Wednesday, December 13, 2017

I survived and a recipe!

Peter did not drive home from school on Monday as originally planned because Sarah freaked out.

Yes, my typically calm mild-mannered child had a fit.

"I've got toooooo much homework.  It will take so long with him driving.  He drives so slow.  I've got too much homework I jiust need to get home.  I'm going to be up all night." 

This is typically the only time she acts a little abnormal - when she has a lot of homework.  Which is frequently so perhaps freaking out is her normal nature?

Regardless, she and Peter began a frantic texting session as were on our way to pick him up and ultimately, because Peter is a peacemaker, I drove home and Peter did not.

Sarah finished with all of her homework by 6:00 - which is normal.  She made it sound like she had "so much homework" that she would be working on it all night.

Not the case.  So we made fun of her and then Peter drove home from school yesterday.

And he did a really good job.  He's very conservative and drove the speed limit or under the whole way home.  And it only took a few extra minutes so Sarah was happy.  And I didn't have to scream at him about anything so I was happy.  And he got to drive so he was happy.  He is always asking to drive places now which is a good thing but y'all, the control freak in me is just going to have to give it to Jesus.

Speaking of giving it to  Jesus - I would say I'm about 70% done with my shopping.  However, each time I mark someone off, I remember someone that should be on my list but is not.  Even Amazon Prime has its limits so I'm heading out today.  I'm even going to the place I hate the most - THE MALL. I'm hoping that by the end of today, I'm closer to 90% done. 

Last week, we had a really good dinner.  Everyone enjoyed it and Dan said, "This is good."  And if you've been reading here long, you know that's high praise. And it's made it one skillet so that got an extra star from me.

It's Italian Sausage Tortellini and the original  recipe is from Kevin and Amanda. I made some adjustments to it and here is how I made it:

Italian Sausage Torellini


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 1 lb mild Italian sausage
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes with tomato, basil and oregano
  • 1 cup regular or heavy cream
  • 18 ounces tortellini (fresh or frozen)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach, loosely packed


  1. Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. When the oil is very hot, add the onions. Remove  the sausage from the  casing and add to the pan. Use a spatula to break up the sausage into bite-sized pieces. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is browned. Reduce heat to low, then add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds
  2. Add broth, tomatoes, cream, and tortellini to the skillet. Stir to combine. Increase heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Cover, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until tortellini are tender and heated through. Taste the sauce and add plenty of salt and pepper to taste. Add spinach and stir until softened and wilted. Remove from heat and serve.
I served this with bread and called it good!  Dan did not like the spinach in it but Sarah and I did so it stays - Sorry Dan!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Jesus, take the wheel....

Things around here have been busy...

On Thursday night, Peter wanted to go to the basketball so Dan and I dropped him off and did a little Christmas shopping.

Peter had school off on Friday and Dan took the day off.  We dropped Sarah off at school and hung around to attend Mass at her school.


we went to the DMV!

And this happened:

 And Dan(!?) wanted to commemorate it with a selfie:

Poor Peter!  He could not wait to get out of the parking lot.

Our experience at the DMV was wonderful.  We made an appointment and after we checked in Peter went right to the testing station.  Dan talked with someone about updating his license to show his veteran status and then decided that while he was doing that he should go ahead and make his license a federal id which entailed going back to the DMV later on Friday with the correct paperwork. Everyone there was friendly and knowledgeable and it was all smooth sailing.  However, after we left the second time (around lunch) it was starting to get a little crazy because I imagine everyone was trying to get there on their lunch break.

Obviously, Peter passed his test and then drove us home - through the beginnings of a snow storm.  I was totally unprepared for this snow.  They had been mentioning snow all week but very casually and there wasn't the big stampede to the store for milk, and bread, and toilet paper so I just assumed we would get a light dusting.  But, no.  It proceeded to snow all afternoon on Friday and into the evening.

The DMV is right near the highway and since we were coming back to the DMV to finish Dan's federal ID, we decided to take it because it to be quicker.  Poor Peter - talk about trial by fire.  Apparently, his driver's ed teacher is a nervous Nelly and Peter had never been on the highway before.  No time like the present to learn!

He did great and Dan did great. I, however, did not do so well.  I was a nervous wreck the whole way home.  Peter also drove us to lunch in the snow and then drove to church on Sunday and just texted me this morning that he wants to drive home from school today.

I had decided that I was going to let him practice more with Dan before he drove home from school (it's 30 minutes away) but he really wants to do it and he is a cautious driver so I guess I'll just be praying the whole way home.  Sarah jokingly asked on the way to church Sunday if I needed to keep my rosary beads in the car. 

This was our house on Friday night:

So pretty but I do not like snow.  BAH HUMBUG! 

On Saturday, the kids helped my friend Jennifer and her family move and Dan and I ran errands and did things around the house.  That evening we went out to dinner because I failed to remember that what I was making for dinner needed to go into the crock pot at noon. I realized this around 6:00 PM. WHOOPS!  

On Sunday we went to church, had lunch at my mom's house and then finished the Christmas cards (now to get stamps), the kids did homework, and then Sarah had Confirmation class.

And just like that, it's Monday and I've got a whole ton of things going on this week in addition to hopefully finishing my Christmas shopping in between everything.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Of course it was.

Do you guys have that one hard to shop for person on your list?

I think everyone has one.  For me, it's Peter. 

I could go into Hobby Lobby, Target, Old Navy and Marshall's have Sarah's shopping done in a couple of hours.  In those couple of hours I could come out with probably 50 to 60 things that she would absolutely love.  Shopping for her is no problem.  It's actually a pleasure because it's so easy and I know that she will love and use everything that I got her.

But my dear Peter is a different story.  Year after year, I get him gifts and they go unopened and unused. 

I had a really cool idea but by the time I found it and contacted the seller, it was gone.  I'm not mentioning it here on the off chance that he reads my blog.  HA!  And also on the off chance that I can find something similar.

I am currently trying to figure out an experience type gift for him.  His guitar teacher is taking any of the students that want to go (and can afford it) on a trip to Iceland this summer to tour the country and to perform.  He would love that.  But, y'all it's over $3000. 

$3000 is juuuuuuuuusssst a tad over our Christmas gift budget.  I guess we could have gotten him that and said, "Merry Christmas FOREVER!" 

So that won't be the experience gift we're getting for him.  It will be something much cheaper and much closer to home.  I've got a couple of ideas in mind so keep your fingers crossed.

Last night we were watching Jeopardy as we like to do.  Peter and Dan love seeing how many questions they can get correct.  I get excited when I can get a couple of pop culture questions right. 

I can't remember what the Final Jeopardy question was but it was a history question.  Dan missed it (which was shocking because he typically gets all of those right) and ALL THREE of the contestants missed it but Peter got it right.  So, I'm thinking that perhaps if he wants to go to Iceland this summer he could go on Jeopardy and use his earnings to finance his trip!

Y'all!  I just looked up last night's Final Jeopardy question.  Everything you could ever want to know really is on the Internet.

Anyway, the question was:

This 18-14 - 1815 gathering of leaders prompted Beethoven to compose the cantata "The Glorious Moment".

The correct response was:

What is the Congress of Vienna

Of course it was. 

And just because I don't like to have a post without a picture.  Here is Wally on my lap chewing my hoodie drawstrings:

Look at those giant ears and that little white goatee! 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Weekend wrap up...


Miss me? 

Yes, I haven't been here in a few days thanks to 8th Grade Santa's Workshop.  But that wrapped up successfully yesterday so I'm ready to get to it!

I will admit that I'm in mild panic mode as I just realized that we are officially less than 3 weeks from Christmas.

Just let that sink in....

...twenty days until Christmas...

Why the panic mode?  Well, I have purchased a sum total of ONE gift and have yet to even make a list for all they other myriad gifts that must be purchased.  But I'm not worried because that's why God invented Amazon Prime!

Any who, all of this is neither here nor there because this is how I operate every year and I always get it done. 

...insert silent prayer of thanks for Amazon Prime...

So when I left off last Thursday morning, Peter was in mild panic mode (hmmmmm, wonder where he gets that?) due to an additional project that had to be started/completed in the midst of a couple of other projects. 

He got his math project turned in on Thursday morning and later that evening we sat down together and he came up with a workable plan.  As he was writing due dates on the calendar and what he was going to complete when, he started to realize that he really should have started things sooner.  So I think he is making progress.

Then on Friday he got more clarification regarding his French project and it isn't quite as intense as it first seemed. He spent a lot of time on that this weekend and should be done with it tonight.  (He had an orthodontist appointment after school yesterday, Boy Scouts, and a fair amount of regular homework last night otherwise, he would have completed the French project last night.  But if he completes it tonight, he will have it done two nights before it's due and I think that's pretty darn good.  And then hopefully he can get his Religion project completed earlier than expected. 

And that's enough about Peter and all his projects. Sort of....

One of the requirements for his Classical Guitar class is that he has to attend a concert each semester.  So, he and I went to hear a performance of Handel's Messiah on Sunday afternoon.

It was the full performance - all three acts.  It was very well done and I'm glad I got to go with him.  He was probably a little bored as the soloists all sang in opera style.  The chorus alone, however, was worth the price of admission (which happened to be free - although they were accepting donations so of course, we donated when they passed the basket). 

I was looking forward to the Hallelujah chorus the most and it did not disappoint. 

Here is a very bad selfie of the two of us before the show started:

We also attended the basketball game on Friday night.  Peter enjoys hanging out with his friends and Dan and I had a good time at the game too.  Sarah opted to stay home alone because as she said she was, "looking forward to spending some time alone".  Allrighty then.

Well, with that weekend wrap up, I guess I really better start to do some Christmas shopping because Amazon Prime is no good without actual items in the old shopping cart.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The saga continues....

The math project is done.  I'm not sure if I mentioned it or not but they had to use less than 500 flat or square toothpicks to build a bridge of their design that would hold weight.  The bridge had touse angles and whatnot that they've been learning about in class (geometry).  They had to construct the bridge in a design that they thought would hold a lot of weight.  Apparently, one year the teacher had a student build a bridge that held 100 pounds.

Yep.  You read that correctly.  100 pounds.  I can almost without a doubt tell you that Peter's bridge will NOT hold 100 pounds.  If it holds 10 pounds I would be surprised. In fact, I'm just praying that he gets it to school in one piece. 

And no, we did not test it.  Because testing is what you do when you spend a lot of time on the project.  We were not about to put any weight on this bridge last night lest it shatter into  less than 500 pieces.

When Peter got in the car yesterday, he was having a mild panic attack.  In addition to completing his bridge he had a major French test to study for.  AND...


He informed me that he has a major French project (in additon to his major Religion project) due in a week. 

I almost lost it.  But I kept it together. There's a lot to be said for the serenity prayer and I may or may not have whispered "Jesus take the wheel".

Dan however did not keep it together and did  a lot of loud lecturing while Peter was gluing toothpicks last night.  A lot.

I'm hoping that Peter has finally figured out that this is not middle school and he's not going to be able to skate by on his good memory.  He's actually going to have to put in the work - ahead of time.

This morning when things were more calm, I told Peter that he needed to come up with a plan for how he was going to get these two MAJOR PROJECTS done in the next couple of weeks.  A written plan.  And I would back off as long as he was actually following the plan. 

I feel like this is a nice compromise. We'll see if this keeps him on track and keeps me off his back.

Sounds like if it works it will be a win-win.

In other news...

Looks like someone has discovered the tree.

Thanks for the tree with all the toys!     
And with that, I'm out! I'll be at Sarah's school for the rest of this week and Monday helping out with the 8th grade's Santa's Workshop.  Should be fun!

Also, I'm deciding if I should help out with a cookie exchange Peter's school PTO is doing (I think for the teachers).  I know that volunteering for a cookie exchange leads to being PTO president but I WILL NOT LET THAT HAPPEN AGAIN.  I really don't have that in me but I do think I can help with some cookies. 

Have a great rest of the week and weekend!  I probably won't be back here until Tuesday - unless Peter's bridge holds 100 pounds and you can bet I'll be here letting you know!  ;)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

No new tricks here. Just me continuing to annoy my son.

In the two freshman parent meetings I've attended this year, the guidance counselors recommend backing off and letting the kids figure things out on their own - especially homework assignments and managing their time.

In years past, I would check the school website prior to picking up Peter and Sarah just to get a feel for how much homework they both had and to make sure that no special projects or important dates were being missed.

Peter's high school has a more advanced website where homework is posted, messages from the teacher are posted, and files are shared.

I have been doing my best to stay off this website and Peter has stayed on top of things the entire first quarter and his grades were excellent.  However, when he would mention a project or something outside of the realm of homework and tests, I would hop on and just get a feel for the scope of the project/assignment.  It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

So several weeks ago when he mentioned a math project that required me to purchase toothpicks, I hopped right on the website to get more details.  And right after that, he mentioned a religion project that he was actually excited about so I checked that out as well.

I printed off a blank calendar and wrote down the important due dates and showed it to Peter so he could get a visual for when everything was due so he wouldn't leave it all to the last minute.  He said he was aware of everything and had it handled.

I occasionally would mention that perhaps he needed to be working on his projects and he would get mad. So I backed off.  But prior to the Thanksgiving break, I told him he really needed to get the math project done so he could focus on his religion project. He agreed that he would and he spent a little time on the math project but he did not get it completed.  Every time I mentioned it he got angry so by Saturday I told Dan that I wasn't bringing it up again. I was done.  He was on his own.

Until yesterday when I glanced at the calendar and realized that another smaller math project was due today and that in fact, the big project that I thought was due on Friday is actually due tomorrow.  YIKES!

I sent Dan a flurry of texts and mentioned that this is what the guidance counselors were referring to when they said, "you need to let your kids crash and burn" because I was going to stay out of it.

But when Peter got in the car yesterday I casually mentioned the two math projects trying hard to be very laid back so as not to incite his anger.  He said that he had the mini-project almost done and that he was aware the big project was due on Thursday and not Friday as I had been thinking all along.  He said he let me keep thinking that so I would get off his back.


He came home and finished the mini-project and got the big project almost completed.  I guess just because he's not doing things the way I want him to do them doesn't mean he doesn't have them under control.

It's funny how we all have our different styles.  Dan will not rest or do anything enjoyable until every last bit of work he has to do is completed.  I, on the other hand, prefer to work, take a break, work, take a break, etc. until I am done with what I need to get done.  Peter, however, prefers to play, play, relax, play, play, relax, play, relax, and then work, work, and work.

I guess as long as this style works for him, I just need to back off just as the counselors suggested.  But y'all - it's hard.

I'm trying though. But don't think I'm not going to casually mention the religion project on Friday afternoon.  I am still a very old dog after all...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

Dan and I have been a little stressed out for the last couple of weeks because we knew as soon as we got the Christmas tree, Wally would be all over it.  He loves to climb anything possible and he loves to knock around and chew on anything he can get his little orange paws  and he razor sharp teeth around.

So we were dreading how he was going to react to the tree.  We have some not so fond memories of Peter and Sarah with the tree and how by the end of December all the ornaments were at the top of the tree leaving bare the branches within their reach. 

I figured after Wally got done with our tree it would look something like this:

So imagine our delight when two days after decorating the tree it still looks like this:

Occasionally he will sniff around underneath the tree for a minute or two or he will sitin front of it and stare at it as if he is determining the best method of attacking it but then he casually turns and walks away from it.

The tree is very dense with a lot of branches and because of this, he can't make his way to the trunk.  And since he can't make it to the trunk, he can't climb up it. 

So far, so good.  Fingers crossed it stays this way!

And here are a few pictures we took while decorating the tree:

This little felt Santa that Dan is putting on the tree was on his father's tree when he was a little boy.  Dan estimates this ornament is almost 100 years old.  Also, it used to be red but has faded to brown over the years.

Who's that creeping behind me?

Just my sweet husband!
Sarah insisted on a photo with Wally!

Monday, November 27, 2017

What we've been doing for the past week...

It's been a whole week since I blogged but when the kids are out of school, I just can't seem to find time to sit down and write anything. Plus, I was busy sleeping in and eating.

I had signed Peter up over a month ago to take his test for his permit this past Wednesday when he was out of school.  We excitedly drove up to the DMV early because that's how I roll, only to discover that their computers had been down all day and they weren't able to do anything.


I was annoyed.  Peter was annoyed.  But, on the way there he said, "What if I haven't studied enough?  What if I fail?"  So, I'm trying to look at this as a blessing in disguise and hope that Peter will study more and feel more prepared.  But I can't mention this to him because if I do, he will bite my head off.  He can't stand to be reminded of what he needs to do.  However, if I don't remind him, then chances are he will not do it.  It's a balancing act around here. 

He has a big math project due on Friday.   I encouraged him at the beginning of Thanksgiving break to get it done so he could start working on a big religion project that is due the next week. However, whenever I mentioned that he might want to work on it, he got annoyed.  So, on Sunday evening, I decided that I was done.  He's got four nights to work on it and I'm not going to mention it again.  It will kill me, but I'm not going to do it.  He's got to figure this stuff out on his own.  There's usually a reason a teacher will give you a month to work on something....

We had a really nice Thanksgiving!  My mom and dad always make the best food and my best friend and her family always join us and it's just a really nice afternoon.  I failed to take pictures of the food but I did manage to get some pics of all the people!

The grown-up table!
Dorky selfie to prove that I was there too!

The girls.

The boys!
 On Friday, I took the kids ice skating.

And then on Saturday, we went to the mountains to get our tree.

Typically we would have done this on  Friday because Sarah's Girl Scout troop used to be in a parade every Saturday.  But they aren't participating this year so we decided to do the tree on Saturday.


The place we normally go to is always crowded on Friday but it's a manageable crowd.  The place is nice with a barn, a horse little kids can ride, hay wagons that take you out to pick your tree, Santa Claus, etc.  We normally don't take advantage of those niceties because the kids are too old for it.  But it's a nice festive atmosphere.


It took us forever to even get a parking space and we went to the barn to get in line for the hay wagon, the line was more than double (I would venture to say triple) of what we are used to.  I estimated that we would have waited in line at least two if not three hours for a hay wagon.  And then, once you pick out your tree there is more waiting for it to get cut and brought down to your car.

It took us close to 20  minutes to even get out of the place after we decided it wasn't worth it to wait.
We went up the road less than a mile or two where we discovered a no-frills place.  We literally parked right beside several acres of trees.  Picked the one we wanted in no time and flagged down the man with the chainsaw and paid for it and strapped it to the top of our car.  And best of all?  It was almost half the price of what we would have paid at the other place.  Now there was no barn, no not chocolate, no Santa, no petting zoo, etc. but we got a beautiful fresh tree and that's what we went for!

And as usual, there was complaining about which tree to pick.  One of my kids was very annoyed that I didn't pick the tree she chose.  One of my other kids didn't care what tree we picked just as long as we got it and went to lunch as soon as possible.  But even though there was complaining, whining, and bickering, we got a beautiful tree and we were able to joke and laugh at the rest of it on the way home.

The tree!
The annoyed teens in front of the tree.

There are my sweet teenagers.  They can smile!
Sarah snapped one picture of me and Dan and OF COURSE, my eyes were closed. It is what it is!
And with that, I'm off to the grocery store and to catch on on laundry and to maybe start thinking about Christmas lists and shopping and menu planning and all the crazy that goes along with the season.  I told Dan this weekend that Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday because you get all the food and all the family time without all the stress that goes along with Christmas. 

Let the games begin!

Monday, November 20, 2017


This is a weird week.  Peter is off  Wednesday - Friday. Sarah is off the whole week but we have to go to a parent/teacher conference at school this morning.  Then she has a hair appointment and at some point, she and I need to get groceries and then I have to pick Peter up from school early because he has an allergist appointment.

Tomorrow Sarah has a dentist appointment and on Wednesday Peter has his appointment at the DMB to get his permit.  Can you tell that I've tried to schedule as many appointments as possible during this weird week of being off?

But let's backtrack to the weekend!  Saturday night was the Giving Gala at Peter's school.  All the kids have MacBook Airs and a huge campaign is underway to pay for all of this new technology going forward.

The soccer team made it to the State Playoffs and of course, the championship game was in Raleigh on Saturday night.  Also, the drama department had their play and the final performance was scheduled for Saturday night.  And Wake Forest and N.C. State was in town playing a big game and of course, it was Saturday night.  And there were a lot of people sick this week as well so unfortunately, the gala wasn't as well attended as it could/should have been.  BUT - the group putting it together did a great job and Dan and I had a really good time.  AND - we got to dress up and go out like actual grown-ups so that was nice too.  

I had Sarah snap some pictures before we headed out the door.  And of course - the one where I look the best - Dan is making his joke face.  Almost every picture we have of his Dad, he is leaning to the side and making a grimace face. And many years ago, we noticed that Dan had this same trait.  Without knowing it, he too would be leaning to one side and grimacing instead of smiling. So now every time we pose for a picture, Dan will purposefully do this in at least one shot.

Such a cute pic of ME and look at his face! 

Okay.  I guess I'll let him off the hook because he is so sweet!

That's better!
And one more shot so you can see my necklace. I just love this tassel necklace!  It really pulls the whole outfit together!
 And I wanted to add this picture of the gym because I thought the gala committee did a great job making it feel less like a gym and more like a gala!

And the Bishop McGuinness boy's soccer team is now the STATE 1A Champion!  Peter was so upset that he didn't get to go the game.  I feel bad for him but we already had tickets to the gala.  He spent a lot of Saturday sulking.  And he kept saying if he had his driver's license he would be able to drive himself all the way to Raleigh.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that that probably would not have happened either. Maybe when he's a senior but definitely not anytime soon!