Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve

When I picked the four fave posts in my blog-iversary post - I knew I'd leave out posts that I liked ever better. 187 posts in a year - that's a lot of deep thinkin.

MBG picked Permanent Color, which I liked too. Facing It was filled with introspection.
Then there were the stories of the kids' shenanigans.

I will remember 2007 as a really hard year.
But also one that forced me to grow as a person.

Excuse me while I proclaim a bit of my faith: I heard a pastor once describe how God cherishes people's pain because it is when His children cling to Him the tightest. When we have to let Him carry us through. The same way we do for our own family. That image has gotten me through the past six weeks. I am grateful for that.

With that, I wish you a very Happy New Year. My brain has been swirling with resolutions, which I will publish within the next day. Whether I accomplish them or not, sometimes it just helps to put it out there.

I am optimistic for the coming year.
It holds many oppotunities unforeseen.
I am confident that I am up for it all.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


It was one year ago today that I lost my blog virginity.

Boy, time flies when you're navel gazing.

Here are four of my favorite posts, in no particular order (apparently birthdays bring out the writer in me): Being at Home, Birthday Girl, Dear Mason, The Twenties

And my favorite series, Keeping House, which I hope to do more of in the new year (damn resolutions)!

I've hovered over Delete Blog more than once with that cursor.
I'm so glad I never clicked.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Giving More

Jen and Mad are expanding their Just Posts with a beautiful challenge for the coming year. Volunteerism.

Which, of course, got me thinking.

My background in social work. I've got a b.s in it. For real. B.S.

I spent four years in my undergrad planning to save my small corner of the world. I learned so much about the field of social work at a individual, group, and community level. I learned how to counsel. How to case manage. I learned about stress management and boundaries. I learned about burn out. About professionalism in human services. About communication. It was a fantastic education and my excitement was huge. I was social work student of the year in 2000. I graduated summa cum laude. I could hardly pick a focus. Medical social work? Government? Homeless programs? Teen moms? Not-for-profit? Corporate?

The possibilities were endless and I was excited!

I ended up working with people with disabilities in a government case management role. It fit my personality and I loved this population of people. What a great feeling it was, to help people and their families get all of the supports that they need.

After several years working in this position, my life had really changed. I had a child. Suddenly, my focus was not on saving people of the world. It was in rearing just this little one. She was my Focus. I realized that I needed a change, that would be better for my family, better for me. I also disliked the hands-off nature of case management. I saw many ill-equipped people trying to educate and assist people with disabilities, and do a crappy job of it. I wanted to get my hands dirty, to get in there and try to make a real difference.

I went back to school and earned a master's of education in special education. It took my two years and eight months. Many tears. Many miles.

Here I am today, now trying to rear two small ones. Two people who have my Focus. And twenty-seven teenagers with special needs, who I am also trying to help out. I am a teacher.

So my focus is on my family and my career. My home and my marriage. We go to church (sometimes). A church that is very service driven. A church that challenges people to help the least of us. A church that is not satisfied with only attendance.

I often have guilt. Over my self-absorption. What about all of those other things I wanted to do? The teen moms? The sick children? The homeless? The aging veterans?

But self-absorption is certainly not the right term. I haven't had a hair cut in 7 months (really). I take care of many others before myself. But there are the "others", the populations of those in need that I wanted to save as a social worker.

It becomes a choice for me. Do I spread myself more thin with a few hours a month at the Children's Hospital or Veteran's Home? Or do I make a commitment to giving more energy and more passion to the things I am already doing?

I will be a better teacher. I will be a better wife. I will be a better mother.

Those are the things that this year, I am volunteering to do. This year, I will do better for those that I am already committed to.

When my children are older, when they are more portable, we will help our community. I will teach my children to give back. I will teach my children to respect and honor difference. We will be a family that volunteers. I will be a retired teacher who possibly starts her own private not-for-profit. Or the teacher/social worker who does something wonderful for our community. Or the one who runs for local office on a platform that speaks up for people with exceptionalities. Something that does make a difference. It will involve my passions and my skills.

But for now, I will be dormant. One who stays sane at home. And who does right by the wee ones in my home. I resolve to do better here. And extend myself perhaps a bit more at church, through the programs that are already established there.

We can give of ourselves more this year than last.
I am going to do that.

Friday, December 21, 2007


My post yesterday was such a bummer for the weekend before Christmas really. And was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek regarding what you say to a 'how are you?' and what you are really thinking...any way.

The holidays really are my very favorite time of the year, sick or not. I love the music, the lights, the snow, the gifts, the scripture, the waiting, the Coming. The story of His birth is my very favorite story. All the other Christmas movies and holiday specials. My DVR list is absolutely jam-packed with holiday shows to watch. My cupboard is full of ingredients to make yummy holiday treats, just as soon as my lung capacity is up and I don't feel quite so yucky. I'm making all kinds of yummies. The holiday outfits, the family get togethers, the nativity. The cards in the mail. The two week break from school. The changing of time to a new year.

It's all just too good. Too good.

Growing up, we didn't have excess, but my family celebrated. We had lots of good food and lots of big family gatherings. Santa always left something on Christmas morning and it was always such fun! The year I got a Cabbage Patch doll, that was memorable. One year, I remember getting a stereo (long after having stopped believing in Santa), and Santa was real to me again. I really wanted that stereo! Christmas has always been something special.

I was talking to my cousin this morning about getting stuck in one's own bummers. I try so hard not to do that. When you think of the scope of the entire world, my world is so magnificient. The fact that I have a heated home, medical care, healthy kids, a career, a car (even one that's in the shop getting expensive repairs), makes me a lucky one. The fact that loved ones who are sick are able to seek treatment. That we are free to make our choices. That we have monthly income to keep paying off bills. It all makes us fortunate. No one is without their struggles, I choose not to let mine get me off track.

So in this blessed season, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. In this season, it is so good to say Thank You Jesus. Thank you for it all.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hi Ya Neighbor

What do you say when your neighbor across the street asks, "How are you?"
It really shouldn't be a tough question. Today, for me, it was.

Do I say fine?


Do I say that I'm crappy?

That I found out yesterday that I have pneumonia and that I won't be able to work for the rest of the week? That I'll be missing my last two days of work. Finals exam days that are 1/2 days for the kids? That I'm missing a ton of teacher work time that was going to help me finish up grades and progress notes?

Do I tell him that I spent yesterday crying? That I was told by my doctor to nix weekend plans? Which meant no Christmas with my parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews this year? That this is the first time in my life I'll be missing Christmas with my side of the family and that it's got me feeling like holding my own pity party for one?

Well...I didn't. Say ALL of that. I did tell him I'm under the weather and he wished me well.

And I will be.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Christmas Program

The scene at our house tonight:

I'm tired. I've taken both kids to the girl's Christmas program. Daddy had to miss it (boo) for a calendar committee meeting (boo).

We've come home. The boy drops an entire box of goldfish crackers onto a tiny tea plate, trying to get a snack. I chuckle. Brought on by laughs, the girl decides she'll make it more of a mess, to get more laughs.

"No! Just because Mommy laughs, does not mean something is funny!" I even say it sharply, to add meaning. Really, have you ever heard any so ludicrous? Jeez. Just because I laugh it's not funny. I really did not think that one through.

Then, the children help the manger folk (wise men, Mary, know the type) to a snack at the Christmas tree. My little boy making little chomping sounds as the shepard takes pretend bites out of our tree. Then returns them to the barn beneath the tree.

That is joy.
That is Christmas to me.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Sun Came Up This Morning

'Tis better to hope, though clouds hang low,
And keep the eyes uplifted;
For the sweet blue sky will soon peep through,
When the ominous clouds are lifted.
There never was a night without a day
Or an evening without a morning,
And the darkest hour, as the proverb goes,
Is the hour before the dawning.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Back Up

I've been struggling for the last hour with the urge to delete my earlier post.
I am a optimistic person who tries to stay positive. It's very hard for me to "talk" about the dark side. But it's there, even if I hide it most of the time.

A few of the closest people in my life recently have questioned my motive and the purpose of blogging. The most influential person in my life said that she doesn't get it, that it does not seem like a good idea, and she doesn't know why I put myself "out there" for others to comment on.

That has definitely slowed the internet introspection at Omaha Mama.
Because I couldn't really answer to it.

I've journaled since third grade.
And probably secretly wished someone could or would read my angst and talk with me about it. I'm not a very private person, but I tend to keep things close to my heart that are troubling me personally. This blog tends to let me vent, brag, write, read. All things that are good and healthy for me.

I like to blog.
I like the hobby.
I love the writing.
And the reading.

I just wish a little that I had kept it a secret from a close few.
From the ones who don't get it.

For those who do, I'm glad you are here.
I'll try to keep posts like my earlier one to a minimum.

I'm rambling and I realize this.
My head and heart are just so full.

Some Whine With My Cheese

Warning: This is not a Happy Holiday Post. If that is what you are wishing for this evening, please overt your eyes and step away from this blog.

I've spent a little time today reading the past three months of my posts.
It made me cry. I had to get a tissue.

Mostly for the stuff I didn't write.
For the last weeks of comments from one of my best friends.
Jaqniel is the commenter who lost her battle to cancer on Thanksgiving.
I miss her.

Then there's my sweet nephew.
He's battling leukemia. And it's just not mine to write about. But it's breaking all of our hearts.
It's also filling them with pride.

I write mostly seasonal posts these days.
Of children and photos and changing weather.

I've realized something about myself.
If I think about certain things too much, my heart feels with fear.
The evening news makes me cry.
So I keep things on the surface.
And pray my butt off.

We had a horrible, violent event in Omaha at one of our shopping malls.
A man shot up the place and killed people.
Here. In my new hometown.

Then there's the cancer. My friends and family who are battling cancer.
How does that not fill a person with anger and fear?

And our family's penchant for viruses and infections this fall/winter. I've got bronchitis and sinus infection. I can't draw a full breath. Yuck. Three of four in our household are taking antibiotics. It would be four, but he finished his round.

I feel like I shouldn't even hit publish here.
But I've been alluding to being somber and tired for months.

This is why.

I'm forever and optimist and believe 2008 will be better.
I believe in many things. That is what makes me smile.
Right now, I'm smiling.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Because We Need A Little Christmas, Right This Very Moment

We've had a festive December thus far.

It's hard to feel pure joy, when you've got others' sorrow on your mind.
My family and friends' trials are my own.
That being said, I still feel the need to honor this glorious season with the usual traditions.

Giving them as much energy and joy and I can.

My kids make that part easy.

My faith is renewed at this time of year.

It brings back memories from my childhood, as well as my efforts to make new memories for myself and my kids.

My prayer tonight is that everyone can find joy in this season, no matter how small. There is pain, loss, and suffering around us. We huddle together and find joy in each other.
It is a comfort.

Just sharing your life with someone.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Warm Memories

Last year's Christmas greeting
The 1st of December and we're having our first ice storm. Brrr...
The goal for today is to take down all remaining fall adornments and put up the happy Santas, snowmen, and the TREE. Quite an undertaking indeed.
It makes me think of last year, the first year that Brenna really got into it. She helped put it up and didn't try to tear it down. Mason was only 7 months old, so still harmless. This year, I fear his destruction. There will have to be constant supervision in the room where we put up the tree. He is that child. The one who would end up trying to climb it, only to have the whole thing come crashing down on him. I love him dearly, but he is truly that child.
And we don't want the poor boy to have such Christmas trauma!
I'll let you know later how it all goes. And maybe share a pic.
For now, I'm going nostalgic.
Remembering this time last year.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Teacher

I have this post looming. Although I'm positive that I'm not ready to write about it yet, it's looming and I just need to get it out. Get it off my chest, even though one little blog post won't cure this pain. Nothing will.

I have this friend, a fellow blogger. A blogger because I wanted her to start one. Last December after she found out her breast cancer had metastasized in her lung and bone. In September, she found out it had moved into her liver. She wrote a daily blog about her experiences with this. The ups. The downs. The side effects. The shopping, lunches out, and vacation trips. She wrote about it all.

In true Jacque fashion, she used it as a way to teach.
Women with breast cancer found comfort in her posts.
Women of faith marvelled at her strength.
Friends and family hung on her every word.

Today was the last post.

My good friend, mentor, co-teacher, Jacque.
Jacque died on Thanksgiving. She passed away in the hospital, surrounded by her two sons and husband.

She was 54 years old.

The way I hear her laugh in my head right now, as I write.
That is why it hurts so much.
I only got the chance to work with her for four months before she had to leave work for her health. She taught me more in those four months than I learned in 3 years of grad school. Than in 29 years of life.

She was the best teacher.

I didn't want her to go.

Now she's gone. And I keep thinking of things. That I should tell her. That she gave me. That she taught me. That would make her laugh. I keep wanting to call her and tell her.

She had a great laugh.

My friend Jacque is in heaven now.
That's the only thing that gives me a moment's peace. That she's at peace.

The rest, well it sucks.
I realize now that I'm not ready to write this.

I'll just say good-bye to my friend.

Thinking of your laugh tonight has made my broken heart smile.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


It's a quiet Thanksgiving this year, but we're celebrating just the same. My parents will be in town to eat lunch with us. I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful for many things and give thanks every day for blessings. It's hard not to be sad this year, with several close friends and family struggling with their health. I know that's one more thing I need to be thankful for in my own home.

So here's the preschool take on Thanksgiving and I'll leave it at that:

Brenna's recipe for turkey, as told in her preschool cookbook: "You need a fat turkey. Put it in the oven for ten minutes and take it out. Then you eat it."

From Brenna, earlier in the week, "Mama, do you know why turkeys have fear? They have fear and they run and run because we kill 'em and eat 'em."


Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Boy

Seems like I tell a lot of stories about our B. But we have this adorable boy too.

My love grows exponentially for him day in and day out. I keep thinking it will level off but it does not. It grows and grows.

He is presently in this wonderful toddler phase of language development. My kids have been the same in that area. They talk and talk and talk early on. They just can't speak English. So it's gibberish. Lots and lots of it. So cute. But they start to get frustrated at my lack of knowledge of their native language, so they start to learn English for me. He learns to say more and more words every day.

He just brought me three granola bars from the kitchen and said, "More, more, more." I gave him one and he was happy. He says, "Yeah." I can't get him to say yes. Everything is yeah. I must say yeah a lot.

He says cracker.
And fruit snacks.
And bad dog.
And mommy coming?

I love it!

It's great that he answers yes and no correctly (well, he says yeah) because we have entire conversations that way.
One of the funniest parts is that when we ask him to say words that he knows for people, he says "no". M, can you say octopus? "No."
I love my boy.

Can't wait for whatever's next!


Wednesday, November 7, 2007


But Mommy! I don't know how to spell "Dear"...or "Santa"...pause...or "give"...or "me...

You can see where this is going.

Wordless Wednesday


Friday, November 2, 2007

A Treat

Tinkerbell playing in the leaves

sad, rotten pumpkins - ewww

in happier times

Fall is one of the best times of year for photos, isn't it? You've got the changing leaves, beautiful sunsets, bundled up kids. There are all of the extra autumnal activities: school starting, football season, apple picking, pumpkin patch trips, leaf raking, and Halloween!

This year B was Tinkerbell, by request. She's had the costume since June, a little gift I picked up for her at a second hand store. When she asked if it could be her Halloween outfit, three months early, I was all over that.

The Little Man was a tiger, he's got the growl down pat. But we decided he could be one of the lost boys of Neverland, since he was hanging with Tink.

It was a fun Halloween. We are exhausted, and honestly somber. But a nice night of trick-or-treating sure lifted our spirits. Tiny chocolate bars don't hurt either.
Be grateful tonight, for your lovely little ones. Your healthy little ones, snug in their beds. Be grateful for now. It can so quickly change. Tonight I am so grateful for my family and our home. It's important to recognize the simplicity of that. If your own children are grown, better yet. What a wonderful thing to be so very thankful for.

I am thankful.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Much Love

I realize that I am very lucky to be close to my family. I've always loved each member unconditionally, even as a teenager. My parents are wacky and wonderful. I have an older brother and sister. They are one year and two days apart and I came five years later. I'm the baby.

When bad things happen, we band together. I mean really together. There is much love. It comes in the form of care packages, phone calls, babysitting, spending money on each other, cards, more phone calls, and lots and lots of "love yous".

We don't live in the same town. We're spread out over two hours of Interstate. But when we need each other, it just doesn't matter. We rally.

It's not overkill either. It's pure. Genuine.

The first people I call when I need help or a shoulder? My parents.

The second? The big sis.

It's amazing, to think that some people don't have this.
This f-a-m-i-l-y.

It's happening again. As we help my brother and his family. We grieve, we cry, we help.


While I wish that no one ever, ever had to be sick. Especially not my sweet, beautiful makes my heart swell with pride.

I am part of a family.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Swallowing Flies

On the way home today (sort of home, really on the way to the free babysitting at parent-teacher conferences, which both Hubs and I had tonight until 8:00, which leads to one more week of never-ending tiredness, but that's another story entirely) on the way home:

B: Mom, today we heard a rhyme about an old lady. She swallowed many things, until she swallowed a horse and died.

Me: Wow. That's really sad, and pretty gross.

B: I'm sorry I talked about it, but it was quite 'portant.

Me: Yes, it's an important story. Did you like the story about the old lady who swallowed a fly?

B: Yes! But...I was so nervous while I listened. Really nervous.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my kids?

Wow, I really do.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Apparently, turning 30 has killed the writer in me.


What has killed my will to write (besides this whiny Monday morning post...written while waiting for much needed coffee to brew) was the 7 students I had last week who found themselves in the principals' office. Five of whom who got themselves suspended. One of whom made big, big threats. The kind that other kids made good on around the country, with guns and grenades stored in their bedrooms.

I wrote two IEPs, one MDT, and filled out ten behavior checklists for kids who were going to see psychiatrists.

I ended the week with a smile.

I was relieved it was over.

Then I spent an overnight at a nearby hotel/casino with 15 girlfriends, half who will be turning 30 in the next year (a few of us already have). That was fun, but exhausting.

I've had 9 hours sleep in the past three days.

It's Monday.

I hope you have a great week.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Grains of Gratitude

This week I am grateful for:
  • I had a great birthday. Hubs got me a digital picture frame, which will be so fun to have at work! I also received cards and phone calls from people who mean so much to me.

  • My parents came to town yesterday and stayed with the kids while Hubs and I went out. He had the homecoming dance at his school to supervise, so we had a lunch date. We went to Dave & Buster's. Ever heard of it? It's like Chuck E Cheese for adults. We had lunch and drinks and then played. I beat hubby at air hockey and video car racing. That was fun! We also played Skee Ball, basketball, and those horse races where you roll the ball. It was fun to act like kids again and spend some quality time together.

  • Our new chair. We went to a clearance sale at a local furniture mart after our lunch date and ended up with a huge chair and ottoman.

  • I'm so glad our new carpet is getting installed this Thursday! On Sunday, I think a few friends are going to stop through, so it will be nice to have our tile/carpet project finished.

Today is a day of rest. We're seeing my parents off and then taking a day off. I'm picturing lots of new chair time. Maybe some chips and salsa.

Some much needed R&R.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - Birthday Mama

Born October 3rd, 1977

"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." ~ Oscar Wilde

For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Twenties.

The Roaring Twenties.

An omniscient account: A Decade of Growth. They say hindsight is 20/20.

At twenty: I've been in my first apartment for exactly two months. Splitting rent with two other girls. One is my best friend. One is her acquaintance. I'm learning about how you make rent, how you split kitchen-duty, and how you concentrate on taking 18 credit hours (stupid) when you're in a newly long distance relationship with a guy who's just not that into you. (You cling really tightly, in case you're wondering.)

At twenty-one: Still in that long distance relationship. We've now broken up twice in the last year. He's broken my heart TWICE in the past two years. But I take him back. My friends forgive me for being stupid. I maintain a 4.0 GPA and am well on my way to becoming a social worker. Which is what I set out to do.

At twenty-two: Two weeks after I'm twenty two. I finally say good-bye to Mr. He-is-not-that-into-you for good. But only because he made me. Only because he was a no-show when he really should have shown. He gave me the "maybe some day we can really make this work" speech. And I gave him the teary "I can't do this any more my heart is breaking" speech. Then I took a walk in my sweat pants and smoked cigarettes. My heart was broken. But broken hearts can mend.

At twenty-two: I meet a guy! I once described a man that I hadn't met yet to a friend. I was dating Mr. Aforementioned A-Hole and described this guy to my friend, when I whispered thoughts of how I might not end up with Mr. A-Hole. I mentioned a guy that was literate, looked a little like a Ken doll, and that would do homework with me in the library. I questioned to this friend how do you spend your life (yes, I talked at length with Mr. A-Hole about lifelong commitments. Stupid. Yes.) with someone who is not all that intelligent, who does not read, who does not know much beyond his own...self? Do you know what I did with my future husband the second weekend after I met him? I ran into him at our university's library, studied with him, and walked out with him after he wrote me an impromptu poem about running into me at the library. Love. And yup, he looked a little to me like a Ken doll.

I graduated. First generation bachelor's degree. Social Work Student of the Year. With honors. And a medal to match.

At twenty-three: Career social worker. Civil servant. New wife. Dog owner.

At twenty-four: More of the same. Fixing up our starter home. Loving my husband. Perhaps starting my 401K.

At twenty-five: Man, that felt like a milestone. A quarter of a century. Still fixing up house. Talking babies.

At twenty-six: Having a baby. Brenna Michelle. July 2003.

Started grad school. I'm gonna be a school teacher. For kids with disabilities.

At twenty-seven: Grad school. Raising daughter. Working full-time. Living the dream.

At twenty-eight: New job. Moving to Omaha. Finishing grad school. Whoops! Pregnant with #2. And happy.

At twenty-nine: I now have a son. Mason David April 2006. I teach high school special ed. I learn about the fragility of life. And gratitude for my own. I have two kids. And still have a husband. I'm realizing that I did marry young. And that's okay.

Saying goodbye to my twenties. I thought it would be hard. In a day and a half, I'm beginning my 30's. Which they know. That's crap. I want my 30's to be my 30's. I've earned it. I've earned the right to not be the baby any more. To not be the youngest at everything I do.

I have been working with people with disabilities for 11 (!) years. Which is surprising to me. Because it is but a blink. My eyes are wide open though.

What is next: I can't wait for chapter three.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Are We Tired of Talking About My Hair Yet?

Swistle asked for a picture of my manless hair. So here ya go.

I feel it worth noting that this is me, freshly bathed, before I have styled the hair. No style. I usually at least try to style it before leaving the house. I figure you don't care.
I stood in the aisle at the drug store for a loooooong time. I ended up with Loreal Preference, light brown. Since I had the highlights, it was going to still have highlights. I was glad for that. I was just mostly tired of the grown out roots and the amount of time (none) that I have to keep up blond hair. I like how my blond hair looks (usually) but am crazy-grumpy this week and needed a change. This was actually exactly what I needed!
I realized as I started this little project, in my bathroom, that I had no idea what I was doing. And that Jill was going to kill me. Jill would be the person who cuts/colors my hair. Who is licensed to do so.
I only did the top since that's all that Jill does.
It worked out better that I expected it to.
I like it.
I feel suddenly empowered by my brown hair. I have brown hair! Yay me! (Really, who knew my hair could take up so much of my time/thoughts? Who knew?)

Grains of Gratitude - The Pie Edition

I'm grateful this week is over! Isn't that a terrible thing to say?!

It's so true. Last week sucked. I fully intend that this week will be better.

I'm making sure of this by baking a delicious dessert for this evening. It's the second time I've made it and if it is as good as last time, then we are in for a treat!

Brown Butter Creamy Apple Pie
Prep Time: 30 min ; Start to Finish: 3 hr 40 min
Makes: 8 servings Nutrition Information
A crumbly brown sugar streusel tops a classic apple pie made easy in a frozen pie crust.

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 cups sliced peeled Granny Smith apples (5 medium)

1 Pillsbury® Pet-Ritz® frozen deep dish pie crust

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup firm butter

1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 . Heat oven to 400°F. Place cookie sheet in oven to heat. In 1-quart saucepan, cook 1/4 cup butter over medium heat, stirring constantly, until melted and lightly browned. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
2 . In large bowl, beat 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the egg with wire whisk until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 tablespoons flour and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in cooled butter. Gently stir in apples. Pour into crust-lined pan.
3 . In medium bowl, stir together all streusel ingredients except butter. With pastry blender or fork, cut in 1/4 cup butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over apples. Place pie on cookie sheet in oven.
4 . Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and cover edge of crust with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Bake 40 to 50 minutes longer or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown. Cool 2 hours.
5 . In small bowl, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add remaining topping ingredients; beat until stiff peaks form. Pipe or spoon onto pie.

I make my own pie crust, only because I like my pie crust. Tonight I'm not making the whipped cream, only because I forgot to buy cream. So we'll have vanilla ice cream with it. Yumm! I highly recommend.

I'm glad that there is a pie baking in my oven, it gave me something special to be thankful for!

Have a great week!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Permanent Color

For the first time in a while, I'm just trying to be me.

Trying, really hard.

I was about 20. He was noticing that I wasn't his high school sweetheart anymore. I was his college sweetheart. And my thighs were rounder. My hips grown. My hair had lost some of its blond hue, since I now spent my summers in the classroom rather than in working in the corn fields.

I was different and I didn't want to be.

He was my first love.

Have you ever heard the term, "He's not that into you"? I think it was a book that I didn't read. I probably should have.

He was not that into me for four years. But I gave him what he needed, and he took it all.

So I was twenty. I'd gained 20 lbs since high school. I was no longer a four sport athlete or the golden girl he met at a track meet in eleventh grade. I was becoming a woman.

Unfortunately, that was not to his standards. I could see it, feel it, and even hear it. "You look good in THAT outfit."

So I dieted. A lot. And started highlighting my hair.

Tonight, I did my first at-home hair color. And probably my last.

I don't have fake highlights any more.

I'm going to be real.

And even if tears spring to my eyes as I think of it, I'm going to accept myself as the woman I've become.

It may have taken 10 years.

But tonight I washed that man right out of my hair.

Rambling Friday

I sure am glad I've started this Friday post, which is all about making no sense at all.

Because I'm pretty sure that tonight I'm not up to making sense.


That, I can do.

This week has left me feeling tired and grumpy.

The students were belligerent (I'm not exaggerating). Even the good ones. All hormones and negative energy. Some don't believe in it, but full moon sucks.

Today would have been the birthday of a dear friend, had she not passed on in May. I brought out the autumn pillow that she gave me last year on my birthday. And I missed her.

Another dear friend is now fighting cancer from another angle, and bravely so, I must say. Still, I wish it weren't so.

My own kids are darlings, but also tired and a little grumpy themselves.

I've got a decision to make about Brenna and dance class. It's so fresh that I'm not sure if I can even talk about it. She doesn't appear to have much fun (although she says it is fun). She seems tired for the 45 minute class. There is no buy in, she doesn't do what the others are doing. My friend asked me if she's the one in the outfield picking dandelions. Why yes, she is.

I'm ready for a break.

I hope this weekend is enough.


8:26 PM at my house.
Brenna, to me: "I love you as King Triton loves Ariel."

Now that, my friends, made my WHOLE week.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Grains of Gratitude

My mom ended up being really sick while we were back this weekend. While this was a huge bummer, I'm glad she was doing better today. It seems like she's recovering from a nasty virus. I'm praying that whatever it was is something that my family has had or can at least fight off!
I was thankful for some time back at my folks'. It's nice to have a change of pace. Yesterday afternoon Mason and I walked the property while the girls finished their naps. I took him down a dirt field road that lines the corn fields around my parents' house. We live in the city and I'm so grateful that my kids get a chance to spend time in such a rural setting too. I don't think we'll be back for harvest this year, since we were just back. But hopefully next year the kids can watch the huge combines level entire fields of corn. It is a sight to see. Especially for my city kids. Nebraska or not, where we live now is very urban to me.
I enjoyed the fall breeze, okay, wind. I enjoyed the smells. The sights.
I got to see my brothers house, which is gorgeous. And to help celebrate my niece's 4th birthday.
I'm thankful for many things tonight, but am perhaps to tired to articulate. It's good to be home.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fan Club

He may be goofy, but I've always enjoyed Jim Carrey.

This is why I am now in love.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Rambling Friday

I'm rambling two hours early. It's Thursday night and I'm packing for a weekend away.

Hubs is staying home and I'm driving with the kids two hours to my parents' tomorrow. He has a two-day golf tournament. We're going 'home' to get spoiled. My brother has finished BUILDING his house (with his nurse-by-day, general contractor by night wife) and I'm so excited to see it.

My kids are healthy. Knock on wood.

Brenna was so tired tonight she couldn't focus at dance class. It made me picture many weeks of not-focusing at dance to come. Do I really want to do this every week? I'm the queen of 3 weeks and this was Week 3. Brenna promises she really wants to do it. We'll see next week.

Mason did not bite this week. Not once. Great week. Great kid. I worried about not much after two bad days.

I feel like I should knock on more wood.

I'm tired. The kind of tired that makes me try to shrug it off and pretend I'm fine. I'm hoping a weekend in the country cures all.
My mom's got these great flower beds and I feel at peace there. It is where I grew up, after all. My dad spent the summer helping my brother BUILD his house, so I haven't seen him for awhile. Can't wait for a visit. And a hug.

Have a lovely weekend. I intend to.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - 2001

Just a couple of words: I can't believe that they're seventh graders now.

Monday, September 17, 2007


I adjusted my mirror today, on our way home.

Their heavy little heads leaned slightly towards each other. Little eyes heavy with a day of learning wonderful new things. Their faces a mess from an afternoon spent outside. Mouths sagging into frowns, but content and peaceful.

"Did you have a good day?" I ask.

They barely muster an answer. I see a slight nod.

Their faces are happy, but tired.

Another Monday gone by.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Grains of Gratitude

This week I am so grateful for:

  • The gorgeous fall (even though it is technically still summer) day. We took a nice walk with the dog as a family. Brenna walked instead of riding in the stroller and enjoyed getting some exercise.
  • We went to church as a family this morning, which we hadn't done in a while. Although it is hard to keep Mason corralled for an hour, it's still a nice thing to do together.
  • I haven't really worked much this weekend, a first in a while. I had three IEPs this last week and I'm really grateful to have those finished. I like helping my students set goals, but oh my! The paperwork.
  • We are planning a trip back to my parents' next weekend. We haven't been back in a few months and I am excited to go spend some time with my family and see my brother's new home (which he and his wife built themselves!).

That's the short list. I'm feeling more relaxed after feeling very pouty yesterday. I don't really like missing out on fun plans, but knew it was for the best. I'm grateful that the gloomy mood has lifted.

That's it. Have a great week!

I'm going to try very hard not to whine. We'll see if I succeed.

Yesterday's dreary, 50-something degree weather and fore casted rain left us uninspired to drive an hour to an outdoor festival. Our kids are a lot to manage on a perfect day, I can't imagine what fun two cold and wet children would be. Couple that with their recent recovery from random daycare viruses and we nixed plans to go to the AppleJack festival. Boo hoo.

Then I got all restless in the afternoon and decided I would take the kids to the mall in the afternoon and walk around. Mason needs jeans, so I figured we'd drop by Children's Place and I'd let them go to the Disney Store (Brenna's favorite).

Bad idea! I will never do that again. Our double stroller is a side-by-side. It definitely gave me empathy for anyone who has ever tried to shop at the mall in a wheelchair. Why bother! The wheels kept getting caught on displays and I kept running into people. It was frustrating for me and I have a pretty high tolerance for such things. Couple that with my kids whining and fighting, wasn't pretty.

I will not take them to the mall by myself for many, many years. That stroller will never darken their doors again. It is great for outdoor events and walks in the neighborhood, but NOT for shopping!

During the trip I marveled at how it was just one of those days. I paid $2 for a soda and dropped it. I knocked stuff off of racks. I bumped into people. It was as if the universe was telling me to go home! So I did.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Rambling Friday

Mason must have had a better day because his daily note just said "Have a good weekend!" Damn you people! Don't you know I need feedback before the weekend! Sigh. Hubs had picked up the kids and didn't even think to ask someone if it was better. I would have asked.

Vegetarians Beware: The OM family is eating Meat Lover's pizza tonight!

I told the Hubs never mind after calling his name. He still said What? I said, Oh never mind. I don't need beer, I need to learn to manage my stress without alcohol. He said, I'll go get you some right now. He knows me so well. And now he's off to the football game. (FYI: The beer is for ME, not the kids. I like to have one on Friday when they are off to bed.)

Hubs is off to supervise
(i.e. kick out) high school kids at the football game. Brenna has picked out Annie for her weekly movie night. The Sun'll Come Out! Tomorrow!

ESPN College Game Day is coming to Nebraska tomorrow. Big news around here! Hubs is even taping it. Yes, that's right, taping it. We haven't gotten the DVR back yet (we seem to get it back every fall during football season and then give it up in the winter when we're trying to cut back bills). So he's firing up the VCR to tape Game Day. And then we're off to the parade at AppleJack Festival.

I'm still mulling a post on turning 30 around in my head. Can't seem to articulate what's rattling around up there. I'll keep you posted. Pun intended.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Another Toddler Milestone

My little guy has entered an ugly new phase. One that I feel like I can't talk about. But can't stop talking about.

He's biting.

And hitting.

And crying.

We talk, read books, tell him "nice hands", and still get the sad note (that's really what they call it) at the end of the day about biting, and hitting, and crying.

I hope it's a very short phase, I hope it's not a sign of things to come.

I hope that I can get over talking, and talking, and talking about it.

Feels like a self-fulfilling prophesy if I just keep talking about it. Like I'm stuck on the the n-word (naughty).

I'm bracing myself for the worst.

But he's only just one. And he's my baby.

[My baby who is the happiest little guy right now, smiling and laughing as he plays.]


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mid-Week Blah Blah Blahs

My hubby and his dad are doing a tile project in our entry, from the front door to the back patio door. It will be so nice, because of the high traffic area. But having my high traffic area out of commission for the past two days has left me feeling grrrrrrumpy. I stayed upstairs in the bedrooms with kids last night and just kept them out of the house completely tonight. I'm so tired, but don't feel like going to bed. Call me melancholy.

How long do you wait to turn the furnace on? How cold do you let it get in your house? Just curious. With little ones, it's different. Especially if you've got a little girl who refuses to wear any pajamas, because she will be h-o-t. So instead, she's a little popsicle in panties by morning. I've been tempted the past two nights to turn on the heat.

I can't wait for the weekend. We're going to the Applejack Festival in Nebraska City, which involves a parade and picking apples. I'm hoping that it will help brighten my mood, which has gone to a dingy shade of blue this week. It's the day, I know. But it's also such a mixture of happy-sad. Good-bye to summer.

We remembered victims of 9/11 in my classroom today. My students scarcely remember where they were that day, since they were so young. But I remember.

May we never forget.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Updates and Grains

Making a few changes today.

I now have a matching email address for blogging friends.

I feel much better now. I like when things match.

I totally stole B&P's idea for a name tag at the bottom of the page. Scroll all the way down and check it out, it is really cool. As she mentioned, the blog author may be the only one who ever sees it, but it's fun anyway. Feel free to go get your own!

On my profile, it has said "One Young Mom" for a while now. I turn thirty in less than 30 days, so I took out the young. Some may laugh, but I've always felt that leaving one's twenties means the end of youth [more on that later, I promise].

That's it for now. Email me at my new place, I'd be so happy to have mail from someone besides Google! I may even go crazy and start nominating people for ROFL and Perfect Posts and Just Posts. The world is all open to me now that I've got an email address to go with the blog.

Happy Sunday to y'all. I'll be tending to children whose noses seem to be leaking yellow goo today. No church, no first day of Sunday School, no rally day with all of the potluck/church fair activities. Just me, wiping noses and applying Vick's.

Grains of gratitude for today are for the minutes I've been given this morning to update the blog and read the few posts that people have done over the weekend. I've even wandered the blogosphere and have been lurking at all sorts of other blogs that I don't regularly visit. It's fun to do it without anyone screaming and crying at me while I do it! Thank you Playhouse Disney!
A quiet Sunday morning with a nice cup of coffee is something to be thankful for!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A Big Week

My little girl had two big firsts this week. I want to post some brilliant words about how I feel and what this means. Instead, my head just bounces around a jumble of words and phrases, none of which can connect to make a coherent statement about being the mom of a preschooler.

Next fall we'll go to parents' Cry Day, as she starts kindergarten. Next year she'll be a school-ager.
This year, we are in between. I love this age, four. She's so bright, so ready to learn, so happy with life. I love her energy and her silliness. She is this fantastic light in our home. This imaginative little girl, who loves without question. Who gives whatever she can. Who still needs her mommy and daddy to snuggle her and help her fasten her shoes.

I want to capture this moment. When she's on the cusp of becoming even more independent.
She had her first day of preschool. After a slight bit of drama where she was put in a different room than we expected, with a different teacher (they changed her back after I wrote a kind, but firm letter), she's all set for a year of Kindergarten Readiness preschool.

Our other first this week was her first dance class. She'll be going on Thursday nights for a 45 minute preschool dance class. Two of her best little friends are in the class. The other reason we chose the studio is that it's run by a former high school classmate of hubs, so that's fun. It's an old building on this sort of off-the-beaten path industrial track road. It all feels very urban to this smalltown girl who never took a single dance class. It's a great studio and Brenna "had so much fun!", at least that's how she put it when she came running out after the class. We're not planning on Brenna taking dance for more than a year or two (but who knows, she may surprise us) but think it will be a fun way for her to build coordination and rhythm. I'm a huge Klutz and would love it if she doesn't have to deal with that! We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Smell of Football

Back to work today.

Yesterday was lovely.

I continued on my cleaning quest. Dusting off the front entry. Shooing away the spiders who were inhabiting the light fixture. I cleaned the front and back doors, ridding them of the two-foot high fingerprints that covered them.

We cooked out on the grill. And ate right there at the patio table.

We thanked God for the food and each other.

The wind was soft and I could feel the slightest hint of cool in the air. Summer is waning and I'm anticipating autumn with impatient excitement.

It's my favorite time of year, autumn.

I believe it's because I'm a Libra and was born in October. I always return to my center in the fall.

The changing leaves make me nostalgic for my childhood. For burning piles of leaves.

For buying pencils and Trapper Keepers.

The smell of the air on cool Friday night gives me butterflies in my stomach. We call it the smell of football.

In my small town, we would walk from the volleyball game at the school to the football field for the 7 o'clock kick off. You could hear the announcer from several blocks away.

It was all so exciting to a 14 year old. Being with friends. Hanging out.

There's nothing better than this approaching season. Even at 29.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Keeping House - Unfinished Basement, After

I showed the horrifying shots of my unfinished basement.
My mom came. And we worked really hard. She's great at sort of, well...telling me what to do. Which I appreciate because, well...I sort of suck at such projects. I tire easily. I want to get lazy.

Instead, mom had me keep on keeping on.
She had this great idea to hang some flat sheets, to give the illusion of the wall. Even though we are the only ones who ever go down there, now we don't have to look at the shelves while we watch a movie. We hung them right where real walls will some day stand (when we finally finish the basement).

seating area before
seating area after

We also made an old t.v. stand my dad made for me when I went to college into a arts/crafts/games shelf. Which I am very excited about!

storage shelves before

storage shelves after - behind the new "wall"

I also organized all of my photos and scrapbooking supplies in one corner, which is really fun. Now when I scrapbook, it's all right there.

That's it. I could go around my entire house, showing off all of the gleaming surfaces. The places in the carpet where we spot cleaned out the dirt. The bathrooms where the gunk is now gone. But how boring would that be, really? When you could just say, "But OM, that's how my house always looks!"

Happy Labor Day! Aside from putting away some laundry, I'm taking the day off!