Monday, December 27, 2010

Sometimes the worst gift becomes the best gift

I follow Good Foods Market & Cafe on Facebook.  On 12/23, I came across this in their status:

For our eleventh Day of Giving, we have a Celestial Seasonings gift basket! For your chance to win, tell us about your most favorite gift you've ever received for the holidays. We will choose one winner based on our favorite response. Prizes can only be picked up in our store.


So, I responded with this:


My favorite holiday gift was a Kitchen Aid stand mixer my husband got me. We don't usually buy each other such expensive items, but because we were in the middle of relocating across the country, my husband wanted to give me something special. I'd wanted a KA mixer for years. Our kids & I were staying at my parents while our move was in process. He ended up carrying it (in its box) through I don't know how many airports, as he had to fly from his new job locale to their home. It weighed a BUNCH, but he faithfully got it to me. I've had it 12 years and still love using it.

They came back on 12/24 [aka Christmas Eve] with:

Today's winner is Debbie Glenn Monck for her story about her husband's dedication. Plus, KitchenAids are pretty awesome! Thanks for the great stories, everyone. Check back later today for the last, and best, giveaway.

In between entering my response and finding out I'd won, I had one of those conversations you don't want to have with your husband.  Especially not on Christmas Eve.  While I don't feel I need to go into all the details, I will divulge that I came to realize I am not what I want to be, or what he needs me to be.  

So, when I found out I'd won the gift basket, my first thought was [irony!!!].  If they only knew. . . . . . they most likely would have given the gift basket to another deserving winner.   

But over the last few days, I realize that what I've been given, in receiving this information from my husband, is in some ways a gift.  And maybe it's the best kind of gift.  I won't be so cliche to say "it's the gift of a 2nd chance", because that's just plain corny.  But I will say that I've been slapped in the face [figuratively] with the fact that nothing much matters.  Except the relationships we have.  My house, my new blender and LL Bean tote bag and lap desk.  My occupation.   {These things will all come and go.  And sometimes I'll like them, and sometimes I won't.  And eventually they'll be nothing.}

We like to joke in our family about Bohemian Rhapsody [the song].  Yes, I know it's a classic, but it's SO dramatic.  The lyrics say "nothing really matters".  And that's almost true.   But I really want to learn to concentrate on the bit that does.  So, while I'd like to write an entry that makes me appear somewhat cutesy, or fun, or at least somewhat sane, I forced myself to be honest.  And while my blog title is Once Upon a Sunny Day, not every day is sunny.  And not every Christmas is remembered as merry.  But I want to make it a point to remember the worst gift I received.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ask me what's on sale this week at Kroger

I stopped in at Kroger after work.  Fortunately for me, I now work 1.2 miles from my home.  And. . . there's a Kroger between my workplace and my house.  
Today I visited my local grocer for the ingredients to make King Ranch Bean Casserole [scroll down the page and you'll see it - below the version utilizing tofu].  Previous to my vegetarian days, I enjoyed King Ranch Chicken.  So, I sought a veg version and found this one.  Chip worked late tonight, so it was a good time to try a new recipe containing beans [he's anti legume, anti war, anti . .. ].  It turned out pretty good.  But that's not the point of this entry.
There's a winter storm headed our way.  Snow and ice are predicted.  Which means Kentuckians flood the Kroger stores.  I truly believe if one was a sociology student, the local Kroger would be a great place to compile thesis data.  My neighborhood store was packed.  Shopping carts were hard to come by.  The aisles were full.  The check out lines were long.  And people were buying, you guessed it, white bread and milk [mainly whole].  A few were purchasing Coke products.  One man stood in line to purchase one item only:  an off brand 12 pack of Mountain Dew type soda.  A lady behind me in line dropped her stuff [boxed candy canes, a loaf of bread {yes, white}, and a couple other things].  She mentioned there were no carts available as I helped her pick up her goods.  
All of this begs a question in my mind:  If people truly believe they might be stuck indoors for a few days, why don't they choose more exotic foods?  At least spring for a nice cheese and some Triscuits.  What are people making with all the bread and milk?  Is there some secret I don't know?  Seriously, and I know a power outage is a consideration, but these people were shopping at 5:30 p.m.  The storm wasn't predicted to move through until around midnight.  They had at least 6 hours to prepare a gourmet meal.  I wonder if these folks eat out everyday and have nothing in their pantry?  And now they fear they'll be forced to eat at home.  Or is much more simple?  Maybe bread and milk are snow storm traditions.  Like turkey at Thanksgiving and ham at Easter.  I grew up in the desert, so maybe this info isn't entrenched in my psychi.
On another note, regarding the sociology study, we now have a security guard at our Kroger.  Why?  He usually stands outside the store, but tonight he was inside [too cold for him outdoors, I guess].  Someone honked at me as I backed out of my space at the far end of the lot.  A large white van [I'm thinking plumber].  I suppose hostilities are high.  What if the store runs out of bread?  Oh yeah, they were really low on large bags of potatoes.  It seems to be the white foods that are popular [again, maybe a snow theme?  get it?  white snow/white foods. . . ]
Well, I found my items for the casserole.  Then I headed home.  Only to pull into the driveway and be greeted by my daughter, wearing pajamas and a towel over her freshly washed hair.  She had climbed the side fence, checking if the recycling was full [tomorrow's our pickup].  She walked towards the car, and stated, "We need to go to Kroger."  She then mentioned why - snack needed for tomorrow's FCA party [which, mind you, probably won't happen due to the approaching storm].   I asked why she didn't call me - her brother knew where I was.  She claimed she did call.  My battery was low, so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.
So, later in the evening, she and I went out.  Yes, we hit a Kroger [not the same one].  It wasn't near as crowded and no one honked at me.  And there was no security guard, and the Salvation Army bell ringer was friendly.  And looking back, I wish I'd picked up some Triscuits and a nice cheese.  We might be iced in for a while.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

If I was more like Oscar H.

{My Favorite Things}.  Rodgers & Hammerstein.  Minor chords and a 3/4 time signature.  A true classic.  If I was to write my own version it would include dark chocolate and picnics and hiking Raven Run.  I might choose to keep the line about silver white winters that melt into springs, because today is a silver white [technically late fall] day.  I'd also add sunshine and bike rides and salsa made from homegrown tomatoes.  Note that most of my favorite things have to do with spring time and summer. . . . . 

And in place of when the dog bites, when the bee stings. . . . . . I'd include when drivers are rude, when men don't hold the door, when people are just way too selfish [no, it doesn't have the same effect, but I never claimed to be Oscar Hammerstein].  Oh, and I'd also add when the furnace goes out and it's 19 degrees outside [because that's actually happening right now].

Oh, and why not throw in as favs when the kids don't argue [I haven't heard them be cross today], when the soup turns out well [it did tonight!], when my son has a good audition [he did, on Saturday], 
I'll simply remember my favorite things, 
and then I don't feel. . . . . . . so. . . . . . . . bad 
[all the while counting 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 ♪♪♪♫♫♫].

Thursday, November 25, 2010

thanksgiving {why I like it}

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  This time of year reminds me of all the things I'm thankful for.  Obviously the biggies, like family, home, enough clothing, the faithfulness of God, etc.  But all the other things, too.

    things I'm thankful for:  
    my musical children
    pumpkin recipes
    the car we inherited from my grandma
    a son that REALLY can cook [we're not talking just boxed mac & cheese, friends]
    a hilarious beagle named CJ
    a summer time veggie garden in my backyard 
    AND participating in a community garden
    the magnolia tree Chip gave me one anniversary
    my daughter's very accurate Russian accent
    books by Lisa Samson
    my Starbucks card
    my Kitchenaid mixer and the sentimental story that goes with it
    the piano in our living room that was old when my folks bought it in the '70s
    hearing my son play jazz on said piano
    the strong will of my daughter
    free summer concerts at Ecton Park
    Vineyard Community Church
    a husband that makes me laugh
    a son that enjoys Mexican food as much as I do
    the Bryan Station HS Fine Arts Academy
    wood floors
    the internet
    a husband that likes grocery shopping
    Goodwill and thrift stores
    parents that love me
    the tv program Friday Night Lights 
    discount theaters
    Blue Bell ice cream [okay, ALL ice cream]
    my mom's peach jelly and peach cobbler and cherry pie
    my 1978 World Series tee shirt [MY dad was there!]
    happy hour at Sonic
    Allie's artwork
    non-chain restaurants 
    a sister [Catherine Ann] to name my daughter [Catherine Alexis] after

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    I am pleased to announce

    I begin a new job next week!  Yes, it's been a long time coming.  In January, I received this news:  "The FY 2010 annual Federal appropriations law does not include a provision for the Community Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) program.  Therefore, there is no funding for the CBAE program. . . blah blah blah."  Basically, the grant I worked under was taken away.  Meaning, if my workplace didn't access other funding sources, we'd close down, sometime after 9/30/10.  Well, that day is here.  We're closing down.

    But, back to my opening statement:  I begin a new job next week!  

    So, while I will no longer be able to tell my children I work in the sex industry [yes, that's a bit of a stretch, but hey, sex ed is what we teach, or rather, taught!], I will continue to have an income.  And, I'll be working at Lexington Leadership Foundation, which is an organization that impacts our community in a positive way.   My new title is Program Assistant, and for the most part I'll work with Amachi and Urban Impact [check out the above link for details].  

    This new opportunity will be a full time venture.  Something I've not done for about 14 years.  And that makes me a tad bit nervous.  But I picked up this tidbit from a woman I look up to, just today:  When she returned to work full time, she was hesitant, questioning God as to why this was happening.  Her kids were still young.  His response, "Why wouldn't you trust Me with them {her kids}?"  So, that's what I'll remind myself to do.  Realize God has provided, and trust. 

    Psalm 121 {read it, it's good}

    Friday, October 29, 2010

    how I spent my National Chocolate Day

    Well, yesterday was National Chocolate DayBut, as circumstances would have it [actually I don't really believe in circumstances, but I'll not get philosophical or religious with today's post], it was a not so good dayThe chips, so to speak, fell where they may [not my husband Chip, he's still walking upright], and I found out that my current job will end November 15.  Barring a miracle [but again, I'm not getting phil. . . . . ].  Also, Chip and I were awakened at 4:30 a.m. by a call from one of his employees phoning in sick.  Mind you, if there's no vomit or blood, Chip doesn't consider a person ill.  There wasn't, but Chip had to report into work earlier than planned to cover on a day when he already had to work until 6:30 p.m.  Meaning my morning schedule was also slightly altered [not a problem, but not a delight].  Plus, my son's high school had an utterly chaotic day involving a fire alarm, a food fight and 10 police officers.  Academically, not his best day and he's a lover of routine.  Then Allie texted on her way home about an unpleasant life situation that I won't embarrass her here by going into detail about. 

    So, despite that nothing horrific or life altering occurred, it was not one of my top 10 days.  But, it was National Chocolate Day [is there a better cause for celebration?].  Therefore, I baked this cake: 

    Don't let the pumpkin throw you off.  You can't taste it.  It's a delicious, chocolate cake [and healthy too, because pumpkin provides beta-carotene - but you probably knew that].  Oh, and I made homemade cream cheese frosting.  Don't use that stuff from the can.  Take the extra time.  You'll be glad you did. 
    Cream Cheese Frosting
    4 oz cream cheese (softened)
    1/2 c butter or margarine
    1 Tbs milk
    1 tsp vanilla
    2 c powdered sugar
    Beat cream cheese, butter or margarine, milk and vanilla until creamy.  
    Mix in powdered sugar until smooth.
    Hope your NCD was a great one!

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    and the beat goes on

    listen if you'd like

    I just listened to the Hawaii Five-0 theme song.  The original, of course.  Everyone knows the original is always better than any remake.  Anyway, I feel better now.  For 2 reasons:
    1. I've been meaning to listen to this song since I heard about the new series.  I grew up in the 70s, so this song takes me back. . . .  
    2. I like this song.  Who doesn't?
    I needed a pick me up.  And sometimes it takes a song with no words to do that. 

    I'm continuing on with my job search. My last blog post about my job hunt was August 18.  Since then, I've had 3 interviews and 2 rejections.  I had my latest interview this afternoon, so I'm not sure of its outcome.  Probably won't for a couple weeks.  Today I also applied for a job on the Fayette County Public Schools website (Associate Director of Human Resources).  I've got a few pending possibilities at the University of Kentucky (one that I think I'd really like that involves writing).  But nothing solid.  And my current job will most likely end at Thanksgiving (a month from now).  Unless some major donors come through.  

    So I continue the hunt.  And I wonder, what will become of me?  Not, as in, will I soon be fending off hunger?  But in, what will I end up doing with 40+ hours of my week?  I'm not one of those people who has a profession.  As in, I'm not a lawyer or a teacher or a nurse or a plumber.  I'm a wife and a mom who likes to bake, make crafts and jewelry, read, and write my blog.  And except for The Pioneer Woman [yes, I reference her a lot], I don't know many people who have made it big, or even make a living, simply doing these things.  But because I have a college degree in Business Administration, and probably could, in my opinion, take over Lexmark (I read the current CEO is retiring), I press on to find that all encompassing, breaking back into the full time workforce, career accelerating job.  But it's hard to get your foot in the door.  It's hard to be considered when you're 42 and took quite a few years off of work to be with your kids.  Then eased back into the workforce part time, working at organizations you believed in, not places that built up a resume.

    Okay, yes, I'm joking about taking over Lexmark.  But the hoops one has to jump through are frustrating.  Unexpected group interviews.  Online applications that don't inform you  you're not qualified until you've wasted 20 minutes of your time answering questions that no human might ever read.  Today, when applying for the HR job at FCPS, I had to fill out an administrator survey, administered by Gallop.  Administrator as in school principal.   Yet the job has nothing to do with being a school principal.

    It's a constant tension for me, really.  Often I apply for jobs I don't really want, simply because I know the day might realistically come when I really, really need to be working and am not.  I question why others seemingly work in fields they're passionate about, yet I could very likely end up answering somebody's phone for money [can't his wife do that?].  And sometimes I wish I'd hung in there as an 18 year old Interior Design major, despite the fact that I did horrible in drafting class.  I question why I changed college majors 2 times.  I wonder if I could make a decent income teaching piano lessons (most likely not).  I consider becoming a hand model (yes, again, I'm joking).  I think about one of my female business professors and wonder [what would Nancy do?] in my situation.  I question how as a full time working mom we'll handle juggling the schedules of 2 kids that attend magnet schools, not the close by neighborhood variety.  And maybe worst of all, I go to work and wonder why such an important curriculum might not be taught anymore because we've lost our federal grant.   check out OUR blog

    So, like I said before, I continue the hunt.  Please forgive me for [almost] ranting.  Perhaps I'll listen to Hawaii Five-0 again and feel better.  The beat goes on. .

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010


    I like the sun.  How could I not?  I was born and raised in Yuma, Arizona.  If you're not familiar with the weather in Yuma, check out this link.  The sun shines most of the time.  I even named my blog Once Upon. . . . 

    So I take note of things like sunrises and sunsets.  Yesterday I mentioned to my kids that the sunset was especially pretty.  Daughter Allie said something like, "Is there a sunset tonight?".  What she meant, of course, was, "Is the sunset visible tonight?"  Nevertheless, son Jamie and I teased her, explaining there's a sunset EVERY night, regardless of whether or not we see it.
    This morning I went on a walk/run.  At one point I turned and not really meaning to, looked at the eastern sky.  The colors were beautiful.  The sun was rising.  Which reminds me of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. . . .

    And, really that's my point.  At least sort of.  The sun ALWAYS rises.  The sun ALWAYS sets.  Since the beginning of time.  We can depend on it.  And if we believe, and I do, that God created the sun, we can see the similarity between the sun and Him.  He's always here.  And has been.  Since before us.  Since we can't imagine when because He's always been [I didn't mean to make a rhyme there].  

    And He's consistent.  Like the sun.  I don't have to consider the sun not coming up tomorrow morning.  No matter what, it's going to.  Consistency is a good thing.  Despite that I like home runs, Hail Mary passes and underdog tie breaker victories.  Consistency is what wins on a regular basis.  Consistency is what I depend on.  It's what I need.  

    So, while miracles are great, and I'm a believer, I treasure the faithful, constant, never changing power that's evident in the sunrise.  And the sunset.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Ugh! Projects.

    Allie's science project was due on Tuesday.  Yay!  It's over. 
    Let me back track a bit.  Allie, my 12 year old seventh grader was assigned a science project at the beginning of the school year. 
    The task:  collect 10 bugs, 10 leaves and 10 seeds.
    Display and describe them in some manner.  
    Don't spend a lot of money.  
    Examples shared by the teacher from years past were mainly large display cases.
    Well, the first problem with the project was that Allie does not believe in killing.  No, not even killing bugs.  She doesn't particularly like bugs, but believes in the live & let live philosophy.  Her hippy looking [please, I don't mean that in a derogatory way. . . I'm okay with hippies] teacher said, when she asked him, that students could collect dead or purchase fake bugs [ie fish bait].  Which begs the question, is there a bait store in Lexington?  Back on track - I was surprised that her teacher, again a male, middle aged, hippy type with a LONG ponytail, would advocate KILLING creatures, but he told her they're going to die soon anyway.  Again, this didn't turn Allie to the dark side [I'm thinking about Sid from Toy Story right now].
    The second problem with the project is that, as a mother, one of my biggest temptations is becoming THE TAKEOVER MOTHER when it comes to projects.  I kinda liked projects when I was a student.  Tests, not so much.  Give me a project over a test any day and I'll most likely do alright.   After all, everyone in the class is going to view the project.  You can't hide it on turn in day, and by golly, who doesn't want theirs to be the best?  [yes, I have deep seeded childhood issues with performance]  I may very well be  this mom.  So, I have to really control myself and let my kids handle these assignments on their own.  Except. . . . projects usually mean trips to stores for supplies [Allie can't drive].  Projects usually mean kids asking Mom [that's me] for advice.  This time around the project meant killing a few bugs because Allie can't stomach it.
    The third issue with this project was that, as stated above, most examples shown from previous years were large display cases.  When priced at Michael's craft store, we found these cases to be expensive and not easy to maneuver.  I just wasn't willing to fork out $20+ as a final resting place for 10 bugs [may they RIP].   So we came up with some alternative ways of displaying the items.  After some interesting public exchange at the craft store. 
    All in all, the project was completed by Allie.  I gave a few helpful [in my opinion] comments.  But, she got it done [herself].  And looking back I see how this type of thing is good for a study in personalities.  And how I've passed down some of my traits:  compulsiveness, perfectionism when others will see the final work, procrastination.  But I also see this:  a girl who wants to do her best.  A girl who wants to follow the directions.  A girl who succeeds and is pleased with her success.  And that makes me happy.  
    And so does this:  At the bus stop on turn in day, Allie said, "I'm proud of my project."  She even thanked me for my help.
    On Wednesday she brought home directions for the Science Fair, a requirement for 7th graders.  [Ugh!]

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    I do remember making these cupcakes. . .

    Today I went to Kroger carrying a list.  There were approximately 8 items on the list.  I had forgotten to write down toilet paper, but fortunately remembered we needed some (just put the last roll on the holder).  But. . . I left the store without purchasing an item on the list.  Only 8 items to buy, and I missed one.

    Before Kroger, Allie and I stopped by the library.  I picked up two books I had placed on hold.  One of them is The Cookbook Collector.  When I received the email notice that this book was in, I had no recollection of placing it on hold, and not paying much attention, my initial thought was that it was a cookbook, most likely vegetarian.  Well, it's a novel.  Fiction.  Not a cookbook.  I didn't realize this until I got home.  Apparently, I knew this when I put in the hold request.  It would have been obvious then.  But that memory's gone.

    Is this what middle age brings?  

    I can remember in detail things that happened years ago.  But last week, two months back, anything recent, I might need some refreshment. 

    On another note, here's a recipe I tried this weekend.   I ♥ pumpkin recipes, and it's a winner.  I also ♥ Ina Garten.  She seems so calm. 

    [I did substitute allspice for the ginger, and margarine for the butter.  
    I also used regular table salt.]

    [at least that's how I remember making them!]

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    calmly carrying on

    I have wanted one for a long time and I finally ordered it last week.
    Yes, it's just a [poster].  I actually read on-line before I purchased it that hipsters now find the poster cliche.  Or something like that.  But, I don't consider myself a [hipster].  In fact I recently read a book that confirms I'm not:  Hipster Christianity.  Despite the fact that I like NPR and Shane Claiborne and shopping at thrift stores.  Apparently I don't drink enough or smoke enough to be one [I don't at all].  And I tried listening to Sufjan Stevens but found him too odd for my tastes.  But that's a topic for another day [maybe, most likely not].

    Anyway, I like this poster for a couple reasons: 
    1. The saying is great.  Keeping calm is important.  I don't like it when people get out of hand.  Plus carrying on is necessary, right?
    2. The history of this poster is quite interesting.  click here for info  Can you imagine, living in Great Britain during WWII?  Good grief, they'd been a powerful nation for centuries.   They were bombed, blitzed and realistically feared Nazi invasion.  They moved their children from London to the country for protection.  I could go on and on because. . . . I find history compelling.  I'm actually loving this book:  The Knight of Maison-Rouge.   Marie Antoinette, the French Revolution. . . . maybe history's not your thing?
    The poster is on its way.  And I find it's good timing because it's panning out to be an interesting week.  I had a job interview yesterday that turned out to be a [group interview].  Yes, me and three other people vying for the same job while questioned by a panel of five.  Before our group, five candidates went through the same process.  Did I mention they gave us a [test] beforehand?  Then today, we discover mold in our workplace.  And the workplace finances we hoped that would get us to Thanksgiving are going quicker than we'd hoped. I have another interview Thursday.  This time at the University of Kentucky, so I'm already mentally preparing myself for the sheer stress of finding parking.  

    Today, on the way home from work I stopped at Good Foods.  The purpose being to purchase an organic dark chocolate bar.  No, Hershey's doesn't cut it anymore.  I want the good stuff.  Like I wrote above, I'm not a drinker, so picking up a bottle of Kentucky bourbon on the way home doesn't appeal.  Am I addicted to chocolate?  No, I'd say not.  But it helps get me through the day, and hey, the message on the back of the chocolate bar says this:  "By choosing Equal Exchange fairly traded products, you support a food system that builds stronger farming communities, creates a more equitable trade model, and preserves our planet through sustainable farming methods." 

    So, I'm preserving our planet my eating chocolate.  Not to mention good chocolate.  Which helps me keep calm until my poster arrives.  Did I mention I wasted some time at the post office today?  Ugh!  [keep calm, keep calm. . . ]

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    sometimes. . . .

    Sometimes I think I'm addicted to baking.  Or else I'm addicted to baked goods.  In less than a week, I've baked a coffee cake, chocolate chip cookies, cream cheese banana muffins, and Jamie made brownies.  Mind you, none of these goodies have left our home (except in lunch boxes).  It was all for us!!!!

    Sometimes I listen multiple times to Seeking You by Hillsong United.  It's my go to song when I'm down.  And yes, it's old now [1999], and nothing close to their best stuff, but I like it.

    Sometimes I play Bach on the piano when no one is around.  Just so I'll know I still can.

      Sometimes I eat hot fudge sauce straight from the jar with a spoon.  Yes, I look both ways, open the fridge, and indulge. 

    Sometimes I feel like the world might stop turning if I don't visit a Kroger once a day.  And sometimes I'd like to shout at people who call it "Kroger[s]", 
    "THERE IS NO [S], PEOPLE!!!"

    Sometimes I wonder why Allie has brown eyes.  I have green, Chip has blue, Jamie has green.  My mom has brown, so I suppose that's where.   I don't remember all that dominant gene biology business. 

    Sometimes I realize that I think too much about nonsense, and should be 
    spending the time baking.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    What I Ate for Dinner

    While I could write about my aversion to bumper stickers that say things like "Don't spread my wealth, spread my work ethic" and "My blue heeler is smarter than your honor student", I will instead write about something dull, like what I ate for dinner.

    No one else is home, so I decided to make myself a frittata.  I got turned onto these this summer, when I checked Mediterranean Harvest out of the library.  I stopped by our community garden plot this evening, picked a couple tomatoes, and came home, ready to cook. 

    I decided to add a slice of toast to my plate, topping it with my mother's homemade peach jelly.  
    {Hers is the absolute best}
    Here's dinner:

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Labor Day Weekend

    Allie and I spent the weekend together [sans Chip & Jamie].  Our men are in Haiti.  
    One accomplishment was the completion of a project Allie's been working on for quite some time.  It relates to her summer reading required for Language Arts class.  She put together a scrapbook based on Warriors Don't Cry, by Melba Pattillo Beals.  If you don't know about this important story, I recommend you research it a bit.  Allie's school is 48% white, son Jamie's is 42%.  I am excited they experience diversity in their educational life, and find it crazy to think that over half the students at their current schools wouldn't have been welcome at Little Rock's Central High.
    [Allie reads/eats/listens to DOJO]
    We enjoyed a picnic at Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate, while listening to the music of DOJO.  Sunday morning we went to Vineyard, and heard a stellar message from our pastor, Kevin Clark about being a disciple
    And. . . . . Monday we celebrated Labor Day by hiking at Raven Run. . . . .  

     then we finished off the evening watching 

    Unfortunately, Allie forgot she needed to practice band [she plays percussion] sometime this weekend.  So. . . . she will have to practice 40 minutes today [Tuesday].  And. . . finish an additional summer reading project.  And. . . complete any other homework.  

    The good news is. . . . . the weekend will come again.  And we'll make our own variation of these.  [If you've never stopped by  The Pioneer Woman's sight, you absolutely MUST!]

    And we'll welcome home our  
    Haiti travelers [yay!]. 

    Tuesday, August 31, 2010

    Fiction Blog

    A while back I had what I consider a pretty nifty idea:
    Create a fiction blog!
    I like to write.  I actually wrote a novel [no, it was not published], but that's another story [literally].
    Well, daughter Allie enjoys writing too, so I thought, why not make this a joint effort?  Maybe we can even get Chip and Jamie to participate also.  So far, it's just Allie and I, but we're having fun.

    Our fiction blog is in the form of a journal or diary.  It is based on the Constant family, and includes 4 members:
    • Veronica {Shane's wife; Danny & Larissa's mom}
    • Shane {Veronica's husband; Danny & Larissa's dad}
    • Danny {son of Shane & Veronica; Larissa's older brother}
    • Larissa {daughter. .  .you get the picture}
    Up to this point, Allie has written all entries for Larissa, and I have entered the rest.  If you'd like to read what we've written so far [which we hope you do!],
    please follow this link:  A Few Constants
    Once there, go all the way to the bottom [the first entry is dated July 20] and work your way up.  Thanks!  And please comment to let us know your thoughts.

    Happy Reading!

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Down with Plastic

           I'm putting this on my Christmas list: 

    Or at least something similar.  It's the Pyrex 14-piece Storage Plus Set.  Yes, Pyrex = glass.  I've read too much about plastic storage containers and their harmful effects.  Plus they often [take on] the smell and/or taste of whatever's been stored in them.  And I'm tired of dealing with the mess plastic containers and lids cause in the cupboard.

    Meanwhile, I came across this yesterday:  The Beauty of a Mason Jar.  I've decided that I will begin utilizing my mason jars as refrigerator storage [more often than I do now].  Currently I use them for homemade salsa, salad dressings, and a few other things.  But why not leftovers?  I have a pretty good collection, thanks to a mom that cans peach jelly, pickles, etc. . . . . . .
    {I conveniently forget to return the jars when I visit.}

    Saturday, August 21, 2010

    Teenage Inspiration

    Here is the Urban Dictionary definition of teen angst
    When teenagers, for any number of reasons combined with their hormones and stress from school, get depressed. Contrary to popular belief, some teenagers actually do have it rough and have to deal with [crap]* most adults don't have to. Other teens don't and just like to pretend they do. Either way, everyone has a right to be pissed off.     
    *I changed this word.

    My son Jamie was recently featured in the [Get to Know. . .] section of our church worship folder.  Basically, he was asked some interview type questions.  At the end, when asked is he had anything else he'd like to say, he added this:
    "........I am immensely proud that we are a church that 'unabashedly serves the poor and the meek' 
    You should be proud of that as well."
    I found that to be, at least a bit, inspirational.

    2 weeks from today, he'll be in Haiti.  2 years after his original venture to the island.  He's going with his dad, along with a missions team.  He wants to go.  He's happy to go.  He'll miss 5 days of school, but that's not a worry for him.  Haiti is far from a resort destination.  And after the earthquake, he and his dad really don't know how different things might be from their last visit.  I think that's pretty inspirational. 

    A few days ago we received an envelope addressed to Jamie, containing $40 cash from a girl he went to school with last year.  He has since transferred schools, but their friendship has apparently continued.  She was inspired to send him $40 towards his Haiti trip.  Which I in turn find. . . . inspirational.

    So, while I know that my teenager will at times suffer from a classic case of "teen angst" {he is a musician, after all}, it's comforting [and inspirational] to know he has a ♥ and is a positive influence.  And it seems some of his friends are, too.

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    happy hunting

    I have amped up my job hunt.  My current job just might be ending.  It is for sure changing.  Different dates are floating around:  
    September 30 = federal grant funds cease
    Thanksgiving = [hopefully] we'll be able to carry on with our current funds until then
    end of 2010 = [maybe] we'll be able to carry on until then

    Meantime, we're looking for financial support from donors.  So far, nothing. . .
    . . . . except words of encouragement [and those can't be converted to cash].

    So, today I dropped off 3 letters along with resumes.  I decided to personally deliver them because it's just that, more personal.  And, none of these places actually had any posted openings.  But, they're places that sound interesting and rewarding as potential workplaces.

    Wanting to look presentable to future employers, I decided to wear a dress.  I do not own any Spanx, so I substituted my biker shorts.  I also wore closed toed shoes, the reasons being twofold:  1)  I was a business major in the 80s and that's what we were told to do [at least I think we were - it's hard to remember that far back]. 2)  I removed the nail polish from my toe nails yesterday and have yet to repolish.  I'm not one to expose my naked toe nails.

    My first stop was Refugee Ministries.  It is located north of downtown Lexington in a Christian Church.  I liked the location, and the vibe of the place.  Stop #2 was the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning.  It is downtown, and home to one of the Horse Mania 2010 horses (see blog below).  The building is beautiful, and again, I liked the vibe.  My third stop was the Maxwell Street Legal Clinic, which is actually located just off Maxwell, on Lexington Avenue.  I had a hard time finding just the right place, but a nice young lady who was heading in took my envelope.  Apparently they keep the door locked.  Since I didn't make it inside, I don't know about the vibe, but again, I liked the location [near downtown and adjacent to the UK campus].

    I also am mailing a letter and resume to the Singletary Center for the Arts.  I would have delivered, but I wasn't sure about their office location, etc.  Yesterday I applied for a caseworker position at the Salvation Army, and later today I plan to apply online for two position at the University of Kentucky.

    Most of what one hears today regarding the job market isn't positive.  The fact that I haven't held a full time job since 1996 isn't especially helpful.  I've been part time since January 2006, and I'd never trade those ten years with my kids.  But I'm not one of those titles:  nurse, CPA, teacher, architect, etc.  The title people seem to have an easier jump back into the workforce.  I'm ambiguous.  I'm one of those not sure what I want to be people.  I know what I like, what I'm interested in.  I know what I don't like, what I'm not interested in.  So hopefully I'll end up with something great.  Or at least good.

    For now the hunt continues.  Let me know if you've got any suggestions.  Or would like to offer me a job.  Or an interest free business loan so I can go out on my own.  Or a cash gift.  Or a Subway franchise (not really, I hate the way Subway restaurants smell).

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    another first day

    Today, Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 
    is the first school day in the Fayette County Public school system.  Which means, James & Catherine Alexis [aka Jamie & Allie] reported in for duty.  For Jamie, it is public school #7 (folks, this is not counting his 2 preschools). But, he is 25% done with high school and has a 4.5 gpa, so I'm not concerned it's affected him academically.   He began his sophomore year this morning at Bryan Station High School.  They offer a music program that he (or us, his parents) couldn't pass up.  Allie continued at Lexington Traditional Magnet, leaving the house in her lovely polo shirt/khaki pant/navy cardigan combo, as LTMS is a stringent dress code school.  Through text messages this afternoon, I was able to confirm they both had good first days.  

    I don't particularly care for the back to school season.  It includes supply and clothes shopping, which are 2 things I don't really enjoy.  And, of course all the fees, all the forms, all the hoo-rah-rah that goes along with the beginning of a school year.  Not to mention the fact that it was nearly 100 degrees today.  That seems like summer weather to me.  At least here in Kentucky.  The cold hard truth is:  I like having those 2 around.

    Since a significant portion of my day was opened up for the first time since June, I:
    • worked until 2 pm
    • went to the YMCA and ran on the treadmill (I dislike treadmills)
    • purchased some thank you notes and postage stamps (for Jamie to send to his Haiti partners)
    • applied for 8 jobs on-line (my current job just might end 9/30)
    • folded some laundry
    • worked on a fiction blog (more on that later)
    • made my dinner and ate it alone (due to youth group and Chip's Wednesday schedule)
    • baked a loaf of banana bread
    • read a July entry from my one year Bible (I'm just a bit behind - I WILL catch up)
    • contemplated whether I'll quit being a rebel and join the PTA this year (probably not)
    • read on someone's FB that many evangelical Christians are converting to Catholicism (really???)
    • pondered why people criticize others so much on line (aren't we all [yes, including myself] too judgmental?)
    I just deleted 2 paragraphs I wrote on the last point.   I realized perhaps I was being too critical. 

    So another first day is coming to an end.  I've got 2 more with Jamie; 5 more with Allie.  Unless I can convince them to go to college locally.  We live 4.1 miles from the University of Kentucky; 4.7 from Transylvania University.  I can surely make it to either of those for a quick first day. . . . .
    "Have a great day!"

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010


    Libraries are, in my opinion, one of the greatest assets our country has going for it.  Our family takes full advantage,  as we're four avid readers.  Truly, one of the things I'm most thankful for is that my two kids enjoy reading.    Sometimes my daughter brings a book along on the ride to the grocery store.  This is usually a five minute ride, but hey, why not make the most of the time?  Here are a few excerpts from books I've recently checked out:

    I was no prisoner, and yet, when faced with an occasion for determination, I was not to follow the lead of my will, but to endure in tedious familiarity.  What is freedom when you're too beholden to act spontaneously?  What is desire that is absolute but untimely?  Or obligation when you have ignored your soul's conviction?   
    Is sacrifice really a virtue when in your heart you feel not a shred of devotion? 
    {page 195 - Anthropology of an American Girl}

    Looking out the window, I felt mostly lonely.  It was the kind of loneliness that cannot see past itself, a skulking suspicion that the world was not mine to inherit.  I listened as they spoke, laughed when they laughed, raised my glass as such moments presented themselves, all the while marking time.  I was sorry for the way everyone imagined my life to be my own, for the way they really did seem to like me, asking did my fish still have bones, and how pretty I looked.  I wished I could give something back.  But yet, I knew that all that they wanted from me was all that they needed from me, and that is a treacherous path to consent to travel, in the sense of suppressing things sought for the self.  That is to say,  
    you being solely what others want you to be.
    {page 261- Anthropology of an American Girl}

    One danger of online blogs and social networking sites is that your daughter may not be expressing what she really feels.  She may instead by writing what she thinks will entertain or impress her peers who read it.  She might not even be aware of the difference.  She may not realize that what she says she is feeling isn't what she actually is feeling.   She subtly adjusts what she is writing to suit what she thinks her friends want to read.  
    After a while, she may gradually become the girl she is pretending to be.
    {page 38 - Girls on the Edge}

    Here's a vegetarian recipe from 
    Mediterranean Harvest, 
    a cookbook authored by Martha Rose Shulman:
    Summer Salad 

    Book recommendations:  
    Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
    The Help by Kathryn Stockett
    The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Samson
    The Blackstone Key by Rose Melikan

    Please send me your recommendations, too.   As long as they're not silly romance novels, or meat cookbooks, or uninspired writing popular amongst non-thinkers.

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    a day unforgotten

    Every once in a while, we experience days we know we'll never forget.  Yesterday was such a day.

    Not because anything crazy happened.  There were no catastrophic events.  No earthquake, or terrorist strike on American soil.  I didn't win the lottery.

    But. . . . this weekend was the first time Jamie played guitar along with the Vineyard Community Church worship band.  He's played in the [youth] band, but never with the adult team.  He did great.  I'm very proud. 

    Another memory bookmark that occurred yesterday was Chip's ordination with Vineyard. 

    And in my mind these events bring our family full circle in a couple areas.

    A year ago I didn't know if Chip would ever work in the ministry full time again.  There was a chance his calling had changed, that there wasn't a place for him, at least not for a while in our current circumstances.

    I also didn't know if Jamie would be able to utilize his musical gifts in a worship setting for quite some time.  He had at our previous ministry location.  But it was small, his dad was the main guy, etc.  

    But now the circle is complete.  And things feel right.  I have no doubts we're where we should be.  And for me, a wife and mom, that's a good thing.  Knowing my family is at the right spot on the road.  And knowing we're not alone on that spot.  Because we've traveled alone and that's not where I want to be. 

    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    Horse Mania

    Horse Mania is here!
    (click for link)

    We live in Lexington, Kentucky, the Horse Capital of the World.  Which is why the World Equestrian Games are coming to Lexington this fall.  And despite the fact that it seems every major road in our town is torn up right now in preparation for the games, Allie and I have decided to at least celebrate Horse Mania.

    Horse Mania is a public art project, consisting of 82 life-size fiberglass horses.  They've been placed around town, and Allie and I plan to see them all.  We also plan to photograph our adventure.

    Allie acquired a copy of today's Lexington Herald Leader, which includes a map of where each horse is.  We start tomorrow with horses 58, 70 and 79, located at the airport.  Join us if you'd like.  It should be fun.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010

    Summertime Music - Life on Lansill

    One of my favorite occurrences in Lexington, Kentucky, is the annual patriotic concert held at Gratz Park.  It was held last Friday evening, and our family attended, as usual.  It was a lovely time:  great weather, a nice variety of picnics foods, and fine music by the Lexington Philharmonic.  While I'm not the most patriotic person around, events like these are what America's all about, right?  A free concert, in the beautiful outdoors, with all types of people in attendance.  And don't forget the dogs.  Plus, the available porta potties included outdoor sinks this year.  A definite upgrade.

    On Tuesday, we headed to Ecton Park for the weekly jazz concert.  We had a bit of difficulty finding a take out pizza on the way (no, I'm not joking!).  But, we eventually settled in for an evening of music and people watching.  We left at the intermission.

    Wednesday was probably one of the top 5 days of summer, as far as son Jamie is concerned.  We visited CD Central and he purchased The Dead Weather's Sea of Cowards album.  When I say album, I mean album.  He purchased the vinyl record.  Apparently he's been anticipating this for quite some time.  He's converting it to his iPhone (I think that's the correct verbiage) as I type this. 

    Today (Thursday), we wandered through the Habitat for Humanity Restore looked through the records and found - Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues, a Maynard Ferguson, and a Chicago.  For a grand total of $2.29. 

    Alas, there's a jazz concert tonight at Central Library, but it's not the greatest timing for us.  Jamie's heading to King's Island tomorrow and Chip is disk golfing this evening.  So, we'll pass this time around.

    Earlier this week, Jamie sent me this link:   Maybe we'll just listen to them instead.

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010

    50% Vegetarian Household

    I was at Central Library here in Lexington a few weeks back.  If memory serves correct, it was Thursday, June 26.  The kids were out giving away popsicles in Woodland and Phoenix Parks with the Vineyard youth group.  I was in the library alone, and since I don't usually patronize this branch of the library, I decided to look around.  I came across a book, I can't remember the title, but it was one of those that talks about eating meat, stockyards, etc.  I opened it up, and read just a bit.  I've read this type of book before and I know the gist of it:  the meat industry is bad news.  

    My daughter Allie became a vegetarian about 5 months ago.  She's stuck to it.  I'm proud of her convictions.  Since then, I've tried to be careful, tried to eat organic meat from animals that lived a happy life.  But I'm come to realize that's a difficult thing to do.  First of all, it's expensive and I truthfully can't afford to buy all my meat products at Good Foods or the Farmer's Market.  Not without a big financial sacrifice.  Secondly, it's difficult to eat 'carefully' in restaurants.  Most don't use 'organic' meat and my guess is it comes from stockyards and chicken farms and other unfriendly places.   Thirdly, it's just too much to think about:  Where'd the meat in this burger come from?  Is this Kroger chicken REALLY free range?  Should I indulge in a Christmas ham knowing the pig didn't live a quiet life on Old MacDonald's farm?  

    So it hit me.  Right there in Central Library.  Give up meat.  Beginning July 1, give it a try.  Commit to 6 months of vegetarianism.  Be an encouragement to Allie.  See what it's like.  I didn't put a lot of thought into it.  I just made the decision, on the spot to do it.  July 1 thru December 31. 

    So far, it's going well.  I haven't missed meat.  I know I'll miss the occasional barbecue meal.  I really like pulled pork and brisket with barbecue sauce.  I'll miss shredded beef burritos.  I'll have to learn to modify chicken pot pie this winter.  But, I really think it's for the best that I do this.  Allie is excited to have me on board.  My son Jamie actually said he's considering "meatless Mondays" and possibly giving up meat for Lent next year.  We've checked out lots of vegetarian magazines and cook books from the library.  It's a new adventure for us.