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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Thankful Thursday - Edition 26

It's Thursday and here are just a few of the things I'm thankful for this week:

1.  I got my Blogger comments back in email!  If you aren't a blogger then you are probably scratching your head.  Previously any time someone would leave a comment in the blog comment section below, I would get an email with that comment.  And if the commenters included their email address, I could respond.  BUT - something happened a few weeks ago an no one (not just me) was getting their comments via email.  You had to manually go back to the blog post and look in the comments section and you had no way of responding to comments.

I kept putting it on my to-do list to figure out what was going on (aka - Google it and see if someone else had figure out how to correct the problem.) But I never got around to it.  Yesterday, however, Gigi, another blogger I read regularly posted the fix to the problem and yay!  Now my comments are coming back to me in email.  I'm very happy!  Thank you Gigi!

And a cool side note about Gigi - I can't remember exactly  how I found her blog but we read and follow a lot of the same people so I'm sure it's from that.  Any who her son actually graduated from Peter and Sarah's school AND briefly taught there as a substitute teacher this past year while he was looking for a permanent teaching job.  It really IS a small world after all...

2. Dan made it home from his trip safe and sound last week.  He had other customer meetings this week but they were local so even though he got home late every night this week and missed another swim meet, at least he got to sleep in his own bed and we got to see him every night for a little bit.

3. I finally convinced Peter to see my hair stylist since he actually has hair now.  The barber is fine when you are just getting a buzz with a razor but Peter has very thick hair and since he wants it a litle longer, he needs a stylist.  He balked for a while but after a hack job from a well meaning and sweet little old barber, he finally agreed.  His hair is looking much much better now and yesterday he got the best cut yet.  I love my hairstylist and am very thankful for her!

Our little garden is starting to produce! We are getting a good crop of cucumbers and there are quite a few peppers to be picked as well.  AND......we have a ton of green tomatoes on the vine.  I am getting very anxious to have a tomato sandwich in the very near future!

5. It was overcast all day on Tuesday and looked like it might rain at any minute for must of the day BUT we got our full swim meet in with zero delays and even though we were swimming a big team since it was only one team (and not two teams like the previous two meets), we managed to finish the entire meet at a reasonable time.  All the praise hands!!

6. Peter is making good progress on his Eagle Scout project thanks to my brother.  He is keeping him on task and making sure they stick to a reasonable schedule for getting the work completed.  Although I'm sure Peter would complain that the schedule is too strict but's getting done and for that we are all thankful - even Peter!  ;)

What are you all thankful for this week?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The sauce is boss!

We love Chick-Fil-A up in here. But one of the things we love the most is the sauce.

We love it so much that we started making our own Chick-Fil-A sauce at home.  I played around with the ingredients from the list on the packet and after some  trail and error came up with a recipe that is pretty darn close to the original.

Chick-Fil-A Sauce:

1 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. mustard
1/3 c. Sweet Baby Rays
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 t. salt

Combine all the above ingredients!  Taste and make adjustments as necessary.  Sometimes I add a little extra salt and a little extra mustard if it's too sweet. Easy peasy!

I also love Chick-Fil-A's Avocado Lime Ranch dressing and have created a version that I make at home as well.  It is a little more involved because it involves the food processor but it's pretty easy too.

Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing:

1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. sour cream
1 packet of Hidden Valley Ranch mix

Combine the above in the food processor until mixed well.  Then add the following:

1 ripe avocado
the juice of one lime
1/2 T. cumin

Pulse in food processor until everything is blended.  Taste.  Usually I add more cumin and more lime juice until I'm happy with the flavor.  This makes a thicker dip (I like my dressings and dips thick.)  If you want it a little more pour-able then add a little milk and pulse.  Repeat until it's the consistency you like. 

That was pretty easy too!  Wasn't it?


Monday, June 25, 2018

All that work and we still aren't done!

On Friday night we headed to the pool for the first of five Food Truck Fridays.  The food truck that was there was serving chicken and waffles, chicken wings, chicken sandwiches, and fried fish. 

The food was tasty  and we had a good time hanging out with Jennifer's family.  I love it when we have Friday night plans because that always seems to make the weekend feel longer.

On Saturday morning after Dan got back from his run we were discussing what to do (accomplish).  I have mentioned before that I would love to paint our garage floor with that concrete fleck paint and repaint the walls in the garage.  The walls are all marked and dinged up from years of bikes and rakes and other garage miscellany being tossed up against them. 

So Dan headed to YouTube to watch garage floor painting tutorials and determined that to properly clean, seal, paint, and top coat the garage floor would take a minimum of 5 days with all the different steps and drying time included.  I considered everything that properly painting the garage floor would involve and decided that I would be perfectly happy with just repainting the walls.

So at 10:45 on Saturday morning we headed to Lowes to get paint and supplies.  Our garage has very high ceilings and after surveying the situation and factoring in our late start time we determined that we were only going to have time to clear out one of the walls and paint it.  The other three walls would have to wait.

So in the heat of the day (it was in the 90s this weekend) we moved the garage refrigerator and the two shelves from the wall we were going to paint.  I had to clean all the baseboards because they were quite dusty and Dan got to work on wiping the dirt from the walls.  Garages are dusty and dirty , y'all!

Then we started taping the baseboards and the door frame and THEN we got to work painting.  We eventually finished by about 6:00.  Then on Sunday afternoon we removed the tape, tossed out all the junk from the shelves that we no longer used or needed, dusted the shelves, and put everything back in it's place.

That one wall looks really good but the other three still need to be done and I'm not sure when we will get to them.  We are heading to South Caroline next Saturday to get fireworks so next weekend is out.  Maybe in two weeks we can tackle another wall.  In the meantime I'm just going to enjoy my one nice pristine garage wall and ignore the other three!

And since I hate to put up a post without a picture, here's one of Wally watching the hummingbirds:

I think he's making dinner plans!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Weekly miscellany...

 As I mentioned yesterday, we joined a little gym.  It's a 24/7 place.  We have a code and we can go any time we like.  It has two treadmills, two bikes, two elipicatcal  machines and one each of all the typical weight machines and free weights.  Like I said it's small. BUT - it's only 2 minutes from the house and it is cheap.

The only reason we joined is because Peter said he wanted to "get buff" this summer and Sarah has been beggggggggggggggggggging me for almost a year to get her a treadmill.  This seemed like a good solution - cheap gym near the house which Jennifer's family already belongs to means Peter and Colton can meet their summer goal to "get buff" and Sarah and Cheyanne can run on the treadmill until their little hearts are content.

I have been taking them after morning swim practice and while we are there, I do 20 to 30 minutes of cardio and then the weight machines.  Like I said yesterday, I have no great dreams of huge weight loss or lots of muscles but it feels good to be moving this old body and perhaps I'll see a little change.

3. Yesterday when I was watering the plants, I noticed this:

I immediately removed them:

And stepped on them:

And then I panicked when I saw the milky subtanced thinking what if these are hummingbird eggs.  Even though I knew that hummingbird eggs wouldn't be made of what appeared to be mud.

I immediately googled it and discovered that these did not look anything like hummingbird eggs.  I felt much better. Then I proceeded to google "what insect has a mud-like ball looking nest" and that's when I discovered that these were Potter Wasp nests.  And then I didn't feel so bad for stomping on them.  Ain't nobody got time for wasps.

Dan has been gone all week and will be home this evening.  Our pool is starting something new this summer - Food Truck Friday Nights.  So we will hopefully be spending the evening at the pool eating delicious food from a food truck.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thankful Thursday - Edition 25

It's Thursday and that means it's time to get all Psalm 103:2 up in here!

Bless the Lord, my soul;
    and do not forget all his gifts,

1.  Last Thursday we had what I called "the longest swim meet ever" but in fact the one this Tuesday with 250 swimmers was even longer.  Our swim team managers and pool staff did an excellent job running the meet but due to the huge number of swimmers it still went to after 9:00 and we also did not get the last event in.  I am thankful for no rain delays for either meet.  I am thankful for our little pool and all the great people who run it (the board and the staff) and I will forever be thankful for our swim team.  It gives purpose to our summers, it allows my kids opportunities to socialize, and they are getting great exercise! Not to mention, my kids can do all four strokes well and can do flip turns.

2.  One of the worst things about swim meets is the tent set-up.  Our team is very large and it's always a hassle getting the tent set up.  People wait in line in the sun for 30 minutes before the gates open to get their tents set up on the pool deck and I'm always one one of those people.  Last week I told myself I wasn't going to get stressed out about it (I always do) and basically told Jesus to take the wheel.  Last week and this week set up went smoothly and neither time did I have to wait in the hot
sun. Further proof that God is interested in the little things that worry us and stress us out.

3.My friend Jennifer's son, Cody, was in Italy last week. I had been praying for his safety and that he would have a great time.  I am thankful that he has returned home safe and sound after a wonderful trip!

4.   Avocados from Aldi!  They are so cheap and since they are low in carb (once you subtract out the fiber, I have been eating a ton of them.)  I found this recipe on CafeDelights for caprese stuffed avocados and made my own version for lunch the other day.  It was so yummy that I think  I've found my new summer lunch! 

 5. Lazy summer mornings.  Even though the kids have to be at the pool for swim practice at 9:30 there is still plenty of time for me to be lazy and drink lots of coffee before I have to wrangle them out of bed.  

6. Our little garden!  We've got tomatoes on the vine (not red yet), tiny little cucumbers, and peppers!  And my basil is getting big.  I've always got basil before I've got tomatoes but I'm going to plant another one when my tomatoes are getting closer to being red.

7. I've been going to the gym with the kids after swim practice.  I'm very thankful there is a little gym just a couple of minutes from the house.  It's very small but it's very affordable.  I'm enjoying my time working out with Peter, Sarah, Colton and Cheyanne.  It's nice to have some company! I have no great expectations about weight loss and muscle mass but I figure any calories burned are good!

8. Dan will be home from his business trip tomorrow night!  And it's Friday and the pool is having a food truck!  Mama isn't cooking tomorrow night!  

What are you all thankful for this week?


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Just call me the crazy hummingbird lady!

I know I've mentioned my hummingbird feeder once or twice before.  But I'm going to talk about it again.

Last summer we got one at Lowes.  It was really pretty.  The top and base were bronze looking and it was the least tackiest one we could find.  We filled it up with the bright red nectar and waited.

Occasionally I would spot a hummingbird - typically only one or two a week.  Fall came and we took it down because I had read that the hummingbirds migrate south and won't be back until spring.

I excitedly put it back up this spring and again we waited.  And a couple of birds would come. but not very many.  I even purchased two more feeders at Aldi when they carried them in May. These were the typical cheap feeders - lots of red plastic flowers and sort of tacky looking.  We hung those up near my pretty bronze one and filled them all with the bright red nectar and as usual a bird or two would visit. 

And then I saw a video on my cousin's Facebook page of her feeder.  There were THREE hummingbirds at once time drinking the nectar.  And they wouldn't just take a quick sip and fly away like mine did - these birds stayed there taking sip after sip and buzzing around the feeder.

I also noticed that her feeder didn't contain the bright red nectar.  Her nectar was clear and these birds were loving it.  I immediately messaged her for the recipe and the next day decided to make my own (even though I had just purchased two container of the red nectar at Aldi when I got the other feeders.)

I combined 4 cups of water with 1 cup of sugar and brought it to a boil stirring the whole time.  As soon as it started to boil, I removed it from the heat and let it cool completely.  I then filled up my three feeders and waited.  And almost immediately started to notice more birds.  After a week or so I had multiple birds to visit daily and now I have so many birds I can't keep up.  It seems that almost any time I glance out my kitchen window there is a bird or two at my feeders!

I have noticed so many different varieties of birds - solid black, solid brown, black with white belly, brown with white belly, black with red on it's belly, and my favorite of all - one that is brown but it's entire back and wings have a green iridescent look to them Some have really long beaks while others have beaks with curves and others are short.  Some have very tiny bodies and some are much larger. 

After I put out the homemade nectar I noticed that no birds were coming to the bronze colored feeder so I did what the websites I had consulted suggested and I put red ribbons on the feeder.  Still no birds came to that feeder.  I think it's because the base of the feeder is metal and it has a very metallic odor to it when I change out the nectar.  It's like the base is rusting and the birds can taste or smell it.  We replaced that one with another red plastic one.  Unfortunately I did not have the feeder screwed into the hanger properly and it fell and shattered.  But don't worry - I will be replacing that one soon enough.  For now though, my little hummingbird friends are really enjoying their homemade nectar in their two red plastic flowered feeders.

My kids were giving me a hard time about all my feeders.  I told them that watching the hummingbirds outside my kitchen window brings me great joy (not regular joy but GREAT joy) and that quickly shut them up. I also told them that just because I get great joy from watching the really hummingbirds does not mean that I want to start collecting hummingbird figurines. I will, however, always take another feeder!

Friday, June 15, 2018

The longest meet ever....

Yesterday was the first swim meet of the season.

It was a very long day.  The swim meet started at 4:00 but the gates opened at 3:00.  There were going to be three swim teams there competing.  (One of the teams in the league backed out at the last minute and in order to make the schedule work  two of our meets went from dual meets to triple meets.  UGH!) I wanted to get there at 2:30 to make sure we got a spot for our tent and the pool is 40 minutes from our house.  So - we left at 1:45 to pick up Jennifer's kids. 

Our league is using a new timing system this year.  Instead of stopwatches the system uses an app on your phone.  All the timers are started at the same time and when the swimmer in each lane touches the wall at the end of the race, the timer for that lane stops the app. There is less chance for error and the times are sent directly to the main app (no data entry) and the scores are calculated more quickly.

Because this is a new system there is a learning curve and for some reason there was a lot of dead time between events.  Because there were three teams instead of two, there were more swimmers than normal.  A typical swim meet that starts at 4:00 is over by 7:45 or so - sometimes earlier or later depending on the size of the teams.  We weren't even at the halfway mark by 7:00.  

The meet finally ended at almost 9:00 and due to darkness they didn't even do the final events - medley relay.  (But I'm not complaining about skipping that last event. I was actually hoping they would stop it at 8:00.  And yes, that probably makes me a bad swim mom but sometimes you just want to get home.)

And don't forget - we had a 40 minute drive home. 

The best part of the swim meet is that we always go to dinner with Jennifer's family afterwards.  So guess where we were at 9:45?  Taco Bell eating tacos while the workers glared at us because the dining room closed at 10:00.  Definitely not our first choice of restaurant but it was what was open...

I'm just glad there were no evening storms causing a delay to the meet.  You have to get at least half way through a meet before it is counted as complete so any type of delay yesterday would have meant heading back to this pool at some point next week to finish it. (This will definitely be on the next Thankful Thursday.)

Our next meet is Tuesday at our pool.  It is another three-team meet.  The coach said that if every swimmer from each team is there there will be almost 300 swimmers.  I am definitely trying to psyche myself up for another very long, very hot day.  Luckily though, its only a few minutes to this pool and not forty! (This is my attempt to look for the blessings instead of focusing on the curses.)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Thankful Thursday - Edition 24

It's Thursday and once again I am left thinking already.

Here are some of the things I am thankful for this week:

1. Time spent last weekend with my family celebrating birthdays, the end-of-school, and old rock bands.

2.The hummingbirds are absolutely loving the homemade nectar I started putting in their feeder this week.  When using the store bought nectar, I would see maybe 4 or 5  each week but now they are coming from morning to dusk, lingering at the feeder, and zooming all around all day long.  I continue to be mesmerized by these little birds and really enjoy watching them hover around.

3. Swim season is in full swing and the first swim meet is today.  I've been enjoying the time I've spent walking with Jennifer.  Catching up with her makes me happy and burning calories is always a plus.

4.  I had an unexpected meeting with my old MOPS care group yesterday. We typically don't meet during the summer but now that all of our kids are older we decided why not!  I love spending time with my Cistas!

5. No cavities!  I am always excited when a trip to the dentist means no cavities for me.  

6. Dan's schedule.  Dan has been home a lot lately and for that I am very thankful.  He has a lot of trips planned this summer so I'm bummed about that but whenever he is home for a month or more, I am happy and thankful.

7. Speaking of my sweet husband, he has lost twenty pounds doing a low carb diet. I am thankful that he wants to be healthy because I need him to stick around for a long time.   His weight loss has already allowed him to remove one of his blood pressure medications.   

8. Every night after work, Dan has been working on taking down our shutters and repainting them and rehanging them.  He is almost done and it looks so much better.  So thankful for a husband that works all day and comes home and works until dark.  💓💓

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

End of school, a concert and birthday cake!

Yesterday was our official first full day of summer vacation.  I dropped the kids off at swim practice and raced to the grocery store.  After I picked the kids up and put away the groceries it was time to take Peter to the dentist.  Once that was done, the rest of the day was free (we were supposed to have evening swim practice but thunder canceled that.)  I proceeded to use my free afternoon to do absolutely nothing.

I am hoping to be a little more productive this summer but I think I just needed a little break because this old lady had another busy weekend.

On Friday we had our traditional end-of-school dinner at a Japanese style steakhouse.  My brother has been joining us for the last few years and he came with us on Friday as well.

On Saturday afternoon we headed to Charlotte to see Def Leppard and Journey in concert at the Spectrum Center! As usual, traffic getting to Charlotte was horrible. Between road construction and accidents, a trip that should take an hour and 20 minutes typically takes more than 2 so we made sure to leave extra early.

We parked in a parking garage and walked to City Smoke for dinner and then we walked to the Spectrum Center.  Our seats were pricey and still not very good but we (well me anyway) had a good time.  Dan said it was enjoyable and the kids said they had a good time but none of them were thrilled with it like I was.  In hindsight, I would have taken the money I spent on the kids tickets and upgraded to much better seats for Dan and me. Live and learn.

The place as packed.  It was a sold out show.  Def Leppard went on stage at 7:20 and played for at least an hour and a half and then after a 20 minute intermission to switch out the equipement Journey came on and played until 11:00 or so.

My very first concert was Def Leppard in October of 1988.  I was a sophomore in college at UNC Charlotte and went to see them with a bunch of college friends! Y'all, that was THIRTY YEARS AGO!  THIRTY!  I still don't feel like that could have been thirty years but the math does not lie!

That show was at the new Charlotte Coliseum which had just been built.  And the crazy thing is that "new" coliseum has already been torn down and replaced by the Spectrum center.  So, yes, I guess it has definitely been thirty years. The cool thing about the show then was that Def Leppard was in the round.  The stage was in the center of the coliseum so even bad seats were good seats.

I would give anything to see a picture of me and my friends before that show.  But that was before cell phones and rolls of film were still typically used for special events.  I can only imagine how big my hair was for that concert!!

There was a major accident heading home which closed the highway but luckily we heard about it in time for Dan to take a different way home.  Thankfully he still remembers his way around Charlotte.  We got home at 12:45AM.  Some friends that live near us who got stuck on the highway didn't get home until 2:30!

After Mass on Sunday we went out to lunch with my family to celebrate all of the birthdays - Sarah's, my mom's, my dad's and my uncle's.  After lunch we came back to my parent's house for birthday cake and Sarah unwrapped her presents.

It was a great weekend!  And I'm looking forward to this weekend where we have no plans and can hopefully get some sleep!  I'm such an old lady. :)

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Thankful Thursday - Edition 23

It's Thankful Thursday - time to list out some of the things I've been thankful for this past week.

1. Sarah's busy, fun, crazy, weekend celebrating her class and graduation. I'm very thankful for the fun times they had.  I know they are all a little sad knowing that they will never be together as one unit again.  But I also know they are ready to take on high school thanks to their time together at Our Lady of Mercy.

2.  Summer is here.  Well, technically not officially until tomorrow when Peter takes his last exam but it is so close that I'm already thankful for the slower pace it will bring.

3.  This guy!

It's my dad's 76th birthday today!  I love you so much Dad!

4. In my post about Sarah's graduation dance, I mentioned that we were running very behind and got to the dinner late but that we made it much quicker than expected because we hit all the green lights.  I prayed that we would make it quickly (and actually prayed that we would just get there because 14 year old girls that aren't happy with their hair can be a little irrational.) My prayers were answered - the girl calmed down, went with the hair even though it wasn't what she wanted, ultimately had a good attitude about the whole thing AND we got their in record time. I'm thankful for a God that is concerned with the smallest details of our life - and for green lights all the way!

5. It's swim season!  I love summer swim season and one of the reasons is that I get to spend extra time with my bestie.  Last night while the kids were practicing we walked for an hour and fifteen minutes.  Always thankful for time with her especially when it includes lots of laughs and lots of calories burned!

6. And speaking of calories burned - my husband has lost 20 pounds since Easter doing a low carb diet.  He's frustrated that he hasn't lost more but he looks great!  I'm thankful that he wants to lose weight because it's getting easier to pack on the pounds the older we get and a lot harder to take them off.  I want us to be healthy in our old age!  :)

7.  Sunshine!  It has been so sunny around here this past week and the humidity has dropped some as well.  I am always thankful for sunshine. 

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Dance, Bowling, Cookout, Graduation. 8th Grade is over!

May might be finished but we are over here still trying to get it done.  Peter has exams this week and will finally be finished on Friday.  Sarah has had a whirlwind of activities as she completes her time in middle school.

Sarah's class has always been small. We got to Our Lady of Mercy for Sarah's 2nd grade year and the class had 18.  Through the years people moved, other people came, more people left, more people came, etc. and for the last 3 or 4 years the number stayed around 15 kids.

I love that small number for instruction in class but y'all - when the class is small and there is any sort of drama (and there will ALWAYS be drama in middle school regardless of the school)  everyone felt it.  But I will have to say, and I think Sarah will agree, all of it made their class stronger.  They learned to accept each other, call each other out when necessary, forgive, and ultimately love.  This class is small but mighty and I expect big things from them in the future.  

We will start with Friday night.  This was the 8th Grade Graduation Dance.  Her class decided they wanted to go out to dinner beforehand.  The kids decided this together on their own, picked the place, made the reservation and basically just had the adults get them there.  (Well, and several also stayed to chaperone.)

We didn't have much time between the end of school and when she had to be at the restaurant and there was an issue with her hair that I won't go into.  After a lot of stress, a few tears, and then thankfully, the miracle of a lot of green lights, we got there only 20 minutes late. (She texted ahead and one of the kids placed her order.)  I only had a chance to snap this one picture as she was rushing in to the restaurant.

Here they are at dinner:

Here is Sarah right before the dance:

 Sarah and her two school besties, Gabi and Margaret:

The tradition for the 8th grade dance is that the 7th graders escort the 8th graders in. Since there were less 8th graders than 7th graders, Sarah got two handsome escorts:

And here are is a shot of Sarah with Oscar, Margaret and Jorge.  I have named them the Fab Four because I think the realization that they are about to leave middle school has made them want to spend every waking minute together.

As soon as Sarah got up on Saturday morning she and the other members of the Fab Four started scheming.  They wanted to go bowling on Saturday night.  Dan and I agreed to chaperone and Jorge's parents agreed to come as well.

So we headed out to the bowling alley and got lanes on separate sides:

After bowling two games, the asked if they could go to the movies.  It was too late for that (already 9:30) but we agreed to take them downtown for a snack and they wanted to take pics in front of some cool sculptures and murals.

Then on Sunday,we had another event with the 8th grade.  One of the families hosted a cookout and we had a great time! These are the only two pics from that fun night. 

Then on Monday, Our Lady of Mercy had it's annual school picnic.  It's offsite at a local park and it lasts all day.

And then finally, last night was 8th Grade Graduation Mass.

And THEN - after graduation last night the Fab Four begged to go to dinner.  So we all agreed and went out to eat at 8:45 PM. 

Whew! We made it!  And Dan and I are exhausted.  We are basically homebodies who are typically in bed by 10:00.  But for FOUR of the last FIVE nights we haven't gotten to bed until MIDNIGHT.  I just can't keep up with my 14-year-old. 

I'm tired, but it's been good. 

Best wishes to the Our Lady of Mercy Class of 2018.  Go get 'em guys!