Journey With Me Through A Louisiana Backroad...

Our lake house is only 45 minutes away.  That is the perfect distance to travel every week we possilby can.  Although is is fairly close, it is a wonderful place for a relaxing getaway.  As I travel through the backroads  part of the way to get there, I always say that I am going to get my camera out and snap a few photographs of the beautiful Louisiana countryside.  Today was that day...I hope you enjoy the journey!

Robby usually heads north from work and I head out after my work-out at the gym, therefore, the two doxies are my traveling companions.  The first part of the trip finds them excited and anxious; today even more so since I stopped to take pictures!
Annie (left) and Sissy were quite agitated as I kept stopping to snap pictures!

All sorts of crops line the roads; corn, soybeans and cotton...

Along with various worn buildings and barns...

And some plantations houses too...

This quaint little church is just plopped down amidst the crops in the middle of nowhere

I don't know how they know when we've hit the interstate, but that is when they always settle down for a little nap!

Once we hit our exit and get to the railroad track, we are very close to Cane River Lake...

Driving around the curves toward our house many plantations can be found lining the road

As well as these gorgeous crepe myrtle trees...

As we cross over Cane River Lake, I know that we are just around the corner from our destination!

Our "home away from home"

I just love sitting on my back porch in the mornings before it gets too hot; sipping my coffee and looking out on the lake...

I hope you enjoyed a journey through one rural Louisiana backroad...

The "Candy Man" and the Rule Breaker...

I feel certain that you will recognize fairly quickly who the "Rule Breaker" in this story is, so I'll go ahead and admit's me!  Surprised?  I knew you wouldn't be.  Well, I believe that there are those of us who are natural rule followers or rule breakers; for some reason, I seem to have been born into that second group of individuals.

Let me give you an introduction to "The Candy Man", now.  I thought about him as I passed my children's former high school on the way to town the other day.  He wasn't a bad man; perhaps just a little odd.  His daughter was in my daughter's graduating class and the only time I ever saw him was at basketball games.  He could always be found with some sort of lollipop in his mouth, while carrying a HUGE bag of candy that he kindly offered to everyone else in the stands (Hmmm...this might be a strategy that Ryan could use to get new dental patients...).  Anyway, as I said, he wasnt' a bad guy but I DID keep my eye on him after the time he came up to me...rubbed the sleeve of my sweater...and simply said, "cashmere".  Now THAT sort of creeped me out!  I'm a "my space"  kind of person...and he was DEFINITELY in "my space" while touching my sweater...while it was on my body.  Other than that, I never really ran across his path...until the day that I discovered he was a "rule follower".

Once my children could drive themselves to school, life became a whole lot easier for me.  There was only a brief period of time between Ryan and Caitlin before she got her driver's license and I was forced to endure carpool (and the RULES found there...) once again.  I say all of this because Caitlin MUST have been in one of the "punishment phases" of her life because I cannot IMAGINE why I was even IN the carpool line that day, however, it is one day I will never forget.

Upon approaching the school, the first thing I did, was determine which direction I needed to go in to get out the quickest.  Deciding this, I got in line...and began my wait.  It was raining and dreary and the cars continued to pile in behind and across from me.  This carpool thing was CRAZY!  I was surprised that there hadn't been a wreck while waiting in line before.  About that time, I saw someone several cars ahead of me getting out of their the rain!  It was "The Candy Man".  What in the WORLD was he doing?!

Well, he continued to walk back in the line of vehicles and I wondered if he was going to speak to a friend (or perhaps offer them some candy...).  I glanced back down for a moment and that's when I was startled by a tapping on my car window.  Surprised to see "The Candy Man" standing the rain, I slowly rolled my window down.  And do you know what he wanted?!  He wanted to inform me that I had apparently entered the carpool line incorrectly!  REALLY?!  I was speechless (well, not really, but what does one say in THAT situation?!...).  As I watched the raindrops roll down his face, he went on to explain that there was a diagram in the back of the Student Handbook that we signed at the beginning of the year that showed how we were to navigate the carpool line. Hmmm...SO, I thought, "People REALLY read that handbook?"  I just signed it and sent it back every year so my kids didn't get detention.

After he had finished telling me about the err of my ways, he walked back up to his the rain.  And as he did, I had a couple of thought immediately run through my mind.  First...WOW!  That guy just got soaking wet to tell me about a rule ( that I really didn't care about...) and second...I was actually GLAD that he had brought this little rule to my attention because EVERYONE who REALLY knows me knows that if you want me to follow a rule, you should NEVER bring it to my attention.  If I ever had to be in that carpool line again (which I dearly hoped I did not...), I would DEFINITELY be going in the exact same way I had that day!

You're GONNA Eat My Creme Brulee'!!!

Everyone knows that Robby is the "cook" in our family.  He is just SO good at it.  Oh, I can put a meal on the table, but where I have creativity in other areas, I just don't have any in the cooking department.  The kids (well, at least 3 of them...) have learned how to be pretty good cooks, themselves, from Robby. 

Often times, the kids will call and ask Robby for one of his recipes or his advice on how he would prepare a dish.  I friends laugh because they very rarely call to ask for one of my recipes.  Caitlin is the newest person in the family to get the "cooking fever".  I call it the "cooking gene" since they apparently inherited the desire to cook from their father.  Anyway, Caitlin found an app on her i-phone (Big Oven; it's free...try it!) that had a recipe for her favorite dessert; creme brulee'.

Creme Brulee' is both Robby and Caitlin's favorite dessert, hands down.  Oh, they ALWAYS insist on looking at the dessert menu, but in the end, I KNOW they are going to choose the creme brulee'.  So, the last time that Caitlin visited Kevin, she found the recipe on "Big Oven", made it and they both raved about it so much, that we all couldn't wait for her to get back and make it for us.  While we were in San Diego, she purchased all of the ingredients and did just that.

Now, there is something you need to know about Caitlin.  She treats her sister-in-laws like she would any one of her other siblings; she is VERY open, honest and often times brutal with them.  This is something that only a sibling can do.  Robby and I sort of tend to walk on eggshells where the daughter-in-laws are concerned.  I don't imagine that they would take kindly to us speaking to them the way Caitlin does.  So, when it came to eating her creme brulee', things were no different.

We were all out eating dinner and the creme brulee' was at home...waiting for us to eat it.  THAT'S when Robby's mother made the mistake of asking for a dessert menu.  Caitlin's head whipped around as she said, "You better NOT be ordering any dessert...I've got creme brulee' made at home!"  Well, suffice it to say that  Mimi ordered 2 orders of chocolate souffle' for the table.  And the conversation that immediately ensued became QUITE HEATED!  Caitlin informed everyone at the table that if they took one bite of that souffle', they were NOT going to get a bite of her creme brulee'.  "I made creme brulee' and you're GONNA eat IT!", she said.  They commented that SURELY she wasn't serious...OH, but she WAS!  As Codi snuck her spoon toward that chocolate dessert, Caitlin threatened her by declaring, "Touch that dessert and I will chop your hands off!" THAT appeared to by serious to ME...and Sarah too, who absolutely LOVES chocolate and  was pretty sad that she couldn't have a bite.

We got home and she caramelized that sugar on top of her creme brulee' and  got spoons out and gathered around to see if it was REALLY worth all the threats and wait.  And those who had eaten the "other" dessert?....Well, they thought that they would get to sneak a bite the next night.  Caitlin was right, though...they didn't, because while Robby was cooking dinner, he stuck it in the oven to caramelize the sugar on the remainder of it...forgot it was in there...and sorta burned it! (oops...)  Oh well, for those of us who were fortunate enough to taste it...YUMMY!  It was DELICIOUS!
Codi watches as Caitlin prepares her Creme Brulee'

Caitlin warns Codi, "If you touch that dessert, I'll chop your hands off!"

Sarah REALLY wanted some of that chocolate dessert!

Patriotic Paint Party!!!

I am a watercolorist.  I used to paint not only at home, but in a local studio weekly.  While there, I met lots of really great people.  We would listen to music while we painted all day long and basically it was just a very relaxing, fun day.  Several of those friends have joined together to open a new studio called, "Red Door Art".

"Red Door Art" is such a quaint little studio...and YES, it does have a "red" door!  Originally, they just set up their personal studios and a gallery, but then someone had a WONDERFUL idea; "Paint Parties"!  The artists come up with designs and then make  paintings that can be taught to people who have never previously painted before.  Easels templates, paint and brushes are set up on tables, snacks and drinks are brought and VOILA' have a "Paint Party"!

I had never been to a "Paint Party", but had seen many photos of other people who had gone to them.  The painting were so cute and the party, itself, looked like so much fun.  So, when my friend sent out a message on Facebook that she had 3 openings for a party this week, I jumped on it.  Caitlin also paints.  Her specialty is fleur de lis and she uses acrylics to paint with most of the time.  I asked her if she would be interested in going to the party with me and excitedly she said, "YES!"

This was the "Perfect" party for us to attend since the theme was "Patriotic Fleur de Lis".  We LOVE fleur de lis and our family has a HUGE 4th of July bash every year.  Arriving, we found that there were two room set up with ladies ready to paint.  After greeting all of my old artist friends, Caitlin and I found a seat and readied ourselves for the class to begin. 

Step by step, one of the artists guided us through the process of creating our painting.  The music was turned on, we grabbed a glass of wine...and then before we knew what had happened, Caitlin and I were creating an "original" patriotic fleur de lis painting!  I say, "original" because basically we only used the suggested idea of a fleur de dis and the colors, red, white and blue.  The example painting had a solid red background with splahes of white and a blue fleur de lis with a white striped middle section.  On one side were fireworks, the other side sported stars; coming out of the top one could see lady liberty.  But, HEY...that's the great thing about art; having your own ideas and doing you own thing!  OK...and I sort of have problems following rules and coloring inside the lines!

Everyone else also began to put their own mark on their paintings too and they all looked beautiful...and just in time for the 4th of July!  Caitlin and I plan on displaying these paintings, along with our other patriotic decorations for our big 4th of July bash coming up soon.  The "Patriotic Paint Party" was great fun...I think we might do it again!

Visit "Red Door Art" On Facebook and see all of the other cute painting creations!

"Red Door Art" has open paint parties, private paint parties and paint parties for children too.

What WAS That Sound?!

Yesterday, I decided to get up early and head out for my jog since it has been so unbearably hot here in the south.  I got all of my gear on and headed out the door when I noticed that either the sun was having a little trouble rising or could it be...RAIN CLOUDS forming?!

I was very hopeful but also a little skeptical when I saw those clouds because while other areas of the country have been troubled with flooding, we haven't seen a drop of rain for months.  This drought has not only made conditions miserable for the people, but my plants were beginning to suffer too.  And in Natchitoches, where our Lake House is located, the river has been shut down due to these severe conditions.  So, thinking that perhaps this was only a "tease", I took advantage of the fact that the sun wasn't boiling the skin off of my body yet and started my run.

As I was running, I found that this "gift" of an overcast sky was quite nice; I wasn't sweating nearly as bad as I normally do.  THEN, I heard it.  What WAS that sound?  I had heard it before...was it thunder?  OK, I was getting a LITTLE more hopeful now, but we had also been teased with the sounds of thunder and no rain in the past.  I would just continue running for a while longer.  Turning up another street to stretch my session out a bit, I felt it...drops coming from the sky!  Was it REALLY going to rain?  I stopped and just stood there for a moment in the middle of the street as those drops got a little bigger and fell a little faster., It was kinda like one of those movies where the person holds their arms out and head up and just lets the rain beat down on them.  THAT'S when I came to my senses...I dont' really like to get rained on!  And I still had a ways to go before I got home.  I picked up my pace and pushed back home quickly.

Once inside the safety of my house, I could enjoy this little performance of nature.  The thunder continued, while the lightening joined in and raindrops began to form sheets of rain.  I LOVED those sounds that had been lost for so long.  The rain continued to POUR all day and as it did, those 100 degree temperatures dropped to the 70's.  Then it hit was "officially" the 1st day of summer.  What a WONDERFUL way to enter this new season here in the south! 

As I awoke this morning, I could hear that thunder again and then the patter of raindrops outside my window.  Peeking from one of my closed eyes, I could see through the bedroom shutters that the skies were dark and cloudy again.  That's when I made my plan for the day... where this additional gift of  rain was going to be bestowed on us by God.  I snuggled deeply back down into my bed covers, shut my eyes and thought about all the possibilities of how I could enjoy this rainy day at home...


It's As Hot As Blue Blazes In Da Boot!, it's hot here in the south...REALLY HOT!  Every day the temperatures have been in excess of 100 degrees.  When one walks outside, it feels as though the skin might just burn right off of your body.  Even in the mornings when the wind may be is HOT!  It feels like a convection oven.  And there has been NO rain in sight for months now.  OH...and the FIRST day of SUMMER has just arrived (sigh...).  When it gets THAT hot...plans begin to change.

Remember that I mentioned another "Big, Fat, Family Vacation" was being planned for the end of July?  Well, originally we had considered going to an island; Grand Cayman or St. Martin.  I say "originally considered"...that is until a couple of days ago!

I already had our travel agent working on our second vacation (remember, David did not get to go on the first one...).  EVERYONE else had decided that they all wanted to come didn't matter WHERE we were going, they just wanted to go!  So, thinking that perhaps the guys could do a little scuba diving and we could enjoy a little down time at the beach, Robby instructed everyone who didn't have a passport, to get one.  I had already begun to worry a little bit about that tropical vacation plan due to hurricane season.  Then after playing in a golf tournament on Saturday, Robby came in and announced that he was NOT going to a HOT location for vacation number 2.  Hmmm...I wondered what he had in mind, but was a little afraid to ask.  I KNEW what this meant; everyone was NOW going to try to put in THEIR 2 cents concerning a "new" vacation location...and if you have 10 people, you have 10 different opinions of where to go (sigh...).

My sage advice to those who also have a "Big, Fat Family" is DO NOT engage in a "discussion" when trying to determine the possible location for a family vacation!  Simply do your own research...make a decision...and GO WITH IT!  If they want to participate in it (which of course they will; you're paying...) fine...SO, here's a little how the chaotic discussion concerning vacation went:  I wanna go on an Alaskan cruise...NO!  I get sick on cruises AND I wanted to wear sandals and shorts on this vacation.  I wanna go to Hawaii...THAT flight is too long! cool is it in Scotland?  How about Argentina?  WHAT?!  Have you people LOST YOUR MINDS???  I was getting more than a little stressed out just being in the room while this whole discussions was going on!

Well, I didn't really put in MY 2 cents, however, I DID send an e-mail out to our travel agent to tell her that the beach vacation was scratched; I didn't know WHERE we would be going at this point, but a decision had to be made ASAP...the last week of July was coming quickly! any of YOU have a "new vacation destination" to suggest???

"Picture" Perfect Father's Day...

Father's Day turned out GREAT here with my crew.  All of the kids were able to make it in and the day was a full one.  It started out with coffee in bed with Robby before any of the kids woke up.  We drank our java out of the coffee cup souvenirs that we brought home from San Diego while we dreamed of those cooler temperatures we were experiencing only a week ago.  I gave Robby a card and 3 new framed photos for his desk.

After breakfast, Robby and I headed off to church where the rest of our crew met us for a wonderful worship service.  After church we did something that we rarely all do together...go out to eat lunch...10 adults plus a baby!  Oh, but don't worry, I would never plan such a thing without calling the day before to make a reservation.  I wasn't really sure if Outback would take a reservation, but THAT would be the ONLY way we were all going to be able to eat out.

After lunch, we headed back to the house where Father's Day gifts were presented and pictures were taken.  Parker Ann had fallen asleep and was taking her afternoon nap, so we were going to have to wait until she got up to take those pictures.  Ryan was sullenly packing his car since he had to start back to school on Monday morning.  I was feeling a little sad that his summer was over; I wasn't ready for him to leave just yet.  Knowing that he had a 3 hour drive ahead of him, he was ready to get those pictures taken and get on the road.  He told me that we needed to wake Parker up and I'm not saying that he did it, but soon after he said that (and then disappeared around the corner...), she woke up.  I got some shots of all the "Rogenmoser's" and then one of just Robby and the kids and finally a 4 generation picture of Robby, his dad, Justin and Parker Ann.

Ryan headed back to New Orleans, Sarah, Justin and Parker set out for Natchitoches and so did David and Codi.  Oh, did I forget to mention that David and Codi will be living in our lake house for the next month?  He is scheduled to begin his rural medicine rotation in Leesville Monday. THAT made me happy because I would get to see him more often now.

Although the day had been a good one, as a mom, I could see things shifting and changing right before my eyes and I was experiencing a wide range of feelings.  On the one hand, I was very happy that we were all able to spend the day together, but I was really sad that Ryan was going back home.  I was also happy that David and Codi would be closer to home for a month and we would get to share some time with them.  Caitlin was working for Justin at the ACE store every day and I would now be by myself most days.  Oh well, I suppose that's just the way life is...the world doesn't stop or even slow down for us even if we want it to.  That's why we must learn to enjoy and cherish every moment we have to spend with our loved ones.

Growing Up Fatherless...

I have spent more of my life without a father than with one.  The summer before I began first grade, my father passed away after a lengthy illness, therefore, it has been a process over time for me to attempt to understand the role of a father in the family.

Father's Day has always been an awkward day for me.  As a child, I remember going to church on Father's Day Sunday with my grandparents.  They lived in a very small, rural community and that little church was steeped in very long standing traditions.  One of those traditions centered around Father's Day.  The women wore flowers (roses or carnations...) on their dresses.  There was only 2 colors that were worn; red and white.  If one's father was living they wore a red flower and if their father was not living, they wore a white flower.  I know that it may not seem much to some, but it was just another symbol of my fatherless condition.  Father's Day was just never a day that I looked forward to.  That day didn't make me happy, but it also did not make me just left me feeling as though a piece were missing out of a puzzle.

Raised by only a mother, there were things that I naturally did not participate in or know much about.  Sports was one of those things.  Not just sports like football or baseball, but I didn't do very much outdoors either.  I didn't fish or camp or hike.  I now believe that my friends were most likely doing those things with their two parent families.  And men in general?...Hmmm...I suppose that I will admit that my "attitude" towards men was affected by growing up fatherless.  It's not that I don't "like" men; I just don't understand them that well.

So, in saying all of this, I must also say that although I felt that little piece of the puzzle was missing, I truly did not know WHAT I was missing...UNTIL I began to have children of my own.  Being married, of course, meant living with a man...that man that I truly did not understand.  At first it was quite an adjustment for me.  And THEN I learned about something; testosterone.  Ah Ha!  Now THAT explained a little more about how the male mind worked.  And just as I was barely beginning to understand the inner working of the male mind (if one ever really does...), I found myself having three male children!

Those children came so quickly for us that I didn't have time to THINK much less read books about raising those male children.  And the "testosterone"?  Well, it came in MASSIVE doses now!  But as those male children were growing up, I observed something; their interaction with their father.  I was a very strange, foreign thing to me, this relationship between father and sons.  He could don all sorts of hats and those children listened and learned at his knee.  And one thing was quite evident to me over time...these male children wanted to be "Just Like Dad". 

My next child was a daughter and I was anxious to see how HER relationship would be defined with a father.  This, I was most interested in since I had no memory of such a relationship with my own.  As Caitlin grew, I saw that although Robby enforced the same ground rules with her as her brothers, something was different.  He was always straight forward, but gentler; very protective.  She would sit on his lap and I could see that she was KNEW her place in his life...she was valued by this most important man in her life; her father.  As she grew older, I noticed how interested he remained in her choices of friends, relationships and even the formals she chose for dances.  And she expected her dad to get special gifts her on her significant birthdays, such as "Sweet 16" (pearls...) and "21" (a car...); he innately KNEW these things and did not disappoint her.  Often times I watch those two from afar as she still (at 21...) jumps up in his lap and he rocks her in his chair.  And I see it now...that missing puzzle piece.

We cannot change the cards that were dealt to us....all we can do is try to play them the best we know how.  Yes, I grew up fatherless, however, I have learned something from that.  I NOW understand how important and vital the role of a father is to every child.  The father is the leader of the family, the strong hold, the example setter that children long for.  No matter what sort of example he sets, those children are going to follow it.  He is the one whose knee is always available to be perched upon to voice concerns or just grab a hug and "I Love You".  While Father's Day once left me feeling a bit left out, I now find myself looking forward to it with the excitement I see as my now grown children prepare for the day.  It is a testament to their father that they have all made their way home for this special spend with the most important man in their lives...their FATHER.

*****It is my wish for all of you, who are still fortunate enough to have your fathers with you, that "Father's
          Day" will be a very happy and blessed day!***** HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

Ummm...We're Making Prune, Egg Brownies From The 1800's...

Sometimes I have to wonder about Caitlin.  Robby and Ryan were making brownies and Caitlin had only caught bits and pieces of their conversation concerning what they were doing.  So, when Kevin called her she told him that her dad and brother were making "Prune, Egg Brownies" and the recipe came from either the 1940's or the 1800's!

What ACTUALLY was happening stemmed from that day in San Diego when I gave the guys the camera for the day.  While touring the Midway Floating Museum they took pictures and a few of those pictures were taken in the kitchen; some were photos of recipes.  Well, I just thought that they took those picutres because it was interesting to see what types of food the men ate on board the Midway and the huge porportions that were prepared for them.  I was informed otherwise when I made this comment; "Why would I take a picture of a recipe that I had no intention of trying out?", Robby replied.  Hmmm...So much for my quick in and out of the kitchen night.  I had a feeling that THIS little experiment was going to prove to be a little messy!

Our dinner of hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade potato chips was quick and easy in more than one way.  It was the first night this week that the kitchen had been cleaned up early and without having to scrub dishes, countertops and stove.  A movie had been selected on television and we had all just settled in, when Ryan said, "Hey, Dad, you want my to go get the stuff to make those brownies?"  I slowly glanced over at them, as Robby replied, "Bring me the computer."  THAT'S when I knew that we were about to have a real "project" on our hands.

The "Midway Brownie Recipe" was, naturally, written to feed a large number of people...Robby and Ryan had to break it down to a reasonable amount for us.  I listened as Robby calculated and Ryan wrote the ingredients down; he then headed out to the grocery store.  Upon returning home, Ryan began to unload all of the ingredients, while Robby told him how much he needed to measure out on the scale.  I thought that Ryan was going to attempt making these brownies alone, HOWEVER, if one knows my husband, they also know that he could NEVER just sit there and not become involved.

As the brownie preparations were going on, I saw that the recipe called for prunes...YUCK!  I'm sorry, prune industry, but I really just HATE prunes!  Oh, it may just be a "mental thing" now, but I am told (because I was far too young to remember...) that my first incident with prunes was when I was still in the highchair.  Apparently my mother was attempting to get me to drink some prune juice...I slapped it out of her hand...and was immediately introduced to my first little hand popping!  So, you see, I do NOT have good memories of prunes and make a point to NEVER eat or drink them in any form.  I didn't want to discourage the guys, so I didn't verbally complain too loudly about those prunes, but I DID sort of turn my nose up and shudder a little bit at the thought of them. 

As the large portions of flour and chocolate were being thrown into bowls and mixers, I noticed that in the process it looked as though someone had blown up my already clean kitchen for the night! (sigh...)  Sitting at the counter, Caitlin answered the phone to talk to Kevin.  I suppose he asked her what we were doing; the noise of the mixer and food processor was so loud (not to mention the screaming going on to be heard above them...) I'm not sure how she could even hear.  THAT'S when we all heard her tell him that her dad and brother were making "Prune, Egg Brownies" from some recipe they had found from the 1800's!  All activity stopped for just a minute as we looked over at her in shock...and then the laughing began!  She glanced up from her conversation and said, "OK, that recipe must have been from the 1940's since they're all laughing at me."  Ummm...YEA!  That AND the fact that she just called their sweet treat, "Prune, Egg Brownies"!

The batter was put in the pan and popped in the oven.  I raked my finger in the bowl to taste the batter...ugh!  I could taste the prune puree' in them.  Guzzling some water quickly, I hoped that the prune flavor would bake out of them in the oven. I noticed what a MESS the guys had made and announced that I was NOT cleaning it up!

Those brownies came out looking perfectly delicious!  Now, it was time for a taste...PRUNES!  It might just be in my mind (But I don't think so...) but I could STILL taste prunes instead of nice, fudgy chocolate.  There was no way I would be able to eat them.  I sat back down on the couch, where Robby and Ryan appeared to be enjoying them OK.  Caitlin got up to sample a taste, herself and I could hear her mumble under her breath as she returned..."Tastes like prunes."

Now, I'm not sure WHY the cooks on the "Midway" would put prune puree' in their brownie recipe (although I DO have a sneaking suspicion why...), but, in my opinion, we need to find some other ingredient to replace those prunes or that pan of brownies will be the first in the history of sweets to survive for over a week at my house!