Archives for July 2008

Leaving Home…

Some people have some strong reactions when I say I’ve been out of town. Whether it’s a weekend or a two weeks.

Sometimes it’s just lighthearted joking. Sometimes it is envy.

I’m pretty sure that sometimes there is a bit of judgment about me being selfish or not being a very good “stay-at-home” mom.

I don’t miss the irony of being home and wanting to leave.

While I’m proud and grateful to be able to be at home since The Grunter was born, I have also been very vocal about my need to leave and have time away from my husband and family.

Luckily I have Nice Dad who always does an excellent job when I travel.

I started traveling on my own for both business and pleasure when the twins turned one.

Mostly for health reasons.

My mental health.

Though I know my sanity is still in question, I know that leaving home has been my saving grace as a woman.

We wear a lot of hats as women and we are genetically predisposed to take care of everyone else — usually before we take care of ourselves.

One of the reasons PhilBillPaul “gets me” is that he really gets that I need some personal space and he gets that I am a better wife and mother when I come back home!

I’ve encouraged other women friends to make some time for themselves. I have friends who rarely, if ever, have left their husband and/or children to treat themselves to some “me” time.

I’m not necessarily talking about a trip – for some women it can be just a few hours. For others it’s a few days. For me, a few weeks can be nice. 😉

Some of them have actually taken my advice and just seemed to need permission from another adult, i.e. a friend to say it is okay and normal to both need and want to leave home sometimes!

Some of them insist they don’t need any time to themselves.

Some say “their turn will come.”

They worry me – like the perpetually happy, perfect people who make the rest of us look bad.

I learned a long time ago that I have to take care of me.

When a tiny amount of guilt creeps in about my desire to leave home, I remember what I’m trying to teach my kids.

What is important to me is that they see a mother who isn’t afraid to take a break, a mom who isn’t superwoman or even pretending to be! They also need to see that dad is more than capable of taking care of his children.

Maybe I’m a little paranoid about what “some people” think. Then again, maybe not.

I wish I could tell you I cared about what “some people” think or say about me. But I don’t.

I do care deeply about the people I love and who love me. It may be a small number of people and I’m pretty sure the number fluctuates on a daily basis – just check with my family.

It is because I do care that I keep leaving…

…so I can come back home.

Do you leave? Do you want to leave but never do? I’d love to hear how you find time for yourself.

Leave a comment below and remember if you’re reading this through an email subscription or RSS feeder just click over to the site so you can comment.


While I was away…

Roger Leroy and Wizzy were at work and helping another family respectively when I called home to check on The Grunter and Scary Baby.

They are not a good combo alone together. Mostly because he is usually asleep when she is awake. I was worried when Scary Baby didn’t answer the house phone.

When he answered his cell phone using his barely-awake voice, I was concerned. I asked him to give his phone to Scary Baby so I could get the real scoop on who was doing what.

She has affectionately inherited his old moniker, “Officer Humphreys” as he could always be counted on to report any violations or crimes committed by his siblings. She has really stepped up and takes her job very seriously.

Side note: Some people call it tattling, we call it reporting and we always thank Officer Humphreys for the report.

The Grunter barely talked to me as he went downstairs with his phone, other than to ask me, “Where are the girls?” Not a good sign that he didn’t know they weren’t home but I was in Phoenix and did know.

The favorite line overheard by my friends on this magical call to my almost 19 year-old pumpkin grunter was when he uttered these words:

“There is a slight chance she may not be here.”

It was funny to everyone in the car except me. Three phone calls later, she was located…

…in our basement washing the dogs.

Which PhilBillPaul thought was a fine thing for her to be doing because he thought I said she was WATCHING the dogs.

I had to use the Hoosier Grandma pronunciation because he was in a noisy environment.

“I said she is WARSHING the dogs.”

Let’s not even discuss a 9 year-old giving two wild wiener dogs a bath without supervision.

Re-entry after being gone from home for two weeks can be rough.

While I was away, they were all very busy. They had a garage sale, two break-ups and very sadly, a teenager who just graduated from high school and worked with my older daughters, committed suicide.

To say that we had some catching up to do is an understatement.

This weekend was spent with PhilBillPaul and the kids. Family time and individual time.

Scary Baby got some uninterrupted “mom time” on Friday and Saturday with some hair braiding and a little back-to-school shopping to try to get her excited for 4th grade. She has said every day since I’ve been back,
“I want you to homeschool me this year.” No comment at this time.

I took the *big* girls to their first funeral on Saturday. Followed by lunch and some deep discussion on what to do if life ever gets so bad you don’t think you want to go on.

Sunday church with The Grunter and his girlfriend was a rare treat as he’s been going to her church for months.

A parenting challenge I believe we all struggle with (especially if you have more than one child) is spending time with them individually. Family time is obviously more efficient and I love efficiency.

But with our loud crowd of six, I treasure one-on-one time with my kids. I speak only for myself when I say this becomes even more important as they get older.

I could open a debate on quality vs. quantity time but I’d rather not. I’d rather just say that I think our family needs both and it is a constant struggle.

Today I’m golfing with the girls. Because I can.

Because making the time for these kids of mine who drive me crazy is more important than anything else on my “to do” list.

Life Lesson (LL): Quality time is my primary love language and this weekend I was reminded of that to my core.

Share a Life Lesson (SALL): How do you make time for your kids individually? Any special rituals or traditions you share are sure to help another mother!


Flexible Friday #7 I’m Home!

Finally, I’m back home and get to sleep in my own bed!

Don’t get me wrong – I had tons of fun during my two weeks of travel golfing, working and seeing old friends.

But I did miss my bed and my pillow…

…and my family.

It’s a bonus to come home to a clean house and a husband who missed me.

This was waiting for me on my night stand.


PhilBillPaul is nice like that – as I know I’ve told you all before. You can read about his niceness here or here.

Now you have photographic evidence. I won’t tell you what the card said because it was so sweet it might hurt your teeth like too much buttercream frosting on a cupcake. Or that white filling in a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

Well, maybe not that sweet but perhaps he wouldn’t want me to share it here on the internet for the world to read. He’s also kind of private so you can imagine how much he likes me to blog about him.

So let’s not talk about his sweetness and instead talk about my sugar addiction and cry for help that no one answered…

It seems no one called PhilBillPaul to have a food intervention when I arrived home this morning.

I thought that’s what friends are suppose to do for each other?


On my first night back last night, he took me to a small Italian restaurant called Porto Bello that we heard good things about from The Grunter and his girlfriend.

The service was excellent. It is a small family-owned restaurant and one of the sons came out to introduce himself and answer any questions.

They made me say WOW before I even tried the food.

I should tell you the food also made me say WOW!

After chicken ravioli in a pink sauce and lovely conversation with my darling husband, here is what we had for dessert…


Chocolate ganache cake with raspberry sauce.

There was also créme brulée.

I share that in case you are tracking my caloric intake and if so please do not tell me the total.

I do hear by solemnly promise to not talk or write about food, especially dessert for a long, long time.

This past week, I was beginning to feel like I had a food and restaurant blog.

I’m going to get back to my regular life now and try to stop eating so much.

And wear elastic waistband clothes.

Thank goodness maternity-style tops are back in fashion. I am still trying to lose the baby weight I gained with those darn twins.

I can still say that even though they are 17 now, can’t I?

Have a great weekend and enjoy a great dessert with your family!


I am not a Sugar Addict

Or maybe I am.

I’ll let you decide.

Here is what we’ve been doing in Phoenix.

First, welcome gifts in my room at “Hotel Kim”


I’m not sure why she put those multi-grain pretzel nuggets in there. I think it was suppose to be a funny trick. Don’t worry, I didn’t fall for it and accidentally eat something healthy.

Next, a few lovely purple gifts from my friend Leigh Anne.


Have you seen these new premium M&M’s? Very tasty but we must warn you there is no candy coating crunch on the outside which felt a little wrong when popping an M&M in your mouth.

We got over it and ate them anyway. We’re flexible like that.

You may have already read about the WOW experience we had at Oregano’s on Sunday night with pizza and that amazing pzookie.

Monday I introduced my friends to a WOW straight from the Midwest and brand new to Phoenix.


Culver’s hasn’t made it to Georgia yet so I had to have the four food groups in the picture.

My oh my, who here has experienced Culver’s?

They are not in every state yet but when they get to yours, promise me you’ll order cheese curds in my honor.

Tuesday Kim took us to Butterfield’s for breakfast. Sorry, we forgot to take a picture of our eggs, bacon, sausage, crispy hashbrowns, pancakes and pecan waffle.

I would like you to know that I was the only one who didn’t eat pancakes.

Okay, I was also the only one who ate a pecan waffle.

Next, we headed over to Sprinkles Cupcakes for dessert.


You should know that we saved these for our afternoon snack lunch.

We kept telling each other it was okay to eat like this because we are
“on vacation.”

Because that’s what friends do for each other.

Just like Ann and Toni said when we had those vittles in North Carolina last weekend.

I may have a more serious problem then a sugar addiction.

Could someone call PhilBillPaul and tell him to get me in a recovery program as soon as I step off of the plane in Atlanta? In addition to the new wardrobe in a bigger size, I’m pretty sure I’m going to need some professional help after eating like this for a week two weeks.


Please, make me say “WOW!”

Don’t hate me because I’m still traveling.

I really am working (and mixing in a little girlfriend time which just happens to showcase my time management skills). 😉

In case you’re keeping track, first stop was North Carolina for a golf tournament with girlfriends. Next was Laguna Beach, California for a speaking gig. Now I’m in Phoenix, Arizona at “Hotel Kim” with good friend and business partner Leigh Anne.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I value good service. When a business goes above and beyond and can make me say “WOW” then they have a customer for life and I tell everyone about them!

I actually talk about this in almost every speech I give. The WOW factor is discussed in great detail in Tom Peters’ book, “The Pursuit of WOW.”

This is my fourth trip to Phoenix to visit my friend Kim and as usual, she’s taking great care of me and Leigh Anne in her beautiful home. Her gift of gracious hospitality is amazing. Tonight we went to dinner at Oregano’s which is a local pizza place.

Besides having delicious pizza, they have a fabulous dessert called “The Original Pizza Cookie.” OH MY GOODNESS!!

Of course, we were so busy eating it, we forgot to take a picture of it. Luckily, I found this blog with a great picture.


Here’s the description straight from their menu:

A 1/2 pound of Chocolate Chip, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, or Peanut Butter Chocolate cookie dough, slightly baked in a 6-inch pizza pan then topped with 3 scoops of vanilla bean ice cream.

The service was excellent, the food was fabulous and the staff spent time giving us other great restaurant recommendations to try while we are visiting.

To top it all off…the manager bought our dessert.

That’s extraordinary service and they definitely made me say “WOW!”

If you get to the Phoenix area – don’t miss a visit to Oregano’s!

Note to Self: Need a new wardrobe in bigger size when I get home.


Flexible Friday #6 Survey Says

I’m still traveling but through my highly advanced technology skills the internet, I am able to post from the comfort of my beautiful hotel room in sunny California.

A big thank you to my regular readers and subscribers for being flexible while I’m out of town.

If you’re visiting here for the first time and you were part of the lovely audience at the conference I spoke to, I’d love to get your feedback!

It should come as no surprise that I have three quick, easy questions for you.

1) Did I provide you with practical, useful information?
2) Did I make you think differently about anything?
3) Did you laugh? (or at least smile?)

Of course, I’d also love to know three things you took home from the conference. The more details, the better!

Throw in any suggestions for improvements, topic content, etc.

And anything else you care to share.

Come on, don’t be shy leave a comment below or if you’d like to keep it private, just click here to contact me directly.

Right here, right now, please let me hear from you! Let’s keep in touch


Where’s Sherra?

Note from Sherra: Thanks to Leigh Anne at for being my first guest writer. I’d like to say we planned this but we didn’t so I’m forever indebted to her for doing this while I’m away. Ahhh, technology is a wonderful thing 😉

Have you been wondering?

Have you been checking her blog all day to see if she’s posted yet another hilarious, fun post?

Well – Sherra is a little busy this week. She is traveling on business but I’m sure she’ll have a funny story or two to share about her adventures when she returns!

I thought this was the perfect opportunity -the opportunity for me to post a recipe on Sherra’s blog for all her readers who are GREEN-deficient because she doesn’t eat vegetables.

So here is a recipe that actually has something GREEN in it!!

(We don’t have to tell her – she may never notice…or maybe she will – but this is what happens when you go out of town and forgot to write your posts ahead of time!)

For all of you GREEN deprived readers I’d love to share a recipe with you for a yummy salad – yes, I use GREEN lettuce in it! This recipe is doubly GREEN because the dressing has cilantro in it – and it’s GREEN!

I hope you enjoy and I promise Sherra will be back soon. If you get lonely while she’s gone you can come and visit me over at my blog and if you are ever looking for another GREEN recipe I’m sure I can help!

Leigh Anne
Sherra’s blogging buddy

BBQ Chicken Salad with Cilantro Dressing

3 cups thinly sliced GREEN leaf lettuce
1/3 cup corn
1/3 cup black beans
8-10 grape tomatoes, halved
1 cooked grilled chicken breast
1/2 cup favorite BBQ suace
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup prepared ranch dressing
1 heaping Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro leaves

Place lettuce into a bowl. Layer corn, black beans and tomatoes on top. Cut up cooked chicken breast and mix with BBQ sauce. Put chicken on top of salad and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

Blend ranch dressing and cilantro leaves together and drizzle over top of salad.


Flexible Friday – North Carolina Vittles

I’m in North Carolina for the weekend with two of my
all-time favorite girlfriends.

We’re all staying at my friend Toni’s house.

I drove up from Atlanta in the afternoon. Ann flew in from Illinois late Thursday evening.

I’ll tell you more about the fun we’re having later but today I just wanted to share our grocery trip to pick up a lemon cake because on this same trip last year, we bought a fabulous lemon cake and had a piece every night.

We now believe it to be a tradition so Toni had to order it from her local grocer and we went to the grocery before dinner and before Ann arrived.

Here’s the spread of vittles we ended up with…



Yes, it seems we forgot to buy any protein and just ended up with enough sugar and carbs to get us through the weekend of golf, hysterical laughter and the love of girlfriends.

Notice there are no vegetables out of respect for me but we did get a daily serving of fruit with those three bananas. Whew–I’m pretty sure we’ll need our potassium because we look out for each other that way!

We miss you Kim and hope you’re having a great vacation in Utah!

Hope you all have a sugar-filled weekend of love.



Winner for Wife of the Year!

I know I said that we could all vote but since I made up the award, I also made up the rules and therefore am allowed to change them.

First, I’d like to just say that I know it is a hard job to be a wife and *good enough* daughter-in-law when you find yourself in a no-win situation. I know that for many of you, living in your no-win circumstances creates more stress to the already hard job of, not just being married, but of staying married. So to Ann, Peggy, Tammy, Lisa and all the other “not good enough” wives out there, I bow to your struggle and hope you can hear my applause as I clap for you sitting at my laptop!

I don’t miss the irony of the fact that these bad mother-in-law situations are based on the very relationship that every one of us should be supporting. Women banding together to support one another through life. What the heck is wrong with the mother-in-law who doesn’t get that?

Um, probably a subject for another day.

Meanwhile, I must give you the update before I announce the winner.

Granny is gone and I miss her already.

She keeps the house running smoothly, does more laundry than is humanly possible and makes me feel a little less crazy…

A little less crazy…because she sees what pig-children we’re raising and she knows I’ve tried for all these years to show them the right way.

A little less crazy…because she hears their smart mouths and knows that this has never been acceptable and I haven’t given up.

A little less crazy…because she sees her firstborn PhilBillPaul’s quirks (a.k.a. annoying habits) and knows I’m not a total nag. They bug her too!

Most importantly, Granny has kept coming back for over 20 years and has never made me feel judged or made me feel like I wasn’t “good enough” for her son or a “good enough” mother to her grandchildren.

I just wanted to be sure you all know that I don’t take that for granted.

So when she calls from the Atlanta airport on a layover and wants to come stay for a week, you can understand why I welcome her with open arms!

As for the WINNER of Wife of the Year…

It really isn’t me because Granny makes it too easy.

Melinda and Diane are contenders because their MILs actually live with them but I think once you establish your boundaries and get into a routine, that would be a good thing…even Melinda admitted her MIL isn’t that much trouble and they both say they get childcare help which is a bonus no matter what!


Because 5 & 1/2 weeks is too long for a house guest, I don’t care who it is!! Then she did it again two years later for 6 weeks. WOO-HOO!!

Or we could ask her why she invited her back???

But sometimes the reasons show themselves later.

I’m pretty sure they have shown themselves since she shared this…

She now lives 8 miles from us since my FIL passed on Thanksgiving.

I must say that the kids love her and my husband does in small doses, like dinner or the movies. I’m the one who listens to her concerns, gives her practical advice, and makes her laugh when she’s down.

The line that got me though was this one that is a perfect little lesson we could all learn from…

It turns out that not expecting much from her for myself has been really good for our relationship and we have now started to become friends!

Congratulations Joanne and what a gift you have given your husband, your family and your MIL by making her a part of your life.

Just in case they haven’t noticed, I did!

Thanks to all of you for being candid and sharing – it’s exactly the kind of thing that I hope will continue to happen here often!

As opposed to you all laughing at my issues and dysfunction while keeping yours hidden. (tiny lol)

Truly, you’re all winners in my book!


Wiener Dog Monday

Hard to believe that April was the last Wiener Dog Monday.

I was sure it would be at least a monthly event.

But life has a way of keeping us busy and distracted and we sometimes easily forget about the wiener (dogs) in our lives.

Luckily, my buddy Ann has a unique way to remind me about wieners (dogs) just when I almost forgot what started the whole wiener topic in the first place.

But before I share the story she sent me via email this weekend, I wanted to share this fabulous little gift that arrived in the mail probably way back in April after all the wiener talk.

My friend Leigh Anne sent a cute little cookie cutter so I could make wiener (dog) cookies.

It was a sweet gift but Leigh Anne obviously forgot that I do not roll cookies, pie crust or knead dough. Those are my self-imposed baking rules.

But in honor of Wiener Dog Monday, I did buy a roll of Pillsbury sugar cookie dough, rolled it out between two sheets of wax paper and created these wiener dog cookies…


Yes, I am aware that they have abnormally large heads and one has an odd-shaped front foot. So now you all know why I don’t roll out cookies. Quit laughing Leigh Anne – I know yours would have turned out much better than mine!

Now, on to the email from Ann which could also go under the category of “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” (if I had that category). Or it could go under the category of “That’s Just Wrong on So Many Levels” but I’ll let you make up your own mind after you read the real life news story.

And not that there is any relation but I lived in a small town named Roscoe where my mom and one sister still reside.

POLITE WARNING: Do not read while eating.

Directly from Ann’s email:

OMG!!! Consider this article for Wiener Monday!!! Dan and I were enjoying this lovely Independence Day morning by reading the paper out back and he read aloud to me this article:

Lapdog gnaws off owner’s toe: A disabled Alton woman decided to have her one-year-old miniature dachshund, “Roscoe,” euthanized after it is believed to have gnawed off her right big toe while she was asleep. Linda Floyd, 56, who has no feeling in her toes because of nerve damage from severe diabetes, discovered the toe was missing after awaking from a nap. A veterinarian said the toe had been bandaged because of a healing hangnail and that may have somehow attracted the dog.

(The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus, Friday, July 4, 2008-Illinois News)

Ann’s opinion after the story:

…I think she could have done something better than have the poor dog killed, though!

Of course, I had to read this aloud to PhilBillPaul and Granny and we agreed that we thought killing the dog was a little harsh. Then again, PhilBillPaul had a pretty good point when he said, “How exactly would you word that ad in the paper?”

Owner took a nap, dog ate toe. Carnivorous wiener dog free to good home.

There’s no good ending to this Wiener Dog Monday. Just a sad story that really had two unhappy endings. My personal opinion is dogs shouldn’t sleep in people beds and up until now that was just because I have pet hair issues. Now I have a whole other reason I had never even considered.

On a totally unrelated note…there is still time to nominate yourself for the Wife of the Year Award and I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday. Just click on the link and leave a comment nominating yourself and tell us why!

Granny leaves tomorrow and we will seriously miss her – even though she did try to ride in my front “I am running for Wife of the Year” seat in the car Sunday – which I thought was a little pushy. 😉


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