Archives for April 2008

Imogene, The Farm & City Kids

I hope that when you are reading this I am visiting or about to visit Imogene in Indiana.

She’s the only Grandma I’ve ever known as my mom’s mother passed away when I was just six months old.

I’ve been lucky enough to be the keeper of some very special family photos.

Side note: Volunteer to make an album and relatives might give you some precious pictures.

My mom grew up on this farm and I grew up as a city kid who was lucky enough to visit the farm.

FarmAlbumPage

Imogene sent me a thick envelope of pictures in 1995 and I love what she wrote and I included it on the album page. Grab a magnifying glass, it’s worth reading!

My cousin Dayna captured the essence of us city kids visiting the farm by writing this story for the family reunion album I created almost 15 years ago.

For a little girl who lived in the city, the farm might as well have been Disney World. There were so many things to explore and never enough time. From the gravel road you turned into the driveway which had a bridge over the pond. Never mind that there was probably only inches of water beneath it, I always held my breath as we went over it because there were no sides to this bridge and you just never knew how good a driver your Dad was! Up the hill stood the farmhouse and many, many other buildings just waiting to be explored. There were skinny sidewalks that surrounded the house and sometimes led to nowhere. There were so many doors and porches on that house it was amazing. Of course, one sidewalk led down to the outhouse which was, to a city kid, unbelievable. The darkness, smell and bugs in the corner were just enough to make you wish you were back home! Then there was that huge big tank in the yard which you never fully understood what it was used for. It was best for telling your little brother or sister that if they hit it too hard, it just might explode the whole farm! What a great place this farm was for me. I can remember every little detail about it as if I were just there yesterday. It’s all in my heart and memory forever.

My Grandad passed away the year I married PhilBillPaul. We continued to have family reunions on Labor Day weekend at my Uncle Jack’s farm for more than 25 years.

Now it was my turn to bring my city kids to the farm. City kids getting to see pigs is a big deal.

KidsatFarm

But the bigger deal has always been spending time with extended family. The stories. The pictures. The memories.

Here is one of my favorite quotes I included on the album page that was my Grandad’s last Labor Day reunion…

Enjoy the little things for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
–Robert Brault

All those reunions were the big things. I always knew that. I still know that.

My mom is the second youngest of seven children who are all still alive.

(I won’t mention names but ages range from 81 to 59…can you hear my slow whistle? It’s impressive, we know!)

13 years and one month flew by and we didn’t miss the irony when she was the first to lose her spouse, my dad, at the age of 60.

Meanwhile, the years continue to pass by and time doesn’t stand still.

I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. I hope this will be a soft whisper and a gentle reminder.

Last year as I made my way back home from The Black Hole, I stopped in to spend the afternoon with Imogene. We went shopping and out to eat and before I left I snapped this picture of her standing by my car with my camera phone. At age 91, my bright blue VW Bug matches her personality.

ImogeneMay07

Imogene is funny and spunky and I have always loved spending time with her. To get to spend one-on-one time with her is a sheer delight for me.

Of course, the time I get to spend with her is rare since we moved from Indiana when I was in the 3rd grade and I’ve never lived there again.

Kids and life have a way of getting in the way of visiting.

I’m making the time to visit this week. It is a privilege that I don’t take lightly.

Notice I said I’m making time. It’s not in the budget. It’s not on the schedule. The teenagers will probably think of new reasons for me to take Valium while I’m away. Maybe I should leave some Valium for PhilBillPaul…

But I’m going because I can’t stop time and on my list of priorities, this one is right at the top of my list.

Hopefully I’ll get to see Uncle Jack, Uncle Jerry, Aunt Jane, Sally, Dayna and anyone else interested in seeing me while I’m there. As you can imagine, there are a whole lot of relatives in Indiana. But I’m starting with the oldest and most favorite first. 🙂

Dysfunction still abounds but…

There’s a magical tie to the land of our home, which the heart cannot break, though the footsteps may roam.
–Eliza Cook

And I’m bringing my good camera this time.

Life Lesson (LL): Life is short. Make time, take pictures and don’t forget to write down the stories.

Share a Life Lesson (SALL): Share a favorite story about your grandparents…your memory might help someone create a family memory for their family!

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I Have Issues…

No real surprise for those who know me.

For those who don’t, it’s probably not a real surprise either.

I have written about the fact that I have issues.

I have learned to live with most of them. Some require Valium. Some will require more therapy.

I think writing about my issues will be cheaper than therapy.

I truly believe we all have issues. Some of you may not want to admit it. Some of you are just better at hiding them then I am. My kids would like it if I could keep most of my issues to myself.

Before I tackle a specific issue, I’d like to reveal a little about my fashion sense. It is actually related to this post.

(Which could be a separate issue I’m not going to write about today.)

I just wanted to share this t-shirt that screamed “BUY ME, WEAR ME” last year. I had to shut it up so I bought it.

In fact, I bought this shirt last year because it really did speak to me.

IssuesShirt

The issue of the day is…

SCISSORS.

I have lost count but a pretty accurate estimate of the number of pairs of scissors that I have purchased since becoming a mother is approximately 972. Since The Grunter is 18, that is an average of 54 scissors per year. Yeah, that seems about right.

I have bought them their own. I have color-coded them and announced their purpose. Kitchen. Scrapbooking. School projects. Sewing. Etc.

Call me crazy but I don’t want to open a hermetically sealed package of bacon with a pair of scissors that have glue and other unidentifiable objects stuck to the blades.

Nor do I want to trim a picture with scissors that have bacon fat on them.

I have hidden them. I have bought them in cases of six. I have them in drawers on all three floors of our house.

When I need a sharp, clean pair, do you think I can open a drawer and they are there?

I have found “MY GOOD SCISSORS” on the front porch, the sidewalk, the backyard, the garage, the stairs, their bedrooms, the bathrooms and various other places.

When I was scanning pictures for Scary Baby’s birthday post, I saw a few pictures that gave me some insight into my scissor issue.

The inappropriate use of scissors started at an early age…

GirlsHaircut21995

Obviously, I was a rookie scrapbooker and must have had a brand new, shiny pair of scissors that I went a little crazy with. I swear my family albums look a lot better now. It takes a little while to develop your own personal style.

Try to ignore the hack job I did on the pictures and instead, focus on the hack job Roger Leroy did on her twin sister’s hair AND her own. I especially love Wizzy’s expression.

Here’s the excerpt from the photo album of 1995:

Roger Leroy’s Hair Salon Now Open Out of Business

Roger Leroy opened up her shop in our basement on January 24. Her “Grand Opening” was followed immediately with her last and only day of business. Mom shut down the shop. It seems that Wizzy was her first customer after she did a trim job on her own bangs. When Wizzy appeared to show her new haircut, it was quite obvious that Rachel had no formal training and was operating without a license which is illegal in Georgia! Mom screamed and cried and cleaned up the hair–the girls collapsed after a busy day.

History repeated itself in 2003.

SBhaircut

Excerpt from that album:

Another Humphreys girl discovers that her chosen vocation should NOT be hairdresser! Scary Baby found a pair of scissors and snuck off to her room to trim her bangs. No twin sister to blame this time. Mom didn’t cry this time and Dad called our family hairdresser to do what she could to “disguise” this very uneven trim job. As we already know, it takes a long time to grow your bangs back!

For some odd reason, we bagged up and photographed the hair. I think PhilBillPaul has it saved somewhere with all their baby teeth.
(Those would be his issues, not mine.)

I think you can see why scissors are a touchy subject at my house.

Life Lesson (LL): It is unhealthy for me to covet scissors like I do.

Share a Life Lesson (SALL): Am I all alone? I’d be honored if you share an issue or two so I could at least tell my kids that other moms have issues too…

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Aunt Jane’s Brownies

I have no idea where my Aunt Jane got this recipe. I’m visiting next week so I’ll try to get the history of the recipe because I don’t want there to be any bad press surrounding the release of this recipe.

I just remember that whenever we visited her house she always had a pan of brownies for us.

The important facts you need to know right now are that these brownies are super easy to make and delicious. This is a great recipe for kids to make as you teach them to cook.

I’ve yet to meet a bad brownie.

Enjoy!

Aunt Jane’s Brownies

  • 1.5 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1 C shortening
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 heaping TBSP cocoa

Beat by hand. Bake at 350º in greased 13×9″ pan for 30-35 mines. No icing needed. Melt in your mouth delicious!

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Hip and Cool Sisters

We might have been dysfunctional but we were also hip and cool.

1968 was the year.

Ann guessed correctly last week.

Thanks to those of you who guessed in the 70’s. That was either very polite or you’re too young to be guessing. Either way I appreciate it.

I thought I’d give you a glimpse of how hip and cool we were. (In case you missed it by our hair and clothes.)

This was our bedroom.

Indybedroom

The turquoise bedspreads, the wall art, the lamp…how much hip and cool can you stand?

I think you can now purchase reproductions of the entire room at Ikea.

Toy box was a retail display cabinet that my dad brought home that served us well through three states and at least four moves.

IndyToybox

As you can clearly see, Julie and I had our own stereo record player. And blender? I don’t remember the blender but maybe Julie was mixing drinks and I didn’t know it. She is older than me and was much more social.

I thought the pictures were another great opportunity to test your history skills. I bring you another guessing game. This is practice for future contests with prizes. Yee haw!

Rules are the same as last week:

  • Cousins and siblings are ineligible to guess.
  • No prize will be awarded except your own personal satisfaction that you may receive for being correct.

1) What is the name of the doll on the upper bunk bed?

2) What record album is partially covered sitting next to our stereo?

Earn your bragging rights by leaving a comment right now and we’ll see who can answer both questions correctly. I’ll let you know who was right on Friday. Let the guessing begin!

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Longest labor, biggest baby…

SB1a

She turns nine tomorrow.

That last baby we actually planned.

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The one that we waited so long to have because having one + two more in less than three years was daunting.

We strategically planned to have that last baby so that the first three would be old enough to babysit. That plan has served us well.

We also knew that we wanted an even number…um, why? I have no idea why except the first three so close together just threw me off balance.

I was sure #4 would round out our family.

I love, love, love babies.

SB3

I did know I wanted to rock and hold and nurse and love just one baby.

SB4

Side note: I confess that I did pray that there would only be one baby.

I didn’t know I would have to fight Roger Leroy (a.k.a. Mama Jr.) to get a turn to hold her.

SB5

I did know that that last baby would be adored by all of us and she would always be “The Queen.”

SB8

I didn’t know how hard it would be for her to have five pseudo parents instead of two. You have to have a lot of personality and a good sense of humor to keep up in our house. Obviously, she can hang with us.

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I did know we would see the world through her eyes and she would make us slow down and see beauty in the simple things.

SB7

I didn’t know she would be my only girly-girl. But still love dirt and bugs and
caterpillars.

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I did know that her daddy had more than enough love for another daughter.
He lights up in her presence.

SB9

I didn’t know she would test my patience in ways I never dreamed before the teen years even hit. Big sigh…

SC11

I did know that our family would be blessed beyond measure to have her in our world. And having an even number isn’t so odd.

SB10

Happy Birthday Baby Girl! You are beautiful and smart and funny.
We all love you to the moon…

SB12

xoxo
Mama

P.S. For the observant few, oh yes, that is a giant tattoo on her hand.

The Internet Recipe Scandal and
My Mom’s Butterscotch Brownies

I choose not to talk politics or religion here.

Mostly because I started this site so we could share and support one another.

I didn’t start this site to get into any heated debates and I heartily respect other people’s views even when they are different than mine. It’s how I learn. It’s what makes the world go ’round.

It’s also what makes me laugh. Especially when I’m right. Which is often. Just ask PhilBillPaul.

Or you could ask my mom since I was right about the year of the photo.

I was amused when they got into a heated debate this week on The View. If you didn’t hear about this BIG news story, hurry, click on over and get yourself educated about this newsworthy event.

Even if you don’t want to get educated, please click just so you can see
the author’s name
. I feel like I’m being stalked by ________s.
Fill in the blank with author’s last name.

The answer is no for those of you asking yourselves if I’m going to stop being immature any time soon…sticking out my tongue as I type this.

I had already planned to share this recipe with you all before I heard about the story.

My Mom’s Butterscotch Brownies are brownies she has made since I was a little girl. They are a lovely change from your regular chocolate brownies and they are a perfect addition when making a brownie tray medley which I’ve been known to do on occasion. Easy and quick, PhilBillPaul whips them up from time to time.

Now because of Cindy McCain and the recipe scandal, I feel I must put a disclaimer here before actually revealing the recipe.

Disclaimer: To my knowledge, my mother has never created her own recipe. She has added and omitted different ingredients to match our family’s taste buds. I have followed that same tradition and customized recipes to match our love dislike of vegetables.

We call them “Family Recipes” because they are the recipes our family grew up loving and were prepared in our home – hence the name “Family Recipes.” I don’t know for sure where her Butterscotch Brownies recipe originated. She may have lifted this recipe right from the pages of a very old and worn Betty Crocker cookbook that looks just like this…

Betty Crocker Cookbook

Sidenote & reminder to my mom: Remember, I get the cookbook along with the black cast iron skillet and Grandad’s desk.

I feel better now that it’s in writing on the internet just in case she hasn’t made that clear in her will even though we’ve discussed it dozens of times through the years. I think this will hold up in court; you all are now my witnesses. Thanks.

I’ve done my research and Betty Crocker was not a real person and if she was, she’s dead. General Mills could come after me or my mom. Um, yeah, okay, whatever.

Here’s the thing…speaking only for women (since I am a woman), we trade recipes, share recipes, print recipes, type recipes, email recipes and post recipes. Whenever possible, I give credit as to the origin of the recipe. Many times, I just don’t know or remember. I don’t think any of us are trying to plagiarize or steal anyone’s original recipes.

Relax people. Share the recipes. Share the love. Journalists: Find a news story worthy of reporting and more importantly, worthy of our time!

Next week I might get really wild and share my Aunt Jane’s Brownie recipe. Who knows who she stole it from. My mom and my Aunt Jane have a long history of theft and deception.

Until then, bake these this weekend and enjoy!

Our way: We usually double this one and bake in a 13×9″ pan since there are six of us. The top has a thin crispy-like layer and they are gooey underneath. Don’t overbake!

My Mom’s Butterscotch Brownies

  • 1/4 C margarine, melted
  • 1 C light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Cream margarine, sugar and egg. Add dry ingredients; mix well. Spread in 8×8″ or 9×9″ well-greased pan. Bake at 350º for 25 minutes.

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Little Lesson #5 Teen Son Uses Pot
During Family Night

I am a huge advocate of family night. It’s a night that you can schedule weekly or monthly so that you can spend quality family time together.

We did this for many years when the first three kids were younger.

One of our favorite things to do is have family game night. PhilBillPaul and I love board games. Some of our old standard favorites:

Scrabble, Yahtzee, Pictionary, Taboo and Boggle.

Okay, maybe not so much Boggle but only because they’re all a bunch of sore losers when I win every time. I am The Queen of Boggle.

We have had many family movie nights and rotated which child could choose the movie.

Some of our favorite oldies but goodies:

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Babe, The Rookie, Fly Away Home and E.T.

I’m not a big fan of cartoons but The Lion King, Shrek & Finding Nemo are also winners if we have to watch a cartoon.

As the kids got older, we were excited to teach them how to play euchre. If you’re from the Midwest, you probably know the game. If you’re not, never mind.

Bring on the euchre any time…PhilBillPaul and I take our euchre very seriously.

The teenagers now all have jobs and our family nights are few and far between. It’s a rare night that all six of us are home together. (Which I realize, at this point, may be more positive than negative.)

Last year just after Thanksgiving, I brought home something I knew we might all have fun trying. Not that I thought it was a game or anything.

First, a little back story on my idea…

I’ve heard many stories about parents who allow their kids to drink beer and/or alcohol in their home. The parents have been known to say that the kids are safer if they’re at their house and being supervised since “they’re going to drink anyway.”

Being a non-drinker and a head injury survivor makes me extra slow to accept this logic. That and the little law we have about it being illegal.

I do try to have an open mind and just because I never drank alcohol (remember, I still do drink other liquids) doesn’t mean I don’t remember how hard it was to be a teenager and all the peer pressure that accompanied that season of life.

Back in early December last year, I made a big and somewhat impulsive decision and didn’t even discuss it first with PhilBillPaul (because I’m like that).

Remember, he’s so darn nice so I knew he’d go along with my decision because he is the Nice Dad and he just wants everyone to be happy.

Here’s what I decided…

If my kids wanted to try pot, they should do it at home and in front of me and PhilBillPaul.

Side note: We did this particular family night after Scary Baby was tucked safely in bed and fast asleep.

Incidentally, I got this idea from Dr. Oz on Oprah.

So I bought the pot.

Neti Pot

It’s a neti pot.

What on earth did you think I was talking about??????

People, please, stay focused here. My kids do read this from time to time.

The Grunter was the first to volunteer to try the neti pot. The rest of us were more than a little apprehensive.

What a brave soul he was to go first. And he let me take pictures.

STEP ONE: Fill the pot with salt water mixture.

Step1FillPot_phixr

STEP TWO: Start the flow.

Step2StartFlow

STEP THREE: Switch nostrils.

Step3SwitchSides

STEP FOUR: Blow and cry laugh.

Step4Blow&Cry_phixr

Side note: The blue bowl was purchased especially for this family night. It is NOT a food bowl for those of you who have come to our house for a meal.

The girls were not interested in trying the neti pot. I don’t really blame them especially after The Grunter used it. Not really an item to share.

I told them I would get them each one for their stocking for Christmas but they said they’d rather get the traditional new socks and a toothbrush. Whatever.

These neti pots are all the rage. In fact, reading about it here made me remember these pictures and inspired me to write this post. (Check out the site – I can’t help but love the name: Dumb Little Man)

There are all kinds of health benefits associated with this “ancient SECRET” that we are just learning about. In spite of the fact we live in Pollenville where the cars turn yellow with pollen and four of us have allergies that get so bad we can’t go outside for more than 5 minutes for several months of the year, we have not taken to using the neti pot.

We prefer our prescription drugs to pot. Go figure.

It’s almost scary to realize that we’ve been having this much family fun and took pictures of the fun long before I started this blog, isn’t it? Never mind, don’t answer that.

Family Neti Pot Night has not been repeated since. But we did play Pictionary in January.

Little Lesson (LL):

  • It takes courage to use pot in front of your parents.
  • Yes, he did inhale and inhaling hurts.
  • Using pot in front of your younger sisters can discourage them from ever trying it.

That’s our boy and we want to publicly say we are so very proud of him!

Share a Little Lesson (SALL): Anybody out there a fan of this neti pot business? Anyone have any Family Night ideas to share?

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P.S. For the record, I have never used, smoked or inhaled pot in my life. Neti, or otherwise.

Wiener Dog Monday

It’s hard to believe that it’s only been two weeks and I’m compelled to have another Wiener Dog Monday!

Mostly because Ann sent me a picture of Blaze and I wanted to post it.

Blaze_phixr

It could also be due to my exhaustion from a busy weekend working. I am proud to report it was a mere one Valium weekend.

We have all lived through Spring Break and the little darlings are back in school this morning. (very quiet WOO-HOO!)

Okay, focus, back to the subject of wieners.

This weekend I was catching up on blog reading and I laughed out loud when I came across this little side note from a mom in Alaska who was actually writing about ice cream taste testing with her family. (Very cute idea for a family activity.)

But what the heck did that have to do with wiener dogs?

Well, apparently, she’s a bit random like me and added a note about a cute story you can read online with your kids called…

The Wiener Dog Magnet

I must show it to Scary Baby this week. It’s perfect for beginning readers if you have a little one but it’s also a cute online book for any family with wiener dogs.

I’m both happy and sad to report that NO ONE has correctly guessed the year those stellar family pics were taken with my siblings.

My cheatin’ cousin Sally didn’t even guess right. (I said cousins were ineligible to guess and she did it anyway – there’s one in every family!)

Feel free to go back to that post and guess again because you could get the coveted award…

Wiener Award

I’ll give you a few more days and then I’ll have to think up another contest and it might have a REAL prize that I will actually mail to the lucky winner.

Even better and to the relief of most of you, I’m quite certain it will have nothing to do with wieners (or dogs).

Finally, I just have to share this fabulous item I found to send to my friend Ann for her birthday this month. You know how when you find the perfect gift for a special friend like Ann, you just want to tell show everyone?

Shhhh, please don’t tell her so it’ll be a surprise.

bumper sticker

It’s a bumper sticker and I think I still have time to order it. It is so perfect for her! Don’t you think she’ll love it? 🙂

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Dysfunctional Sisters

I talked to my sister last night on the phone for two hours.

I called her because she left a comment here.

Double big deal because she just recently got a computer.

And she brings the family member readership count to THREE.

Well, not including PhilBillPaul’s mom who calls him often to comment verbally and tells him to tell me that the soldier post made her cry and to stop it.

Thanks for reading Granny – did he get that right?

My mom reads randomly because it is a big day for her when she actually powers up her computer and signs on. She likes to read the comments more than what I write.

Sure, okay. Whatever, mom.

Anyway, I don’t talk much about the family I grew up with. Mostly because I have enough material about the one I’m living with now.

But also because I try to respect their privacy and know if I don’t, they could start a blog and start writing bad stories about me.

My sister Julie and I were not particularly fond of each other growing up. Just “normal” dysfunction that we have overcome as we have matured. Sort of. Well, probably her living in Illinois and me living in Georgia helps. We talk about once a year or so.

We do get along now and have scary stories to share since we both have teenage daughters. Julie was smart enough to have one child so she does see the light at the end of the tunnel.

An only child can be a good decision. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

We laughed a lot last night and we were actually talking about some funny old pictures we both remembered.

I’m pretty sure she gave me permission to post these pictures. You did, didn’t you?

SherraTodJulie2

As you can see, I was cooperating while Julie and Tod were being total gooners.

SherraTodJulie_phixr

Do you know anyone who has a bigger forehead than I do? (It houses my giant brain but bangs would have been a better look, I think.)

Incidentally, I’m sure my brother is fine with me posting these pictures even though I didn’t get his permission. Then again, I don’t think he’s reading so he’ll never know as long as we all keep it quiet here…

Have a great weekend. Call your family.

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P.S. Leave a comment and guess what year the pictures were taken by zeroing in on our stylish outfits and hair. Maybe I’ll give the first person who gets it right a prize!!! (Cousins are ineligible to guess.)

Then again, you might just get the Wiener Award. I’m not making any promises.

Testing 1-2-3

I’d love to have a little lesson to share today.

Or a funny wiener (dog) joke.

Or a giant life lesson.

But I don’t.

Because I’m still exhausted from battling the teens.

(For the concerned few, I’ve been Valium-free for 3 days!)

Instead, I have a few random thoughts to share.

First, I thought this was a good day to conduct a little experiment and see what happens. As the site continues to grow, I love to know what you all think and how I might get you to participate a bit more.

I know how many of you want to remain anonymous because you don’t want your husband, kids, neighbors, the world, etc., to know that you’ve ever had bad thoughts…

but you like to read mine.

I do respect your privacy. I promise.

Please do remember, you can use a “CODE NAME” so no one (except me) knows it’s you.

Here’s a little anonymous poll for you and it will give me a good idea about some future plans I have in the works.

{democracy}

If no one clicks, I’ll get a BIG life lesson so remember how I just climbed out of The Black Hole and I’m still very fragile. Please don’t make me start that series up again. 🙂

Second, I’m surprised that I didn’t get more (as in AT LEAST A DOZEN OR MORE) comments on the Man on Blog post from Friday.

Seriously, just a patriotic, thank you to all the families with soldiers serving our country means a great deal to them!!

Hello, it’s not too late.

Come out of lurker status and just go the post, scroll down to comments box and type THANK YOU to all the men and women who serve our country (like Ann’s husband and my cousin’s son Rob).

Finally, many of you know I collect quotes. This one seems particularly appropriate as I battle onward as a mean mom. I leave you with this uplifting inspiration and a big sigh…

The hardest years in life are those between ten and seventy.
-Helen Hayes (at 73)

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