Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Please miss us

Plan for the unexpected

I try very hard in my life to be as organized as possible. It's really a must when you live the kind of life that I do...a full time working mom to 4 kids in 3 different schools and in 3 different after school activities including soccer, baseball, and CCD. I run my household, pay my bills, manage the investments, do the grocery shopping, exercise daily (almost), cook, clean, sew, do all of the laundry, and blog! Schedules and to-do lists are an essential part of my life. Which is why I don't take unexpected changes to easily. Here is an excerpt of a conversation I had with my family last night during dinner.

Me: It is so nice to sit down and relax eating dinner with my family.
Teen #1: Oh yeah that reminds me. Is Barnes and Noble open tonight?
Me: Probably. Why?
Teen #1: I need a book for school tomorrow.
Me: Egad. It's not in my schedule for tonight to go out to B&N. Oh well. I don't have a choice, do I?
Teen #2: Do I have CCD tomorrow?
Me: Yes, dear, you do.
Teen #2: Oh yeah we are having Halloween treats then. Oh and I forgot to tell you that I volunteered you to make chocolate chip cookies.
Me: Do they have to be homemade because I can buy the storebought ones and pretend I made them.
Teen #2: You CCCAAANNNN'TTT do that...I bragged to everyone how good you make these cookies!
Me: Ok, have to go out and buy ingredients...not on the schedule.
Teen #1: While you are out at the store, I need to bring in canned goods for our canned goods drive at school.
Me: I didn't know anything about this.
Teen #1: I forgot to tell you but we only have until tomorrow to get the canned good in on time.
Me: Why do I bother with schedules.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Strange First

This morning as I am shuffling kids to school I am on the way back from driving one kid to school to take my toddler to day care. I am on a crowded highway in the middle of rush hour traffic when suddenly I hear a noise that I am not digging coming from the back seat. Then a loud cough and then more strange noises. I move the rear view mirror to get a glimpse of my little one when I see that he has vomited all over himself and into his car seat. Ugh. Blech. My worst fear coming true.

I pull off to the side of the road. I am in my work clothes..skirt and heels tending to this messy job. I take my toddler out of the car and undress him. I carry a towel and wipes under the seat just in case of such emergency so I proceed to clean him and the car seat up as much as possible. Even though I am off to the side of the road I am getting beeps and cat calls. People can be so rude. Can't they see my hands are full of vomit! How gross.

I manage to clean as much up as possible and then get him back in the car and proceed to go home to change clothes. I debate if it is a good idea to send him to daycare like this even though he shows no other signs of illness. It's the first day back from our realignment and I am torn.

We get home to change clothes and he is his usually happy self running around. I decide to take him to daycare but I specifically tell his teacher that if he shows any signs of duress to call me and I will be right over to take him home.

As we are pulling into the driveway I take the car seat out of the car to give it a good washing when it dawns on me that this is the first time that a child of mine has vomited in the car. I have made it almost 15 years of having kids without this happening. I feel so lucky. And I feel even luckier that he didn't vomit on the car just in the car seat.

And to think it wasn't even 9 am yet.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My thoughts on paper

My head gets filled with so many gift basket ideas that I need a place to write them down. It seems obvious to blog and categorize them.

The ideas right now are in the basket products themselves. I love gift baskets and I love to make them but so many people and companies make gift baskets and so many of them look the same. My ideas are to make them look different...chic, posh, unique...maybe those are good keywords for a company name...have to work on that later.

I am really into the traditional look but I also love a more modern design like this..

Now keep in mind that I am a very amateur photographer so this picture does not do the gift justice but I just threw it together with some Halloween candy to see how this would stand up. I also used nesting boxes that I had laying around my house and the colors are really gross. I was trying out the architecture of this kind of style so I didn't care what the boxes looked like. But I have to say that I am totally loving nesting boxes. I found a place online that sells them really cheap and absolutely gorgeous. They fit in perfectly with my goals...unique and modern.

Some other ideas floating around in my head...The Fresh Market (which is a gourmet grocery store near my house) sells gift baskets with their merchandise in them but honestly they are not that pretty and very ho-hum. I have to get up the nerve to go in there and ask the gift manager if I can make his gift baskets for him. I don't know what I would say but part of me thinks I should just say it, sell myself and be confident. What's the worst he can say...no?

Christmas is coming and gift companies have their inventory and sales already going and for me I am still in the hobby stage and putting my ideas onto paper or blogging. I am giving some of them away for gifts and am so excited to put together a product line.

I would love to put together a total basket or maybe it would be a box (because gift boxes are so cute too) or maybe nesting boxes. So much to put down on paper such as my ideas, business plan, enhancement ideas (gift tags, wrappings, and unique bows).

My gifts need to make the recipient feel totally special like they are getting a gift that no one has right down to the gift tag, wrapping and bow. They need to feel like someone made it just for them. I would love to build a company based on that premise.

Next up...more ideas and also more finite answers on what I plan to call this business.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Heavy Heart

Tonight my heart is really heavy. Heavy for my co-workers and peers who did not survive our corporate "realignment." Some people I knew for many, many years. Most people were escorted out by security. Everyone I knew was a good employee. They did nothing wrong except be in a job that someone didn't fight hard enough for. Some of them have young children and families and homes. Some of them have spouses who need medical insurance because they are fighting cancer. Some are putting their kids through college. It never makes any sense to me. I ended up with my job intact. They didn't. I don't know who feels worse...them or me.

I never got to say goodbye to any of them. I just got to watch them walk down to the front desk, get their bad news and their pink packages, and only 5 minutes to grab their purses or car keys. They get escorted out by security because you never know if someone is going to be crazy and go postal. But many of them are my church-going friends who wouldn't hurt anybody. I am sure they are hurt tonight.

One woman was in my workshop that I taught last week...one of the nicest ladies you will meet. I asked her if she was planning to retire anytime soon and she said no because her vested time would not give her full pension and benefits.

She was escorted out today. So sad.

There are many more...clerks who once answered my phone for me and who I love dearly. Some are engineers who I just spoke to the other day. Some are people I never worked with but would say hello to in the hallway. Gone.

It's a sad day because those of us who are left behind are left to do the jobs of the people who are gone. And they never got a proper send off. Pray for them because I hope that they go on to something much better. They all deserve it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Special Anniversary

I don't remember the exact date that my DH and I first dated. I don't remember the date that we got engaged. I do remember the date that that we call our "first meeting". It was on the date of this event...

October 16, 1999 and we just celebrated 8 awesome years since then. It's a really long story that I plan to blog about in bits and pieces but I can say that I remember this day vividly right down to what I was wearing, what I said, what I did, what I ate, and how wet I got. I also remember my inner feeling when I got paired up to work this storm cleanup with this "cute guy" who I knew nothing about but was told I would have to drive in the same car with him. I didn't think of being scared. Instead I thought that maybe God finally was listening to my prayers and it turns out that he was because my life forever changed after that day.

It turned into this..

which then turned into this...

Sauce Purist

I am a second generation Italian-American which means I know good spaghetti sauce. Whether you call it sauce or gravy or whatever, it doesn't matter because I know how to make it and trust me when I say that it is really easy.

But first a quick story. The other day I was at the store and there was a buy one get one free Prego marinara sauce on sale. I bought it because there are always those rush times in my life when I need a really quick meal. The other day I experienced just one of those days and I grabbed for that jar of sauce while pasta was cooking. The sauce was just "OK". In other words, I ate it but I really don't dig it. It's just not the same as homemade. When I went to wash the dishes in the sink I noticed that the sauce had stained my sink! Egad. Real tomato sauce just doesn't do that! It was then that I realized I am a sauce purist. No phony baloney anymore.

The irony is that the sauce I make really doesn't take any time at all either and if I really wanted to I could probably make my own and can it all myself (though I have no clue how to make can food). So without further delay I am posting my easy-peasy spaghetti sauce recipe here for you all to try out. And then you can tell me which is better...mine or Prego.

Easy Spaghetti Sauce

1 diced onion
olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic (or palm full of garlic powder if you don't have fresh)
can of tomatoes (whole, cut, or diced - it doesn't matter because you are going to blend it in the end)
a few sprinkles of dried oregano
palm full of dried basil (4-6 leaves if you are using fresh)
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a medium pan, heat up 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium flame. Add diced onion and cook onions until golden (2 minutes). Add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes and turn down heat to low. If you have whole canned tomatoes, break up the tomatoes with a spatula. Add the spices and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Let the sauce cool down for a few minutes and then transfer it to a blender or food processor. Puree the sauce in the blender and serve. (Be very careful with hot liquids in a blender because the hot sauce has a tendency to boil over in the blender when you turn it on).

Bon Appetit!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Game With Me

I often blog about this game that I have been doing since Sept.1 and that I am obsessed with. It's called The Grocery Game. The only thing I don't like about it is that I didn't think of it and make millions off of it. Oh well. I love playing it and I love reaping the rewards.
I have decided to post here weekly on how well I did and saved.

The gist of the game is that you register at the website (they have a $1 month trial period in case you want to test it out). When you register you select what grocery or drug stores you shop at regularly. In turn what you get is a sale "list" each week in your account for those stores that you registered for. When you are past the trial period the price of the list is $10 for 8 weeks for the first store and then $5 for each store thereafter. I am currently registered at 4 stores (Publix, Winn Dixie, Walgreens, and CVS). What you get in return is savings, savings, and more savings.

Sounds too good to be true, right? That's what I thought at first but I tried the trial period which is only $1 investment. I am a real skeptic so I planned on only doing the trial period.

That is until I started seeing some massive savings in my grocery and drug store spending. And I mean MASSIVE by about 50%. This more than covers the price I pay for these "lists". Not only that but I have more food and toiletries than I ever had and my refrigerator is always full. I buy the same name brands and quality of groceries I always have so quality is never compromised.

Still unsure? That's ok. I will post my savings from my CVS trip last night. I will first tell you what I bought and then I will tell you what I paid. (While I can't give exact prices and name the exact brands because I don't want to jeopardize the game for those who pay to play, I will let you know if something I bought was a generic item).

1 bottle of bleach
3 medium bottles of shampoo
2 large bottles of shampoo and conditioner
1 box of hair coloring
2 bottles of laundry detergent
1 large box of diapers
2 lipsticks
2 lip glosses
2 mascaras
1 curling iron (CVS brand)
1 box of paper napkins (CVS brand)
1 box of razor blades
1 bottle of shaving cream
4 chocolate energy bars

The full retail price of all of that was $150.
I paid $70.56
I earned $10 back and more coupons toward my next shopping trip.
In addition, I am adding onto my quarterly CVS spending which earns me 2% back every quarter.

Now, if I still consider myself an average gamer but I know that when I become a real pro at this I will be able to take a shopping day like that down to $30.

If you have any questions feel free to email me at mill2542 at bellsouth dot com and I will be sure to fill you in on details.

On my next gaming post I will tell you how I managed to spend $80 this week on groceries and walked out of the store with $200 worth in my cart.

The Great Pumpkin

I often wonder what a real pumpkin patch looks like because I have never been to one that wasn't off to the side of the road and across from a Publix grocery store. I have never been picking pumpkins when it was cooler than 80 degrees outside.

But that is what life is like in the tropics of South Florida in mid-October.

I dream one day of visiting a real pumpkin patch and a real apple orchard in the middle of Autumn.

Friday, October 19, 2007

My Husband Really Missed Me

The other day I had to go to a training workshop about 4 hours away from my house. I drove the day before and then came home the next day. I was gone for about 36 hours.

I didn't have too many fears that my husband wouldn't be able to handle our children while I was away mainly because I prepared way ahead of time to make it fairly easy.

Things went smoothly and my family was happy to see me when I came back home.

I was pleasantly surprised, though, at how much my husband missed me. I joked with him that perhaps it was because he had to make dinner and he totally does not cook much if at all. I know I spoil him in that area because I love to cook and he really does not. He had to give the kids their baths and didn't enjoy that he didn't have the freedom that I give him to go to bed early while I get the kids into bed. He didn't enjoy not being able to go for a late night run or exercise at the gym. He didn't enjoy the quiet in the house when all the kids were sleeping and he had no one to talk to.

We all take those kinds of freedoms for granted. I try not to because I clearly remember the days when I was a single mom raising two small boys in a tiny 900 square ft apartment. It's an emotional and financial strain that I don't wish upon anyone and every so often I remind myself of how grateful I am to be in the center of a really great family.

My husband has been telling me over and over yesterday and today how much he loves me and missed me. Geesh! It was only 36 hours, I reminded him. Still, he was reminded about how lost he would be without me and I know how I would be without him.

So here is to not taking your loved ones for granted and next time you see them remind them of how much they mean to you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Unique Gifts

I love giving gifts but most of all I love giving gift baskets. I have always had a knack for them and on many occasions put some together for the ones I love.

I have made very large ones with big teddy bears inside for a new mom and I have made really small ones with gift certificates and candy for teachers at school. I don't know what it is about them that I love the most. As far as making them I love the chance to tailor make them for the person I am giving them to. As a person making them for others I love the challenge of finding that beautiful or unique basket.

Many years ago I gave a gift basket to a good friend of mine and she quietly told me that I should run my own gift business. I thought that was extremely complimentary but never really gave it a serious thought until now.

I stumbled upon a book in the bookstore about giving gift baskets and started researching more and more and I have stumbled upon some companies that offer the most unique containers and baskets along with some really awesome merchandise to put in gift baskets. I have been playing with shrink wrap and nesting boxes and it has been a lot of fun.

Maybe one day I will do more than make them for a hobby. For now I am experimenting with products and tapping into this talent that I enjoy a lot.

Friday, October 12, 2007


This has to be the yummiest dish I have ever made. Not only because it tastes good but because it is SOOOOO easy and I love the way it tastes.

I picked some out of a salad bar I was eating at the other day and it prompted me to blog about the versatility of this easy dish.

The key to really good couscous is to cook it with chicken stock NOT water. It is very simple too. All you do is heat the stock in a pan and when it is boiling, add an equal amount of couscous to it and cover (1 cup couscous to 1 cup of liquid) . After approximately 5 minutes fluff the couscous with a fork and serve. It is just THAT easy.

What I like to do is add different things to my couscous. For example for an Italian variety I chop up a tomato and red onion and add a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and stir in with the couscous for a yummy flavor.

For a sweet flavor I add in some raisins, dried fruit and nuts with the liquid and then add that to the couscous.

You can add cheeses, spices, fruits, nuts, chicken, shrimp, cut up little pieces of raw veggies and it ALL tastes great. I have even added baby spinach to the liquid and it will cook down in the liquid and add a delicious taste to the couscous.

Try this yummy dish and it will always be a cheap and easy go-to meal any day of the week.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Math Isn't Easy to Everyone

I have to keep reminding myself that while I find math to be an extremely easy subject, not everyone is the same as me.

Case in point. Yesterday while I was getting ready for work and in the middle of brushing my teeth, my young tween asks me to sign two of his recent algebra math quizzes. One is a C and the other is a D. Both require signatures. I pause and collect my two immediate thoughts.

1. Why in the world did he do so poorly on his math tests?
2. Why in the world did he wait through the weekend to show this to me?

I look at him and (realizing this later on) must have had the worst look of disappointment in my face. I calmly ask him what happened on the quizzes? He shrugs his shoulders and says he doesn't know. I tell him that when he gets home from school we will need to review his mistakes so that we can move on from this and do better next time. I sign the papers and proceed to finish getting ready.

A few minutes later I go out to the kitchen only to find him bawling his eyes out over his cereal. The tears alone were enough to make his breakfast soggy. I felt terrible. I told him not to worry about the tests because even though we can't change the grades we can certainly learn from it and do better. He wiped his eyes and we went off to school.

I couldn't help but think about him all day yesterday thinking about him crying over a few rotten test scores. When I stopped by the house during my lunch break, I peeked in his room and saw that he had made his bed and cleaned up his clothes just as I asked him to do. He is a really good boy. And when I looked up his other grades online I notice he is making all A's in the rest of his classes. It's not like he is in a crisis situation. But it's math and math is so easy. Maybe for me. Maybe not for him.

So yesterday before I picked him up from school I decided to buy him a fruit smoothie because those always brings cheer. When he got in the car he was really excited to get the smoothie and we had a heart to heart talk. I explained to him that I just expect him to do his best and that we can both work on his schoolwork together like a team. I told him that on my lunch break I put together a few lesson plans for us to work on together and we did. He seemed to understand his mistakes and looked much more confident by the end of the night.

I learned a big lesson and that is that not all of my kids will have the enthusiasm for the same subjects as I do nor will they excel in the same things I exceled in when I went to school and that is ok. That's what makes them unique. What I love the most about him is that he listens to me, respects me as his mom, and is a kind, sweet and gentle boy. In retrospect that the most important thing to me.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Am I Ready For This?

A couple of days ago when I picked up my older boys from their Dad's house, I asked them how their weekend was going so far. They answer me in their usual answer of "Fine" but my young tween, who will soon be a teen, told me that he went to a movie with some friends and a mom of one of the friends. I continued to ask questions about the friends and he admitted to me that there were some guy friends and some girl friends.

I respond with "ohhhh" and then with what must have been an Edith Bunker look on my face my "ohhhh" turned to "oooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." Boys and GIRLS? Emphasis on "GIRLS".

I ask who the girls are and he tells me that they are just some girls from school. There were 4 boys and 3 girls and it was no big deal. Of course it wasn't a big deal. That is not a big deal to him. But certainly a big deal to me.

That's because my little guys are growing up and wayyyy too fast. I dread the day when I have to worry about girls and girlfriends and love and heartbreak and all of that stuff that goes with relationships with your kids. I shudder to think of it all. I don't need to add more years onto my life at this point. I am happy to not have too many gray hairs. Why add more?

I am just not ready for this but I am realizing that it is happening whether I am ready for it or not.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Thursday Ramblings

I don't have any one topic to blog about today so there will be several topics I will touch on.

A Soccer Conversation With My Princess

We are watching soccer on TV

Her: I want to play soccer when I am 5 years old.
Me: Awesome. That will be so neat. You will have to remember to never touch the soccer ball with your hands unless you are the goalie.
Her: I know why you can't touch the ball.
Me: Why?
Her: Because if you touch the ball your hands will get DIRTY!

When Your Child Is Sick

Today I picked Jack up from school. He was very whiney but I was not sure why. It wasn't too much out of the norm for him. We got home and he suddenly wanted to be picked up. I picked him up and started walking him to my bedroom when all of a sudden he threw up all over me. When I say that this is the first time he had ever thrown up I am not exaggerating. This is the first time even when he was a baby. He rarely spit up either. I was really more shocked and knew this was not the norm for him. Naturally I did my best to clean up and took him over to the bath to clean up. Afterward I offered him a drink and he took it. He was laughing and watching TV on the couch. An hour had passed and no more vomiting and it was getting close to dinner so I offered him something to eat that would not be objectionable...crackers and plain cheerios. He accepted and ate them. I figure that if he was drinking and keeping it down and willingly eating cheerios that maybe he was feeling better. An hour later and he started to run a fever. I gave him some motrin and he then fell asleep in his chair eating his cheerios. I then held him for awhile and let him sleep in my arms and then set him up in his bed where he has been ever since. He has been sleeping soundly for about an hour. I just went in and checked on him and his temperature is down and we will spend the day together tomorrow at home.

Why is it that when our kids get sick, we moms feel sick too? I can't really speak for all moms but I can say that whenever one of my kids is sick I feel just as horrible. Maybe worse than they do. I feel that a lot is out of my control and if I just could take their illness away and put it on me I would gladly do so.

Hopefully tomorrow goes a bit better and then I won't feel so sick.

My Novena

I am saying a 27 day Novena. I happened to mention this to my older son while we were picking up my tween from Sunday School. Older son is going to Catholic High School and I have noticed that he is picking up a lot of information in his theology class. We discussed prayer and novenas in general. I didn't tell him why I was saying the novena but he was advising me that I should remember to pray all the times, not just when we are in need or that would be considered self-serving. I think that is true so I promised him that alongside my novena I would work very hard on more praying throughout the day and every day not just for myself but for others.


My company is going through yet another "realignment." In all honesty I have been through so many that I am too used to it to be nervous. I have never been worried about my job at all. I figure that if I lost it I would be able to find something new or perhaps work at home which would be heaven to me. If they kept me on that is fine too. But the not knowing is bad. We have been "not knowing" since June and that is a tad too long for a company realignment.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Update on my sad awards story

I got a few comments on the story that I told in the post below on my name especially from Corey and Cindy. I felt a lot of hugs from you all coming my way and I just felt it was only appropriate to let you know that while I did feel bad about having to walk away while the other girl got the award, the teacher did her best to keep it really discrete so not many others knew what was going on. I wasn't really embarrassed that I started up there to get the award but more angry that I wasn't the one getting the award.

Perhaps that is where my over-achieving began...who knows...but to this day I am totally competitive in that regard in a quiet sort of way. I really strive to do my best in my job even though I don't get any more pay out of it. I just like the ataboys and the smiles on others around me knowing I did an awesome job.

So don't feel too bad. I am certain the award story (and there are plenty more like those) shaped me into the person I am today and I am fairly satisfied with that.

Hugs back for the thoughtful comments and have a most awesome rest of the week!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

What's A Name

My good friend Corey wrote an interesting post in her blog regarding your birth name.

I decided to try the test to see how many people in the US share my same name. I used my maiden name as the test and found that 419 people share in my name. Corey feels connected to her name but I don't. In fact I have always wanted to have a different name. Even though I am named for the St. Terese my nickname is Terry. I don't necessarily mind the nickname nor do I mind at all being named for a wonderful saint but I just don't understand why my parents decided to spell my nickname like a boy's name.

I have had my name spelled wrong so many times it would get very frustrating. I can't tell you how many letters over the years I have received addressed to Mr.

I don't like nicknames in general mainly because you have to always explain the nickname such as in school when I was new in a class I would have to tell them to call me Terry. Blech....that was always so awkward because half the time my name would get butchered.

Perhaps if my parents had not given me the nickname I would have felt better. This is why I decided that none of my kids would have names that would be shortened or altered mistakenly.

Finally, I didn't like the fact that my name was so common because I remember when I was in elementary school and there was a girl in school with my exact name. One day at an awards assembly my name was called for an award. I started to go up to get the award and that girl went up too. We both stared at each other and my teacher motioned to me that the award was going to the other girl. I felt like Charlie Brown at that moment and walked back to my seat.

I will never forget that and perhaps it is why I am not connected to my name.

LogoThere are
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

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