Archives for February 2008

Quick & Easy Dinner-Baked Ziti

I made baked ziti last week for dinner and the kids are still talking about it. Well, except for The Grunter, who doesn’t eat noodles. No, I didn’t traumatize him with a pasta dish.

Scary Baby said “it was the best dinner ever.” I was going to freeze 1/2 of it but the kids who are not crazy about leftovers…ate it all!

As I assembled it in the kitchen, Wizzy watched intently because she loves to know how to make dinner “the way mom does” which is rare these days. She noted that “it would have been cool if we had taken pictures and then put them on the blog.” What a great idea. That we didn’t do…

This is a quick, easy meal you can make ahead of time. During the season of life with 3 toddlers, I would often make an extra pan and freeze it. It is my go-to meal when I need to deliver a meal to a family in need. Throw in a loaf of fresh bread (or frozen garlic bread) and “salad in a bag” (yeah, I send something green and vegetable-like to other families) and you have a delicious, hearty meal. I’m all about convenience and ease so if I’m making it to take to another family, I make it in a disposable foil pan so no one has to worry about returning dishes.

Don’t forget dessert – if the family has little ones I always send knox blox (stop laughing) and some cookies or cake. They’ll love you for it, I’m telling you!

Our way: I use one jar of Prego spaghetti sauce & one can of Hunt’s tomato sauce. I season the sauce with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, minced onion, pepper & brown sugar. I wish I could tell you how much, but I don’t know. My educated guess would be about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of each and about 1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Basil? Hmm, I might sprinkle in some dry basil leaves. You don’t seriously think we would have a fresh, green herb in our house, do you? Oh, and I use shredded mozzarella and there’s no such thing as too much cheese at our house so I use about 2 cups and save a little for the top. I spread the sour cream on top of the cheese slices and then add sauce. I use an 11 x 13 pan.

Baked Ziti

  • 1 16 oz package rigatoni pasta (or any shape you like!)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 (28 oz) jars spaghetti sauce
  • 6 ounces sliced provolone cheese
  • 6 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al denté; drain. In a large skillet, brown beef over medium heat and add onions. Drain off fat and add spaghetti sauce; simmer for about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350º and lightly grease a 2 quart baking dish. Place about half of the pasta; top with a layer of provolone and mozzarella cheese slices. Spread on a layer of half sour cream and half spaghetti sauce. Repeat with pasta, cheese, sour cream and sauce; sprinkle with parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Bake for about 30 minutes or until cheese and sauce are bubbly.

I’d love to hear if you make this and what you think!


This recipe is from one of my favorite recipe sites:


The Black Hole, Part Six

I drove 14 hours and 1,000 miles and stopped once for gas and to go to the bathroom and once for a sandwich and to go to the bathroom.

This, I do not recommend. It was not my finest moment.

PhilBillPaul was frantic with worry. He had lived with my head injury emotional outbursts for almost all our years of marriage but I had never left. (Well, except that one time I caught the bumper of the car on the side of the garage and drove to the Kroger parking lot and sat for an hour.)

He called one friend to the north and one friend to the south. Apparently I have no friends to the east or west of me. Neither had heard from me because I was “enjoying” my quiet ride with my iPod playing and my cell phone turned off.

At about the six-hour mark, I decided to turn the phone on. I guess I decided I should check my voicemail. Soothing messages from Ann, friend in the north and Luci, friend in the south made me cry. They were worried and just wanted to help me.

I gathered what little composure I could find and called Ann first since she knew about my breakdown the night before.

Next, I called Luci because even in my mental state I was still worried about good manners. Luci owns an Alzheimer’s facility that she purchased so that her mother would have a place to live. This speaks volumes about her character and she is a caregiver extraordinaire. She asked exactly where I was and at that point I was approaching Louisville, Kentucky. Had I driven south I would have been almost to Tampa, where she lives.

She got on the internet and said she had a flight she would ticket immediately and I could go to the airport, leave my car there, fly to Tampa and she would get me any medical and professional help I needed and take care of me. It was all overwhelming me – this making decisions while I drove to nowhere. I hung up and wept.

It was beyond kind but I couldn’t get past my guilt about imposing on her life just because I couldn’t manage mine. I also knew, as Ann reminded me, that I would feel trapped if I didn’t have my car. (They were both nice enough to not point out that driving was probably not what I should be doing.)

So I declined Luci’s offer but I promised I would call her when I knew where I was going.

A few hours later, my friend Ann made the decision for me. She met me at midnight, three hours from her house, and got us a hotel room and took care of me. She opened her home and took care of me for 10 days while I slept and slept and slept. I did wake up to eat. (I wish I could say I lost my appetite…but no such luck.)

She gave PhilBillPaul updates. I talked to the kids almost every day.

I pulled my personal thing together. (Sort of.) We learned that the withdrawal from the medication I had been taking could be worse than heroine withdrawal for some people. I have no point of reference for that one. The doctors know very little or share very little. The patients, many times, continue to take low doses of this particular medication rather than suffer through the withdrawal.

This would have been helpful information before I started taking the drug. But then again, we didn’t know that I would have such a violent reaction to the medication and the withdrawal process.

All I can tell you is that I have never, ever felt so bad in my entire life.

I don’t name any of the drugs because I know everyone tolerates and responds to medications differently. My experience is just mine. Yours may be totally different. I tend to believe that my head injury plays a part in my inability to tolerate anti-depressants and they just don’t work for me.

What really saved me? Friends. Girlfriends, to be more specific. Lifelong friends who kept calling, emailing and checking on me. Friends who didn’t let me disappear into that Black Hole. They threw me a rope. Sometimes I threw it back and screamed I didn’t need it. They would just throw it to me again.

For the friends who read this and feel bad that they did not know…please release the guilt. I know that if I had picked up the phone, reached out for a moment to let you know, you would have helped me.

No code names for these friends who saved me. From my heart with all the love I can give, thank you…Ann, Luci, Toni, Kim, Colleen, Nancy…you are my heroes and you all really did save me.


To be continued…

If you missed part one, two, three, four or five…

The Black Hole, Part One
The Black Hole, Part Two
The Black Hole, Part Three
The Black Hole, Part Four
The Black Hole, Part Five

Or to read part seven (which is the last one!) and my personal congrats for getting this far…

The Black Hole, Part Seven

Indiana basketball and our kids

It was a bad day on Friday for Indiana University basketball fans. Fortunately, for most of my readers, the resignation of head coach Kelvin Sampson didn’t really shake up your day too much.

On the other hand, PhilBillPaul and his mom had to talk at least three times Friday afternoon as they compared notes on what they were reading and hearing. When you are born and raised in Indiana and even after you move to Georgia (and Texas where his mom is), being an IU basketball fan is serious stuff!

We are big basketball fans at our house. Our kids started playing basketball when they were seven which, incidentally, is the age we decided to let them try a sport.

Side note: Unless you count when The Grunter was five and he participated in a one week soccer camp. He had absolutely no idea what to do, where to go or why we made him attend. It was because he was our firstborn experimental child and I had read an article about soccer being the best sport to start your child in–which may be true for many but wasn’t for him.

They all played baseball and softball for several years. Roger Leroy even tried diving her freshman year. The girls run cross country at their high school. Scary Baby just finished her second season of basketball at church. They all know how to play golf, bowl and we’ve had some fierce badminton tournaments in the backyard.

Okay, so you get the idea. They’ve been exposed to a variety of sports and we really are a basketball family.

Basketball has become the primary sport that they all love. I’m sure it has something to do with their dad loving it and coaching them. I was personally delighted because it is an indoor sport which means I don’t have to sit in the rain, sleet, freezing cold or blazing sun.

We are also an oddity among parents in our community. Our kids have always been allowed to pick only one extracurricular activity at a time in addition to their full-time job, which is being a student (for those of you who think we’re endorsing slave labor).

In terms of sheer time management, it was the only way we saw to manage our family, our relationship and our life. One of PhilBillPaul’s favorite lines is “We run the kids, they don’t run us.”

Back to this not being about basketball…

We’ve had some lively discussions over the weekend about the shake-up in Indiana and part of the team not showing up for practice and how and why all these things happened.

Bottom line for us: A coach is a teacher and mentor to the team and the players he works with. He has to be held to a higher standard because of his interaction with our kids. Just like a pastor or politician or any other leader.

When I say “our kids” I mean all of our kids – not just mine. I mean it in the sense of “it takes a village” and we are the village.

If the adults are not setting good examples for our kids then we are left with a society full of kids who think it’s okay to lie, cheat and ignore the rules that we are all suppose to abide by. If the coaches, who are suppose to be helping mold our kids into productive members of society, are breaking rules, then we need to hold their feet to the fire when they screw up.

Yes, everyone makes mistakes. (I don’t have enough time left in my life to write about all the mistakes I’ve made and will continue to make.)

Yes, I also believe in forgiveness.

But I also believe in common sense and like to use it especially when others seem to have lost theirs.

Kelvin Sampson let our kids down. Individually and collectively as a team. During a winning season, he let them down in a big way.

If you want the details of how he let them down and why he has been branded as a cheater, here’s an ESPN column with some strong opinions written by senior writer Pat Forde.

Or here is a Sports Illustrated story with less slant and more facts.

But back to our kids

It is time now for all the adults involved with these student athletes to step up and support them as they learn this tough life lesson.

Adults they care about and love will let them down. While no one is perfect, the disappointment that comes when someone lets you down is never easy.

We all need to remind them of their own personal responsibility to surround themselves with role models and mentors and friends who walk the walk with honesty and have the courage to do what is right even when it’s not easy.

If Kelvin Sampson was the reason they chose Indiana University, then they need to find a new reason.

Our bigger message to our kids should be that we are here to help them grow into young men and women with character and integrity. And no one can ever take that away from them without their permission.

That message should be loud and clear in the media but unfortunately it usually isn’t the message we read..

Which really means that we all need to to make sure that message is repeated over and over in our own homes…

Meanwhile, it’s nice to meet another Indiana family here in Georgia.


This picture was taken after the girls earned first place in their basketball league championship and finished with an undefeated season. Woo-hoo!

PhilBillPaul, the girls and John, Lisa and Sharté Foy love to display their team colors whenever possible since we live in the land of rabid lovely Bulldog fans who, coincidentally, wear the very same colors.

Life Lesson (LL): It’s never a wrong time to do the right thing. Thanks Uncle Doug. 🙂

Share a Life Lesson (SALL): Have you had an opportunity to teach your kids a lesson about doing the right thing using sports or a coach’s behavior as an example? Because it may not feel like a big deal but it is. When you do this, you are doing it for all of our kids. Do tell so I can publicly thank you!


Grandad Jimbo

Today is a day I choose to celebrate my dad.

Indulge me as I take a little trip down memory lane with some good times with my dad…

It was one of the proudest days of my life when I birthed The Grunter way back in 1989.

He is our only child born in the Midwest. Upon learning I was pregnant just seven months after the car crash in Florida, we moved to Illinois so I could be close to my parents.

We didn’t know the sex of the baby and I was quite sure it was a girl.

Ah, but life is full of surprises and we were the proud new parents of a baby boy. Grandma and Grandad got to come to the hospital hours after his birth. We kept the name we picked a surprise too. So when Grandad arrived at the hospital, it was a moment that is frozen in time for me. I introduced him to his first grandson and his namesake (in reverse).


Grunter The meet The Grunter. Okay, not really but I can’t reveal The Grunter’s real name here on the internet. So you’ll just have to imagine. (Something like PhilBillPaul meet PaulBillPhil–say that three times fast.)

We stayed in the Midwest for 8 months after The Grunter was born and we made the most of our months there. We enjoyed Friday night fish dinners at the local restaurants, Bears football and played euchre on the weekends.

My dad and PhilBillPaul always got along great. Such a rare gift when the in-laws love your spouse. Together they had a wicked sense of humor and loved to make my mom and me squeal.

But then we moved to Georgia. Our weekly visits became two or three times a year. We added two more grandchildren to his growing brood which topped out at eleven.


The twins were as big a surprise to us as was having a son! It took him a long time to attempt to hold the girls together–admittedly they were a handful. He was almost as overwhelmed as we were with two babies and a two year old.

We spent several Christmas holidays in the Midwest when the first three kids were babies and toddlers. Later, we opted to stay in Georgia and create our own family holiday traditions but I look back at those years fondly.

He was always genuinely excited when we visited. One year he waited patiently for our arrival so he could show the kids his new hair. On our previous visit, The Grunter had asked him where his hair went. When we walked in the living room, there was Grandad donning his new hair.


My dad always made time to be with my kids. He got down on the floor and read books. He colored with them and he played games with them. He almost always adjusted his schedule when we visited so he could spend time with us. I got to watch my dad love my kids unconditionally.


He taught them to play chess. It took a lot of patience to get Roger Leroy to sit still. Luckily, he had lots of patience.

For six years in a row, we traveled to the Midwest for a Labor Day family reunion in Indiana and would spend some time in Illinois with my parents. It was an easier time to travel without the ice and snow and the chaos of the holidays. And if there is a good time to be in the Midwest, September is a glorious month!

My dad loved golf. Absolutely LOVED golf. He played every day that he could and sometimes twice a day. At his best, his handicap was 4. He was an excellent golfer.

He taught us to play in the 5th grade and made us count every single stroke. I was very proud of that first round score of 56…on THREE holes. In spite of my score, he was also an excellent teacher. He didn’t just teach us how to hit the ball; he taught us the etiquette of the game which was every bit as important to him as a good drive off the tee box.

Out of the four kids in my family, my brother and I are the ones who still continue to play. I have improved a little. My brother has improved a lot.

When my kids got big enough, he promised to take each one to ride in his red Harley golf cart while he played a round. He waited until they were old enough to understand how to sit and watch quietly and enjoy the beauty of the course. It was a magical thing to witness.


This day was Wizzy’s turn. Excuse me, he never let us drive the cart?! In fact, he usually made us walk.

Roger Leroy never got her turn…

Today marks eight years ago to the day that he died. He had just turned 60 in December of 1999.

He passed away 2 short months later in the home he loved with just me and my mom there. We promised we wouldn’t take him back to the hospital he hated so much.

It was my privilege to be there in those final days.

Life is made up of challenges and chaos and of moments and milestones. Every once in a while, there is a perfect moment. Sometimes you don’t get to take a photo of that moment.

But sometimes you do.


My favorite photo in my life is this one.

My favorite video is my dad sledding with my kids when we flew up to Illinois spontaneously for the weekend because The Grunter said he “wanted to make footprints in the snow.”

Be here now. Stop and make footprints. It is so worth it. Make sure you make the time to tell those important people in your life how much you love them. Visit them. Hug them. Call them today.

Treasure the moments. Take lots of pictures. Learn how to use that camcorder. I just cannot express how priceless those moments on film and dvd are to us.

Treasure each other in the recognition that we do not know how long we shall have each other. –Joshua Loth Liebman

This is the last grainy, poorly lit photo I have of my dad. It is one of only two photos I have of him with Scary Baby. She was just one month old when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma–a particularly painful and hideous cancer.


She was five months old in this picture. Five months later he was gone.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds. If you’ve lost a parent or loved one, then you already know this.

Love and time – those are the only two things in all the world that cannot be bought, but only spent. –Gary Jennings

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him and miss him.

Some day maybe I’ll tell you some bad, funny stories about him.

As I smile and celebrate his life, especially today, I thought this would be a fitting close.

Two years after his death, I made a small tribute album with all the pictures of him with my kids that I could find. The album helps us to
always remember and here is what I wrote on the last page…

I thank God that he was able to see each of my children and he knew that Daddy and I made a good and happy life for our family. Most of all, I am at peace knowing that this man who raised me as his own daughter since I was three years old…this man who I never referred to as my step-dad even though that is what the world might call him…this man who made a life for my mom and me, supported us, paid the bills, created a home and made us all a family…this man who never judged me and quietly believed in me through those tough teen years…this man who taught me the game of golf and so many other things about life…this man knew in his head and his heart through my words and my actions that he was the only dad I’ve ever known and loved with all my heart…

Thanks for indulging me today so I could remember and celebrate
a kind, funny, patient man. My dad.


The Black Hole, Part Five

PhilBillPaul was on his way home–presumably to take me to the hospital or some facility that could help me. The kids were hiding somewhere in the house listening to me cry.

I called my friend Ann to tell her my passwords and important information she could take care of while I went away. Apparently, I was thinking I might be away for a while and someone should answer my emails and take care of other details I wouldn’t be able to while I was hospitalized. Because I’m a planner like that.

I still could not breathe.

I never, ever felt so out of control in my whole life.

Ann told me to take one of those new anti-anxiety pills right then while she was on the phone with me and she insisted she would stay on the phone with me until PhilBillPaul got home.

When she was sure PhilBillPaul was tending to me, Ann then called my OB/gyn and my therapist.

Have I mentioned that my friend Ann lives in Illinois? She was doing all this for me three states and 820 miles away–I hope you all have a friend like Ann in your life…

The OB/gyn offices said to take me to the emergency room. The therapist said to try to wait until Monday because the ER would do very little and might make it worse. It’s always helpful for the professionals to agree and make good decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to. (sigh)

I had already screamed announced I was not going to the ER to be strapped down and sedated. I have BIG issues about being pinned down.

I took a shower. I crawled into bed and talked to Ann on the phone again because she seemed to be the only person who could calm me down. PhilBillPaul brought me something to eat. I fell asleep.

I slept fitfully and never really calmed down. The exhaustion was indescribable.

Maybe it was the rhythmic snoring that brought me to this place or maybe I just needed something to blame because no one could tell me why I felt this way. I do know that the snoring had become like nails on a chalkboard, or for me, like when someone scratches their jeans and I have to slap them to stop it.

Come to think of it, his breathing had become quite annoying too.

In the morning, PhilBillPaul left to take the girls to a basketball game and The Grunter was still sleeping.

All I remember thinking is this: I cannot stay in my own house another minute. I must find a quiet place where I can sleep. I must not be where dogs bark or kids say “Hey mama” or my husband asks me every half hour “Is there anything I can get you?”

I know that last one sounds really sweet and it was. If you weren’t me.

It was also smothering and infuriating. He just couldn’t fix me no matter how much he wanted to.

So I did what we’ve all threatened thought about but only in our head. Or shared privately with girlfriends but always with a little uneasy laughter because none of us would ever really act on those unspoken or private thoughts…

I ran away from home.


I left a note that said I would call when I got to where I was going. I packed a bag of dirty clothes and left.

I had no idea where I was going.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I was pretty sure I was going…



To be continued…

If you missed part one, two, three or four…

The Black Hole, Part One
The Black Hole, Part Two
The Black Hole, Part Three
The Black Hole, Part Four

Or to read more of the riveting story that I probably should just turn into a free ebook…

The Black Hole, Part Six
The Black Hole, Part Seven

The Cocoa Krispie Nightmare

This is a message of hope for moms with toddlers, tweens or teens who have some version of the strong-willed child. I know the pain of wondering if you are damaging their self-esteem, leaving permanent scars and ruining their childhood.

First a little more background on The Grunter

He was born with a mild disposition and he slept through the night. He was an unexpected, unplanned joy in our life.

He was our pumpkin.


He became a big brother far sooner than we would have ever planned.
(If we had been planning.)

At 21 months, we brought home, not just one, but TWO baby sisters who invaded his world.


The days flew by and he spent his days letting his sisters touch all of his toys and protecting them from “choking people.” (You know those little Fisher Price® figures that went with the farm and various other toys.) He announced they had “choking people” at least seven times a day to which I would reply, “Thank you, Officer Humphreys.”

He endured being paraded around and photographed with those darn twin sisters. Here is just one of many, many photos he endured while dressed to match his little sisters.


Side parenting tip: It is much easier to count and corral your children in public if you have them dressed alike. I’m sure it also squelches their individuality but that’s a post for another day.

He even endured life when we had the nerve to bring home another sister the year of his 10th birthday. Weren’t two enough?

But he kind of liked this one who appeared to be his very own “twin.”


The above picture is Scary Baby at 6 months, framed picture of The Grunter at six months and The Grunter himself.

It has to be hard, still to this day, living with all these GIRLS! In spite of how he acts on the outside, we have witnessed his kindness and affection for them. On most days, he’s a pretty good big brother. I like to believe that he knows, deep down, that he would have been a lonely boy without his sisters to play with…


I shared all that with you first so you wouldn’t think I’m a bad mom for taking pictures of one of our many struggles. (Remember we’re all here to share not judge.)

I will be the first to admit that I think there is an extra challenge for mothers who are stubborn and strong-willed who are blessed with children who possess those same characteristics. Well, that and God has a sense of humor…

I am guilty of dreaming of having passive, quiet children who obey and never rock the boat. I have friends who have these strange nice children. Such a boring life these people have…sigh.

Instead, I have a boy who continues to challenge us in so many ways.

It seems like it was just yesterday but in fact, it was more than 10 years ago when our little pumpkin wouldn’t eat much of anything. (No comments from you vegetable-lovers please.)

I present you now with one of our favorite family memories. You know those fantastic one-liners your kids utter and you know right then and there that you’ll never forget them from that very moment.

On this day in September of 1997, that line was…



The back story of this sad photo:

We were in a phase at our house where he was having a very hard time eating good meals. Yes, I am one of “those” mothers who often says, “You are NOT sick, you are FINE.” But when this eating problem persisted, I had a change of heart. I really did get worried.

Worried to the point of going to the doctor to make sure he was healthy. After many tests including urine, stool sample, blood work, x-rays and an upper G.I. – a clean bill of health was announced.

Dad made a special trip to the grocery and bought him this specific cereal because it “sounded good.” Unfortunately, the soggy texture of the milk and cereal combination (who knew?) coupled with our insistence that he eat the TINY bowl of cereal created a full-fledged meltdown ending with the now famous line, “When will this nightmare be over?”

For those readers who are concerned about the boy, his cereal and his life now…


Here is our delightful much-loved firstborn on his 18th birthday who never eats cereal and drumroll please…he is FINE!

Life Lesson (LL): Cereal and milk become soggy when not eaten quickly and the trauma of eating the said soggy cereal may cause you to seek out therapy later.

Share a Life Lesson (SALL): What awful things did you make your kids sit at the table and eat? Or better yet, what did your horrible, mean parents make you finish and you are still sharing those memories in therapy with a chosen few? Come on now, don’t be shy – this is a safe place to share!


Sending You Love & Chocolate on Valentine’s Day

WHAT??!! You didn’t make the cake????

You woke up this morning and realized it was Valentine’s Day and forgot to make something yummy for your friends and family?!

Quick, stop at the store and buy THREE things:

Bag of Hershey’s Kisses
Bag of M & Ms
Bag of Snyder’s Pretzel Snaps

Preheat oven to 275º and unwrap all the Hershey’s kisses. (Good job for the kids unless you want to surprise them.) Line up pretzels on baking sheet. Put one kiss on each pretzel. Bake in oven 2-3 MINUTES. The kisses will be shiny. Remove from oven and immediately press one M & M on each kiss. Let cool and harden. (Some people put them in the freezer.)

Ta-da! There you have the simplest, quickest recipe I’ve ever made in my life. The perfect blend of sweet and salty and they’re darn cute too.

I promise yours will look better than these last three pitiful ones that I had to fight Roger Leroy and Wizzy for so I could use them for this professional blog photo shoot.


I hear the green M & Ms are the new red. Speaking only for myself, I’ll eat any color.

We did pick out the brown ones and eat them immediately since we all agreed they wouldn’t look as *pretty* on top on the kiss.

Thanks Wendy for introducing us to this fun, bite-sized treat. 🙂


The Black Hole, Part Four

The nurse at my doctor’s office encouraged me to see the midwife who is well-versed in women’s sleep deprivation, depression and hormone issues. I wholeheartedly agreed. I love the midwives. I delivered all four children with midwives. Sign me up. I need to see a midwife.

She listened. She empathized. She laughed. (I’m still funny even when I’m depressed.) She pointed out anyone would be depressed at the stage of life I’m at with the ages of my children. (That made me kind of sad.)

She sent me home with a NEW prescription that she was SURE would work for me. It was in a different family of drugs than the other two I had taken in the past. I had been properly weaned from the first med and could start the new med the very next day.

She also sent me home with a sleeping pill prescription. I was craving sleep in a giant way.

I took one and lay in bed all night waiting for it to work. No such luck.

Have I mentioned that PhilBillPaul snores like a stuck pig? He has done this for all 20 years of our marriage. I’ve been incredibly tolerant if I do say so and I am saying so now. But at this time in my life, his snoring, or more accurately, my newly developed extreme sensitivity to noise had wreaked more havoc on my sleep patterns.

12 weeks later. Still exhausted. Volatile. Witchy. I called the doctor’s office and talked to the nurse again. She said I should definitely be feeling better by now. Time to start weaning off this drug that wasn’t working and make another appointment. They wanted me to come in and talk to the midwife again.

She was baffled. She couldn’t believe that neither med worked. I asked about hormone levels and doing other blood work to test everything that seemed to be going wrong with my body (and mind). She thought it might be time for a pysch evaluation. I volunteered to check in to a facility where I could sleep for a week or two. She laughed…again.

I left with the names of two psychiatrists she recommended and a new anti-anxiety med that might help on the “really bad days” (until we could figure out what was wrong with me).

Two days later, I had The Grunter pinned to the wall and I was screaming till my throat hurt. I literally fell apart. I could not breathe. I called PhilBillPaul and through my hysterical sobbing I begged him to come home and take me to a hospital that would help me…


To be continued…

If you missed part one, two or three…

The Black Hole, Part One
The Black Hole, Part Two
The Black Hole, Part Three

Or to read more of the riveting story that I probably should just turn into a free ebook…

The Black Hole, Part Five
The Black Hole, Part Six
The Black Hole, Part Seven

Period Shoe.


This is a girl story that only mothers with daughters will truly appreciate. Or people with a warped sense of humor. If you fit neither category, just stop reading now.

Roger Leroy is a late bloomer. She’s fine with this fact of life. She is an athlete and has played every sport we have allowed her to since age seven. Currently she plays basketball and runs cross country.

Side brag note: Last week she scored 35 points on her basketball team which we thought was pretty impressive. That was before Saturday when she scored 42 of the team’s 50 points. (The other 8 points were Wizzy’s.)

Because of her athletics and thin build and genetics, she’s only had three periods in her 16 years. She appreciates this. (Wizzy, her fraternal twin sister does not.)

She cleans a very large church on the weekends with her dad. It is hard work and I’m proud of her for doing it because it is a job that very few teenagers would be willing to do. It is definitely not a cool job.

It’s a bonding time for her and her dad. When they’re not fighting about cleaning methods and rushing through your work and things of that nature. This job is how she has earned enough money for her first (used) car. Because in the land of plenty, where many of us live, our teenagers did NOT receive a car for their 16th birthday.

One other thing you need to know about Roger Leroy before I replay our conversation; she is an excellent student but is a little absent-minded. She is intense and focused and as a result, sometimes loses track of the little details.

A few weeks ago, they arrived home late on Saturday night and I was working on the computer. She brought her shoes in to me and set them on the table announcing she “needed to put them in the washer.”


She knows I have issues about putting really dirty things in the washer. Yes, I know that is what a washer is for – to get dirty things clean. Just let me continue with our conversation because this is not about my issues:

ME: “Is that blood?!

RL: Yeah, I didn’t realize it.

ME: OH MY GOSH, how can you NOT feel that?

RL: Mom, I just didn’t realize it. (rolls eyes)

ME: How can you NOT realize it??? You have to go to the bathroom and change more often.

RL: Change what?

ME: Please don’t act like this.

RL: It’s not an act. I didn’t know I was bleeding.

ME: That’s what happens when you have your period. Didn’t you feel it running down your leg into your SHOE?????????

She starts laughing hysterically.

I start laughing at how gross and ding-dongy this daughter of mine is. (I’m sure ding-dongy is a word)

ME: In all my years, I don’t know anyone who has leaked like that!

RL: Mom, it’s not from my period – MY ANKLE WAS BLEEDING!!!

When we both recovered from laughing, I told her to be quiet while we called her Dad in the room…

ME: When you have daughters you need to watch for this kind of stuff. Didn’t you see blood running down her leg and into her shoe????

I wish I had a picture of his expression…

…but we only took a picture of the shoes.

Life Lesson (LL): Hydrogen Perioxide removes all kinds of blood.

Share a Life Lesson (SALL): Share a good laundry tip with us–you know, like hairspray removes ballpoint ink or share something as gross as Roger Leroy’s period shoe. Because I like to laugh and I’ll be sure and pass the laundry tips on to PhilBillPaul


Chocolate Bavarian Torte

First, I need to start by saying that I won’t necessarily be posting a recipe every Friday. This is merely a coincidence in the timing of the Superbowl and upcoming Valentine’s Day. And since I have had a wee bit of trouble “finding the funny” in anything this week, chocolate and whipping cream go a long way in my personal healing.

Secondly, every recipe I have in my extensive recipe collection does not call for whipping cream or half and half. It is just another coincidence.

Seriously, I just wanted to give you some lead time to go to the grocery and buy these complicated ingredients for this elaborate and FAN-CEE cake so you can impress your family by making this fabulous cake for your Valentine’s Day dessert!

That’s next Thursday, February 14th, for those of you who are not planners. Just like Christmas, it comes once a year, same month and date so don’t let it surprise you this year.

You have to refrigerate this cake overnight so that means you need to make it on Wednesday, February 13th. See, I’m here to help you plan. Be ready. Make this cake!

Unless your family is allergic to chocolate and/or dairy…then I don’t have any suggestions. That must be hard. I’m sorry.

The picture to entice and inspire you…


I’d like to tell you that this cake is one I actually made and the lovely pink roses and baby’s breath scattered in the background are from PhilBillPaul. That would be a big lie.

But the picture did make me laugh. Because it made me think about my friend Leigh Anne, who would make it in heart-shaped pans and scatter raspberries around the plate (that she and her children picked) and cut fresh flowers from her garden…I love to have friends who are so different than me…it’s what makes the world go ’round 🙂

Our way: We don’t change a darn thing in this recipe. Sometimes I skip the grated chocolate on the top just because I’m lazy like that. I’m all about eating and not so much about presentation.


Photo & recipe from Taste of Home magazine

Enjoy and please do tell if you and your family love it as much as we do!!



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