Dear PINTEREST, ...Oh How You Pique My INTEREST!

Just what I needed...a "new obsession" (sigh...).  I had only glanced at "Pinterest" before this past weekend and NOW?!  Well, I'm "hooked"!

Tabitha, Caitlin's maid of honor, was over helping us address invitations to the upcoming engagement party, when all of a sudden she said, "Mrs. Barbara, come here and look at some pictures I pinned on Pinterest."  BOOM!  My eyes popped open a little wider, as I quickly dropped what I was doing and headed around to the other side of the bar.  She began to show me some GREAT photos that she had pinned and then all of her boards.  "OH MY GOSH!  INVITE ME!!!  I have been waiting for someone to invite me."  She did it right then...and by the same time the next afternoon, I had more pictures and boards that she did!

I realized right away that I could only allow myself to get immersed in the "World of Pinterest" whenever I had absolutely nothing else to do.  WHY?  Well, if you too have a "Pinterest Addiction", you KNOW why.  For those of you who do not...let me explain.

One of the reasons I love thumbing through magazines is because of all the lovely and interesting photographs in them.  Those photographs in turn trigger ideas that I would like to one day implement.  From time to time, I have been known to rip those pages out and put them back somewhere (Anywhere...Everywhere...) so I will not forget the neat idea.  When Robby and I built our different homes over the years, I had a FOLDER of ripped out magazine pictures; so many that the contractor told him that he needed to throw all of my magazines away!  Anyway, Pinterest is sort of like my "Magazine Picture Addiction" (I KNOW...I find that I have MANY addictions...).  Once you have a "Pinterest Account" all you need to do is set up a "user name" and "password" and you are set to begin collecting "Ideas"!

Your Pinterest account will start you out with a few "Idea Boards" but you can also add other boards of "ideas" or things that interest you.  Go to the "Search" bar and type in nearly ANYTHING and then browse the collection and PIN!  What are some of my "Pinterest Board" categories?  Fireplaces, weathered barns, covered bridges, watercolor paintings, home ideas...and wedding ideas, of course...just to name a FEW!  Once I sit down and begin to search and browse, I become TOTALLY immersed in this "new obsession" of mine. 

Pinterest has DEFINITELY captured my interest...long with many other people.  I am aware that the LAST thing I need is ANOTHER obsession, so I am attempting to limit my time on there; sort of like limiting my intake of carbohydrates.  However, there is a time and place for both Pinterest AND carbohydrates, so I thought of "One Positive" for this new obsession (you should ALWAYS try to find ONE positive to justify something...).  Here is is:  If I'm just "collecting pictures", then I'm not actually spending any money!  No money buying the items OR the magazines...(yet!)

Taking "My Little Pumpkin" To The Pumpkin Patch!

Friday I was baby-sitting Parker Ann again, so as I passed the Pumpkin Patch at the Methodist Church earlier in the week, I decided that we needed to make a trip there to get a pumpkin for carving this Halloween!

My mother is 83 years old and does not drive any more.  Her mind is still as "sharp as a tack" and she loves socializing.  I asked her if she would like to make plans to go to the pumpkin patch with Parker Ann and me on Friday; "Absolutely!", she said.  As I was making plans for the day, which would also include lunch out in town, I got another totally unexpected surprise.  Caitlin called to say that a couple of her classes had been cancelled on Friday and she was on her way home a day early!  This would be FUN...we would have a "Girls Day Out".

Robby offered to drive and pick Parker up that morning and when he arrived, I discovered that...OH NO!  They had forgotten her cute little Halloween outfit that I had bought to take her picture in (ugh...).  Well, I had one "partial outfit" she could wear; I would have to make a stop at Target to grab a shirt, leggings and hopefully a cute pair of shoes (the cute shoes were a "must"...) to finish it off.  Caitlin, Parker and I picked up Mam-Maw and then we were off for the day...

We have all learned that when Parker is hungry, it is best to find food asap.  That is exactly what we did first.  After lunch, we drove around to Target and grabbed the additional pieces for her wardrobe so I could capture a few pictures to frame from our trip to the pumpkin patch. 

When we arrived, we took Parker out of her car seat, set her feet on the ground and ZOOM!...She was off!  She ran all over the place, rubbing the larger pumpkins and picking up the smaller ones.  Actually, I have to admit that it took 3 of us to even keep up with her!  We all did have a GREAT time there, though.  Here are a few of the pictures that I snapped while there...

Parker Ann and Aunt Ca Ca
Paker Ann and Me
Parker Ann and Mam-Maw
Parker LOVED her trip to the Pumpkin Patch!


Journey With Me Through The Streets Of New Orleans...

I will be baby-sitting for Parker Ann today so there will not be much time for blogging.  Therefore, I thought I would at least shower you all with some great new photos I snapped on my last trip down to New Orleans.

In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, I did not visit New Orleans much.  It was quite sad to even view the devastation done to the city on the television.  Robby made one trip and confirmed that the situation was grim.  As I walked the streets of the French Quarter this past weekend, I was amazed that the city had finally made a return to normalcy.  People crowed the historic streets and stood in line at restaurants, waiting to taste the wonderful creole cuisine being prepared.  Jackson Square was filled with merchants displaying their unique artwork as horse-drawn carriages clopped up and down the brick-paved roads, while the drivers regaled visitors with tales  from the past.  One could never imagine the destruction that had hit the Crescent City merely a few back.  Join me on a "pictorial tour" of  "MY NEW ORLEANS"...
Balconies can be found on almost every corner in New Orleans.  There is a small bit of Spanish influence (from the short time they occupied New Orleans),however, the French influence is quite evident here.  Most of the balconies' iron work in the French Quarters is "cast" iron. 

Look at this interesting fence!  Notice that the name of the Hotel is "The Cornstalk Fence Hotel".

Halloween found its way into the Quarters...

Along with the SAINTS...

I hope that you enjoyed this "pictorial journey" as much as I enjoyed walking through  the historic streets of MY NEW ORLEANS and snapping them for you!


It Is NOT My Intention To EMBRACE The "M WORD"...I'm Out To CURE It!!!

When I decided that I would investigate the usage of biodentical hormones, SOMEONE (who shall remain un named...but it was a MAN) made the comment that I might as well "Embrace the Inevitable".  I replied, "EMBRACE it?!  Are you CRAZY...I'm out to CURE it!"

The first step that I had to take on my journey to get past the dark forest of the "M WORD" (menopause) was to schedule my blood test and fill out a questionnaire.  "Questionnaire" does not properly describe what I had to fill out; it was more like a BOOK!  Quite frankly, I don't believe ANY doctor has EVER asked me that many questions before.  I absolutely HATE doing "paper work", therefore, even the THOUGHT of filling that thing out was daunting for me.  As I thumbed through the pages, I realized that I had two choices:  I could either just rank each question (I also hate the "ranking" system...) randomly or I could really look at what was being asked and answer honestly.  The latter would be more brutal for me, but also more beneficial.  I set the questions aside and took up my "Scarlett Strategy"..."I'll just think about that tomorrow..."

Apparently, Robby was not going to allow me to "think" about the questions for too long.  As we were driving out of town, he presented them to me again, along with a pen and instructed me to begin working on it; he planned to fax it back that very day.  WHAT THE HECK?!  It sounded as though he had some stake in this ...SURELY I had not been acting "hormonal"!  Well, I complied and began the monotonous task of filling that questionnaire out.  As I did so, I also noted that Robby was attempting to glance over at the papers; I moved them to where he could NOT see my answers.  HEY!  It was difficult enough admitting these things to myself...I did NOT want him seeing my answers too!  FINALLY making it to the end of that stack of papers, I laid them on the floor.  At about that time, we stopped for gas (later I wondered if this was a mere coincidence...).  I exited the car for my usual bathroom break and upon returning, found "Mr. Nosey" SNOOPING THROUGH MY PAPERS! (ugh!!!).  I snatched them out of his hands, admonishing him for committing a "HIPPA Violation" as he calmly stated that he just wanted to see if I had answered the questions "honestly"!  OH MY GOSH!  Seriously...What was he going to do?!  Go in and CHANGE my answers?!  Hmph...

Well, "Step 1" was complete; the questionnaire was faxed and I was on to "Step 2":  The Comprehensive Metabolic Blood Test.  Now, I must tell you that I am that person who can make myself physically ill by just thinking about something and anticipating it; that includes having my blood drawn.  I realize that I have given birth to 4 children and I'm not sure how I even got through all of that...Oh yea; it was called an epidural.  Any way, I set up my blood test at the lab in Metairie for the weekend that I would be visiting Ryan for his White Coat Ceremony.  My test was set for Saturday morning and each day I dreaded it more and more.  Unfortunately, I have always had a "needle phobia" and steer away from them whenever possible...this would not be one of those times.

After surviving having my blood drawn, I only had one more step to complete before I could visit my new "Hormone Specialist".  I went down to my OB/GYN's office and signed for copies of the reports of my most recent Pap Smear and Mammogram.  I faxed both of these to the specialist and then began to WAIT for 3 days for the results of my tests to come back.

Waiting is always the hardest part for me.  While I wait, my imagination begins to work on me.  I think of all the "bad things" that could be found to be wrong with me.  I don't understand WHY I do this...I just do.  So, although, I was excited about the prospect of "curing" this curse called, "THE M WORD", I was also really afraid of what they would find.  FEAR is something that keeps us from moving forward when we know that we MUST.  I had come this far...I was NOT turning back now.  While I waited, I decided to pick up ANOTHER book by Suzanne Somers, "Ageless", which confirmed for me that I was doing the BEST thing for ME.  This book goes into further detail about a woman's body and how hormonal balance is vital to its proper function.  It also discusses "biodentical hormones" in deeper detail and how effective they are.  Bolstered by this information, I once again found myself encouraged to continue with my quest for optimum health.  This is the only body I will ever have...I'm going to do it right!  "Embrace the Inevitable"?!  I think NOT...I'm "Curing this Curse"!


Whatever Happened To JUST THROWING RICE?!

When I got married, we just threw rice at the newly married couple as they left the reception. There was "meaning" to this tradition; something about fertility if I remember correctly (They must have thrown a LOT at us...).  However, now day, brides think that "their" wedding must be "unique" and in turn begin the search for "all things different".  Unfortunately, my daughter is no different (sigh...).

I thought it was funny when she first brought the subject up...that is until I realized that she was SERIOUS!  She was talking about leaving the reception and wanting "cute little lanterns" like the ones on the movie "Tangled".  Her father, however, jumped right on the idea as not being such a good one by commenting, "You have to release those over water so they won't burn the whole city down".  Scratching my head a little I thought, "Good reply!  And quick too."  Apparently  her plans for a "unique departure" would not be thwarted that easily.

It had been several weeks and I assumed (I know what THAT gets you...) that the lofty, magical, fairy tale departure from the reception had possibly been replaced by a more sensible one.  Was I ever wrong!  Not only was it NOT replaced...she had found MORE ideas for "unique departures"!

Caitlin has been blowing the text messaging and e-mail up, sending me "ideas" for her upcoming wedding.  You see, she is attending her last year of college in Texas and I am here in Louisiana.  So, this particular e-mail arrived (along with the text message that told me to check my e-mail...) with more lofty ideas on how she and Kevin could depart the reception, along with attached links (to prove that those things really did exist...).  FIRST on the list was...You've got it!  Those little lanterns.  SO...she had not given up on THAT idea.  She also added a note that they did NOT have to be released over water, but would be totally burned out before they hit the ground.  Hmmm...I wasn't so sure about that.  And if there was ONE EXCEPTION where they didn' would be US.  I scrolled down to the next "idea"; it was BUTTERFLIES and FIREFLIES.  These butterflies and fireflies would arrive in some sort of paper packaging and people would release them as the couple made their exit.  OK...What "if" they were not alive when you opened the paper?  Would they all just drop to the ground?  And I thought that moths only flew around at night, not butterflies.  Oh well...on to the next idea; BALLOONS.  At the time the couple would rush from the reception hall, people would release helium balloons.  Hmmm...OK, so WHO would be responsible for filling, storing and passing out around 400 helium balloons?  Just asking...


 The throwing of rice had a meaning behind it.  In later years, people began to throw bird seed at newly married couples; this was a more "earth friendly" alternative.  Now days...well, things have gotten a LITTLE RIDICULOUS!  Oh, I will agree that all of these ideas appear to be romantic and magical...FOR HOLLYWOOD, that is!  There are people who are HIRED to put all of these things in place for is their JOB.  Furthermore, it wasn't very hard to float those lanterns up in "Tangled" because it was an animated Disney movie; they drew them into the scene.  And what (if anything...) is the meaning behind all of these other "unique ideas"?  The lanterns?...Love starts out with a flame and then burns out and crashes to the ground?  And the butterflies and fireflies?...Let love soar; except if it's dead to begin with?  And the balloons?...We're just full of hot air that won't last long?  Well, I think that all of these ideas are fine and dandy for a "Hollywood Wedding", but for me...JUST THROW THE RICE, PLEASE!!!

When The FAIR Comes To Town, You KNOW Fall Has Arrived!

Here in Louisiana it cools off a lot slower than other places.  However, we know that when the Parish Fair comes to town, cooler temperatures are not far off!

Last week the Fair was in town and I cannot say that I have missed going to it many times (if any...) over the course of my life; this year was no different.  Wednesday, as I passed by the fairgrounds, I decided that although it was only Robby and me this year, we were going to make  a trip out there.

For some, it is the rides, other it is the animals...for Robby, the lure of a candy apple is all it takes!  Once there, however, we did have to visit the barnyard.  Now, we ALWAYS brought the kids to the Fair, but one year stands out in my mind more vivid that any other; the year Justin was in 4-H Club.  At the school where my children attended, the 4th grade was set aside as "4-H Project Grade".  Each student was to choose a "project" and it would be part of their science grade.  Oh, we were given a list of projects to choose from, but for SOME UNKNOWN REASON, Robby decided that Justin should raise a PIG!  Yep!...So, as we walked through that barnyard this past week, I immediately went over to where the pigs were and snapped a picture with my cell phone to text to Justin.  Along with the picture, I sent this message:  "Make you miss Mr. Oink?!"  The story about "Mr. Oink" is one that stands out in my mind SO MUCH, that I just had to go back and re-print an article that I previously posted about Justin and Mr. Oink...I hope that you enjoy!


As a child, growing up, I didn't have many animals...well, only 2 dogs, think. One got run over by our car very early on and the other was a gift to me from a family friend. Irving, my little chihuahua. Don't ask about the name, because I have absolutely no idea why a 6 year old child would name their dog Irving. However, Irving lived for a very long time (about 12 years) with our family. I always wanted other animals, but Mother was not too fond of animals, therefore, I considered myself lucky to get to have one dog. Of course, when Robby and I started having kids, I was not opposed to having animals...various types...and at times many. We started out with dogs and then graduated on to other animals over the years. We acquired our first kitten when Ryan was in pre-school. I went with his class to a farm, where he carried this little kitten around with him all day long. At the end of the trip, the lady asked if he would like to have the kitten; I said, "yes'. She mentioned that this was the first field trip she had done where a child actually took an animal home with them, but I could see no problem with it...until we got home and I remembered Muffin. Muffin was our outside dog at the time. A Cur, with a beautiful glass (blue) eye. Being a hunting dog, surprisingly, Muffin was always very gentle. However, Muffin played a little too roughly with the kitten and she ended up spending most of her time on the roof. We even ended up putting her food bowl on the roof. But still, we always loved having our pets around. Our inside dog was a poodle, Ange' and also at one time, we had a guinea pig, hamsters and a hermit crab. But some of my favorites (and more interesting ones) were the ones kept outdoors. At one point, we had a dozen chickens, a totally unridable horse, a rabbit...and my personal favorite, Mr. Oink...our 4H pig. When Justin entered 4th grade, the students were told that 4H was a huge part of their science grade. In other words, it was not "optional", but required that each student choose a project for the year. After browsing through the pamphlet, for some unknown reason, Robby decided that Justin should raise a pig to show in the parish fair. Hmmm...OK. So, everything had to be done according to 4H standards. They built a pen for Mr. Oink (yes, this was his name) and then Robby taught Justin how to feed him and train him with an apple on the end of a stick. As Mr. Oink grew, I think Justin was actually a little afraid of him. He even broke out of his pen one day and we had to call Robby home from work to repair it. He brought the guy who worked for him at the time and they went out to repair the pen, while I sat inside my mother's kitchen waiting. After a while, I saw Robby come walking by, followed by his worker...followed by Mr. Oink! Yep, they didn't really fix that pen very well, or that was one smart pig. Anyway, it was a funny picture; one I wish I had captured on film. Justin continued to take care of Mr. Oink until he became quite fat and was ready for the fair. A special box was made to transport him there and on the day that Justin was to show him, Robby came home with a little surprise. Now mind you, we were not cowboys or anything, but Robby said that there would be some there and Justin needed to "dress the part". He had gone to the western store and bought him a cowboy shirt and hat to wear with his jeans! Now, what kid wouldn't love that? This made a very cute picture, I must say. We were all ready now and headed out for the fair to show Mr. Oink that night. I took the other kids and found us a place on the bleachers, awaiting the grand finale to this year long project. Some of the other children began letting their pigs out of their pens, walking them down the chute and into the main arena. At just about that time, I heard a commotion...Mr. Oink was having none of this showing event. He did NOT want to come out of his pen and walk down the chute! Apparently, Robby forced him out and very unhappy with this scenario, Mr. Oink rebelled. He took off running as fast as he could down the chute, knocking people almost off of their feet. You could hear the screaming before you even saw him enter the main arena...where little Justin was waiting in his cute little cowboy outfit. While the other children were walking their pigs around, tapping them with a rod and showing them to the judges, Mr. Oink hit the scene...and I mean hit it. He began running in circles around the pen (and Justin) with dust flying in his wake and frothing at the mouth. We were aghast! With our eyes bulged and mouths opened, we could not believe what we were seeing. Our fat, old docile, Mr. Oink had a mind of his own and he was having none of this 4H showing event. Eventually, he did calm down a bit, but needless to say did NOT win a ribbon. Mr. Oink is merely one of my favorite "animal adventure stories"...stay tuned for more later.

Back In "The Big Easy"...For Another WHITE COAT

Robby and I headed back down to New Orleans this past weekend. We went back again so soon because Ryan was having his White Coat Ceremony at the LSU School of Dentistry.

It had only been three years ago that we had traveled to Kentucky for David's White Coat Ceremony at his medical school. WOW! TWO "White Coats"...What in the WORLD was I gonna do with TWO "Smarty Pants"?! If there is one thing I AM proud of though as a parent, it is that all the hard work (and money on private education and tutors...) paid off; my kids know what it means to value a good education.

Watching Ryan receive his White Coat was very meaningful for me in many ways. You see, whenever my children were younger, I decided that I would see to it that they were well educated; this was just something that was very important to me. Oh, I know you might be thinking that was because I was a teacher. Well...not back then, I wasn't'; I didn't return to school to complete my education degree until after Caitlin was born and several years old. I just always thought that a good education was something that I could make sure my kids had that no one could ever take away from them. I also knew that it would open doors for them that could make their lives easier. Well, as I watched my Poo Bear (my pet name for Ryan...) go up and receive that White Coat, all I could think about was all the homework we had done together...and class projects...and especially those multiplication tables that I thought he would NEVER learn.

I have never said that my children are the smartest, but I sure will have to say that they are the ones who work the hardest and give everything they have towards reaching a goal. This is ONE PROUD MAMA!...Way to go, Ryan; Congratulations on receiving your WHITE COAT! Hey!...Does this mean that in a couple years I will get FREE dental care?!

The "M WORD" Revisited...

I am "revisiting" the "M WORD" (for those of you who have just started reading...menopause). I am not "revisiting" the subject because I WANT to, but because apparently IT wants me to. And if you don't know by now...That darn "M WORD" is going to have its way no matter WHAT YOU want to do (sigh...)! I thought that I had made it perfectly clear that I was in NO WAY, SHAPE or FORM going to do that "M WORD" thing. I had resisted age at every corner; I bleached my hair on a regular basis, bought cute outfits to keep me looking younger, done TONS of yoga and other fitness classes, embraced the vegetarian lifestyle and bought some of the best skin care products available. Oh...I had caught the winks and nods of those members of my family as I would say or do something that indicated that the "M WORD" was trying to take over my body and I would in turn give them all a growl and the evil eye. HEY! Kevin (before he became my future son-in-law...), even sent me an "M WORD" book for a Christmas present...I KNOW!!! How DARE he?! I'm surprised that I even allowed him to continue dating my daughter! Anyway, as hard as I've tried, it seems that as my 50th year continues to creep upon me, that unwelcome "M WORD" has begun to rear its ugly head. Resigning myself (sort of...) to the fact that I could not escape this dreaded journey that lay ahead of me, I did what I always do; reasearch alternative ways to approach it. A doctor actually gave me a prescription to help me with my research. It was a prescription to read another book (ugh...was I going to be DOOMED to reading self-help books now?). He prescribed Suzanne Somers' book, "THE SEXY YEARS". He told me that after I read it, I would most likely be contacting him. "YEA RIGHT!", I thought. I was resistant a little at first; not even wanting to go near a book store to open the cover of that "prescribed book". I suppose I knew that if I opened it, I would begin to read it and then I would be sunk...It might capture my attention enough to make me finish it. Well, Robby (who knew about this prescription...) stopped by the book store one day...found the book...and just placed it in my hands. I opened the book and began to read. And as I did, I found out some REALLY interesting things about the "M WORD". The first thing that I found out was that Suzanne Somers went into the "M WORD" just like I was doing (WAIT...did I just say that?). She dreaded it and hated it and it seemed like all doctors were doing for women entering the "M WORD" was prescribing a "one for all" hormone medication and possibly other drugs to assist in the dark passage of old age. Hmmm...I NEVER wanted to take any hormones at all (never mind that dar and scary passage of old age...), but how could doctors even THINK of prescribing a "one for all" hormone for ALL women, who if they hadn't noticed were ALL DIFFERENT. The more I read this book, the more it began to make sense to me. The hormones that most doctors prescribe for their patients are "synthetic hormones". These hormones not only do not correct all of a woman's hormonal imbalances (which vary from individual to individual...), but many over the years have actually been quite harmful to their health. And THAT is what has had me stuck all of these years concerning the "M WORD" and hormone usage. First, let me say that there is absolutely NO WAY that I could ever explain to you everything that is included in, "THE SEXY YEARS" PLEASE READ IT YOURSELF! I CAN, however, tell you that after reading it, I have a totally different outlook on the "M WORD". OH...not to the point that I can actually SAY the word yet, but my attitude IS improving a bit. You see, by reading the book, I was introduced to "Biodentical Hormones". These are NOT the synthetic type, which is the "one hormone fits all type", but a more natural approach to hormones; biodentical hormones are made from plants. This is how it works: You need to find a doctor who will do a complete hormone panel blood test on you. Sadly, most of your OB/GYN's will not do this. DON'T let that stop you...find yourself one who will; I did! You will get this blood work done and it will tell your "hormone specialist" EXACTLY what hormones you need tweaked in YOUR body. Then, he will prescribe a SPECIFIC hormone JUST FOR YOU. Your prescription will be filled at a "compounding pharmacy" that makes this; it can be in pill form, but most compound it in a cream form that is rubbed on your inner thigh. Does this not sound EXCITING to you?! Just think about it...A safe alternative to the synthetic type of hormone that is made specifically for YOUR hormonal needs! I am going down to New Orleans (they have a lab that does the test there) to have my blood test done this week. By next week, I will have the results back and then I will be scheduled to see the doctor; there is one who travels to Baton Rouge about twice a month. You may be asking...What is the drawback? There must be, because this sounds too good to be true. I am told it is a little more expensive. How much?...I do not know at this time. I am also told that some insurance companies pay for it too. I will, however, let you know what my results are, the prescribed treatment and cost and how they work. I am EXCITED about this alternative to hormone treatment! I am not having the hot flashes yet or the insomnia and heaven KNOWS I don't want to EVER have what they call a "menopot" (how AWFUL does THAT sound?!...) Why should women have to dread this chapter of their lives and settle with feeling miserable? Go out and get the book...READ IT...and then decide for yourself! It's YOUR HEALTH, YOUR WELL-BEING and YOUR DECISION...For me, I think the extra cost will SO be worth it!

When You See Tears... You KNOW It's "THE DRESS"

On Friday morning, Robby and I jumped in the car...stopped off in Natchitoches and picked up Sarah and Parker Ann. We then headed to Marshall to pick Caitlin up from school. We were going to Dallas for the weekend to meet with our wedding coordinator AND hopefully find a wedding dress.

Although we had decided on a few things for the wedding, I felt that we needed to get MORE done. I just wake up every day thinking of all the things we have to do for this wedding...yes, just "thinking" about it at this point and I finally decided we needed to get into gear and start "doing" more.

The plan was to meet with our wedding coordinator. She had an event planned for Saturday, so I thought we should perhaps take advantage of that extra time to search for a wedding dress. Oh, I know I told you all we had looked once before, but I felt like the more time Caitlin had, the more dresses she was going to find that she liked and then an actual decision would NEVER be made. I told Caitlin to get online and find a few bridal boutiques she would like to visit and make appointments. My organized little "bride-to-be" not only did this, but then made an itinerary and e-mailed it to me! WOW...she was SO much more on top of things than me (thankfully...).

Our day was to begin at 10:00 and we all headed for breakfast (she didn't have lunch penciled in for us until 1:00!) and then set off for the first boutique. Robby kept saying that we would be better off if we left him at home...I said, "OHHH...NO WAY! We're not ABOUT to make a major wedding decision without you. You just get prepared and come along!" On the ride to the boutique, I could feel the tension in the air. It appeared to be just hanging there; buying the wedding dress was a BIG DEAL. Robby and Caitlin are "two peas in a pod", being such business-minded people. Both wanted a beautiful dress AND wedding, but their focus is always SO on "getting a good deal" and not letting anyone price gouge them. I must admit it was THAT talk that had me more stressed out than the wedding, itself. I'm the one who just has wonderful ideas and can find ways to have them implemented...even if it DOES cost a little more. You see my dilema now?!

At the first boutique, we were lead inside and given a representative who questioned Caitlin about her likes and dislikes...THEN we set off to look through the racks and select dresses. They were having an annual event that day and there was an absolute CRUSH of people there, but soon we all found ourselves sitting in a viewing room to see Caitlin model some absolutely BEAUTIFUL wedding dresses. Robby snapped pictures on her camera and I snapped some on my phone; Parker Ann charmed everyone by peeking into the corner of Aunt Ca-Ca's dressing room curtain and admiring people's jewelry. There was only one dress that truly did not make the cut and it was hurriedly carried away, when Robby made the comment that it, "looked like a bird". And the suddenly...things took a detour that I KNEW would be coming.

You see, Robby had stayed in "business mode", while Caitlin had begun to move into "OMG!!! I'm a bride mode". I could tell that she was conflicted about spending too much money, but was also being drawn into the act of "buying the dress of your dreams mode". And THIS was precisely why I INSISTED that Robby make the trip and go through this process with us! As we pulled away from that boutique and headed for the next one, Caitlin began to talk to her dad and the tears began to flow. She was stressed and he was stressed...and I was SO proud of Sarah and me...we kept our mouths SHUT and just listened (we conferred later...). I could tell those two were approaching a Water Lou and before we knew it, Robby was taking Caitlin by the hand as she wiped the tears from her face and they were headed to a bar next to the boutique where he decided they needed both a "little talk" AND a "little drink" (for medicinal purposes, you understand...). As Sarah and I looked on from a bistro table outside, I realized that this approach was most likey going to work a little better than the one I would have taken (yet ANOTHER good reason for Dad to join us..). After the drinks were downed we walked across to the next boutique. Well, actually, they make a quick "walk through" and left. Both agreed that was NOT the place she would find her "dream dress".

We had officially strayed from our "itinerary" and had LOTS of time before our next appointment. There WAS one boutique, however, that did not require an appointment. It was the one that I was anxious to visit anyway because they had announced that the company would be going out of business nation wide by the end of the year...everything was 50 percent off! Robby wasn't so sure that they would even have anything left that she would like...I was banking on this place and when we walked in, found that a deal here (IF we actually found a dress here...) would be even BETTER than we originally expected; there would be a 15 percent discount and then on top of that another 50 percent! Now THAT should appeal to everyone in our "search party"!

After being assigned a representative, we were told we could browse through the racks and were allowed to choose 5 dresses at a time to try on. Suddenly, Caitlin turned around and asked if she could look at the more couture dresses in the front of the store..."SURE! Those are all on sale too; choose anything you'd like," said the associate. Caitlin and Robby walked straight to the same dress. They pulled it out and looked at each other...smiled and agreed that they both LOVED it. About that time, the associate came back and appeared to be SO EXCITED that they were looking at that dress. She explained that it was the only one like it to ever be made and had just arrived 3 days ago from the runway show. The designer, Kenneth Pool, had designed it specifically for a collection that their store was going to sell, but now that they would be closing, there would be no more made. The associate also told her that no one had even tried the dress on yet...she said, "You MUST try it on RIGHT NOW!" We took the dress with 4 more dresses and entered the dressing room.

Looking at those dresses, Caitlin decided to try the "one of a kind" dress on first. To our surprise, it fit PERFECTLY around her (no clips required...!) It was GORGEOUS! She walked out in it and as her dad, Sarah and Parker sat there, she climbed onto the platform in front of the mirrors. People began to gather around and were commenting on the dress. It was so unusual and I was not surprised that Caitlin had chosen to try this dress on. I thought it was "HER" and she seemed to really love it. We both turned to Robby to get his opinion. He just continued to stare at her in the dress. We prompted, "Well...???" He just sat there. We looked at each other and then at him again. Caitlin said, "Dad,...Do you like it?" He could not speak and suddenly put his head down and began to cry. We all looked at each other and Caitlin began to cry. As we walked into the dressing room, I even began to shed a few tears ( and everybody knows I don't cry easily...). We looked at the other dresses hanging there and Caitlin said, "I don't think we even need to try on those; do you? They say, 'WHEN YOU SEE TEARS...YOU KNOW IT'S THE DRESS'".

She did not try on any more dresses and Robby paid for the dress and it should arrive here this week. We are considering having a custom hair piece made to go with the dress and have already found a lady who is going to also make a custom veil to go with it. I cannot WAIT for all of you to see it (at the wedding, of course...NO pictures beforehand!). If we could have commissioned a designer to create a dress for Caitlin, it could not be more "perfect" for her. Her sense of style an uniqueness in dress has always been noted and THIS dress...Her "DREAM DRESS" no different.



Last year around this time, the family all got together for a big pumpkin carving contest.  Everybody had to bring their own design and then the carving began.  With pumpkins, carving tools and seeds flying everywhere, SOMETHING was left behind undetected by me...until recently.

The summer was so hot here in the south, that everything seemed to be dying from lack of rain.  Some of my larger plants had even died and the poor little fish in my pond were desperately searching for either a rock or plant to hide under in an attempt to hide from the sun.  That was the initial reason that I left what appeared to be a large weed growing around their pond.  However, as the summer began to wind down, I noticed that weed looked a little bit like a vegetable plant.  Caitlin had planted some things in a container back there; perhaps some sort of seed had been blown over that way and taken root. 

As the days got cooler, Robby and I were out there on the back patio and I pointed out my "weed/possible vegetable plant"; it had grown pretty big by now and I was wondering WHAT in the WORLD it was.  Taking a look at it for the very first time, Robby knew EXACTLY what it was a pumpkin vine!  And on that vine that wound partially around my fish pond, were now blooms!  I was growing a "pumpkin patch in a fish pond".

Most likely what had happened, was that during our family pumpkin carving contest last year, some of the seeds from our pumpkins were swept off into the dirt surrounding the pond,  Although it had been a very hot summer, the sprinkler system out there kept those seeds watered and now I was apparently growing pumpkins.  Well...I had always wanted to grow my own pumpkins for the fall, but just had never gotten around to doing so; I suppose nature had taken care of that for me this year.

When I met with my new lawn care taker this past week, I instructed him clearly to NOT let anyone pull my pumpkins up while working on the flower beds.  He laughed and asked, "pumpkins"?!  "Yes, those around my fish pond!  They are blooming now and I'm told that they are very close to bearing pumpkins...I want to see if they really WILL grow there."  He told me that the same thing had happened at his house with watermelon seeds, so I am even more in hopes now that I will get myself some pumpkins!  Nothing says, "Welcome To Fall" like pumpkins and although I will be surprised if I have any by Halloween, I sure do hope to have some at least by Thanksgiving!

YESTERDAY'S Pumpkin Carving Contest becomes...

TODAY'S "Pumpkin Patch in a Fish Pond"!

Happy "FALL", Y'all!


The Baking Project..."Home-Made Cinnamon Raisin Bread"

I bet you thought that I had given up on "The Baking Project" since I didn't make a post on my baking adventures last week.  NOPE!  Absolutely not; I just got busy with "Baby Girl" and didn't have much time to write.  But, I am back this week with one of my FAVORITE recipes..."Home-Made Cinnamon Raisin Bread"!

I just LOVE bread!  What is better than smelling that fresh bread baking in the oven and then taking it out and before it has time to cool, slathering it with REAL butter?!  About a year ago, I was determined to learn the "secrets" of bread baking, so I signed up for a class at our local kitchen shop.  I was NOT disappointed in the class and indeed DID learn a few secrets that helped me to master the art of bread baking.

The first thing one needs to wrap their arms around concerning bread baking is the fact that IT CANNOT BE RUSHED.  In this world that we live in, few like to WAIT for anything.  I suppose that is one of the reasons that bread baking is a lost art of sorts...and also why I enjoy it so much.  You need to plan on baking bread when you  know are going to be around the house for a day or two; that's why I would suggest delving into bread baking on the weekend.  Saturday can be the prep day and Sunday the baking day.  Another thing that I enjoy about baking bread is the fact that it is just you and the dough.  It's a cannot be rushed...and you get to wrap your hands around the dough, kneading it into what will be a delicious creation!

What are some of those secrets I learned about baking bread?  First, there's the water temperature:  Make it warm; not hot, not cold and not room temperature.  Second, mix your dough and store it in a plastic or glass bowl; not metal.  Third, us a wooden or plastic spoon to do any mixing of the dough; not metal.  Fourth, use Rapid Rise Yeast; I think it's the BEST.  And last...don't go cheap on any of your ingredients;  you ARE making fresh, home-made bread, after all...AND it is taking 2 days...Why would you even consider skimping on the ingredients?  OH...And I suppose there is one more thing:  Relax and enjoy the actual process of "making the bread"; the mixing and kneading and forming of the bread can become a form of therapy.

Now, once your "Home-Made Cinnamon Raisin Bread" has finished baking, WHAT should you do with it?  OK...I KNOW you're going to eat it!  But there are few options I have on "ways" to eat it.  I, of course, LOVE to just pop it out of the oven, put plenty of butter ("real" butter) on it and savor all of that cinnamon and raisins and butter intermingled.  Then, upon waking up the next morning, I like to slice it and make French Toast out of it.  And if you REALLY want a treat, you can try a suggestion that a friend of mine made...slice it up thick enough to form a pocket, fill that pocket with cream cheese and then make French Toast out it...topping it with powdered sugar and syrup!  I KNOW...sounds positively DELICIOUS, doesn't it?!  Anyway you decide to eat it, I implore you to try your hand at a little bread will not only fill your senses with wonderful tastes and smells, but it may also whisk you away on a journey to a simpler time.
Raisin dough rolled out and cinnamon sugar and butter are added.
Throw a little flour on to prepare for rolling up...
Bread is rolled and ready for placing in a bread pan.
Bread is now in pan and ready to rise a little bit more before baking.
YUM!  Fresh baked home-made Cinnamon Raisin Bread, straight out of the oven and ready for some butter...And gobbling up!

*****If you would like the recipe for "Home-Made Cinnamon Raisin Bread", just send me an e-mail and I will be happy to send it your way!*****


It's My PARTY, I'll Change If I Want To...

I procrastinate.  Often times that gets me in a little trouble.  I was reminded of this the other day while Robby was going through the mail.  Our Voter Registration Cards came in for all 6 of us.  Caitlin watched as he read each person's name and party affiliation out loud.  As he came to my name, her eyes became WIDE as she gasped, "MOM!"  Ugh...I had some explaining to do.

When I was 18 years old, I did what all 18 year olds did...I went down and registered to vote.  That was just a right of passage, like getting one's driver's license at 15...yes, you heard me right; we drove by ourselves at 15!  Anyway, I never really thought about "party affiliation", although over the years, I became more and more outspoken about my political beliefs.  I have never really been a "party voter"; I just chose a candidate who stood for the same ideas that I did.  However, about a year and a half ago, I decided I would change my party affiliation.  But, everyone knows that me "deciding" to do something and actually "doing" it are two TOTALLY different things.

Robby came home with the form for me to change me affiliation, while I began to softly sing, "It's My Party, I'll Cry If I Want To"...substituting the word "cry" to "change" and then he instructed me where to return it before election time. THAT'S where I got into the trouble.  You know, the part where I am required to take it back downtown.  THAT'S where my procrastination comes into play.  Let's just say, I never got "around to" taking that form back and before I knew was time for an election.  Robby actually drove me down to the Parish Barn to vote.  He had already cast his vote and sat in the car to wait for me.  As I walked in, I was thankful that there wasn't a line.  I handed my driver's license over to the lady, signed my name and entered the voting booth.  I knew who I was going to cast my vote for, but I seemed to be having a little problem getting his button to light up.  I stood there for a moment and tried a couple more times...and then it hit me; maybe I couldn't vote outside of my party!  I stood there a little while longer before I stuck my head out of the curtain and said, "I can't get this button to push."  Looking at me with exasperation, one of the ladies asked, "Are you trying to vote outside of your party?"  Suddenly I felt like I was back in elementary school again...I replied with a shaky smile, "I guess so."  And before she could reprimand me, I added, "If I can't vote for who I want to, I just don't want to vote at all any more."  Now THAT got her attention!  "What do you mean," she inquired?  "I don't want to vote inside my party, so just scratch my name off of that list."  Their mouths were agape now as they tried to explain that they would need to find out how to "officially" scratch my name off of the list...OK, whatever; just do it!  When I got back into the car, I DID get reprimanded by my husband...

And so, I have not really though about that little incident until recently...last week to be exact.  Robby informed me that we were helping host a political event and I needed to attend the event with him (ugh...).  I really don't like going to those sorts of things for many reasons, therefore, I threw all of those reasons out in hopes that I would not have to attend.  Finally, I admitted that I would feel like a spy if I went.  Confused, he asked me why.  "Well, I can guarantee, that I will most likely be the only ***** there!"  He began to laugh as he said, "You're probably right, but being 'different' has never bothered you before; you're going!"  I had given it my best effort and failed.  As I got dressed for that event, I told myself, "It's My Party, I'll Change If I Want To..."  And then I thought...I really DID 'WANT' to; I sure hoped the wind would blow the right way and motivate this procrastinator to get down there before the next election!

Books I Am Reading Or Have Read..."The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"

I kept seeing this collection of books and had picked a copy up in the bookstore a couple of times to thumb through.  They looked interesting and were all on the New York Times Best Seller List; they had to be worth my time to read.  So, I did what I always do...I downloaded a "sample" to my Kindle...and began to READ.

"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo",along with "The Girl Who Played With Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" were written by Stieg Larsson.  He was a Swedish magazine editor and leading expert in the area of extremist politics.  He wrote these three novels, turned them in and then died.  That, along with the fact that all three books  were on the New York Times Best Seller List made them very intriguing for me.  These books should definitely be read in order, with "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" being first.

"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" is very well written and quite descriptive.  Don't give up when you first start reading the book because it gives lots of background information regarding Sweden and the political tone of the country.  Then, there is a great deal of time also spent on developing the characters.  I believe these things are very important, due to the fact that the two following books in this series will also revolve around the same main characters, Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander.  Mikael is a writer with a conscience, who finds himself in a bit of trouble and Lisbeth is "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo".  She is a very odd, anti-social girl of sorts, who is also a computer genius.  The two meet, while working on an unsolved murder case that has been going on for many years.

"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" is a very compelling read.  After getting past all of the background information, it quickly pulled me into the story line and kept my attention to the very end.  As I mentioned before, these books should be read in order.  Book 1 develops the characters and their relationships with one another; that is how it is related to the other two books.  The other two are the same story line, with "The Girl Who Played With Fire" (Book 2) leaving the reader hanging (and longing to continue reading...) on the last page.

I would recommend that you pick this book up quickly if you intend to read it it because, while at the movie theater last weekend, I saw a preview of the up-coming movie.  I am anxious to see the movie for a couple of reasons:  First, there is a movie already made on Netflix, however, upon loading it, I found that it was in Swedish and I really didn't want to be required to sit there are read it.  And second, I enjoyed the book so much, that I cannot wait to see if Hollywood does it justice.  I believe that you will enjoy meeting these new characters as much as I did and also understand why these books were all on the New York Times Best Seller List. HURRY!  Get to reading FAST...You want to know all of that background information and inner thoughts of the characters before you see them on the Big Screen!  HAPPY READING!

Life Is Fragile...Handle With Care

It is a fact that bad things happen to good people all of the time.  Those things show up when one least expects them.  We do not understand them; all we have left is the vain attempt to figure out how to deal with them.  One of those things happened to a friend this week and as I heard about it, I could only think of one thing to do for them...PRAY.

Terrible things happen on very ordinary days, when our mundane schedules appear to be sluggishly going about as usual.  Our minds are occupied with the daily rut we are in; getting to work on time, getting the kids ready for school, thinking about what to make for dinner.  Tuesday was a day just like this for me.  It was Justin's 28th birthday.  I was planning a party for the family on Sunday afternoon.  It would also be the weekend of his 10th high school class reunion.  He was excited about attending it and getting together with old friends that he hadn't seen in a while.  Robby and I had set aside the weekend accordingly, to watch Parker so that they could enjoy themselves.  Things were going along as a Tuesday tends to...and then I received a phone call that reminded me that "Life altering events can occur at any time; even in the midst of a very ordinary day."

One of Justin's friends, who was to be in for the class reunion had some very unexpected, terrible news.  His wife was 36 weeks pregnant with their fourth child.  It was just an "ordinary" day for them; going to her doctor for an "ordinary" scheduled visit.  THAT is when everything STOPPED being "ordinary".  Upon examination, it was discovered that a heart beat from the unborn baby could not be detected.  In that instant everything change; nothing was "ordinary" any longer.

The mother was whisked off to surgery; the unborn child was not able to be saved.  When Justin called to tell me this news, my heart was greatly saddened.  He related to me the obvious..."I just don't know what to say to them.  I want to be there for them, but I just don't know what to say."  This was not the first time, I had known someone who had experienced something similar.  Oh, definitely not losing a child at 36 weeks, but I knew people who had miscarried, had still births and even lost a child to an automobile accident.  All of these losses are terrible; ones people cannot and do not understand.  For me, as a mother, I cannot imagine anything worse than the loss of a child.  How does one survive that sort of loss?  There is only one way and that was my reply to Justin's question of :"What can I do?"  PRAY for them.

We, as Christians experience the same sort of feelings during personal loss.  We are sad and angry and don't understand why these things happen to us.  The only difference for us is the fact that we have GOD and our FAITH to lean on to get us through these tough times.  For those who do not have this, I have no idea how they survive.  Things must appear hopeless.  For Christians, those same terrible feelings of hopelessness are somehow filled with HOPE during the darkness and tragedy of death.  We don't necessarily understand God's plans or why he has allowed us to be in this valley, but we TRUST HIM and lean of HIS understanding.  For one day, we know that we will not only meet HIM face to face, but  we will also be reunited with our lost loved ones.  Does this make the pain less?  No.  Do we cry?  Yes.  Do we feel the loss of missing our loved one?  Most certainly.

And so,  my pondering have taken me on an unsolicited journey this week.  To a place where I tend to avoid whenever possible.  It is easier to deal with tragedy when one is not personally close to it; you read about it in the paper, on the Internet and feel a jolt of sadness.  However, those feelings become much more amplified when we are more closely connected to the individuals involved.  We seem to feel their pain more acutely; our thoughts seem to find their way back to those individuals and rest on their feelings of desperation.  It is times like these that make us realize just how fragile life is and how petty we often are.  We are unappreciative of the simplicity of life, traveling in search of "things" to make us happy.  Tragedies like these, cause us to remember that this earthly life is temporary and we should cherish each day that God has given us and live it to the fullest with those we love...for tomorrow, everything could change in our world.  Don't let each day be an "ordinary" day, but an "extraordinary" day...simply because it exsists and you are here to enjoy it with the ones you love.

*****Please pray for this young couple that God will envelope them in HIS arms and provide them with the comfort that only HE can give.*****