Sunday, October 20, 2013

I Am Not Going to Make Soap Anymore

I really don't like when Bloggers leave the blogasphere with declarations of "I have to go, can't do this anymore" or "Oh, so woe is me - the blog has to end, no one is reading" or the best?   "I can't blog anymore because the inspiration isn't there"  type of stuff...and then? 

They come back anyway.

Don't you?

Repeated disclaimer [raise your hand if you have heard this before. . . I see ALL of you raising them! hee ]- I have always written this blog for my family.

Here's the deal - there will be no blah, blah, blah stuff, bull or anything else tied to this post.  The simple fact is - I am not feeling all that well and I don't want to go through another round of "Oh, so woe is me". I am tired of being vague regarding my health for you, my beloved Tadpoles, in order to update the family on what they know the reality is.  I don't need to keep a record of our everyday for them anymore.

And you certainly don't need to live it.

[8:15 pm] I just told Steven that I was giving the blog up and he said "No you aren't."  And I said "Yes. Yes. I am going to give it up."  He was upset. Very upset, as you are his friends, as much as you are mine, but he understood that it has been so long in coming. Then he spent 10 minutes arguing with me [brave Man] over letting this go.  He finally realized that although you Tadpoles, our friends, are so important to us that I am truly weary.  I can't . . .I just can't . . .

We are still loving our new home on Red Hill. It's a gift actually, but I find I don't need to blog about our daily life to keep my family up on our doings as I once did, because. . . .well. . .the sum total of them are here and living it.  We have our smiles, laughs and love.  Our ups and downs . . .but my capacity and energy to be anywhere other than with my husband, Steven, and my children is too much.

Considering what y'all have given me in the past years, it does sound selfish to give this up, doesn't it?

So selfish. I hate that. It isn't me.

[Go ahead, curse my name. I deserve it. No worries....]

I will apologize for not staying around your blogs for you, the way you always have for me.

I swear the old adage "It's not you, it's me" holds true.  It IS me.

I wish I could hold you up and be there for you. Everyday.

I hope you see I tried to be your friend, your supporter - someone you could count on and I do hope you felt that. 

I admire you all . . .and I have no words [or I have too many words?] to tell each of you how much I admire you in this post.

I will say this. . .and it applies to y'all, and you know who you are.  . .

When I cheered you on, I meant every word of it. 

When I said "Hugs and kisses" I felt it. My arms were around you and my lips were on your cheek.

Mostly?. . . When I wrote that I loved you [or typed an XO] I held you dear in my heart and in my prayers.

The courage I saw? 
Your strength I filled myself with? 
YOUR LOVE I wrapped us in? 
They sustained me and my entire family.

Your comments will run forever to remind us that there are GREAT people in this world.

They are Tadpoles.

I wish I could I could write a paragraph, hell...a novel...encompassing how much I love y'all. And how much you mean to me - I receive so many inquiries when I "disappear" - and I am grateful for them, but grow weary, not because of you, but for your worry from the beautiful people that are you.

I don't want you to worry. I don't want to ask you for anything.

I just want you to all go on and be the happiest, most loving women and men, the best friends you can be to those in your real life.

That's the point.

Go forward and share what you give to me in your typed written word and heartfelt, readable hugs.  .


For me.  Tell your friends "Skippy sent me."

It is what I wish someone would do for me.

I love you all. So much. You will never know.

I gotta' go Tadpoles.

We'll see ya' on flipside.


I love you, Janine

Friday, September 27, 2013

In the Country? The Cows are Miffed

It is no secret I love living in the country. 
I love our new hometown of Orange, VA and everyday brings a new experience.

One thing Steven and I like to do is sit on the front porch at night, looking at the stars and listening to the quiet.

It IS quiet out here.  Such a change from the suburbs we came from. Eventhough we live in town, this is a very small town surrounded by farms.  Orange County is almost entirely agricultural and the miles and miles of farmland attest to exactly what our neighbors' livelihood is.

Which brings us to the cows.

The above pics were taken less than two miles from our home.

As I said, we like to listen to the quiet. The country quiet is occasionally punctuated by a train whistle or the mooing of a cow.  We love the trains, and can schedule our days around them rumbling through town.

The cows are even cooler.  Every evening, around dinner time, we can hear one of two cows mooing off in the distance.  When we first heard them they seemed so far away we weren't quite sure if we were hearing a cow because, as I said, we live IN town.  Sound travels out here evidently.

So yep, definitely a cow.  We still laugh everytime we hear nightfall's first moo and will sit, happily, for an hour listening to them let their farmer know "Hey! It's dinner time."

[At least we think that is what they are saying. Who speaks cow?]

Last night was different.  Last night was a cow cacophony. 

As we sat on the front porch chatting we heard the first sounds of our bovine friends.  I giggled at their perfect timing and continued talking about the day. Suddenly that one moo turned into four cows mooing, which multiplied into what sounded like six, ten, twelve?

It was a lot. 

Then it was the entire herd of [what sounded like] some pretty ticked off cows.

It went on for over an hour.  They sounded really upset and kept going on and on, voicing their displeasure.  It started to get a little sad because they sounded so unhappy.

Then I figured it out - this week the farmers were separating the calves from their Mommas to send them off to the livestock auction this weekend.
Bye Momma
Ah, such is the country life.

And just so you know - I lost a bet this week to our pal Joe over at These American Servers. We are both die hard baseball fans with Mr. Sixtop having the greater fortune of a much better team, the St. Louis Cards.  So if you like, pop over to Joe's and read up on an early restaurant memory of mine. The words "drunken" and "debauchery" come to mind. ::wink::

Take care Tadpoles. We'll see ya' on the flipside. xo Janine

[Disclaimer No, I am not sad about the "circle of life" or farming or anything else. I grew up around cows, calves, auctions and the local butcher. It's just a blog post, okay? No worries.]

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dinner Cost Me Squadoosh

. . .as Steven would like to say. ::grin::

Squadoosh means "nothing" for those that don't know my husband. hee

I know, I know. I haven’t been around. The whole *busy moving, enjoying the new house, sleeping* thing is a drag - but. . .I have been productive.
For one thing we have not ordered out or eaten at a restaurant this entire move. Not even when we lived in the country house temporarily.  We did go out for Squirrel's birthday but that was only because I couldn't cook for her with her at college.
So?  I would say that is a win, because there have been a lot of nights when I just wanted to toss in the towel, scrape change and order a pizza.
Finances and my hard head refused. Sigh. I need a softer head and more money I suppose.
Since that isn't happening anytime soon - let's chat about what I did today. Shall we?
It starts with a backstory:

My beloved Mother In Law always sends me old copies of magazines she subscribes to and I love them for the decorating and recipe ideas they give me. One article I read was excellent in pointing out how much food we, as Americans, throw away every year. Either because it is a wilted head of lettuce or leftovers we *leftover* too long in the fridge.

Everything in that article screamed at me, saying “Janine! This is you! Stop doing this.”

It was.
And I did

I always thought I was pretty good at stretching leftovers. Ask any chicken that has ever been roasted in one of my ovens on a Sunday. That bird is seeing [Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday] Thursday if I have my way - but there were so many other things I would throw out because I just didn’t want to DEAL with them.
No more.
Case in point. My family’s favorite soup is a Spicy Kielbasa, White Bean and Cabbage number I made up. I make it all the time and they love it, but I always want those main ingredients in the house when I do it. I get nervous if I don’t. What if they don’t like it if I use similar, but not the same, ingredients? What if I have to throw it away if because it isn’t perfect?

The angst. ARGH!

Ha! Nope. I kid.

I figure if I am going to throw out any leftovers I don’t want to deal with anyway why not throw it in a pot of soup?
I had what I had. And really? I didn’t want to go grocery shopping and spend money.

Steven had made me kale with ham for my birthday. LOVE! [And why there is any still left is beyond my imagination considering this is like chocolate to me but. . .] Oh and we had Pigs in a Blanket for appetizer on my birthday too. [We call them Boomettes....I digress]
As I like to say in our house,  “I jerryrigged the sh*t out of that [those leftovers].”

With the leftover kale and mini weinies from Monday ... I give you....
I had the ham in the kale along with the Lil smokies to replace the Kielbasa.
I used the can of cannelli beans [that has apparently made the trek all the way from Sterling?] in place of raw navy beans.
I tossed the kale in to replicate the cabbage.
I used ground ginger instead of fresh.
Jarred garlic because the season is over and I used up all my fresh about a month ago.
And I doctored a package of vegetable broth with water to use in lieu of chicken broth I normally have.
The rest of the ingredients I always have handy.
Celery, onion, jalapeno, cumin, salt, pepper...etc.

My house smells so good. Hee.
Hope you are all doing well. Seems to be some tough times out there in y'all's ponds. I am trying to stay connected and we should have full on internet tomorrow, with a phone and such by Sunday.
Please know we are thinking and praying for all of you. Take care. Much love and hugs, xo Janine




Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Inadvertent Selfie [and other pics']

Is "Selfie" the right word? Wallene has a grand time laughing at her Momma attempt internet speech, but...okay. I have the keys to the car kid. Hush. hee

I was trying to get y'all some good pics of the new house and I took this one by mistake.
Turned out to be a pretty good pic' tho' because you can see our lawn and the neighbor's place across the street.
Well, I thought so anyway.

 And this is what I meant it to look like [without me in the glass door. ::grin::]
Our front lawn. The leaves started falling yesterday.
 Have fun Wallene!
Side yard leading to the street. I helped mow that. I am very happy about that. :)
 Our neighbors have a chicken coop [and a GORGEOUS lawn]
I want chickens too.
 Spottie patrolling her property.
Our new washer and dryer.
Told you they were cool!
 The only stairs I have to navigate.
12 steps instead of 37.
 And finally. . .the birthday girl.
It isn't much Tadpoles but it's about the best I can do right now. If you know me on Facebook then you understand the trial I have been having getting internet/cable in here. Wore me out a bit - but absolutely NO worries.  It's all good and nothing, not Comcast or DISHnetwork, could dampen my enthusiasm for our new home.

You guys are the best and I thank you.  Gotta scoot. A wee bit tired.

See ya' on the flipside of another glorious day. Hugs xo Janine

Monday, September 9, 2013

I Don't Even Know Where to Begin. . .

What a gloriously splendiferous week.

I am pooped.  We're all pooped.

This moving is serious biz y'all. But you already knew that, right?  It has been so long [7 years] since our last move I had forgotten what all this entails.

But? It's ALL good. No. Good isn't enough. It is all GREAT. Better than great.

As I said it has been GLORIOUSLY SPLENDIFOROUS. :) [Evidently splendiferous is a real word. No red squiggly line underneath that one. Wow Spellcheck. Who knew?]

Anyhoodle - in an effort to save time and my sanity [trying to remember everything I want to tell you] I will just write a list of everything that has happened this week. Okay? Okay.

  • The house is perfect.  I didn't think I could love a house like I love this one.  The family agrees.  I don't think I have ever seen Steven happier than I have this past week.  I swear I think he is pinching himself because he can't believe our good fortune that this is OUR home.  Wallene is completely and utterly in love with everything here in Orange.  It is such a relief knowing we did the right thing moving here.
  • Speaking of Wallene - our child is amazing. Truly. I know you guys think I brag an inordinate amount about her, but the person she is and the things she does amaze me.   Her 16th birthday was this past Wednesday.  The second day in her new school.  Here we are 100 miles from her old friends, in a town where she has no new friends [yet] and her parents were scraping the bottom of their savings account to come up with a little something to make her birthday memorable. We had the usual Birthday Girl's choice for dinner and a homemade cake, with two very small presents [and by small - I mean not 16th birthday girl worthy] and I spent a lot of time in our bedroom crying for our baby because I just felt as tho' I had let her down, y'know? Through it all she smiled and laughed and told us that it was a great birthday. Perfect for her. Not one complaint uttered, or tear shed [on her part anyway]. No blame that we had taken her from her real home or her old friends. None of the screaming tantrums that everyone warns you about when your kid is a teenager. Just happy, happy. [Personally? I get tired of people "warning" me about what my kids are going to do when they hit a certain age.  Perhaps your kids did it, and you use it as an excuse, but mine? We'll just wait and see what MY kids do. All kids and parents are different - so I'll thank you to keep your warnings to yourself. And this is not directed to a single Tadpole or even an Anonymous reader - these are just real life friends and acquaintances that have been doing this since I popped the first kid out, okay? Don't email  me thinking I am talking about you. I'm not. giggle] Okay, so where was I?  Oh, Wallene, so yes. She had what she considered a great birthday. And I love her so much more for it.
  • School is going really well for her too. She loves her new school.  Best part of my day is seeing her walk up the road to our house and then sitting on the front porch listening to her go on and on about her new friends and classes, etc.  We have discovered that Band Kids are the same all over. Kind, funny [my gawd Tadpoles these kids are FUNNY] and willing to embrace a newcomer like an old friend. Whew. So we dodged a bullet on thinking she was going to be lonely and friendless. On her third day of school she stayed after with a group of kids to just hang out and help with Marching Band practice.  Our only fail in moving here was we missed Marching Band Camp by 4 days, so she has to wait until next year to march.  No worries - they treat her like one of the team anyway [YAY!] and she is in Symphonic Band with them during classes.
  • One final Wallene story and then I will get back to the house. She got her learner's permit on Saturday. Yep! My baby is driving now. She is so cute too. I have been letting her drive Ozcarz [I heard that collective gasp gang. hee] and she is so tense, thinking she is going to wreck him.  I keep telling her she won't and if she did we have awesome insurance so stop worrying.  She'll loosen up in time and I can already tell she loves driving [like her Momma] and will be really good at it soon.
  • The house!  Have I mentioned how great this house is?  IT IS.  Steven said it reminded him of his childhood home and I had to agree. It reminds me of mine too.  It was built in the early 80s so it isn't all "open floor plan", high ceilings and bumpouts. It's just a simple brick rambler built on a basement [a HUGE basement mind you, to which we have taken to having wheelchair/roller chair races around the perimeter - too fun!]  The house is plain and simple, but still there is a sense of coziness about it.  The most amazing thing is all of our furniture looks as tho' it was made for this house. It fits wonderfully. I can't even begin to describe it, it just IS.
  • Funny story about our first day here - Steven went north to meet the moving van while I went to the new house to wait and clean up a few things.  On my way to the house I had to go potty. The closer I got, the more I had to go. I zipped into the driveway, unlocked the door to our new, entirely empty home and dashed inside. Since I came in through the backdoor I had to go through a few rooms and a hallway to get to the bathroom. The house being so new [and it really isn't that big] I couldn't remember how to get there. I think I managed to visit every room in my quest to find it.  I did, obviously - but never having used the facilities in this home I didn't realize that these toilets were original to the house and therefore quite a bit lower than the new models most of us of used to now.  Guess what happened when I went to sit down where I am used to the seat being? Yep, missed it by a mile and cracked my tailbone on the way down. [Not literally, I am fine, but it was a gorgeous bruise for a few days. hee] I think my neighbors heard the bang when I hit it was so loud.
  • This house didn't come with a washer or dryer. Not a big deal because there is a nice Laundromat in town and I can also go to the country house and use theirs, but. . .we actually found the deal of the year on Saturday. We didn't think we would be able to afford a set until after Christmas, but God is smiling on us because the set we found is practically brand new [I don't think they were ever used] without a ding or dent on them. All for the low, low price of $225. Can you believe that? I have been skippyhappydancing for two days over this.  I know, I know the weird stuff that excites me, but it does. And as an added Skippy bonus, just who do you think helped Steven unload the washer? Me! Yes, me! And while he was hooking it up Wallene and I dragged the dryer out of the van and put it in the basement next to the washer. Ta-Da. I can now do laundry in our own home. Yippeee!
  • The lawn. Wow. Let me just say that our neighbors take lawn care very serious out here. It is a matter of pride to have a well mowed and maintained lawn.  Which is wonderful and makes our neighborhood extra specially pretty, but we were townhouse dwellers for years. We haven't had to mow a lawn in a decade, let alone even own a lawn mower. Not a problem. My very generous and beloved in laws told us to use the one at the country house. Wonderful, except we have a big yard. Big. Almost an acre. Everyone, and I mean everyone, here owns a lawn tractor.  We will have to be content with mowing our lawn with the push mower for now.  And to be honest Tadpoles, it does not suck.  Between the three of us we managed to mow it in a little over 3 hours.  And yes, that does say "the THREE of us" as in Yes, yours truly helped mow the lawn. I grew up mowing our lawn every week for years and I actually like mowing.  Steven and Wallene didn't want me to do it, and I admit to not being the biggest contributor to the entirety that was cut, but I did my share and by rotating we all got to take a break when we needed. It was pretty awesome Tadpoles. Preeeeeettty awesome. [Pain? What pain? HA!]
I guess that is all for now. I have to get Wallene up for school. Oh, speaking of the school - it is only 1 minute by car from here. So cool.  Walking to school takes 20 minutes and is really hilly, so I drive her in the morning [there is a school bus too, but the route is so circuitous that it is an HOUR long bus ride. ha. no.] and she walks home in the afternoon. Except I may start picking her up so she can practice driving the whole 1 minute home. ::grin::

Okay, gotta' scoot. I hope y'all have a wonderful week and everything is shiny, happy in your pond too.

We'll see ya' on the flipside! xo Janine

Friday, September 6, 2013

Whew! What A Week

We're here!

We are all moved in to our lovely new home on Red Hill Road, in the friendliest little town of Orange Virginia. [That is actually our towns website. The link just happened to come up orange. How coinky dink, eh?]

So . . . Tadpoles?

Life just could NOT be any better than this.

::happy sigh::

I have a frajillion things to tell you and a bunch of pics to share, but right now I am back at the country house tightening some things up from our stay this summer.

When I get back home [HOME! YAY!] I will sit down with my camera and a glass of Kool Aid and regale y’all with the juicy details.

Just know gang that all is right in the pond today.


Love to y’all. Take care and we’ll see ya’ on the flipside.

xo Janine

Monday, August 26, 2013

Moving Check List

It has been a fun and productive couple of days.

Today Squirrel starts her senior year at James Madison University.  We went to see her yesterday, to celebrate her 21st birthday. As soon as I have pictures I will write about the most amazing burgers we have ever eaten. I am not kidding Tadpoles, these were some gooood burgers.

Tomorrow Wallene has orientation for her new school. I know she is a bit nervous, but, moreso I think she is excited.  She is excited for us [Mom finally has one level living and the home of her dreams] to start a new school and to decorate her new room. All those hours on Pinterest have paid off.  Again, when I have pics you will be the first to see it.

Funny note on back to school There has been such an outcry in recent years of the expense of required school supplies that the county we are moving to has instituted a new policy where the things needed has been pared down.  In High School it is so pared down it reads: Paper, pencils, notebooks.  This makes us happy because the expense is spared, and Wallene is happy because she can organize and take care of her notes/homework the way she wants. No more searching for a 1 inch, 1 1/2 in and 2 in binder for 3 different classes. Or having to write with a certain pen or pencil. Thank you Orange County. I knew I liked you from the start.

Steven found a moving company.  This makes me so happy,  you don't know.  I worry about him moving all of our stuff like he did, with Wallene, when we put it in storage a few months ago.  It will be a big relief to know someone else [someone we know, actually, who is a professional mover] and their crew will be moving our stuff.  The moving foreman went to our storage units with Steven in order to give us a quote.  When he saw how my husband had packed all our belongings he said "Nice job. You really put this in here well."  Steven looked at him and said "I want you to repeat that to my wife. Those exact words.  She is afraid I just threw everything in and ran."  Our friend laughed.  So two scores for my wonderful husband. Thanks honey! ::waving::

Finally - the utilities.  We no longer have to deal with Washington Gas! YIPPPEEEE! The criminal enterprise is out of our lives forever. This makes me happy.  So happy.  The water and electric hook ups went easy and will be turned on Friday. Which leaves us with. . . .::cue sinister music::

Cable, internet and phone.  Really?  Since when did this become such a hassle?  It took me 4 days and approximately 8 hours to finally set a date for installation. Sigh.  It isn't Verizon [how NOT surprised are you?], but the new company doesn't bode well if this is what I had to deal with throughout the weekend.  We only have two choices out here and I didn't want a dish hanging off the side of my house.  Heck, we're fortunate we can even get cable and internet, so I am not complaining.

Since Steven is at the height of the busy season at work [pool closings this go round] I was only granted one full day of his time.  He does have the whole holiday weekend off, but he can only take this Friday to coordinate and settle on the house.  Ah well, a girl can wish all she wants, but will take what she can get, eh?  Having been a Pool wife for all these years I knew the deal going into this move.   It won't be the first time we've had to coordinate around work while moving, but here's hoping it will be the last.

Boring, boring, boring. I know. Hopefully more fun posts will be in the making in the next week or so.


Internet is still tenuous at best, so we will see you on the flipside of whatever day we have it.  In the meantime remember to Smile Loudly. Life is a Gift! xo Janine