Saturday, December 29, 2007

Holy Cow!!!!!!!!

For those of you that know me, you know I never pretend, never hide and never shut my mouth.

What a day today.

I ended my job, had to get ready for a new one, worried about my Mother having not seen my babies in years, worried about my friend Sharon, dealt with Christmas, dealt with the kids, etc etc etc.........

Oh what a crock.

Tonight, I drove home in the worst rain storm ever. It was a sad day, and I so do not do sad (what a lie, I cry like a baby).

I had to say goodbye today to good friends, a job I loved, and then when I left work, .....

YUP, you guessed it...........a torrential rain storm. Just what I needed.

All the way home, I prayed. My Prayer:

Dear Jesus, just get me home to my babies safely please.

I finally got home, thanking God, and was about to back into my driveway when my phone rang.

My Most handsome Other half decided I needed a surprise (he is the most awesome). His line:
HONEY! Can you and the girls throw some clothes in a bag? I have to pick up a trailer (boat) from Ft Lauderdale, and I thought you all would like to visit your family for the weekend!!!!!!

Has the man learned ANYTHING in four years?????????

Me, female extraordinaire, Oldest Daughter ...female extraordinaire in the making???? And the Taters.......with Zoe?????????

Ugh, Hilarity at My house........

I am pleased to report that we all are ready to leave at 7:00 Am.

The rest,

My mother has miraculously , managed a whole 1/3rd of our very extenuated family to change their schedule to be there for exactly two hours on Sunday (oh, we are so not going to get done by Monday morning),

Poor HIM! He, being the great son of a great man, brought up in the south where manners reign supreme, is about to clash with my VERY Southern family.................OH TO SAVE THE DAY!

By MY VERY SOUTHERN FAMILY, I mean VERY southern, not just south of the border, I mean almost south of the Equator!

Now, the time line. it is an 11 hour drive from here, we will be lucky (remember we have two daughters) to leave here by 10:00 Am. We will get there by dinnertime. Mother will have the kids (she hasn't seen them in a few years).

I will not bother you all with the time line,Suffice it to say, we are squeezing in a whole three weeks into two days.

Therefore, I will be taking my camera with TONS of batteries!

What man dares to say "can you guys just throw some clothes in a bag (at 6:00 pm), we are leaving at 7:00 AM, and live with it!!!!!!!

The greatest man in the world!

I don't care that the reason we are going home is to pick up a piece for work, I don't care that it was last minute...........

The girls and I haven't been home in years. SuperStar is taller than her grandmother. My best friend who is so inviting into her home (and godmother to my daughters), has had a really hard year and I can't wait to put my arms around her. Tater Tott, well.......none of my family has seen her since she was a baby........

And we have all of that to do in 72 hours!!!!!!! NOW tell me I am not Super Michelle!!!!!!!

I will post pictures, there will be many.

All my friends, pray that this is safe trip, a joyous one is undeniable!!!!!!!!!

Love to you all


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Harley in desperate need of a shave.

Mom and Dad, this is for you.

Allen wanted to wait until we actually groomed him this weekend (so he can wear his Christmas sweater with pride), but I think we can do "before" shots now and an "after" shots when he decides that we are not horrible parents and we shave his face for his own good.

What a face.

Here you go Mom and Dad:

Here is our most handsome little man

I am not sure who is more active, Harley or the kids.

So, Mom and Dad, Here is our boy. He is super smart, in love with the girls, and in bad need of grooming (although this is the second time he has been groomed), he hates his face being done.....(.too bad toots, Mom and Dad want to see your face dagnabit). He will get his this weekend (he has to look handsome in his new cardigan and Polo shirt!!!!)

We love you and wish you were here with us for Christmas!!!!

M & A

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

Let us never forget the MIRACLES!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Such a busy weekend, so many pictures!!!

So, I am not writing, am just going to post pictures:

And away we go.........

Taylor's Tremendous B'Day party,

Peyton, Ashley, Taylor, Mia and Taylor

Taylor, Eddie, Cameron, Sanjay, Peyton, Ashley, Jazmine, Mia, Taylor and Megan

The Best Man EVER IN THE WORLD making a gingerbread house!!!!

what I want from Santa..........

I can't actually have it, not at $197,000.00 (I can think of better ways to spend that kind of money), but it sure is nice to dream!

Wow, what a weekend!!!!!!!!!!!

Life in this house is always an adventure. Christmas is THE BEST TIME of the year.......

Taylor had THE BEST B-Day, The Gingerbread house was a kit, but Allen was so intent and made it beautiful, and I didn't get to keep the Benz!!!!!!

It sure was fun though!!!!!!!!!!

We love all of you who come here to see us.

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Happy Birthday Taylor!!!!!!!!!!!

Taylor is 9 today.

I woke up this morning and all I could think about was the day she was born.

I was having induced labor, so Cathy and I packed up Ashley, picked up my mother and headed to the hospital. It was a beautiful cool night (rare in Ft Lauderdale) and we were enjoying being together. Cathy and my mom were teasing me, that I didn't LOOK like I was 9 months pregnant, I hadn't gained much weight (Taylor gave me morning sickness for all 9 months, and it wasn't just morning, it was afternoon and evening too!).

About a mile from the hospital, we turned towards the hospital and found a police roadblock. We turned around, and tried another approach and found another roadblock.

I pulled up next to a Broward Sheriff and told him that I had to get to the hospital, His response was :

"Lady, we have an escaped prisoner from the jail in this area somewhere. Whomever you want to visit, you will have to visit tomorrow".


Me: Officer, I know it's hard to tell, but I am having a baby!!!!!!!!!

I don't think that poor officer could have been more shocked if I had slapped him.

He asked us to wait a minute, went back to his car and spoke with his partner, his Sgt, not really sure who else.

After about 10 minutes he came back to the car and told us that he had arranged an escort for us to the hospital. And, true to his word, three police cars surrounded us, and (at about 10 mph) we drove the last mile to the hospital.

Once at the hospital, I was made comfortable, all the monitors hooked up, and we were well on our way. After about an hour, the anesthesiologist came in. He was a terribly grumpy and brusque man. He promptly informed me that he was going to give me my epidural early because he was tired and wanted to go home! Of all the NERVE!!!!!!

Funny part about is was, after making me horrible sick for 9 months, Taylor's delivery was a breeze. I pushed a couple of times, while reading a book, and OUT SHE CAME!!!!

All pink and beautiful and PERFECT! All 6 lbs, 9 ounces and 21 inches of her.

I got to take a nap for a few hours while the doctors poked, prodded and cleaned her up. About midmorning, they brought her back to me. I was amazed at those huge brown eyes, they looked so ...Intense!

It hadn't been ten minutes that I got to enjoy my new baby before the nurse told me that I had visitors. I expected my family, but I was surprised.

The door opened and the first thing I saw was this HUGE teddy bear, followed by about 15 uniformed Broward Sheriffs officers. They were all of the officers on duty during our escorted entrance to the hospital. They held her, cooed over her and were so very special.

Taylor had an eventful entrance into this world, and every day is an event with her.

Taylor, you are the most beautiful, funny, sweet, charming, bright, loving child. You have a heart made of gold and a twinkle in your eye that Santa must envy.

Happy Birthday my baby!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Oooohhhhhhhh I am in TROUBLE now!

I am such a bad mommy/other half for doing this, but I just couldn't help myself!

Turn up the volume and ELF along!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Concerts and Joyful Noise

Tonight was Ashley's annual Christmas Concert.

As Dawn (Ashley's best friend Jazmine's mom) and I sat there we realized that we are old hat at this. Our daughters are soon headed off to High School. We had done these concerts a hundred times. We try to keep the kids in line, critique, praise, make funny faces from the pews......

Doesn't Ashley just look like she wants to say Fu**...I MEAN FaLa La La La

Heads up, Ashley and Jazmine have been friends since fourth grade, they are inseparable. For better or worse, they are attached at the hip.

I want you all to be very proud of me! I actually have learned to not sit in the pew with a tissue, I can cry when I am proud (and yes, I am DAMNED PROUD that my daughter singing makes me cry with joy) and still not let the kids see it!

The kids were great! Ashley had her complaints.....the 7th grade sang with the select chorus and ruined their performance, etc......But, they worked hard and the noise emanating from all those throats was truly JOYFUL!

The cutest picture of the night is one Ashley isn't even in (she had to run an errand for her Chorus director). Think Logan will ever forget this moment??????

If you enlarge this picture, and look in the upper right, there is Ashley coming out of the Choir room!


This is my favorite concert every year, and YES MOM .....I cried!

The Whole Crew

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Baby It's Cold Outside!

It's cold outside (yes even here in Florida, it gets cold in the winter), so SOUP'S ON!

Over at BooMama's House She is having a Soup Off!

If you have a great recipe, SHARE BABY!

My humble addition is so easy, and SO yummy!

My Favorite Seafood Chowder

1 Can Cream of Celery Soup
1 Can Cream of Potato Soup
1 Soup Can Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 Soup Can of Water
Olive Oil
1 Bag of peeled, deveined, tails on Shrimp
1 Fillet of your favorite Fish ( I love Grouper for this, but you can use anything you like)
Red Pepper Sauce (either Louisiana Hot Sauce or Tabasco)

In a small pot, cover the bottom with olive oil and add the garlic. Use as much or as little as you like. I LOVE garlic, so I tend to add more.

Once garlic is cooking, add the soups, the heavy whipping cream and the water. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

Once soup has boiled, lower temp to simmer, add the shrimp, the chunked fish and about 1 tsp of dill, and a couple splashes of Either Louisiana hot sauce or Tabasco. Simmer for 10 minutes and serve with fresh crunchy French bread.

Oh, PS.....this recipe can be doubled or tripled. The kids don't like to eat seafood as much as I do, so I usually just make this for ME!

Pss.....As a Christmas Wish, I wished all the calories out!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Stinky Sweat and the BEST Christmas

Oooooooh Boy!!!!!!!!!!

I won't mince words.

Kyle is home. His baby who hasn't seen him since she was just an infant, has her daddy home. Monica, who loves her husband has him home.

Tonight, we were all on pins and needles.....Kyle was coming home. If you know anyone in the military, it is really short notice, they cannot tell you exact, date time........all they can do is an approx.
Monica went to the base, waited all day. Tonight she brought him home! HE STUNK!!!!!!!!!!!

Still in his desert BDU's (do they still call them that?), dirty, STANKY!!!!!!!, and so happy .

Not just him, all of us. I hugged him, for dear life.

Our families are so close. We celebrate every holiday together (except for that New Years that he pissed me off on the 7th by lighting fireworks off in front of the girls bedroom ON A SCHOOL NIGHT!!!!!!!)

I can't do this now. I have to just stop, thank God that Kyle is home. I can blog about this another day.

I am way too emotional.

KYLE IS, all parts intact (and looks like he's been lifting weights (he's going to need that weight training, his baby is a SWEET bundle of about 15 lbs!!!!!!!!!!)

Good night,

Tomato Pie

Since this is a Paula Dean recipe, I will start off by saying:

HEY YA'LL!!!!!!!!!

I made this recipe at Thanksgiving, because (yes again) I was into COLOR! I needed a veggie dish that was yummy AND pretty!

It was sooooooooooo good!

The keys to this recipe are:

Make sure the tomatoes are peeled (for those of you that don't know how to peel a tomato, I'll tell you at the end of this post).

Make sure the Basil is fresh, not dried.

And use green onions, not regular onions.

Ok, the recipe:

Tomato Pie
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen
Show: Paula's Home Cooking
Episode: Farmer's Market

4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 (9-inch) prebaked deep dish pie shell (pre baked)
1 cup grated mozzarella
1 cup grated cheddar
1 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the tomatoes in a colander in the sink in 1 layer. Sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for 10 minutes.

Layer the tomato slices, basil, and onion in pie shell. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the grated cheeses and mayonnaise together. Spread mixture on top of the tomatoes and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

To serve, cut into slices and serve warm.

Now, how to peel a tomato:

Get nice big fat tomatoes. Lightly cut a cross on the bottom. Drop them in boiling water for a few seconds, until you see the skin starting to curl up. Take them out of the water, let them cool a bit and then peel peel away! Make sure you drain the tomatoes in a colander. Recipe says 10 minutes, but I let them sit for at least an hour. It drains a lot of the water out of the tomatoes and makes it so the pie isn't runny.

Have a great day everyone! I have a really busy day today, so I won't be around much. Love to All!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Moving North to Find South

My writing tonight is a serious Hat Tip to FriedOkra .

Reading her posts makes me laugh, but also evokes serious thought for me.

I grew up in the BIG BAD CITY. Actually many cities: Miami, Medellin, Panama City (in Panama, not in Florida), Bremen, Munich, Gothenburg, Birmingham, Cleveland, Nashville and a whole lot of others along the way.

It was something I never thought about. It was where I was from. A little bit of everyone of those cities had an impact on me and I will never forget what I learned.

In Bremen, I learned where I was born. I learned that a city can be beautiful and old, and smell like coffee and hops brewing. A city doesn't have to mean smog and dirt.

In Medellin, Colombia, I learned that a city can be beautiful, and culturally diverse, and GROW, and that family still has a place. It is ok to be proud of your country and your culture, and still have closely knit families.

In Panama, I learned (as a CZ Brat) that cultures can mesh. The old can coexists with the new without fading into oblivion.

In Nashville I learned that centers of education are not solely for European cultures.

In Munich, I learned ancient family history.

In Gothenburg, I learned that you can watch a sunset at 2 AM, that swimming in freezing water is fun, that you won't die of hypothermia and you can support Greenpeace without losing your morality.

In Miami, I learned that you can have street smarts and not bow to a victim mentality.

In Cleveland, I learned the opposite: Victim mentality works (Not my favorite city, but since I was there, it seems to have gotten better).

In Birmingham, I learned what the South was.

All of those cities taught me valuable lessons, but no lesson was harder to learn than the one I learned in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. That is where my daughters were born, and where I learned that there are easier places to raise your children than the BIG BAD CITY.

Five years ago, I made a decision to pack up my babies and move 800 miles from home, to a small town in the Panhandle of Florida where I knew no one. My friends and family thought I had lost my mind. In my mind, I was doing the right thing.......I was moving SOUTH!~

I wanted so much for my daughters, but more than anything, I wanted them to have a chance. A chance to grow up at a normal pace. Not a pace that demanded they make decisions on morality, or sexuality, before they were ready. This is still not heaven, but it is several steps closer.

In this town, if you don't belong to a church, ANY church, people wonder why. In this town, if you do not volunteer at your child's school for SOMETHING, people wonder why. In this town, if you are not involved in the community somehow, people wonder why. It is the SOUTH I longed for.

The fact that I moved my kids from a failing school system to the best school system in the state, should give them a clue, but my BIG CITY friends, just don't get it.

They ask why, I would leave a cultural mecca to live here. To live among the military (egads!!!!!!) they support, but in the abstract only. To live in a town of 65,000 people VOLUNTARILY?????? Unheard of.

The fact that the area where I live is called the "Redneck Riviera" is enough of a deterrent, Their comments are usually along the lines of: "most beautiful beaches in the world, great vacation spot, but WHY would you want to live there, It's not even on the I-95 corridor!".

My answer is simple:


And my babies, although not immune to the real world, have a better chance! They show it every day.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Itinerary for “Honoring Heroes at the Holidays Tour”

Move America Forward is hosting a Christmas/Holiday/Hanukkah gift drive for our troops stationed over seas.

Here is their itinerary. If they come to your town, SUPPORT SUPPORT SUPPORT!

Lexi (pictured above with my daughter Ashley) Had her first Thanksgiving while her father is stationed in Iraq.

If these people are near you during this time, please donate as many cards as you can. Our troops, one of my dearest friends included, would be so grateful!

If you cannot go to a rally, here is where you can donate:

Give from your hearts! So many of our loved ones are stationed overseas this year.

Holiday Recipes

Hi Guys.

I am not a gourmet. Mostly I try to find simple recipes that are easy, healthy and fun.

Today I am going to post two recipes. One is my very favorite fish recipe. I know it is not traditionally a Holiday recipe, but with people coming all the time, it is simple and DELICIOUS! I use grouper because I have an over abundance of fresh caught grouper at my disposal, but I also love it's sweet buttery flavor. If you cannot get fresh grouper, try red snapper. I will tell you, if it smells like fish, DON'T BUY IT!

Here you go!

My Favorite Grouper!

Several nice fillets of grouper (depending on how many you are serving)

One Onion, sliced paper thin
One of each (I choose for color) Orange, red and green pepper sliced thin
One tomato (adjust if cooking for a larger group) also sliced as thin as possible.

Olive oil
One and a half cup mayonnaise
Dash of red pepper sauce, m ore if you like it spicier (I prefer Louisianna hot sauce, but tabasco works very well)
One tablespoon of either Dijon or creole mustard.

On a cookie sheet (tin foil covered for easy cleanup)coat with enough olive oil so that fish won't burn

Lay fish on sheet and season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Carefully layer the vegetables on the fish, This is more about appearance than technique. You want to show off the pretty colors.

Cook fish at 325 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until fish is opaque.

In a bowl combine the mayonnaise, mustard and hot sauce. Pour over fish and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with risotto or white rice.

My Take on an Old Favorite!

Sometimes you need a quick dessert that is easy and delicious. This one is my take on American Apple Pie. It only has five ingredients (aside from the spices and apples) and there are two of each! You can remember this one even if you can't find the recipe!

It comes with a disclaimer: If you want a perfect presentation, you might not like this. It looks more like a cobbler when served, but it is so yummy, if you serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, no one will ever notice:

My Apple Something-or-Other


5-6 Large Granny Smith Apples, peeled and cored
2 sticks of butter
2 Cups of all purpose flour
2 Cups sugar
2 Eggs
2 Tsp Baking powder
Nutmeg and Cinnamon sugar
A few pats of extra butter

MIX: In a large bowl, mix eggs, flour, softened butter, baking powder, and sugar. Set aside

Slice apples into a large deep dish pie pan (ceramic works best). Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar, and nutmeg. Put a few pats of butter on top of apples. Cover this with the flour/sugar mixture. It will be very gooey, so grease your hands and put spoon it around before you try to spread.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately ½ hour or until golden brown.

Serve with Vanilla Ice cream

SIMPLIFY YOUR LIVES! These are yummy AND easy!

Have a great week!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Catherine Rose

Oh My! It's the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The house isn't cleaned, the decorations aren't up and I am STRESSING.

Christmas time is such an emotionally variant time.

The kids with their gifts, more than they ever really need, the thoughts of family and friends, both past and present. Wow. Let's see if I can share a bit:

Growing up was easy and hard. I, like my children, grew up with every thing I ever needed and 9/10ths of what I could ever want. Somehow at Christmas, my parents forgot what the holiday meant. They fought constantly. They fought about the silliest things. My father the atheist was all about showing off wealth, my mother, the devout Catholic, was all about tradition and ceremony. The only thing they ever really agreed on what that the "Joneses" were not as well off, and couldn't afford the luxury of fighting over the wealth or the ceremony. I learned to hate Christmas.

Several years later, I met a woman. I was just out of college, had been briefly married, and was not about to go home. I never did like living alone, so I found a roommate. I came back to South Florida with ideas of being free. I wanted to work hard and party hard. I had absolutely no intention of being told when I came home or what I did with my money or my time. This woman, Cathy, needed a roommate and she and I were a perfect match. She worked nights, I worked days, she was neat and quiet, I was never home. It was perfect until that first Christmas. Cathy finally had company and wanted to have a traditional Christmas, I wanted no part of it. Christmas was about the party for me, the tradition for her.

Fearing that she would ask me to leave a perfect situation if I didn't comply, I dragged out her silly little bow making machine, and promptly set about making those sill homemade bows that she wanted to decorate the tree with (ugh, ugly AND homemade). I bought her a token gift and on Christmas Eve, me being impatient to get this over with, I wrapped presents. BIG MISTAKE...........HUGE.......I knew how to wrap, and make things pretty, and she wanted my help because her wrapping skills were sorely lacking.

She had presents for EVERYONE, and asked me to wrap them all. There was a gorgeous purse for her co-worker, the simple gold chain and cross for someone she had met at the hospital where she worked. There were silly trinkets for the girls in the computer room, the gag gifts for her bosses. I wrapped them all.

I finally did get to go out that night, but something struck me........being out, in a group of strangers, wasn't nearly as much fun as hanging out with her and wrapping presents. I went home and crawled into bed feeling miserable and sorry for myself.

The next morning, I woke to Christmas carols (can you GET anymore annoying?)and went out in the living room to see what in God's name all the racket was. Cathy handed me a cup of coffee and all smiles, showed me the tree. Every single gift that I so meticulously wrapped was under it, with name on the tags.

Cathy passed away 7 years ago last September. She died of a cancer that she never knew she had until it was too late. She died at home, with me and my daughters. I wanted to make sure that she knew, at the very last minute of her life, that she was loved. Loved, not for what she did, but for who she was. A beautiful woman, full of disdain for the stupid and ordinary, and full of admiration for life. A life she saw in my babies, babies that she had never been able to have, but was such an integral part of raising. I had become her daughter, my daughters were her granddaughters.

This Christmas will be dedicated to her memory.

Catherine Rose, so aptly named. We love you and miss you every day. Rest in Peace my dearest of friends.



Hat tip to Diana M.

Your faith and strength these last few months will never be forgotten, but I agree. It is CHRISTMAS! With a capital "C"

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