/> Raising Angels: October 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Seven Quick Takes

1. I went to Sam's today and passed by these and thought, "Yum!" I love pomegranates but I never buy them because they are too much trouble. I'm kind of lazy like that about some things. They have so many good health benefits I figured this purchase could be likened to buying a bag of chocolate covered vitamins. What you can’t see is that at the top of the bag it says they are a natural source of flavanoi antioxidants. See? Healthy!
I was a bit nervous about the purchase as things from Sam's are not good sized things to try and see if you like it, but I did it anyway. Sweet pomegranates!  They are super duper delicious. Every time I eat one I think about how healthy I'm being. Dark chocolate - that's good for you too. 
I also bought a giant tub of chocolate chip cookie dough because, hey, that has chocolate in it. Obviously, I was on a health kick.
Note to self: Eat before you go shopping at Sam's.
 2. We hosted a dinner party on the first day of fall, not for that purpose, it just happened to fall on the same day. Get it? ;-)
It was a good excuse to get all my fall stuff out. I love this season. I love the crispness in the air, the changing colors of the leaves, the smell of pumpkins and apples cooking.
Only problem is that I live in Augusta and it's still 80 degrees and we're getting none of that stuff. My house looks pretty though.
3. This is Mackenzie and her cousin giving me their best smolders. If you've seen Tangled, you know what I'm talking about. They manage to pull off pretty good ones and still look cute. It cracks me up.

4. This is what Nelson and I looked like when we tried it. Nelson looks like he's in mid-kiss and I look frightening. Serious looks have never been my thing, ask my wedding photographer.
I'm going to have to figure out a different way to smolder.

5. Mackenzie worked most of the summer on perfecting the art of the french braid. She's braided the hair of anyone who will sit long enough for her to try it. Since school has started, her volleyball teammates have showed up to many a game, hairstyle courtesy of Mackenzie.
The downside to this is that she now wants to do my hair before I go anywhere.

6.  This year we branched out from our ordinary sand sculptures of sea turtles and super heroes. Aiden, my space loving son, wanted to sculpt the solar system. I agreed to help and then proceeded to get many a correction as to placement, size and order of the planets.
It turned out pretty cool. We started off with the sun, which is the one that looks like a crab (for some reason I thought rays might make it more recognizable) and even included the asteroid belt.
That kid is really something else.

7. I love this shot of Max walking with my mom. It is a photographic reminder of how much she helps me with my kids. The reason I'm able to do all the volunteering I do is that my mom is so willing to watch them for me.
I was not close to either set of my grandparents. Distance prevented that on both accounts. My kids, however, live in the same town as both sets of their grandparents. They are just as comfortable in their homes as ours. I love that.

I’ve got a birthday cake to bake for Dawson. . While I do that, why don't you go here and read some more quick takes. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The AthHalf

Sunday I ran 13.1 miles in the AthHalf in Athens, GA.
I went to this race for one purpose and one purpose only and that was to run in support of my friend who I had been trying to talk into doing a half for years. When she finally made the decision to do one, I wanted to do it with her.
The morning of the race though, I got very nervous. I liken it to the feeling of what I remember about going into labor the second and third times. If you've been there, you know what I'm talking about - the moment when the first really strong contractions kick in and you suddenly remember how very painful this whole labor and birth process is.
I swallowed hard and by the time we made it to the lobby of our hotel, I turned on the smile for the other friends who had joined us, three of whom were running their first half. Can you believe that I taught three of these fine young ladies when they were in high school?
It was a brisk 42 degrees and I was freezing which helped to numb me up for the beginning of the race. When it was finally time to start, I was ready and excited. Those first few miles went by fast. I felt good, the crowds were thick, and the hills weren't too bad.
You see this picture? It was taken in the first two miles and I was happy. I was feeling like this could be the race that I run without pain. Don't I look like I love running?
 And that's the way I felt for the first eight miles. The weather was perfect, the fans were encouraging, and the legs were working. I had miles where I was running faster than I had run through my whole training. It was great.
And then came mile nine.
The hills got steeper, the legs got tighter and my spirit sank. I went from a running mantra of, "Thank You Jesus! Thank You Jesus!" to, "Please Jesus! Please Jesus!"
Here I am limping into the final mile, the one where you're supposed to kick it in and fly home basking in the glow of the knowledge that you just did what you did. Instead I was dreading the finish line. I was hurting. I was slow. I knew that there would be no one at that finish line who understood why I was not excited to cross that line.

The last bit of the course was running through the hedges in the stadium of the University of Georgia. It sounds very cool and it was except for the fact that nobody was in the stadium. It was the loneliest last lap of a race ever. By the time I came to the end of the tunnel, I wanted to throw in the towel. My legs hurt so bad I had to walk up the tunnel ramp, the one that was a few feet from the finish.
This is me limping to the end, trying to smile because I didn't want to ruin my friend's first race and I knew her son was going to be taking my picture (vain through the pain, don't you love it?).

I remember giving her a big hug and telling her, "Congratulations! You did it! You did it faster than what you thought. Way to go!" Then I remember trying to lose my friends in the bustle of the food tent so they wouldn't see me cry. I know how pathetic that sounds. I know that running that far is an amazing feat no matter how you get the job done. I knew all those things and more, but after running that far, I didn't have the energy to hold back something as lightweight as tears. 
So this picture is the one she insisted on getting, even as I was still trying to wipe my face. Not my best moment. 
Thanks be to God, I pulled it together after a few sniffles. See me here? Can you tell how very proud I was of my sweet friend? I was not too far removed from the moment that I couldn't recall the feeling of finishing my first half and it's wonderful. Do you see it on her face?
 Not only that, but then we celebrated with the youngest of our friends who placed second in her age group at a fast as lightening pace (in my book anyway). Ah to be young!
 Then it happened, my very favorite moment of the race. I picked up my bag and my phone rang. It was my brother Kevin who was in Athens for an event on Saturday and stayed the night just so he could come to the race and support me.
This was about ten seconds after I spotted him in his suit. He was celebrating the victory of completing something he knew from experience was hard for me. He didn't care or even ask about my time. He just hugged me and cheered.
Now there's the joy!
 Just seeing his face made everything better for me. He reminded me of how far I had just run and how awesome it was that I did it.
 I have talked many times about my family and how we support each other. This was one of those moments when I was reminded of the gift that that support is to me. I felt loved, encouraged and at peace.
Kevin, I know that you sacrificed a lot to see me that day. I want you to know that your presence at that moment turned a pitiful, self-indulgent disappointment into a more appropriate celebration. You saved me from myself and I will never forget it.
A big congratulations to my friends who ran that day. The one I ran for has already texted me wanting to know if I thought she could be ready for a full marathon in March. Amazing! I told her I was sure she would be and that I will be her biggest supporter. Only this time, I'm going to support her morally, not physically.  I'm determined to stick to the half until I figure out how to do it without pain.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Seven (Not So) Quick Takes - French Dip Edition

I found the following recipe in the October 2012 edition of Family Circle magazine and added a few tweaks of my own.
I don't usually devote posts to food but I often get asked for recipes and since I knew I was going to be talking about the meal I made for dinner, I decided to take photos along the way. Get ready for your world to be rocked.
Okay, maybe it won't be rocked if these are not already one of you're favorite sandwiches (it's a tie between these and Philly cheese steaks for me), but you're going to love them if for nothing else but how low maintenance they are.

1. Get out your crock pot. Don't you just love this already? Cooking in the morning, when everyone is quiet and all is calm is such a beautiful thing. Walking in the door to a house smelling heavenly and knowing that your dinner is ready to go is just icing on the cake.

Ok. Enough about the glories of crock pot cooking. Seriously though I wish I had dozens of these recipes. If you have a great one and want to share it, feel free. My bad, I did say enough about the crock pot didn't I. So after you bask in the glow of your cooking friend, spray that sucker with cooking spray, cut up two or three large onions and throw them in.
I sent this photo to Nelson this morning and it garnered an, "Mmmmm!" Some people have their men at "Hello." I have mine at onions.
Add a can of beef broth and three tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce. I didn't take a photo of that because, well, that's not impressive or very mouth-watering to me.
2. Take good sized roast. I used chuck roast because all that fat being cooked with it makes the meat quite tasty (don't worry, I didn't put it on the sandwiches). I think it was around 3lbs. This could easily be doubled but it was the first time I tried it so I wanted to make sure it was a hit before I made mounds of it.
Rub the roast with a combination of salt, garlic powder and pepper. I rubbed it generously because I like a lot of flavor and because for some reason rubbing meat is fun to me. I'm weird like that. After you're done rubbing, stick it on top of the onions and turn the crock pot on low for around eight hours or high if you want it done in six. Mine was in by 9 AM and ready to go after seven hours on low.
The best part is that my kitchen looked like this by 9:10 and I was out the door.
3. When your roast is so tender, it's falling apart, you're gold. Take it out and shred it. This took absolutely no effort on my part. I got out the big knife and everything, but the meat fell apart as I took it out.
Fish out the onions and keep the sauce. Trust me, you're going to be very glad you did.

4. Get some hoagie rolls, open them up and broil them until they look nice and toasty. Aren't these pretty? I just love it when I don't forget about things in the broiler.

5. You can spread the bread with whatever you like. My guys used horseradish sauce and us womenfolk just kept them plain. Shoot, we love bread. A little butter and the two of us would have been good, but I practiced self-restraint and waited until the sandwich came together to eat it. Yay me!

Pile the bun with the meat and loads of those juicy, caramelized onions - which I also failed to photograph, not because they are boring but because they were so hot and juicy I couldn't manage the camera and onions at the same time. You'll have to use your imagination.
6. I'm going to state here, for the record, that I know good and well that French Dip sandwiches do not have cheese on them (they are probably not made from chuck roast either). I know this because I am a connoisseur of these sandwiches (this translates into I order them a whole heck of a lot when I go out). However, my other favorite sandwich to order is the Philly cheese steak because, hello, cheese AND steak - enough said.
Now that you're well-versed in my sandwich loving history (I will follow this up with posts about how I also love BLTs, Cubans, Gyros, Grilled Cheese, and just about anything you put between two slice of anything with carbs. Just kidding. About the posts, not about how much I love sandwiches. What can I say? I think Dr. Atkins is mentally off. A life with no carbs is not a happy one.), I'm going to tell you that I decided at the grocery store that these sandwiches would be over-the-top with some provolone added.
I'm not going to lie, I was right on the money with this one. I put the cheese on top of all that other good stuff and stuck it back under the broiler just long enough to get the cheese nice and gooey.
7. Next you take those bad boys out of the oven and put the bun on top. Stick it on a plate and put a cup of that juice you saved (if I were French or fancy I'd say au jus but I'm neither) right next to it. Dip that thing of beauty into the liquid and take a bite.
I was going to take a picture of the sandwich with a bite taken out of it but by then my hands were too messy. Also, it was really just too delicious to put down.

As you're scarfing down your culinary delight, be prepared to hear things like, "Mama, this thing rocks!" and "You can totally make this again!" If you don't, invite my kids over and they'll say them and tell you that you're the best cook in the world.
As a side note (no pun intended), notice that there is nothing else on the plate.  Yep, since I was like all proud of myself for how totally prepared I was and so stoked about how good this was going to be I totally forgot about side dishes and chips just seemed to lessen their greatness. You want to know a secret? Not one person said anything about the solo sandwich on their plate. That's how good they thought the French Dips were. That, and well, they were shoving them down as they rushed off to play rehearsal and football practice. What can I say? I'm not perfect.
Try these tomorrow. You'll thank me. You can go here for more quick takes but I'm guessing they won't make your mouth water. :-)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Howdy Stranger!

Holy smokes! Where have I been?

The week before last was all about getting ready to leave town for a week which added a week's worth of school work to the already busy equation of life. I chose to do it instead of write about how much I loathe doing it. Every time we take this trip I wonder how in the world homeschooling moms do what they do without strangling their children. Then I remember that their children do not go to school for eight hours and then come home and have to do another day’s work.

Last week we were in Hilton Head. It was wonderful, so wonderful in fact that the whole thing blew by in the blink of an eye. When I wondered how that happened it dawned on me that the kids are so self-sufficient now that there's actually time to relax and enjoy vacation. I'm ready to retire.

This week I hit the ground running with three doctor's appointments on Monday. It's revved up from there. Kind of a rude awakening after a week off. I'm not going to lie; it's been a rough adjustment.

I have pictures and some great news to share (just for the record the great news does not involve a new addition to the family) but that will have to wait until I can edit some photos to go along with the stories.

Sunday I have my first half marathon in over a year. Training has been tough and the legs are as tight as ever but this race is all about supporting a good friend who's running her first half and I believe that no one should have to do that alone. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep up with her. :-)

Stay tuned for the great news.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


Last week I made a desperate plea for help. To those of you who chimed in, thank you. Your words of encouragement mean a lot to me. Over the weekend I was reminded of something that has led to a bit more peace.

Saturday was stacking up to be one of those marathon days in the middle of a marathon weekend. I had to put in 12 miles early, go to a birthday brunch at 10, a wedding at 1 and a reception at 5.

Crazy, I know. It's just one of those things. I had already RSVP'd to the wedding and reception. I've been following a training plan for the upcoming half later this month. Then I got the invitation to the brunch a few days before and it was for a friend I really wanted to celebrate.

I got up and hit the trail before the sun was up. It was long and painful and by the time I finished, I knew I needed an ice bath if I was going to be able to function the rest of the day. I got home and had the boys dump the ice in the cold water, which I must say they took a great deal of joy in doing. I did draw the line after they felt its chill and asked if they could watch me get in. "You're going to totally scream when you sit down in that!" they told me as they shut the door and proceeded to sit outside of to hear me do just that.

By the time I got done and took a shower I knew it was too late to make brunch. I told Nelson the night before that there was no way I could go to the wedding. It was way too much time to leave the kids on their own. He agreed and by Saturday he decided he would hang back too. We needed to get some things done.

We were just digging in when Nelson made mention of some lunch, which I stopped working to fix. We cleaned out some leftovers and by the time I warmed up something for all of us, ate and cleaned up an hour had gone by.

A light bulb went off. It takes a lot of time to keep the family fed and the house in order.

This is not a new realization. I've know this for a long time. It's just that I choose to ignore it. I try like crazy to squeeze more and more in. I think I can do this one more thing or finish that little thing while I'm doing x, y, and z. It never really works. And what's worse, I'm a mad woman when I try it.

I headed into the rest of the weekend and this week determined to take this moment with me. Managing a household takes time, I told myself over and over. If I want to do something well and with peace, I need to make realistic expectations. I'd say that I basically told myself that I need to lower my expectations but that sounds kind of bad. Except, well, that's what I knew I needed to do.

Yesterday I did laundry...5 loads of it. What I told Nelson at the end of the day was, “All I did today was laundry.” Except, I also took the big kids to school and then Max. I picked Max up. Somewhere in there I squeezed in a workout and a shower. Took all the kids to Mackenzie's games and watched her for over 2 hours. Got her off to rehearsal from there and came home to cook dinner. Had a friend over to eat and did the nightly routine which included helping kids with big tests coming up.

I saw it. I didn’t just do laundry. I did a lot. Today was more of a lots of little tasks kind of day. I had more peace though because I went into it thinking, these things are enough. I’m doing enough. I don’t have time to do anything else and do it well so I won’t start it. And even though today was more complicated than yesterday with errands, three piano lessons, a rehearsal carpool and a meeting here I had more peace.

Acceptance.  I accept that my life is full. I accept that the things that I usually don’t count as things I did, are indeed big, time consuming things. I accept that every day is not perfect, nor is every day awful. Acceptance, it seems, is the first step to peace.

I’ll let you know how it goes.