Sunday, September 28, 2008

Through the Back Door

This summer, we traveled to Florida and stopped off at Disney for several days. I can say, without a doubt, Disney would have been 100% different had we not used the oh so wonderful Tour Guide Mike website. That site is such a wealth of knowlege...what a blessing if it could be cloned for other destinations....

Oh, but there is such a site! Enter Rick Steves. I found him by accident as I was googling 'What to pack when traveling to Italy'. You see, I am leaving in less than a week to travel to that amazing country that is shaped like a boot. It is still very surreal that I am even going and I am overthinking everything about it...(just HOW MANY pairs of things do I need to bring?) I am still on the hunt for the perfect pair of walking shoes. I am taking my tennis shoes, but I am trying not to stick out like a sore thumb and be the obvious American tourist. Hmmmm.....I find it hard to believe that a pair of $100 walking shoes will disguise me, but one can always hope.

Rick Steves has a site that allows you to plan and see Europe 'through the back door'. I am just diving into his site, but the 'graffiti wall' or message board, has just been tremendous on tips. I think I have successfully figured out how NOT to have my camera stolen. I have just scratched the surface, trust me!
I also found several sites that are bound and determined I travel with only one bag. Seriously? I don't think that is going to happen, but I think and this buddle method just might help this type-A pack more efficiently.

So, if you have any tips you'd like to send my way about what to pack and what not to forget, please hook a sister up. And if you feel so inclined, pray for my man as he will be Mr. Mom in addition to Mr. Banker for the 11 days I am gone. He is going to be just fine....and the employees at Chik-fil-A and Luby's will be on a first name basis with my boys by the middle of October. Oh, I kid. They will probably also hit Pappasitos too.


Friday, September 26, 2008

In Theaters Now

Remember that movie I talked about a long time ago? Well, it is in theaters now. Grab a sitter and go see it with your man!

And remember, Never leave your partner behind.

Hey wait, that sounds familiar.

"It's the first rule of flying, Mav, never leave your wingman".

Circa 1986

Cue 'Highway to the Danger Zone' and bring on that volleyball scene! Woohoo!

The Word of the Day is 'Laughter'

There is a sweet Asian family who lives across the street from us. The grandparents came from China to visit last April and have been here ever since. The grandfather can be seen each morning as he joins all the moms at the bus stop to put his two grandchildren on the bus and then again in the afternoon, to greet them and carry their backpacks home. Although the mom, dad and two children speak and understand English, it is my understanding that the grandfather does not.

My daily interaction with him is a smile, a wave and then him smiling, a single wave and then a brief laugh. The laugh part is my favorite becasue that is his standard response to everything. Anything that is spoken to him, his response is to smile and laugh.

How much sweeter would my life be and how much more pleasant of a person would I be if I chose to adopt that response for even half of my daily interactions.

If you can't say 'Amen', you need to say 'Ouch'.

I'm just sayin'.......

What We Learned From Ike

I am well aware there are still many people who are still without power and are returning to their homes only to find greater damage than they could have even imagined. This post is not to discount ANY of that. I simply could relate to some of the instances below and figured it is always good to laugh.

And the picture of the car that is begging to be made into an Aggie Ike joke.

This list of what we learned from Hurrican Ike is brought to you by Aunt Daray... One of the Godliest and funniest gals I know...and the person who is teaching me to be more fun.

Coffee and frozen pizzas can be made on a BBQ grill

Hot pockets taste pretty good deep fried in the outdoor cooker!

My car gets 23.21675 miles per gallon, EXACTLY (you can ask the people in line who helped me push it)

He who has the biggest generator wins.

Watching children work outside in the yard is a new event for many parents

A new method of non-lethal torture- showers without hot water

There are a lot more stars in the sky than most people thought

The Internet is an addiction and the withdrawal symptoms are painful

A 7 lb bag of ice will chill 6-12 oz Budweiser ' s to a drinkable temperature in 11 minutes, and still keep a 14 lb. turkey frozen for 8 more hours

There are a lot of dang trees around here

Flood plain drawings on some mortgage documents were seriously wrong

People will get into a line that has already formed without having any idea what the line is for

Cell phones work when land lines are down, but only as long as the battery remains charged.

Hampers were not made to contain such a volume

If my store sold only ice, chainsaws, gas and generators, I'd be rich.

Tree service companies are underappreciated

I learned what happens when you make fun of another states ' blackout

MATH 101: 30 days in month, minus 6 days without power equals 30% higher electric bill ?????

Drywall is a compound word, take away the ' dry ' part and it's worthless

I can walk a lot farther than I thought

A MUST for all blackouts with kids... GLOWSTICKS! Cheap, fun, no mess!

A skateboard and a sheet make a great “sailboat” before the rain starts

It is a great time to teach the children the fine art of gambling (penny ante poker) card playing

You can never have too many gas cans!If you fill the bathtubs with water, the water will not go off

5 gallons of sweetened iced tea a day is not enough for 9 teenagers

Neighbors are much more sociable when they are sharing a generator

Just because it is dark and you are in the privacy of your bedroom doesn’t mean we can’t hear what you are doing in there because our windows are open too

What looks acceptable by candlelight in your bathroom will scare you when you look at yourself in the mirror at the office

Rather than campfires, you find families huddled about tiny battery-operated televisions to watch the news.

Peanut butter and jelly is a perfectly acceptable meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the same day

Don’t shun those who use Tylenol PM or Advil PM to get through 11-hour nights

That neighbor who knows how to use a chainsaw is your new best friend

Ice is a form of currency

It’s OK to let the kids keep their stick fort until the debris-pickup crews start rolling in

Coming home from work with a pizza and a charged-up laptop so the kids can watch a DVD makes you a hero

You run out of things to barbecue after Day 2.

Hair can dry without a blow dryer, but it may not look the way you planned

The storm treasures your kids are finding really belong to your neighbors

Baseball caps go with any post-hurricane ensemble

Grapes taste better in the dark

You can’t train yourself not to flip on light switches when entering a room

Lukewarm is the new cold

You have neighbors

It’s easier to ignore a dirty floor when you can’t see it

A new opening phrase when seeing someone: “Got lights yet?”


Watch the video of Geraldo Rivera getting knocked over by a wave during pre-storm coverage

Shut the windows and pretend you never saw your neighbor in those baggy shorts

Turn on the DVD player super loud and have a mini dance party even if it’s 3 a.m

Have a long conversation with TiVo about how he let you down.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Everyone knows two things...

#1- There is nothing new under the sun
#2- Imitation is the highest form of flattery

Can we all feel a bit of freedom and come clean on something? Admit it, at some time in your life, you copied someone. Maybe it was the way they dressed or the way they were able to make people laugh by certain phrases they used. As we get older, this translates into fun ideas for sprucing up our houses and sometimes what books we read or gadgets we buy because someone close to us said it was heaven-on-a-stick.

I can 'imitate' with the best of them. When I am looking for way to update my wardrobe, house or dinner menu, I flip through magazines, websites and even ask around to get new, fresh ideas...which really aren't, if you know what I mean.

So today, right now, I am coming clean in regard to three very fun things that I lifted off other people's blogs. Yes, I am a copycat. I can receive it; acceptance is the first step.

The first is, courtesy of my friend, Melissa C.. This site allows you to watch ALL KINDS of shows absolutely free. The thing I love is that it allows me to watch back episodes of shows that sounded interesting but don't really have enough power to make me want to stay up all night watching episode after episode to get the DVD set back to Blockbuster or the Library before the due date.

The second is pandora radio, courtesy of Big Mama. This site gives you your own personal radio station. All you have to do is pick an artist and it will create a playlist with that artist plus similiar other groups. Love this!

And the third is an oh-so-cute craft that I WANT to attempt but it scares the pants off me to try. The above link, courtesy of Rocks in My Dryer, gives you step-by-step instructions on how to make a customized silhouette t-shirt of your kids. I can hardly stand how cute it would be to have one of my boys in baseball gear in cute stances. One can dream....I can already tell that some of you are wanting to skip the black paint and bedazzle it instead. Don't fight what is natural... it will always come back to bite you in the form of a too-tight-jewel-encrusted tank top you bought in the name of 'being fun and wild'.

Embrace your inner CopyCat and build self-esteem in all those you hang around.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Ike Was Like

We are on the backside of a Category 2, almost 3, Hurricane that hit Texas last Saturday around 3 am. My mind is still reeling from all we have seen and heard, but perhaps these snippets give you a glance into what Ike was like for the Mounces.

*Cringing as they stereo-typed Texas once again by using the phrase "Hunkerdown". Just add that to us all riding horses, having oil derricks in our backyards and JR and Sue Ellen being everyone's BFF.

*Walking the aisles at Target on Friday and marveling at what people thought were 'essential supplies' beyond D batteries, peanut butter and bottled water. Let's just say the carbs were free flowing in everyone's baskets. Nothing says comfort like some Ding Dongs and Fiddle Faddle

*Making a pallet for my boys on the floor beside me and then turning off the lights to grab a bit of sleep before the winds began to change. Feeling so grateful that they fell right to fear at all.

*Hearing the first of the transformers blow and not being able to distinguish the green glow for lighting or more transformers losing power

*Seeing my man intensely watching progress of the storm, by the blue glow of our tv

*Hearing the wind begin to shift and knowing the Hurricane is really going to hit our area this time

*Keeping watch over a specific tree, very close to our Master Bedroom in our backyard, as it went horizontal under the force of 70 mph winds pushing against it and then snap back in the calm.

*Hearing a moan and then a large crack....and then feeling the relief that the tree that had gone down was behind our fence

*Hearing another transformer blow and knowing, this time, it was ours

*Watching my youngest son sleep through the entire storm as if God put ear plugs in those precious ears

*Laying on the floor with my man and oldest son listening to the crackle of our weather radio and ALL our son's questions

*Drifting off to sleep around 6 am and the phone anxious family member on a different time zone that just needed to hear our voices before she got on an airplane to London

*Seeing with our eyes, what we had heard with our ears, as the morning broke

*John Tyler, in his innocence, asking if we could to The Egg and I for breakfast, not having any idea that 4.5 million people were without power and that INCLUDED The Egg and I

*Endless rain and more wind

*Venturing out to see how others had faired

*Pine trees much taller than houses upended and many wedged in house, on powerlines and through garages

*Neighbors working side by side, in the rain, to clear downed trees and endless branches from each others' yards

*Watching my sons work alongside their dad, clearing branches and serving their neighbors, with enormous grins on their faces

*Receiving the endless amount of text messages from friends and family checking in and their endless offers to shelter and use generators until our power was restored

*My man marveling at how women WILL find a way to use their 50, 000 words...if even by text message

*Remembering to check our CallNotes yesterday and having 10 messages...all from the day after Ike, right as day was breaking

There are more glances but so many of you lived those very days with me in another part of town. Over 500,000 are still without power and those who have yet to see if their homes even still exists. There are people that have such great needs and are not complaining one bit. Remarkable survival skills, remarkable perspective.

Lord, please help me to remember this experience and let it shape my future reactions to situations and challenges. Please do not let this fresh perspective fade. And help those with the greatest of needs to remember, YOU have not forgotten them. Amen

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Look Inside

How many times has someone been living out something you had no reference for? It could be something as simple as being the mother to an only child or living with a chronic illness. There is no way for us to know exactly what another person is experiencing but it helps when someone offers a window of opportunity to look inside and see what is like to walk that road and how to be a friend and offer support.

The gal who writes Rocks in My Dryer offers a weekly invitation to pull up a chair and listen. "What I'd Like You to Know" are posts/stories that are filled with courage, grit, honesty and hope. What a tremendous way to really hear the best way to minister to someone who has a real need.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More Than A Color

I live in a house full of boys. The only other resident in my house that might take my side on things is our Golden, Glory, and half that time that is only because I feed and walk her. And because of the blue dominance in my home, I am often drawn to pink. The cool thing is that many times, the pink items I am led to purchase are special products that support Breast Cancer Research.

I am not sure there is anyone whose life has not been touched by cancer in one way or another. I have seen friends and family fight it and are living to continue that fight and help others know how to fight. I have other friends and family who fought and then were healed by the Lord taking them home. It's something I knew about from a distance until last Spring. Now I can say I do understand the emotions, fears, and eventual surrender of what comes with that unknown.

There are two products that support Breast Cancer Research that have captured and held my interest. The first is Lean Cuisine's Carry on the Cause. I found out about these darlin' insulated lunch bags a little too late last year and was so bummed. I think these are just so fun and will have a hard time choosing just one.

The second is Warriors in Pink. Love, love, love these clothes and am about to take the plunge and purchase!

Pink. It is so much more a color.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I am a lover of Veggie Tales. You know, the talking tomato, cucumber and various other gourds with no arms or legs that teach our kiddos that God made them special and He loves them very much. My people seem to think that they have outgrown these wonderful high-budget films but I am hear to tell you, I welcome elementary explanation to God's Word at times. Heck, I am contemplating ordering the kid's version of Time magazine, just so I can get current on world events. My husband says I need to get my news from a more reliable source the Yahoo News. Hmpf. Maybe since Time Magazine Plus is geared for children it won't be SO liberal.....

One of my very favorite Veggie Tale movies is Madame Blueberry. She is a single gal that lives in a tree house and is so blue because she has a problem with coveting her neighbors possessions. Yep, this one hits home for all ages. So, to solve her problem, she has some consultants (they are Scallions, if you were wondering) from StuffMart come over and suggest what she needs to make her home complete, all while doing the StuffMart rap. Very funny stuff, bungee, bungee, here we go bungee, come on.

So she heads over to where happiness lives, StuffMart, to get the air compressor, wok, flannel shirts for looking grungy and a nose ring for her poodle. The Scallions convince her to put all this stuff in her basket until finally she says, "But I don't need a toaster oven." To which they reply, "Do you really need any of these things?" And off she goes, getting more stuff.

I have a confession....I have StuffMart moments. Maybe I visit a friends house and she has amazing decorating taste. Or maybe I get the itch to put in a pool because everyone is my neighborhood is putting one in (never mind the pine needles and mosquitos). We all have moments when what we WANT overrides what we HAVE.

Case in point...I went to Stuffmart last week.

I had this brilliant idea to update a few things in my home. A little here, a little there. Yeah, right! What you forget is that once you get started, lots of things need to be tweaked and the next thing you know, you are stressing out your spouse as he watches you walk from room to room mumbling something about wanting your home to look like Better Homes and Gardens not college rental property.

Ikea is one of those places that you go in for one thing and you convince yourself you NEED some other items. It's like it has some kind of hypnotic ability to render any Type A defenseless as you walk from room to room and see just how many ways you can organize your closet, pantry or playroom for such a small amount of money. You'll be happy to know that I did indeed only buy the chair I was seeking out at Ikea. No swedish meatballs or hanging shelves for me. No sir. I was locked on and I stayed strong. But the matching storage ottoman is calling my name. Did I mention they have childcare and a cafeteria? Seriously? They had some smart women on that
design team....nothing speaks to a woman's heart like childcare and food. Can I hear an Amen?

My point is this....none of us live our lives on the pages of a magazine. As women, we desire to reflect some since of style with the clothes we wear and how are home looks when we have guest over. But ultimately, our home is to be a sanctuary for our families, not a model home showroom. Find great comfort in the fact that your man and your kids have no idea what Shabby Chic, Vintage or Faux Finishes are.....they just like clean sheets, their favorite dinner and a mom who'll sit in the floor and play their game of choice. They want US, girls. Isn't that refreshing? Because the world wants so much more and offers nothing to fill us back up again after we have poured ourselves out for something so temporary.

Who knew that a post about kids programming and a home furnishing store would end up like this. HE did. I pray we can all recognize the Madame Blueberry in all of us and move toward being content where He has us. Ugh...growth is so painful at times!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I love products that make cooking easier. When sports seasons are in full swing, we are gone more nights than we are home and sometimes, I just don't WANT to eat Chik-fil-A again. I know, gasp! My people would eat it every night if we'd allow it. It is one of the few meat items W will even consume.

Enter Pillsbury's Crescent Recipe Creations. You are going to LOVE this wonderful new product. It offers one flaky dough sheet without no pressing seams together and no holes! Yippee!

Nice move, Pillsbury! And in celebration of their pure genius, here are two recipes to give this new product a spin. They are with the regular cresent rolls and cookie dough.

Chicken Baseballs

3 oz. fat free cream cheese, softened
2 tsp light margarine, melted
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp chopped onion
2 cups cubed, cooked chicken
1 8oz can reduced fat crescent rolls (or Cresent Recipe Creation)
2 Tbsp skim milk

In a blender (or by hand) combine cream cheese, butter, salt, pepper, milk, onion. Blend. Pour mixture over chicken and stir. Separate crescent roll dough into four rectangles and seal perforations. Spoon 1/2 cup mixture into center of each. Pull opposite corners of dough to center and seal. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Makes 4 baseballs

Sopapilla Cream Cheese Cake

2 Cans of Original Crescent Rolls
2 - 8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
2 sticks of butter
2 cups of sugar
2 TB vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon

Roll 1 can of crescent rolls on bottom of greased 9 x 13 pan. Mix 2 - 8 oz. cream cheese (softened), 1 stick of butter (softened), 1 cup of sugar, 2 TB vanilla. Spread the mixture over the first layer of rolls. Roll out the 2nd can of rolls over the cream cheese mixture. Melt 1 stick of butter and pour over top of rolls. Mix 1 cup of sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon and sprinkle over top of butter. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Do not cover with foil. (too much moisture)