Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Sneak peek. . .
75 bucks down the drain (Sob. Sob.)
Frugal ornaments
"Helen Keller" & "Ann Sullivan"
I love the way they look!
Here are the pictures that would not post in the previous entry. Enjoy. . .

  posted at 8:46 PM  

Getting caught up . . .just in time to
disappear. - - -POOF!- - -
Yes, my life is calling for another hiatus. There are a few housing projects, musical pieces and homemade Christmas gifts that truly need my attention. I am going to try very hard to be disciplined and not blog or even read blogs for a few days. Ouch! I am feeling the pain. I so love to blog and read the anecdotes of my friends. . . Upon my return, I hope to discover that Connor and Les' Jared or Carrie's Jared have some wonderful tales for me! :-)
We finally have hot water again, and "Ma Kettle" has put her hat on the shelf. (FYI - Get with someone who knows how and flush your water heater at least once a year!) I was just chatting with Troy. . .It's funny how we did not have the money to go away to a cabin this Christmas, but we now have to figure out how to pay $500+ for the appliance and installation. That's life for you. . .Sigh.
I paid my ticket today. (I feel your sympathy, Angie. Sniff. Sniff.) I am still smarting from this chapter in my history! At least I should not have to hear anymore "Mommy, are you sad about the ticket?" "Mommy, do you wish you did not have to pay the money?" "Mommy, will you be sad about this your whole life?" "Yes, yes, yes, Seth." "When will you stop being sad about it?" "Not until Heaven, dear."
We have relished our decorating this season, and I have got to tell you that I love my tree. It is definitely my favorite!!! Yes, I am one of those "two tree people." (I hope that doesn't sound weird like a "one-eyed" person or something!) I want the kids to have one they can decorate, but I also enjoy a stylish one. The problem is that I have always used red, gold, pink, and cream, but those colors were not flying next to the brown walls. I decided to allow myself $5 to add brown and teal in the mix and ditch the red and pink. I actually accomplished it closer to $6. I made paper stars, bought nine little teal balls and bought $1/yard material, and haphazardly snipped a garland. So (drum roll now), we have a brown, teal, cream (Sorry it does not show.), gold and sage colored tree, and I cannot quit gazing it at it. The garland is what made it come alive. I actually think it is as pretty without the lights shining. I am going to be mean and give you a sample peek followed be a better one later.
The boys are still acting like boys. After watching the Miracle Worker, I now have "blind Helen" walking around the house. Every once in awhile "Anne Sullivan" shows up to do a little teaching. At least we have only had "Crashing Fat Bellies" once in the last month. Ethan was trying to play it with me, and it was more like "Crashing Mommy's Legs." That turned out to be rather boring to him, so he shoved the bear in my shirt and gave me "a baby in my belly." :-) Those dear imaginations!
Have a wonderful week. I will return.

  posted at 7:37 PM  

Thanksgiving Treat Recipe

Am I the only one getting a "hankering" for chocolate and peanut butter?! :-) I have received several requests for this recipe and thought it was easiest to post in this manner.
The only thing I do differently is to use chocolate flavored almond bark instead of chips. It makes the chocolate dipping step easier. (At least to me it does.)
Enjoy and mail me a few! :-)

  posted at 7:22 PM  

Monday, November 27, 2006
Have you hugged your. . .

water heater today?! Saturday morning found us realizing that our water heater was having issues. Yes, we ended up spending the whole weekend minus that appliance. Troy and I have enjoyed several chuckles at me toting pots of water all over the house. Consequently I was dubbed "Ma Kettle." The posted picture will give you an idea of our weekend. :-) When you have to heat all of your water, it is amazing how little you use!

The plumber has been here for five hours and has hit several snags. Poor guy! Hopefully we will have hot water tonight. A large amount of "junk" came out of the old water heater after it was removed. That seems to be what caused the whole thing to croak.

New bit of info we received from him: If you flush your water heater one to two times a year, they can last for decades. (At the tune of $500, we will be "flushing" ours from now on!)

  posted at 7:31 PM  

Sunday, November 26, 2006
The gingerbread house
The three guys at work
Finished project
Three of the "designers"
Mommy and Seth at the first step
Our first gingerbread house ~ compliments of Marcia and Candy Davis (friends from Dayton, OH). We received this as a Christmas gift in 2005, but I decided to save it for this year. I think it is cute for a bunch of first-timers, and we will be able to enjoy it for the entire season.
Now, we did have a bit of an issue because I did not think it should be consumed. Consequently I was faced with all kinds of questions & comments. "Mommy, can I have this little piece of icing?" "If we are not supposed to eat it, why are nutrition facts listed on the box?" (You mean lack of nutrition?!) "Mommy, this candy is not too hard. Can I eat it anyway?" "Mommy, I really think we are supposed to eat it. Can we?" And so on, and so on, and so on. . .
Personally, I see no reason to put hours of labor into something that will be instantly devoured! I thought we could enjoy it for weeks to come, and I finally pacified the men in this home by promising a batch of gingerbread cookies that will be eaten. Whew! I squeaked out of that one!

  posted at 3:01 PM  

It's beginning to look. . .
a lot like Christmas. At least at our home it is. Instead of shopping on "Black Friday," we had a partial day of school, had lots of fun setting up the boys' tree and made our first gingerbread house.
I love seeing the excitement on their little faces and listen to their chatter as they design the tree. They now have a "big tree" instead of the little one which was getting way too small for their ornaments. In January, I found a $180. brand new, 7 1/2', pre-lit tree at Goodwill for $30, and I snatched it up for us. This season, the boys found themselves the proud owners of our old 6' tree. "Ethan's branch" is so telling of a child's motto ~ "More is better!" :-)
Ethan at work
"Ethan's branch"
The finished product
Mommy helping Seth sort the ornaments.

  posted at 12:33 PM  

Saturday, November 25, 2006
Good bye, Fall. . .

How was your Thanksgiving? The four of us had a very enjoyable day. It was nice to have Troy all to ourselves, and that made the it special. This was the first time I had cooked the entire Thanksgiving meal by myself. I am assuming it was fine; I received a lot of compliments. Our menu included ham, baked mac/cheese, okra, apple salad, cottage cheese and homemade rolls. We went with ham since Ethan does not care for turkey, and I cannot bear to touch a big, dead, cold, slippery bird!
Between Thursday and Friday, we have said "good bye" to all the little pumpkins, leaves, garlands, scarecrows and Seth's artwork that graced our home this season.

  posted at 2:01 PM  

Thursday, November 23, 2006
Thanksgiving ~ Part 2
Janelle Manley
Kim Russo
Linda, Martha, Nancy & Ginger
Thanksgiving treat
Suzanna Hooper
There is a lull in my day, so I decided to hop on the computer and brag on my "kindred spirits." (Sorry I do not have snapshots of everyone. Hope you will enjoy the few.) Lately I have been pondering the wealth of friends that I call mine, and I am so blessed. Having lived in six different areas, I have met many wonderful (and some not so wonderful :-) people that have touched my life. One of my teachers taught me that everyone can contribute something to you if you will allow them. I have endeavored to do that and have found myself on the receiving end many times. To all of my acquaintances, friends and kindred spirits, thanks for what you have added to my journey. My heart has needed to keep growing in order to make spots for everyone! :-)
I have one corner of my heart that has those that are my oldest companions. The ones that I cannot remember not knowing. Lisa (Burton) Robinson and the "Dinkins" gals (Linda, Nancy and Ginger) are in that category. Wow! Do we all have some good stories and laughs on each other!!!!!
There are so many school friends with whom I have shared hours of fun. . . Yolonda Lewis, Jennifer (Williams) Nelson, Annie (Williams) Davis and Johanna (Nelson) Howard are some with whom I still correspond. Suzanna Hooper and I became instant friends close to twenty years ago, and I still think as highly of her as I did then. I never grow tired of being with her! She has the longest standing title of "best" in my friend category.
Janelle Manley is a newer friend and one of my "best" as well. Her home is the one spot on earth where I feel most comfortable! We have the greatest time with them. Troy and John, Janelle and myself, Cale, Clarissa, Seth and Ethan. Now they have little Camden! They are one of the best families on the planet, and I am so proud to call them my friends! I miss you all terribly.
I have a big stash of good friends from SD, IN and OH. It was nice to live at GBS and make new friends and reconnect with old. Nancy Lambeth and I have enjoyed more laughs than I will ever count! :-) She was a blast. I had better stop naming GBS folks, or I will just have to type the entire phone list.
Since moving to SC in August, I have a new set of people that God has allowed to contribute to my life. My neighbor, Kim Russo, is wonderful. I do not know what I would do without her!!!! There is a host of ladies at church that are so nice. I have enjoyed many fun conversations with these gals, and they have warmly accepted me.
The whole world of blogging has reunited me with some old acquaintances and moved them to the rank of "friend." I have even met new friends through this avenue. Thanks, "Anonymous," for emailing me:-) You are wonderful to know. One of these days, I will have an outing with all the IN gals!
Thank You, God, for giving me the blessing of friendship. Thank You for an outgoing personality that causes me to want to know new people.
Thanks to each of you ~ from the oldest to the newest! Friends truly are the flowers of life! You have stood by my side and made such a difference.
Thanks for all the spice you add! I love all of you very much!
P.S. I included a snapshot of one of the treats I made my family. Warning: they cause addictions!

  posted at 5:06 PM  

Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Pictures ~ Part 1
Two little boys

God's creation

Here are the photos that would not post with the words in the previous blog entry. . .Enjoy.

  posted at 5:05 PM  

Thanksgiving ~ Part 1
I have already donned my apron and rolled up my sleeves to begin preparations for tomorrow but decided to take a little break in the middle. . . Like many other bloggers, I am going to take a few moments today to list several things that warm my heart and finish the list on the holiday.
1. A God that wants a personal relationship with me (and you). Life is difficult at times, but I have a Rock from which I never want to stray. Reciprocal love, answered prayers, eternal hope. . .Thank You, God!
2. A sweet husband that doesn't care how long I stay on the computer! :-) He will always help with kids or housework if I need it and his schedule allows, is very patient with me (most of the time~I can be very trying), invests in his sons and will even iron my clothes for me if I ask. (That is the one job that is ugh!)
3. Two little boys that shower me with kisses and hugs. I have been presented with the sweetest love notes and every flower (dandelion) in the neighborhood. Sure, they sometimes get on the very last nerve in my body, but I wouldn't trade them. I am trying relish every "Mommy, will you. . ." because I will not always hear it. After a miscarriage last November, my boys seem more precious, and I am very thankful that I am able to enjoy them on earth.
4. A big family of parents, siblings, in-laws, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. . . I know that if something should ever happen to me, many of these people would be at my side in a heart~beat, and I am very thankful for this! I have wonderful memories surrounding my family, and I will always treasure them. Sorry I cannot be with the Cincinnati gang for this holiday. You will be in my thoughts. Thank you for loving me and always making me feel welcomed.
5. Our freedom. I never realized how precious this was until I visited the Ukraine and saw the ravages of world war. I met people who had lived under communism, and I saw what it did to them. To any veteran who may read this, thank you from the bottom of my heart. We owe it all to you!
For some little things:
A wonderful bed from The Original Mattress Factory
A nice minivan
A home to call my own
A great church and pastoral staff
Awesome neighbors
Fresh baked bread
My very own piano
Chocolate covered pretzels
The ability to read and learn
A musical talent from God
Being able to homeschool my sons
The beauty of God's creation
An outgoing personality
To all my friends ~ you will hear about yourself tomorrow! :-) Happy preparing!

  posted at 3:22 PM  

Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Christmas sale at the castle
Here we are in aisle #3 of the electronics department looking at a brand new iPod. . .
Do you have one of these on your list for yourself or anyone else this year?
Good! You have come to the right place!

I received this iPod as a bonus through a home based business and have no use for it. (We might have some interesting tales from the castle if I walked around with things plugged in my ears:-)
I finally decided to pull it off the shelf and see if I could find the poor, unused thing a better home. (Troy says I am being tacky doing this on my blog. "That is why there is eBay." "Oh, that is too much of a bother, and there is no commandment forbidding a garage sale from the castle." I really hope all of you do not think this is tacky!)
I have never used this iPod and the features on the back of the box state:
~Plays music two ways: sequential order from first song to last or random shuffle mode
~Holds over 120 songs at near CD quality (Capacity based on 4 minutes per song and 128-Kbps AAC encoding)
~Up to 12 hours of continuous playback with rechargeable lithium-ion battery
~Superportable at 0.78 ounce and just .33 inch thin
~Automatically syncs music from your Mac or PC
~Plays AAC, MP3, WAV, and Audible formats
~Includes Ipod shuffle, lanyard, earphones, and iTunes for Mac and Windows

At Walmart, this one is selling for $69. (At least I think it was the same type. I am not the most media savvy person you will meet.)
I will send this to your doorstep for $55 ~shipping and insurance included. (All proceeds from this sale will benefit the Greenville County Speeding Ticket Fund.)

~Be the first to email me, and this iPod is yours. (Well, after you agree to pay, of course! :-)

  posted at 2:48 PM  

Monday, November 20, 2006
New photos

Here are the latest portraits of my little buddies. (Pardon the crooked scanning job.) I gaze at these pictures and cannot imagine life without them. Isn't it amazing how they can wrap themselves around your heart?!

To be a mother is the grandest vocation in the world.

No one being has a position of such power and influence.

She holds in her hands the destiny of nations.

~Hannah Whitall Smith

  posted at 10:33 AM  

Friday, November 17, 2006
Pirates of America

Yes, we have been invaded!!!
Life has been a flurry of activities lately, and pirates landed during the midst of it all. They came following a patriotic story surrounding Ft. McHenry and the birth of the Star Spangled Banner. I gave the boys a suspense filled edition of this exciting part of our national history, and their little imaginations produced some new characters - the "Pirates of America!" Their mission? To rid us of the British warships. It started with them jumping off the diner chairs (their ship) into the sea (blue bean bags). The longer they were pirates, the more their bravery grew until they were diving off the kitchen stools. Sadly the "sea" had to go after it began to spew "SOS" signals of white beans. Now the "pirates" are diving onto the carpets. (Yes, it is a little painful to watch.)
Aunt Joanna's Tuesday departure
produced a tale of woe for the boys. At the airport, Ethan began a muttering campaign of how it is not fair that she had to leave. We all enjoyed her and hope she is able to return in the future.
Like mother, like son. . .
and so continues the saga of Martha and Ethan. It all started with a treat sent by Grandma Sampson ~ brownie cutters, icing and sprinkles. We recently indulged, and Ethan helped himself to a little more indulging after the meal. I could not locate him after supper until he crawled out from under the table with icing tube in hand. :-) Oh, yes. He comes by that quite honestly. Numerous times my mother would get ready to bake only to find that cans or tubes of icing had the majority of their contents missing. I also cleaned out a whipped topping container or two. So, I could hardly be shocked at Ethan.
History has a tendency to repeat itself, correct?!

  posted at 11:21 AM  

Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Boys will be boys!

At least that is what I am told. Experience is not in my favor in this situation.
Things have started taking on a different tone lately. I have seen such a huge improvement in Ethan's antics that I thought I might never again post crazy stories, and life would suddenly be calm. . . Choke. Cough. I will not bother to recall all the new tales from his corridor. Some might produce weird visitors like my friend, Angie, has had the privilege of meeting in the blog world. Ethan did pull a cute one today. He drew a sweet picture of me holding two flowers. (I am glad he told me it was me, or I might not have known.) He proceeded to flip the paper and draw this bean like thing with two dots and a wavy line under them. "What is this picture, Ethan?" "That is me, and I am sad because you won't take me to the park." "My dear boy, it is library day, and it is raining and cold!"
Seth has been supplying us with the tales of late. He attempted to cut his hair and removed a nice little snippet, didn't he? Can any of you explain how someone can get their shoes in the bathroom (The boys' tennis shoes are kept on either side of the hamper.), and one shoe ends up in the toilet?! He was at least apologetic, and thankfully the shoe was not drenched. And please do not ask why I flushed the toilet after I retrieved the shoe! :-) I am way too busy!
Recently, while trucking up and down the hall with loads of laundry, I heard an interesting conversation coming from the boys' room. I peeked in just in time to see Ethan face down on the bed. Seth was tying his hands behind his back with a menacing, "This is the end of the road for you, Mate!" :-) They had been watching a DVD where the Crocodile Hunter had caught some poachers. Those little imaginations!

  posted at 3:38 PM  

Monday, November 13, 2006
Oops - again!

Here is the shot of the couch and brown wall. I accidentally erased it on the other post.

  posted at 11:48 AM  

Company, chaos, couches & creativity

You know my life has been busy when I have not blogged in 5 days! I hope my dear husband notices. (Ahem!) He says that I have to post about 3 times a day.
Well, it has been a crazy week, and I am exhausted! Warning - you will probably find typos, and I am so tired I will not catch them. As for the castle tales. . .here is what has been happening in the company corridor ~ Joanna, my younger sister, crossed the moat last Tuesday. She was a helpful maid while I painted, and the boys are enjoying her presence.
David Spivey, one of Troy's best friends, and Jordan and Jamie (I have no clue how to spell their last name.) spent Sunday night here. It was soooo fun, and there was much laughter :-) (Pictured is Troy, David and Jamie.) We had a wonderful time and hated to see them leave!
For the chaos end of it. . .I am very sore but still functioning:-) We had the wonderful idea to shampoo our carpets after painting, and I moved most of the furniture so we would have good access to the floors. I even "tossed" the dining room chairs in the yard to make more room. I began giving them a thorough cleaning but got sidetracked. Hours later, the rain drenched them and finished the job. I thought it was pretty funny and had a good laugh, but for some reason, I was the only one who laughed! I told Joanna that I need to quit improving my living conditions because more chaos seems to happen with each project!
The couch, yes, the lovely or once lovely couch is still in the same condition. I have not had time or energy to attempt any improvement. Angie and I are on the same page, and Les and Carrie will never be allowed to repair even a broken toothpick in my house:-) I am not an "afghan on the back of the couch" type of person, but in this emergency, we had to pull out great-grandma's and cover the damage. Speaking of afghans, when I was young, I think my mother collected them on the back of her sofa. I remember thinking it looked so cluttered, and when we were expecting company I would do away with the lovely items. As people were pulling in the driveway, I would make a mad dash for the living room, swipe all the afghans and toss them in a closet. I was such a trouble-maker! My father convinced me that it was in my good interest to stop that practice or else:-) Back to my couch, I enjoyed reading all the comments. Whoever was the "Martha Stewart," you brought me a great deal of laughter regarding your comment! Please email me and tell me who you are. I have an educated guess, but I would like to know for sure. Someone had an "inside track" to know all that about me:-)
Do you like the brown paint behind the couch? I love it! The butter color is on the opposite wall and in part of the hall. It is the color I will use to make stripes on the brown. I love the way the pictures look on the yellow colored wall. My sister, who happens to be the antithesis of me when it comes to decor, cannot understand why I would hang two of the same painting next to each other. I just smile and say, "It's different!"
I must go. We are off to have a fun day with Joanna. Have a great day yourself!

  posted at 10:44 AM  

Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Please help!!!! Any ideas?

I cannot believe what I just did!!!! I placed the vac on the back of the sofa so Joanna could reach higher to get dust from the ceiling and walls, and you can guess what happened. I tipped the vac so the beater bar would not be bumping the couch, but I guess I was too late or did not get it back far enough. Oh, well. I must admit I am a little sad because we just bought this couch in July. Any ideas on how to patch this? Is there a certain thread or needle I should use? Thanks for your help. I will now take my disheartened self and go back to prepping the walls.
Let's see. . .for a positive thing. . .At least it is on the top and not a cushion where people would sit.

  posted at 4:26 PM  

"Killing time"

Oh, yes, we had the privilege of doing that at the Charlotte airport. My typical "modus operandi" is to drive around until whoever is arriving has luggage in hand and waiting at the curb. Joanna was able to persuade me to park, come in and wait for her. That was a guarantee that her plane would be late! The boys did not know until we arrived that their "surprise" was Joanna, and they were thrilled!
Her plane was to arrive at 6:58, and we waltzed in at 6:45. We will not have long to wait, and that is a positive thing because Ethan did not have a good nap. That is what I thought! Time began to lapse, lapse, lapse and lapse. . . There was no info on the board concerning the flight. What would you think when other flights have "on time," "delayed" or at least a stated time next to it? Her flight was the only one in yellow letters with a red square surrounding it. A sure sign to Seth that she was dead. I finally asked and was informed it would be about an hour late. Nice! I brought nothing in the airport but us, camera, phone, wipes and hand sanitizer. It was then my maternal obligation to entertain bored boys. Ethan had a hard time sitting for long stretches of time. The boring solitude of that was disrupted by a sudden bloody nose from the dear boy. After the excitement of that, we began to ride escalators. They were again thrilled! We walked from one end of the airport to the other, counting the big squares on the floor. I believe there are 219.
Joanna finally landed, and we met her at the baggage claim, which had no info concerning her flight's luggage. It never did. So, we sat for another thirty minutes or longer. A lady on the same flight saw some of their items come by on a carousel, so we quickly grabbed everything and left.
We were then faced with an 85 mile drive back home and a stop at Walmart for groceries. I found myself in bed around 1 in the morning. Consequently, I am tired and crabby today. Yes, I was already having to apologize by 8:30 :-) My nice mother sent Take 5 candy bars to me, so that should do some cheering!

  posted at 10:21 AM  

Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I'm a busy gal.

As the saying goes, "I have a lot on my plate this week."
I am excited that my sister, Joanna, will be here today. (The picture was taken two years ago, but it at least lets you know what she looks like. Please excuse Seth's expression. He is not the photogenic one:-) My boys have no clue about her arrival, but I have been cruelly keeping them in suspense over a HUGE surprise! Yesterday I started attacking the "list" I had formulated to do while she was here to watch the boys but soon realized it was too long. I have included some photos of the progress.
~I finished the kitchen trim and set up a little decor. I am not doing much and decided to use what I have. If I buy more, it is more to move.
~I prepped one of the hall walls and painted it. (I took all the the snapshots at night, so they are dark due to the lack of natural light. Sorry.)
I also included a picture of the window coverings I bought for the patio doors. They are not my favorite style, but anything was an improvement over those whopping blinds! They were on clearance, too, so I snatched them. I did like the retro look on the top of them. Troy jokingly told me it reminded him of a shower curtain.
And now you're wondering about school? Yes, I canceled on Monday. I started Seth earlier than planned so I could have a few free days if needed. He was pretty excited, and the boys spent part of the time playing battle. "Peter" (Seth) and "Edmond" (Ethan) were quite busy fighting for Narnia. (Yes, "Crashing Fat Bellies" has not been played in a few weeks. I think it is because I moved the couch, and they do not want to whack the coffee table. They would have to rename it "Hurting Little Backs.")
Well. . . I am off to start school, attack more of the "list" and go to Charlotte for my sister. Sigh. . .I will probably drive under the speed limit!

  posted at 8:13 AM  

queen of the castle

Martha C

To all my family and friends, this blog was commenced as a way to keep you informed during my frequent communication lapses. Enjoy reading of our life in this far, far away land called "the South."

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