Monday, June 25, 2007

Lightning Strikes Twice (or More)

It's almost too good to be true.

The other day, I was going about my business and getting stuff done around the house, when I noticed that Michaela was in the bathroom.

Now, just to let you know, Michaela almost NEVER goes into the bathroom of her own accord. I mean, not unless someone is in there, or if she's dragged in. She's technically in there every day, but it's only because she wants me (while I'm using the restroom--arg), or because I'm trying to get her to "go" in something other than a Pull-up.

So anyhow. The other day she was IN the bathroom (and I wasn't!). The light was on, the toilet cover was up, and she was backed up to it and attempting to get her skirt down. I couldn't believe my eyes. I quickly helped her, and she did indeed go to the bathroom. I mean, she did this ALL BY HERSELF. No prompting from me, and almost no help either.

It has been YEARS since she's made any attempt to use the bathroom of her own accord. YEARS since she's recognized that she even HAS to use the restroom. If she ever uses the toilet instead of a diaper, it's only been because we put her on there and hoped for the best. Lots of times we catch her, but if for some reason we don't put her on the potty, she just uses the pullup with no reservation. Any time we ask her if she "has to go" she always answers "No." Always.

But for some unseen reason, she's started doing this.

And it wasn't just a fluke, like I figured. Every day since that day, there's been some initiative on her part to use the bathroom. Whether she's told us she has to go, or she's walked herself in there and started the process herself.

Like this morning: I woke up to her telling Libby, "I'll be riiiight back. I'm going pee on the potty."

And THAT, my dear friends, is better music than any chirping birds.

Friday, June 22, 2007

School's Not Out----Ever

Noah didn't make it. He has 7 chapters left.

Unfortunately, his time management skills aren't up to par. He didn't space the chapters out properly and got bogged down. I tried to tell him, but he did it his own way.

Actually, I'm kinda glad he didn't make it. When I went online to check out the tickets and times, I found out that they were asking WAY more than I was expecting to pay. The production was being put on at a local high school, and I wrongfully assumed that the tickets would reflect high school play prices. But come to find out, a professional troupe was only using the high school's facilities---and charging professional fees. I would've paid it if he completed the book, but I was irritated that I didn't find that out BEFORE the challenge!

I guess we both learned some valuable lessons this week.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Local Restaurant Review

Last night, Chris and I went out to eat with some of our best friends. They had been to the restaurant before, and had told us how much they liked it. When they said they were going again for the third time, we jumped on their bandwagon and crashed their party.

It was well worth it!

The place is new, and it's called "Chef's Table." Located in booming Jones Valley, this little restaurant packs a big punch with it's tapas style menu. We made reservations ahead of time. This is encouraged.

The first thing you notice as you walk in is the rich color scheme. Deep red walls and black ceiling, scattered artwork of various shapes, styles, and methods, and of course, accented lighting (including candlelight); all help create a warm and anticipating experience. The kitchen is open for all to see, and there is a black and white tiled bar surrounding it for patrons to watch their food being prepared. We were seated in a black padded booth. That suited me just fine, however, I'd like to try eating at the bar in the future.

Our waitress' name was Addy. I am convinced she made the whole experience an "A+"---as the server should, in my opinion. Timely, cheerful, and spunky, Addy was never rushed or overbearing. She was always around if we needed her, but not in our face. She knew what was in the various dishes (one of our foursome had a nut allergy to watch out for). She also took away the wine menu promptly after we obviously didn't look at it (we don't drink). I thought that was classy and very observant of her. My most favorite thing about being served by Addy, was the fact that she KNEW the food was good and didn't have any trouble complimenting it. In fact, she once said, "Now, wasn't that just awful?" I thought that was funny and very confident of her. I like a server that's entertaining as well as helpful and prompt. Good job Addy.

Now to the food:

Of course the drinks were served first, but there was already ice water on the table. I just stuck with that. One of us ordered Perrier, and it was served with both a lemon and lime slice. It was said that that was an excellent compliment to the drink.

Next, came a small appetizer. There are no appetizer choices like many mainstream establishments. You are served a small bowl of olives in a dressing. Laying on top of that are small chunks of salt-encrusted fresh bread. Jumbo sized spanish olives (they have a certain name, but I am not recalling it), black olives, reddish greek olives, sun-dried tomatoes, onion slices, and jalepenos basked in a maarinade of olive oil touched with perhaps some spices, or at the very least, vinegar or wine. I tried all but the jalepeno. It was awesome. We asked for an extra serving of bread.

With a tapas style menu, you are encouraged to order a variety of different main dishes. These do not come in entree sized portions, so you wouldn't want to stick with just one dish (unless you were a VERY small eater). Between the 4 of us, we made 5 selections:

Goat Cheese and Marinara Fondue with honey toast points
Stuffed Quail with andouille-mushroom hash & chipotle honey bbq sauce
Asian Chicken with mushrooms, onions, mandarin oranges and tangy soy-ginger sauce
Smoked Chicken Ravioli with mushrooms, scallions and a hazelnut cream sauce
Beef Tip Pot Pie with potatoes, carrots, peas, mushrooms and carmelized shallot demi

We also chose 2 side dishes:

Brie Macaroni and Cheese
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

There was not one thing ordered that I didn't like. The fondue was more of an appetizer in it's presentation. You dipped honey flavored toasted bread in a marinara sauce that had warm balls of sweet goat cheese. Excellent. The stuffed quail came as a whole stuffed bird---perhaps 1/30th of what you'd expect your Thanksgiving turkey to look like. It was moist and tender. The stuffing was more "al dente" than I was expecting or would have wanted, but it tasted good. The Asian chicken was one of my favorites. It was chunks of chicken with the vegetables and a hearty amount of sauce. Very tasty! The ravioli was by far the best. The stuffing was incredible, and the sauce was sweet---a combination none of us was expecting, but kept you wanting more. The pot pie was perhaps my least favorite of the evening, but even that was good for a pot pie.

Both sides melted in your mouth, and I'm sure I will order both again the next time I go. They were outstanding!

After the food was gone, all of us commented on the "nicely satisfied" feeling we all had. By the look of the small portions, I was a bit skeptical that I wouldn't need to order more. However, between the olive appetizer and the main dishes, I was comfortable and happy with the amount of food. I was even willing to order dessert, which came as part of the "package" ordering (5 main courses, and 6 choices from the sides, salad, soup, and dessert menu).

ALL of the desserts were highly drool worthy! I settled on a brownie with ice cream on the side, and regretably couldn't finish it. It was very rich and wonderful in every sense of the word. It was infused with coffee flavoring and nuts, two of my favorite brownie ingredients. The presentation was top notch, with drizzled sauce and a mint sprig in the ice cream, which was also dusted with cinnamon. We had coffee with our dessert. It was strong and freshly brewed. The cream was served in a small pitcher rather than in little plastic cups. Again, they made every attempt to be classy and worth every penny.

Speaking of money, I thought the food was very fairly priced. You had the option of ordering dishes individually, or in a package deal. There is the 2-person package, which consists of 3 main dishes, and 5 sides (again, that includes dessert, if you choose); or the 3-person package like we chose. The 3-person fed all four of us well. The drinks were not included in the package, as would be expected.

For appetizer, main meal, dessert, drinks and tip, Chris and I spent just under $50. That seems outrageous for 2 people, but we hardly ever get dessert and coffee when we go out to eat. I'm also fairly confident that Chris tipped Addy at 20% or more. So, all in all, the food is not priced extraordinarily high, and you get an exceptional dining experience.

We WILL be going back to the Chef's Table as soon as humanly possible. Maybe we'll see some of you there!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Challenge

It's so nice to have a child in the house who can read. Well, unless if you consider the fact that we can't spell things out in front of him anymore...

Me: "Hey you want me to pick up some I-C-E C-R-E-A-M at the store?"

Noah: "Yeah! Get some strawberry!"



Anyhow. So, Noah can read, and has been reading for a couple of years now. Unfortunately, he's like his mother, and terribly picky on what will grace his shelves. Even though he reads at a 4th grade level, he insists on reading books designed for 2nd graders. And not just ANY 2nd grade book. No. He only really likes TWO kinds:

The Magic Tree House series, or the Jigsaw Jones series.

This is so frustrating to me. I love to read. I have read so many different books and kinds of books in my lifetime. It just bloats my brain to have to fight with him to get him to read books I KNOW he'll like.

Like The Hardy Boys. Or Charlotte's Web. Or The Black Stallion. I mean, AWESOME books! No, he'd rather stick with what he knows, even if it means reading the same book 3 times in one summer.

On one hand, I'm thankful that he's reading at all, and enjoys to read what he does. But this silly fetish just limits things so much. I mean, I go yardsale-ing, and I find great books for a stinkin' quarter, and all they do is sit on the shelf. Sooooooo annoying.

But I keep trying. As it is, I had to FORCE him to try the Magic Tree House books. He cried over that. Me making him read those. Now, I can't get his nose out of them! He loves them so much. Over his reading career, we've had a few of those, "I told you so" moments. Where he'd practically light up at the end of the story because he liked it after all. Through the dried tears he'd be beaming.

I try to remind him of this, but it never works. He just keeps fighting me.

The latest book ordeal is over The Secret Garden. A classic. Man, I love the classics. It's a good one. Why won't he give it a try? He's all but about to loose his composure over a GOOD BOOK!


So. I gave him a challenge.

Come to find out (thanks Aunt Becky!), The Secret Garden will be performed at a high school a couple of towns over. It runs this week and next week. Which means, if he started now, he would have a week to finish the book before the play.

He can do it. I know he can.

And we told him that if he gets through it before next Thursday, then we will take him to the play.

Noah loves to go out with me and Chris.

Noah loves to go to plays.

It's the perfect challenge.

We really hyped it up too. You could see his little mind just reeling from the peer pressure on this thing. He hated the idea of reading the book, but, but, the reward was soooo huge! You could see the battle raging right before your eyes. At first he said he wouldn't read it. Then I saw him pick it up. Then he put it down. Then he acted like it wasn't there. Then....

He went to bed and put on his book light.

......I really hope we go to the play.....

Monday, June 11, 2007

Me Likey!

That's something Jeni always says, and I've sorta adopted it.

Today, I had a "Me Likey!" experience.


Ever since I moved to Alabama, I've worked hard to balance my checking account every statement. For some unknown reason, I never could get it right when I lived in NH. It bothered me to no end; I would write out every transaction for 6 months by hand to find the errors, to no avail.

Since we started all over when we moved here, I made sure to get the account balanced from the get-go. Thankfully, I haven't had a problem since moving, and have successfully balanced my checking account to the penny every month.

That's a good feeling!

I owe a lot of it to the accounting software I use, Microsoft Money, and the fact that we hardly use cash. On top of that, Chris is very diligent to keep his debit slips for me to record with. So then, every so often, I go through all the slips and my duplicate checks, and enter all the info into my electronic register. It automatically gives me the total.

I also use it to keep track of what bills are due when. That's a virtual lifesaver.

Then, when my monthly statement comes in, I just match it up with the computer. It comes out right every time.


Well, one day, while I was out yard sale-ing, I picked up a copy of the UPDATED version of MS Money. For a quarter. Hoo-ahhh!

Today, I installed it.

And this new be-fangled version has a VERY nice little upgrade:

It will self-balance my account.

How? you say? Well, all you have to do is log on to your bank account online (anyone out there not checking your current balance at your bank's website? You're the minority!). Then, you can either download a copy of your online statement to Money from the website, or Money will do it for you from the program itself. Of course you have to be online to do this, but most people are these days.

Once the document has been downloaded into the Money program, it will match up the debits and credits already recorded in the program, with the ones that the bank shows. If you forgot to record a specific transaction, you can click a button and Money will automatically insert it into your register. If it can't tell if the bank's record is the same as yours (say, you record it as "Walmart" and the bank records it as "Wal-mart #233"), it will ask you if you want to accept that record as the same thing. Once you click the "accept" button, it is reconciled.

In other words, instead of constantly matching up your online balance with the bank to the account register in Money (by clicking back and forth between pages), the program will now do it for you. Which also means that I don't have to balance a month's worth of transactions when I get my paper statement. Sheesh, I don't even NEED a paper statement anymore! I just download a copy of the bank's records of my account, and Money will do the rest----instant balanced checkbook!

Oh likey very much!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

What's Up......And Some Pics

Bible School will be officially over tomorrow night. We'll be having a closing program at 7 PM, and once that's over, I'll be able to slow down for a little bit.

Chris' birthday was yesterday, and because of Bible School and the fact that we had church last night, we didn't celebrate it yet. He's DYING to find out what I got him, especially since I've been rubbing it in for about 6 months now (hehehehe!), but I won't give it to him until we celebrate his birthday. That'll probably happen next week.

In other news, we are planning on making arrangements to get some fencing this weekend. Make- A-Wish categorically refused to erect a fence as Michaela's wish, so we're going to try to do it for her ourselves. She has absentmindedly walked into the middle of the road twice in the past month when we took our eyes off of her momentarily (we're talking a VERY short time frame here--like 5 minutes? 3? something miniscule like that). Thank God there were no cars coming speeding around the corner. Which reminds me: does anyone know how to get the local government to erect signs that alert oncoming traffic to a handicapped child? I've always thought that would be something good to have. Not that it would keep the drivers from speeding, but maybe it would help them realize the potential problem. Or, at the very least, understand why there is a child wandering in the middle of the street.

That sounds really bad. Like I'm totally irresponsible or something. But it's not me, it's her. She's sneaky; and I am one person. There was even a time when TWO of us were keeping an eye on her, and she escaped out the door of the house and beelined for the road. Scary stuff, I know. We need to invest in some more security for her.

Hence, the fence.

I'm kind of excited about the whole thing. I've wanted one for a good long time. Hopefully it will all go smoothly. We've never put up a fence before....


Watching the neighbor bush-hog his field
A sure sign of summer in the country

"Bubba" loves us, this we know
For he always tells us so
Kisses, hugs, and playtime too
Oh, dear Bubba, we love you!

They're just babies....
And I wish I could hold them like this forever.....

Man, am I glad I have a digital camera........................sigh..........................

Monday, June 04, 2007

Day 30: Worn OUT

3o days dun wore me out.

i need a break........

stay tuned.......

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Day 29.5: Blog Fodder

Day 29: I Don't Do Weekends

This is painfully obvious, doncha think? Throughout this entire 30 day blogfest, I haven't been able to keep up on weekends. The only reason I'm posting now (this being Saturday) is because I feel bad about missing Friday.

But Friday's gone, and I can't get it back.

Soon, I will be bouncing from one thing to the other: taking care of the children like I do everday, but on top of that, trying to get a project or two accomplished while Chris is home. Sunday is just as busy with the two services we attend. So, I don't relax on the weekends.

I've already been out yard saling. Today, we're going to try to get some of my cabinets painted and put up.

If I can get some stuff done around here, it'll be worth not blogging!

But I'm not gone for long ;)