Sunday, January 30, 2011

Harding 2011 - THE Reunion - Day 1

Well I did it.  I got the courage to return to my old stomping grounds where I crashed and burned.  Thankfully I was meeting up with my fellow Harding drop-outs who were really the reason I loved Harding in the first place.  This trip would not have been possible without my loving husband who allowed me to leave him for a few days to go on this little escapade, and my wonderful in-laws for keeping my little monkeys!  Thank you both so very much!

The fun started when Kristi pulled up in the driveway, and I got to see my roommate for the first time in over 10 years!!  I was secretly afraid of how "reuning" might feel after so long, but great friendships never change.  It was as if we had never been apart.  After gathering our wits about us, we climbed in the car and tried to get situated and then realized we needed a picture of the start of this journey.  So we climbed back out again to grab the first shot of us together since the good old days.

The giraffe is a stand-in for our friend Ryan who was supposed to be with us, but ditched because of a few snowflakes.  We will forever hold a grudge, but did appreciate the quietness of the giraffe!  :)  Love you Ryan!  Of course, one picture wasn't enough.  This was going to be an epic adventure.

The next few hours were spent trying to figure out where we had left off.  Even though we had been at Harding at the same time in the end, we didn't see much of each other and therefore missed out each other's last year there.  We discovered that our junior year had been the "death" of both us. It was pretty interesting that we were going through the same things and yet circumstances just kept us apart that year.  We recalled all the horrible events, all the great events, and everything in between.

We got to stop right outside of Memphis and talk with my beautiful sister-in-laws for a few minutes.  We fell behind on the "journaling" of this trip, and forgot to bring the camera in and take a picture.  Boo!  Once we got back on the road again, we realized we were dangerously close to being out of gas.  We pulled over at the closest exit, which was apparently in ghetto-town.  Since it was decidedly dangerous to pump our own gas, we decided Ryan should it.  He was a bit scared, but I had his back!

We survived pumping gas without incident, grabbed our ho-ho's and hit the road again.  We intended to have lots of video blogs along this trip, and I totally forgot about it, so I grabbed the camera to get Kristi's intial thoughts.

It wasn't long before we hit the bridge before the forever long, last leg of the journey.  Here's my pyramid that I love so much!

And then this sign that we know all too well!  Yay for familiarity!

We were trying to make it in time for dinner with Leigh, but we were hitting the starving point so we stopped by Subway.  Yum!

Somehow we got all sorts of turned around past this point.  Probably from gabbing entirely too much.  It was getting dark and Kristi didn't like to drive in the dark so we pulled over to change places.  We decided to let Ryan drive.

We managed to get back on the right track and made it to Searcy in fairly good time.  We checked into our hotel.  The smell of cigarette smoke greeted us as we walked in and we knew we had the right hotel for memory-making!

Don't stay at the Knight's Inn in Searcy.  Just putting that out there.  This was our closet sized room.  It wasn't this messy when we checked in, by the way.  We took this right before we left.  But still.  Don't stay there.

When we checked in, the front desk worker had a message for us - Leigh had called!!  We got into the room and called her immediately and waited for her to come.  Didn't take long before we heard a knock at the door.  I loudly barked, "Who is it?"  and flung the door open to get the biggest hug from Leigh.  We were all finally together again!!

Leigh had been waiting for us to eat dinner and she was starving!  So we headed out to find a place to eat.  Searcy had grown so much there was an amazing amount to choose from.  However we were all so giddy and talkative that we couldn't figure out where to eat.  We finally settled on the old restaurant Mexican behind campus.  So many changes already.  Even the name of the restaurant changed.

We even made sure Ryan got a bite to eat.  See Ryan?  We took good care of you like we promised!

The night doesn't end there..but this blog does.  Because the one thing I learned is that 10 years DOES make a big difference in your ability to keep up the same pace as you were able to in college.  And I'm exhausted.  So as thrilling as this blog was - stay tuned for when the real adventure starts!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kid Stuff

I never know how or where to list these little tidbits..but I want them recorded somewhere because I'll forget.  So you will just have to deal with the randomness!

*Matthew can count to 10
*Eric can count to 100
*If you say "Oops"  Matthew will say "Saaaah-ye" (sorry) every time.

I think the boys are finally getting to the age where they really love each other.  Matthew was in the tub and  started hollering for me.  I went back to see what he wanted.  He stated very matter-of-factly "I need Eh-ic!"  Well alrighty then.

Matthew is nearly 25 pounds (in the 30th percentile) and .....doh!  I've already forgotten his height.  Over 30 inches, putting him over the 50th percentile for height.

This is Eric attempting to put on (well at this point attempting to TAKE OFF) a build-a-bear jacket.  I'm amazed he got it on this far.  Can someone please explain to my child that he is the jolly green giant?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Money Saving Mommas!

I found this website that I thought I would share with you all!  We are all needing to save money and it doesn't get ANY simpler than this.  Southern Savers is a place that not ONLY gives you all the deals in EVERY grocery store you can imagine, it also lists the coupons along with the items on sale.  ANNNNNND, on top of that, she has made it so you can print off the grocery list directly from the site.  All this for free, unlike the grocery game that you have to pay for.  Happy shopping and saving!

Follow Up

I thought I would share with you how I teach Eric to memorize scripture.  I take the verse and do my best to put it in picture form.  Yesterday's verse looks like this:

This will get cut up and placed in to his journal:

Which has other pages that look like this:

He thinks it's really neat to have a book that I can add to.  He gets excited about the new things that are put in it and he learns the material quickly.  If you have a verse that you would like your child to memorize, let me know and I can put something together for you!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bible Challenge

In our Wednesday night class, one of the challenges is to memorize a Bible scripture every week.  It can be any one we want, we just have to be able to recite it on Wednesday night.  I thought I would start by listing it here, and then I will make a picture reference for Eric's journal (so he can memorize with me) and then put it up in the house somewhere.  I couldn't narrow it down to one verse this week - I felt the whole passage was important to memorize.  Feel free to memorize with me!

I Peter 3:13-17
 13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats[b]; do not be frightened.[c] 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Naked Man With A Green Coat

We got to start a new semester at church tonight.  Our class was a blessing as always and we look forward to studying the Bible with this group over the next few weeks. After class we hung around and talked with a few people and then went down to get our boys.  Apparently things went just as well with them.

Everybody got a big chuckle out of our little Mattmoo who is entirely too big for his britches.  John went to pick him up and he was the last one remaining.  The attendants told John that he did fine all through class, but once other children started getting picked up, he went over and grabbed his diaper bag and headed to the door saying, "Go!  Go!  Go!" Oh my little man!

But the best part of the night, was hearing about Eric's time in class.  Before I left him I reminded him that he needed to be a good listener and pay attention in class (he apparently didn't do so well with that on Sunday).  When I picked him up, I asked how he did and got a raving review.  Yay!  He listened well and even answered when he was called on!

So when we got in the car, we had the same discussion we always have:  What did you learn about tonight?  And it went something like this....

What did you learn about tonight?

I don't know.  We had SNACKS!

(oh no.  maybe they didn't really teach tonight)

What did you learn about?

Ummm..I don't know.

Did you learn aout Moses?


Did you learn about Adam?


Did you learn about Peter?  Jesus?  Abraham?

No.  About a man who took his clothes off.

(Stunned silence.  What are they teaching them?)

A man who took his clothes off?

A man took off his green coat.

(Desperately mentally flipping through the Bible trying to recall a naked man with a green coat)

Why was he naked?

No hiting!  No biting!  No fighting!  No kicking!  He hit his head on the road!

The Good Samaritan?!?!


Oh!!  The naked man who hit his head on the road.....

The artist forgot to add the green coat....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Date With Jean Claude

 Yay!  I got a night away! 

Dining Out At Home was an event planned by the ladies at First Christian.  It was a pretty big deal for me to decide to go because 1) I don't do ladies' functions - ever.  2) I really didn't know anyone, and I don't do ANY event alone.  So I stepped out of my comfort zone.

Once I got there, I remembered why I don't do things alone.  There were several tables set up and I was early so I picked one and waited.  I watched as other tables filled up - everybody was with someone they knew.  I started to silently dread being there alone, looking like a loser by myself at the table.  Maybe this had been a bad idea after all.  But the women at FCC are fantastic, which is why I decided to go in the first place and they didn't let me down.  One of the women came and asked if I was waiting for anyone, and when I explained that I didn't really know anybody, she invited me to come sit with her group.  Thank you.  So I got to know a small group of women which was my main goal for going anyway.

I did my best to relax, but I suddenly realized I am just terribly socially awkward.  I realized this is reason number one it is difficult for me to make friends quickly.  I thought about how I got around this in the past and realized that I have always managed to attract a "social butterfly" who enjoys the fact that I am quiet and so they keep me around.  And because THEY are so friendly and chatty...I get to know other people - much quicker than trying to do it on my own.  I was longing for one of my social butterfly friends last night, but I made it through!  All the ladies were very kind and I enjoyed being with them.

As they asked about me and learned that I had 2 children there was an air of surprise.  One lady said, "Wow!  2 kids!  You don't look much older than Jill!"  Jill is a student in college.  This is when I realized my SECOND problem with meeting people.  I look 10 years too young.  So ,we seem too old to the college crowd and too young for the adults.  I need a make-over.  I know ONE day I'll be thankful for my youthful appearance.  I've been telling myself that for years now......

This is Jean Claude:

He's Parisian.  I didn't understand HALF of what he said the entire night.  I literally started to get a dull headache from the amount of concentration it took to understand what he was saying.  I know all the women in there were having the same issue.  It started off very quiet and everybody listened intensely.  When he started to talk about making a red wine vinaigrette dressing, the women started giggling to themselves.  Heavy French accents means all the "R's" become 'W's"  You could hear "dwessing" being repeated all around the room.  As the night wore on, the intent listening gave way to more friendly chatter as he continued to show us how to cook.  You could hear women translating all around.  "What did he just say?"  "What did he just use?"  Sheik-en and wed wine dwessing.   Half the time, people were just laughing because he was so animated and made these facial expressions that indicated he was trying to be funny, even though we had no idea what was being said.

We got to eat everything that he prepared.  I also learned I must be a bit of a food snob as I was disappointed in the term "gourmet".  While all the food was good, it was far from anything I would label gourmet.  I figured this was a result of him providing examples of things that would be easy to cook and prepare at home.  We learned how to make a red wine vinaigrette dressing, pecan encrusted chicken, a chicken casserole, chicken stock/soup, bread pudding, and chocolate mousse.  We were given packets that included all these recipes with room for us to take notes.  We learned very quickly that you HAD to pay attention if you were going to recreate these meals, because he was adding ingredients that weren't listed in the recipe!

My favorite part of the night (and when I started to understand why people can't recreate these dishes at home) was after we had dessert and he was open for questioning.  Everyone at the table loved the chocolate mousse, but one lady noted that depending on what chocolate you used, it would affect the flavor.  So she decided to ask what brand he used.  He was taken off guard by this and stammered out...."You can't buy it here.  It's from Switzerland".  The whole room "aahhhhhh-ed".  Not fair!  But he explained that the important thing was to look for chocolate with a 65% cocoa content.  Still people.  If your meal doesn't taste like the Master's because they are using ingredients you don't have access to!!! 

All in all a great time and I'm glad I had the opportunity to go.  I don't see myself recreating ANY of the dishes, but if any of you are interested, let me know and I will send them your way!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dine Out At Home

On Monday night, I get a girls' night out with the women at church to go learn how to cook a gourmet meal at home, taught by French chef, Jean Claude.  I'm psyched about this.  Mostly because it means I get to eat a gourmet meal for $10 with no children to chase around for 2 hours.  But until I get my official gourmet lesson, I rely on the internet to provide me with restaurant quality meals for my family.

One of our favorite restaurants is Outback Steakhouse.  Back in the day, when we had the luxury of eating out more often, John and I loved ordering the potato soup and salad.  It was perfect on a cold night.  We were up for a change of pace last night and potato soup was sounding good.  I have tried a LOT of potato soup recipes and neither of us has been overly impressed, so I decided to google "outback potato soup recipe" and I hit the jackpot.  We have a winner!  So I thought I would share that with you here!  It's totally yummy and it hit the spot for us last night.

Outback Potato Soup Recipe


8 potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cans of chicken broth
1 small onion, diced
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups of cold water
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
1 cup of butter

Boil potatoes and set aside.  
In a separate pot, combine broth, salt, pepper, onion, and water and simmer for 20 minutes.
In a small pot, melt butter.  Add flour and whisk together.  Add to pot of broth slowly, whisking constantly.
Slowly add the heavy cream, continuing to stir.
Let simmer for 20 minutes.
Add potatoes and serve!

Garnish with cheese, bacon bits and green onions.


Now I did mention that we liked the soup AND the salad!  And what makes Outback's salad so great?  The DRESSING!  And yes, I have the ranch recipe right here.  It's my FAVORITE dressing to put on a salad.  

Outback's Ranch Dressing

1 tablespoon of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing (You can also use the buttermilk packet)
1 cup of Mayonnaise (note:  NOT Miracle Whip!)
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder 

Mix together and chill for at least an hour! 
If you like it "spicier" you can substitute cayenne for the paprika or double the spices.  

I LOVE it!

Stayed tuned for more Dining Out At Home! 

Light Up The Sky

This is one of my new favorite songs!  I promise to have a "real" blog up soon.  Things have been crazy here with sickness and house hunting.  I'm truly worn out looking for a house!  It wasn't this hard the first time.  I'll also post some pictures of the crazy things Eric keeps getting himself into.  *sigh*   My boys........

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Laugh Of The Day

Don't know what this is..but it totally makes me laugh.


This has shot to the top of my favorites list!  I think this should be required of EVERY man before his wife delivers.  LOVE IT!  And I love how he wimped out just 3 hours in.  C'mon weren't even going to have to push anything out!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

Latest Adventures

*Eric in the back seat listening to John and I talk*
"Mommy?  Steaks?  Stinks?  What is that?"
"States, baby."
"StaTes.  As in, the United States of America"
"States!  S-t-a-t-e-s.  States."
"STINKS.  S-r.....a....g.  Stinks."

Ok.  You win.

Matthew playing with his Tickle Me Elmo.  He likes to feel it vibrate.  :)

I caught him in a REALLY good mood while he was in the tub.  He sang really well for me BEFORE I got the camera.  But I get him to sing a little bit more for me here.

And "You Are My Sunshine".  He can actually sing more words than this, but he didn't like being videotaped!

AND Eric "video-bombing" Matthew.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year To ME!

With my upcoming reunion, I decided it was time to kick my weight loss into high gear.  I started working out today.  I use the Wii for my work outs and it keeps track of my weight for me which I find very helpful.  I was terrified to learn what my weight was after the holidays.  It had been 162 days since I had last worked out (check the dates on my it's been 162 days since I first wrote about Jillian!)  To my surprise, I had lost


I weighed myself twice to make extra sure that was right.Woo hoo!  Now I know that is not much over 162 days, but what excited me the most, was that all that advice I wrote about was right on!  How do I know?  Because the only change I have made has been to consciously cut out as much HFCS and artificial ingredients as possible.  No exercise.  No change in the amount I ate.  That's pretty sweet.  Imagine how much I could have lost if I had been even more strict on restricting myself to organic fruits and vegetables!  It was just what I needed to see to help motivate me this month.  If just making that itty bitty change produced results, maybe the extra effort I am putting in this month will bring me down to my desired weight after all!

I am trying to work out every day and I have cut down on my calorie intake quite a bit.  I'm also using my new FABULOUS juicer to help me out as well.

 I love it.  It's so much fun to use.  

I hope I will have some dramatic before and after pictures for you in 30 days!