Category Archives: All About Me

Has It Been Enough?

I passed another milestone this week and, in retrospect, I think I might have rather passed a kidney stone.

I took my oldest son to register for his college classes.

Want to know the painful part? We bought the text books!

Seriously, I’ve been kidding myself all summer that I was ready for this and that I was going to be okay when the time came. Well, the lump in my throat tells me I’m not. And honestly, it doesn’t really matter if I am ready or not. The real question is – is he ready?

More importantly, did I do enough as a mother to prepare him for this moment?

In exactly one month, his father and I will help him move into his dorm and eventually we will drive away, leaving him there with more freedom than an 18-year-old should probably have.

In the end, I have to trust that he really did listen to all the speeches, lectures, instructions and pearls of wisdom I shared with him over the last 18 years. I have to trust that he will do the right thing when faced with issues of integrity, honesty and sincerity. I have to trust that he will study, make good grades, eat his vegetables and be in by curfew.

In the end, I have to trust that it has been enough.

In the end, I just have to trust.

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Filed under All About Me, College Life, Random Ramblings, The Boys Are Back, You Gotta Have Faith

It’s Just A Piece of Paper

I wrote this last fall when I initially started back to school. I had forgotten about it until I was cleaning out some files and came across it. I thought I would bore you with since I haven’t posted anything on the blog in a while.

When I hear someone say, “It’s just a piece of paper,” I think of all the valuable documents in our lives that are on paper: birth certificate, marriage license, last will and testament, money, a finger painting created by a four-year-old.

 Another is a college diploma.

I have every one of those things except for the last one. Oh, I had good intentions. I headed off to the big state university with wide freshman eyes and high expectations of a future that included me being a college graduate.

Somewhere along the way, however, those plans got side tracked. My parents’ financial burdens and my own guilt of adding to them by being away at school led me back home. I got a job and easily convinced myself that I would return at some point in the future and finish my degree at another time. At that moment it seemed that I preferred the thought of being financially independent over the thought of spending another moment in a stuffy classroom.

 As I moved from the world of retail and selling shoes to a corporate environment and magazine publishing, I decided to see how far up the corporate ladder I could climb without having to list a degree on my resume. And, in fact, I was able to climb fairly high and attain some lofty goals.

 I made good money. The kind of money that convinced me I was okay without a degree. Not to mention that my hard work and personal work ethic had earned me several awards from my peers and employers throughout the years.

One marriage and three children later and there was no time or money for me to even think about completing my degree. I would once again put my goal of a college degree on the back burner.

 I now have a senior in high school and we have started helping him look at colleges and weigh his options for the future. As a parent you always want your children to have more and better opportunities than you did. I want desperately for him to go to college and finish. I want him to know that it’s more than a “piece of paper” and that there is more at stake than how much money you can earn or what kind of awards you can win.

 I want him to feel the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes as a result of hard work, along with hours of dedication and sacrifice. I want him to be a college graduate.

 So, that is why I am going back. That is why I am going back to school, and why I am going to finish what I started 28 years ago.

 I know it sounds crazy. Why would I start this now when we are getting ready to put our oldest through college next year?  Well, that’s exactly why, because we are getting ready to put our oldest through college next year, and I want to show him through my own experiences why it’s so important to have that “piece of paper.” I want him to finish what he starts. I want him to have high expectations for a future that will include personal, as well as, financial success. I want him to have a college diploma.

 I’m not going to kid myself into thinking this will be easy. I will still have responsibilities as a wife and mother and a fulltime job that will require my dedication, but I know deep in my heart that this is the right time and the right thing to do.

 And I can’t wait to get my hands on that “piece of paper.”

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Filed under All About Me, College Life

New Favorite

As holidays go, Christmas has always been high on my list of favorites. However, this year, I made a discovery. I discovered that Christmas Eve is my new favorite.

I have finally realized that I like the waiting. I like the build up, the hype, the anticipation that occurs on the day before Christmas. I love the last minute shopping, wrapping, cooking and running around that Christmas Eve inevitably brings with it.

Now don’t get me wrong. I still love the magic of Christmas morning: getting up way too early because three boys can’t wait another minute to open their presents, listening to the crackle of the Christmas morning fire and smelling the much needed coffee brewing in the kitchen. Being surrounded by my family and feeling the strong sense of contentment that loving them brings me.

All that being said; I still like Christmas Eve more.

I look forward to taking care of last minute details; tracking the progress of Santa and his reindeer so that little boys know when they need to go to bed. I love Christmas Eve church services with flickering candlelight and “Silent Night” being sung by voices young and old.

I treasure the late night gift wrapping sessions with my Hubby and trying to sneak through the house without waking anyone. Finally laying my head down on my pillow, thankful for another year of God’s blessings, and realizing that I am wide awake, can’t sleep and in less than five hours, three boys will be bouncing on our bed in an attempt to wake us up.

I imagine the expectation that Mary must have experienced as she waited to hear the cries of her baby boy; the way she must have felt as she prepared to give birth to the Savior of the world. I think about the anticipation that generations have felt as they wait for HIS return.

Waiting for something that is worth more than any other gift you can receive.

I ponder the vastness of an eternity spent with no more waiting.

But for now, I wait. And I like the waiting.

Yes, Christmas Eve is officially my new favorite.

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Filed under All About Me, Random Ramblings, You Gotta Have Faith

Intentional Southern Girl Meets Accidental Country Girl

When I started blogging a few years ago, I had a few “must read” blogs that I visited and read with regularity. One of those blogs belonged to a fellow redhead who calls herself The Pioneer Woman. Little did I know where reading a few posts from her site each week would lead.

I started with the chapter by chapter story of how she met the man of her dreams and it was’t long before I was hooked by the daily pictures and updates of her rural existence.

Somewhere along the way she and I took very different paths with our blogs. I flew below the radar, choosing to avoid the limelight, while she grew her readership with witty writing, breathtaking photography and recipes that would make you slap your mama. I’m still trying to figure out where I went wrong.

Pioneer Woman, or PW as all her close friends call her, has taken her blogging success to the next level. She took some of her most popular recipes, photos and stories and married them all together into a best selling cookbook called “The Pioneer Woman Cooks – Recipes From An Accidental Country Girl.”

She has been on a self-proclaimed Griswold Family book signing tour over the past few weeks and as luck would have it, she visited a city close to me last night. And I got to meet her. And she signed my book. And more importantly, she told me I didn’t look as old as I actually am. I’ve decided she can be my friend.

Well, right back at you PW! In fact, maybe your next book should be one that shares your country girl beauty secrets. Until then, I’ll keep reading your blog, trying out your recipes and following your life (in a totally non-stalkerish kind of way) through the fantastic photos and stories you share with us.

And just to think – if I had tried harder, I might be the one autographing a bestseller and enjoying and all that fame and fortune.

Nah!

Congratulations on your success, PW, and thanks for coming to town.

I forgot my camera (gasp!) so the only pictures I have of last night’s event are from  the thoughtful gals in line behind us. The cute, little blonde with me is my friend, Andi, who is just as big a stalker fan of Pioneer Woman as I am. We had an awesome time!

Meeting Pioneer Woman - she's very friendly!

"Ok girls, chins out and shoulders back." We had a good laugh over that.

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Filed under All About Me, BlogStuff, Cool Stuff & Beyond

The Baker’s Chain Letter

The other day a friend gave me a zip lock bag with the starter mixture for Amish Friendship Bread. Now, I have to admit, I’ve received these bags of slime before and I’ve never used them. I did, in fact, throw them away.

GASP!

I know! I sort of take the friend out of the friendship-bread-starter-mix-chain-letter. And I’ll  probably have 1,000 years of bad luck or get hit by a train on my way home, even though I don’t cross any train tracks on my commute. I just have a feeling that’s the intense kind of bad luck that probably befalls someone who hasn’t completed her friendship bread duties.

Well, I promise this time things will be different. I’ve decided that I’m actually going to see this friendship bread thing through to its completion. I have kneaded the mixture in the bag, like the directions say, and I have added the required sugar, flour and milk. I promise to watch it and lovingly care for it as it sits and does whatever it is this stuff is supposed to do.

One reason I’ve always thrown it away is because the thought of milk hanging out in a zip lock bag on my counter for a few days kind of grosses me out. Just sayin’.

But I will give it a try this time. I will follow the instructions to a T and I will even pass along the starter mixture to other friends as directed. And I will encourage them to keep the Friendship Bread tradition alive, because I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to have bad luck involving trains as a result of breaking the baker’s chain letter.

(UPDATE: I did not complete the task at hand and I did not make, bake or share friendship bread. I also did not get hit by a train.)

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Filed under All About Me, Something's Cookin'

We Don’t Need No Butterball Hotline

Since Thanksgiving is only two weeks away, I thought I would share my turkey secrets with you.

I was “really” nervous the first time a cooked my own turkey. I think I must have called my mother at least a half dozen times to ask her questions about the process. And yes, I did remember to remove the bag of giblets from inside the turkey prior to cooking it. I wasn’t one of “those” cooks. And it turned out ok. But it was just ok.

I love turkey. And I love the outside pieces because that’s where all the flavor is. I wanted the entire turkey to have the same flavor as those few precious outside pieces had. That’s when I started doing my research and looking for the holy grail of perfect turkeys.

And a few years ago, I found it. Turkey Brine. It will change your world. I promise – or at least it will change your turkey. Try it this year. You won’t be disappointed!

Here’s my recipe for turkey brine:

Turkey Brine

1 cup sea salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
5 bay leaves
2 tablespoons black pepper corns
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon rubbed sage
1 tablespoon coriander seeds

Dissolve brine in 2 quarts of boiling water. Once it is dissolved, add in 1-2 quarts more water (depending on the size of your bird). Place your turkey in a large Ziploc storage bag (one of the big ones designed for holding sweaters). When the brine is cool, pour over bird (you can add a bunch of ice cubes to speed this process).

Let bird sit in brine for 12-24 hours in the refrigerator. If your bird won’t fit in your refrigerator, put it in a cooler and cover with ice.

When are ready to cook your turkey, remove it, rinse and roast as you normally would.

My other secret is that I use Reynolds Oven Bags to cook my turkey in. It cuts down on the cook time and makes for one juicy bird!

So what’s your secret for making the perfect turkey? We all want to know!

 

 

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College 101

I think I mentioned in my last post that I am going back to college. I’m actually pretty excited about hanging out in the hallowed halls of learning again. As geeky as it sounds, I’m looking forward to sitting in a lecture hall, having homework and and pulling all nighters. Ok, maybe not the all nighters. I wasn’t a huge fan of them the first time around.

Not everyone in my household, however, was initially as excited as I was. When I shared the news with my 10 year old that I had been accepted and was going back to complete my degree, he got a very concerned look on his face.

“You’re going back to college?” he asked.

“Yes!” I replied, “Isn’t that cool?”

In a quavering voice he asked, “Are you going to live in the dorms?”

“Yep,” I said, “but I’ll be home on weekends to do my laundry.”

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Filed under All About Me, College Life