Friday, July 30, 2010

7 Quick Takes

Friday is just about my favorite day of the week for many reasons, not the least of which is the linky party on The Inspired Room.  I love spending an hour perusing the inspirational decor posts, but somewhere in the middle I usually take a break to work on my post for the day.  Which I'm doing now.  But I just started to upload a photo to blogger and while I was searching for the pic, I suddenly realized that Safari/Blogger/iphoto might crash the system, which they are oh so prone to do, because they hate each other!  I immediately canceled the upload because then I would lose all my tabs that I haven't read yet!

A girl has to have her priorities.

On my trip to the library the other day, I was looking for Confessions of a Prairie B**** by Alison Arngrim,  (of course, they don't have it, but I think I've requested it already) when I found the graphic novel version of Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, The Prodigal Son.  Madden was surprised to see me reading a graphic novel, but I'm starting to see the attraction thanks to Melissa and her Comic-Con updates.  It's certainly a much faster way to read a book!

This is one of the fun finds this morning in blogland.   I'm posting it for my darling KT who will adore this tiny Victorian cottage in the Catskill mountains.  Read the story that goes with it.

Seriously, who wouldn't want a little retreat like this?  Only someone who insists on toilets and electricity, I'm sure.  

Another reason for loving Friday....
I don't have to go anywhere today, so Madden can take my car to football practice.  That means I don't have to pick him up and I don't have to go anywhere!

So you're wondering what I'm going to do all day?

Maybe make some school lesson-plans.

Maybe start painting Hitch and Madden's room.  

We'll see how much energy I have.  That is in seriously short supply these days.

Fridays are much more exciting than they used to be since my good friend, Kathleen, invited us out to Trivia Night at Starbucks.  We've been twice and had a great time.  It's fun for the whole family, just like she promised.  Everyone gets a treat from Starbucks or the Bruster's Ice Cream next door, and it's a little bit educational.

Do you know how to rank these ancient units of measurement from smallest to largest?
cubit, digit, palm, span

In our near-epic storm the other night, which was more epic for it's wind and rain than thunder and lightning, we lost a tree, evidently.  Meg found it yesterday when she went out back to the swingset with her friends.  It was a tall, old tree in the back corner of our yard.  I'm not even sure it's technically in our yard since it's on the border.  But, thank heavens, it had the good grace to fall into the buffer zone between houses/neighborhoods, not into our yard or onto our playset, so we don't have to do any cleanup!

It was one of the posts for our zip line, which the kids have always loved.  So that's kind of sad.

24th wedding anniversary coming up Monday.  We're at a loss as to how to celebrate.  Any ideas???

I'll be going to Six Flags to celebrate.  What will my dear husband do?  ;-)

Visit Jen's for more 7 Quick Takes.

Don't forget to visit here if you want to be entered into the drawing for The Help.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sharing the Love!

As you know, one of the highlights of my trip to Cincinnati was meeting up with fellow-blogger Barbara at Praying for Grace.  She's such a sweet, generous person that not only did she drive 2 hours to take me and Meg to dinner, but she gave me her book that she had just finished reading!

Probably everyone on the planet has read this book by now.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  I found it to be a page turner, very hard to put down.  It was also very thought-provoking.  Moreso because I had just been to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center just before I met up with Barb.  Not enough had changed one hundred years after slavery was ended, but it was starting to!

I'm going to give someone else the opportunity to read this book.  Just leave a comment if you want to participate in the drawing.  I'll pick a winner next week.  I'd give you a date, but it would probably change!  Lol.  

Now is the time for all you lurkers to come out of the woodwork and comment.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer Daybook 2

Outside my window...Leaves and tree limbs all over the street and yards.  Several neighbors have trees down due a a thunderstorm of near-epic proportions.  One of those big red storms on the radar.  It was quite exciting with lots of wind and rain.  And I mean lots. of. rain.  So much rain that it was pouring down the unfinished walls of our basement and our doorframe was leaking around the front door.  Time for that new door, and some caulking at the very least.  Power was out for several hours and I enjoyed the opportunity to relax a bit.

I am thinking...About what I'm going to do today.  I have American Heritage Girls phone calls to make because some people evidently don't do computer and email.  Ok, I can understand not wanting to be obsessed with it, taking it to the blog-reading, facebooking extreme, but this is the 21st century and this is the way the world works.

I am thankful for...electricity, air conditioning, and cell phones.  Oh, and believe it or not, I'm thankful that Madden finally has his drivers license and I don't have to drive every day to pick him up from football practice!

From the learning rooms...We're not doing any learning these days and very little reading.  It's sad.  But the kids are spending lots of time playing with their friends, even outside in the extreme heat we've been having.  I am proud to say that I've determined the first day of school, so they can start getting used to the idea.  We're starting August 16 (I know that's early for some of you folks!)----one week after TMax starts; the same day Madden starts; and the week before the public school starts.  That's the part the kids won't like.

From the kitchen...I'd really like to step up my menu planning thanks to Barb's influence, and add lunches to the menu.  I also need to find some new recipes.  I'm bored.

I am wearing...Brown capris and a turquoise top. The basic uniform.  Not a t-shirt, never a tee because I can't stand them.  For me, they're neither comfortable nor flattering.

I am creating...Still working on that knitting project which has hardly been touched in the last week.  I think I got 2 rows in last night during the blackout.  Mostly it's lists of things that need to be done for American Heritage Girls, and trying to find people to do those things.  Hence, the phone calls today.

I am the bank and garden today.  Oh, and to my church to get some stuff set up for American Heritage Girls today.  

I am reading...An enchanting book called What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Pre-Menopause.  A thrill a minute, let me tell you.

I just finished reading Prairie Tale by Melissa Gilbert.  Wow!  If you had any illusions about actors being at all like their characters, drop them.  Drop them now, I say!  It was a good book, well written, conversational in tone, but oh boy.  Maybe I haven't read enough Hollywood memoirs, and even though I thought I had a pretty good idea what life is like there, I was still kind of shocked.     

I am hoping...People step up to the plate today.  Yes, AHG.  Again. :-)

I am hearing...the TV.  TMax likes to watch FoxNews in the a.m. so he's up on the news. Other than that, it's pretty quiet here with Dh and Madden long gone; Pipster and Meg still asleep after their late night.

Around the house...clutter and candles from the power outage.  And AHG clutter around.  I've got to find a way to contain it all!

One of my favorite things...quiet mornings.

A few plans for the rest of the week:  An AHG training session, piano lesson, library trip (wonder if they have Alison Arngrim's Confessions of a Prairie B****?).  I need to start painting Madden's & Hitch's bedroom. Will I get to it this week???

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...hmmmm, nope.  Blogger and iphoto not speaking.  Again.


Friday, July 23, 2010

7 Quick Takes

TGIF!  This past week has been so busy.  My Vice Coordinator & I have been working hard all week to get ready for last night's Information Night.  Despite my best efforts, I forgot a key piece of paper, and it wasn't perfect (what is?), but I'm hopeful that we'll have a bunch of new girls this year!

We also spent quite a few hours together...ahem..."decluttering" the materials that have accumulated over the past 3 years that our troop has been in existence.  Yikes.  

3 separate years + 3 different methods = One Big Mess.

I'm thrilled to say that while my dining room table is still covered in miscellaneous papers, we were able to throw away and recycle quite a bit of unnecessary paper.  My dining room will soon be a dining room again!  And it won't have that unsightly mountain of AHG stuff in the corner!

Yesterday was a very difficult day (see #1).  Lots of last minute stuff to do and remember to do.  Plus, I was reaching the end of The Help, which Barbara gave me when we had dinner together.   According to Barb it's one of those books you can't stop reading.  So I was having serious struggles with my priorities yesterday!

There was the usual housework--laundry and cooking---to be done, a meeting to prepare for, and a fabulous book to read.  Each of those activities create their own tension, anyway, so I was a wreck trying to choose between them!  Lol!  I ended up rotating my activities so everything got done.  Well, not the laundry, it ever done?

I did finish and it was totally worth the tension.  The Help is a wonderful book; there's so much to say and talk about.  I wish I were in a book club because I would love to discuss this book with a bunch of other women!

Barbara generously shared it with me, so I'm going to share the love, too.  Stay tuned for a giveaway post soon!

Hmmm, what else is there?  My life was taken over this week by a book and a meeting.  I'm not sure I have any other Quick Takes!

I have another book from the library to read:  A Prairie Tale by Melissa Gilbert.  I think reading her memoir will be fascinating.  I guess I can start that today when I take the kids to the pool!

I think I'll take the kids on the long-awaited trip to the city pool.  They want to go there because it's huge and has 3 diving boards.  All they do there is stand in line to go off the diving board.  I think they hardly swim or play in the water at all!

Dh and I were at Lowe's a couple of weeks ago for some miscellaneous things.  Oh, like deck stain.  Our deck looks a lot better now, thanks to Madden.  But the exciting thing is that I scored 2 gallons of mistinted Valspar for his room!  $5 each!  I always check the mistints, but I've never found 2 gallons the same color, which is what I need for his room.  It's an awesome slate blue that I think will look great. I'm hoping to get to that project next week while he's at football camp all day, though where folks find the energy for all their painting is beyond me.

He didn't want me to do it because he doesn't want to come home and have his room smell like paint.  Thank goodness for the Valspar! 

My 7 Quick Takes are so boring when you read Simcha Fischer's.  She's a riot.  

Thanks for reading to the end!

You can find more Quick Takes at Jen's Conversion Diary!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Veggie Tales! Veggie Tales!

Look who we got to meet at the AHG convention!

Bob and Larry were both there to help us celebrate the 15th Anniversary of American Heritage Girls.
After the party, there was a special preview of the newest Veggie Tales DVD made especially for girls!
It's scheduled to be released on August 3.
There are two stories:  Snoodlerella and SweetPea Beauty.  They're all about inner beauty and being the beautiful person God created you to be.  

My kids love Veggie Tales.  The younger set doesn't watch them as much as the older ones did, but they all know the songs.  In fact, they always end up singing them when we drive around to look at Christmas lights.  

Never mind those old Christmas carols.  

 It's "broccoli, celery, gotta be...Veggie Tales!"

This is not a paid endorsement, just my opinion, but if you have little girls who are already worried about being fat and being perfect, this is a great addition to your DVD collection.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Long Time No See!

I've been back from the American Heritage Girls convention since late Saturday night, but I haven't found the time to blog.  I don't really have the time, now, but I find that I get things done much faster when I really don't have time.

You know how that is, right?

(It doesn't help that iphoto and blogger haven't been speaking for 24 hours, causing Safari to crash every time I tried to post a photo!)

I'm stealing a few moments here before I start another busy day to say hi.  We had an awesome time at the convention!  If you've ever been to any kind of conference/convention, you know how incredible it is to be surrounded by people who are excited about the same thing you are.  There's a lot of energy around as you meet new people and go to sessions to gather and share ideas.

But all that energy has to come from somewhere, right?  It comes from the attendees and goes out into space.

And that means I'm still tired.

It was fun and exhausting all at the same time.  There were lots of wonderful moments, which I hope to share with you later.  But the most important one is this one:

Barbara and Faith, of Praying for Grace, drove down to Cincinnati to take us to dinner!  It was far too short a visit, but it was lovely to get a chance to meet them in person.  Although as I said, it wasn't like meeting them at all.  It was just like getting together with a friend I've known for a long time.  Oh, and our little girls acted like they've known each other for years, too.  They were very goofy and cute together.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Busy, Busy

Lots of stuff going on today!

Appointments.  Errands to run.

Packing to do.

American Heritage Girls convention starts Thursday and the Princess and I are driving up to Ohio tomorrow.

We're excited,

But the best part is that we get to meet this Lovely Lady and her Equally Lovely Daughter!


Monday, July 12, 2010

Another Book Signing

Got my picture taken with Julie Andrews last Thursday!

Ok, not really.  She doesn't allow photographs, but we did get to meet her!  She was signing her new children's book, A Very Fairy Princess at our local B&N.  I went with KT, TMax, Pipster, and LP.  It was very exciting since I've been a huge fan all my life.

I can't even tell you how many times I've watched The Sound of Music in my lifetime.  Singing along every time, much to the annoyance of my family.

My sister and I sang The Sound of Music for my grandparents' 60th anniversary party.  We were very young.  And it was not very good, I'm sure.  

We had a long line to stand in when we got to the store.  An employee showed us to the end of the line, explaining the rules the whole time:

No photographs.
No personalization of books.
No more than one book signed.
Just a little "face time" with Ms. Andrews.
These are her rules.  Yada yada yada.

When she saw our copy of The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles that I had brought to read to the kids while we waited, she pointed out again that Ms. Andrews would not sign that!

It was very funny when KT took a little tour around the bookstore and heard Julie Andrews talking.  She came back and told me how wonderful she sounded.  So, I went with TMax to do some snooping and eavesdropping (which employees were trying very hard to discourage).  We also heard her talking!  Lol.  One lady who came out said Julie smelled the best of any woman she's ever smelled!  Lol, again.  Snooping finished, TMax and I went back to find KT in line and share what we heard.  Typical saps, KT and I both burst into tears!  We were just so excited to meet this woman we both have loved all our lives.

Did you know she has written books before?  We have 2 of her books:  Mandy (her first) and The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles (her second).  My mother bought Whangdoodles for me when it came out in 1974, and it was one of my favorite books ever.  I stumbled across it 10 or so years ago and bought it for KT.  It came in a volume that includes Mandy.  I bought it because I remembered loving it as a child, not for the author because she published it under the name Julie Edwards.  This new volume, however, had the name Julie Andrews Edwards, so I discovered just 10 years ago that it was by my musical heroine!

The line moved fairly quickly once she got started signing books.  Before we knew it, we were before Her Majesty.  She seemed to talk mostly to Meg and Pip because they were at her eye level and looking up at people standing all evening was sure to get tiring.  (Kicking myself for not getting down on her level!)  

We told her how much we loved her movies---or Meg did.  Ms. Andrews asked which was her favorite, to which she replied "The Princess Diaries."  I told her how much I loved the Whangdoodle and that I was reading it to the kids in line.  Pipster displayed it as if on cue, and she offered to sign it, too!  She asked the kids where we were in the story and if they were enjoying it.

Sigh.  She was just beautiful and gracious.  A lovely voice and very much the lady you'd expect her to be.  I didn't get a chance to ask her when the second half of her memoir would be out.  

That was really just the highlight of my summer.  

I don't think I'll ever be the same.  

And I didn't even get to touch her.


Friday, July 9, 2010

7 Quick Takes

My Little Princess woke up on Wednesday with a pain in her neck.  She has walked around for 2 days looking more like a hunchbacked ogre than a princess!  Fortunately, after 2 trips to the chiropractor she is much, much straighter now.

A good chiropractor is a good thing to have.  

A bad one, not so much.

It's Cow Appreciation Day and we're going to Chik Fil-A dressed as cows to get free food.  

Also, on Cow Appreciation Day, I got a phone call telling me that my grassfed cow will be ready for pick-up in 2 weeks!!!  Hooray!

Another book signing last night.  It was lots of fun!  Post to come.

It deserves its own post.

TMax has baked 2 cakes in the last 12 hours.  My Book Signing Buddy Eren is coming over to give a lesson on cake decorating.  She's pretty amazing for an amateur!  Meg and Pipster are going to decorate their own cakes and have a blast doing it.  

I'm hoping I'll learn something, too.

Lots to think about these days in Elizabeth Foss's series on Velveteen Me.  About losing the person she used to be when she was younger.  It sounds as though she lost that person because of the internet, and I certainly don't want to say she's wrong.  In fact, I can't imagine the havoc the internet could have wreaked on my life and those of my children if blogging were as pervasive then as it is now.  But I also wonder how much of losing that person comes from just being middle-aged and not having babies anymore.   

It's also hard to be that carefree mom when you're driving older kids all over creation for sports and activities.  My younger two have lived their lives in the car much, much more than the older ones.  There is so much to think about and worry about as your kids get older and spend more time interacting with the outside world.

That and the physical changes that occur around this time are harsh reminders that you're not the person you used to be.  

My question is:  Is she truly lost (meaning me, not Elizabeth!) or has she grown and matured into someone quite a bit different, as an acorn grows and matures into an oak tree.  Not much resemblance there, but definitely the same creature.  

We had some fun this week making flags out of Sculpey.  After building this "flag" we sliced it, and baked them to make pins.  It was fun and challenging at the same time.  I got the idea from this post at Catholic Icing.

We made some beads with our leftover sculpey, which was also fun.  We'll have to try this again sometime!

This project is one that I started last week when Eren, who is also my knitting buddy, and I went to Knit Night (Knight?) at our local yarn shop.  I wanted to start this scarf and had to find the perfect yarn for it.  I think I did.  It's a really pretty grassy green, though a little yellower.  It's a fun knit and I love the leaf edging!


That's all for now.  Visit Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Textbook Time!

I have just finished ordering textbooks for my 2 high schoolers.  Woo Hoo!  I think I'm finished with the home schoolers, but I need fewer books for them and I can get to those later.

Textbook Time is one of the most stressful events since the cost can be E.Nor.Mous.

Before we went on vacation, there was a used book sale at TMax's new school.  FYI, he'll be attending a different high school from The School the older 3 attended.  Anyway, their Used Book Sale involves parents and students bringing all their used books and you have to make your way from table to table to see if anyone has the books you need.

Useful, but difficult.  Especially for people like me who are overwhelmed by crowds and noise!  I bought quite a few of his texts that night and thought I got some good deals.  The rest I had to order online and ended up spending more than a couple hundred dollars.


Fortunately, this week a home schooling friend told me about Cheapest Textbooks.   It's basically a site that finds the books from other sources.  The ones most frequently referenced are and  Since they don't sell any of the books themselves, I can only assume that they get a kickback from the sites you do order from.  Nevertheless, it makes shopping sooooo much easier.

I've been known to shop with many tabs open (to MBSDirect, the official school bookstore; Amazon; and to compare prices.  It's very complicated and time-consuming.  This time I just did it with MBS (to get the official list and ISBN numbers) and Cheapest Textbooks.

I ordered Little Princess's science book and matching workbook from them.  I was shocked that I was able to get the book itself for .44!  Yes, forty-four CENTS!  Plus $3.99 shipping, but that's no big deal compared to the $80 new book price!  The workbook cost $1.09 plus shipping.

So, today I finished up Madden's shopping and got many good deals.  Often I saved more than half the cost of MBS's Used prices.  My best deal was for his MacroEconomics text which cost $157 new.  Guess what it cost!


You'll never guess, so I'll tell you....

$0.48 + $3.99 shipping!    Can you believe that?  I can't.

I ordered everything from the Amazon Marketplace because I have One-Click shipping there and it made it super easy.  Plus, the prices at were about the same anyway.  I've been using the Amazon Marketplace a lot more recently, both for buying and selling.  But I'm really curious.....

How can sellers sell their books so cheaply?  I'd love the answer to that if anyone knows it.  I can only assume that they get their books super-cheap to begin with----like from a school that is closing----and they must get shipping deals because of their volume.  Surely the super-cheap books are not from people like me selling on the 'net.

What do you think?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?

And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that starspangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

O thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just;
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust!"
And the star spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

---Francis Scott Key

Friday, July 2, 2010

7 Quick Takes

 My "7 Quick Takes" was going to include photos, because that makes it quicker, doesn't it?  Alas, my wonderful Mac crashes when I try to upload photos to my blog.  It drives me crazy, as well as takes a ton of extra time.  So....we'll see.  

Sometimes I think it's A Sign that I shouldn't be blogging.

I came home from a week at the beach and didn't bother to show you any pictures, did I?  Well...See No. 1 above...Suffice it to say that we had a wonderful, relaxing time.  The weather was gorgeous every. single. day.  It seems that our family was the only one to get rained on at all as we drove through Manteo coming and going.

We stayed very active, walking to The Pier most days.  We figure it was about 1.5 miles away, so a tiring 3 mile walk on the beach.  One day, I made the trip twice....and that was pretty early in the week.  I think my legs were sore the rest of the week!  The only thing that loosened them up was going to the park in Duck on Thursday morning to do Pilates.  I've only done it once or twice before and was amazed at how much better and looser I felt.

We had to leave the beach a day early so TMax and Pip could be home in time to go to Boy Scout Camp on Sunday.  Hitch & Katie went back to their college town immediately to be at work on Monday.  So, we've been here with our small, family all week, just Madden and the Little Princess.  It has been quiet.  Madden is either at football practice or sleeping with an occasional visit upstairs for food or ESPN.  

You'd think that the Princess and I could have done a ton of crafty stuff, but we've managed to stay busy doing regular, boring things.  No exciting thrifting or crafting.  The boys come home tomorrow, so we'll have to get our act in gear and get ready for The Fourth.

The beginnings of my decorating for the weekend.  I love this little spatterware milk jug filled with the last of my hydrangeas.  The tablecloth is a vintage one that I found at a yard sale last year.  It's square and doesn't fit any tables, so I just put it diagonally across my large kitchen table.

It's a happy little cloth!

(Yes, I sneaked a pic in there!  I don't think the others will come up as easily.)
(Ha!  I was right.  Crashed again.)


Part of the reason for the silence this week...and the that there were 2 funerals yesterday.  One was the sudden, totally unexpected death of the father of one of Madden's classmates.  The other was my cousin whose death was expected after 6 years of fighting cancer.  

My cousin was 63 years old, a good 17 years older than myself.  Consequently, I hardly knew him.  I don't remember him from my childhood at all, though I did see him again 6 or 7 years ago at an impromptu family reunion when we were in town visiting my dad.  We marveled at the striking resemblance between him and my son TMax.   I found out this week that he was  Catholic and that he was a well-loved teacher.  He was voted Teacher of the Year at one time.  I wish I had gotten the chance to know him.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

It looks like Repeatedly Crashing Safari has taken too much of my morning blogging time and has wiped out my workout time.  (Darn)  I'm off to the chiropractor this morning for a much-needed adjustment.  My neck started tightening up and becoming painful before the beach, and has since become almost unbearable.  Neck mobility is extremely limited.  It's probably just as well that I'm skipping my workout since it can cause my neck to hurt.

I had a chance to get together with one of my girlfriends last night.  We decided to meet at the local knitting store that has "Knit Night" on Thursdays.  You just bring your work and sit around with the other ladies.  Since I conveniently forgot the instructions for the project I had in mind, and I had to buy some yarn for a new scarf that I had just downloaded the pattern for.  That store is another Little Bit of Heaven.  I just love touching all the yarn!  I found something perfect for the project and enjoyed every bit of the last hour of knitting and chatting.  

I could go every Thursday.   

If I didn't have American Heritage Girls every Thursday of the month but one.

Hmmmm......What would YOU do?


Go visit Jen for more Quick Takes and 
Have a Red, White, and Blue weekend!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Little Bit(e) of Heaven

My new BFF.  

Makes everything that's wrong in the world So. Much. Better.

Dh recently introduced us.

I hope he's not jealous.


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