Friday, November 30, 2007

The Christmas Lists - Uncut Version

Oh it’s that time again – the time when my kids make their lists for Santa.  If you remember anything from last year's lists, then this year's shouldn't be much of a surprise...

Can I just state again for the record that these cannot be my kids?!  I’m mean we’ve already determined that genetically speaking they should be asking for the world to revolve around them. But alas, no – they actually have a sense of decency when it comes to receiving gifts at Christmas. 

All I can say is that I’m so happy that they take after Mr. Right in so many ways…

The Boy’s list
  • A Ben 10 Gameboy game
  • A kiwi
  • A toy dog
  • A whiteboard
  • Chocolate chip cookie dough
  • Ben 10 and the Secret of the Omnitrix movie
  • Dry erase markers
  • Sonic gift card
  • Ben 10 Race Against Time movie
  • Meet the Robinsons
Did you see any kind of theme here? The Boy’s obsessed I tell you!

The Girl’s list
  • Kiwi
  • Pokemon Gameboy game
  • Grapefruit
  • Large roll of either Tollhouse or Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie dough
  • Gymnastic or yoga lessons
  • Fuzzy slippers
  • Winter pjs
  • Stuffed animal
  • Sewing machine and table
  • Whiteboard with markers and eraser
  • Pop rocks
  • Mighty Bites cereal from Kashi
  • Pumpkin muffin from Panera
  • Green alarm clock
  • Party dress
  • Jeans
  • Gift certificate to Claire’s
  • A certificate from Mom saying “The Girl doesn’t have to eat outside today” (We’re so mean. When the weather’s beautiful and there are no bugs, we MAKE her eat out on the back deck with us. Oh the tragedy… Next thing you know, we’ll actually go on a picnic and she’ll be expected to go – and HAVE FUN! I know. We’re maniacs around here!)
  • Books
  • Heely shoes
Now The Girl’s list is a bit longer than The Boy’s, but when you see that she wants Pop Rocks, cereal, a pumpkin muffin and a homemade gift certificate, I don’t really fault her for being a bit more lengthy in her list.   She won't get everything, but she'll get some things that I know she wants but forgot to put on the list.

Ahhh, once again I have lists that mostly are doable. Santa can make his visit yet again. And for that, I’m extremely grateful,  especially since I can finally release my Scrooge tendencies and let them eat exotic and exciting things - like fruit.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Missing The Give In Thanksgiving

I've gone back and forth with myself about posting this one. In the end, I realize that honesty really is the best policy. I'd rather show the real me than pretend that certain parts of me don't exist. So here goes...

Well, let’s see… I’ve been pretty honest about me and my quirky adventures. It seems only fitting that I reveal some of the sad, ugly sides to me too. You might as well get the whole picture.

The weekend prior to Thanksgiving, I prayed that I would quit being so selfish and allow God to use my talents for his purpose. I didn’t even put a limit on it. I just said, “Here you go, God. Have at it and make me understand that it’s all a way of praising you.”

Don’t pray for things unless you really mean it.

Let me state from the beginning: giving is not one of my gifts. I’m terribly selfish and self-centered. I always have been; it's been my lot in life. And before you tell me that I need to get over it, let me just say that this particular item is no stranger to my prayer list. I know it’s wrong, but I can’t seem to let God kick this one out for good. It’s my constant battle, my thorn in my side that makes me weep with shame and shake my head with disgust. But – I’m a work in progress; I know that with God nothing is impossible, no matter how long I battle with him about it.

Now imagine that this selfish being is married to a man with a passion for giving. He loves help others in whatever capacity that is needed – money, time, skills. He sees it as a calling and as a way to praise God. He looks for opportunities to give and give and give.

Can you imagine the rifts we can have in our house? And what’s worse is that I know that he is right 9.6 times out of 10 in all these circumstances. (I kept the .4 purely out of self-dignity. Feel free to round it up.)

The week before Thanksgiving I watched Mr. Right have a broken conversation with one of the deaf individuals in our church. Not just any individual, either – this woman is an 82 year old, single woman who lives in an apartment building where there are no other deaf people. She cannot drive, and she must use a walker to move from one place to another. She is poor and lonely and sweet as honey, and she needs company to know what it is to be accepted. I actually like her a lot.

After his conversation with her, Mr. Right told me that he wanted to invite her to our Thanksgiving. I knew it was coming. I could tell when I watched his face as he tried to communicate via finger spelling. I sighed. My first instinct was to say no. I made the statement that I knew it was a good thing to do, but trying to prepare an entire Thanksgiving meal with stops at signing was not going to make my holiday any kind of vacation for me. Since I would be the only one with the ability to sign, the burden of hosting and entertaining would fall onto me. Plus my in-awes were going to be there. He said that he heard everything said, but he felt that it should still be done. I did agree to it because if I were in her situation, I would want someone to take care of me as well.

Things really were okay with me until Mr. Right told me Wednesday night that she would at our place… for breakfast. That one sent me over the edge. Not only did he not ask if that timing would be okay, it stepped up my need to host from 11 AM to 8 AM. 8 AM… no one should have to be on duty that early unless it’s a mutual agreement, which this wasn’t. Can you imagine what kind of evening Mr. Right and I had after that? I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that the love was not flowing that night.

The next morning did go well, despite my bad attitude on the inside. Mr. Right retrieved our friend and she enjoyed some fellowship with the family. My mother-in-awe helped immensely by having a writing conversation with her. Mr. Right stayed in the living room with her to talk with her. I just visited in spurts, signing when needed but otherwise staying in the kitchen. Really, they didn’t have much of a need for me, which was just as well since all I could think of was “the inconvenience” of the entire situation.

Was it really? No. That was just me being selfish with my time and refusing to use my hands for any good and encouraging purpose. Everyone was having a pleasant time watching the parade, eating and enjoying each other.

Later that day after our friend returned home, my mother-in-awe kept saying that she was so proud of us for opening our home like that – to be so willing to help someone out like that. Me? I kept saying that I deserved no thanks at all because my heart was so hard to the events of the morning and that it really couldn’t be considered any sort of good service on my part. What's worse is that I did all this in the presence of my kids. You know they were picking up on quite a bit of things that were never said.

So that was the start to my Thanksgiving Day… which was a day with nary a thanks or a giving at all when seen from my heart. I’ve already talked with God about it, and I think I’m a bit more ready for the next time he actually takes me up on my offer to be of service to him. (I say that with hopes that I actually mean it. Surely I can’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again. I have to learn from them some time, right?)

I’m really holding fast to these verses:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:9-10

His power is becoming more perfect all the time, especially where I’m concerned.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

WFMW – A New Children’s Series

I just read The Book of the King, the first in the new Wormling Series by Jerry B Jenkins and Chris Fabry. These two authors, who are well acquainted with best-selling children series, have found a new winner in writing for kids between the ages of 9-14. The story was exciting and full of adventure, and it toggled between the two worlds of reality and fantasy really well. Whew. And just after the gaping hole in children’s literature that Harry Potter created. Perfect timing.

Enter Owen Reeder: an ordinary, quiet, shy bookworm whose life changes overnight when a stranger visits his father’s bookstore with a book that will transform Owen’s world as he knows it. Owen unwittingly finds himself in a battle that spans two worlds: his and the unknown world of the Lowlands. But there’s more to Owen than meets the eye. Underneath the baffled, timid exterior lies a boy who has a brave, compassionate heart and who finds that friends come in all shapes and sizes.

This story is written for the reader. I mean that in the sense that the authors are constantly “talking” to the readers directly, letting them in on bits and pieces that the characters cannot know. They pull the readers in by asking questions, rendering pertinent details ahead of time and inviting them to come along for the adventure. Here’s a sampling from the first page. You’ll see what I mean.

So if you are faint of heart and can’t stand bloody battles and cloaked figures in the darkness and invisible creatures (or visible ones who don’t have much of a sense of humor), and if you don’t like to cry over a story when someone you love is taken, then perhaps our tale is not for you. But if you like to read about a young man with seemingly no future but dreams he can barely hold in this head and about a war between opponents as far apart as east is from west – one side that loves evil and seeks to kill and destroy the hearts of good people and another that wants desperately to free those good people from tyranny and injustice – and about the deepest love the heart can imagine, then we welcome you.”

This quest is easy to read, yet full of challenging situations. More complex situations are used, but the authors are good enough to explain them so that the reader won’t be left in the dark. They use the book as a tool for educating as well as spinning a tale of virtue, heroics and bravery when things look bleak. The book made me laugh out loud, smile at tender moments, feel irritation at unfair situations and fear for the protagonist’s life. In other words, it reeled me in – hook, line and sinker. So much so that I now know one of the books that I’ll be giving out for Christmas. I’m in half a mind to give it to the family to read out loud together.

And the extra good thing about it? It’s a series. The story ends in a way that is satisfying, yet it leaves the reader waiting readily, anxiously, for the next in the series to be published. If a book can make a child want to read more, it’s not just a good thing – it’s fabulous.

For some other wonderful suggestions or some great tips to simplify your life, head on over to Shannon's for some other great tips. 


Monday, November 26, 2007


The Boy turned eight on Sunday. Where has the time gone? 

I remember holding him, thinking he looked just like a monkey with his long arms, lengthy legs and a head of hair that stood on end just like a baby monkey. And his eyes! They were always so wide and alert, taking in everything. His Grandmavon even took to calling “Mowgli” the boy from the Jungle Book – for his looks and for his knack at finding himself in one adventure after another.

But now this beautiful boy is growing up before our very eyes. Although he’s still known to cry, his laughter far outnumbers his tears. His stretched appendages are the same; he is still a full head above most of his classmates. He easily can give the Energizer Bunny a good run for his money, too. If I could bottle just an ounce of that liveliness, I’m sure I would have my retirement completely covered. 

But he’s still my little boy, the same one who asks to snuggle in the morning and wants his story time at bedtime.  The same one who tries to up "just one minute more."  The same one who will run and give an attack hug to those he loves so dearly.

There are some things I hope he'll never outgrow.

So in honor of the big eight boy in this house, I’ll tell you eight things about The Boy that you may or may not know.
  1. The Boy LOVES anything Ben 10. He eats, sleeps and breathes Ben 10, and when he’s not doing that, he just pretends to be Ben 10 at any given moment. Yes, he’s asked for a Ben 10 room, but I said no. I know, I know… I’m such a mean mom.
  2. Clue is quickly becoming The Boy’s favorite game.
  3. The Boy can’t sit still through a prayer, but if you give him a puzzle, a logic problem or some sort of building block, he can sit for hours amusing himself.
  4. He can make all sorts of sounds with his mouth – engines, crashes, aliens, voices from characters in movies.
  5. The Boy loves to make everything fly – game pieces, donuts, Lego’s, himself. He even sings “I Believe I Can Fly” as each the things fly. It’s amazing that we haven’t been to the emergency room with him yet…
  6. Ice cream is at the top of The Boy’s favorite desserts. (Of course, he never would turn down any other treats…)
  7. The Boy loves to sing. He makes up songs all the time and he doesn’t care if anyone listens while he sings.
  8. He has a heart that loves God, and he’s often thanking God for all the blessings that he’s been given. 
Happy Birthday, The Boy!

P.S. I love you more – from the earth to heaven and back again, forever and ever and ever, infinity plus one. And we both win.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just like so many others (because you all know that I don't have an original thought in my head),  I'm thankful for so many things.
  • my Mr. Right, who loves me despite my idiosyncrasies
  • my kids who still ask to snuggle from time to time
  • good health for all of us
  • food enough that I never have to worry about what to make
  • a job where I'm safe and warm from the winter elements
  • although I'm not thankful for the cold weather, I am thankful that it didn't start getting cold until today, the day before Thanksgiving - hallelujah!
  • customers who come to Shalee's Diner
  • customers who allow Shalee's Diner to come to them
  • french fries
  • parents and in-awes who are still alive and well (they're all still with us - a blessing indeed!)
  • books, books, books
  • and last, but not least, a Father who loves me so much that he gives me all the above and more - like unending love and freedom from sin
All in all, I have more than enough for which to be thankful.  And enough pie to feed an army... seriously, how many pies can seven people eat over the holiday?!  


Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Another Reason French Fries Aren't Good For You

The other day I made a run to a store that was having a "sale" on carpet.  

Yes, we're still working on our basement from last July.  I'd like to say that it's due to contractors or something beyond our control that is keeping the basement from being finished, but really, it's all us.  We decided to do the basement ourselves since we needed a new roof too.  The money we saved doing it ourselves paid for more than half the roof.  Bonus!  (But we didn't do that ourselves.  We may be frugal, but we're don't have a death sentence...)
Anyway, I had to go check out this "sale" over my lunch break.  The store was about 20 minutes away, and of course, I got to the store and realized that it was all baloney.  They weren't having a sale at all.  They just wanted to get me in the store.  Bah!  I figured that I would head to the bathroom and leave.
By this time I was hungry.  I knew that I should go back to work and eat the food I had brought from home, but the entire time I was walking through the store, I kept thinking about McDonald's french fries.  They were calling my name.  Maybe I could have stop and grab some of them on the way back to work.  I mean I haven't had them in a LONG time and they sound so perfect.  If I had to make a wasted trip to this store, I should at least come away with some golden, hot, delicious strips of potatoes...
And then I found myself standing in the men's restroom.  With a man.  Who was using the facilities.
My eyes were as big as pancakes and you can rest assure that my Opera Voice came into play again.  "Ooooooh Myyy Gooooooooodneeeeeeess!"
I ran from the men's restroom and hid out in the women's for an extra eternity or so.  Then I booked it out to the car when I thought the coast was clear.  
And you can bet that I did go get my french fries - extra large - because if I'm going to suffer that embarrassment, I'm at least going to make it worthwhile.

Labels: , ,

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Turkey For Me, A Turkey For You

The first time I heard this song was on the radio, after it came out on SNL. Now, I've never been a huge fan of SNL because although it can be hilarious, it is often off-colored or raunchy; I wasn't willing to sit through hours of it searching for the good stuff.

However, I laughed my head off when I heard it and quickly started singing parts of it. Fortunately, it is a song that if you don't know the words, you can just make them up. Or if you don't like the words that are sung (which there are a few lines that I would have not written), you could insert your own. Kind of like your own Turkey Karaoke.

That's probably part of the reasons why I like it so much.

I hope you will too. (But sing really loudly when he gets the brother line, especially if there are young ears in the room.)


This post was originally published on November 22 , 2006.

Labels: ,

Friday, November 16, 2007

Case In Point

*Edited at the end*

Last night my friend Debbie called to apologize because she scheduled herself to eat dinner with us, but somewhere along the way she forgot about it.

I told her not to worry about it, that these things happen. I took no offense from it. (And really, the stellar meal I made didn't turn out so stellar. The chicken was dry as well as the honey-ginger carrots, so in one way, it was a relief that she wasn't partaking of that meal.) I told her it all worked out for the best, but that if she wanted to avoid me, she would have to come up with a different excuse next time.

We laughed and chatted for about 10 minutes, and I kid you not, these words came out of my mouth before I realized it: "Well, I've had enough."

Classy, huh? I'm such a gem of a friend.

Silence stretched out for a second as I tried to grab those words out of the air and shove them back into my mouth. I apologized to Debbie, laughing at my moment of stupidity. I indicated all the better things I could have said - like "I need to go now" or "Oh look the cat's on fire. I'll talk to you later."

Debbie, ever the good and understanding friend, said with a smile in her voice, "That's okay, Shalee. I know how you are about being on the phone. I feel good that I got to talk to you as long as I did." Then we made a future date to get together again.

Oh, I'm learning the ropes of humility everyday.

I'm sure they have doctors for this kind of mental illnesses. I might even go see one, but I'm sure it would all have to start with a phone call so we know what the chances of my going will be...

Anyone up for a MIRL?

*I've been totally worried the last couple of days now that I've peeled myself open the last couple of days. These post aren't to say that I don't want to talk to anyone ever. It just means that when we're on the phone and I start acting weird, you know it's probably time for me to go.  And if we are MIRLing, don't let my total dorkiness put you off.  Remember, I still want to be a part of the Girls Only club.  I'm not really a total loss.  A mess maybe, but not a loss.  Thank you very much.  The following has been a paid public announcement by Shalee's Diner.  You may now continue your eye rolling.

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 15, 2007

So I’m A Little Left of Center

I’ve always been a little off kilter. (Okay, I fully admit that it WAY more than a little. Shut your traps, you in the peanut gallery!) I’ve always done most things abnormally. To me now, abnormal is normal.

I’d rather watch football than shop for anything.

I fancy playing games over finding shoes.

Cooking is a creative outlet and a show of love for me. I don’t understand how others want to eat out all the time. (Recently, one of my friends stated that she hasn’t found the will to walk in the kitchen for two months so she hasn’t made a meal for that long. This does not compute in my puny brain.)

I love my kids, but I don’t want to be with them all the time. I like that my kids go to a public school and I have break.

I very much dislike being bound to a computer, yet I sit in front of one all day.

I don’t want a cell phone, but I like the security of having it… as long as I don’t have to talk on it for long. By the way, that includes conversing with the love of my life. Mr. Right understands that after a few minutes, I’m ready to ditch him too. (Nothing personal, honey!)

The Girl wants to do girly things and I break out in hives. Make a necklace, try new hairstyles, learn to sew with a needle, make a throw – I need a paper bag just thinking of these things!

I love to be center stage, yet I develop stage fright amongst friends.

I don’t watch much tv (unless I’m watching football), and I feel completely out of it when conversations revolve around them. I’ve never seen “The Office”. There I said it. You all may want to stand back. I’m sure lightning will be striking me soon.

Most of my girl friends either have kids years younger than mine or none at all. I usually lose focus during conversations surrounding babies and toddlers or staying at home. (Think Charlie Brown when the adults talk. Wah wah wah wah… I understand it, but it doesn’t always come in clearly. I love knowing what is going on with them, but I don’t always appreciate what life is like on their daily schedule.)

I get along with males better than females, but always want to be accepted into the Girl’s Only group.

I’m very confident and appreciative of who I am – until I get into an all girl group. Then I find that although I like myself, I’m just not like the other girls. Then I feel like the ultimate dork.

Take last Saturday for example. We had some wonderfully dear friends over for an “adults only” dinner and games. All kids were left with sitters, well except ours, but I made ours eat dinner in the kitchen alone (gasp!) and then sent them upstairs to watch a movie they hadn’t seen. In other words, they were completely preoccupied and out of our hair… and quite satisfied with it, if I might add.

Did I mention that these are dear friends, that I actually love being with all of them? Yet as we girls were standing in the kitchen talking about anything and everything, it wasn’t until the guys came in to talk and to snag some appetizers that I felt my shoulders relax a bit. Why? Why am I still uncomfortable around those sweet, accepting, down-to-earth ladies who understand that we have such difference but still like me despite them?

We had dinner and great conversations that ran the gauntlet from children to church to football to work, with a myriad of things between and a lot of laughter. Again, I felt on more solid ground when we were in the “masculine” subjects rather than “feminine” ones. I felt that I had more to contribute at those times. (But why? I’m a girl. I’m a mom. I understand these things. I just don’t always know how to get them from my mind to my mouth.)

After playing two fantastically brilliant games of Apples to Apples (in which I won both games without cheating one bit, thank you very much Jenny! How can I cheat when the judges change every turn?! They’ve already threatened to play Yatzee next time – a game I never win. Fine, I’ll play it and I’ll have a great attitude, dadgumit. Just you wait and see…), we did the standard “boys go watch the game and the girls sit and talk” thing. I stayed to talk with the ladies; I even contributed marginally to the varying dialogues, but all the while my heart was begging to go be with the guys, to see the game. I was thinking these things as I was enjoying the conversations with my friends. If that’s not abnormal, then I don’t know what is.

Later we wound up with the guys, watching KU triumph over OSU. That pull could only be ignored for so long. It was there in that setting that I was able to talk the most with the other girls – about kids, about work, about life – all the things that had been discussed in the other room. It was as if the comfort of being around the men gave me the confidence to say what I thought to the women. I felt much more at ease and comfortable just having that testosterone around me.

And I don’t know why.

The next day at our church small group, I was reminded again how consistent I am at being weird. While all the ladies where sitting at the table, I was in the living room cheering on some football team. Later when they teased me about trying to be one of the guys, I just smiled and kept my seat.

So yeah, I’m abnormal. I accept it. Thankfully my friends accept it as well. I just thought you in Bloggityville should be aware that although I may seem normal on screen, let me assure you, you’ll probably think differently if and when we meet in real life.

Just giving you fair warning should you ever want to MIRL. I probably should have reminded these sweet girls before we met up last time. Well, now they know should we continue the tradition as the years progress.

And I really should have given the warning to Mr. Right. That man just didn’t know what kind of mess he was getting himself into…

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

WFMW - Quick Cleaning For Dishes

Just in time for the Dishes Marathon, aka Thanksgiving!

One year my mother-in-awe gave me a really useful gift. I think it cost her all of 50 cents, but it has made my dish cleaning so much easier.

First you buy one of these. Just a small one will do. I've seen them at WallyWorld and Tarzhay for half a buck.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Then you fill it until it looks to have about an inch of dishwashing soap in the bottom. Slowly fill the remainder of the container with water - close to the top. Put the sprayer, swirl to mix and...

Presto! Instant dishwashing soap without the need to fill a sink to clean.

I use this so often that if I were to go without it now, I'm not sure I would know how to do dishes.

It comes in really handy when you need to clean the cutting board after cutting meat, when you want to wash a knife, when you need to clean out a lunchbox.

I think you get the idea.

If you want to get other great ideas, head on over to Shannon's place.

Originally published January 30, 2007


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

FIR - #7 - The Family Tree

I have found a new author who has a way with words: cunning and crafty, light – yet poignant in meaning, fun with a side of depth. Carole Cadwalladr knows how to write.

Does having brown hair make you intelligent? Are you predisposed to panic attacks if you’re left-handed? Can science explain everything or are some things left up to fate? What makes us who we are – our genetics or our upbringing? These are the questions that Cadwalladr asks in her debut novel The Family Tree.

Told mostly from the viewpoint of Rebecca Monroe, a cultural studies student married to a genetic scientist, Cadwalladr creates an original story where previous generations shape and mold the present and future ones. Toggling back and forth between Rebecca growing up in the mid-to-late 70’s and Rebecca of present day, the reader is immersed into the story of one girl’s struggle to understand life with a hard mother, a mean grandmother, a domineering sister, a feminist aunt and a favored grandmother with a story all her own.

I was delighted to delve into this novel and I found that I was instantly pulled into the cadence of the writing and the emotions it pulled from me. The wit and timing was fast and fresh. It was paradoxical in that it was comical and tragic at the same time.

One of the most charming portions throughout the book was the way that Cadwalladr wove trivial television or movie pieces into the story. In the describing of such things as Love Story or Three’s Company, she drew the reader into his/her own childhood memories, making the entire story feel more known, more first hand. In the mentioning of Dallas, you can’t help but recall the long, mysterious storyline of “Who shot JR?” – even if you never watched it first hand. It was little nuances as such that made the story more interesting, more personal. She made me want to know how everything was going to end.

Until I got there. 

The only negative aspect I found to the book was the ending. And I don't mean the last page.  When I had about 30 pages remaining, I began to feel that I was going to despise the book.  It was ugly and depressing and just sucked rotten eggs. Cadwalladr could have gone so many directions with the story.  Although she eventually ended on a somewhat optimistic note, she brought the essence of her protagonist through the mire and muck to get there, not to mention moments of extreme stupidity. And by that time, I just wanted to slap her for being such a foolish, stupid character, even if things were turning for the better at the end.

All that being said, I shall be on the lookout for Cadwalladr’s next book. Her writing is exceptional enough to make me want to give her another try and to hope that she learned a thing or two about endings along the way.

Labels: ,

Monday, November 12, 2007

Homemade With Love 2007

Welcome to the wimps addition to Kisses of Sunshine's  Homemade with Love - the place where those who can't make a stinkin' thing that requires creative talent can feel good about their offerings.

First things first:  Mr. Right - GO AWAY!!!  YOU CAN'T SEE THIS POST!

There.  Now we can begin.

This year, The Girl and I decided to make Mr. Right a throw that is big enough for a six-foot man.  (One of Mr. Right's complaints about throws is that they're not big enough to cover all of him and his feet.)  But since I can't sew a hem, I had to find something that would be easy enough for a nitwit like me.

So I did what any good blogger would do; I followed Barb's step-by-steps instructions for making a no-sew throw.  If you want excellent instructions on how to make this project, check out her post.  If you want to see a screwball's attempt at this project, keep reading.

First off, we selected some manly colors for Mr. Right.  Unbeknownst to me, the plaid came in mighty handy when it came time to cutting.  The patterns helped even me cut a straight line.

Oh, do you like the bathroom?  It was the only place I could find to spread out 2 1/2 yards of material.  2 1/2 yards!  What was I thinking?  That's A LOT of material with which to work!

First line up the materials and cut the edges off the flannel. Then cut the sides so that they evenly match. (You notice that I told you to do follow more than one step? Yeah, I don't want to tell you how long it took me to even all the sides out. Let me just say that I really don't know the dimensions of the final product because I had to keep "fixing" it. You learn from my mistakes and do it right the first time, okay?  Line the material up and cut once.  Trust me.  You'll feel better in the long run.)

Now you stop to have a chocolate because you deserve it for not uttering a single swear word for All.  That.  Cutting.

Make sure that you put your pet away; otherwise, you're chasing her off the material all night. I suggest that you toss her in your son's room and slam the door on her. Not that I did it... it's just a suggestion in case you have this situation...

Make sure that you cut a 6-inch square from each of the corners. By doing so, you'll make this project a whole lot easier on yourself (assuming you cut the edges correctly in the first place... ahem.)

Next you put The Girl, if you have one, into slave labor. She's a great strip cutter. (We cut 6-inch  long strips into the sides of the material so that we can tie the strips to keep it together. (Hence the name no sew. Neat, huh?)

Now here is where I suggest that you don't even think about creating such a huge throw. We had to hide it from Mr. Right before he came home from work. Since we started it in the master bathroom, we had to move it. Dumb, dumb, dumb. But doable... because we had to do it.

Learning from the previous night's tight working quarters, we moved it down to the reading room. We had a bit more room there. Whew.

After finishing the strips, we proceeded to tie the edges. "We" is really a misnomer. The Girl kept getting frustrated because she couldn't get the ties to look "perfect", so guess who had to do every single knot. (I couldn't begin to tell you how to do it, so go read Barb's instructions again. She's smart.)  Also, I suggest that you take the camera away from the girl.  She will keep snapping photos of anything and everything - especially the cat that should have been tossed into your son's room.

As you can see, I was in the zone with this throw, loving every minute of it - especially with all that good help. She slaved over the entire process. I'm so glad that "we" decided to do it. At least she made time out of her busy schedule to read with her brother...

The finished product. A gift made with lots of love, patience and a glass or three of butterscotch schnapps.

All in all, it's a great way to tell Mr. Right that we love him and to get him to quit whining about his cold feet.

Labels: , ,

Friday, November 09, 2007

Things You Notice When You're A Reading Freak

Despite the fact that Jeana will totally belittle my "perusal" of anything with writing, I shall suffer the mocking and share my finds with you anyway.  

Everything I do, I do it for you.  (Thank you, Bryan Adams.  Thank you.)
  1. Bisquick is supposed to be refrigerated after you open it.
  2. A serving of Oreos consists of only three cookies.  *snort* (They didn't use MY family to come up with that number.... we'd have blown that serving suggestion!)
  3. Cheezits used to say 22 crackers was the suggested serving.  Now it's 27.
  4. A 12 oz. soda can used to say 1.5 servings.  Now it says "1 can".  Hmmm...
  5. A serving suggestion of half & half is 2 Tbsp.  Everyone can now back off when we're at a restaurant and I add three of those wimpy half & half containers to my coffee.  (At Shalee's Diner, we serve our cream in pint-sized containers so that you can pour in to your heart's desire!  I don't do milk, so I call it my daily calcium fix.)
  6. The back of cereal boxes can be quite entertaining and educational,  especially at 6 in the morning.  Mesmerizing actually.  Ours has word finds, recipes and trivias.
  7. Malt-O-Meal is one odd company.  The original shows that you can make a serving with 1/4 cup Malt-O-Meal and 1 cup water, yet both the Brown Sugar and the Chocolate advise 3 Tbsp and 3/4 cup water.  It took me 14 years to realize that I can just use 1/4 cup of cereal and 1 cup water for both of them.  Hey, I was always making it before 6 in the morning, often pre-coffee.  Stop mocking me!
  8. Cocktail peanuts contain 10 more calories and 20 more calories from fat than Honey Roasted Peanuts.
  9. Old-fashioned rolled oats are better for you than the quick-cooking oats.  (The cutting process to make the oats cook faster causes the oats to lose much of the fiber that is healthy for us.  That extra 6 minutes doesn't look so long when I know this tidbit of info.)
  10. I just checked my stock of liqueurs... none of them even pretend to offer a serving suggestion.  They know it would be a waste of time.  Now if those Oreos people could just get on board with that....
That's it for now.  Have a wonderful Friday!

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Here's A Deal You Don't Want To Pass Up

It's all about high tech ads to pull you into a deal.  Just look at what I received in my inbox this past week.  And no, I did not alter it in any of it other than the email.  I'm telling you, they're pulling out all the stops. 


I am Mr Bimbo the loan offer of this company.I am a loan lender that give out loan to those that are in need of financial help.We do all kind of loan you are interested about,personal loan,business loan and any other type of loan of your choice that you about to apply for.So if you know that you are in need of loan you can apply now because this maybe an end to your Via

I await respond.

Best Regard,

Mr Bimbo.

I love the name choice.  Mr. Bimbo... now that's going to instill some confidence.  Notice the grammatical and spacing infractions.   That tells me that some highly educated individuals are in the making of this business.

No thanks Mr. Bimbo.  I think I'll pass on this fine offer.  You can just keep awaiting respond.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

WFMW - Dates

I love this reverse day.  It lets me pick the minds of people so much more brilliant than myself.

So here's my quandry:

What are some romantic dates for the fall/winter scenes?

(And while I love to fantasize, let's keep this one on a realistic level.  Jetting off to Cancun for a weekend excursion definitely sounds romantic, but highly impractical with two kids, a mortgage and the holidays just around the corner.)

After helping me out in the Diner, see if you can share your wisdom with some others at Shannon's place.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Warning: The Golden Compass

Or a second title of:

Oh, I’m Glad I Found Out Before Shelling $24 Worth of Regret

My mother-in-awe sent a verified "true" Snopes regarding the soon-to-be-released The Golden Compass. I can’t help but post it here too.  

The Golden Compass
, a fantasy film starring Nicole Kidman that is scheduled to be released into theaters on 7 December 2007, has been drawing fire from concerned Christians. The film is based on Northern Lights (released in the U.S. as The Golden Compass), the first offering in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy of children's books, a series that follows the adventures of a streetwise girl who travels through multiple worlds populated by witches, armor-plated bears, and sinister ecclesiastical assassins to defeat the oppressive forces of a senile God.

Books of the trilogy have sold more than 15 million copies around the world, with Northern Lights winning the Carnegie Medal for Children's Literature in 1995 and in 2007 being awarded the 'Carnegie of Carnegies' for the best children's book of the past 70 years. The Amber Spyglass, the final book of the series, won The Whitbread Prize in 2001, making it the first children's book to do so.

The series' author, Philip Pullman, is an avowed atheist who has averred that "I don't profess any religion; I don't think it's possible that there is a God; I have the greatest difficulty in understanding what is meant by the words 'spiritual' or 'spirituality.'" Critics of Pullman's books point to the strong anti-religion and anti-God themes they incorporate, and although literary works are subject to a variety of interpretations, Pullman left little doubt about his intentions when he said in a 2003 interview that "My books are about killing God." (Conservative British columnist Peter Hitchens labeled Pullman "The Most Dangerous Author in Britain" and described him as the writer "the atheists would have been praying for, if atheists prayed.")

Bill Donohue, president of The Catholic League, has condemned
The Golden Compass as a "pernicious" effort to indoctrinate children into anti-Christian beliefs and has produced a 23-page pamphlet titled The Golden Compass: Unmasked in which he maintains that Pullman "sells atheism for kids." Donohoe told interviewer John Gibson on 9 October 2007 why he believes Christians should stay away from the film:

‘Look, the movie is based on the least offensive of the three books. And they have dumbed down the worst elements in the movie because they don't want to make Christians angry and they want to make money. Our concern is this, unsuspecting Christian parents may want to take their kid to the movie, it opens up December 7th and say, this wasn't troubling, then we'll buy the books. So the movie is the bait for the books which are profoundly anti-Catholic and at the same time selling atheism.’

Other critics, however, have described Pullman's works as being more generally anti-religion rather than specifically anti-Christian or anti-Catholic:

‘In "His Dark Materials," Pullman's criticisms of organized religion come across as anti-authoritarian and anti-ascetic rather than anti-doctrinal. (Jesus isn't mentioned in any of the books, although Pullman has hinted that He might figure in a forthcoming sequel, "The Book of Dust.") His fundamental objection is to ideological tyranny and the rejection of this world in favor of an idealized afterlife, regardless of creed. As one of the novel's pagan characters puts it, "Every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling.’"

What a shame. And I almost bought this series of books for the girl this Christmas too...

Now I think we’ll just stay at home and do something constructive and edifying – like playing a great game of Sorry or Dominoes while having quality family time that won't include any undertones of killing God.

Labels: ,

Monday, November 05, 2007

And The Pie Plate Goes To...

All right, Interwebs...  It's time for the results to my giveaway for that fabulous pie plate along with the top secret recipe for the Diner's apple pie.  I'd like to thank everyone who participated in the giveaway and ask y'all to stop back in for a visit and a cup of coffee any time you'd like.  I'm open 24/7.  That's dedication just for you.  Now doesn't that make you feel special?

Research Randomizer Results

1 Set of 1 Unique Numbers Per Set
Range: From 1 to 186 -- Unsorted

Job Status:
Set #1:

That means that Alaina from Reflective Ponderings is the winner. Congrats Alaina!  Send me your address, and I'll get your prize right out to you... just in time for Thanksgiving.  (And remember to keep that recipe our little secret!)


Friday, November 02, 2007

FIR #6 - Mysterious Benedict Society

“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?”

So reads the newspaper advertisement that seeks children smart enough, brave enough, skilled enough or strong enough to accept a mission – the mission, of course, being to save the world.

Enter Reynie Muldoon, Sticky Washington, Kate Weatherall and Constance Contraire – the four who, for their own various reasons, pass Mr. Benedict’s tests in The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. Noted for their individual qualities, they each add something special to the team – be it being a puzzle master, a walking encyclopedia, a jack of all trades or a negative Nancy who can find fault in anything. The team is aided by some wonderful adults – which includes the puzzling Milligan, the talented Rhonda and the unstoppable Number Two (who always dresses in yellow much like a pencil – no, not that other “number two”). Together they set out to thwart Ledroptha Curtain, the villain who runs the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened (L.I.V.E.) with the goal of taking over the world. To do so, the children must all “become something they are not”.

The book is set apart for so many reasons.

1. This is a debut book that reads as if the author has been publishing for years. It’s funny. It’s entertaining. It’s readable, especially when you consider that it is intended for children in the middle grades. Says the author, “The idea for this novel came from his belief that children are often seen, rarely heard, and always underestimated!” When you start with that kind of premise, you’re sure to have a hit with the intended audience!

2. The book is full of brain-teasing puzzles and complicated situations that draw on the skills of each child. No one child can save the day. They must work as a team if they are to succeed. The concepts of different intelligences and different ways to find a solution run through this work.

3. There are multiple themes running in the book. Acceptance of others, facing fears, relishing family/friend and teamwork - each of these ideas is encountered throughout the progression of the book.

4. I love the humor that runs throughout the book. Puns, play on words, dialogues – even the character names – are all fitting to the level of adventure and mirth on the pages. It seemed as if Mr. Stewart is a big kid at heart.

5. It has all the classic elements to make it a beloved classic, much like The Book Thief (just on a younger level). Children will be drawn to the likable characters (well, maybe not Constance, but she does have her merit, though not seen immediately), the puzzles to be solved and the way the children use their abilities to face all odds. (There’s even a riddle on the last page for the reader to solve to get them to use some puzzle-solving techniques on their own.)

I’m even going to go so far as to say that if you have a 4th – 7th grade child, this would make a fabulous Christmas present. And if your child likes it, you will have another sequel to share with them in time to come because I know for a fact that the author has made known that in the next book “Someone very important goes missing, someone very dangerous is responsible, and a certain four children take it upon themselves to get involved.” I already have all my thoughts lined up but that’s because I’ve become a member of the Mysterious Benedict Society!

(You totally need to visit this site. It’s fun, and it a great game idea which I’ve already copied and am ready to play with my family.)

Reading list and previous reviews for the Reading Challenge:
FIR #4


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Must. Take. A. Breather.

I haven't had a chance to post what I did last weekend because I've been swamped at work and at home.  Here's just a review of what I've had to deal with the past few days.
  1. I took Thursday and Friday off from work.  You know what that means when I returned, don't you?
  2. I had to think of a proper Shalee's Diner giveaway gift.
  3. I had been looking for a great pie plate all weekend to no avail.  Finally, in the 11th hour, I found one I love for my giveaway.  Whew.  I'm not going to include writing the post because we all have that same time-consuming task.
  4. Did I mention that Mr. Right ordered eight TONS of dirt to go around our house?  Guess who is helping to move it all, wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow?  I'm going to have some strong arms and a very sore back...
  5. The boy thought it would be a lot of fun to bury tools in the dirt we're moving.  We're still looking for the crowbar.  Pray for him.  He's going to need it.
  6. In the midst of all this physical work (gah! I'm not built for it!), we had roofers show up and begin work on our house.  I love that it's being done, but Hello!  How am I supposed to move dirt and how is my son supposed to find his "buried treasure" when you're throwing wood shingles and dropping supplies?!
  7. The house is starting to have that "lived in" look... which is not a great thing around here.
  8. Halloween... need I say more?
Since I'm up stinkin' early, I'm making time to tell you about this last weekend now.  Hey, better late than never!

I had the great blessing to visit with some very lovely ladies.  

See?  Aren't they just the most beautiful women you've ever seen?  Antique Mommy (who doesn't look her age AT ALL!), Jeana (who is just as witty in real life as she is on her blog) and Melanie, aka Chilihead (who is just as fabulous and funny as she is on her site)

The weather was perfect for our get together. Just look at the rising moon and the sunrises that we were able see. (Yeah, even on a trip, I can't sleep in. Sigh.)

We made it our own sort of fall retreat which really means that we got together, drank some scrumptiously smooth wine, ate as if we were in college all the time, talked each others ears off and relaxed as only mothers without children can do.

It was a slice of heaven.

Labels: , , ,