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!