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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Occupation: Mother


Anyone who thinks that housewives don't have a "job" is dead wrong.  I have been a stay-at-home-mom for the greater part of 18 years.  And this is our third year of homeschooling.

To blow away some misconceptions:  I don't watch soaps.  Actually I watch very little television.  I don't spend my days shopping.  I do most of my shopping with my husband and kids, and we shop together.  Though I do run up to Publix by myself if they have a sale. :)

Last night on the phone, I asked my mother, "Mom, do you ever feel like you spend your entire life cooking and doing laundry?"  She didn't hesitate.  "Yes!"  

This may sound like a complaint... but it's a masked one.  I detest doing laundry, but it makes me feel good to see the empty clothes basket, and to see my family's clothes hung up nicely in their closets, ready to be chosen to wear.  I remember prior to Robyn's birth, I spent a year dutifully ironing all of Amy's school clothes every Sunday evening.  Yep.  For a whole year.  I am glad to say I got over that.  LOL  I did it, because I wanted to be a "good mom".  I don't iron anymore, but I feel like I'm a better mom now.. not because of ironing, (or not), but because of other things..

My days consist of cooking three meals a day, doing all the dishes afterwards, plus washing clothes for four people, trying to keep things cleaned up... and homeschooling my eleven year old daughter. Not all necessarily in that order.  

I love cooking. As a Southern Momma, (anyone being raised in the South at all), means that food=love.  Yes, I know that probably sounds terrible.  But it's true.  I love cooking for my family... and friends!  I may complain about snapping pounds of green beans, peeling potatoes, and sometime the 'prep work' can be very time consuming... but when you see your family eagerly digging in, it makes it all worth it.

I love going and buying fresh farm eggs. (look at the difference and you can SEE why!) Farm eggs have bigger, nicer yolks, a deeper yellow, more flavor, and NO caged chickens, or genetically altered feed or hormones!)

I love menu planning, and finding new recipes. I love going across town to get the 'good' organic oats.  I love going to the Farmer's Market and buying the best, freshest produce that I can.. and spoiling my family.

Maybe it's a sin... but I take pride in it.  I love feeding people.  I love filling up bellies. :)    

People sometimes tell me I'm on the computer 'a lot'.  Yep.  Sure am!!  But maybe not as much as they think!  I do leave it on.. and then as I take a few minutes to sit down, I sit 'here' and spend a few minutes looking and reading and maybe a little typing... it gives me a few minutes of "me" time... before I go back and get busy again.  It's a nice break.  And I can make it as short or as long as I want/need to.

Just because I am a housewife, don't assume my home is perfect.  It's not.  I have a husband, two kids, two dogs, and two guinea pigs.  And they ALL need care, and time.  Each want their own, personal "mom" time and with that comes undivided attention.  They deserve that.

I love my "job".  I love making out Robyn's lesson planner each week, and finding new books (or she finds them!) for us to discover.  Arts & crafts, learning new things... discovering!

I love being proud of them as I watch them learn and grow and excel.  It makes me fiercely proud to see how my daughters have grown.  I love that Amy is an adult now, and going to the campus for classes.  I love how my Robyn is not a little girl anymore, but a big girl growing into a young lady.  I know that one day, they too, will be wives and mothers.  Pink Heart

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sometimes......


Sometimes I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.  And sometimes I am so sad I don't even want to get out of bed.
  
Sometimes I want to do all I can to please... and sometimes I wonder why I even bother.  Because sometimes I can't seem to do anything right.  And sometimes certain people make me feel so bad... that I just want to disappear.  Forever.

Sometimes I feel like I have to keep up a front.  And sometimes I feel like it's not even worth the effort to fake it.

Sometimes I wonder if real, true friends even exist.  Sometimes I think a friend is someone who is nice as long they can manipulate you, use you, or control you.  Sometimes I think the worst one is the finger pointing "friend" who plays the "holy" card..  another way to manipulate!!

Sometimes I think bad thoughts.  And sometimes I dream as a child would dream.  Sometimes I want to move far away from anyone who ever knew me, and forget my own name.

Sometimes, I just laugh.  And sometimes, I cry.  Sometimes I rejoice, and sometimes I can't get the tears to stop.



Thursday, August 18, 2011

G.R.I.T.S.




The women in my family are "GRITS"... that is.. Girls Raised In The South.   My sisters and I, raised by our Southern Momma and our Yankee Daddy.  Yes, you read that right.  My little joke I often tell is that Daddy was born a Yankee, but he got here as fast as he could.  He and Momma were kids when they married, and are married to this very day.

Growing up, I thought the whole world was just like us.  I thought every family went to church on Sunday and ate fried chicken and sweet tea for Sunday dinner.  I was an adult before I found out that not everyone eats baked ham, collard greens with ham hocks, rice and black eye peas, and corn bread for New Years Day dinner.  And quite frankly, I was shocked.  

We were taught to say "please" and "thank you", and to say "yes Sir", and "no Ma'am".   We were expected to eat what was on our plates, and to have nice manners at the table.  And if you can't say something nice, then you say nothing at all.  No "acting ugly" unless you wanted to get in trouble.   We sat up straight, minded our manners, and respected our elders.  

Our grandparents were like a second set of parents.  Granny told us that we should every day look in the mirror before we walked out that door.  If we see something we didn't like, then it was up to us to change it.  She checked our nails, and you'd best not have any dirt.  Clean, neat, and tidy... always.  

We didn't learn to sew or knit or crochet, but we did learn to cook and clean.  We are all excellent pea shellers and berry pickers. Momma was the best cook ever.  And in the South, food equals love.  Momma canned homemade preserves, and bread n' butter pickles.  She baked cakes, hot fluffy biscuits, and a million other delicious things that my sisters and I just loved.  The menfolk hunted.  Daddy shot deer, and we had a freezer full of fresh venison.  He also fished, and we even raised a couple of hogs.  And many chickens.   This was normal for us.  It never dawned on us that there were people who'd never even seen some of the things we took for granted.

Sometimes I look at how young ladies are today.  They just don't say, "yes Ma'am" like we did.  Twelve year old little girls are wearing outfits you'd see on a 22 yr old.  What on earth is their momma thinking?  And smart mouthed!   Yes, I know.. "times have changed".  Indeed they have.  And as far as I can tell, not for the better.  It seems that the southern belle is a dying breed.  What a pity. :(

Growing up, Daddy worked a job and Momma was home to cook and clean and raise us kids.  We ate sausage and grits and eggs for breakfast.. not microwave food.  




"Going out to eat" was a special treat.  Not an every day thing.  We didn't drink Cokes all the time.  We drank sweet iced tea.  Strong enough to put hair on your chest and sweet enough to rot your teeth.  Amazing stuff.  Thus giving me a lifelong sugar habit. 





Forget the silliness you see on television.  We didn't sip mint juleps under a magnolia tree, but we kids sure did like climbing the neighbors tree.  We didn't use parasols and say "Fiddle dee dee!" but we watched "Gone With The Wind" every time it came on.   We weren't debutantes, and we didn't belong to a country club.  But we were and are Southern Belles in our own right.    Being polite, using good manners... being clean, neat, and presentable and being family-oriented... we were taught generosity to others, and having and believing in old fashioned values... this was us.  How we were... and how we are.  

We were taught that swearing shows a lack of intelligence.  Not that we don't swear.. we do.  (Working on breaking that VERY bad habit)  Bad language is not something to be proud of.   I want to stop doing it.. I know better.  I was raised better than that.

My sisters and I come from a long line of feisty women.  We were raised to be strong.  To stand on our own two feet.  To be down-to-earth, but to always hold our heads high.   Hold onto our pride.  And that God and family are the most important things in life.


Below:  A photo of a famous Belle that I loved and admired.  Dixie Carter, RIP.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Meme: Patron Saint of What?

Challenge given to me by my dear friend Sue Elvis.  I encourage you to check out her blogs.

I was tagged for this meme...  to write about being a patron saint.  Yes.  You read that right.  I am hardly a candidate for this, *laughs*, but what if either (a) I was suddenly filled with amazing holiness and all the needed saintly attributes and 'it' happened?  Either that, or (b), Rome seriously lowers their standards.  Bwaahahaahaa!  No, that's NOT going to happen.  But it *would* take a major miracle.

So hypothetically, for grins and giggles, and for the sheer amusement of anyone reading this... lets just entertain that thought a moment.  
"What if?"

 I am kicking these thoughts around as I fry Taylor's pork roll for my family's breakfast.  Patron saint of what?  Southern women?  Momma's who like feeding folks?  Maybe not.  Patron saint of lousy housekeepers seems more fitting. LOL

Ailments seem to be a popular choice.  How about patron saint of the anemic?  Of hay-fever sufferers?  Patron saint of anxiety sufferers?  Hmm.  I think there are saints already for all of those.  

Perhaps the patron saint of thrift store addicts?  Of book nerds?  How about Patron Saint of the mildly eccentric?  LOL

Like many others, I am a convert to the Catholic faith.  I would surely pray for other converts... but I am pretty sure there are far better choices than myself to choose for this particular area.  I have no doubt I had a least a couple people praying for me as I went through RCIA, and Heaven knows... I have struggled with my faith and IN my faith.  I've had times when I've even turned my back on my faith.. but I digress.. there are tons of converts out there.. I think that area will be much better covered by someone (if it isn't already) who is a far better Catholic than I.  Which would NOT be a stretch.

Anyhoodles...  I am pretty sure suffering has to be involved.  And lets face it, we all do suffer, one way or another.  I could claim a few health issues, (we all could) and I could claim my weight and my lap band surgery.  But there's a whole lot of us in that department, so I don't think it would be a good choice personally.  Though Lord only knows, I would sure pray for anyone who's went through stuff like I have in regard to weight and health.

Perhaps a good choice for me, though, in all seriousness, is for women who've been abandoned in pregnancy.   All of us tend to be more understanding and have more empathy towards others who suffer as we ourselves have suffered.  And I did.

The fears.  The abandonment.  Facing having a baby and raising he or she all alone.. is a terrifying situation.   The emotional and financial aspects of it all... yes... I can relate to that entire situation.  I know how if feels.  I know the fears.  I've endured the mental anguish... and all the looks.. that run the span between concern to sympathy to contempt to amusement to disdain.  

Yes, I could pray for someone in this situation.  Fervently.

And thank God, I had a lot of someone's praying for me.  

A patron saint I will never be.  Sorry.  I am just NOT that holy.  But saintly or not.  I can pray.   I may not be your "friend in high places", but I CAN be your friend who prays for you. 



I am hereby, (thus the blogging meme rules), tagging 5 lovely friends.  And the Tag-ees are:


Be Not Afraid Nancy
Lisa Olschewske
Homestead Blogger
Spiritual Moms Hawaii
Susie Lloyd

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sacrebleu!


My family is Southern with a twinge of Yankee influence.  I am proudly a second generation Florida Native, and my mothers family is all "Georgia Crackers".  I guess that makes me a "Florida Cracker".  LOL  My hubby is a Native too, and so, like most dyed-in-the-wool Southerners, we eat "down home cookin'".  The Yankee influence would be from my father, who was from up North, and as a young man in the military was stationed here... where he met mom.  My joke is that Daddy is a born Yankee.. but he got here as fast as he could.  :)   Daddy did bring with him, his taste for Pennsylvania Dutch food.. and he has passed some of those Yankee tastebuds on to my sisters and I.  Now we are passing them on to our kids... as evidenced by the block of frozen scrapple in my freezer.  

Bearing this in mind, it came as rather a surprise to me when my youngest child Robyn became interested in all things French.  I have no clue where this came from.  The child reads a great deal, and more likely than not she read about France, and became enamored from there, chattering to me about the glories of Paris any time she could.  


The movie Ratatouille came out.   


She has been a "foodie" since she could talk, and has told me since she was three years old that she wanted to be a chef.  So this movie comes out, and she watches it.  Religiously.  She begs me to watch.  I refuse, as the mere thought of a rat... even a cartoon one... cooking in the kitchen causes the bile to rise in my throat.  My dear husband who is often the "fun" parent bought the movie, and after months of nagging, I finally caved and watched it, simply to get her off my back.  Hmm.  Not as bad as I though.  Quite cute, actually.  Though I am still grossed out by the thought of a rat in the kitchen.  

I love Meryl Streep, and I love Julia Child.  Hence, when the movie Julie & Julia came out, I was hot to go see it.   Ever wanting to please us, hubby bought the movie.  I've watched it not less than seven times.  Maybe more.  I bought the book, and even bought Julia's, My Life In France.   Of course I already had Mastering the Art of French Cooking (volume 1), as well as "Baking With Julia".  But, I think a good many of us who enjoy cooking probably have those books.. along with The Joy of Cooking... which, I may add, was my very first cookbook.  I got it when I was 19, newly married, and no idea how to cook.   I read 'The Joy of Cooking' like a paper back novel, following it blow by blow as I slowly learned how to prepare a meal that didn't make you want to regurgitate.   I digress.  

So, here I am, dusting off my old Julia Child cookbooks.  Vowing I would actually crack them open.  Nope.  I didn't.  "Who needs all that butter?"  I'd ask myself.   EVOO (extra virgin olive oil for you non-foodies) is better.  Isn't it?  I didn't open the cookbooks.  There they sat.  Like the good china that doesn't get used.

My daughters birthdays are four days apart.  (No, we didn't plan this. LOL)  So since they're older now, we offered to take them out for a nice diner for their birthday.  I ask my eldest where she wants to go.  "I don't care."  Fine.  I ask my nearly 11 year old foodie where.  She lights up, and declares she would like to dine at the French Bistro in St Augustine, and she wanted escargot.  
Are you kidding me?

I google it, and I read the reviews, and evidently it's supposed to be "like stepping into Paris", and that the food was truly, truly French.  Wow.  Okay.  Umm.. sure.  I noticed that escargot is only served at dinner and not lunch, so I made reservations for the Saturday evening before their birthdays.  I have my mind up I am NOT eating a snail.  Forget it.  It ain't happenin'.

My Stars.  Such a lovely little bistro.  Fresh, crusty baguettes and "fancy" French cheeses, a lovely soup that was compliments of the Chef, and.. the much anticipated escargot.


The smell was intoxicating.  Buttery, garlicy, Heaven.  My vow to never try them was gone, and I ate two of the divine morsels.  There is nothing more delicate and delicious to be found.  My Stars and Garters, pick me up off the floor!!  Lamb and Ratatouille followed.  Every bite had us wanting to roll into the floor.   Our taste buds had died and went to Heaven.  We devoured every bite.  Dessert was fresh berry tarts for myself, hubby, and eldest, while my pint sized foodie went for the fresh-from-the-oven chocolate lava cake.  

When the meal was over, I looked at hubby.  "My Lord. NOW I know why the French all smoke.  After a meal like that, ya need a cigarette!"  Mark cracked up and agreed.   We waddled home, bellies full of fine French food.

The following day, as we mothers all have to do, was to prepare our meals.  
Nothing.. I mean NOTHING appealed to me.  How the Sam Hill do you eat something that blows your taste buds away, and then go back to eating the same boring stuff?   I cut a piece of yellow American cheese, and bit into it.  Ugh.  It tasted almost oily.  How had I always eaten it before?  I told my hubby, "It's NOT delicious."  It wasn't.  And it's not.   I felt spoiled and dissatisfied, which made me feel guilty.  I reminded myself that I was very blessed, and people were starving all over the world, and I should be ashamed of myself.   

The next day I took out hamburger from the freezer.  I got out 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking', and thumbed through, wondering to myself if Julia Child ever made anything with hamburger.  Much to my surprise, she did!  Who knew there were French hamburgers?  Hot dang!  So, I followed the recipe, and made her steamed buttered rice too.  Result?  Oh. My.  What a heavenly hamburger!  Now THAT was delicious!  Hubby carried his plate that I made him to eat at work, and later, when he got home, asked me just how I'd made it.  He loved it!  


"You know," he says, "you ought to do what Julie (Powell) did.  Go through the book in a year."  He grinned.  Oh Lord, the man is serious.  I considered it.  I sat down after dinner and looked through the cookbook.  I mean REALLY looked.  Oh dear God.. she cooked and ate BRAINS.  I am NOT eating brains.  You can forget it.  I may be a "hick", but brains and tongues and kidneys are not touching these lips.  So I told him I'd cook some of it, but some of it would not be made.  Too bad.  LOL   He counters with, "That's what you said about the snails."   


Dang it.

I am not going to do what Julie Powell did.. cooking her way through an entire, thick-butt cook book in a year, and then blogging about it. As I told my eldest today, NOBODY needs that much butter!  She laughed, and said, "Sure we do!"   Well guess what?  I will make Julia's recipes, and we'll enjoy them.  But not every day.  Lord no.  We are still eating "Southern home cookin' with our bit of Yankee influence."  :)   But after making Julia's Ground Beef with Onions & Herbs (p. 301) and steamed buttered rice (p. 530) yesterday, followed by to-days dinner, Chicken Breasts Saute'ed in Butter (p. 270) today, I have to say I have already learned a better way... more delicious way to cook.  Julia Child knew what GOOD was!  Yes, I will cook her recipes.  Not all of them.  And not in a year.  But I am happy to learn a new and better way to make things.  And incorporate what we're already doing, ever in our quest to eat better and healthier.   Butter is better than that fakey gross margarine anyway. :)  I am convinced that some of those margarines are part plastic anyway.  (gags)

Tomorrow I'm going to make tabbouleh.. we've not eaten that in a while.  I'm not aware if Julia ever made it.. it's definitely NOT French, and vegan to boot. :)   In my attempts for my family to eat healthier, and buying the organic stuff and shopping a little here and there at the hippie store..  well, I feel that Julia's recipes are NOT, in fact, the opposite of that.  Julia believed in using fresh ingredients.  Non processed.  She liked "real" food.  She didn't like the silly food fads.  I have thusly dubbed my "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" as "The Butter Bible".  LOL  I can pick and choose.  We all can. :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Miami, Bono, Ducks, & French Fries

My third date with Bono was June 29, 2011.  LOL  Okay, so not really.  It was, however, my third U2 concert, and first one for me in Miami.  Second U2 show for my husband and daughters.  I could tell you about how awesome the show was, but honestly there are no words to describe it.  U2 puts on the best show, and currently have the biggest stage in the world.   It looks like a giant claw... Bono calls it a spaceship... and yes.. you find yourself elevated...  it's a soul touching, mind-blowing experience.  I still can't get through the show without sobbing like a silly school girl. *blush* All the band is amazing, and Bono knows just how to pull the fans "in" to make it feel intimate.  They are famous for a reason.  They are the best at what they do. :)   I can hardly wait til next tour! :)


At any rate, we went down to Miami Lakes, Florida a day early.   The drive only took five hours, and I am proud to say that I drove most of it myself.   As a Florida native, I am used the lush green of Florida.  In North Florida where we live, it's green and sub-tropical but with a lot of the "woodsiness" of Georgia.  Miami, however, was even more beautiful.  Always I've heard what a terrible city, making it sound like hell on earth.  That is not what I found.

Miami is like North Florida, only less of the "woodsy" and more of the "tropical".   Yes, it was just as muggy and hot as the rest of the state, but with the differences I noticed, I overlooked the heat.  During our four day stay, I encountered other U2 fans, literally from all over the world.  Funny, we fans can always find each other.  Most of the fans wear a U2 tee shirt the duration of their stay... my U2 Sister Angela has an assortment of U2 shirts she wears.  I don't *yet* own a U2 tee shirt, but I have (now) a U2 hat, and a lanyard my teenage daughter made me, that has made quite a few people, (for the last two shows), stop me and ask how I got "that backstage pass!"  LOL Oh wow.... I WISH!!! :)


Our U2 base camp, (haha), hotel we stayed at was owned and operated by a Cuban family.  They were so NICE and friendly and courteous!   All the staff was great.  We ate at a Cuban restaurant the day of the concert.  We couldn't read the Spanish menu.  My lovely friend Angela taught me how to order french fries (papas fritas), in Spanish, and helped us order lunch. ;)   Her Spanish isn't perfect either, LOL, so our friendly Cuban server went to find someone bi-lingual in the kitchen to translate. :)   We did get our orders, and I have sworn to myself that I will learn more Spanish before the next time we go to Miami.  We can't just live off of papas fritas.  :)

One thing I noticed in Miami is at many intersections, there is someone selling fresh flowers.   We don't have that here, and I thought it was funny and sort of charming.  Another funny thing I noticed was the ducks!  At the two restaurants we went to, there were ducks waddling by outside. :)

I loved Miami.  Yes, we saw BAD sections, (from the expressway) that we vowed to never go in.. (READ:  DO NOT ever go to Miami Gardens!)  But mostly, the city was beautiful and welcoming and a joy to visit.  U2 show or not, I loved our stay in Miami.  I was surprised as we were leaving, as I'd found I was a little sad to go.    

The name "Miami" means "big lakes".  I considered this as we were leaving, and then how "Miami" sounds similar to "mon ami".   Perfect.  Goodbye for now, mon ami Miami.  Can't wait to visit you again.  Besides, I'm always ready for another date with Bono! :)


ETA:  Interesting note: Bono is the only person who has been nominated for an Oscar, Grammy, Golden Globe, and three times for a Nobel Prize.