Tuesday, December 23, 2008

If I Wasn't in the Christmas Spirit, I am Now.

What an amazing evening.

The Ryman Auditorium is one of those places where there really isn't a bad seat. But, we were lucky enough to be towards the front of the balcony which seems closer to the stage than the floor.

Vince Gill and Amy Grant came out and began the evening with a lot of traditional, upbeat seasonal songs like "Winter Wonderland," "Santa Clause is Comin' to Town," "Let It Snow" and so on... the stage set was beautifully and the tunes were relaxed--jazzy even. Vince joked that he should be smokin' a cigarette and wearing shades because it really had the feel of a bluesy nightclub. It was a nice way to unwind.

Then, Vince shared a story and a song that I will never forget.

He told us about his brother and how he had been in an accident in his early 20's. He was not supposed to recover but he did; unfortunately not enough to ever really be the same. He couldn't hold down a job and his life started to spiral. Vince talked about the nights his Mom and he would drive around looking for his brother at various homeless missions, etc. He got a little choked up talking about the charity that the proceeds of the evening would go to...a charity that benefits missions--much like those that his brother relied upon during the last years of his life.

He then sang the song "Bread and Water" which we had never heard. Let me tell you. There was not a dry eye in the house and he received a FIVE MINUTE standing ovation. Do you know how long 5 minutes is? Vince broke down in tears on stage in the face of such a warm response. It was extremely moving. The song talks about the bread and water served to a homeless man at a mission and how that's all he needed...and how Jesus is our bread and water...and that's really all we need. It added such a meaningful touch to the evening...kinda brought into focus what we were really there to celebrate.

Whew. The other really touching moment came when we all stood and sang Oh Come All Ye Faithful and Silent Night a capella. Tears streamed down my cheeks to look around at everyone in the Ryman with their arms around each other and singing in beautiful harmony.

The evening was fun. and touching. and meaningful. and moving.....a perfect lead-in to a holiday that sometimes comes and goes too quickly. It has for me this year and tonight made me realize that.

Instead of stressing about cleaning or wrapping tonight, I think I'll lay here and listen to the raindrops outside and count my blessings. I don't want it to pass me by this year......

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Basketball, My Boys and a Warm December Breeze

This was one of those moments.

Daniel had been asking me to shoot hoops with him in the driveway all afternoon. I knew the sun would soon be setting so I took Jacob out and let him toddle around as Daniel and I began a rousing game of basketball. The air was only slightly cool and a nice breeze was blowing. Between shots, I would glance out over the horizon and count my blessings. Here I was, in the midst of the busiest time of the year and I was goofing around with two of the most important people in my life. The sun was beginning to set and a pink glow started to rise just above the hills in the distance.

Jacob took great delight in walking around as Daniel and I tried our best to get the ball away from one another. Whenever one of us would make a basket and cheer, Jacob would smile and start clapping his hands. It really was a lot of fun.

We took a quick break to walk down to the end of the driveway to check the mail. The drive is long and steep so I carried Jacob and Daniel dribbled the ball as our golden retriever Cassie chased after. On the way back up, Daniel ran ahead and a strong breeze blew in making Jacob blink his eyes as he giggled in delight.

I looked off to the southwest and the sky was filled with swirling grey clouds mingling with bright pink ones. I looked around and realized that I was completely happy at that moment.

I journeyed back up the driveway and back into a game I would eventually lose 40 - 36. But as I walked, I was grateful beyond words. I was grateful for little boys and basketballs and warm December breezes. I was thankful for giggles and little hands clapping and for health and for family. But, most of all, I was thankful for the feeling of contentment that washed over me today.

I want for nothing.

Keith's Shopping Dilemma Solved

My hubby has been begging me to tell him what I want for Christmas.

My response is usually, "I don't neeeeed anything." He then exhales loudly and mumbles under his breath as he walks off.

Well, our one year old has solved Keith's shopping dilemma once and for all! I just walked into the laundry room and found my iPod......floating in the dog's water bowl.

Honey...ask me ONE MORE TIME what I might like for Christmas.........

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jacob's First GOTCHA Day!

Today is a very special day in our household...it's the one-year anniversary of the day we brought Jacob home--or, as we like to refer to it--GOTCHA Day!

After we put the boys to bed this evening (Jacob with a raging double ear infection unfortunately), Keith and I watched the video of us meeting him for the first time. Unbelievable. His tiny little hands and fingers reaching up to us from the white wicker bassinet...melts. the. heart.

It's hard to believe that a year has flown by...like sands through an hour glass...THESE are the days of our lives. (Sorry to insert cheesy soap opera tag line) In an instant, those little fragile, 20 day old fingers have transformed into little mischievous boy hands. Hands that love to pull toilet paper off the roll, play "let's flush Mommy's cell phone" and think it's fun to feed food to the dog by dropping it off the side of the high chair. Those same little hands that were so new to me then, now delight my soul as they clap when he's happy, try to figure out how to fit a puzzle piece together or grasp my nose as we're enjoying some morning snuggle time.

In his first year, Jacob has met numerous friends and family, seen the mountains, the ocean, had three different home addresses, grown 5 teeth with a sixth on the way, learned to crawl, learned to walk and learned to say Dada and Mommmmmm-aaa very well.



You have no idea how your presence has impacted this family for the better. You gave your Momma and Daddy a chance to see that their hearts could expand to love another child with the same passion that we love our first. And, you gave your brother more than a back seat mate. You gave him an adoring shadow and, most of all, a reason to be patient and protective (not to mention a future partner-in-crime!).

You are a determined and stubborn child when you are on a "mission." Although it can be frustrating as I try to steer you from objects or situations that could be harmful, I know that someday your tenacious spirit could benefit you, too. You are curious, energetic and pretty adaptable considering the roller coaster ride we've been on this year.

I celebrate the first year we had with you. You are a delight to be around (ear infection-induced whininess or not) and we could not be more lucky that God chose us to be your parents. You are a wonderful fit for your family and your toofy, drooly grin brings sunshine to my every day.

I love you more than you'll ever know.


I'll Just Take the 13 Glazed Donuts Instead, Thanks.

I was reading on MSN about the Worst Mall Foods to eat. I was shocked at the calorie and fat content of some of these common foods (many of which I've eaten without thinking a thing about it). Check this out:

Panda Express
Orange Chicken
500 calories
27 g fat (5.5 g saturated, 1 g trans)
42 g carbs
810 mg sodium
FAT EQUIVALENT: 9 strips of Oscar Mayer Bacon!

Compared to other traditional Chinese meals (think multi-serving takeout boxes of carb-loaded lo mein), 500 calories doesn’t seem so bad. But consider the source—one small serving of Panda Express orange chicken usually comes with a second entrĂ©e (add another 300-400 calories) and a side of rice (add 450 calories if you choose the fried variety, 380 for the steamed). Make it a double serving of orange chicken and a side of fried rice and you’ve just consumed 75 percent of your day’s calories in one moment of weakness.

Eat This Instead:
Broccoli Beef
150 calories
7 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
510 mg sodium
11 g carbs

Auntie Anne’s
Glazin’ Raisin Pretzel
510 calories
107 g carbs
4 g fat (2 g saturated)
480 mg sodium

CALORIC EQUIVALENT: 2 slices of Pizza Hut cheese pizza!

It’s hard to consider this meal. Not all of Auntie Anne’s options are this heavy, though. The jalapeno pretzel (without butter) is a reasonable-sized snack that can give you the energy boost you need to make it through your shopping spree, without loading you down and threatening your waistline.

Eat This Instead:
Jalapeno Pretzel, no butter
270 calories
58 g carbs
1 g fat (0 g saturated)
780 mg sodium

SbarroStuffed Pepperoni Pizza, 1 slice
890 calories

CALORIC EQUIVALENT: 3 Snickers bars!

It’s probably no surprise that a pizza labeled “stuffed” would pack a caloric punch—but 890 calories for a single slice? You’d have to eat 3 Snickers bars, or 20 Chicken McNuggets, or 15 KFC Hot Wings to match that load. And that’s not even taking into account what are surely stratospheric fat and sodium counts. (Sbarro’s doesn’t release full nutritional information for their menu items. Check out what other dirty little secrets your favorite restaurants are hiding in this eye-popping expose!)

Eat This Instead!
New York Style Thin Crust Cheese, 1 slice
460 calories

Steak Escape
Ranch and Bacon Fries
1,044 calories
71 g fat
1,398 mg sodium
84 g carbs

CALORIC EQUIVALENT: 23 McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets!

Consuming half your day’s allowance of calories in one meal is bad enough—but in one side dish? Claiming innocence will never hold up in a Food Court of Law, though—not when a flood of ranch, a flurry of bacon, and a mountain of fried potatoes are involved. Until some nutritionally savvy company starts baking their fries in the oven, you’ll need to seek out alternative treatments to get your spud fix.

Eat This Instead:
Smashed Potatoes
246 calories
0 g fat
43 mg sodium
53 g carbs

Smoothie King
Grape Expectations II (40 oz)
1,096 calories0 g fat (0 g saturated)
266 g carbs
250 g sugars

SUGAR EQUIVALENT: 13 Dunkin’ Donuts Chocolate Frosted Donuts!

Smoothie King calls this a way to “snack right”; we call it one of the quickest ways to pack on extra pounds. Even if most of the sugar comes from some form of fruit or fruit juice (in this case, ultra-sweet grape juice), the resulting blood-sugar surge (and inevitable energy crash) from this much sweetness may leave you struggling to find that last gift for Aunt Elma.

Drink This Instead:
Slim-N-Trim Orange-Vanilla 20 oz
250 calories1 g fat (0 g saturated)
46 g carbs
38 g sugars

Regular Caramel Pecan bun
1,100 calories
56 g fat (10 g saturated, 5 g trans)
141 g carbs
47 g sugars

CALORIC EQUIVALENT: 8 White Castle hamburgers

Cinnabon and malls are inseparable. This dangerously bloated bun—among these Fattiest Foods in America—contains nearly an entire day’s worth of fat and more than half of your daily allotment of calories. Reconsider your breakfast or snack options, but if you absolutely must eat something, make it Stix.

Eat This Instead:
Cinnabon Stix
379 calories
21 g fat (6 g saturated, 4 g trans)
41 g carbs
14 g sugars

Au Bon Pain
Large Macaroni and Cheese Stew with Bread Bowl
1,120 calories
42 g fat (19 g saturated, 1 g trans)
3,070 mg sodium
157 g carbs

SODIUM EQUIVALENT: 22 small orders of McDonald’s French Fries!

Whether it’s made from a giant fried tortilla or a massive hunk of sourdough, if you’re serving vessel is edible, you’re asking for trouble. In this case, the bread bowl adds a belly-building 600 calories to what is already one of America’s most decadent, over-the-top spoonables. If soup’s your thing, you’ll have a hard time keeping the sodium down no matter which bowl you order; good, old-fashioned tomato soup is as good as you’ll do at Au Bon Pain.

Eat This Instead:
Medium Old Fashioned Tomato Soup
200 calories
7 g fat (3 g saturated)
1,150 mg sodium
27 g carbs

Large Tuna Melt Club with cheese and dressing
1,820 calories
147 g fat (27 g saturated, 1.5 g trans)
2,020 mg sodium
85 g carbs

CALORIC EQUIVALENT: 12 Taco Bell Fresco Style Beef Tacos!

Tuna off the grill or straight from the can is perfectly healthy; tuna drowning in mayonnaise, blanketed in melted cheese, and slicked with oily dressing is decidedly not. Not only does this sandwich carry with it nearly an entire day’s worth of calories and sodium, it also contains as much fat as 49 strips of bacon. In fact, it’s so bad that it will replace Quizno’s Classic Italian in our list of the 20 Worst Foods in America when we update it for 2009.

Eat This Instead:
Small Tuna Melt, no cheese, no dressing
500 calories
33 g fat (5 g saturated)
630 mg sodium
37 g carbs

That'll sure make me think twice about what I order at some of those restaurants!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ice Ice Baby

Whoda thunk I'd be iced in....in LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS? Perhaps if I was doing a site visit in, say, Montreal? or Vancouver? But as I packed my Mommy Mobile and headed west...I can assure you I wasn't thinking I'd be heading into this.

I did check the weather forecast and, hopefully, it will be safe for me to head back tomorrow.

I look out my hotel window and this is what I see:

Little Rock or New York City?
City streets coated in ice
Heavy white plumes of steam
Escaping from manhole covers
A river slowly creeping by
Too cold to ripple or flow
Brave motorists
Cautiously making their way

A non-existent sky
Once blue and endless
Now obscured by fog and 
a drizzly, sleety mist
Pedestrians amble by
Huddled and bundled
No relaxed chit chat
As they go to and fro

Winter has settled here
If only briefly
Making a grand entrance
I am perfectly content
Surveying the scene from here
From the warmth of my perch
in Room 1623...


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

That's What I Call Wanting Some Guacamole

The rain was pouring down. I mean POURING. It wasn't as cold as it has been the past few days but the weather was not what you would consider...ideal. I was headed home from Target and I had my mind set on one thing:  GUACAMOLE. 

There are many who may not have a full appreciation of the green stuff like I do. But, when I get my mind set on Mexican for a meal...folks, there's no turning back. So, I whipped into La Hacienda because not only do they have good guacamole, but they have a BUFFET at lunch. And, there is guacamole on the buffet. HEAVENLY!

Now, let me remind you that my counterpart, my little one-year old sidekick, had been perfect all morning. But, it was soon approaching nap time so I knew I had to make it snappy. I put the car in park, throw my hood on, jump out, run around the other side of the car, jump in the back seat and--because it was raining--shut the door. 


I could not get out. And, with Jacob's big-honkin' seat in the way, I honestly thought I'd be stuck there in the back seat of the car, in the rain....with no guacamole. Hey, a girl's gotta have her priorities.

So, I got all gymnastic-like and finagled my way over his seat, through the front two seats, over the console and plopped down in the passenger seat. Whew.  I got out, got him into the restaurant and slid into the booth after securing him in the high chair. I was within a couple feet of my beloved guac when he started whining. I hop up, he lets out a mild screech and I grab some pears in a little bowl and some refried beans. The child ate the pears like he had been starved on an island for a year. Then, he ate the beans. But, upon discovering an empty bowl where the pears used to be, my child...my love heart...rared back and let out a blood-curdling screech that lasted approximately 4.9 minutes. Well, may be not that long but it was a good 20 seconds. And, in a small Mexican restaurant, that is the equivalent of "cinco" years, my friends.

I wanted to crawl under the booth. With my guacamole, of course.

He then proceeded to take the bowl and chunk it on the floor whereupon it made a loud, KA-Ling! ka-lingggggggg...at this point, I had consumed a chip and a half and was working on a taco. I sat there cursing my poor decision to attempt a buffet alone with a whiny nap-needing child. 

The server brought over a few packs of crackers that seemed to appease my youngest until I could down my taco and a few chips and then it was time to go.

The aftermath:  a pear-juice-smeared table, 3 crushed packs of semi-open crackers on the floor, two bowls that used to contain pears on the floor, a high chair filled with crumbs and........a plate with wayyy too much leftover guacamole.

I'm pretty sure Weight Watchers and God were in on this one together. Next time: a can of soup at home while the boy naps. Sigh....

Friday, December 05, 2008


I sit here
turtleneck pulled extra high
searching for warmth
and wisdom
my mind
bare as the tree branches
outside the window
a million miles away

sorting out my thoughts
miles of backroads
with unpruned branches
intertwining and obscuring
patches of sunlight
peeking through
I proceed cautiously
staying between the lines

I turn the music louder.....

Sweet Dreams

This morning Daniel awakened and confided in Keith:

"Daddy. I had the best dreams all night. I dreamed Auburn and Tennessee lost all of their football games and then... I dreamed about Hannah Montana!"

Gotta love that kid.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Birthdays and Football and Plenty of Things to Be Thankful For...

It has been a week, folks.

Between the trip to Georgia last week and our Thanksgiving travels, I'll be happy to not even see the inside of my car for quite some time. In fact, I think I'll hole up like a hermit for a few weeks and just see what life is like at this house we're paying for each month. I could also walk to the other house we're paying for each month...but it's empty and it keeps me up nights so it's probably best that I just hang here!

Wednesday morning we loaded up the ol' Family Truckster and headed due south to the inlaws. Loaded down like we were gonna set up base camp for a strategic military operation, we slowly made our way there and even got to intersect with Keith's brother and his family to grab lunch along the way. Between Keith and his brother Jay, there are 6 offspring. So, Keith's poor parents didn't know what hit them when the 10 of us came barreling into town. The next morning we added his older brother plus wife and child, later that afternoon his younger sister, her hubby and two kiddos and then an aunt and grandma. Altogether there were 21 of us.

I kid you not, if Valium were an over the counter option...................

But, I will tell you this. Yes, it was crowded and yes there were probably times when Keith's folks were simultaneously glad to have us all there and wondering if it was time for us to go yet...with kids bickering over whose turn it was to throw the football or twenty of us all in the kitchen trying to get a drink at the same time... but we were there. together. A family that is spread across the Southeast and we were all converged on this small southern town at one time.
It was a miracle to say the least.

We sat out in the chairs and swings under the arbor covered with its intertwining rose vines and caught up with each other's lives. WE talked about jobs and kids and school. We played a few rousing games of touch football (WHY can I not throw a football correctly???) and we laughed. Alot. And, as crazy as it was trying to grab a spot in the shower line or screaming as the shower water turned icy cold as someone washed the dishes, I loved every minute of it.

Yes, really.

Because in my everyday hectic life, there are phone calls to return and appointments and busses to catch and homework to do and laundry to finish and...and....there was none of that. It was just a group of people related by blood or marriage spending time together. For that, and for each and every one of them, I am thankful.

While we were at the inlaws, we celebrated Jacob's FIRST birthday! How is that even possible? Wasn't it yesterday that I was sitting in my living room watching Deal or No Deal and the phone rings...."you're having a baby in three weeks...and it's a boy!" From that moment (Nov. 9) on, life has certainly been a whirlwind.

Our brother and sister-in-law had a little girl just 4 days after Jacob was born so we did a joint 1st Birthday party for them Friday evening. Two babies, lots of family, gifts and, of course, the birthday cake for each...it was so much fun. I'm finishing a post about Jacob's first year and will get that up this week,

And then, we loaded up the truck and headed to Tuscaloosa in a driving rainstorm for the 2008 Iron Bowl. Luckily, just a light mist made itself home on us all day and we never dealt with a hard rain after we arrived at our tailgating site.

We had a great time hanging out with our tailgating crew for the last time this year [insert sad face here!] and then we walked over the the stadium. I could not have been more nervous. Playing our arch rival who has NOTHING to lose when we are the number one team in the country trying to make it to a National Championship game.

But, as it turned out, we had nothing to worry about. With a final score of 36 to NOTHIN. Zip. Zero. Zilch...it could not have been a better game. I was hoping to win by a point and we ended up shutting them out. It was beautiful. The stadium was electric and not a single Bama fan left. We ended a six game losing streak in an intense rivalry and had a great time doing so!

Now we're back. And, we're decorating for Christmas and getting back into a groove here at home. It snowed like crazy here today but didn't stick. Oh well...it sure was pretty coming down!

Wishing you a good post-Turkey Day week!

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Don't Deserve Them...

How funny is it that I get an email that reports how many folks are reading my blog daily? I have not posted anything in two whole weeks but I still have folks checking in...dedicated souls that they are. I do not deserve my readers! I do not!

What is going on with me? I know...I know...Facebook is one of the culprits. I can't help it. Keeping up with people's every move is pretty fascinating indeed.

But it's more than that... I used to read every word of every blog I followed...and I still love reading other people's blogs. It's just...I feel lazy lately when it comes to writing here. Maybe it's that I've been inundated with projects and writing for entertainment takes a back seat. I dunno.

What I do know is this blog has meant the world to me. And, the relationships I've formed as a result mean the world to me. These pages have been cathartic as well as inspirational and it's not something I want to let slip through the cracks.

I may not post as much as I used to, but I do commit to coming here and spouting out useless thoughts from time to time. Or maybe I'll throw a poem out there or a picture or two...or forty.

I'll get back in the groove. I just have to work on this whole life balance thing. Like I've always said, I'm a work in progress folks.

Don't give up on me just yet.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Never Claimed That a Cookbook Was in My Future

OK, so after the Great Oreo Eyeball Debacle, I'm sure the sound of "Katie" and "recipe" in the same sentence is met with a dash of skepticism. Trust me, this tale will do nothing to debunk that what.so.ever.

All I wanna do in life is make a good pot of vegetable soup, people. My Mom had the audacity to leave me in this world without her vegetable soup recipe. Often people have asked, "if you could spend 5 minutes more with your Mom, what would you ask her..."

"Her vegetable soup recipe" is usually at the top of my list. I'm not kidding. It was that good and no one knows how she did it.

So, my quest continues.

And, today was a perfect day to make soup--what with it being so blustery and cold outside. Vegetable soup it is! So I track down a recipe that sounds yummy and is Weight watcher friendly to boot. Ah! So, I print the sucker out and get to work. Having everything I needed on hand, I decided to enlist the help of my 6 year old. He enjoyed pouring the tomatoes and broth in as well as measuring out frozen corn and scooping the potatoes off the cutting board and into the awaiting pot.

But, with some of the other ingredients, I decided to do the measuring. You know, like the basil and...um, Splenda. I love Spelnda folks. In fact, if I were to miraculously be with child and said child was of the female persuasion, I'd probably name her Splenda. I love the stuff. So, after measuring cup upon cup of other ingredients, I naturally ASSUMED it was cups...when I saw the 1 1/2 in front of the Splenda. It was a huge pot filled with beef broth and every veggie under the sun...the 1 1/2 CUPS of Splenda I tossed in didn't seem odd to me.

That was, until I took a taste.

Tasting more like a fine dessert wine than soup, I grabbed the recipe and, in horror, found that it called for 1 1/2 TEASPOONS of Splenda. TEASPOONS not CUPS. In the finer world of all things culinary, that my friends is a whopping big difference. Not to be deterred and doing what Katie does best in any culinary emergency, I go plundering for a fix. I dumped nearly the entire contents of my pantry in that pot to balance out the sweetness. Pinto beans, onion, a can of Progresso Southwestern Vegetable Soup, more corn and every kind of garlic seasoning I had on hand. I also tossed a little Cumin, and some good ol' salt and pepper.

Lest you think I will EVER be able to recreate this soup again, the answer is no. I cannot remember for the life of me what I threw in there to salvage dinner for my family. But, what I created in the meantime was the best tasting soup I've ever had. Seriously.

Now there are not one, but TWO, soups in my life I shall never be able to taste again. My Mom's Homemade Vegetable and Katie's Southwestern Splenda Extravaganza. Maybe some things are just better preserved in our memory.

But, for now, at least I have the leftovers!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Friday, November 07, 2008

At the Ryman with Ronnie

Guess you guys MIGHT be a little tired of the Oreo Eyeball recipe being up there, huh? Darn Facebook. darnitall.

Last night, my dad and stepmom came to town and we went to see Ronnie Milsap at the Ryman Auditorium (the original Grand Ole Opry). It was fantastic. I must admit, I thought "this might be a little cheesy" and tried to name a handful of his songs. Of course, I got "Smokey Mountain Rain" right off the bat and came up with two or three more on the way to the concert.

Folks, tha man sand all night and I knew every song he did. He was amazing. At the Ryman, there's really not a bad seat in the house and I ended up having a blast with some folks sitting next to us, too...four friends from the Nashville area. He closed out the show with Smokey Mountain Rain, then America the Beautiful (which was unusually touching in light of all the post-election yammering that's being going on) and then...unexpectedly, his last song was "Honkey Tonk Women" which was so. much. fun. We were up dancing having the time of our lives (well, I was up dancing-- Keith had a sleeping 6 year old in his lap).

On a side note-- the first act was a guy that won a talent contest to be there and MARK MY WORDS PEOPLE...you will know this name soon: Mike Willis. He's from Atlanta and sang with acoustic guitar. I coulda listened to him all night. You can say you heard it on Roses are Red, my peeps...the guy is phenomenal.

OK...no more Oreo eyeball recipe. I'm gonna enjoy the rest of this cold rainy morning. I love, love, love this time of year!

(click on any photo to enlarge)

One sleepy boy!

Ronnie and the gang singing acapella

Ronnie at the keyboard

Keith, Daniel and Katie at the Ryman

Katie, Daniel and Dad

Mike Willis-- the opening act

The windows of the historic Ryman

The second act...The Grascals (bluegrass) They were a hoot!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Oreo Eyeball Recipe...the Katie Way

First and foremost, I need to give a shout-out to Megan over at Fried Okra for her wildly delicious and creative Oreo Eyeball recipe! I made these for Daniel's first-grade Halloween party at school Friday and they were a huge hit--with kids and parents alike. Thank you, Megan!

If you would like to make these, Megan's recipe is perfect as is. Follow it and let the kudos pour in. However, if you'd like to, oh I don't know, "shake things up" a bit...here's an alternative recipe
for you to try. Kick the tires, follks and see whatcha think:

Katie's Special Super Duper Oreo Eyeball Extravaganza


Oreo cookies
cream cheese
white chocolate almond bark icing
sprinkles and stuff

Read directions carefully and insert unnecessary stress as needed:

1. Select a particularly busy day to make these and do not buy the ingredients until (lemme see...) 3 hours before you need to walk in the door with these beauties.

2. Return from grocery store and push all thoughts of the clothes that you have not packed for the trip that you are taking immediately after the party where these will be served.

3. For that extra sumthin' special, be sure to have a very curious and clingy 11-month old under foot in the kitchen. It only adds to the excitement of creating these gooey, ghoulish treats.

4. Blend/crush the Oreos and, just after you get the cream cheese all over your hands, realize that the 11-month old ingredient seriously needs his mid-morning nap. Wash hands, pat dry, put child down for nap, proceed with recipe.

5. Finish blending together of ingredients and roll into individual little balls. Repeat this step until you have approximately 9,855 little round meatball-looking thingies because that is precisely how many you will get out of a double batch.

6. Be sure to have signed up for a weight control program--I happened to choose Weight Watchers--and be on this program while making this recipe. And, as you roll Oreo balls that are too big, be sure to stray from your eating plan of choice completely by eating the excess that you remove from each one to make it the right size.

7. Place Oreo balls in a refrigerator that has no trace of edible groceries for 1 hour to chill.

8. Run, run like the wind, and throw in the load of laundry that you forgot to put in that happens to contain clothes that you will need for your trip in a few hours.

9. Get out a suitcase. Put some clothes in it for yourself, for your husband, oh and 2 kids that go through clean clothes like a hungry, stressed woman on a diet goes through Oreo eyeball dough. Be sure to pack camera, battery chargers, formula, toys, snacks, hostess gift for person who is feeding you brunch the next day and probably has more cooked for that than you do for your child's party that is taking place in just under two hours. Two hours?

10. Jump in shower.

11. Get out of shower and race into kitchen to check on chilled dough. Remove from fridge and heat almond bark in microwave. Set up area for dipping of Oreo balls into chocolate. And, just as you begin to dip treats into chocolate, you should hear your 11-month old wake up screaming from his too-short nap because it is time to feed him. Yes, without this step, the amount of stress in this recipe would be insufficient. Do not skip this step.

12. Wash hands, pray chocolate bark does not harden, retrieve screeching child from crib, make bottle, sit down for a feeding while watching minutes on clock tick away. Place child in high chair and continue.

13. Realize that two of the Oreo balls that you dipped had hardened before sprinkles and decor were applied. Eat them. They woulda' been a waste anyway. Rationalize that you simply could not have let them go to waste. Continue dipping, dripping, placing on wax paper, sprinkling, placing M&M for decor, and repeating. Be sure to place as many M&M's in your mouth as you do on the eyeballs.

14. Finish your project with 15 minutes to spare before you have to leave for party. Get dressed, dry hair, place goodies on a tray, get child dressed, run out the door, place child in car seat, place goody tray on passenger seat along with 2 rolls toilet paper for mummy wrap game, drive to school. On last curve before reaching school, let all eyeballs slide off tray onto front seat.

15. Smile, think happy thoughts of daisies and puppies and fields of flowers.

16. Arrive at destination. Figure out the best way to enter school with two rolls of toilet paper, a tray of chocolate eyeballs, your purse and your 11-month old child in tow. Contemplate this while you are parking approximately 2.3 miles away from the school.

17. Vow to sign up for "paper goods" next time.

See, nothin' to it.

You Were There

I thought about you today
As the afternoon sunlight
cast long shadows
across the bright green field
and the marching band played
as the pom pons danced
oh how you loved
this time of year

I thought about you today
As the toothy grin
and mischieveous giggle
of my youngest child
drew me closer to you
had you felt the same
when I was that age
like your heart would burst with love

I thought about you today
As the deepest purples
and the fiercest, fiery reds
lit up the maple trees
and when the sunset bore colors
I swear I'd never seen before
and the moon held its perch
next to a solitary star in the evening sky

You were with me today
Every step that I took
as a wife
as a mother
as a football fan
as a lover of nature
and details
that go unnoticed by many

You were very much there...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blame it on Facebook!

What a blog slacker I have been! I know there are other bloggers that have Facebook pages, too, and somehow manage to do both. But, I apparently am not one of them.

I still love my blog but it requires me to write...to put thought into word form and post it; whereas Facebook has a nice tidy little box with "Katie is..." already entered. All I have to do is type "very sleepy." or.... "going to pick up the box of spilled Cheerios in the pantry." There is really not much brain power required.

But I do miss writing and will attempt to do a better job of posting here.

See...look, this entry was practically a novel!


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cleansing Autumn Rain

This morning I awoke
To refreshing drops.............
Kerplunk! Drip, drop, drip......
On the green grass outside my door

Cleansing autumn rain
Cooler temperatures
A slight breeze
ruffles the curtains

My soul rejoices
In the sound of the voices
Of raindrop conversations

Drip, drop, drip
On the green grass
Outside my door

A soothing way to start the day..........

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hotel Shampoo Doesn't Lather and Other Reasons I'm Happy to Be Home

6 nights was a long time to be away.

I departed for Indianapolis last Wednesday ready to implement another event. My excitement was tinged with the requisite nervousness that creeps in right before a big conference. A nice, straight-as-an-arrow, 5-hour drive awaited as I plugged in the iPod, opened the sunroof and settled in for the trip.

A full moon in the sky and good music were my driving partners for a majority of the trip and, I must admit, it was luxurious to get lost in song lyrics and let all the other details swimming in my head fade for a while. It was 40 miles outside Indy that the bottom dropped out. It just so happened to be 11:30pm and fatigue had set in. A desperate search for a Starbucks-type establishment had turned up empty and the rain was coming down so hard my wipers couldn't keep up. Big trucks would amble by, sloshing buckets of water my way...luckily, as I approached downtown, the can't-miss-it glow of Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the Colts) was a welcome beacon in the night--since I knew it was next door to the hotel.

I was there.

The next few days were abuzz with details, arrivals, meetings, greetings. I received some nice compliments about the weight loss and, yes, received a few more to add to "the list" ..a compilation of backhanded compliments that are actually quite funny. One of my favorites from this trip was..." Katie! Oh my gosh! You don't even LOOK like the same person. You look GREAT!"

Um, thanks? LOL. I know they mean well...

We did end up having an absolute blast at our Sunday evening event. We rented a historic train station across the street from the hotel and brought in dueling pianos for entertainment. It was so. much. fun! We had 6 buffet stations, bars, a build-your-own ice cream sundae bar...it was a hit! Suffice it to say, I called my pal Cindy (who thankfully comes and helps at these conferences) at 5:45 the next morning and said, "did we REALLLLY do the electric slide to Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious"? LOL It was a fun evening.

The next evening was our dressy gala held offsite at the beautiful Indiana Roof Ballroom...built in 1927 in a dark, Spanish-style architecture with balconies, coves and a ceiling complete with stars, a night sky and even simulated thunderstorms...it was perfect.

After a successful event, I loaded the car down and headed south. My boys were certainly happy to see me and I showered them all with kisses. Jacob looked like he had grown a foot and Daniel was full of details about school and his online football game and "can we go throw the football, Mommy? Huh? Can we? Huh? Huh?"

There was no meeting room to prepare, no projector to set up, no tour set to depart and no florist arriving in 10 minutes. There was a sandy-haired boy with a football in his hand and a toothless grin spread over his face.

It was so nice to be home.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Promised I Wouldn't Discuss Her Mad Navigational Skillz...

...so I won't! ;-)

I had the DISTINCT pleasure of meeting one of my bloggy buddies in real life tonight! The lovely Cindy at Still His Girl was kind enough to drive over an hour to come to Indianapolis to have dinner with me! I have read her blog for a blue forever (that was for you, Cindy) and I can assure you that this woman is the real deal.

As cliche as it may sound, she is as nice and funny (and adorable!) in person as she is on her blog. She is a dedicated, caring, loving Mom and wife and I am certainly blessed to now consider her one of my real-life bloggy friends!

After a brief moment where she did NOT GET LOST, she ABSOLUTELY DID NOT GET LOST, my other friend Cindy and I jumped into the car with her...at the same time jumping into the skin of a comfortable, easy friendship...much like putting on a new sweater that is oh-so-comfy and fits like a glove!

We dined on a scrumptious dinner (and an even more scrumptious dessert!) and really enjoyed talking face to face!

Cindy-- thanks for making the effort to come see me. You are a doll and I now want to go back and re-read every post you ever written. :) I had a blast!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Picture Time!

So, maybe I do not have the brain power to put together a cohesive sentence...but I can sho' nuff post some pictures! Everyone loves pictures, right???? :) Below... my new nephew, and time with the grandparents. We had a really good weekend!


Dear MelDrop,

Thank you for your concern and for missing some Roses are Red. My deepest apologies and I promise to post something for you TODAY. :)

Dear Cindy,

I am so excited to get to meet you in person this week! Woo hOO...does that help ease the pain of non-bloggage? ;-)

Dear BKB (aka my hubby),

I will do my best to include all dedication scenarios next time. Thank you for your concern.

Dear Chris,

I am so happy that you still care.

:: sappy music playing ::

Long Distance Dedication

a reader from Cumming, GA writes in:

"ok, i know you're crazy busy with all your travels, settling into a new home, getting ready for your big meeting, but i really need me a new blog. i go and check numerous times a day just hoping for one little snipit of "roses are red...", but nothing. :-( Pleeeeease take 10 mins out of your busy day to help your bff in need. thank you!"

Dear reader, this one's for you..........

Monday, October 06, 2008

Cracks Me Up

Tina Fey for President. She absolutely cracks me up. I thought Queen Latifah did a great job, too....

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Menu Planning Monday

Monday, October 6
Chicken BBQ Chop Salad
Corn Chowder
"Tastes Like Cheesecake" Dessert

Tuesday, October 7
Pork Chop Casserole
Baked Brown Rice
Steamed Broccoli

Wednesday, October 8
Indonesian Pot Roast (crock pot)
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Butter beans
Orange Cream Dessert

Thursday, October 9
Grilled Sirloin Steaks
Crash Hot Potatoes
Slow-Cooked Green Beans

Friday, August 29
*Fall Festival--no cook!

And Then She Proceeded to Ramble

Because I have had the tear-jerker post up there since Thursday, I figured I needed to put something--anything--up here to relieve you of the emotional drain. So, there you go. I posted somethin. See ya later.

Yeah, not so fast.

There is a lot goin on in our household. Well-meaning friends keep asking for updates so here goes:

The Move: Blech. OK, everyone who has had to purchase a separate address book just to hold all the addresses Keith and I have had since we've been married? Toss 'em! We're here to stay. I shall plunk down my white flag, stake this land out as my plot and I shall rock grandbabies on this porch. You think I'm kidding? Take one look out at the Sanford & Son set in my garage and you'll know that I am NEVER. MOVING. AGAIN. ever.

The Other House: Yep. Still not leased. We're now land barons. If you would like a vacation home in the Nashville area for the weekend at a great price...call me! All you need to bring is, well, furniture...or sleeping bags! Attention church groups-- think of it as camping...but inside with air conditioning! Oh, I think I'm onto something here! Please pray for a tenant to come along so we're not THROWING MONEY AWAY every month. Yuck.

Football: We are mighty excited about our Crimson Tide team...although our boys weren't exactly looking like themselves yesterday but we still managed a win. We went to the game yesterday and had a great time although it was exactly 612 degrees hotter than the surface of the sun. We're 6-0 on the season and looking forward to a down week this coming Saturday for some much needed rest (for the team and for me!)

Nights in Rodanthe: My sweet hubby encouraged me to go see a movie ALL BY MYSELF on Friday night. I hardly knew what to do with myself, I tell you. But my choice of flick. It was baaaaad. I know Nicholas Sparks' movies are usually chicky and sappy and somewhat predictable but I loved The Notebook so I decided to give this one a try. Mistake. It was cheesy, boring, predictable and was basically every sappy movie you've ever seen rolled up into a big ball of nothin.

What is this about a marathon? Yes, the words Katie and marathon would never be uttered in the same breath--in my head for sure. But, I am training for a HALF marathon on April 25 here in Nashville. The Country Music Marathon and I'm pretty excited. Hopefully I'll be able to stick with the whole weight loss (um, I mean life change!) thing and be but a shadow of my former self by then! :) My sis-in-law has agreed to do it with me and hopefully we can cross that finish line together, hand in hand and be on the next video with inspirational music and people crying as they attain their goal. I know I shed a tear when I watched the darn thing. Just the thought of accomplishing something I never dreamed I could would be amazing. Will you be my cheering section??? I'm gonna need it especially around the holidays. My oh my.

OK...enough yapping for now...I'm going to run and try to be productive!


Thursday, October 02, 2008

One Moment More

OK, if I can actually quit crying enough to post this, I'm going to share some pretty personal feelings here by way of this video.

Mindy Smith is a singer/songwriter who lives here in Nashville and this song was written for her mother who died of cancer. She could not have captured my feelings better. These lyrics are what my hearts sings out whenever I think of my Mom........

Tired of Sunrise Pictures Yet?

If so, sorry. But as long as they keep being this pretty, I'm gonna keep postin' them. :) Who could get tired of looking at this, though? They get better every day!

still clickin'.....

Last Day for Monster Friends Giveaway

OK, I have loved Callie's blog from day UNO. I so (or SEW) want to be her when I grow up. She is giving away 2 adorable "monsters" and a great tote. Today is the last day to enter...so hop on over there (just don't enter or anything cause then I might not win!) Kidding. Sorta. ;-)

Click here to check it out!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Morning Sky

From the night sky to this morning sky...

first light...

nature's might...

Night Sky

With Keith still in Chicago, I was relieved to tuck the boys in bed and have a moment of silence to usher out what had been a hectic day. Fall was in full swing with a nip in the air and I opened the sliding french doors along the back of the house to let the breeze blow through. I stepped out onto the deck and looked up to see if it was a clear evening. What I saw took my breath away. In the silken black of the night sky, millions of stars peered back at me and asked me to join them for a relaxing conversation.

And, of course, I obliged.

I ran back inside, grabbed a pillow and a couple blankets, and ran outside into the dark stillness like a giddy schoolgirl at a slumber party. I picked the perfect spot, spread out the first blanket, laid down and covered up with the other. With my head resting softly on the pillow, I opened my eyes. At first, it was intoxicating and I even felt slightly dizzy as I gazed upward. There were clusters of tiny stars intermingling with larger, sparkly ones that seemed to perch upon clouds and smoke trails. The groupings of stars appeared almost cliquish-- each constellation set apart from the other in hushed conversations.

I actually giggled as I laid there feeling almost defiant-- like I had discovered a hidden treasure and was keeping it all to myself. I dozed on and off and felt completely at peace. After a while, the chill got the best of me and I went inside and climbed into a warm, comfy bed...drifting off to sleep with sweet dreams of my amazing night sky.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Quick Trip to K'ville

We took a quick trip over to Knoxville to visit Keith's brother and his family. We ate at a great Japanese steakhouse (a great way to keep kids occupied!) and then on Saturday went downtown to visit the park where the 1982 (I think?) World's Fair was held. It was a perfect day weather-wise...very cool and overcast and not another soul in sight. We had a really nice time!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Take Me Home, Country Roads

It's perfect. Absolutely perfect, this new place that we live. I have always dreamed of living "in the country" where fields encased with long horse fences stretched as far as the eye could see and trees stood tall like islands in the vast openness. But, being the somewhat "city girl" that I am, I never wanted to give up being close to my beloved Wal-Mart or good restaurants to go for true country living.

Well I've found the best of both worlds.

We are maybe a mile from the interstate yet you'd never know it. In 10 minutes, I can drive to one of the largest malls in Nashville, yet on my walk this morning, I did not see a single person...only the aforementioned scenery with lots of cows and horses. It was glorious.  With my iPod cranked up as high as it could go, I walked open roads and viewed beautiful sunrise vistas and sang out loud to my heart's content. To those who know me well, this is about as close to heaven as it gets for me.

Take me home country roads...or take me to the mall. Either way, I'm loving our new place.

Oh What a Night

Oh my. I haven't been that into a football game since I don't know when. We screeched in from our trip to Knoxville just in time for kick-off, hunkered down in the living room and tuned in. This was a biggie...our eighth-ranked Crimson Tide taking on number 3 Georgia "Between the Hedges" (in Athens). The game ensued. And then we scored. And scored again...and again...and again until it was an astounding 31-0 at halftime. It was unreal.  

In the third quarter we looked like we had fallen asleep in the locker room under the veil of a comfortable lead but we woke up and closed it out 41-30 for the win. Between jumping off the couch (much to my dismay considering the carefully-folded laundry stacks that flew with me) to texting my bro-in-law with updates every 9 seconds or so, it was quite an evening.

I'm so proud of this team. And no, I'm not uttering words like SEC Championship, National Championship or anything of the like...but for one night, on my couch in Franklin, Tennessee surrounded by boxes of unpacked possessions and strown laundry, I had a heck of a good time.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Prettiest Yet...

OK, I will go ahead and apologize that this has turned into Katie's Sunrise Chronicles...but, folks, it is one of my favorite times of day and I can't help but share! I will probably try to post one each day just to have them for myself...hopefully you'll enjoy them, too.

This morning was particularly breathtaking.

(click image to enlarge)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Football Fun

Our friend Chris gets a kick out of D's passion for football. 
I'm not sure who wears who out first...
D. has a seemingly ENDLESS amount of energy!

VICTORY!  Celebrating D's catch of a long pass!

I love this shot because the blurriness captures D perfectly. 
Always on the go!