Friday, December 19, 2014

How Do I Say This

I don't blog so much, but I do read and comment on your blogs. At least I try. Mostly I stay on FB, because I find it is less taxing and easier on my hands and my brain fog.

I do keep up. With you all, even if I don't say anything in comments. Some of us have been friends for over a decade. Wow. That's a long time, isn't it?

Yet, be it a year or ten - you, my Tadpoles, are my friends. You have stayed fast and true. You have been supportive and loving, funny and sarcastic. You have made me laugh until it hurt and. . .

Your lives have brought me sadness. Not through any act of your own, or anything you can control, but because I truly love you and love your families.

I have watched your kids grow up, some even getting married, having babies. I have rejoiced in your birthdays and your anniversaries. Graduations, deployments for those in the military. . .the list is endless. But, as you have been there for me, I have done my best to be there for you too. There is nothing better than being able to cheer your happy.

But? Life. . .  and death have an awful way of sneaking up on us. Doesn't it?

My last post I wrote about being so terribly sad over a friend I knew was hurting that I disappeared into the kitchen to bake away the hurt I felt for her and her family.

You see . . .our lovely and dear friend Beth, Bizzy - from My Bizzy Kitchen - has suffered a loss that is completely unimaginable to me.  He husband, known as Tony on her blog, passed away a few short weeks ago.  Through the last weeks of his life Bizzy never faltered in her devotion to her husband [of 14 years] not only working, but travelling great distances to be with him while he was in the hospital.

Bizzy and I talked via FB/private message and email. Tony had two conditions that I also have - Congestive Heart Failure and liver failure - mine being a genetic condition, Tony's LF due to his heart.  A lot of what they were treating Tony for in Illinois, they are working on my sketchy body here in Virginia. I tried the best I could to answer Bizzy's questions, but it wasn't until recently that I realized that Tony was much more sick than I am and more than even the doctors had told her or her husband.

Sigh.  One of the things we discussed were transplants. Since I am waiting on one, Bizzy explained that Tony was waiting on [first] a liver transplant. But then the doctors said he would need a heart transplant. Ooookay. Both? Okay....well it still looked promising, but then?  His kidneys started to fail due to his heart. They mentioned that now it would be three transplants.

He was in the hospital on kidney dialysis, awaiting a transplant when the doctors told Bizzy that Tony's heart just wasn't strong enough for anything more to be done and that she should take him home, to hospice. I can't even write the words "take him home to die" because who can do that? HOW do you do that? [Ugly cry commencing now.]  I don't know that I could if it was Steven, but Bizzy is Bizzy and she's amazing.

It was a Friday when Bizzy told me they had Tony home and comfortable.  I was alone, in my house, waiting for Steven and Evie to come home. Of course I was crying. Crying for the unbearable pain I know Bizzy, Tony and the family were facing, but also because of the unfairness of it all.

Let me stop for a moment and say something. . .I am doing a sucka** job describing any of this, and for that I apologize. It's one of the reasons I didn't do this post sooner. I used to be very good at getting my thoughts down on this dang computer, but it isn't as easy as it used to be. I love Beth and Tony with all my heart and I hope I can relate this in a way that honors their love and life together and what a terribly awful thing I think this is. Perhaps others or even Bizzy sees it in another way, but I just don't know.

All you Tadpoles know I believe in God. You also know I believe in the power of prayer. Bizzy and Tony were prayed for from all corners of the world, including this little 'burg, and I can't say prayer failed, but I have to say I was truly surprised when Bizzy called me to tell me Tony was coming home.

Steven walked in from work and found me sobbing. Although he knew that Tony was doing poorly, he initially thought it was one of our kids. I don't think he wanted to hear what I said.  Nope. Evie pulled him aside and whispered in his ear what was happening and he came over to put his arm around me. And do you know what the only thing I could say, between heaving sobs and the snotfest I had going on? The only thing I could say was. . .

"It is just black words, on a white screen. They are just pictures on a page. These people aren't real."

And I kept repeating it, and do you know why?  I wanted it to be true. If just for that day. To take away all the pain and be able to pretend that the Velantis weren't real and their pain and Tony's death weren't going to happen.

Sounds awful doesn't it?  I know better - God knows I know better - but it was my last defense to take away the pain I knew my friends were feeling. I was scared for them and DAMMIT I am 1,500 miles away, so pretending they weren't real seemed to make sense to me. I felt [still feel] so powerless.

So 48 years old of me, right? I know..."Janine, grow the eff up." Steven gave me a little shake and told me what I was saying was wrong and that trying to discount the realness of Bizzy, Tony or any of you wasn't going to do anyone any good. Everytime I said it, he would respond "No, Janine. You know better."

After cleaning myself up I explained to Steven that since Tony was home, dialysis had been stopped so ....I can't even write it. Sorry. You guys know.

What I can't believe, and what I will be forever grateful for, is that Bizzy took the time to phone me the day her beloved husband died. She told me that she didn't want me to read it online. I actually couldn't believe she had the strength to think of anyone outside of her big, loving and supportive family. [Bizzy's whole family is amazeballs btw - makes sense considering how wonderful she is.] I love her for that and she taught me such a great lesson in love, compassion and friendship.

I truly wanted this post to be a tribute to the love story that is Tony and Bizzy's life together. If you want to read about and see what true love really is - and what a great friend we all have in Mrs. Velanti - you only need to go and visit her at My Bizzy Kitchen . Most of you already know Bizzy, because I honestly believe she is the best cook I have ever met. Not only that - she is one of the most generous and kind people I have ever met.

I am blessed that she shares her life and Tony's life with me and for that I will [also] always be thankful.

Do me a favor, if you have a moment - please go over and share the Tadpole love I know that you all are so beautiful for and do so well.

I'll see you on the flipside. And never forget. . .Life is a gift.
Love and hugs, Janine

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Whatcha' Gonna Do?

When I get sad. . .not depressed, mind you, just heart wrenchingly sad.  You see. . . when something happens that affects someone I love and I am powerless to do anything to help the person [by virtue of distance and health] I get sad.

And I do three things. Always.
-I ugly cry. Because my heart is breaking for a loved one and it makes my heart ache for them. And we all know what an ugly cry is.
-I pray. Recently it feels as tho' my whole days have been taken up in praying. Does it help? Me, I suppose. I have some idea of whether or not God answers my prayers, but it brings me a small amount of peace to hand over the awfulness of something that is troubling me for another.
-And I cook.

I cook a lot. It seems to be the only thing that works because I am alone all day with my thoughts and powerlessness against it all.  The cooking is always from scratch because it takes longer and occupies my hands and my eyes and my mind and no one wants Mom snarfing in dinner, right?

I know most of you know of what am speaking about - that one of our own is suffering and so far away, but it is not my story to tell on her behalf right now. Until it goes up on her blog, I respect her quietness and pray she keeps the strength that all of us have come to admire. Although it is up on Facebook, and she called me yesterday, she has many, so many, blog friends that aren't on Facebook that I don't want to run the risk of telling them anything until she does through her blog.

Make sense? I hope so. I suck at this kind of thing, especially when I am sad, but I am trying.  I just needed to come here and talk, about anything.

Steven came home last night and found me in tears but preparing dinner. At first he thought it was the pain, but then realized this was worse.  He told me to sit down, forget about dinner and we would just eat leftovers.

Nope, I had to get up and do something.  So with Evelyn's assistance in the kitchen I made up a few new recipes.  I was too exhausted to look up recipes, but having never made these dishes before I thought I would just wing it with the knowledge I have on hand. . .my sketch memory and sad skills.

I knew we had about 2.5-3 lbs of dark meat turkey leftover, turkey stock I made Sunday and a few blocks of cheddar cheese.

I don't know why but I thought turkey burgers and macaroni and cheese sounded like a meal. So I used my Ninja [mini food processor] and minced the cooked turkey, celery and onion for the burgers. I followed the same recipe I use for salmon cakes and added 2 eggs, about a cup of Italian bread crumbs and then veered off of that with 2 heaping tablespoons of turkey stock [it had congealed, so it was probably more like a half of a cup,who knows] and a heaping teaspoon of sage.  I mixed it all in my stand mixer and Evelyn made patties.

While she was making the patties I used the base of another recipe I use that is a roux to begin the macaroni and cheese.  I melted 5 tablespoons of butter in a pan, adding a teaspoon of salt and 3/4 teaspoon of pepper [more or less]. I added a heaping quarter cup of flour and mixed that until thickened. To that I poured in milk - I don't know how much, but I would guess 3 or 4 cups? I just poured until I had a nice thick sauce which I added 3/4 lb of ninja'd [I love that thing] sharp cheddar cheese and about a cup of mozzarella. I stirred until it was melted and had the sauce to mix with about 8 oz of cooked elbow macaroni.  Put that in a greased baking dish, sprinkled with paprika, covered and cooked at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. My family doens't like it overly brown, so I didn't remove the lid.

While that baked, I fried the turkey burgers in a scant amount of oil on medium heat.  When they were thoroughly browned on both sides, I drained them on paper towel and let them sit.

When the macaroni and cheese was done, I took it out to rest and popped the burgers in the oven on 250 degrees to keep warm.  The turkey was already cooked from Thanksgiving so no worries with making sure they were cooked all the way through.

I also served the last of the Cracker Barrel style green beans and ham as a side.  I made these for Thanksgiving and that is what Evelyn calls them, Cracker Barrel beans [we haven't eaten there in 5 years, so how she remembers?] To me they taste like my grandma's homemade, and again, it is another recipe I couldn't be bothered to research. I just winged it.  I snapped two lbs of green beans [took me an hour - I don't miss the days of doing bushels of these during canning season for my grandma] rinsed them and put them in the slow cooker with 2 cups of chicken broth and 6 oz of diced cured country ham/fat back/pork hocks - take your pick. I used the cured ham. Set on low and those were some of the best dang green beans I have ever had. And easy. Just cook them until soft. Steven did have to put a cup of water in at two intervals, but our slow cooker is pretty hot.

I served the turkey burgers on hamburger rolls with the sides.  Steven put cranberry sauce on his, while Evelyn ate mayonnaise on hers.  I was too tired to eat, but I would lean towards my homemade cranberry sauce because it is more tart than sweet and tastes really good with turkey.

Sorry to bore you all, but it's honestly? I just didn't know what else to do and it seemed to make sense to come here and write down recipes.

Hugs and love to all of you. I can't begin to tell you how much you mean to me, and if you knew the heartache I have for one of own I am sure you could begin to understand better.

See ya' on the flipside. Janine

Monday, November 24, 2014

Day Full O' Bargains

Something is in the air Tadpoles. I don't know what it is. . .but Sunday was epic!

Two things well known about me are that I don't like any type of shopping except the grocery kind and I LOVE a bargain.

Yesterday was so cool.

We all know Thanksgiving is Thursday. However, we won't be eating the traditional meal on Thursday because the kids can't make it home until Friday. No worries, we're going the Mimosa and Sloppy Joe route that day, while prepping everything for Friday and watching the parade. Works for me.

We did want to make sure we had everything purchase before Thursday tho' and we decided to go shopping at ALDI.  I have an unabashed love for this grocery store. There are so many reasons, but today I am going to focus on one of my favorite things about their store.

Prices. I can literally get three times the food for the same price as I could at Food Lion or heaven forbid Giant Foods.  For example - three weeks ago I went shopping with Steven and we purchased enough food for 3 weeks of breakfasts, lunches and dinners for $160. We ate chicken, pork, ground round, sausage and soups. They only thing we replenished in three weeks was bread, milk and juice.

This makes me happy. So, so happy.

Our Thanksgiving menu consists of the following [keep in mind everything is fresh and homemade. I don't buy boxed or canned goods with the exception of boxed chicken broth because I don't have any homemade made and stocked in the freezer.]

Turkey with gravy
Oyster dressing
Mashed potatoes
Sweet potato casserole
Corn Casserole
Green beans with ham
Yeast rolls
Cranberry sauce
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie
Caramel Cake
Crudite plate [don't ask but this is a weird tradition my mom started years ago and the kids insist we have it] It includes black olives, sweet pickles, radishes and stuffed celery [see? told you it was weird - but it works. somehow]

I didn't write that list to bore you or even make you drool - I am doing enough of that for all of us - I write it because I still can't believe how little we paid for all of the ingredients. I could feed 6-8 people with our meal and it only cost:  $48.24. That's $7.10/per person for 6. Not too shabby.

Even better?  We will have leftovers Saturday [Gravy with turkey and mixed veggies over waffles - again, don't ask. It is SO good.] Then I will boil the carcass and make turkey soup, pot pie and Thanksgiving sandwiches with the remaining turkey. So actually my food cost is much lower. YAY!

We have never, ever paid so little for Thanksgiving - and we know, as we make the same exact menu every single year.  Even when I could purchase turkeys for .39 cents a lb [25 years ago] I still spent upwards of $100 for 8.

Even better than that bargain?

Wait - let me back up a moment.  I talked about this on Facebook, but I realize not all of you are there [and if you are, why aren't we friends? :)  ]


This goofball, our very own Evie Lou [Wallene], was accepted into the National Honor Society. We could not be more proud and I have to say, with all the turmoil in her life in the past 4 years [my health, losing our home, moving in her Junior year of HS, etc] we are amazed at the hard work and perseverance she put forth to earn this honor.

Tradition in our home is if you are accepted into NHS Mom gets to pick out and will purchase you a new outfit for the induction ceremony. I know, pushy right? But you can only imagine the fights that would ensue if we let them dress in school clothes for this. It's a big deal.   I have done it before, to the liking of her siblings, but with Evie?  She was having none of it.  And really? It's our last kid and I am worn out by being sick, so I told her to go shopping by herself and Dad and I would pay for whatever she chose. She knew I had to approve, and I gave her parameters. Then I sent her out.

On the way home from the grocery store Steven received this pic' on his phone. I was shocked that she had actually listened and found something appropriate for the ceremony. Look! Her she is in the dressing room:
When I saw the pic' I said to Steven "It's perfect and looks so good on her.  But? This is going to cost us $50, isn't it?"


We arrived home and Evie was already back from Cato [the only women's clothing store in Orange, VA] and she came walking down the hall holding up a blanket. I asked her what the heck she was doing when she suddenly dropped the blanket and was wearing this dress.  I squealed because it looks even better in person [she paired it with the cutest belt] but I was confused.  We hadn't given her more than $5 [to eat lunch while she was out shopping] so I asked her how did she get the dress home. Certainly $5 wasn't going to buy a dress that nice. [Btw, for those who care - it's completely lined. It's a NICE dress.]

She showed me the tag on it.  It was, in fact, originally, $49.99. But had been marked down 3 times. To the low, low price of $4.99!!!!!  She had change in her purse so she was able to purchase it with tax.

HOW AWESOME IS THAT? ::skippyhappydance::

It's the little things Tadpoles. Simply the little things.
Okay, that's all I got for Monday. I hope everyone has a lovely holiday [if I don't make it back here] and we'll see ya' on the flipside.

Smile loudly, LIFE IS A GIFT! Love and hugs, Janine

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Retro in the Pond

That should probably read archaic, but let's go with retro - sounds cooler.

It's no secret I don't own a cellphone. I don't need one. I hardly go anywhere alone, and if I do I am usually back at home within an hour or two. So, if the school, my family or friends need me? The house phone works just fine.

Not owning a cellphone isn't retro, but my house phone is.  Check this out. . .it was my grandparents and sat on their desk for as long as I can remember:

It's a stock photo, but our phone looks exactly like that.  I have the phone because when my grandparents passed away my mom took it because she thought the great grandkids would get a kick out of playing with it.  They did. They all love this phone.  They had never seen one until my mom put this one in the toy box. This phone is in my will because otherwise they are going to bicker.

The biggest bonus to this phone is, obviously, that it belonged to my grandparents and I have such fond memories of them and being at their house. When it rings here, it reminds me of being with them on the farm.

However - it has a few drawbacks.  First, the ringer is LOUD. Dang LOUD. So loud that everytime it rings the dog goes bonkers and tries to attack it, but we never miss a call.  I could be over at the neighbor's across the street and I can hear this thing.  Second, it is rotary.  I know we all grew up with rotary phones, but raise your hand if you have dialed one in 30 years.  Tadpoles - it is a serious time commitment when you are used to push button phones. I will get all excited to call my MIL or Steven to tell them something and I am standing there for a good minute DIALING. giggle I know - no big deal, but I tease my husband all the time and tell him that he needs to call me, I don't have time to dial. And finally, let's all admit it - it's brown. Brown isn't a bad color, but brown? It's ugly.

But I love it.

Let's continue onto other things we own [or don't own] that are out of the norm for the 21st century.

We don't have a drip coffee pot or a coffee maker.  I make Steven's coffee in our camp coffee pot.  Yeah, no kidding.  When we moved we misplaced our automatic coffee maker and in a "first day in our new home desperation" move I pulled this out.

Again, a stock photo but that's our pot, but ours has wear and tear. Steven loves the taste of the coffee so in the 14 months we have lived here I just never bothered to go buy another Mr. Coffee or a Kuerig.

Which brings me to having to admit we do not own a microwave either. ::GASP:: We did. In fact since we moved in we have owned two.  But we have had two electric blow outs in our home - one even set part of the basement on fire OH JOY! - and in the process roached both of our microwaves.  Turns out that the electrical company hadn't grounded our home outside, eventhough they came  out the first time and said it was an inside issue.  We had an electrician in after the first power surge and thought we had solved the problem, but nope. It happened again and it was the electric company. They fixed it and we haven't had any fires or flashing lights in over 6 months. ::skippyhappydance::

Not having a microwave kind of sucks.  I never cooked in it, but I liked it for tea, oatmeal and reheating food.  Now I reheat my lunch in the oven - and being the instant gratification kind of gal that I am [see what I mean about dialing the dang phone?] I hate waiting.  Tea and oatmeal, which is an almost everyday thing for me, is a little bit better because I unearthed the "Teapot From Hell" in our move.

Anyone remember this little number?
It is a Rachael Ray teapot that I received for free - I only had to agree to post on my blog about it.  And boy did I!  This tea pot is a hazard, but it's so happy I never got rid of it.  If you want to read the review of it's faults, it's here:  The Rachael Ray Teapot Has Arrived.  I was honest - and I found out that in recent years they have actually redesigned the teapot based on reviews like mine and other bloggers.  Since I am intimate with it's faults I know how to use it without harm. I am just glad they don't produce it anymore.

Basically, we're living in the 1950s and you know what?  It works for us.

But really? I wish the ringer dial wasn't broken on my grandparents' phone. I don't know how much more of this Spot can take. :)

Smile loudly. Life is a gift.
We'll see ya on the flipside Tadpoles.
Love and hugs, Janine


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Surprising Myself

Nothing earth shattering mind you - just the run of the mill, hum drum, "Oh look what Skip can do." kind of stuff.

Having a daughter in college, one in her senior year of HS and paying out over $3,000 a month in insurance and medication fees money is tight.  Damn tight.

And in the words of Mother Hubbard - Skippy's cupboards were bare. Cobweb collecting kind of bare.

Okay, really there just wasn't anything I wanted to make for dinner staring back at me from the fridge or the pantry. We have food - but you know that feeling when you just don't want "that"? That being anything you have when you really want something you don't have?  Yeah, that feeling.

Then I saw a large can of crushed tomatoes.  Hmmmm.....

And I knew I was in the mood for spaghetti with marina sauce.

This was so, so easy and so, so good.

I sauteed one small, diced onion in olive oil - I would have added green peppers too, but Steven threw away the tops to my peppers the other night when he made stuffed peppers for dinner - and after they were translucent I threw in some minced garlic and about a half a pound of hamburger.

Once the hamburger was browned I poured in the crushed tomatoes, and tossed in some dried oregano, basil, salt and pepper.  I decided it was a bit thin so I added two heaping tablespoons of tomato paste and about 1/2 cup of water.

Then I let that bad boy simmer for an hour.

Side note:  My mom used to make homemade sauce when we were growing up. The stuff was amazing, but always made with canned tomatoes.  She was a "city" girl and didn't have access to fresh produce like we do here, so she became accustomed to cooking with canned.  I was blessed with an abundance of garden grown tomatoes from my beloved father in law's garden and spent a large part of the summer making sauces and lasagna with all the stuff we were given.  But I had never attempted sauce with canned tomatoes and have no idea what my mom's recipe included.

This is some good sauce Tadpoles.  And easy!  Impressed the heck out of the family too - always a bonus.  I have always bought canned sauce, until this year [see above] but I am not a fan of the sweet sauces like Prego or Ragu - we would buy Hunt's spaghetti sauce and this made up sauce came close to that, but BETTER.

I realize a lot of you have been doing this for years, but before this summer I had never made my own sauce. And with money so tight I find I have to stretch what I have.  I spend, on average, about $60 per week to feed the three of us - this includes all three meals - breakfast, lunch and dinner, as  Evie and Steven both take their lunches. Thank goodness Steven likes leftovers.

I know this is probably a boring post, but I am quite pleased with myself.  I have never really considered myself a great cook - I am just someone who cooks and bakes a lot.  But that sauce? Is really, really good.

Hope you all have a fabulous Thursday. Smile loudly, life is a gift!
We'll see ya' on the flipside. Love, Janine

Monday, October 27, 2014

October 27th

 Kind of pointing out the obvious aren't I?  Yes, it's today's date.

This day has a great amount of significance to me.  For two very important reasons.

Please allow me to explain, and I hope you understand.

I will start with the best part of this date.

My girl. The daughter I wish I could have added to our [insane] family. A woman who has been with me for over a decade. Someone who makes me smile. Who makes me want to scoop her up in a warm hug and make her cocoa.  A Tadpole of such depth, intelligence and honesty that I am surprised she puts up with my stuff. And for this long? Gawd, I love the girl. I do Yvo. Hope you know that.

I give you Miss Feisty Foodie, Yvo.  Lovely, isn't she? And it's her BIRTHDAY!!!

Yes I stole your pic'. Whatcha' gonna do?

I wish her the happiest of birthdays and hope she is rocking her butt off in NYC - which, if you read her blog, she probably is.  She has amazing friends and they do the funnest stuff, with great NOSHES included.  Friends, food [and alcohol] what could be better. hee

I wish I could call you Yvo and sing [poorly you know] to you! But this is my birthday wish for you. I will never forget your birthday. . .because you are you and I love you. You are my original Tadpole. And I thank you for all you have given me over 10 years.

Now excuse me while I walk down Morose Lane. I'm sorry.
The second half of today falls on my head.

Please understand that I am not trying to take away from our beautiful Yvo, but today is also Senior's birthday.

I know, right?  For those that don't understand, Senior was my first husband. He is father to Sean [JR] and Emily [Squirrel].

He died when he was 38.  On Christmas Eve.  It was the most shocking phone call I have ever received. That memory replays in my head so often.  When I got off the phone I threw the phone at Steven I was so upset. I wasn't aiming to hit him, mind you....just wanted to get it out of my hands because it told me what I never wanted to hear.

I know you all know how tumultuous our marriage was. We were young and scared. I think, sometimes, had we just matured a bit? That he would still be alive and we would still be married. I could have saved him.

That is not said to take anything away from how very, very much I love Steven.  I do. And he understands my emptiness at Senior's death. You know that I love Steven and the blessings he has given me, he isn't a second choice, he is my WORLD - every bit of 20 years -but I had to accept a long time ago that Senior chose to leave me and the kids, when they were babies, for his drugs. That was hard.  I don't think I ever minded for me so much, but the kids?  That wasn't fair.  And what he did afterwards was horrible.

Still? I can say this. . .

He was a good man.  He had his demons. He did.  He treated me and the kids poorly during the divorce [which took so long] and the ensuing years, but I have always known it was because he had an outside influence that he was trying to make happy.

Whenever we were alone together or the three us [me, Senior and Steven] he could be himself. He was witty, kind and loving. He was the *old* Senior I loved so much.  But when the influence was around?  He could be the nastiest son of a bitch I ever met.  His eyes would blaze at me, the words would spew and the only thing that kept him from coming at me, to hit me again, was my beloved Steven, but I could see the apology, the sadness, in his eyes, that he was acting a role for the sake of it and he knew he was hurting me and the kids.  He didn't want to, he just felt he had to...I don't know why he chose what he did over them.

He was a good man.  He worked hard. I have never wanted him back since he was so cruel for so long, but? This day makes me sad.  Because he shouldn't have died so young. He shouldn't have. He had gifts to give to others, he just didn't choose me, Sean Jr or Emmy.  He would be 46 years old today.  I raise a glass to him.  He had a good heart, I never doubted that.  Otherwise I would have never married him. I have always known I have good taste, right?
What prompted me to include Senior in this post is because a very nice FB Tadpole, Iggy, shared this song with me this morning [without having any idea of this day] - and the line "I thought I'd see you one more time. . ." resonated with me. I really thought Senior was timeless and he would always be a part of our lives.  Mean, funny, kind or cruel? I thought he would be here.
And now? 
He isn't.

So, welcome to the roller coaster that will always be October 27th to me.  I truly don't want to take away from Yvo's day, as she is simply the best.

I love you girlie and thank you for bringing such a light to my day, everyday.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Road Trip!

We are off this morning to take Evelyn to her first pick choice of a college, for a tour. She is so excited.
It is Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA.

We are pretty excited too. Momma not so much for the six hour round trip car ride, but I will be riding in style once we get there because we are taking the wheelchair. No way I am walking that campus. heehee

Got a pic' this weekend when the sissies met up at "Parade of Champions" at James Madison University [Emmy's school] where Evelyn and her band preformed [and yes, we are loving the pink hair :)  ]

I honestly can't believe that we have come this far and our last baby is leaving us in less than a year. I know a lot of you have already done this too, but I can't even imagine what next year is going to be like.

Okay, what else have I got today?  Oh, went on a car ride yesterday - such a gorgeous day and stumbled on this place.  SUCH a hole in the wall, but the parking lot was packed. And if I can get a grilled hamburger and french fries for less than $5 and a Coke for a buck - then this is going to be our new date night spot.  It's called Joe's Place and it is about as big as my living room.

And finally here are two memes I made for Facebook, but haven't shown here - hope you like them.

Okay - that's all I got, but I will update when we get back. I know that car ride is going to throw me into bed for a week. But y'all know me - I can post even when I am flat on my back. heehee

Hugs and love, Janine

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I Can't Believe it Went There

Yeah, health problems.

What the f*ck else is new?

I was just hoping, praying, throwing pennies in fountains that THIS would NOT happen. I am not joshing about the penny/fountain thing. I have actually prayed this wouldn't happen. And I have thrown pennies, nickels and quarters at it. We actually have a wishing fountain in Orange.

 YAY us. sigh.

And when I explain it further, you all are going to laugh. I would have. About a decade ago.
But it isn't funny.  I can imagine you thinking "REALLY Skip? You can't get through THAT?"

I suppose I have to, but I just didn't want it and it is damn near laying me flat.

The least of my problems is Rheumatoid Arthritis.  When the smallest of your worries is RA? You've got other, more serious sh*t wrong with you. RA is not to be discounted.

Trust me on this. If this was the only thing? I would whine and move along, but c'mon.

But we [Steven, me and the kids] walk through it with smiles, daisies and lollipops. As we always have. Natch.

If you read back through my blog it is very evident I have been in pain for a long time.

Let me stress that . . .A L-O-N-G time.

It surprises me when I read back.  I just thought it was normal aging and none of my doctors caught it. I guess because I "looked so good". Nice going idiots.

SO, to GET TO THE POINT. . . yes Skippy move along.

The arthritis has reached my hips.  MY HIPS. I stress that because gang? IT SUCKS.

Always having to deal with it in my hands, feet, elbows, shoulders and back [I thought my back was bad...holy crap, no....this is worse] I said to Steven time and again "Thank goodness it isn't in my hips. That would suck."

Suck evidently being my favorite word.

I am only writing this because I need to SCREAM.  I actually did the other night. I freaked Steven out when I did it.  He walked into the living room and asked "What the hell was that for?"

'Cause I am a bitch like that. I just had no other release. It hurts so much. There are no words to give him, to explain, nothing. It just hurts Tadpoles.

I curl up in my quilt, with my rosary and my Vikes' pillow and I just can't.

I am doubled over trying to get to . . .the bathroom? The bedroom? The only place I am truly comfortable is flat on my back. For an hour. And then I have to stand up, bent over...walk. And lay back down. WHAT kind of life is this? [yes, still screaming. hee]

I thought child birth was the worst thing I had ever experienced in terms of pain.

Nope. Sit in a chair for a few minutes with this pain and you will feel the need to take a really sharp knife to your legs. It's insane.

I eyeball my good knives [I have two] every single day and wonder....wouldn't that feel better? Couldn't I just stabby stab my hips?  I know that is horrible, but when you live in this kind of pain for so long, you wonder.

Sick, right? Not really.  I don't care that the medical profession has let me down. Their job is to make money and they could give a rat's ass if I get better or worse.  They don't care.

No one deserves this.

Then again no one deserves their head cut off because of ISIS. Right? I know that. I should be counting the pennies I threw in that fountain, instead of crying over this.

How ca In compare the two? To compare my simple pain to those that are being murdered because of a political agenda?

Yeah, I shame myself. I do. I really don't mean it to sound so gross and there are people dying because of genocide in other countries and Ebola and hunger in our own country. . .

But? BUT . . .I weep. I lay my head on the table and sob. I don't understand this pain. I'm sorry I don't have a better description.

This is MY WORLD now. And I don't know what to do with it. It hurts so bad to live in it.

I should be thankful tho'. I know this.

My husband gets very sad seeing me in pain We were talking about something else when he said to me "Janine we have nothing." He was talking about monetary things, as we have lost so much due to medical bills, including the cost of insurance, which we are blessed to have. But our deductibles are so high, due to me.  He doesn't want his friends to think he is a failure. He isn't. You know how I love him. But he wants so much to see me out of this pain and he can't fix it. And that makes him feel powerless.

And I hate myself for that. He is the biggest, best man I know Yet? He spends hours rubbing my joints and my head to make me calm and so I can sleep. After everything else he does.

Want to know a secret?  At night we sit next to eachother and he always reaches over and strong arms my own arm Meaning he pulls it towards him. He rubs it up and down, and if you had any idea what that does for me? You would understand. He doesn't even realize he is doing it. He is focused on the football game or golf or some such stuff. But he will reach out, grab my arm and just rub.  That's nice. If you knew how it made the everything of me feel you would understand what it means that he does it.

I did have to remind him of everything we DO have. Don't you see? I am still here. [Sometimes I tease them and say "Aren't you happy? Mom's still here." It's usually around the time I ask them to unload the dishwasher.] Steven and I have a strong, faith in God and eachother, based relationship. Our eldest is engaged to be married, the two youngest are graduating this year - a roof over our head, food in the fridge. We have it all. Don't we?

And both of us also know what we have, don't get me wrong Tadpoles.

But sometimes I wish we didn't have as much as God has given us.

It is testing everything in my world. It is a hurdle I can't get past now.

Smile loudly. Life is a gift. With a ribbon I would rather not unwrap at this point.

Sorry, not one of my better days.

Love and hugs, Janine

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Conversations I Am Pretty Sure I Shouldn't Have

Of course most of these involve Evelyn/Wallene.

The first one was posted on Facebook, so, sorry for the repeat - stay around for the rest.  I may be arrested at some point.

Sitting around the table eating lunch.
The following conversation ensued. . .
Evie: "My friend was supposed to meet her boyfriend's parents yesterday. But she didn't."
Me: "Why?"
Evie: "Because she said the family went out and accidentally bought a cat."
Me: "How the heck do you *accidentally* buy a cat?"
Dad: What? Did they reach for bananas and suddenly there was a cat there and they accidentally bought that instead?"
Evie: "I'm not sure. But, where do you think the SKU would be?"
Me: "I don't know, never priced a cat, but how funny would it be if the cat was slid across the scanner, butt down, and rang up as $6.99"
I crawled into bed with Evelyn this morning. I wanted her out of bed, and hey - it worked.
Me: " Hi honey. [fiddling with her sleep pants I noticed a mark.] What is up here?" 
Evie:  "Oh. . .that?  I think that's blood."
Me:  "Been out serial killing again? What have I told you?"
Evie:  "Mom? I've explained this. You really need to stay out of my mellophane case."
Me:  "Lou, that's kind of sick. Funny, but sick."
Evie:  "Why do you think our band only consists of 26 members?"
Me: "Because you killed off the ones that sucked?"
Evie: "Pretty much. But really Mom:?  Where do think this comes from?"
Me:  "You watching too many horror movies?"
Evie:  "Netflix is fabulous, isnt' it?
Me:  "I better never read about you in the papers."

Meanwhile, still hanging out in bed with my daughter while she was texting with friends.
Evie:  [heaviest of sighs] Gosh, I just wish this guy would get the point."
Me:  Who?Evie:  This guy keeps texting and the other day he texted 'If I asked you out, what would you say?' "
Me:  What did you respond?
Evie:  No.
Me:  Evelyn that is harsh Couldn't you have said something kinder like "Thanks That's so sweet but no"? I mean really Lou. It takes a lot for guys to ask a girl out.
Evie:  MOM! He is a SOPHmore!!.
Me:  Oh Okay then. I would've texted back "PUHLEESE, are you kidding? Senior here!"
Evie:  [laughing] Now who is being harsh Mom? I didnt' want to find the kid in a puddle somewhere.  I thought saying no was the best route.
Me:  Good point.  But where do find these people?
Evie: Lunch.
Me:  You need to eat somewhere else.


Conversation with Steven on the way home from grocery shopping.  I dressed casually - read: NO BRA - but had a hoodie on, with a zipper.
[For those in the pond that don't know I am about an A cup, and really don't require a bra. Much to my chagrin.]
I looked down and noticed that the zipper had come down all the way to my waist.
Me:  "Honey, can you tell I didn't wear a bra today?"
Steven:  [thinks for a second] "There really isn't a good answer to this question is there?"
Me:  "No, not really, but that is why I asked it."


Smile loudly. Life is a gift we are given.
See ya' on the flipside Tadpoles.
Love and hugs, Janine

Monday, October 13, 2014

Well. . .Jesus Is Clean

I am horrible.
Or irresponsible. . .
or. . .something.

I have a great [or awful, depending how you view this] habit of carrying my rosary around in my pocket.

Yes, I am Catholic. I am very happy and proud of it - it sustains me and means a lot. To me. I don't agree with all of the Church's doctorines, but God means something to me, and although I don't bring up religion or politics - often - on this blog, let's just all agree to walk through together, mmmkay?

But I swear if I don't stop this they may well kick me out of the Church.

As I said I carry my rosary around with me.  All the time.  I am usually wearing a hoodie or a bathrobe, so into my pocket it goes. When I feel the need to pray, I pull it out. Or sometimes pain will strike and I can just reach in my pocket and just holding it, rubbing the beads and talking to Him will make it pass.

It's just me.

The thing is I have three beautiful rosaries.

One is made of wood from an olive tree and my beloved in laws purchased it in Italy when they were visiting.  My MIL presented me with it when Steven and I were going through a very difficult time with his ex wife and custody of the children. This was over 15 years ago, and I wasn't even close to being Catholic. They knew I wanted to be, but never mentioned I wasn't. My mom just leaned over, while in court, placed it in my hand and said "This might help sweetheart."  And it did.

The second is the rosary that my husband bought me when I began RICA classes to become Catholic, back in 2012.  It has grey beads and I keep it in a small pink rosary purse [yes, they actually make these] This is the one that I carry when I drive or anytime I am out of the house.

Then there is the rosary of all rosaries.  The one I pray with the most.  It is a heavy, gold and ruby beaded piece that my [again] in laws gifted me with when I became a Catholic in 2013.  It is an antique and I am not quite sure where they bought it, but that one stays in my rosary pocket of the quilt my lovely Tadpole Mary, and her cousin Anne, made me.  This one never gets washed.

This is the beautiful quilt they made - you can see the rosary pocket and my red rosary peeking out.

However the other two?  Yep, Jesus is getting a bath Often.

I suck, absolutely suuuuuck, at remembering when I do my laundry that they are in there.

Case in point:

Evie went to fold my clothes the other day. She came into the kitchen and said "Mom, you washed Jesus again."

I looked at her and said "What are you talking about?"

Evie replied "MOM! Jesus. Your rosary." And she held up the olive wood rosary.

I was chagrined Okay, I was appalled at myself. Damn. I took it from her and held it up - saying my prayers to the heavens...I mean, who washes Jesus? [and no I am not being flip here I did actually feel bad.]

Then I noticed. . .Jesus was gone.  Oh double damn.  If you don't know the rosary looks like a necklace with a crucifix at the end. You don't wear it as one, but that is the way it is styled.

Jesus had fallen off.  In the wash. Or the dryer? We don't know.  Sadly I haven't found him yet.

Skippy - 0, Going to Hell - WINNING!

I was a bit distressed at this turn of events, but my husband tried to make me feel better after I related the story.

He said "Look at the bright side Skip, now all of our laundry is blessed in holy water."

Not helping, not helping at all.

Then? Sunday night Steven was doing laundry. He sat down with me and he said "I will give you three guesses what I found in the dryer today. Go."

Evie started laughing but I was honestly perplexed. I knew I had my inhaler [another thing I wash often] and my glasses [ditto] . . .so I asked "What?"

Like a magician he revealed the grey rosary, holding it up and asked "Missing something?" with a slight smirk on his face.

I sometimes wonder how they ever let me join.

But Tadpoles? I have the cleanest rosaries in town.

Smile loudly. Lift is a gift.  We'll see ya' on flipside.
Love and hugs, Janine

Saturday, October 4, 2014

And Skippy Teaches Lessons

You know I unabashedly love my kids.

Blah, blah, blah.

We ALL do, and it IS wonderful - we all have damn nice kids and it's probably why we are all friends in this pond.

But sometimes?

I swear on God's little green apples I am ready to stuff one of them in a closet. With a box of crackers and a bottle of water. Sleep on my coats. grrrrr. hee

It's not anger, it's frustration.  Sort of like the "ORLY?" b.s. they write on Instagram and Twitter when they do stuff.

Target of my ::headdesk:: this week? [see? I can do it too!]

YEP! Your's truly, my beloved Evelyn.

First off - the little dink had an extra credit project for an AP English class. She had to read a book and do an art project for it.
Okay...this is a no brainer for her, right?  She even picked a book we had both read, and love.  The Glass House.  A disturbingly wonderful book.  It is a true story and a very good read.

However, Evie had asked to drive [always a time commitment here] and go visit friends for the afternoon. But she made the mistake of mentioning this extra credit project to me beforehand. I told her she had to finish that first.

Um. yeah. Kids.

We discussed it and brainstormed a few good ideas. We both know this book well.
Then she went into her room to create.

She came back less than 30 minutes later and showed me the finished project.

I looked at it and told her "It's fine."
She took it back and said "Fine?"
And I replied "Yeah. It's okay.  What do you want me to do? Applaud because you rushed through something I know you can do better?  This isn't 'everyone gets a trophy for participation' Lou*."

I have to admit. I wasn't happy, and it was only extra credit in a class that she is doing well in, but c'mon.

I let it go.

I was not going to belabor the point - she knew what I meant.  She left it on her desk and went off to visit her friends. I resigned myself to the fact of "whatever".

I have to explain here that I don't believe in telling my kids EVERYTHING they do is perfect, wonderful and first place.  Y'all know me and I love them, but sometimes second place, last place and "life sucks" exists.  Life isn't perfect.  Our kids [yours and mine] do so many wonderful things, but when they aren't up to par, shouldn't we tell them?  When life hands you lemons sometimes the sugar and water isn't there to make lemonade.  I don't want to be the one to be the grinch in their life, but reality exists and not everyone is first.

Anyhoodle. . . to continue the story. . .

I took a nap.  When I woke up it was around midnight, Steven was in bed and I noticed the light was on in Evie's room.  I nudged my head around her door and saw her sitting at her easel watercoloring a picture.

Now, I don't have a problem letting her create when she wants to, but I do have a problem with midnight on a school night, and so I asked "What's up?"

She said "Oh, hi! I got back around 9 pm and Dad went to bed so I decided to redo my extra credit."

I would be a liar if I didn't admit to stepping back outside the door and fist pumping just a bit. YES!

It took her another hour to finish her project, but it was truly representative of the book and it made better sense. That is not my opinion btw, it was hers.

She came home today and told me it was hanging on the "Big Board" [whatever the heck that is] in the English room.  Sounds important - but more importantly she turned in her best work, instead of just throwing out a good scribble.

The second lesson?

When you don't understand how your new car works [Ozcarz - which Evie now owns] and you get cranky at your mom about it? Your mother will take your keys, hand you the owner's manual and explain that there is a 100 question test coming up next week.

And? You have to score an 80 percent or you aren't getting the keys back.

In Evie's defense - she is a fantastic driver, and it was a simple interior light issue that she funked out on, but? Instead of allowing me to explain Ozcarz' features [which I have explained so many times. We lived in that car] she snipped at me.  And it was raining. And she was tired after a 6 hour band practice and I was in pain....and....

Girl? I GIFTED you MY car. Idonotthinkso. No one talks back to da'Mommas. No matter what.

Get your pencil sharpened.  'Cause those keys are burning a hole in my pocket.

So? On a scale of A - F, I think I am rating about a C+ this week.  But can I please have extra credit for answering the phone at 6:20 am the other morning when her sister called "just to talk".  I asked her why she felt the need to "just talk" at that time of the morning and she said "Um, walking to campus and I was bored and I figured you were up with Evie anyway." UM NO.  But it was fun and I will talk to them anytime. It's a gift when they call....still? 6:20 am? Sigh.

Yep.  I love 'em. Couldn't live without them.  But? Rules people. RULES.

It's like the old saying "Parenting without a sense of humor is like being an accountant that sucks at math."

And then I got a surprise tonight - Evie painted me a picture in Art class, on canvas [a canvas she made herself] and told me "It reminds me of you Momma."

The minute I saw it I knew.  It is Alaska and the Northern Lights.  A fellow student offered her money for it and she said no, it was for me.

After she texted me the pic' I told her she had to give me the shirt back [I didn't know she took] and I would buy her another brush [for her hair] if her's was missing. giggle Ah, frantic artist I suppose. But? I still want my shirt back. And of course I praised her picture. She knows*

Smile loudly. Life is a gift.
We'll see ya' on the flipside. Love and hugs, Janine

*Lou is my nickname for Evelyn
And Alaska - well. . .you all know me well enough to know it is one of only 3 things on my bucket list.  I have had to trim my BL down, but that will remain number one until the day I die. I will never see it, but I will have a beautiful rendition of it on my wall, won't I?

So. . .who taught the lesson? I love my family.

Monday, September 29, 2014

How to Freak Out Your Husband

Just a short, simple story but it happened this morning and although I feel kind of bad about it. . .I did laugh.

I'm horrible, I know.


In all things Skippy, including my sketch health, I have lost my ability to balance well. It's not so bad and something I have become accustomed to, but I have a tendency to randomly . . .well . . .just fall over.

It isn't pretty, and I have done some damage this past year - but it is what it is and I usually have a family member around to cushion the blow.  Or at least to staunch the flow of blood.

This morning Steven and I had an errand to run and I knew I had to shower to go on this errand.  He also had to shower because he had to leave for work immediately after the errand was over.

We used different bathrooms to bathe, at the same time.

[Oh c'mon Tadpoles did you really think I was going to detail a shower together? I said the blog was going to change. I didn't say it was going down the pornogr*phy road, did I?]

The bathrooms are a wall apart. This means we can hear each other in the other room. YAY for shoddy 80's construction. 

While bathing, my hands became soapy and I dropped a full bottle of body wash into the tub.

BAM! Crash! and when I bent over to get it I knocked over a bottle of shampoo. BANG! I am pretty sure Steven assumed I had taken another header, this time into the porcelain.

Within seconds I heard him call "Janine! Janine! Are you okay?" and the sounds of him getting out of the tub, mid shower, to run over to me. Bless his heart, it's that mental pic' that made me laugh.

I yelled through the wall "Yes honey. Keep your towel on. I'm fine."

I don't mean to do this stuff and I don't mean to make him worry, it's just what it is.  I am very aware that this will be his reaction to sounds emanating from my bathroom when I shower alone.

It's a given I don't shower or take a bath when he isn't home. That's kind of sucky, but it's for the best - but dayum. You would think I could get through a 5 minute shower without freaking the poor guy out, right?

I was waiting for him, dressed and ready, when he came out of the shower.
His comment?  "Wrestling bears in the bath again Skip?"

You would think so, considering.

Smile loudly Tadpoles. Life is a gift, isn't it?
See you on the flipside. Love and hugs, Janine

Edited to add:  Got this email this morning after Steven arrived at work:  "You are everything to me. Even when I freak out in the shower."


Saturday, September 20, 2014

This Is Too Much Fun Not to Share

Was cruising the interwebs when I came across this short and sweet FUN game.

My ribcage already hurts from coughing, hurling and other special stuffz, so laughing was just an added bonus this morning, right?

You're going to like it - and HEY! I am posting on a Saturday, while sick with a cold, flu, death - so suck up and play along.

Okay? Okay...heehee

Here's the deal.
Go to Google
Type in your name and add the word "needs".

In my case?  "Janine needs"

Hit enter and then write down the first five you see.

Now, Janine isn't that common of a name and I only got one.

It said "Janine needs a dollar."

I was, like, "Yes, yes I do. About a million. But let's start there."

So. . . I moved onto Skippy.

Bwahahaha - THIS was SO much better.

I received the following:

Skippy needs help. [No kidding.]
Skippy needs back surgery.
Skippy needs sleep badly. [Are they stalking my blog? And no, this wasn't a link here, surprisingly]
Skippy needs a foster home.  [Yep, Steven is rehoming me. Takers?]

And my favorite?

Skippy needs a girl.


Turns out my nickname is quite popular with male dogs, hence ALL of the lisitngs above.

But when you think of them in terms of a 48 y.o. stay at home mom it is pretty funny, isn't it?

I hope you all play and share the results.  Because you know if you don't I am just going to do it for you and then? All bets are off. ::wink::

Thank you Jen from Jen But Never Jenn for the idea.

Smile loudly Tadpoles. Life is A Gift.

And so are tissues and cherry cough drops.
See ya' on the flipside!
Love and hugs, Janine

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Still Kicking

I will be back with a new post soon.  Evie has been sick with a respiratory infection. She is on the mend [YAY!] tho' I have discovered that I caught it.

No worries, I just wanted to say "Hey!" and let you know what's up.

Thank you for all the birthday wishes they really made my day!

Love and hugs, Janine

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Blue Skies

[Repost from Sept 11, 2011]

Who can forget the blue skies? It was the prettiest of days.

September 11, 2001.

I have mixed emotions about writing this post.  As much as I want to honor our country and remember those we have lost, I don't want to remember.

But?  I will never forget.  No one that witnessed it will ever forget, I think.

That morning I had walked our older children to the bus stop to attend elementary school.  I gathered up Wallene and went home to settle in and finish watching "Good Morning America" with a nice cup of tea.  Usual morning routine, right?  Just like everyone else in the world.

Or so we thought.

I remember sitting on the couch, with Wallene [who was 4] standing between my legs, playing with blocks on the coffee table and me trying to protect my cuppa' from her when all of a sudden Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson broke into their story to say a plane had hit the World Trade Center. It was shortly before 9 am and the pictures they were showing were horrifying. The smoke. It was terrible.

The one thing I never did [and still don't] was call Pooldad at work unless it is an emergency.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing, but that day?  I did call him.  I told him that a plane had hit one of the WTC towers, but they thought [and so did I] that it was just an accident. A misguided pilot or a malfunction or something else.

As bad as that would've been, I still think to this day - To have been right. 

As I talked to him on the phone, with my eyes glued to the television, I watched in horror as the second plane hit the other tower and explode. I gasped.

My husband asked, "Skip...what?"

I whispered into the phone, "Oh my God Pooldad.  This isn't an accident.  They are doing this intentionally." And I started to cry. Silent tears.  I had a pre schooler perched between my legs, playing and being hysterical wasn't my option, I suppose.

We got off the phone so Pooldad could turn on the radio at work and we could make sense of what was going on.

I was in shock. The images. It was surreal.

I knew I needed to run to the little corner store for supplies, so I popped Wallene in her carseat and drove down the winding roads to the shop, all the while the radio was on.  As I crested the hill on that bright, sunny day I heard from the DJ "The Tower has fallen."  I started to cry harder. Again silent tears, but the tears that fell felt like a river. My shirt was getting wet from the amount. Up until that point I don't think I had ever cried that hard in my life.

I walked into the store with Wallene and saw the owner, who we knew well. He asked me what the heck was wrong.  I had no words.  I couldn't believe he didn't know by this point.  I stuttered out, "The Tower fell."  He responded, "What Tower?"  I just asked him to turn on the radio and grabbed my milk and left.

When Wallene and I arrived home I put her in her room to play so I could turn the news back on.  I didn't want her to see the destruction and the pain, the chaos.  I watched the tower fall again. And again. And again. Replay.

Then, suddenly, I saw that the Pentagon had been hit.  Wow.  My heart fell to my feet. I had no words.

You have to understand, at the time Pooldad worked in Arlington, where the Pentagon is located and his office was within 30 seconds flying time of that plane - less than five miles driving.  I was sick.  Not only were terrorists killing innocent people, but my husband and all our friends [his co workers] were in and around DC.  If the next plane they were using missed their target and arbitrarily hit a part of Arlington?  My chest still tightens up at the thought.

Then Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. I was panicked.

I tried to call him, but no luck.  It would be a long time before we knew they had grounded all the planes and that no other crashes were going to occur. I wanted so much to go to my kids' school and bring them home, but they were on a lock down and it was impossible. I held out hope that they would be well taken care of and safe.  I felt so hopeless and alone.  My only comfort my 4 year old baby.

I found out later that Pooldad had called all of his men back to the office.  Since Washington DC was on shutdown it took forever for them to get back, but thank goodness they were all safe.  Work, swimming pools, the mundane was no longer important that day.  Everyone thought of the attacks and their loved ones.  Everyone left and attempted to get home.

Pooldad arrived home sometime later that day and I have never been so happy to see him. We held eachother for a long time and I just cried.

The next few days we only watched the television when the kids weren't around.  We even hid the newspaper.  They were so young, we didn't want them to know what was happening - the terror, the pain, the hate. There was no reason to subject them to it. 

I discovered a few years later that none of the kids had ever seen the footage of the Towers falling until they were in their teens. I thought the schools would've shown it before then, but no. When Squirrel saw it for the first time, with me, it about broke my heart.  The tears on her face. She said "Mom, is that how it really happened?  How did you and Dad handle it with us around all the time? How did we not know?"

I didn't have an answer.

This is just my memory of that day.  I write it because I know Pooldad will remember and maybe to share with my kids our memories that we hid from them on that day. And why.

I also write this to honor all of the people that lost their lives on September 11, 2001 - the innocent, the firefighters and policemen trying to save lives and those on Flight 93 that kept that plane from Washington DC, sparing so many more lives while sacrificing their own.

And our troops. Thank you for keeping us safe all these long ten years. I hope you all come home safe. Soon.

To all of you. Thank you.  Truly.  Thank you.

God Bless America.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Three Meals In One

I would never make it as a food blogger. I absolutely suck at taking pictures, but I love to cook - and the family thinks I am pretty good at it.

I am also good at trying to stretch things out to make more than one meal out of something.

I spent $107 at the grocery store 11 days ago. Those groceries have to make it to this weekend. That is our budget, for three. It includes milk, juice, eggs, cheese, meat [chicken, pork, sausage, bacon and lunchmeat]. Plus cereals, beans, rice, veggies, it and we were out of it.  This budget covered breakfast, lunch and dinner. I also had to buy baking supplies for cookies, breads, pie crusts etc. Yeast, butter and lard ain't cheap folks. ::grin:: And yes, I do use lard in some of my recipes.  Sue me.

As they say. . .Old Mother Hubbard's cabinets were bare Tadpoles. Bare.

One of the things I bought was a 6 lb chicken for $6.00.  I am fortunate that I only have to feed 3 people now, and that my husband will happily eat leftovers.

That 6 pounder garnered me three awesome meals.  And here is where I fail at the pic' part of blogging. I neglected to take many pics, but I have a few.

On Thursday I boiled the chicken with the ends of celery, carrots and onion.  You know all those leftover pieces you don't use to feed the family, but don't want to throw away?  Those.

When it was done cooking I strained it, tossing out the cooked veggies and let the chicken cool.  I put 2 cups of the delicious broth in tupperware and placed that in the fridge for a future dinner.

I picked the chicken into three bowls.  Wow - did I get a lot of chicken off this bird.  I put two cups of chunked white meat in the fridge with the broth and ground up a mix of white and dark to use later too. That went in the fridge.

With the remaining plethora of chicken meat, both white and dark chunk, I made a big 'ol pot of chicken and dumpling strips with potatoes in the remaining broth.  Since we don't eat meat on Fridays, Steven took different leftovers for lunch, but we had dinner twice off this meal because it made so much we ate it Thursday and Sunday. So good. [no pic' of that - but I have been making it for over 25 years so I am sure y'all have seen a pic' somewhere.]

Next up was Saturday night and I made tuna, chicken and egg salad stuffed in large pasta shells over shredded romaine lettuce with roma tomatoes. We were gifted with fresh eggs from our neighbor's chickens and boy-o that was some good egg salad.

This platter I did manage a pic' of:

I did set the table with forks and knives but we discovered these were so much easier to eat with our fingers. So tasty.

For the final meal I used the two cups of chicken broth to make gravy [with flour, butter and milk] and tossed in the chunked chicken and a mix of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. I put it in a homemade pie crust and TA DA - we had chicken pot pie. This is one of the family's favorites and so good. I was tired last night so I used my stand mixer to make the pie crust - and let me tell you gang - I'm not ever going back to making this by hand again. Sooooo easy.

I managed a pic' of this too - but didn't take one of it cut to show the yummy goodness inside.

I also made Evelyn her favorite Lemon Meringue Pie. I found the recipe in "Southern Living" from 1990 - and it is the best pie recipe I have ever used. If you follow the directions it is fail proof.

My week is ending with Evelyn's birthday tomorrow. And you know our rule - you get what you want to eat including breakfast, lunch, dinner and cake.
No doubt I will be making kinklings tomorrow morning [anyone want to join me at 3 am to start the dough? No? Thanks! heehee]

For lunch she asked for a tortilla roll sandwich, chips and salsa and veggies. Dinner is this silly thing I made up a few years ago - desperation thy name is Skippy - using leftovers I  made homemade scallop potatoes with ham and peas tossed in and baked.  Sometimes I have to laugh at what my family likes best, because that meal is truly one I thought we would eat once and it wouldn't make the menu, but they love it. I'll make yeast rolls to go with that too and for dessert it's a carrot nut birthday cake with cinnamon icing. I made cupcakes like this earlier in the week - another first time recipe for me - and it was a hit, so she picked that because we ended up giving most of the cupcakes away. They want more! :)

Thank goodness I don't have to lift a finger for her party on Saturday. We are throwing her a "Sweet 17" party since last year she didn't have a birthday as we had just moved 100 miles from all her friends and didn't know a soul here.  It's at a local burger joint - Wise Guys - where she actually works now.. :)  It promises to be fun. The owner is a [master] chef - and he is making Evelyn's cake in the shape of a shark because he likes her so much. Plus burgers, dogs and sandwiches. Oh, and the best fries ever. I promise to have pics of that. :)

Okay, okay - enough food talk. I am tired just thinking about it.  I will add tho' that tonight is homemade pizza [crust and sauce] and a salad. Finally. . .a super easy night.

Smile loudly Tadpoles. Life is a gift.
Thank you for everything. Love and hugs, Janine