Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year, New Decade

So we made it through Christmas. The tree is put away along with all the decorations. Toys, clothes & numerous gifts are still strewn throughout the house. You can write your name in the dust on everything & the floors need vacuumed. BUT, it has been a joyous season. I'm reminded every day of how blessed we are. I am so grateful for all the blessings that I have. For our health, a warm & safe place to sleep, food to keep me & those I love full. I figure all the other stuff can wait while I enjoy Liv for a few extra days before she heads back to school.

Liv took some of the money she got for her birthday & Christmas and bought a Wii. We've all pitched in to help buy the accessories & a few new games. We are all really enjoying it even if it does make our arms sore & remind us how out of shape we really are.

As I was thinking about the new year & what lies ahead it hit me that this year not only starts a new year, but also a new decade. A decade in which I will turn the big 4-0, in which my daughter will go to her proms, begin dating, learn to drive, graduate high school, and maybe even get married (EEK!). A decade in which Toby & I will celebrate 20 years of marriage (WOW!). A decade in which I will fulfill my goal of becoming a nurse, in which Toby & I will make many difficult decisions on what is best for us & our family. A lot can & will happen over this next decade.

Thinking of all this only helped to re-enforce what Toby & I had already discussed. I am not a fan of New Year's Resolutions, but I do believe that a new year gives us a feeling of a fresh start and is the perfect time to refocus our lives. This year, he & I plan on focusing on our efforts on learning to eat & live healthier. In the past we've tried to focus on losing weight, but I think we've been missing the point. It's not about what we weigh as much it is about how healthy we are & how we feel. So in 2010, we have decided to focus on choosing healthier, less processed foods and on making exercise a priority. I feel certain that these changes will result in many of the other changes we want (like smaller pant sizes & more energy :)

When I consider all the life events that will come to pass in the next decade, I am only reminded more of why I want to be healthy & at my best. So many of my greatest goals & the things I have wanted to live to see will come to pass in these next 10 yrs. I want to know that I'm going to be in tip-top shape to experience them.

In hopes of keeping my focus, I am going to make a sincere attempt to blog more and especially to journal privately on a day-to-day basis. I hope that doing this will help the rational me connect with the stupid me & keep me in line. (Because rationally I know what I need to do but the stupid me likes to sabatoge my efforts).

I hope that all of you who are considering a life refocus in the new year will achieve the success you deserve. Feel free to let me know what your refocus will be on & I'll do my darnedest to encourage you along. I already know of one friend who is refocusing on health for 2010 & I hope that she & I can encourage & support each other.

In the meantime, here's wishing all of you who follow me a happy, happy new year full of dreams & goals come true & a decade of happiness, joys, & blessings!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I MADE IT!!!

Gosh, it's been a long time since I blogged about anything. I think I'm intimidated by Cris Goode's blog. She blogs multiple times a day and they're always really good, colorful blogs. And what about her Blog Name: Goodeness Gracious? I mean, really, this gal is talented & funny! What I have to say seems very boring compared to that, so I just keep enjoying reading hers and never get around to writing anything myself.


However, today I realized that I had yet to blog about getting in to nursing school. Now, at least to me, THAT'S newsworthy! I got the letter in the mail on Wed before Thanksgiving. I was so nervous that I contemplated just waiting until after Thanksgiving because I didn't want to ruin our holiday weekend. But I talked myself into opening it right then knowing that I'd never rest a second of the weekend wondering what was in the envelope. And, boy was I glad that I did! It was an acceptance letter! WooHoo!!

FINALLY, something goes the way I planned it out. That seldom happens around here, but Toby, Liv & I definitely have goals and plans and getting into nursing school on the first try was a necessary part of them. I'm glad for me but I'm glad for them too. I'm happy that we can now move forward with our goals. It feels good to have a path, a goal, an attainable dream.

Livvy will be celebrating her 11th birthday soon. How did that happen? Her birth is as fresh in my memory as if it happened yesterday, yet I've long since forgotten what life was like before her. Some days she aggrevates me to no end, but there is never a day go by that I don't feel blessed to have her in my life. She makes me laugh, she makes me smile, she saves me from myself & molds me into a better person. Cris (yeah the same one from above) once said that her daughter was her life coach and I thought that was such an accurate description of my gal too. I shudder to think the person I would be if Livvy had not come along to share my life with me. I know she's getting to the age where being all mushy makes her want to puke, but at night when I tuck her in I still get little Liv hugs & kisses & multiple "I Love You"s just like when she was little. For her birthday party, I'll try to behave and not gush over her in front of her friends, but in my mind & heart I'll be bursting with love & pride for her. She is truly a beautiful girl inside & out. I'm so proud of her.

Happy Birthday, Miss Pea!

So what about the other person in my life who gives my heart reason to beat? Well, he was as happy as me about my acceptance to nursing school. In the meantime, I've FINALLY convinced him to get his guitar repair/cleaning/setup business going. He's been doing this for quite a while now working for free on friends & family guitars & changing his own around multiple times. He's SO good at this. He has to be the most meticulous person I know. I've witnessed more than one instrument come in the house looking like a lost cause only to leave looking like a great instrument. You'd be hard pressed to find a person who treasures guitars more than him.

Well, it's taken me a week to complete this blog. I hope to one day get good with adding pics and such & start doing this more regularly. Until then, guess this is as good as it gets.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter. ~ e.e. cummings

Gosh, where does the time go. It's been nearly a month since I last posted. I read others blogs who post multiple times each week and I'm so envious. Although I have plenty to say, I just never seem to find the self-discipline to actually write it down here. Plus, I just can't seem to be as witty as some of my co-bloggers are.
Liv's been making out her Christmas list. I know it feels too early for that, but I have to get started early if I'm going to make it happen. I'm waiting to hear back from Vincennes University as to whether or not I made it into their nursing program. I so hope I did, but if not then I'll have to continue the process of trying to get into the program at Ivy Tech. I should know something in Nov.

I wish that years ago I had had the foresight to start a book of funny things Liv says and does. I'm always amazed at some of the quick-witted things she says. For example, the other night she was in her room drinking orange soda and eating a snack. She came into the living room and said "Umm, mom, I'm going to need you to help me. I knocked my drink over." She said it just as calmly as if she had said, "The weatherman says the sun is going to shine tomorrow" or "I need to go brush my teeth." That's how she is...super calm about most everything. Anyway, I reacted with a little more spring in my step because, as I mentioned, her soda was orange and her carpet is ivory! So I hurry to the kitchen to get my carpet cleaning stuff, and Toby says to her, "Did you set the can back upright?" Now, if you know Liv you know that it is highly likely that she DID NOT set the can back upright. Because not only does she not get in a hurry about much but she is also a little scatterbrained....OK, sometimes a lot scatterbrained. Anyway, she apparently took great offense to his question because she turned around to him and said, "I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I'm not THAT dull! Gosh! Yes, I set it up!" I started laughing and I couldn't quit. That's not a saying that we normally use in our house, so I'm not sure where she heard it, but it didn't take her more than about 0.2 seconds to put it to use. I laughed the whole time I was cleaning up the carpet. Scatterbrained? Yes. Dull? Apparently not!

I think back at all the times she has made me laugh when I wanted to scream, cry or just plain give up. She's definitely been my saving grace on more than one occassion. Unfortunatley for Toby, he's often the butt of her jokes. Which, as co-parent I should not encourage, but sometimes she comes up with things that are just TOO funny to not laugh at! Thankfully, he's pretty good natured about it. I think all the years of nothing but estrogen surrounding him has worn him down to a comfortable state of acceptance! haha!

With Christmas quickly approaching, I'm once again trying to come up with some unique Christmas gifts for Liv's teachers. Any ideas? Last year we made ornaments and attached them to a tin of cookies. Liv wants to make cookies again this year. Each year, though, her list of who she wants to take them to grows longer. Before long we're going to be turning out cookies like a big city bakery just to give out as gifts! But that's OK. I do love baking and this year we actually have a kitchen/dining room big enough to roll out the big cookie operation. I'm really looking forward to this Christmas.

Well, it appears I should have titled this blog "random thoughts about everything and nothing at all". Honestly, this is a perfect look into my mind which operates almost 100% on random, jumbled thoughts...












Friday, September 25, 2009

Love & Marriage, Love & Marriage...you know the rest

I was reading Erica's blog about the marriage her and Anthony share. Yes, they are newlyweds so marriage should be a walk in the park for them, but you know what? Not all newlyweds get to have that walk in the park...Toby & I didn't and Erica & Anthony haven't either. Sometimes you get married and before the ink is dry on the license life is coming at you with both guns and from all angles. So this all got me to thinking...

We hear divorce statistics all the time (apparently Indiana has a few counties right up there toward the top of the list :( ) And, don't get me wrong, I think there are times when divorce is 100% the right choice. I would never live in an abusive home or with a man who cheated. But what I've been thinking about are the marriages where those situations don't exist. How happy are the people who are still married? No one tracks how happy we are with our marriages. There's no statistic for the people who are married but hate their partner or wish they weren't married. Which brings me to the question: How many happy marriages are left?

Recently, I made a comment about one of the many reasons I love Toby & am glad I married him. Someone asked him what he did wrong because they saw the comment and thought I was being sarcastic. Really? Has our society gotten to the point that you can't say something nice about your spouse without everyone assuming you're fighting and it's just a dig at the other person? That's just sick.

I've noticed friends who either don't list or barely mention their spouses online. People who post pisc of their family but leave out their spouse. Toby and I feel like a couple of outcasts. I would dare say that 90% of the people we know are either divorced or don't really get along that well with their spouse. That true, genuine closeness that I always thought was a benefit of marriage seems to be gone from our society today. I find that extremely sad.

Toby & I have been through A LOT. Just when things look up for us, it's usually just life taunting us before something else comes crashing down on us. But, even with all that has gone wrong, I can still wake up each morning thankful for him & Liv and the life I live. It's hard for me to remember all the bad stuff because I feel surrounded with so many blessings in my life. Do I get down in the dumps? Oh yeah, but it usually only takes me a minute or two to remember what is really important and how blessed I truly am.

When Toby & I were dating I once said it would be me & him against the world. At the time I said it as a joke, but there has been so many times when that did and still does feel true. He's been strong when I couldn't be and I've carried him when he couldn't carry himself. That's what, to me, marriage is all about. Marriage is about being two people, yet one unit. It's being what the other person needs when they just can't be it for themselves. It's about maintaining your individuality while molding yourself into what your partner needs most at that specific time. It's being patient for a little longer when you want to scream, it's being strong when you want to cry, it's about realizing we gain the most when we are selfless.

I'm deeply saddened that so many people miss out on the benefits of marriage. I'm comforted in knowing that at least one person in this world completely "gets" me. Understands me, knows me & loves me anyway. I'm empowered knowing that this one person, who means the most to me, believes in me (even when I doubt myself).

Maybe society is looking at it the wrong way. Marriage isn't really the hard part - life is! Perhaps when we realize that, we will be able to see that marriage can be the answer to the difficult journey life can be, and then we will see more truly happy marriages. In the meantime, I'm going to keep on hugging my guy every day, thanking him for understanding what marriage is suppose to be like and for being all the things I need and want. AND, I'm going to keep on praying that I see more and more relationships like Erica & Anthony's which give me hope that maybe Toby & I are not alone...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Here at home...

I started back to school this past week. It's taken me 2 years, but for the first time I didn't completely freak out on the first day and threaten to just throw the towel in. The usual chaos and disorganization was still there, but I seem to have mellowed. Interesting...Anyway, I am now in the thick of it studying anatomy, biology, medical terminology, & business writing. (My family is already sick of being told the proper medical terms for their parts. Liv informed me the other day she was going to need a medical dictionary if I continued this all semester!) Surprisingly, I love the anatomy & biology classes the most. Who would have ever thought that!?! The problem now is that I could sit for hours studying anatomy & biology and easily forsake my other 2 classes. I guess this is where self-discipline comes in.

Liv's been back to school now for nearly 3 weeks. She likes her teacher and she seems to be doing well. The biggest issue is that she's bored to death because the curriculum is just not challenging enough for her. I keep hoping that it will get a little harder, but according to the paper they sent home with the benchmarks for 5th grade learning - we're in trouble. Liv had already mastered about 98% of the things she was suppose to know by the end of the 5th grade. It may be a long year trying to keep her occupied.

Last week we all went to Evansville to see Joe Bonamassa in concert. We had incredible front row seats & we got to meet him before the show. The whole experience was just too awesome for words! We haven't been able to go & do much this year with the move and all and it was great to get out for a day and share something we all love (music) together. It was Liv's first concert. She told us on the way home she hoped we didn't have any ideas of ever going to a Joe concert without her again (we went in March just Toby & I to see him in Louisville). She had such a good time. She promised to hide in the trunk & beg for a ticket if we ever tried to leave her at home and go see Joe.

Otherwise things here are fairly peaceful (unless you count the pre-teen shopping excursions where I threaten to leave Liv tied to one of the clothes racks! HA!). We're looking forward to the fall weather (I'm even looking forward to Christmas. Go ahead and moan, everyone else does. Then I get the speech about how no one has any money, etc. Can we not enjoy the holidays if we aren't rich?...Don't get me started, that's a whole other blog :) I'm hoping that some of our out-of-state family will be able to make it in to visit this fall. If so, that should be a good time too!

Well I'm off to put a roast in the oven for supper tonight. Since we moved, Toby gets to come home every night for supper. That has been such a treat for us. We've never been able to sit down to a dinner together through the week. Now that things are slow at work for him, he's been working Fridays during the day and then he's home of all evening on Fridays. Liv & I are loving it!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Back to school

I was reading Sara's blog this morning & I got to thinking about how Liv returning to school is always bittersweet for me. On one hand, I, too, am sick of the "I'm bored"s and ready for the regular schedules & bedtimes. I love watching her grow and learn & it's nice to have some time to myself in the afternoons. On the other hand, I always miss Liv like crazy when she's gone. For example, all summer I can't wait to get to go to the store alone and then after about 1 trip, I miss her something awful. From the endless chatter & "Oh, look at that"s (both of which I thought were driving me nuts) to the extra set of hands & her memory that is like an elephant's...shopping is just not the same without her. While I'll enjoy the first few weeks of silence and me-time (which will most likely be consumed with studying), within a month or so, I'll be watching the clock waiting on her to get home. The bottom line: my days just aren't the same with her in school.

One big plus is the girl-lunches I get to resume with my friend Beth. All summer we've had to either take our kids or postpone getting together because of other obligations. With school back in session, maybe we can get away once in a while for a girls day out! And, since Toby works 2nd shift, Livvy being in school means that he and I get alone time during the morning before he leaves for work. That is always a plus. Especially since Liv refuses to stay the night anywhere anymore. He & I seldom have time to talk about anything that she's not right in the middle of the conversation.

Whether it's bitter or sweet, one thing is for sure...it's here. Time to put on our thinking caps and return to school. Won't be long before we're all talking about Christmas & New Years and where another year has went....

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's almost that time again!

Here at the King household we're gearing up for school to start again. Didn't we just get out a little bit ago? It sure seems like summer has just flown by! Livvy goes back Aug. 11th (it seems like it just keeps getting earlier every year) and my classes start back Aug. 24th. It's hard to believe that Liv is going into the 5th grade. Seems like only yesterday I was holding her hand all the way to the 1st grade classroom and praying I wouldn't cry until I was back to the car.

Yesterday we were at Walmart so we got most of her school supplies. Every year I am irritated that I am told to buy Kleenexes and dry erase markers. (I don't even own a dry erase board!). Yet, every year I give in and buy them anyway. I don't hold it against the teachers. I know many of them spend hundreds of their own dollars getting ready for school. I just find it ridiculous that the schools have decided to replace chalkboards with dry erase boards and then not furnish the teachers with dry erase markers. I don't ever remember having to carry chalk to school for my teachers. Toby says it's because all us parents give in and buy those items that the school can continue to ask us for more and more. However, I know how the kids who don't bring these items in are often belittled and badgered (this I DO blame the teachers for) so I just can't bring myself to put Liv in that position. AND...I truly don't mind helping out her classroom. I just prefer to do it because I want to and not because I'm being made to.

I had to laugh yesterday as Liv read over the required list of school supplies. This year the teachers have asked that the kids not have mechanical pencils or large binders and they have required them to have the plain folders with fasteners down the center. All of which were not requirements last year. Livvy looked at the list and then said, "WHAT?!?!?! There is no reason for this other than they just want to show that they have the control over us. They're taking away all our rights!!" It was all I could do not to laugh outloud. Boy, does she have a lot to learn about the real world.

I'm anxious for my own classes to start back up. The first week is always total chaos, but after I get going I usually enjoy my classes. This semester I am taking an anatomy class in person. It will only be my 2nd face-to-face class. My business degree I completed totally online except for one speech class. I'm not big on face-to-face classes mainly because I love the convenience of the online classes. BUT, I was afraid that anatomy was just one of those classes you are better off experiencing rather than reading about. I'm taking it as an accelerated 8 week course so we'll see how it goes. Beginning Aug. 29th, I'll be spending 8 Sat. in a row immersed in anatomy. I'm also taking a History class, Algebra, Biology and Medical Terminology class this coming semester. My last semester nearly bored me to death so I'm hoping this one is more interesting. At some point in the 6-8 weeks I need to go take the TEAS test (a nursing school entrance exam). I have to score high on it to have any chance at getting in to Ivy Tech's nursing program. I get 3 tries so I need to get going on my first attempt sometime soon.

We're finally getting settled in our new house. Got the problems with pool fixed and have finally had a few days warm enough we could enjoy it. Next weekend we're planning a big yard sale. Hopefully it doesn't rain on us. I don't think I've ever had a yard sale that it didn't rain at least once during the sale. Maybe this is the year...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Am I the only one?

Toby and I were discussing this today and wondering if we're the only ones who feel like this:

When you have several days, weeks, months (if anyone gets as far as a month let me know - haha) when everything seems to be going good, do you start to get nervous as to when the next bad thing is going to happen?

I'm not a pessimistic person. I use to be, but I gave it up in exchange for optimism which comes with less stress and more tranquility several years ago. However, when things are going good for us and nothing major, life-altering and/or bad happens for a few weeks I start getting antsy. It's kind of like when you know someone's going to jump out and scare you but when they do, you still scream. I know something less than ideal will come along, but I'm anxious and nervous as I wait for it to happen. When it does, I'll still be shocked like I wasn't even expecting it. Crazy, I know.

In the past few years, we've certainly had our share of "bad" things, but things seem to be really looking promising for the first time in years. Although I should be really excited and happy that our lives are pretty calm and uneventful right now, I find myself worrying about stupid little things and important big ones...yet all things I can't control. Why do I do this? Am I the only one who obsesses over tranquility this way?!?

Perhaps this is because Toby & I both are planners. We have to have a plan for everything and we like to know where we'll be in 6 months time. However, we all know that life just doesn't work that way. I know it's best to live one day at a time, but I find myself worrying about next year...OK so I'm a worry-wart (would you believe me if I said I'm actually less of a worrier than I use to be).

Part of the negativity is due to all the negativity we are surrounded with. From the "sky is falling" mentality of the media to the loss of jobs and illnesses I see in the small community all around me. Sometimes it's hard to stay positive in a negative world.

I'm trying hard to focus just on the here and now. I'm constantly reminded that life is short and precious and that we should live each day to the fullest and not worry about what we don't yet have (the gift of tomorrow). I know if one door closes or an obstacle presents itself, we'll still be OK - another door will open or an answer will be given to us.

So, am I the only one? If not, how do you maintain a positive outlook? When you feel consumed with worry and totally out of control of anything, how do you re-focus? How much worry is good and how much is bad? Where's the line between being completely irresponsible and living life in a way that you enjoy each day to it's fullest and yet are prepared for tomorrow if it gets here?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Heart Divided...

The past 2 weeks we've been busy moving into our new home. We really do love it here and the more settled we get the more I find things about the house that I just can't believe I use to live without (like the dishwasher...whoever invented this wonderful little appliance has become one of my favorite people:). While we still have many boxes to unpack and tons of yard sale stuff to go through and price for the upcoming sale, our house is starting to look like a home.

Unfortunately, the last 2 weeks have also been full of sad events. When news reached us about a young boy in our community being lost to a raging river during a family vacation, my heart broke as I thought about his parents and long-time girlfriend and all the others who knew and loved him. I didn't know Jared personally, but as a parent, I can't imagine what his family and loved ones have been through. Today, we heard the news that his body has been recovered. Obviously not the outcome that several days ago everyone hoped to hear, but at least his family may be able to have some closure. Still, it seems so very sad to lose such a promising young man.

While I was praying for Jared and his loved ones and working to put our house together, news came that a dear cousin had miscarried her first baby. I knew from other communications with her how much she & her husband loved and wanted this baby. I also knew from the get-go that her pregnancy would be high risk, but I had prayed and hoped that God would bless her with the angel she so greatly deserved and desired. However, it just wasn't meant to be right now. Again, my heart broke for her and her husband. It seems so senseless to me. I guess I will never understand why good people who would make great parents can try and try to have a family only to be struck with one obstacle after another while other people who aren't fit to parent a dog can multiple like a rabbit! It seems so unfair. And I know life isn't fair, but I just don't get it. Why does God allow godless people continue to bring these tiny little souls into the world while His own people grieve over their inability to conceive or the loss of the child(ren) they do have? Guess that's one of those questions that I'll never know the answer to.

Tonight, my heart is joyful over my own family's circumstances and hopeful for some of our future plans, but it is also heavy with heartache for the Hammack/Springer families and for my dear, dear cousins. I continue to pray that they are given peace and comfort in their time of sorrow...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We're Moving!

I wanted to wait until I knew for sure, but since the signed lease is laying on my table I guess I can make it official...We're moving! It's just across town. Even closer to the elementary school than we are now. Livvy will be able to ride her bike or walk to school. The house itself is a 3 BR, 1.5 BA brick home with a completely fenced back yard and small inground pool. For the first time ever, I'll have shade trees and a yard I can relax in. Even more importantly (at least to me!), I'll have my very first dishwasher!!! For those of you who know me, you know I loathe doing dishes more than any other household chore and I have never had a dishwasher in my entire life. I am definitely excited about that. The house also has a sunroom which I plan to make good use of. I've always wanted a sunroom. Toby is happy to finally have a room for all his "babies" (aka guitars to us regular folk). The plus for me is that by him having his own room for his "children", I get to have a real bedroom instead of a bedroom/music room. :)

Until we decide whether or not we want to make southern Indiana our permanent home, we're only renting. But the landlady has offered us the option of buying at a later time if we want to stay around here. For now, we're really excited to be gaining more room (the new place is nearly twice the size of our current house) and to have the option of either staying or leaving the area depending on what comes our way.

We'll be cleaning and doing some minor painting beginning mid-week next week. Then we will move all our things the following weekend. We're all dreading the move itself, but looking forward to being settled in the new place. The yard needs some straightening up and the flower beds are screaming for bright colored flowers, but we hope to be settled by mid-July. I start back to college in August and Liv begins the 5th grade that month too. So we're hoping to get settled in time to have a few weeks of summer left to enjoy without the headaches & stress of moving.

I can't hardly wait to have our first cook-out! I LOVE having family and friends over for cook-outs and get-togethers, but I've never had the space to entertain the way I would like. The new place has a LARGE formal dining room so I've already been getting hints from family that I might be the new holiday dinner hostess...which is fine by me. I love that kind of thing!

As for our out-of-state family (if any of you read this), we will soon have an extra bedroom and plenty of other room for airmattresses and sleeping bags. This means we expect company :) We miss a lot of our family so much and we know the cost of travel keeps a lot of us apart. We hope that you all will feel welcome to skip the hotel expense and stay a few nights with us when you come in to visit.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Father's Day

Well, I got my diploma situation straightened out and should be getting the actual diploma in the mail in the next couple weeks. THANK GOODNESS!!! Of course, even after nearly giving me a heart attack, frustrating me to tears and causing me to contemplate if I could actually harm another human...I didn't even get an "I'm sorry for the confusion." from the lady in the Registrar's office. Oh well, it's fixed and that's what's important.

I'm off to look for a good dessert recipe to take to a Father's Day cook-out on Sat. I'm sick of the usual ones I make so I'm going to dig through my old recipe books in hopes of finding something new and different to take with me.

Speaking of Father's Day...I love Father's Day! It's the one day a year that Dad lets me give him loads of attention without going "Awww, that's not necessary" :) My dad is great! Only as I've gotten older have I realized the importance of our dads in our lives. Most dads are more silent than our moms and most spend many hours at work and few hours playing with us as kids. However, as I've aged, I have began to notice the impact of my dad on so many areas of my life. From the way I view the work ethics of men to the example I expect Toby to set for Liv to the times I catch myself sounding like dad when I tell Liv something to the "words of wisdom" that he gave me that I pass along to her (such as "If it were easy, anybody could do it.")...dad's impact is obvious in my daily life.

I also enjoy Father's Day because I get to watch Toby being honored for being the great Papa he is. I love watching Liv pick out a card or make him a gift. He IS a great Papa and it's great to be able to honor him for the awesome job he does.

Another great "dad" is my father-in-law. A mostly quiet, mellow man with an insane sense of humor and the ability to stand like a rock beside you through anything. We joke with Toby that he is "just like his dad"...but in reality - I always hope and pray that is true. His dad is a remarkable father and a true patriarch of his family. If Toby grows to be "just like his dad" I will be a very lucky lady and Livvy will be truly blessed with an incredible dad.

So, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to the 3 fantastic fathers I know! Thanks Dads...for all the laughs, the sacrifices, hugs, kisses, wiped tears, for always having our backs, giving us encouraging smiles, being courageous when we were scared and for always being the rock when our world wants to crumble! We may grow up, but we never outgrow the need for our daddies! Love you guys!!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Some days you just need a "scream break"

Years ago I worked with a woman who was completely eccentric and 100% enjoyable to be around. Her name was Ellen. I still remember her vivacious personality, her bright red hair and her outlandish outfits. I also remember that she was one of the first people I'd ever met to take a chance on me and what I might be - pushing for and giving me a new position with the company that she and I worked for that I was in no way qualified for, but excelled at and loved. Perhaps what I remember Ellen the best for was her hilarous need for "scream breaks". She firmly believed that sometimes what we all need is a few seconds break to just scream at the top of our lungs, shake off the stress of the situation and jump back in. Working along side her I became use to her "outbursts" and began to see that she might actually be on to something. Later on, Ellen was diagnosed with a very serious illness. I still remember when she took the call from her doctor in my office. She listened and "uh-huh"ed. Then hung up the phone and said, "If you'll excuse me, I believe I need a scream break." A little later she came back in and relayed the bad news her doctor had given her, but she took it all in a stride and kept right on going.

Today, I emailed a lady at Ivy Tech and asked her when I was suppose to get my actual diploma since it had never arrived in the mail as I was told it would. She emailed me back to say that after auditing my transcript I did not meet all the requirements for graduation because I was missing a science class that was needed. First of all, one would have thought if this was the case someone would have mentioned that BEFORE I was invited to the graduation ceremony and honors dinner and BEFORE I was sent my honors certificate with a letter saying my diploma would be following in the mail. Secondly, one would also think that when, during the graduation application process, they meet with their advisor and program chair and are told that they are "good to go", those individuals would know what they are talking about. A normal person who emails her advisor and says "Will this course satisfy this requirement?" and is told "yes", would assume that they can trust what they are being told by this paid college employee. Of course, I've never been accused of being normal or of anything in my life coming without considerable argument and fight.

Now, I fired an email right back to this lady letting her know that I DID take a course approved by both my advisor and program chair and asking why no one had said anything until now about this. It may turn out to be a complete mistake on their part and they may cheerfully (this part I sincerely doubt) put my diploma in the mail tomorrow. However, in the meantime, I am left wondering what the heck is going on and feeling completely deflated.

It's totally stupid to be this way, I know that. I am enrolled this fall in 2 classes that will make the requirement even if the one that was suppose to won't. So I can still get the diploma this fall. BUT, something about the way the lady said she could send me a "techinical certificate" just pissed me off. Like I worked my butt off for 2 years to get a stinking "techinical certificate" because I was one class shy of an associates degree? I know I'm being silly, but I felt so good having this one accomplishment under my belt and heading onto the next step. I feel like that has been stolen from me in some way (even though it really has only been delayed at worst).

Anyway, I'm frustrated, irritated, and aggrevated...and, as I sat here fighting off the tears that only spring to life when I'm mad enough to strangle someone, I thought of Ellen and her scream breaks.

Today, Ellen, I think I need a scream break.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Why, yes, I really do love reading...


For Mother's Day, Toby got me a PLAC card. In Indiana, this is a state wide public library access card which allows me to get a library card from any library in the state. I know some of you are probably thinking "GEEK!!!!" But I am in heaven!!! Livvy and I have been checking out books by the truckfuls :)

I'm also getting to add to my list of favorite authors because I have so many more choices! Here's a few of the authors that I've recently been reading and loving:

Karen Robards -- I stumbled upon Robards while looking through our little town library's limited selection for something to read. I love her books. They aren't real deep and they're usually a quick read, but I still love her characters and the way she tells her story.
Nora Roberts -- I've been a fan of Nora's since before Livvy was born. While I was on bed-rest, one of my aunts brought me a sack of Nora's books to keep me busy (and minding doc's orders :). The rest is history. My most recent read of Nora's was Divine Evil. A very good book and unlike most of her other stories. One of my all-time favorite books is Montana Sky by Nora.
Catherine Coulter -- If you like CSI and crime mysteries, you'll love her FBI Thrillers series. I didn't realize these were a series and I've read 2 or 3 of them out of order, but it doesn't really matter because they aren't completely dependent on one another. She's another author I only recently came across but I am quickly becoming a big fan.
Linda Lael Miller - Miller is another author that I was turned on to by my aunt while behaving myself during my pregnancy :) A lot of her stuff is historical romance fiction. However, recently I read Deadly Gamble and Deadly Deception - a series set in modern times with a mystery storyline and also a supernatural element. Mojo, the main character, is great!
Stephanie Meyer - I LOVED the Twilight series. This series is completely NOT what I would normally read, but I picked up the first book just to see what all the hype was about and I was immediately consumed by the series. I'm currently reading her latest book, The Host. It's way different than anything I usually read and the jury is still out as to whether or not I really like it.

I also really liked The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I loved the Harry Potter series almost as much as Twilight and would love to read all 7 books again, but haven't stopped finding new stuff to read long enough to take the time to reread a series :) Another all time favorite of mine is The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller (I've read this one over and over and I always cry).

In addition to The Host, I'm also working on reading Cane River by Lalita Tademy right now, browsing a Low-Carb cookbook and trying to decide which Karen Robards book to delve into next (Maggy's Child or One Summer).

My college classes start back Aug. 24th and at the beginning of July we are making a big change in our family (which is topic for another blog later). In the meantime, I am taking every opportunity to immerse myself in all the stories I can possibly soak up. In the meantime, if you have authors and books that you love...feel free to share! I'm always looking for more authors to add to my list of "favorites".

Happy reading!!!


Sunday, May 31, 2009

Comments Fixed?

I think I've got my blog fixed so that the comments link will work now. Someone said they couldn't comment and I thought I fixed it then, but I noticed tonight it still didn't seem to be allowing comments. If you try to comment and can't, please email me or catch me on FaceBook, so I can try again. As you can tell, I'm still trying to fix the bugs in my blogging skills :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What happened to my baby?

Well, tomorrow is the last day of Livvy girl's 4th grade school year. Today she was standing outside waiting on the bus to pick her up and I was taken aback by how big she has gotten. It seems like only yesterday I was holding her hand and turning her over to "the wolves" (aka as the public school system). It wasn't anything personal against the school, just the first time I had to let go and depend on someone else to take care of the most precious thing in my life. Over the past few years, I've had to bite my tongue on many occasions when things didn't go the way I thought they should or Livvy came home with hurt feelings or having survived some other injustice. If the past few years have taught me anything, it's that I have a lot more to learn. Parenting is really hard most days, but oh so worth it.

It's funny how as kids we are so oblivious to the turmoil our parents are in over parenting us. Livvy is so excited to be a 5th grader. She talks of Jr. High and High school, proms, cars and colleges. Her eyes are set firmly on the future, while Toby & I feel like we're racing just to keep up and not lose a second of her life.

I'm proud of her. I know all mothers say that, but I genuinely am. She's a beautiful, smart, kind young lady. I have never understood what I did right to deserve to be blessed with her, but I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to share in her life. Motherhood is such a precious gift. I am forever thankful for the angel that has saved me from myself on more than one occasion. Many of us wander through life wondering what our purpose is, but I firmly believe that I found mine one cold December afternoon just about 10 1/2 years ago.

In all the hustle and bustle that is regular everyday life, I sometimes forget to really "see" the people around me. Today, I stopped to really look at her and was awed by her just as I was the day I first laid eyes on her. Does that ever stop? Will I ever ceased to be awed by her? Will I ever stop waking up to find that my love for her has grown deeper with each passing day?

Tomorrow I will celebrate with her as she dances with excitement and giggles with happiness over moving up another grade, but inside my heart will ache a little as I silently whisper good-bye to my "baby" and embrace my "tween" (as she has informed she now is)...and I will move into the next stage of being "mama".

Friday, May 22, 2009

Celebrating his birthday...

This weekend we are celebrating Toby's 37th birthday! It's not hard to figure out the perfect gift for him, it's just hard to PAY for the perfect gift for him - haha! With his love of guitars and music, the options are always endless. Unfortunately there is an end to our bank account and it generally doesn't take long to get to it.

This year I contemplated the usual guitar t-shirt (of course he only owns about 150 of those) or maybe a guitar coffee table book (because we definitely need one more thing to clutter our coffee table) or a gift certificate to one of his favorite guitar stores (do they have anything in those stores priced under $2000?). In the end, the perfect opportunity presented itself in my inbox about mid-week last week, overriding any of the above "wonderful" ideas, in the form of a newly updated tour listing for Joe Bonamassa.

According to the new listing, Joe's coming to both Evansville AND Indy this fall! Can I get a big WOOHOO!!! :) Anyway, I was able to secure us 3 front row tickets for less the price of 1 nosebleed ticket at most other concerts. It's suppose to be Toby's birthday gift, but this year all 3 of us will be celebrating.

Some of you may already know that Toby & I are Joe Bonamassa fanatics; most would be surprised to find out that Livvy loves him too! Her iPod is full of Demi Lovato, Hannah Montana and Fergie...but for several months it has also contained tracks from Joe's latest album. In the car, she is constantly saying "Hey, put that on Joe's CD & track such and such". Which brings me to the part of all of this that probably brings me the most joy...I love knowing that she is growing up with lots of musical interests and genres around her.

As a kid, Toby & I grew up in strictly country music homes. In fact, other than some Michael Jackson and Cyndi Lauper, I didn't even really know about music outside of the country genre until I graduated high school and met Toby. Toby & I don't always see eye to eye on what good music is (Joe's one of the few we actually agree on), but I so love finding new, non-mainstream sounds. I have him to thank for that.

We knew from the get-go that we wanted Livvy to experience music for herself. We've tried (sometimes it's VERY hard) to let Livvy pick her own sounds (so long as she doesn't bring home anything vulgar or violent -no cursing vocalists proclaiming they want to kill their parents). Some days we get so sick of Hannah Montana we could scream, but the other night I was scrolling through her iPod and realized, even though we make tons of parental mistakes every day, we were doing one thing right - we were letting her discover and experience music in her own way - not just OUR way.

Music is a great way for us to express ourselves, relax, connect, decompress, reach out, laugh, have fun, create, and so much more. In the past several years, schools have had to cut spending and educate children as cheaply as possible. For many schools, this has meant the death of their arts programs including music education. This is a huge loss for our children. I encourage everyone to speak up and remind schools that the arts ARE important. Education is more than learning to add and subtract and read and write.

In areas where the schools can't (or won't) provide an arts edcuation, it's important that we, as parents, step up and provide this for our children ourselves. There are many ways to do this. From visiting musuems (like the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in Ohio) and art galleries to pulling out the old CDs (maybe even cassettes, LPs, and 8-tracks :) to bringing music books, magazines, instruments and even lessons into our homes. I honestly can't tell a Monet from a DaVinci, but it hasn't stopped us from keeping 2 craft boxes stocked with paints, brushes, construction paper, ribbons, foam, stickers, etc so that we can make our own creations. I'm not the craftiest person in the world, but with Google and some concentration even I can help Livvy express her creative side. The arts are a great way of connecting with our kids, spending time with them, and enjoying each other.

Words cannot express how excited I am to be blessed with another opportunity to witness in person the performance of a musical legend like Joe, but I am even more excited to know that we will be sitting next to Livvy and sharing this experience with her. I know Toby feels the same way. I hope that you all will find a way to share the arts with your children. I'd definitely be interested in what other parents are doing with their kids.

In the meantime, if you ever have the chance to see Joe...don't pass it up. You won't be sorry!!!

"Happy Birthday, Baby! I love you!!"

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fresh bread in 5 minutes? Now that gets a rise out of me...

Okay, I admit it. I'm a self-confessed cheapskate and proud of it. Every morning I get up and waiting for me in my email inbox is my "Everyday Cheapskate" newsletter written by Mary Hunt. My family has finally gotten use to hearing me say, "My cheapskate newsletter lady says..." They laugh and tease, but they're usually more than happy when I save money or try out a new great recipe.

Which brings me to today's post...yesterday morning I was shocked to see the Cheapskate Newsletter was about making fresh bread daily in 5 minutes or less. Really? Is that possible? The closest to homemade my bread has ever gotten is a box mix in the bread machine. Apparently, Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois have idiot-proofed homemade bread making and put it all in a cookbook for those of us who are not willing to spend hours waiting on bread to rise and then punching it down and then letting it rise and then kneading and then...well you get the picture. The book is called Artisian Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It starts with a basic recipe that you make in about 10 minutes. This recipe is made in a large lidded bowl or bucket and then allowed to sit on the counter for a couple of hours. It's then ready to be baked or set in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. When you want fresh bread, you just pull off the piece of dough you need, shape it (no kneading or punching, just make it into a ball or breadsticks or cinnamon rolls, etc), let it set on the counter for 20-40 minutes (depending on the size) while you go about your other daily chores and then bake. It's that simple.

I haven't tried it yet. I'm going to look for the book at Walmart. Their website: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/ has instructional videos and also lists the master recipe. Supposedly you can make any kind of bread with this method. From pizza crust to sandwich bread to bread sticks and buns. My Cheapskate lady says (it's ok to roll your eyes, my family does) this method produces fresh bread daily for about $0.40 a loaf! Even more important, baking fresh bread means that we control the ingredients. No more preservatives or artifical anything. The authors of this book also have written a book with recipes for healthy breads and breads for people with special diets.

You probably won't find this in the healthy breads cookbook, but here's a mouth-watering recipe that I found while reading through some comments from people who had tried this method. I'm anxious to try this one myself!

Cinnamon rolls

Roll thin layer of dough out
Cover with thick layer of butter
Sprinkle brown sugar about 1/4" thick over butter
Sprinkle cinnamon over brown sugar
Roll up dough and cut into cinnamon rolls
Bake
Mix powedered sugar and milk into a glaze and top cinnamon rolls with this glaze.

The lady that posted the recipe said her co-workers thought these rolls were better than Cinnabons...guess I'll just have to bake some and find out :)

If anyone else is interested in becoming a cheapskate like me, you can sign up for the FREE newslettter at http://www.everydaycheapskate.com/. Mary Hunt is an expert on living debt free (which I've yet to accomplish) and she has TONS of helpful tips and ideas. From her newsletters I've learned how to make a cleaner for the bathroom that doesn't stir up mine or Liv's asthma and works like a charm for cents on the dollar, I've also discovered a window cleaning mixture that won't streak, inexpensive recipes, and many, many other really useful tips. Check her out at http://www.cheapskatemonthly.com/ed_cheapskate.asp. I don't remember how I stumbled upon her site, but it's proved to be a great find!

In the meantime, if anyone decides to try baking their own bread with the above method, let me know how it turns out...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Caving to peer pressure...no special equipment needed

So I decided to do it...cave in to peer pressure and see what the world of blogging is all about. Fellow bloggers assure me it is a wonderful thing to do. I'm not sure that I have much to share with the world that would be enlightening, but it IS usually a circus around the King household, so maybe along the way someone will get a chuckle out of our crazy life.

More than anything I love reading other peoples' blogs. Toby says it's because I'm nosey. Maybe...haha! But really it's just an interest in other peoples' funny stories that make me laugh, heart felt stories that bring a tear to my eye, recipes that make my mouth water and the general feeling that I'm not alone here in the world of womanhood and motherhood. From Sara's hilarous stories about raising 3 boys to Cris's inspiring weight loss journey to Vonda's courage and strength in her times of trial to Erica's beautiful vacation pics and therapeutic thoughts...they all add something worthwhile to my life. So, it's in that spirit that I begin my blog and hope that others will find something about our crazy lives that makes them smile...here we go!