a shower and get ready.

But first...two things I want to share...my day with the baby girl... OMG! Isn't she getting so big, and beautiful too? She can now say about 32,000 words ;)

Let me share with you what my big girl's mail looks like lately... Ummm...did they just realize she takes her ACT's in a year? Yes, why yes, I believe they did. Every college has some offer for her...if she sends for their registration packet-- where to choose, where to choose? Time will tell I guess. Right now she's looking at the Art Institute and Cal State. Many choices...many opportunities.

OK, now finally for my most random thought of all time. This is my favorite sandwich... What is it you ask? Why it's a goulash sandwich, with butter, on cheap white bread. The only way to go! I can't think of a sandwich I love more. When I was little I really like ketchup sandwiches and jelly sandwiches. Perhaps I've always been a bit odd. Now it's your turn...do you enjoy a favorite out of the ordinary sandwich? Leave a comment...I'd love to know...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Got nothin by a head cold...

Really I got nothin to post today...so sassy satire, no comical comments, oh wait, but hey...I do have a new word...if you're the non swearing type...cover your ears. Are they covered? OK, good. The new word for the day is shitten.

Here, let me use it in a sentence for you...

Tends to shitten up the ol’ attitude.

I believe the word shitten is a verb.

That sentence was plagerized borrowed from Sandi Johnson's Caring Bridge Site.

My friend Sandi...well she's in the fight for her life...literally fighting stage 4 cancer, and now she's fighting lymphedema too. Please pray for her... a lot. She is at a specialist today trying to get some help for her arm. She needs lots of positive energy flowing her way.

Sometimes I find myself feeling shittened. See? You can add 'ed' to it. Trust me, this word is gonna be in the websters by 2010. Wait...I digress...let me tell you why:

Homework is KILLING me this week. The kickbutt laundry challenge has kicked my butt. 0 loads completed this week, 20 to go. Christmas shopping is stressing me out...cuz I got no dough.

Let's just say that today is the day for VERY incorrect English. k?

And...I have a head cold.

For those of you reading this from some warm sunny place...the wind chill was 4 when I came to work today....4 Balmy eh? Good to know that 34 days from now I too will be in a warm sunny place.

Got a lot on the plate this weekend...as always...be sure to look for the pictoral weekend in review on Monday... Tomorrow I have school. Weekend #12 and counting...then scrapbooking with the girls...Sunday I have the baby girl, and then Zoe, Jason, the whole family and I are going to watch the precious one in a parade playing her trombone. I mentioned it was 4 degrees here today right? Oughtta be a bang up time! MANY blankets will be required ;)

I spose I'll close with the random blathering...have a fantabulous weekend.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

If Mama Aint Happy...

Hey, Did ya see my blog yesterday? Pretty cute huh? That's what I thought...but not the mama.
My mama and I...we have some differing tastes...for me the more the merrier, the busier the better, the more glitter...hey, can't get enough...not so much with the mama... let me qoute her comment from yesterday...

WOW! While reading today's blog, the background changed right in front of my eyes! I think it's kind of busy and I like the previous one better.

Ok, that's from the mama...what that translates into is..."I can't stand this blog background, it gives me a headache, I'm not sure if I need to vomit, or add another pair of $20 walgreens reading glasses to decipher the actual print on this mess."

Really...I'm sure that's what she was thinking...so in my free time I embarked on a new cute background and not one of those generic blogger ones that I am so tired of...I'm really not ready for a Christmas background, but when the time is right I have the cutest one picked out...so I searched and search for something a little fally (is too a word!) when I found the perfect one...I loaded it all up and when I was checking the final view I noticed it said...Happy Haunting. What? Haunting? Like Halloween Haunting? As in 3 weeks ago Halloween. Ugh...that is so last month. Back to the drawing board...

So, I've settled on this...boring, mundane, green, brown, blah blah blah...but I bet the Mama's happy :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The waiting...

The final meeting regarding the new job went well yesterday. Seems I should be in possession of a new job offer by Tuesday. Outside of a few small details to work out...seems this will be the job for me! Keep your fingers crossed, and the prayers coming.

I must have finally hit the limit last night, cuz I was sure in bed at 7:30 and slept til 5 this morning. Aaaahhhh....that was so wonderful.

Have a happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Final Frontier

Today, I reach the final frontier...the #5 and God help me final interview for my new job. At this point, I'd really like to just know one way or the other. I don't think there was anything I could have done differently...so let's hope for the best. They tell me that I'll know for sure (3rd time they've said this) by November 26th. Wish me luck? Nah...not really...let's just wish for it to be over and to know once and for all if this is the job for me...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kick butt laundry challenge

Done! One room is done! 22 loads later the laundry room is empty. Sadly...that is not all. I am establishing a new 20 load challenge for this week: The hallway that leads to the laundry room, and then I'll begin to wash the laundry that is in the bedrooms. By then the Good Will should have gotten about 20 bags from us :) How I love to get rid of stuff. My original goal was to be "done" with the laundry by Thanksgiving. At this point....it looks like we just might make that goal.

What I super love is my front load washer that tells me exactly how many minutes each load is going to take and the fact that I still have lots of laundry soap left, even after 22 loads. It uses such a small amount for each load. Amazing! If you're in the market for a new washer...by all means get a front loader. Next on my list is one of those amazing steam dryers, and stands for my washer and dryer. I am amazed that my back and legs aren't killing me today after all those trips up and down the stairs.

The best part of all is the help I got putting it all away :) I really don't mind washing, drying and folding, but I absolutely hate putting away. Gratefully the big girl and the honey took care of most of it! Thanks!

This week will be a bit more of a challenge I'm afraid...I have a project due for school this weekend, two papers, Scrap night Saturday night, the baby girl on Sunday and Kristina is in a parade Sunday night...Hmmmmm....I'll have to do some laundry every day to reach my goal.

My new goal this week is to post basement pictures with everything clean and laundry free! Go me!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How much can you do in one day?

First of all, I do not believe that I will ever watch regular TV again. What I mean is TV without Tivo. Outside of a few bits and pieces of shows I catch with the hubby while I'm going to sleep I really can't remember the last time I watched regular TV and let me tell you why...Today while I was working diligently on the kick butt laundry challenge, I thought I would catch up on my kick butt watch TV challenge. Oh wait...I never made that a challenge. Anyway, miraculously enough today I have watch 8 episodes of Young and the Restless the entire CMA's, 1 episode of Private Practice, 4 episodes of Gray's Anatomy...and the only thing that awaits me now on my Tivo is 5 episodes of Brothers and Sisters. I have decided to not watch Boston Legal this season since I just really can't fit it in. So...all told I have watched 16 hours of TV today...in about 8 hours, dropped my son off and picked him up from his tournament, and cooked breakfast and lunch. In addition to that I have completed 9 loads of laundry. Only 3 to go to complete my kick butt laundry challenge for this week one of which is in the washer right not. Sadly, I believe I'll need to do 20 loads of laundry each of the next two weeks to be caught up. Ugh! The good news is I have 5 large bags to go to Good Will...hooray....things I will never wash again. and I am just about to the point where I can sweep the basement floor and organize my Christmas decor, just in time to get it out again! So...TIVO is the way to go...if you don't have it...get it! It's for real the best $12 a month I've ever spent. For this free plug I'm thinkin they should give me about 6 months free!
I just have to make a comment about the CMA's...WOW, Trace Adkins, Carrie Underwood, and Keith Urban really outdid themselves this year. If you haven't seen their performances on the CMAS's this year and you are fans...check them out on you tube. Did I mention that's another great thing about TIVO? Rewind...I can watch my favorite parts again and again...like when Kenny won Entertainer of the Year for the fourth year in a row!
I finally got started on this list... Making Christmas cookies is the highlight of my Holiday Season. I make about 200 dozen every year and man do we get fat! Just kidding! Most of them I give away as gifts and of course we do eat a lot as well. I've added a new goal this year after I've read the chapter on 'shipping' in this new book I got. I hope to send some off to my cousins this year to let them know we miss them at Christmas. Last year I took a large box to my friend Sandi who spent Christmas in the hospital. It is a tradition that goes back to my Grandma Stockenburg who had the most amazing kitchen ever. Each year she would make hundreds of Swedish Christmas cookies and homemade pies. She would give me my own little (6") pie tins to make my own pies and then of course I'd get to take yummy cookies home. Most of my favorite holiday memories revolve around Gramma Stockenburg. This babe had 4 Christmas trees and the one I got to decorate was 4 feet tall and I swear it had 200 balls on it. You couldn't see a pine needle anywhere! The house was always amazingly decorated with table of food in each room. People came from all over to share in the holiday. No body missed it. In pure Swedish tradition you never really got a chance to eat: Just as they finished passing the last dish, they began passing the first dish again! We all dressed up and each year Santa made a visit. She and Grandpa Stockenburg truly hosted magical holidays. That is a tradition I long to establish in my family. This year...if you got no where to go...head on over to the Ruchus...the more the merrier! I think I'm having 19 for Thanksgiving this year which is super fun! If you're on the invite list...The Moffitt's, The Fritz's, Tracey & kids, Tara & kids, Grandma, the Olson's, we're gonna gather about 3 or so. Please call to see what you can bring...k? ;) Thanks! It's so exciting to finally have my Christmas cookie list made. This year I will be sharing recipes here of my favorite cookies. Stay tuned! I use a system that makes the cookies over 5 days. On the first day we shop for ingredients and scrub the kitchen so everything is ready. On the 2nd day we make all the dough and throw it in the fridge (as most needs to be refrigerated anyway), on the 3rd day we bake and bake and bake, on the fourth day we decorate all the cookies and on the 5th day I make anything miscellaneous that cooks on the stove like fudge, rice crispy treat snowmen and corn flake wreaths. Yum.my! Those are my favorites. I like to make those the day before Christmas so they are nice and fresh. With the new goal to mail out some cookies this year, we may have to do two baking batches. I am gloriously off work the 21st of December until the 5th of January so that makes things a whole lot easier! I just can't wait to get started!
Today in N. Illinois it has been doing this off and on. I for one love a change in seasons as it gives me a renewed boost of energy to clean out some closets, make some lists, and put up some decorations! Today is snowed big clusters of flakes, my favorite kind and tonight it is beginning to stick. What this means for me is that I better get 'clean out the garage' on one of my lists so that my car can fit inside. How I hate to scrape windows!
I really must run now...that laundry challenge is still calling my name!
Until next time...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A little Hookie and a new license...

We've had a dilemma in our house for the past week. Last Saturday, my big girl's letter arrived telling us that it was ok for her to get her driver's license and that she had met all the requirements. In our house there's just one little glitch: Unless you can drive yourself, who on Earth is going to find the time to take you to the DMV to get your license?
I thought it'd be a good idea to call first...to make sure I knew exactly what we needed to do. The last thing I wanted to do was get there and not have her be able to get her license. They told me that we had to be there by 2:00 on a weekday if she needed to take a driver's test. Yep, that's what she needs...a driver's test. 2:00 huh? Well, I work til 3 and she goes to school til 3:35. They're open on Saturday but I have school on Saturday and there was NO WAY!!!! I was missing this event for a dumb ole' Master's Degree.
So...Friday, I was at work and I was just feeling enormously fidgety wanting the big girl to have her license for the weekend. So...I asked my boss if could leave early...yep, and I called the school and pulled her out early ;) I did...I really did. I was so glad they didn't ask me why I wanted her excused early! So...we were off. I checked the list twice to make sure we had all the necessary documentation. I was prepared to take her to Belvidere where I've heard the lines are less, but she was insistent on going to Rockford, where her instructor had walked her through the test. Not wanting to make her nervous...we were off to Rockford...and a very long line. You know you're in trouble when you're number 352 and they're on 311 when you arrive...

hI was especially worried when they only got through one number in 45 minutes. Evidently the folks at the DMV need a lot of breaks and evidently 4 out of the 5 folks working the counter have to go to break at the same time. It didn't help that the one dude left working, Jim, could only type with each of his middle fingers. Now...I'm sure my baby girl Aubrey could type faster than this dude. We waited an hour and a half before they called our number. The big girl filled out all of the necessary paperwork and then we waited for the driving test. By this time it was 3:50 and all driving tests had to be started by 4:00, since they only do them in the daytime. About 5 minutes to four they called her name and she was off! I was busy trying to get some homework done...and when I looked up...there she was. Did you pass? Um, she told me to sit down until they called my name for my license! Yeah!!!!

Gratefully, I have a zoom lens, so I can sit way across the DMV and not be too obvious about taking a picture of my big girl getting her Driver's license photo taken.

There was much more worrying about the picture actually than the test. Is my hair straight? Should I wear my hoodie? Is there lint on my shirt? I finally said, Honey...you're not shooting a magazine cover here...it'll all be ok!

And it was. Introducing my big girl... licensed driver.

We headed to Beef A Roo for a quick bite to eat to celebrate. I had to be at school in an hour, so time was tight. Of course the second we got home, she wanted to go somewhere. We briefly discussed the rules, our expectations, our need to know where she is at all times, and she was off.

Fast forward...honestly, that was Friday at 5:00 and now it's Saturday at 7:30 and I haven't seen her since~she's been to her boyfriend's house, Devin's house, Gramma's house, the mall, Beef-A-Roo again with a teacher, and now she's at a play at a local high school. I'm feeling the empty nest comin' on.

After she left on Friday I quickly packed for school. I was feeling crazy overwhelmed with her new found freedom. I called my friend Ang and let it all out: sad, proud, nervous, fearful, so many emotions. I always thought the first day of kindergarten was the hardest for me, then I thought it was the last day of daycare, then I moved on to the first day of high school, and now I am convinced that this has been the hardest day yet. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I am certain this won't even compare to the first day of college: two short years away. Where does the time go?

Actually, I don't know how my parents did it...no cell phones, no constant communication with your baby when they were out alone for the first time. Agggghhhh! It is perfectly PERFECTLY clear to me now why my mom wouldn't let me take the car on the night of my 16th birthday. If only we'd had cell phones.

Until next time...I'm off to continue work on the kick butt laundry challenge. 6 down, 14 to go.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sky Watch Friday


In my book, there's nothing like a good sunrise...

I do find myself increasingly frustrated with 'the city' interference on my photos! I see a terrific sunrise or sunset, and then I have to drive to a spot where no buildings, signs, or electrical wires will interfere with my photo. I have found this to be a great spot...a McDonald's parking lot across from a corn field...no interruptions, no intrusions...just a beautiful sun rise... To see other skywatchers from around the world click here. I love love love skywatch Friday and here's why...today I toured the world while sitting at my desk! I added two new blogs to my blogroll...both destinations I either am traveling to (Sanibel Island) or want to travel to (Alaska). I love to get the 'locals' viewpoint on my travel destinations. Take a minute today and travel around the world with Sky Watch Friday!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The kick butt laundry challenge

So far not so good. One of my readers commented that 20 loads a week wouldn't be too bad since that's only 3 loads a day. Here's the problem...I did 5 loads on Monday, 0 Tuesday (when I worked 14 hours), 0 Wednesday (when I worked 15 hours), and so far today, yep, you guessed it...goose egg. Today I only worked 12 hours, but then I had an errand to run with my daughter and now I am just too exhausted. So...here I sit, only 5 down...15 to go. Tonight my precious one said...gee...maybe I should help! Now we're talking. So...to meet my goal I'll have to do 15 loads on Saturday and Sunday. Possible...very possible.

Now...on to the latest with the job search. I had my 4th interview on Wednesday (because after all I am interviewing to be the CFO of microsoft...no wait I'm not...I'm interviewing for a plain old educational coordinator position that is beginning to seem like something much larger) -- anyway they believe I need to come back yet again for one more observation on Tuesday. I told him...that was the last time I was stepping foot inside the building without an invoice in my hand. I would be submitting a bill for my time in the future! I mean really! 5 interviews?!? Personally, I think interviewing people is like throwing mud against a wall...some sticks, some doesn't. I have hired people that have interviewed beautifully that turn out to be the biggest flakes of all time, and others whose interviews were a bit questionable have turned out to be fabulous employees. So...pulllleeeeezzzz Mr. interviewer, could you possibly make a decision so that I might get on with my life? He assures me I will know if I got the job before the Thanksgiving holidays. Then...of course there's the 60 day notice at my current job, lots of training for my replacement, saying goodbye to a job I absolutely love and I may end up at the new joint say by Feb. Unbelievable. And then, even if I get the job we still have to negotiate salary and benefits. How the heck long do you think that may take? I might not start til June! Oh alright...perhaps I am exaggerating just a bit.

On a more serious and less petty note...I spoke to the mama today and her angiogram went well yesterday and she was quite chipper and bubbly today. She has a few more procedures coming up over the next month to clear some blockages in her carotid arteries, so please keep my mama in your prayers. Hopefully she'll be feeling like her old self or her new better self by Christmas :) Love you mama!

Retail Therapy -- The next generation

Last Sunday I had the precious baby girl at my house. We had a lot on the todo list that day, which included going to the mall for new clothes. We all slept in (even the baby girl) til 9:30! which was really awesome in my book, and then we were off to the mall. I love that she is two now and can wander around with us...stroller free. She had quite quite quite the good time at the mall. First, she did a lot of exploring! Who knew there were so many fun places to crawl into...
and to sit... at A&F? I guess when you're under 3 feet tall that store offers a completely different view! After A&F we were off to Hollister where the baby girl enjoyed some good Surfing magazines...
and so did Honey!
After they were done reading their magazines, he followed her around the store, helped her climb onto the couch where she sat for at least 2 nano seconds, and generally let her explore to her heart's content. After we were done at the checkout, she claimed this bag as her own!
A sure sign of things to come! There was no getting that bag away from her and wherever we went she brought the bag along with her.
Next we were off to Aero. She found a terrific place to sit while the girls searched through the clearance. Notice her tight little grip on the Hollister bag! In every store, she showed a bit of her Grammie by stopping to admire the jewelry. In Aero, she told me all of the colors of beads and all of the shapes of the charms on the necklaces. At one point, she laid down on the floor to get a closer look at the necklaces on the bottom rack! Aubrey picked up her bag and we were off to American Eagle. Aubrey sat on the floor near the jewelry to admire the latest fashion trends. She had her shopping bag close by. When Kevin looked down at her he noticed she was dropping necklaces into the shopping bag one by one! Oh no little one...no shoplifting on our watch! Kevin put all of the stolen goods back on the rack and we were off again. As we were leaving the mall, we went by one of those kiosks that sells 'bling', you know? She had to stop, put her hands on her knees and bend down for a closer look at the necklaces! Too funny! After all that shopping we stopped to have some Kobe's (yum.my.) and then her mama met us at the mall and it was time for us to go pick up Brennan.

It's been a long time since I've been shopping with little ones and of course when mine were little I am sure I didn't let them explore the store and sit where they like, carry the bag, or pose for pictures. Those joys are saved for shopping with the next generation! I am sure my children would have been strapped into the stroller for safe keeping :) It's very different shopping with one two year old, two teens, and two adults. When I headed to the mall in days gone by, it was usually me, and three little ones under 5. Very different indeed! I'm glad I've learned to let go a bit and enjoy the moment. It sure was worth it!

Here's the funniest thing of all time. My big girl is currently grounded from the computer due to her delay in chore completion. Be sure to note who the first comment is from on this post...the grounded one!