Thursday, August 27, 2015

My Forever-Grandparent-Name and Why

I got this sweet gift bag full of goodies from my friend Jenni.  
Isn't it great?

The past few weeks have brought a new awareness into our lives.  Basically, I'm staying close to the phone, just in case we should get that much anticipated call about Emmalyn James making her way into the world.   It's an exciting time!

I'm sure most families feel this way when they are about to meet the latest member, but when I look around at all the people anticipating this little girl, I feel overjoyed that she already has so many people ready to love her!

Ted and Alex have been so blessed by generosity from friends and family, that their closets are literally overflowing with clothes and gadgets and diapers for their baby girl.  It's really heartwarming to see all the love.

As for David and I, we are a funny pair.

David is walking around saying he can't believe he's about to be a grandfather and all I can say is "I wonder what she looks like?"

I know we are both going to melt into a puddle the moment we lay eyes on her.

So....let's talk about what this sweet little bundle of pink is going to call us.....

David has chosen a more traditional route and is going with PawPaw, like the generations that came before him.    It's good.  It's reasonable.  It's easy to remember and understand.

I have chosen a name that I will spend the rest of my life explaining and really, who's surprised?

Originally, I was going with Grammy.   When Ted and Alex first told us about the baby coming, I honestly wasn't prepared to pick out my forever grandparent name, so I went with the only one that appealed to me at the time.

However, sometimes things just don't fit or feel right, so you have to keep thinking about it until the right thing hits you and here it is........

MILLIE

Yep.  I'm going to be MILLIE to my sweet Emmy and all other grandbabies that follow and here's the answer to the question going through your mind of WHY.....

I've told Alex to call me MIL (short for Mother-in-Love) since she and Ted got married.   It started out as a funny way to break that awkward problem of "what to call your in-laws" that we all go through.   I also told her to call David FIL and Collin BIL, just for fun, if need be.

So, when I realized that Grammy just wasn't the thing for me, I thought about the fact that one day I would have another daughter-in-love (when Collin gets married) and I would be offering her the same option of what to call me, so why not just expand that into MILLIE for all the babies and it would be easy on everybody.

And, there you have it.

Because we all know that once you earn that grandparent name, it kind of sticks and even your grown kids start referring to you by that name (right Nanny?).

When I told Alex about MILLIE, she instantly loved it, so that was what sealed the deal.   She said I never looked like a Grammy anyway and I had to agree.

Now, I just can't wait to introduce myself to this precious baby and experience all the wonder that comes with being a grandparent.

If it's as great as everyone says it is, we are in for a treat!












Monday, August 24, 2015

My Own Little World


Some days the guilt of everything you can't do or haven't done, comes in like a tidal wave, threatening to drown you.   Today is one of those days.

I started off strong this morning.  I was dressed to the shoes and ready to take on my TO-DO list with great energy.  But, I got bogged down in phone calls and business things that needed to be taken care of and the early morning quickly turned to mid-morning and I wasn't accomplishing nearly what I hoped to be, by that time of the day.

My daily planner was filled with things that were priority, one of them being a phone call to my brother, who has cancer.  Today is his 53rd birthday.  I hate to define him that way, but it's the "thing" that has taken over his life the past few years and the thing that makes phone calls urgent and not-to-be-missed.

But, because my morning had taken on a life of it's own,  I hadn't made it to the point of dialing my brother's number yet, so I was surprised to see his name on the caller ID when the phone rang.

Oh great! It was his birthday and I should be calling him!  Fail.

Turns out, he was calling to thank me for the card and gift I sent him.   Well, at least I was right on time with that.

He sounded great on the phone and we talked about his plans for the day and shared a few memories from the past and all was going well, until he said these words to me......

"You get caught up in your own little world."

I gently assured him that being caught up in my own little world, actually consisted of educating a 16 year old, taking care of a home, bills, a husband, my marriage, being a mom and various other things that really have nothing to do with ME as an individual.  

Now, keep in mind that the only thing my brother is in charge of is a big, black Lab.   He's never been married and has no children.  

I can't fault him for not knowing what it means to have a husband, 2 kids, 1 daughter-in-love, a mother-in-law, 3 sisters, 1 stepmom, my own mom, my favorite aunt, a sister-in-law, friends, a house, 2 dogs, 2 horses, one grandbaby on the way, bills to pay, menus to make, meals to cook, laundry for three to wash, lesson plans, school to teach, limo service for the teen, grocery shopping, cleaning.....uggg.....I can't even go on!

No, I can't fault him for thinking that I'm in my own little world, while he suffers with an illness that will take his life one day.

I can't fault him for not knowing what a responsibility it is to have people that count on you to do certain things for them EVERY SINGLE DAY.

And, I'm sure he had no idea that those few little words, that he probably meant as harmless, would haunt me for hours and bring on those feelings that I already fight day in-day out.

GUILT.

Guilt that I don't have time to visit with everyone.
Guilt that I don't have time to call everyone.
Guilt that I don't feel sorry for hypochondriacs and attention hogs.
Guilt that as a Christian, I am expected to feel sorry for them.
Guilt that as a church member, the thought of committing to one more thing, gives me hives.
Guilt that there are still areas of life that need great attention and I know I'll never arrive.

GUILT.   Pure guilt.

It just never seems to end.

And yet, why do I take on all of these things as MY responsibility?  

I've been asking myself that lately.   Or better yet....the Holy Spirit has been asking me that question.....

"Who placed the responsibility on my shoulders?"

It's a burden no one should carry all on their own.

I know my brother meant no harm in what he said and I know it's ok if he doesn't understand the life I live or the responsibilities I have.

And, the truth is, sometimes the idea of living in my "own little world" sounds pretty appealing!

If I could just get over the guilt of being there......that might be fun for a little while.











Saturday, August 22, 2015

Make-Ahead Meals. Do Yourself a Favor!

This week I finally had a little time to get in the kitchen and make some breakfast foods for the freezer and some salads for the fridge.

Every now and then, I like to spend an entire day preparing meals that are easily accessible for the work week and will help shake up the monotony of eating the same thing, all the time (goodbye cereal, pop tarts and cardboard cereal bars)!

I saved a few recipes from some blog posts going around, so I took those recipes and made my grocery list, bought the ingredients and waited until the next day to get started.

The first thing I wanted to make was a set of breakfast sandwiches.  (See recipe HERE)  Collin will actually eat these at all hours of the day, but they are great for David to grab on his way to the office each morning too.


First step was to cook the eggs in the oven.  I used two large muffin tins, which was less work than using the ramekins suggested in the recipe.  Either way, cook the eggs in the oven until set, then let them cool a bit while putting together the rest of the sandwich.


Next, cut your English muffins in half, top with 2-3 slices of ham and one slice of cheese, then the egg.


Wrap each sandwich individually and put in the freezer.  

I'm pretty sure these will go fast, so it will probably become a staple around here and I'll be making them often.

The next breakfast item requires a bit more cooking, so make sure to set aside the time, if you choose to make these Breakfast Bowls.



The first step is to cook a few rolls of breakfast sausage.


While the sausage is browning, you need to be cooking the hashbrowns or diced potatoes (as the recipe calls for) in the oven.   This step also takes time, so plan accordingly.  

One thing I've learned with freezer cooking in the past is that some steps can be done while you're making your regular meals.  In other words, if you already have the oven on for supper, stick the pan of hashbrowns in and let them cook.   Save them for the next day, when you're ready to prep your freezer meals and you'll be one step ahead.


While the sausage is cooking and the potatoes are baking, whip up some scrambled eggs (yes, this recipe takes extra work, as I said).

Next, when all the ingredients are ready, layer each bowl with a little of everything, put the lids on and you're all set.


Stick those in the freezer and you're ready for a healthy meal in the morning.   (We popped them in the microwave for a minute, stirred it up, back in for about 40 seconds and they were nice and hot).

The last dish I prepped for the fridge was a set of salads that I can grab for lunch during the week.

I don't know about you, but this makes eating a salad much more tempting, because all the work has been done ahead of time.

I got the idea HERE, which shows several variations on packing salads.   I chose to go the simple route with good old fashioned plastic containers.  Works for me!


 First step is washing and cutting all the veggies you want to add to your salads.  This step alone makes salads so much more appealing during the week, because the hard work has already been done.

As suggested in the recipe post, I used bagged lettuce that had already been washed and cut.  Hey! Every little thing helps!


Next, just layer the salads as you want, with lettuce on bottom and random veggies on top.

Don't put in the dressing or any nuts or seeds that could get soggy over the next few days.   Wait and add these toppings when you are ready to eat the salad.   Unless of course you like soggy, but AAACKKK!  Who does that??


The salads stack up nicely in the fridge and now you are ready to eat a healthy meal, at least a few times in the next week, with little effort.   Just top with your favorite dressing and go!

And, if you're grabbing one of these for work, just get some cute little containers for your favorite dressing and add that to your sweet little lunch sack and you're all set!


All told, this is what I cooked on my Make-ahead-meal-day.......

12 egg, ham, cheese breakfast sandwiches
3 lbs. breakfast sausage
1 lb. hashbrowns
5 scrambled eggs
7 breakfast bowls
4 salad bowls

There are so many great meals to cook ahead and save for those days when you really just don't have time to prep and cook.  

Do yourself a favor and take one day of the month to fill your fridge and freezer.   Your family will love it, you will look like super woman, and you can sit down are read a good book or something.

It's a win-win!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

When You're On The Hunt for a Donkey, But You Find a Turkey Instead

Sunday afternoon David and I took a drive through some neighboring towns, just to spend some time together and take pictures of the scenery.

Ok, actually I was on the hunt for some donkeys we spotted about a year ago, so I kind of had a motive, but it was nice to have my husband to myself for an hour or so, as well.  (And he's a great driver, which comes in handy, while I take pictures). 

 

On our way to find the donkeys, we came upon some cows having a meeting with some "cow birds" (hey, that's what we call them in Texas).   I always wonder what they're talking about and if the cow actually gets involved in the conversation, or if the birds are plotting something behind his back.

You just never know.  They look suspicious to me.


I asked these guys if they knew where all the donkeys were, but they had nothing to say.   They wouldn't even make eye contact, so we drove away.

Down the road and around the curve, we just knew we would come upon the yard of donkeys any minute.   Last year they surprised us, as we happened upon them, and it was magical to see an entire pasture full of them.   Not that they were doing anything spectacular, but if you love donkeys, then you are easily entertained by them.   But, on this particular day, they were nowhere to be found.

Then.......this happened......


Gobble, gobble!  (I just got flashes of Thanksgiving in my head!)



This guy was out for a Sunday stroll too.

I couldn't help but wonder if he was really free, or if he was an escapee on the run.



He looks guilty, don't you think?

Oh well.

Some days are like that.....you go out looking for a donkey and all you find is a turkey.

I know there's a lesson in there somewhere.

If you think of it, let me know.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Second Chances


Sometimes when things are falling apart,
they may actually be falling into place.
(borrowed from a friend of mine on FB)

God can use the most obscure, strange, out-of-nowhere instances to get our attention, make us move forward and bless us in ways that we never would have thought possible.   Yes he can.

Furthermore, God will take our laziness and kick us into gear, if he sees that we aren't listening or making the moves he wants us to make.

Sometimes you sit around, knowing that you need to make some changes, but for whatever reason, you just don't.  

You just keep doing what you're doing and keep telling that little voice inside of you to pipe down - you've got this.   

But, you don't and you know it.

So, God has to step in and shake things up and cause you to wake up and take things more seriously.

And, that's when things start to look like they've gone too far, they're messed up, shaken up, not right and out of whack and you have no one to blame but yourself.

While that may be true, God knew it could get a lot worse and that's why he stepped in and shook your world just enough to get you out of the twilight zone and back on track with him and his plans for you!

Don't fight it!  Just get up and do the next thing he's put in front of you!

In the end, you will be so pleasantly surprised that he took your trial, your ashes, your missteps, and  your laziness and gave you something beautiful in return......a second chance.

God has amazing plans for you!

Open your eyes and pay attention.

You will not be disappointed.















Saturday, August 15, 2015

Our Love for The Mother Road

Saturday seems like the right time to share some pictures of Route 66, don't you think?

We are HUGE fans of the Mother Road and I am proud to say that our family has traveled the entire road, from Chicago to LA!  Of course, it was in sections and in different years, that we traveled, but nevertheless, we've done it!

So recently, when we were in Oklahoma, killing time, we decided to do a little sight seeing once again and found some pretty cool sights along the road.


I'm pretty sure I've failed to mention it, but I am obsessed with one-room schoolhouses!  Always have been. So much so, that in my first year of college, I did my Public Speaking presentation on the history of the one-room schoolhouse!   So, there's a little bit of personal history for ya!



This is Pop's, a really cool (new) attraction on Route 66, that is full of all kinds of sodas (pop) from around the world!  I think the lady told me they had over 800 different flavors.  Wow!  It might be hard to see, but those big glass windows are lined with shelves of bottled soda and that's about all that is in the store - more coolers and shelves of soda POP!


Of course...being the wild bunch that we are.....we ended up with a few childhood favorites, from the good ole USA.


Now here's the main attraction that neither of us remember seeing on our first trek down the road....The Round Barn.

When you travel the Route, you have certain landmarks that you are on the lookout for, such as the big whale, teepees, old gas stations, frozen custard, The Big Texan, and so many more that are just traces of the life that once lived there.  

Somehow we missed this one, so we were happy to find it this time a-round (haha!).




This is a view of the inside.....it's massive!




Looking straight up to the top....




They are now renting this space out for private events, so if you're ever in Oklahoma and you need to plan a party.......






Along the Route, you see many of these things......old gas stations, old businesses, old cabins....everything old, which is what I love about it all!

One of the most fascinating things we have seen on the Route are the remains from the Dust Bowl.

Not only can you still see old structures, like homes that were abandoned, but you can also spot the landscape that is still hilly from the effects of the winds carving out the dirt and sweeping it into mounds, as it blew across the lands.   If you like history, it is a fascinating sight to see.

Of course, after you travel the roads, you must go home and watch Grapes of Wrath, just to tie it all together in your mind.   Really.



So, moving on to the other side of Oklahoma, we ate at, what we call, a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant, which was amazing!!   I spotted this sign in the adjacent parking lot.    This sign is very reminiscent of Route 66.

Years ago, on our trip from LA, through Arizona, we stopped at one of these old restaurants that was still open and it was like a scene right out of a movie.   Smokey, old, full of old towns people, and greasy food. Well, that was just a tad too authentic for me!  I was totally picturing a rough looking cook named Marge, with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth, while she was cooking the food.   Not sure why, but that's the image I had while trying to get my food down.  Needless to say, that was a one-time deal.



And, just for fun, at Pop's, I grabbed a few sodas for the kids back home.  Not anything too horrible, except for the Swamp Juice, which Collin said was fantastic!  Exactly why I bought it for him - I knew it would thrill him.



And that's it for the great adventure down Route 66.   Once again, that road never disappoints!

If you're looking for a road trip destination, I highly recommend spending some time on any piece of The Mother Road.

Grab some books off Amazon.  They tell you exactly what to look for, where to get off the main highway and what side roads to take.    

It's truly an adventure and worth your time.

Happy Trails!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Purging That Mind of Yours


Every now and then you have to do a little purging and I'm not talking about cleaning out your closet...I'm talking about your mind.

You know that scene in just about every sitcom where they open a closet and all the contents that have been shoved in there, come falling out?   That's sometimes how I feel about all the information that I take in, on a daily basis.

I love to read.  I love blogs and books and How To's and Instagram and making lists and every other manner of "help yourself and everyone else" kind of info I can stuff in my mind!

But, occasionally, I get overwhelmed and off track.  Can you believe it? (I feel certain you can.)

So, when everything starts to feel all jumbled up and I'm basically running around in circles, I know it's time to step back and take inventory of what I'm taking in and what needs to be set aside for now.

And, of course....when I think of doing something, I think of sharing it with you guys, so I wrote a list in my trusty Passion Planner and thought there might be someone out there that needs to do this too, so here's my method for purging:

Write down 3 areas of your life that are 
the most stressful for you right now.

For me, this would be.....

1. Clutter
2. Things I never have time for (photos, clutter, writing)
3. A certain debt I want to get rid of


Write down what you're feeling
really passionate about right now.

For me, this would be.....

1. Writing more heartfelt articles
2. Getting my house organized
3. Making a great homeschooling plan for this year
4. Making photo books


NOW, this is where the purging comes in.....

Cross reference those two lists and come up with the only things you should be focused on right now (of course, keep feeding your flock and keep up with the laundry and such).

For me, this would mean.....

I should only be reading things that will help me declutter, organize, feed my homeschooling passion and contribute to better writing.   In addition, I need to focus on that debt that is stressing me out (with any extra money, methods, etc.) and start using my spare time to organize my pictures, at least once a week, until they are done to my satisfaction.

Anything else, such as subscribing to too many sites that have nothing to do with your areas of stress or passion, should be on the UNsubscribe list for now.

Any books that focus on other areas of need, should be set aside right now, until you've made room for something in your mind.  

In other words, if you are stressed by clutter, then read about decluttering, and save the menu making for another day.

If you're stressed by all the unorganized photos on your computer, then spend less time reading about knitting and devote 30 minutes each day to your picture problem.

It's that simple!

Our minds are like those closets....you can keep shoving stuff in, but eventually it's going to all come crashing down around you and you'll be standing there in a big mess!

Get focused on a few areas and save the rest for later.

Your brain says "Thank You"!





Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Why I Still Read Blogs


A while back I heard a fellow blogger say that she never reads other blogs anymore.  It shocked me, I'll admit, because she's a blogger and she should know that bloggers want readers, or basically we are writing to no one.  Helloooooo!!!

Now, I know that in today's world, we are overloaded with information.  Between blogs, social media, emails, books and articles, we read so much more than any other generation, most likely.

I get that, and believe me.....I'm overloaded to the point that I sometimes just have to go watch tv to escape all the words in my brain!

However, as a blogger, I know how important writing is and how much it means to know that others find your words worth their time.   Besides, how selfish would it be to want others to read my words, but declare that I have no time for theirs?  Yeah, that's just wrong!

So, I still read blogs.

In fact, I have my favorites that calm my soul, feed my heart and encourage me in many ways.  Then I have the ones that make me laugh and I know I can count on for fun.   I also spend time reading a few that teach me things, because hey....who doesn't need to learn something each day?

You see, blogs may seem like one more page of words that you don't have the time or brain space for, but really, they are representations of people sharing their lives with you and me.   Do you get that?

Each blog has a person behind it, sharing and taking chances; chancing the exposure, chancing that someone will agree or disagree, chancing that someone will actually take two minutes to care about someone else's words, other than their own.

So, even if you only pick two or three blogs that speak to you in different ways, READ THEM!

Subscribe to them, follow them, get to know them - even if it's only two or three.

Their words matter, just as much as yours do.

And, you never know....maybe they will be kind enough to read your words too.


**Some of my favorite blogs are on the sidebar.  Pick a few today and see what you think.  I know they will appreciate you!**

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Don't Just Stand There! Get Moving!


When was the last time you took a risk?  Like a "jump in with your eyes closed" risk?

Sometimes as Christians, we get so used to being led by God, for every little step in our lives, that we don't take risks anymore.   We don't step out in faith.  We don't jump, we don't run, we don't leap.....we just stand there and wait.   We wait on God to lead us, step by step, day by day, decision by decision, and in my humble opinion.....we miss out on many adventures and blessings, because we don't have the faith to just JUMP!  Just being honest!

Imagine if you spent years instilling wisdom into your kids, yet every time they wanted to cross the street, they called you first.

Imagine if you taught your children exactly what to do in a crisis, but each time one presented itself, they stood there paralyzed until you told them what to do.

Wouldn't you be a little frustrated and feel like they must not have caught all the wisdom you were pouring out, because they literally can't make a move for themselves, without you holding their hand?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that maybe God feels that way about us sometimes.

I've always heard the scripture quoted "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." (Exodus 14:14)  However, not until I read the context of that passage, did I get a different view of this particular verse.

Moses is leading the Israelites out of Egypt and they come to the edge of the sea and start wondering how in the world they will survive.   The sea is in front of them, the Egyptians in back, closing in, and they are starting to yell at Moses that they would have been better off back in Egypt.  They are terrified of what's ahead and suddenly, their old life of slavery doesn't seem so bad!

Moses, who has great faith, but is still human, tells them "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.....The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." (Exodus 14:13-14) Basically, Moses is telling them to just stand there and wait on God.

But God.....

God says...."Why are you crying out to me?  Tell the Israelites to move on." (Ex. 14:15)

In other words..."Don't just stand there!  Move!  Step out in faith!  I'm right here, so go!"

You see, God had already done some miraculous things in the Israelite's lives and in Moses' life and if they truly had all the faith to match God's reputation, they would have trusted God to make a way and they would have stepped forward in faith, instead of coming to a halt and crying and complaining.

That's where we fall short many times, I believe.

Sometimes our fear of failure or fear of making a mistake, handicaps us and so we stand there and pray, but we never move.

We call out to God to show us where to go and what we are saying is that we want him to hold our hand as we cross the street, instead of having the courage and wisdom he's already poured into us, and trusting that he'll be right behind us, if we go the wrong way.

I'm not saying we shouldn't pray over decisions.  What I'm saying is that sometimes we need to put our faith where our prayers are and trust that God CAN and WILL show up, if he feels we are going down the wrong path.

Trust in the training he's already given you!  

Trust that he's brought you this far and it's the right direction, so keep going!

Trust that God is not going to abandon you at any point AND that he's more than capable of redirecting you, if he needs to!

Better yet, trust that the desires inside of you are HIS, if you've been walking with him up to this point!

Philippians 1:6 says....

"...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

God wants the best for you, but he also wants your faith to grow.  He wants you to USE your faith!

Faith doesn't always look like a neatly wrapped package, with a bow on top and a tag with your name on it.

Faith is risky.  Faith is scary.  Faith takes guts.   Faith is trusting and believing in God's reputation.

Go forward in faith and trust that God has your back.

He's trained you and he's promised to never forsake you.....

so MOVE ON child of God!

You will be ok!















Sunday, August 9, 2015

Vacation - Part 2 - The Lady Smith

 As promised, I wanted to share some details about The Lady Smith, the beautiful bed and breakfast where we stayed, in Tishomingo, Oklahoma.


Though I won't go into the history (you can read about it HERE), I do want to show you the inside of this cool, old building.


The rooms are amazing, as you can see!




Every room has a story and this dining room used to be a beauty salon, if you can believe that!



This room is where we had our dinner for two, specially prepared by the General Manager Staci, just for David and I.   Stacey was a complete delight to talk to and she is a great chef, as well!


There is an interesting story about this room, but I would leave out some kind of important detail, so I'll not even attempt to repeat it, but I do know the yellow siding came directly from an old house and has a significant meaning to this room.



Isn't the hallway gorgeous?



This set of stairs leads in from Main Street.   The lobby and check-in are actually down these stairs, outside, and next door.


This view is looking toward the patio, a lounge, and the bar is on the left.


The night we stayed, we sat on the balcony and David played us some music, while I watched the cars go by on Main Street.

It didn't take long for the lights to go out and everyone went home for the night.




This was my view the next morning as we drank our coffee on the balcony.  

I love the feel of starting my day here, watching the town come to life.

Soon it was time to head to our next destination, but we will always remember what a great staff The Lady Smith had and what great hospitality we were shown.

Tishomingo was a nice place to spend a day or two and The Lady Smith is worth the drive from any direction!

If you happen to make it one day, tell Staci we said "Hi"!