Attempting To GET ORGANIZED To "GET" ORGANIZED For This Wedding!!!

Getting "organized" is truly NOT my strong suit.  My mind (and body) flits from one thing to the next.  I tout myself as being able to "multi-task" well. Dr. David (my middle son...) has informed me that the correct term for that is, "ADD".  I do NOT have ADD...what does HE know?!  He might be "almost  a doctor, but I am STILL the mother.  However, I have been told by our wedding planner that I NEED to get one of those wedding planning books and begin to get organized (ugh...)

Being told to "Get Organized" is like being told, "Go to your room and do your homework."  I want to do EVERYTHING else BUT "Get Organized".  I can't help it; that's just who I am.  Oh, I have GREAT, CREATIVE ideas, but I don't tend to put them in any order.  When the boys got married, I just jotted those ideas down on pieces of paper and every so often, I would take them out to check what was on them and attempt to consolidate things onto one list.  Guess what was on those little pieces of paper?...All the same things!  So, somewhere in my mind, I KNOW that I MUST become better organized for this wedding, therefore, I have made the first steps toward that goal this past week.

To say that Lori, one of my best friends AND wedding planner and Caitlin both are "organized" is really understating matters.  OK...example?  Yesterday, Caitlin sent me a Power Point Presentation of ideas for her wedding!  WOW!...Not only do I NOT know HOW to do a Power Point Presentation, but I certainly would NEVER think of (or take the time if I knew how...) doing one for my wedding planning.  I am quite sure that these 2 will make enough lists for all of us, but I also want to do my job as mother of the bride and at least APPEAR to have it all together.  To begin this process, I made a stop at the book store on our way home from New Orleans the other day.

Half way between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, I asked Robby if he would mind stopping at the bookstore when we got to Baton Rouge; I wanted to get a wedding planning binder.  Tabitha, Caitlin's maid of honor, had given her one already that she was steadily filling  up with pamphlets, business cards and torn pages from magazines; I was determined to get one too (even if mine didn't have all that stuff in it...).  Upon stopping at the book store, I gazed around and spotted the wedding section and told Robby I was heading over there; he headed in the opposite direction.  My only goal was to get that wedding binder and get out of there...but something happened when I got over there that I was afraid of and things didn't turn out that way.

Once I got over to the wedding section, I found that not only were there MANY wedding binders, there were also LOTS of other magazines and books located in that section that were very enticing.  And let me just tell you...I am very easily enticed when I get inside a book store; I can spend literally HOURS there.  The first thing I did, was to get the wedding binders down that looked interesting to me.  Comparing them, I quickly set aside 2 that had made it to the "final possibility category".  THEN, my eyes began to wander to those magazines and books.  I found one on cakes...we NEEDED a cake; this magazine could possibly give us some ideas.  And one on flowers...we NEEDED flowers too; I tossed both onto the growing stack on the floor.  I also threw in a few Bridal Magazine just because they had "pretty pictures" in them...and OH, I found the NEATEST book that had all sorts of information on the history of  bridal traditions and why people chose to use them.  I glanced around and Robby was no where in sight.  I had enough sense to realize that this search of mine was about to get a little out of hand, so looking at that stack of wedding material on the floor, I sifted through it and chose only what I deemed necessary (for that day..) and headed out to find Robby and get out of there before I used up all of my budgeted money for the wedding attempting to read about staying in budget for the wedding.

Robby was hiding pretty far away; I found him upstairs wandering around.  Thrusting that stack of books into his hand, I said, "Let's pay for these and get outta here!"  He grabbed them and we headed out.  He asked me if I wanted to look at the books on the rest of our drive home and I nodded in the affirmative.  HECK!  I may as well get started; it was gonna take me a while to make it through all of that material. 

I have been looking at that stack of books for 3 days now; actually moved them from my kitchen island...the the bar...and now they find themselves resting on the staircase.  I DID look through them in the car on my drive home the other day; even browsed through the monthly check-lists in that wedding organizer binder.  However, I didn't make it as far as actually checking things off of any of those lists.  And torn pictures in the folder pockets?...Hmmm, well, I'm STILL in the "thinking about it stage" where that is concerned.  BUT...I do APPEAR to now be organized; and THAT counts for SOMETHING, doesn't it?!


Blogs Deserve A MAKE-OVER Too!

I found Kassie Garlock (Designs by Kassie) through a friend.  She does what I like to refer to as, "Blog Make-Overs".  I am truly not "tech savvy" at all...just ask anybody (especially my children...) and they will tell you THAT is sort of "putting it under the table", so to speak.  So, when I saw what Kassie had done to my friend's blog (My Heart With Pleasure Fills), I just KNEW that my blog deserved a "Make-Over" too!

Kassie was incredibly easy to work with and had ENORMOUS patience with me as I continuously emailed her concerning things that I wanted for my "Blog Make-Over" and then asking her HOW to operate all of those new things.   I had recently been accepted as a BlogHer blogger and decided to become really more focused on my writing.  With this is mind, I determined that I needed a more "professional looking" site.  These were some of the things I was looking for:  A "Nav Bar" that included the most important things that I wanted my readers to be able to access.  You will notice that in addition to the information "About Me" and "Home", I have included several other sections.  One of the things I try to write about frequently is some of my "Favorite Things"; I asked her to create this section so that I could file those away under here.  Also, one of my passions is reading; I read a LOT.  People are often asking me what I'm reading and to recommend books to them; what better way to do this, than to have a section reviewing books that I have read?  The final section I asked her to create for me is entitled, "Books I've Written".  I am REALLY excited about this section because my FIRST children's book is in publication right now!  As soon as it is out for sale, Cassie will create a link, where you can go to review this book and order a copy if you'd like.

Along with the "Nav Bar", I had her frame pictures of the members of my family, whom I generally blog about (including my doxies!) and then create an archive section, where ALL of the blog posts I've written can be viewed.  There are also a couple of links on the side bar, that you can click on to take a look at  those blogs too.  One is my friend's blog,My Heart With Pleasure wedding planner! AND "Pray For Lucy", the story of a mom of 3 young children, whose daughter, Lucy, is currently undergoing treatment at St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

When I originally began blogging, it was for the purposeof determining if I had enough discipline to write.  Oh, I had MANY ideas, but I never really had the time to write when all of my children were at home.  Once I found myself with an "Empty Nest", I went back to thinking about writing.  In the back of my mind somewhere, I KNEW, that it could become "My new obsession"...but did I REALLY want to make it a J-O-B?!   Well, after proving to myself that I could indeed become disciplined (if only in my own quirky way...) by blogging consistently for a year, I decided to take on writing as a J-O-B of sorts.

I applied to write for BlogHer and be accepted by their advertisers.  And while I was waiting to see if they would even accept me (there is a long waiting list...), I went ahead and "Bit the Bullet" and contacted someone about publishing my children's book.  NOW, I really WAS talking about writing as a J-O-B...although I didn't realize it at the moment.  "Writing" was the EASY part...making all of the other decisions was...well, that was "Business Stuff"!  And THAT scared me.

It seemed as though EVERYTHING happened at once!  BlogHer contacted me to tell me that I had been accepted...which meant that I now had to blog on a "regular basis" AND my book was being published in full force...which meant that I had a LOT of decisions to make; book size and format, illustrations, type of characters to be drawn, color usage and saturation, marketing, book reviews, i-pad app...OH MY GOSH!!!  WHAT had I gotten myself into?!  And THEN, I stopped.  This was MY DREAM...What I had always wanted to do.  I needed to "Put On My Big Girl Panties And Deal With It"!  And THAT is exactly what I did. 

Step One:  I contacted Cassie about getting my site up to speed and professional looking.
Step Two:  I got organized, creating files for each business endeavor I was working on.
Step Three:  I "Kicked EVERYTHING Up A Notch" and began making decisions about my writing
                     and where I wanted it to take me.

Well, I'm definitely NOT going to say that I have become "tech savvy" over this process, BUT I will say that I am learning!  Oh, I have sent MANY e-mails to people concerning technical issues and have become more proficient at asking questions about HOW to do things.  I have also JUMPED (not waded...) into the publishing world and become VERY involved in EVERY aspect of my book.  I realize it may only be a children's book, but it is "My Baby" and I have sent countless corrections back on the illustrations alone.  However, when I get that final copy in my hand, I don't believe anyone will be able to wipe that smile off of my face!

So, what would I encourage YOU to do?  Why, anything that your heart desires...GO FOR IT!  Don't give up your dreams just because you may be getting older or they are too difficult to achieve.  I'll tell you like I always tell my children..."IF IT WAS EASY, EVERYBODY WOULD DO IT"! 


P.S.  Here's how to officially "Follow" my blog:  Just click on the "Join This Site" button and set up a
         "Google Account" (that way you can make comments after signing in).  How do you do that?
         I simply picked my e-mail address as my user name and created a password; it's THAT easy!

********************Want to see more of Designs by Kassie?  Click on the button at the bottom of my page and check her out!************************************

Reasons To LOVE "THE BIG EASY"...

This past weekend, Robby and I traveled to New Orleans.  Ryan had a rare day off from school and we also had Broadway play tickets for the weekend.  I called to ask Ryan if he would also like to see "The Addam's Family" with us; agreeing, we made a plan!

We decided to stay with Ryan in his apartment for the weekend.  Generally, we stay at a hotel, but WOW!  How lucky is it to have someone in town now to be able to avoid that crush of people at hotels during both the theater season AND the Saints football season.  We got out of town early on Friday and ending up there around lunch time, decided to head out to eat.  Let me just tell you one thing...There is pretty much NO PLACE in the New Orleans area one can dine that isn't just GREAT!...And THIS is ONE of the reasons that I LOVE "THE BIG EASY"...
This restaurant can be found in Metairie, Louisiana

Ryan had the soft shell crab for lunch

Robby had a shrimp salad...

And I had a half catfish po-boy

THIS is the dessert we shared!

After eating lunch, we checked the listings for movies.  Ryan never goes out; he spends all of his time with his head in the books.  We decided to make the most of the weekend, by treating him to some R&R!  Robby had read the book, "Money Ball" several years back and determined that this would be the movie we would see.  I wasn't sure what the movie was about, so they both gave me a brief synopsis and HEY!  I'm always game to go see a guy show...after all, I HAVE hooked them into a few "Chick Flicks" from time to time.  I really enjoyed the movie and would recommend that you see it.  It was based on a trued story, which made it of interest to me.  Dining out again for dinner (at another little wonderful hole in the wall place...), we enjoyed visiting with our baby boy, whom we still talked to every day, but seldom got to visit with in person any more (Darn dental school!)

The next morning, we got ready and headed out to see "The Addam's Family".  Robby and I have had season tickets to the theater in New Orleans for years now.  The Saenger Theatre, where Broadway Across America brought their performances, was so "Old New Orleans"; I just loved the atmosphere of that theater.  Katrina did quite a bit of damage to The Saenger and our plays were put on hold for a while and then moved to the Mahalia Jackson Theater.  Next year (FINALLY...) the Saenger should be completely restored and our plays will be moved back there again.  However, whether in The Saenger or The Mahalia Jackson Theater, the Broadway Across American performances are always AMAZING; "The Addam's Family" was no exception!  When the lights went down and the music began, we were all transported to another world for 2 1/2 hours.  This musical had a great story line (about Wednesday Addam's engagement!...imagine THAT!), was wonderfully comical and the music was fantastic.  Needless to say...We LOVED the play! 

Next, we headed out to make a stop at Whole Foods in preparation for the LSU game, which we planned to watch at Ryan's apartment later in the evening.  Let me just say...I LOVE "WHOLE FOODS"!  I voiced that to both Robby and Ryan on our way there, telling them that if we had one in the town where we lived, THAT would definitely be where I shopped.  Cutting his eyes at me, Robby replied, "Hmmm...Then there would be NO TELLING what you would be bringing home for me to eat!"  Ryan snickered in the back seat and added, "Maybe horse or cattle feed, Dad..."  THOSE TWO!  Any way, they indulged me and allowed me to wander the store for a while, just soaking in all of that luscious fresh and organic food!  It was better that visiting a clothing boutique for me!...YEP!  I SURE could be a "California Girl".  After completing our purchases, we headed back to prepare our dinner before the game began...and WHAT A GAME!!!  Sorry, but don't you just LOVE THOSE TIGERS?!  That game pushed them into the NUMBER ONE spot.
LOVE this place!


Sunday morning as we prepared to leave for home, Robby and I decided to head down to the French Quarters and have breakfast.  There are SO many things that I LOVE about the French Quarters in New Orleans, that I took my camera out and got a few shots to share with y'all...

Yep!  I LOVE visiting New Orleans for many reasons: the French influence and culture, the great cuisine, the theater, Saints football...But NOW the MAIN REASON I LOVE New Orleans so much is because one of my most favorite people in the world lives there; My "Baby Boy"!


A TOTALLY Unplanned Wedding Adventure...

After that bike ride across town, I returned  home to get me a shower and head out for a day of looking for receptions sites.  Robby would be joining Caitlin, Tabitha (the maid of honor) and me for this little adventure.  But first I needed something to eat.  HEY!  After a 30 mile bike ride (and escaping death more than once...) I deserved a little comfort.  I announced that we would be eating Mexican that day.  And off we set for what was to be a relaxing first day of wedding planning.

Hmmm...I quickly found out that the words "wedding planning" and "relaxing" are not often used together in the same sentence for a reason.  This was the "original plan":  We would eat lunch and then head out to look for reception sites; this was one thing that I thought we needed to nail down pretty quickly since we had snatched up the last wedding date available in May.  Our only issues was going to be finding a place big enough to hold around 400 guests.  So, after scarfing down that tasty Mexican cuisine, we determined where to go first.  Well, actually our first choice was already booked, so we had to move on.  Robby instructed Caitlin that we needed to look for size; BIG was what we needed.  Although she agreed, I knew Caitlin's way of thinking...she had other things on her mind as well.

Let me preface this by stating that Caitlin is not a "Bridal Diva" or a "Bridezilla".  I choose to think she just has these pictures in her head of how things should be; and THAT is exactly why the place we looked at first, did not make the cut.  The building met all of "our" criteria;  it was big, had ample parking, was clean and convenient.  What neither Robby or I ever even notice was the carpet.  Yep!  You heard me right...Caitlin said that the building had "ugly carpet"!  Robby appeared to be a bit confused and shocked at the revelation that this site would be eliminated merely because of the carpet.  It was clear that HE had never been on a search mission with us for Homecoming dresses during her high school years.  The second place that was suggested?...It only rated a "drive-by".  This was going about as I had expected it would; apparently Robby had thought otherwise.  After a good bit of discussion, suddenly the car swung into a convenience store, where Robby announced that he "felt a bit dehydrated" and needed something to drink.  That's a little inside joke and what we say when anybody gets a little irritable and fussy.  But then I thought about that 30 mile bike ride again...maybe he really WAS dehydrated! 

Robby returned to the car and before we made it to the first stop light, that half gallon of sports drink was finished!  "Where to now?", he asked.  I said, "Let's head out to the country club."  Turning his head and stretching his neck a bit, he replied, "We have only been there HUNDREDS of times; WHAT could we possibly need to look at there?!"  I explained, "We just need to walk through the room so we can get a good visual of what the room will look like for a reception."  Reluctantly, he headed out there.  We really liked the set up and new chef they had hired and checked on the availability.  All would be a "GO" if there was no golf tournament planned for Memorial Day weekend; we wouldn't find out until the following week.  With the reception issue hopefully put to bed, we drove back to town.  As we were passing the ONE bridal shop we have in town, Caitlin mentioned that she would like to stop in and see a new dress line they had advertised.  We stopped, got out and quickly found out that they were the only store in the state that did not get the dresses (ugh...).  HOWEVER, the shop in Lafayette (an hour and a half away...) did.  Before I knew what was happening, the decision had been made and Robby, Caitlin, Tabitha and I were headed down there to look at some dresses!

Well, this had certainly turned out to be an "eventful" day.  My "quick jog" had turned into a 30 mile dangerous bike ride across town and our reception site hunting had suddenly turned into a day trip to try on bridesmaid dresses and bridal gowns!  I knew two things for certain about this trip that Robby and Caitlin were both unaware of:  ONE:  Robby thought that he was going to get lucky and Caitlin would find her wedding dress on the first day out looking for one...and TWO:  Caitlin merely wanted to try on some dresses and had absolutely NO intention of settling on a dress her first day out to look for one.  However, my hopes were a little more realistic; perhaps she COULD find a bridesmaid dress and settle on THAT on her first day out dress shopping!
Dad:  "Maybe I will get LUCKY and she will find her dress today"!

Caitlin:  "WOW!  This is only the FIRST of many bridal shops I plan to visit"!

When we arrived at the bridal shop, an associate found the dresses that Caitlin wanted to try on, along with the bridesmaid dress she was interested in  for Tabitha to try, as well.  She then plopped two chairs down in front of the platform where Caitlin would be modeling her dresses for us.  We waited as the associate assisted her in changing from gown to gown.  With the presentation of each dress, she inquired about our thought concerning the selection.  Narrowing it down to two "favorites", we had Caitlin try them on again.  I snapped a few pictures for her reference and then to Robby's dismay...she announced that she was not going to make a decision that day.  We loaded up for the long drive back home.

In my opinion, Week One of our wedding planning went quite well.  Here are all of the things we accomplished:  Got the church for the wedding, Got the reception site for the wedding (they called to OK it!), chose what will most likely by the bridesmaid dresses, chose a wedding "theme", contacted the printer who will print the invitations...and MOST importantly; hired a wedding planner and floral designer!  NOW...I really NEED to get myself that wedding planner binder to "officially" get a little more organized.  UGH!!!  I don't LIKE having to be organized.  But I am told that it is a "necessary evil" in being the mother of the bride and planning a wedding!

Color Me PINK...So I Can "FIGHT LIKE A GIRL"!!!

Cancer does not respect age, ethnicity, religion or sex.  I came face to face with this truth while taking my father-in-law to M.D. Anderson to have a kidney removed due to cancer.  When I saw the sheer enormity of the "city of buildings", I was in awe.  I felt that we had made the right decision by choosing this place for his surgery.  Walking inside one of those buildings, at first I was amazed by the facility and everything it offered and then the second thing that I quickly noticed was the diversity of people there.  It hit me...Cancer does not respect anyone.

I write this post because October has been deemed "Breast Cancer Awareness Month".  One can find PINK everywhere they look.  And THIS is a reminder that there are brave warriors out there fighting a battle every day.  People run in 5k's and attend other types of fund raisers for the "Cause", but as I wrote this post, I began to ponder what we, as women, could do for the sake of Breast Cancer Awareness".  Here are a few things that I came up with:  First, get your annual exam...DON'T put it off.  Secondly, if you are of age, have your MAMMOGRAM  done annually.  And third, know your own body; do self-examinations at home.  I realize that doing these things strike fear in the heart of many women.  When one goes in to have these tests done, it is for one specific reason:  To find out if you have breast cancer.  However, EARLY DETECTION is vital to surviving a diagnosis of this disease.  Don't get too busy that when you look up, it has been several years since you have had an examination or testing done.

Although, I HATE having these diagnostic tests done myself, I ALWAYS schedule my annual exam.  There has never been a time that I have walked in to have my mammogram done, that I wasn't a bit anxious.  Who wouldn't be?  You are there for one reason only; to find out if you have breast cancer. Regardless, I have NEVER missed my annual exam or mammogram. As I sit with other women in the waiting area, all of us wearing those institutional gowns, my heart pounds at the thoughts of, "What if...".  A couple of years back, I got exactly what I had been fearful of for years, a "call back".  When I saw the phone number of my doctor on my Caller ID, I knew something was up.  Upon answering the phone, he began to explain that my mammogram had come back as "abnormal" and that it needed to be repeated.  My heart stopped.  I felt physically ill.  I didn't know what to say, think or do.  I asked him if I could have the repeat test done immediately; that afternoon would not be soon enough for me.  It was scheduled for 3 days later.  3 days seemed liked an eternity to me.  I prayed and cried and thought of all the terrible possibilities in store for me.  I was distraught.

When I walked into the radiology department to have those repeat tests done that day, Robby was with me.  If I had experienced anxiety before, I  now considered myself in panic mode.  I once again sat there in my hospital issue gown, wringing my shaking hands, until they called me to the back waiting room.  Robby could not accompany me there; I was on my own from here on out.  I had placed a cross coin in my pocket that morning and gently stuck my hand down in there to feel of it as I prepared for this frightening experience.  As I walked into the room, the technician took one look at my face and asked if I was OK.  What kind of question was THAT?!  NO,  I was NOT OK!  Thinking I was about to either pass out or throw up, she felt it necessary to sit me down for a moment and attempt to calm my nerves.  She explained (as had my doctor...), that they were not looking at a mass, but some tissue.  She said that they had just upgraded their equipment to the digital type, which was much clearer, and needed to do some comparisons.  This did not make me feel better or ease my nerves.  Once she had finished the mammogram, she sat me in a chair outside the room.  I was waiting to see if an ultrasound would also have to be performed.  I sat there finding it difficult to breathe.  Once again, I touched the cross in my pocket and silently said another prayer.  When the technician came back to see me, she said that they were going to do the ultrasound.  I swallowed that lump in my throat as I followed her into the next room.  When all of the tests were complete, I got dressed and walked back out into the main waiting area to find Robby impatiently pacing the floor.  David was in town that weekend and he met us at the nail salon.  Those guys decided they would hang out with me all day; even if it meant having pedicures with me.  That was one of the sweetest things they have ever done for me. 

The tests may have been over, but the worrying was not.  Waiting and not knowing is the worst part of something like this and the waiting had officially begun for me now.  It was a Friday and I knew that I would most likely have to wait until Monday to get the results; for me that would be unbearable.  Robby, however, made it his goal to find out by the end of the day.  It was the Grand Opening of our new store and everyone was busy with preparations for that. I didn't want to worry anyone else, so we kept all of this to ourselves.  As I was out in the greenhouse watering the plants, I saw Robby hurriedly rush through the door, give me a relieved look and the "2 thumbs-up" sign.  He walked over and put his arms around me as he gave me the news that everything was OK...and for the first time in days, I was able to breathe.

Once I had that "abnormal mammogram", the tests were not over for me.  I had to be set up for repeat tests every 6 months, until they decided I could go back to the annual screening process.  I'm not going to lie; that first time back for another test in 6 months was pretty nerve wracking.  My anxiety level rose again and I didn't breathe until the results came back.  I am now back to having annual mammograms but I cannot say that my anxiety has subsided any, as I walk into that radiology department each year.  I know first hand how scary having these tests done can be, but I STRONGLY urge you to GET THEM DONE.  Not having these tests done because of anxiety or fear does not mean that breast cancer will decide not to offend you; remember, it has NO respect for anyone.

Many, if not all of us, know women who have fought or are currently fighting Breast Cancer.  They are BRAVE beyond our wildest dreams.  We cannot imagine what they are going through each day (physically AND emotionally) on their own, personal battle fields.  What can we do for them?  We can pray for them during treatment.  We can pray for their full recovery.  We can run races and donate to the "Cause" so that this disease may one day be CURED.  We can wear our PINK...Because there are MANY women out there who are FIGHTING LIKE A GIRL to win their battle with Breast Cancer!

When I said, "Let's Look For A Reception Location"...I Did NOT Mean On A BICYCLE!!!

One of the first things Robby said to me about the planning of Caitlin's wedding was, "Please just do ONE thing for me...don't let me be one of those guys who everybody in town pities for being a fool because he allowed his wife and daughter let the wedding get out of hand."  Hmmm...OK, I could agree to that.  He also declared that, "There will be NO drama during this wedding."  Hmmm...OK (I HOPED I could assure him that this would be the case).  So, after saying all of these things, he announced to MAKE SURE these "wedding rules" would be followed, he would be involved in "all phases of the wedding planning".  ALRIGHTY THEN...Hang onto your hat, let's get rolling and I HOPE you can keep up with us!

Robby has always been a very "hands-on dad", so it was no surprise to me that he wanted to be very involved in the planning of Caitlin's wedding.  Oh, I also know part of his plan is to keep us reigned in with the money.  And I must admit that this is a pretty good idea; I call him our "Compass".  So, this past weekend, I announced that we would go out to nail down a place for the reception. Waking up before anyone else in the house on Saturday morning, I decided that it might be a good idea for me to go for a little get all of those endorphins going for the day, ya know.  So, as I was tying my shoes, the bedroom door opened and out walked Robby...dressed for a bicycle ride.  WOW!  It had been at LEAST a year since he had been on his bike; I wondered if his thoughts were in the same place mine were that morning.  He asked if I would like to join him and I agreed, heading back to put on my riding shorts.

Before we set out for our ride, I asked Robby in which direction we would be heading.  I was hoping it was not toward the highway for a couple of reasons:  First, there is a HUGE hill to climb on the ride back that I can NEVER make and second, some of those people driving out there on the road scare me to death!  He told me that indeed, we WERE going to be heading that way (ugh...)...for about an hour long ride. 

We were going to head out to look for reception sites when we returned.  Caitlin's maid of honor would be going with us, so Robby declared we would only ride for an hour.  OK, I thought I could handle that.  We set out for our usual route, but apparently while we were riding, Robby had ANOTHER idea.  The first thing we spotted on our little outing was a plantation house set up for an outdoor wedding.  Whipping our bikes around, we decided to check the facility out; perhaps it would do for our reception.  After meeting the owner and touring the house, we realized that alas, it would be too small for our function.  Back on the bikes, I thought we would be turning back soon to head out for our day of reception site hunting.  As we got closer to a road that REALLY makes me nervous, I asked Robby to NOT take us down it; he agreed, but what he had in store for us next was even worse!

We took a left at that 4-way stop (I still hated having to navigate THAT...) and I suddenly realized that we were off of our normal path.  "Where are we going?", I asked.  "Just keep going; I thought we would go check out one of those reception sites," he replied.  WHAT?!  OH MY GOSH...Did he KNOW how far that was?!  He noticed my surprised reaction and said, "You can turn back if you want and I'll go."  I wasn't ABOUT to look like the wimp here..."No, I'll go."  If I thought a portion of our normal route was dangerous, I was about to have a panic attack!  Not only did we have to navigate a circle round about (with cars!!!), we hit a busy section of road, where reading road signs was required in order to NOT get hit!  Those endorphins I had hoped to gain for the day's adventure were going to be used up before we even set out for the day!

We stopped at the site, looked around for a bit and decided that this site would most likely not do either (ugh!...rode all the way there for NOTHING.  AND risked our lives in the process!).  Robby announced that it was finally time to head back.  After doing a little mental figuring, I said, "Wow...this turned out to be a little 30 MILE RIDE!"  "Do you just want me to ride home and come back and get you in the truck," he inquired?  "And LEAVE me out here by MYSELF?!"..."NO WAY!...I'm riding back."

We got about half way back when it happened; I found that those bicycle pants I was wearing weren't quite padded enough.  Excuse me for being so blunt, "sitting bones" felt fractured, my legs were beginning to cramp, my crotch was on FIRE and on top of all of that I now had to pee!  Hey!  About 2 HOURS had now passed!!!  It was about that time that Robby turned to me and said, "I need to speed up and get my heart rate a little higher; will you be OK to make it back from here alone?"  "Sure...(sigh); go ahead on," I said.  And then he was lost in the distance.

Riding back, I got to experience the fear of "vehicle wind" hitting me square in the face as drivers zoomed past me...a tractor coming head on, that took up the entire other side of the road...AND, my personal favorite, the truck who tried to play "chicken" with me while passing that tractor (He won...)!  I NEEDED to get back soon.  Turning on the last road, getting closer to my final destination, I almost didn't recognize the truck coming toward me that was slowing down; it was Robby!  He had already made it home, gotten the truck and come to get me and my bike (Yay, Robby!).  As I got off of that bike to get into the truck, I felt like I had been horse-back riding for a month!  WHEW!... I was glad THAT adventure was over!
After jumping in the shower, we all got ready and headed out to find the "PERFECT RECEPTION SPOT"!  Well, that is another story in itself...and I will tell you right up front; it was EASIER SAID than DONE.  That little "Biking Adventure" had NOTHING on the adventure that was in store for us the remainder of the day...

The Baking Project...(Pound Cake)

The last post I made in "The Baking Project" was a bit foiled by Robby making that "Easy Skillet Apple Pie".  This week, I was determined that I was going to do the baking...It was MY project, after all!

I stopped in at The Kitchen Warehouse to grab a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch.  They had just moved and opened at their new location.  While waiting for my sandwich, I decided to look around for a bit (THAT can be dangerous...).  I began grabbing a few items that I just couldn't live without, when I saw it; one of those decorative loaf pans!  Now, I must tell you that I am TOTALLY ADDICTED to any and everything to do with fall.  I don't know why I love it so much.  Perhaps it is due to the temperatures turning cooler or maybe all of the fall colors of oranges, yellows and reds.  Even the scents of fall make me excited for this new season!  So, back to the decorative loaf had leaves and fall stuff and such; I was sucked in...I bought it.
Don't you just LOVE this pan?  It's PERFECT for the fall!

When I bought the pan, I knew exactly what I would be baking in it.  A while back, Southern Living did a piece on "Pound Cakes".  The "original" pound cake recipe was given and then several variations  were included, also.  I decided that I would just make the "Original Pound Cake" with a lemon glaze (just like my mama used to make!).  A Pound Cake isn't that difficult to make.  The name, in and of itself, sort of gives one a hint concerning the ingredients:  a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a pound of flour...oh, and 9 eggs!  As I laid my ingredients out and waited for the eggs and butter to reach room temperature, I saw Robby nosing around in the kitchen.  "GET AWAY from my stuff!", I said.  I KNEW he couldn't stand not being in charge of the baking, but I ushered him out of there quickly.

When those eggs and that butter were ready, I began to cream to the sugar and butter together in the mixer; it said to do this for 8 minutes.  My phone rang and I began talking...however, I was still watching the clock; I AM capable of "multi-tasking", ya know!  Robby took this opportunity to sneak back around behind me and when I looked up, he was scraping down the sides of the bowl!  "WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE YOU DOING?!", I asked.  He told me I was using the wrong utensil to scrape the bowl down with (Ugh!!!).  Couldn't he just let ME do the baking by MYSELF this time?  I ran him out of the kitchen yet AGAIN!

After all of the ingredients were properly combined, the recipe said to divide the batter evenly between 2 loaf pans.  I had another plain pan in the cabinet and grabbed the Pam to ready those pans for baking.  As I got ready to spray them, guess who was standing over my shoulder staring at me?!  You've got it...He was BACK!  I stopped and looked at Robby and asked what was wrong NOW.  He said, "You know that you need to shake that up REAL GOOD to mix the flour up in it."  Well, THAT was it!  "I may not be a professional cook, but I AM almost 50 years old...I believe I KNOW how to shake up a can of Pam!"  He left the kitchen on his own this time.

It took 65 minutes to bake those Pound Cakes...But OH was it ever worth it!  The smell alone that permeated the house was wonderful.  And by the way...I finally allowed Robby to come back in the kitchen and do something for me.  I let HIM make the lemon glaze that was drizzled over the top of the hot cakes!  I MUST say, it was DELICIOUS!

***If you would like the recipe for this pound cake, please feel free to e-mail me and I will  be happy to send it your way!***

You Might Be THE RENAISSANCE MAN...But You Are NOT Making The Wedding Cake!

David is the one who originally gave Robby the name of, "Renaissance Man".  When he first called him this, Robby looked at him questioningly..."What do you mean by that?", he asked.  Well, you see, it is known by all that Robby will NEVER say that he can't do something.  And I must admit that I haven't seen anything he CAN'T do.  He can build things (including a boat he is working on...), cook things, teach me to knit, help Caitlin and me pick out great shoes (his taste is impeccable...) and just about anything he sets his mind to do.  Admitting all of this, however, does NOT mean that I am going to allow him to make Caitlin's wedding cake...A girl has to draw the line SOMEWHERE!

Remember that cake decorating class that I told you Robby and Caitlin took her senior year of high school?  Well, it became a running "joke" (I had hoped...), that he would one day make Caitlin's wedding cake.  Oh, that was quite a funny thing to think of when there wasn't an upcoming wedding.  Now that there IS one, that little subject of him making the wedding cake has resurfaced.  I really don't find it as amusing as before!

For a week now (the same amount of time as Caitlin has been engaged...), Robby has mentioned NUMEROUS times how he is going to "make the wedding cake".  I KNOW that he is just kidding with me (I hope...), but he is relentless.  He has begged and offered to take more "advanced" classes and even declared that he would make a "sample cake" during the holidays for me to approve.  My reply has been consistently and emphatically..."NO!"

Caitlin came home over the weekend, excited to show us her ring and discuss wedding plans.  I was in the other room, when I heard the subject arise.  "Hey, Caitlin..." and at the SAME time Robby was saying, "Can I make your wedding cake?"...Caitlin said, "Dad, are you still going to make my wedding cake?"  UGH!!!  Those two!  I could HEAR the grin in both of their voices; they were tag teaming me now!  I shouted out, "NO!  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  He is NOT making your wedding cake!!!"  I heard them snicker and give one another high fives.  Caitlin had already asked 9 girls to be her bridesmaids and one was a friend from high school who knew about their cake decorating class.  Caitlin told her dad, "Stephanie was wondering if you were going to use those 'sweet skills' you had learned in our cake decorating class to make my wedding cake."  Once again, I shouted..."Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES is you dad making your wedding cake!!!  We are hiring a PROFESSIONAL to do it."  I could hear him say, "I AM a professional..."

Apparently, Caitlin took a picture out of her wedding folder with the cake she wants.  I heard Robby say, "Barbara...This cake looks like it has a coral reef on top of it; I'm not sure if I have the skills to make THIS cake."  FINALLY!!!  He walked into the other room, where I was decorating the mantle to show me the picture.  Well, it wasn't a coral reef (yet ANOTHER good reason for him not to be making the cake if he couldn't tell what was on top...) and just as I was about to agree with him, he looked at that picture a little more closely and said, "OH, I guess I COULD...if just take a FEW MORE CLASSES".  Ugh!...Just when I thought I had this thing whipped!  Well, "Renaissance Man" or not...Mark my word; HE'S NOT MAKING THE WEDDING CAKE!!!

I NOW Remember Why Babies NEED To Take Naps...

I can remember a conversation I had with my mother when my children were younger.  She said, "Barbara, you look SO tired."  Hmmm...Perhaps that would be because I have 4 children age 6 and under!  Over the years one tends to forget those "tired years".  Lately, however, I have had flashbacks of past times while baby-sitting Parker Ann.

Robby was going out of town for the weekend and he once again had an early morning flight.  Being the "Super Woman" that I tout myself as, I declared that we would get up at 4 a.m., I would drop him off at the airport and then drive directly to our Lake House, where Justin and Sarah would meet me with Parker to baby-sit for the day.  NO PROBLEM (I thought...)!  I would just drink enough coffee to get me charged up for the day.

I'm not sure what has happened to coffee (or maybe me...) over the years, but it just doesn't seem to do the job like it previously did. By the time Parker arrived I had already consumed two cups and still wasn't very perky.  By her morning nap, I was feeling tiredness begin to sneak up on me, but I had household chores to do and lunch to get ready while she was napping.  And then BOOM!  She was already awake (sigh...).  Maybe I could slip a nap in myself in the afternoon.

Why is it that as children we fight AGAINST taking naps and as adults we fight TO take naps?  I could tell that Parker was tired; she had laid down on the floor.  I decided I would pick her up and attempt to rock her to sleep.  The reason I say, "attempt" is because she doesn't really like to rock and she fights napping when she realizes that is your goal.  Sarah has great success with just laying her in the bed to take her nap, however, I believe she has already figured out that Ya Ya is NOT going to leave her in there to "cry it out"; that's just NOT in my "job description"!

So, as we sat there rocking, I felt my eyes becoming heavier...and heavier.  If she didn't go to sleep soon, I was going to fall out of the chair.  I closed my eyes for a minute and peeked to see if  Parker had drifted off to sleep yet.  She was still hanging in there, apparently not as tired as I was.  I felt my head drooping and as my eyes jerked open, I noticed Parker had finally dozed off to sleep.  Now, to wait at least 5 good minutes before laying her in bed...I didn't want her waking up again.

As soon as Parker was in bed, I reached for a blanket and hit the couch.  I made sure my cell phone was on silent and then snuggled down to take a much needed nap.  The last thing I remember was Sissy (one of my doxies...) joining me.  It was one of those naps that take you under quickly.  You know the are drifting out there in a peaceful place and when you suddenly wake up, you can't remember where you are or what day it is.  When I DID awake, I found that 2 hours had passed!  I listened and it was clear that Parker was still sleeping (WHEW...).  Quickly checking my phone, I found that everybody and their mama had either called, texted or left voice mails for me.  So much for that peaceful place I had visited out there in "napland" (sigh...).

It wasn't long before Parker woke up from her nap and we were both happier that we were now well rested.  I can remember making my children go to their rooms for an hour each day when they were young.  I would always call it "rest" time (NEVER "nap time"...).  They could take books with them to read, but the rule was:  You have to stay in your own bed and have some quiet time.  I told them that they were not required to "sleep" and THIS seemed to do the trick. Peeking in their rooms,  most times I found they were all sleeping soundly.  There weren't many days that I was fortunate enough to sneak a nap in myself, however, I can recall telling Robby, "I sure wish someone would send ME to MY room for a while; I wouldn't mind that one little bit!"
Ahhh...There's NOTHING like a GOOD NAP!

You're Getting Married WHEN?!

When I realized that Caitlin would most likely be getting engaged, I was thinking..."A Summer Wedding".  It would only be a mere 2 years since David's wedding and these children of mine were not obeying the "3 Year Wedding Rule".  For those of you who did not read through our last "wedding adventure", I declared at the end of it that there was going to be this "3 Year Rule", which stated that I HAD to have at LEAST 3 years between each wedding to recuperate.  HA!  WHO was I kidding?  I had given birth every other year, thus causing me to have a child graduating from high school every other year...which also had 3 OF THEM in college at the same time once...WHAT WAS I THINKING?!  Oh, I remember now..."I will get  them all out of the 'diaper stage' quickly".  Well, it appears that the "diaper stage' was actually one of the LEAST EXPENSIVE stages in their lives!

Less than 24 hours later, Caitlin and Kevin had chosen a wedding date (I'm still thinking a June wedding at this point...).  "OK; lay it on me", I said.  "May 26th".  WOW!...A May wedding.  May is that month that is just chocked full for us:  The first week alone consists of, Ryan's birthday, my anniversary, Mother's Day and this year, Caitlin's graduation from college.  Mid May, David and Kevin will both graduate from medical school in Kentucky.  MAY?!...SERIOUSLY?!  And then it hit me...That's Memorial Day Weekend!  They explained that they knew this, but Kevin would be starting his residency approximately 2 weeks after his graduation so it was the ONLY time they could get married.  This information was given to me on a Saturday, so naturally I had to wait until Monday to see if the church was even available.

I called the church on Monday morning and they told me that, that was the ONLY available date for a wedding in May; everything else had already been booked.  I sent someone down with a couple of checks to secure the date and breathed a sigh of relief.  I could check that off of my list; I was feeling pretty good...that is UNTIL the "packet" arrived. 

My mother-in-law brought the "packet" by from the church.  I looked at this thickly stapled together bunch of papers and all I could see was rules...and bold print words...and tabbed papers that needed to be signed and returned ASAP.  I looked at those papers for about 30 seconds and said, "I don't ever read those kind of things.  It's sort of like the Student Handbook they give you in high school; I always just flipped to the signature pages, signed them and sent them back" (only worrying about what could be in there if someone got in trouble...).  My mother-in-law laughed at me and then said (while flipping through the pages...), "I think you better read over these."  OK, so I picked them up and just thumbed through them and my eyes STOPPED on something I deemed important:  There will be NO weddings planned on holiday weekends; included was Memorial Day Weekend!  Now THAT got my attention quickly!!!

While I was pacing around, now worrying about the wedding date, Robby decided to sit down and actually read the "packet" in its entirety (he's good at that sort of stuff anyway...).  He said there would be no problem with anything in it, told me to sign the papers and all I kept saying was, "WHERE will we have the wedding if the church is not available?!...It NEEDS to be in a church!"  Clearly I was a little panicked about the situation (although I had stated at the beginning of this thing that I would NOT let anything upset me...)  Calmly he said, "Stop worrying about that until you call them tomorrow".  OK...what else could I do?

I actually called the pastor's assistant at home and left her a voice message to check that date again when she got to the office the next day since I noticed that Memorial Day weddings would not be booked.  First thing the next morning, she returned my call.  She had looked over the papers as well and sure enough it HAD stated that.  She explained that those papers had been drawn up by her predecessor and to give her an hour; she would check things out.

Within an hour, I received a phone call to let me know that Memorial Day Weekend had been approved for our wedding!  WHEW!...I was SO glad that had worked out.  What next?  Caitlin would be coming in for the weekend so perhaps we would line up some venues to visit for the reception site...Oh, and the band; we needed to book the band for the reception too!  SO much to do...NOW you know why I NEED a "wedding planner"; SOMEONE has to be organized (and calm...) around here!

The Proposal AND...The Aftermath!

I may have been slightly groggy when Caitlin woke me up to tell me she was engaged, but I quickly perked up as she related the details of "The Proposal".  I knew that Kevin would plan this out in a special way for Caitlin; that's just who he is.  David often times tells him to "Quit doing such romantic and thoughtful things" because he is making all of the other guys in the family look bad.  However, he is also the one who calls to get ideas on how to impress his own wife from Kevin! 

After Kevin and Caitlin drove for an hour and a half to get to his house, he sat her down and played a video he had made for her.  You see, this weekend marked one year that they had been dating.  He had compiled a video of all sorts of things that they had done over the past year together and she was so touched that she sat there crying while watching it.  And when the video ended, he reached up for a small box...and she shouted, "OH MY GOSH!...HAVE YOU TALKED TO MY DAD YET?!"
Caitlin and her Daddy

The next morning, I had pictures of the ring texted to my cell phone.  Not only was it beautiful, it fit what Caitlin always said she wanted her ring to look like.  She had stated many times before that, "The guy I marry will just KNOW what type of ring to get me...I don't want to pick it out."  She also called to tell me not tell anyone just yet because she had a few telephone calls to make first that morning.  She would be calling both of her grandmothers...and HER BROTHERS.

Justin was the first one to receive a call.  And I am quite certain that he had barely disconnected with her, when he dialed me up.  "Why wasn't I informed about this ahead of time?!"  Hmmm...Let's see, perhaps that would be because you aren't her dad?  I didn't say THAT, but I DID say was, "I was SWORN to secrecy."  He informed me that, THAT was no excuse.  Continuing, he said, "I didn't even know she was in Kentucky, must less getting engaged!"  "Oh well, Sarah knew she was going there."  "I suppose we will be having a summer wedding again this year", I said.  "WHAT?!  Don't you think that's a little soon?"  I gently reminded him that HE started dating Sarah, got engaged and then married all within one year.  I suppose he had forgotten those little details.  He seemed to think that things were different where his baby sister were concerned.
Justin and Kevin

Both grandmothers, of course, were ecstatic about the news.  And they also said, they KNEW this was coming.  Caitlin then began trying to call both David and Ryan; they were apparently sleeping in, therefore she didn't get them for quite a while.  All I wanted to do was to get my best friend in Dallas on the phone; she is an events planner and floral designer; I needed to hire her ASAP to be our wedding planner/floral designer.  I supposed I would just have to wait a little longer (sigh)...I went to the gym to kill some time (and grab some much needed endorphins...).

When Caitlin spoke to Ryan, he took the news well.  He had already given his "stamp of approval" on Kevin, which was very important since Ryan and Caitlin are so close.  He and Justin did speak about the engagement (I think Justin was still trying to assimilate this information...) and Ryan merely told Justin one thing:  "Yea, David always told me, 'Ryan, don't ever let your friends date Caitlin'...and now look whose friend is marrying her."
Ryan and Kevin

David was the last for her to get in touch with.  David and Kevin have been very good friends for the past  few years.  They met in medical school and were neighbors for a year.  Kevin had asked David if he could even date his sister (which I thought was sweet...).  Apparently, David had told all of his friends that his sister was off limits because she was an "angel".  OK...let me explain.  From the moment I brought her home from the hospital, David has adored his baby sister.  I can remember him just laying in front of her and staring at her.  When she tried out for varsity cheerleader her freshman year of high school, David came in and waited in the parking lot for her to see it she had made the squad.  She ran across that parking lot upon finding out that indeed she had made the squad and jumped right into his arms, with her legs wrapping around his waist like a spider monkey.  David' s approval meant a lot to her.
David and Kevin

Giving someone permission to marry your daughter or sister is a scary thing.  If we didn't love, trust and respect him, he would have never even gotten to that point.  I believe he realizes what a precious possession of ours he is about to inherit. 

                                         Caitlin and "Her Boys"...THEN


As I got ready to leave my fitness class at the gym, I hoped that everyone on Caitlin's list had been "officially" notified so I could call my friend.  I rolled my yoga mat up and grabbed my keys and cell phone.  Glancing down at the screen on my phone, it appeared she had indeed notified everyone...I had a list of missed calls and voice messages!  Well, I guess it was time to buckle myself into my seat for yet another ride down the aisle.  Only thing was...this time I was in the driver's seat and there sure was going to be a LOT to do as the mother of the bride.  MORE VITAMINS, PLEASE!!!
Caitlin and Kevin...the "New" Guy in her life


I CAN Keep A Secret... I Just DID For 140 DAYS!!!

SOME people believe that I cannot keep a secret.  I just proved them wrong since I kept a VERY IMPORTANT one for 140 DAYS!  I realize that the mere fact that I know how many days I kept the secret indicates how difficult this was for me...but I was BOUND by my word not to tell...OK, I was told that I would NOT be told the secret if I could not PROMISE to keep it AND never give anything away by even the look on my face.

On Easter weekend, all of the boys made it home.  Not necessarily because they just wanted to be here, but they al hadl this idea that Kevin was going to ask Robby's permissions to marry Caitlin.  For some reason, they thought that THEY should all be consulted too.  We spent most of the weekend at our Lake House in Natchitoches and everyone hung around very close that weekend.  Once, I even looked out the window to see Caitlin and Kevin...AND DAVID in the hammock.  Yes, you heard me correctly...David had joined them out there in an attempt to ferret out any information he could.  What they didn't know, however, was that Robby and Kevin had already taken a boat ride before they arrived.  Kevin HAD indeed asked for Caitlin's hand in marriage, but not even she knew about it.  He told Robby to only tell me if he thought I could "keep the secret"; he KNEW that this wasn't one of my strong suits!  Well, I BEGGED for Robby to tell me what had gone down on that boat ride, but he just wasn't going to tell me unless I promised to not say a word to ANYBODY; Kevin wanted the proposal to be a surprise.  Hmph!  I was insulted...COULDN'T KEEP A SECRET?!  I would show them...

Kevin asked Robby if he had told me...he said "No".  I think that was just to put his mind at ease, since apparently he had no faith in my ability to keep that secret...But I KNEW; Oh, I KNEW!  And I was determined to keep my secret, although as the days and months began to roll by...and people were asking, "Do you think Caitlin will soon be engaged?"...I found it  very difficult to have to pretend not to know anything...BUT I DID.  So, when Caitlin left for Kentucky to visit Kevin this past weekend, Robby calmly said, "Well, she's going to get engaged this weekend."  "WHAT?!  Do you think so?", I asked.  He nodded his head in the affirmative.

I got the call around 12:25 a.m.  Caitlin had called me when her plane arrived and said she would just send a text message later since it would take an hour and a half to get to Kevin's house from the airport.  Therefore, when the phone rang it both startled and scared me to death.  I glanced at the Caller ID and saw her number on it.  Sleepily jerking the phone off the stand, I hoped that nothing had happened to them driving back (I know...a mother ALWAYS worries).  Then, this tiny voice said, "Hey, Mom...what are you doing?"  "Ummm...sleeping"  (Sometimes I wonder about these kids...calling at all hours of the night and asking silly questions like that).  That's when she told me, "I got engaged tonight!"  BOINK!!!  The sleep  suddenly fell from my eyes as she continued, "I wanted to call you because Kevin wasn't sure you knew...I interrupted, "AHHHH!!!  I KNEW...AND I KEPT THE SECRET...SINCE EASTER!!!"  I could hear the laughing on the other end of the line and in the background.  I could tell they were both surprised by the fact that I had kept that secret so safely to myself.  I'm not gonna lie now...I'm pretty excited that THE CAT IS OUTTA THE BAG!  Keeping a secret for that long surely mustn't be good for anyone. 

What now?  Tomorrow I will tell you about the proposal and all that followed...