Friday, May 30, 2008

Neil - Is there anyone else?

"There are two kinds of people, those who like Neil Diamond and those who don't." from What About Bob. The Pregont men in this household not only like, but love Neil Diamond.

Informal Poll:

1. Which kind of person are you?

2. Favorite Neil Diamond Album?

For the Pregont men = Jazz Singer by far. This album taught me what a "brother" was, and that black people called us "white boys." It wasn't until half way through the movie that I realized his father wasn't a Catholic Priest, it didn't make sense that a Priest could have a son; then I realized he was Jewish. The Jazz Singer was the 2nd movie we watched on our new VCR back in 1983 (first was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

Matt

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dentists and Gardens

Took all 6 kids to the dentist today. We have a really great dentist office that really takes us in stride. There's not really anybody else there when we're there because they can't fit more than 6 kids in the cleaning rooms. Everybody walks away with a free toothbrush, so we're all pretty happy about the experience. No cavaties today, which is rare.

I'm trying to muster up enough gumption to plant some tomatoes and herbs. I bought these 3 huge pots for such a purpose. Although my parents had quite a hefty-sized garden when I was little, I just didn't pay a lot of attention to the process of planting, weeding, harvesting, canning. So, I'm a little timid at the age of 38 to give an herb garden my best shot.

What have you planted and how did it turn out?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Narnia

The whole lot of us went to see Prince Caspian this afternoon. We're big Narnia fans here. In fact, Clive is named after CS Lewis (Clive Staples Lewis). I love the way Aslan is portrayed as a Christ-type figure. Love the devotion the kids have to Aslan. At one point during the movie I just cried and wanted to go on straight to heaven. I remember when I was a little girl, and ancient, old women would stand up in church and testify talking about how they just couldn't wait to go to heaven. I didn't get it back then. There was so much livin' yet to do. I really didn't get it until my dad passed away almost 4 years ago. Then I wanted to go, too. Not a death wish, just a desire to be with Jesus and have no more struggles and hurts. Just be the way we were created to be.

When we told our kids about Maria Chapman's death, Isabel started clapping and smiling. All 7 of us looked at her like she had 2 heads, and she looked at us like we had 2 heads. Then I realized that, to her, being with Jesus was a celebration and how exciting for Maria. We explained to the kids that the worst part about death is not for the one who goes on to heaven, but for those of us who are left behind. We just miss people, that's all. For believers, we're just out of place here and always have that longing to go home.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Being Liberian


There's just certain things Nia does that remind me of being in Liberia. Seeing her in this tree at 8am this morning is one of them. I remember seeing kids hanging from trees everywhere we went in Monrovia.
Here are some other things:
~carrying things on her head (plates, toys, toilet paper, and so forth)
~turning a bucket upside down and playing it like a drum at 7am
~being comfortable sitting around doing nothing (Liberians seem to be experts at just sitting)
~putting her dolls on her back with a blanket wrapped around herself and the doll (I forget the techinical name for this)
~playing games called "Plant my rice, Water my rice, Cut down my rice"
~her incessant love of flip flops, also known as shower shoes
~saying, "I cannot bear my pee"
~wanting rice for breakfast....and lunch......and dinner......and snacks


Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Chapmans

Steven Curtis Chapman lost his youngest daughter, Maria, yesterday to a tragic accident at their home. She was the youngest of their adopted Chinese children. Apparently, the accident happened in their driveway with one of their sons at the wheel. Pray for their family during this time of unfathomable loss and especially for the son who was involved.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Progress Amidst the Pain

Here's a picture of our back yard in progress. That's mulch on the left. The idea is that we won't have to mow under the trampoline. It's kinda crowded over there because we're waiting for fresh top soil to be dumped on the right side. Doesn't it already look cleaner and neater? Does anyone have tips for teaching dogs where to poop, or where NOT to poop?
\



And here's our lonely patio table and umbrella. I guess the table was too heavy for our thieves. Last night at supper I prayed for the thieves, that they would never be able to sit comfortably in our chairs and that guilt would haunt them eternally. But I'm not bitter.



Tuesday, May 20, 2008

We've Been Robbed.....Again

Is there a full moon out or something?

The lawnmower was one thing, and I really wasn't attached to it since it was old and disfigured. (Don't worry, I have much higher regard for old and disfigured humans.) But now the Thieves has crossed the line. They've gone too far. They've made off with my patio chairs. The ones that match my patio table. The ones I bought 3 years ago, calling every Lowe's in town until I managed to acquire a complete set. The ones I bought at the end of the season on clearance. I'm Mad. Mad, I tell you. Crying, Crazy Mad.

My favorite line from The Kite Runner is when the dad tells his son that only real sin is Stealing. If you murder, you steal a person's life. If you lie, you steal the truth. If you have an affair, you steal trust. If you steal patio chairs, you steal my place to sit down and enjoy my newly landscaped backyard. The nerve....

Saturday, May 17, 2008

We've Been Robbed

It's not the first time we've had things stolen from our house here in the 'hood. When we started renovating there were 2 clawfoot tubs that managed to find their way out. Now that took some planning. Those suckers are heavy, so a person would definitely need to bring some friends and a pick-up truck.

In order to feel safe about all our tools being here in the house before we moved in, we let our homeless friend live here with his 2 dogs. He also helped out with some demolition and other odd jobs around here. Occasionally, he would need to scare people off the property and out of our dumpsters. I'm happy to report that he is now employed at Wal-Mart and has a small apartment of his own.

So, now that we're all caught up.....

Our push lawn mower was stolen. Some friends gave it to us when we bought our first house 10 years ago. It required a screwdriver stuck into the side to hold it together, and we had to pull the cap off the sparkplug to turn it off. That's how it came to us 10 years ago, and that's how we used it this whole time. God bless that mower. We put a lot of miles on it. It has moved with us 3 times. I chuckle to think of what the thief thought when he got a better look at that mower in the daylight. The blades haven't been sharpened since we got it. I know, I know. It's gerry-rigged (is that how you spell it?) in so many places. And they took our gas can, too. Bummer. And just what were our 2 faithful mutts doing whilst the bandit made off with out loot? Dreaming of chasing squirrels, no doubt.

And so today we bought a new used push mower off Craigslist. I love Craigslist. I've bought and sold furniture, clothes, bicycles, toys, rugs, and tools off Craigslist. I'm currently scouring the ads for a gas grill. Anyway, a dear old man fixed up this mower and threw in a girls' bike all for $45. What the Push Mower Thief meant for evil, God meant for good.

The Team Meeting

Does this say Little Rascals, or what? Jacob called a team meeting with his siblings to go over their baseball positions. See his clipboard? He's very serious about his job as Team Captain, Manager, and Coach. Notice our back yard is still primarily gravel. Sigh.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Not Dreading the Locks

Nia got her locks touched up yesterday. She looks really tired in this picture because she had been sitting at the salon for 3.5 hours. Beauty has a price. We have to get touch-ups about every 4-6 weeks. I really, really need to learn how to do this myself.

Her Loctician has a Medusa of locks that fall clear down to her hiney. Nia aspires to this.

Greeting the Day

On the mornings I drag my hiney out of bed at 5:08am and go to the Y for a workout, I greet the day. On the other mornings when I sleep in til 7am, the day slaps me up side the head. Which poses the question, why is it soooooo hard for me to haul it out of bed early EVERY morning when the pros seem to outweigh the cons? Why does the illusion of sleeping in seem so compelling? Does my body Really need that much sleep? I've always envied those people who condition themselves to require 6 hours of sleep. I remember hearing my mamaw (that's southern for 'grandmother' for those of you from the north) talk about how she'd wasted the day because she slept in til 6am.

Ideally, I'd love to get up early without resenting it. Resentment sets in the night Before I get up to go work out early at 5:08am. It continues all through the night when I roll over to look at the clock and count my remaining hours. It's still there while I'm tying my shoes at 5:13am. Somewhere about the time I walk into the Y at 5:25am and see all those people already breaking a sweat who got there at 5am, my resentment is gone.

What time do you get up and are you happy with that time? Why or why not?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Comments

FYI, I read all the comments posted by viewers, so post away!
~angel

Talent Show

This morning I went into Nia's room around 7:15am. She's usually the first one up and so I wanted to see if anything was wrong since she hadn't done her morning ritual of slamming a few doors and flipping on lights.

So, there she sat on her bedroom floor in the middle of fabric, thread, and dolls. She was just putting the finishing touches on a SUIT she had made for one of her dolls. This suit involved a short-sleeved jacket and matching skirt. It fit like a glove. She's going to sew it some underwear after breakfast.

Her talents abound so much that I don't know which ones to foster. Should we put her in a formal soccer league? Should I sign her up for sewing classes? Should I enroll her in Beauty School because she can do black hair better than most adult black women? Should I sign her up for cooking classes? Should I encourage her to pursue her gift of drawing? And she's also developed an interest in gardening. And baseball.

Clearly, you see my dilemna.

On a different note, I woke to the sounds of my electric sweeper Sunday morning around 6am. I walked into Nia's room to see her holding the sweeper oblivious to a house-full of sleeping people. In my morning stupor and frustration from losing valuable minutes of sleep I said, "NIA! What are you doing?" You have to say this with in a loud whisper voice with lots of irritation and accusation and wrinkle your face up in disgust. Go ahead, try it.

"Ma, today is Mudder's Day. I clean my room for you." It was spotless. Narry a dust bunny to be found. I, of course, crumpled into a heap of surprise, guilt, shame, remorse, happy, self-loathe, scum-eating, thankful Never Winning Mother Of The Year for having jumped to conclusions about her motives. Motherhood is such a sanctifying job.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Being Humble

Whenever I start feeling like I'm All That And More, there's always swimsuit season to bring me down several hundred notches. The pool at the local Y opens Memorial Day Weekend. Reality Looms in the very near future.

I remember a mentor of mine several years ago talking about being at the pool with her kids. She said there was every kind of physical shape and size of parents. Pasty white ones, burnt ones, ones with farmer's tans, brown ones, shiny black ones. Skinny ones, fat ones, fit ones. Big chests, flat chests. Smooth thighs, dimpled thighs. But the interesting thing is that none of the kids seemed to notice any of those traits about their parents. Truth is, all they'll remember is spending time with Mom and Dad and having fun together.

Lord, help me to only remember the fun times I'm having with my kids, and not that great-looking mom in the bikini whom I KNOW has fake boobs.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

#20

Being a mom is thinking coffee makes you a better mother.

Whenever we move, I always pack the coffee pot in the front seat with me. Nobody is allowed to touch it or carry it into the new house. It's mine. All mine. I bring it in, plug it up, and make sure there's some ground coffee ready to go for the next morning. I might not be able to find my toothbrush for days, but as long as I have my coffee the world will be a better place.

Fess up. How many cups, or dare I say Pots, of coffee do you have each day? Do you sometimes find your coffee cup 1/2 full sitting in odd places like your closet because you got distracted when a child said, "Mommy, come see what Hudson just did"? I lost my coffee cup one time and found it 2 days later in the microwave from when I heated up leftover coffee one afternoon. I used to be a purist and never, never, ever heat up leftover coffee. It always had to be fresh. That was back in the day when I only had a dog to care for. Now I'll just take it however, whenever I can get it. And as my mother says about my coffee, "That coffee can walk," meaning I like it strong.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Dead Birds

For about 2 weeks now dead birds have been showing up in my yard by the dozens. I bagged and froze a few of them and called the environmental people, thinking we had a case of West Nile right here in our back yard. They weren't interested in testing the birds unless they were Robins, Crows, or Bluejays. Since I couldn't identify their mud-soaked little bodies I finally threw them out.

But they kept turning up here and there around our back yard.

Today, Nia looked out the back window and caught Lily, our 1yr-old black lab, swiping a paw and knocking a sweet birdie out of the air. Lily then, of course, picked it up in her mouth. "Ma! Lily killed de buuurd!" So, we all took a trip out to the scene of the crime. There lay a little bird, still breathing, broken bones, puncture marks. "Ma! It's still breeding! Let's take it inside!"

It was a hard lesson for my kids to learn as we watched little bird take it's last breath. Lily just layed down beside it and nudged it with her nose. I think she just wanted to play with it. I suspect it will be a long summer of dead birds in our yard now.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Flowers for Mother's Day

I'm on an East Nashville Crime Watch internet group. This man who started it has a police radio and sends us all an email everytime something happens in East Nashville. We get emails about robberies, suspicious-looking people and cars (like house alarm salespeople who go door to door), break-ins, etc. The real exciting emails are the ones when the choppers are up. "Chopper over Fatherland St. Someone's on the run." It's always nice to be in the know about the goings on in my part of town.

The most interesting email I get is always around Mother's Day. The owner of the internet group warns us to bring in our hanging and potted plants the week before Mother's Day. Apparently, in neighborhoods like mine these things are potential Mother's Day gifts for the sweet, beloved moms of thieves. My 200-year-old neighbor across the street, Ms. Sue, only puts out plastic flowers in her pots. I always wondered how she kept her flowers looking so good during last year's drought.

What are you getting your mom for Mother's Day? I need some ideas. Quickly.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

For All The Moms

This is for the mothers who have sat up all night with sick toddlers in their arms, wiping up barf laced with Oscar Mayer wieners and cherry Kool-Aid saying, 'It's okay honey, Mommy's here.' Who have sat in rocking chairs for hours on end soothing crying babies who can't be comforted. This is for all the mothers who show up at work with spit-up in their hair and milk stains on their blouses and diapers in their purse. For all the mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes. And all the mothers who DON'T.

This is for the mothers who gave birth to babies they'll never see. And the mothers who took those babies and gave them homes. This is for the mothers whose priceless art collections are hanging on their refrigerator doors. And for all the mothers who froze their buns on metal bleachers at football or soccer games instead of watching from the warmth of their cars. And that when their kids asked, 'Did you see me, Mom?' they could say, 'Of course, I wouldn't have missed it for the world,' and mean it. This is for all the mothers who yell at their kids in the grocery store and swat them in despair when they stomp their feet and scream for ice cream before dinner. And for all the mothers who count to ten, but realize how child abuse happens. This is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and explained all about making babies. And for all the (grand)mothers who wanted to, but just couldn't find the words.

This is for all the mothers who go hungry, so their children can eat. For all the mothers who read 'Goodnight, Moon' twice a night for a year. And then read it again, 'Just one more time.' This is for all the mothers who taught their children to tie their shoelaces before they started school. And for all the mothers who opted for Velcro instead. This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and their daughters to sink a jump shot. This is for every mother whose head turns automatically when a little voice calls 'Mom?' in a crowd, even though they know their own offspring are at home -- or even away at college -- or have their own families. This is for all the mothers who sent their kids to school with stomach aches, assuring them they'd be just FINE once they got there, only to get calls from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please pick them up. Right away. This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can't find the words to reach them. For all the mothers who bite their lips until they bleed when their 14 year olds dye their hair green. For all the mothers of the victims of recent school shootings, and the mothers of those who did the shooting. For the mothers of the survivors, and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror, hugging their child who just came home from school, safely. This is for all the mothers who taught their children to be peaceful, and now pray they come home safely from a war. What makes a good mother anyway? Is it patience? Compassion? Broad hips? The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner, and sew a button on a shirt, all at the same time? Or is it in her heart? Is it the ache she feels when she watches her son or daughter disappear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time? The jolt that takes her from sleep to dread, from bed to crib at 2 A.M. to put her hand on the back of a sleeping baby? The panic, years later, that comes again at 2 A.M. when she just wants to hear their key in the door and know they are safe again in her home? Or the need to flee from wherevershe is and hug her child when she hears news of a fire, a car accident, a child dying? The emotions of motherhood are universal and so our thoughts are for young mothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation... And for mature mothers learning to let go. For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers. Single mothers and married mothers. Mothers with money, mothers without. This is for you all. For all of us... Hang in there. In the end we can only do the best we can. Tell them every day that we love them. And pray and never stop being a mother...

~Anonymous

Monday, May 05, 2008

Being a Mom #569

Being a mom means feeling that other moms throw better birthday parties, make better Valentine's Day gifts, and pack more exciting lunches - and then realizing your kids don't care.

I admit it, I fall into this trap. When Jacob was about 4, I finally let myself free from scrapbooking. I never liked it, and I'm praying that my kids will marry spouses who love to do it. Then I'll pass all those photos over to them and let them go to town with it. My dear SIL even bought me a scrapbook with all the cute things already pasted inside. All I had to do was add pictures. That was 3 years ago. Still haven't added the pictures.

So, what do you erroneously think you should be doing a great job at just because you are a mom?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Biscuit Mix for The Few, The Proud, The Brave

From Michelle:
When I make the master baking mix, I do 15 pounds of flour simply because I don't have to measure the crisco (that stuff is so GROSS to measure...blech!). It takes two of the large containers for 15 pounds of flour :-) If you make all 15 pounds of flour into biscuit mix, it will make about 21 quarts.

Master Baking Mix
makes 8 pounds
Sift together 3 times:
5 lbs. flour
3/4 c baking powder
3 T salt
1 T cream of tartar
1/2 c sugar
Cut in to the consistency of cornmeal:
4 c vegetable shortening (I use butter flavor crisco)
Stir in:
4 c dry milk powder
The dry milk powder is optional, but it adds more protein to the mix
which translates to fuller bellies for longer time :-)

Biscuits
Each jar makes more than enough
for my family of 6 (big eaters)
Put 3 cups of master baking mix into each quart jar.
Put 4 T buttermilk powder into each jar.
I use the white plastic screw on lids (you can get them at Wal-Mart) to seal the jars.
These will store on a pantry shelf at room temperature for up to 3 months.
When you are ready to make biscuits, preheat your oven to 450.
Pour out one quart jar of biscuit mix. Give it a quick stir to incorporate the buttermilk powder.
Add one cup of water and stir until moistened. Drop by heaping spoonfulls onto
an un-greased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
If you prefer cut biscuits, reduce the milk powder and water to the equivalent of 2/3 cup.
Knead lightly on floured board. Roll 1/2" thick, cut, and place on un-greased baking sheet.
These look prettier than drop biscuits, but they are a lot more labor intensive.

Pancakes or Waffles
serves 4
Beat together in a bowl:
1 c Milk (I use reconstituted dry milk--it's cheaper :-)
1 egg
Stir in:
1 1/2 c Master Baking Mix
Cook on hot griddle or waffle iron. For lighter waffles, separate egg;
add yolk with milk. Beat egg white until stiff and fold into batter just
before baking.

Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
Preheat oven to 425.
Beat together in a bowl:
1 egg
1 c. Milk (again, I use reconstituted dry)
2 T sugar
Add:
3 c. Master Baking Mix
Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon into greased muffin pans and bake
20 minutes.

Options:
Add drained fruit, chopped nuts or chopped dried fruit. Replace 1/3 of baking mix with quick cooking oatmeal or all bran cereal.
Make as a loaf in a greased 5x8 pan--bake 40 minutes at 350.

Strawberry Shortcake
Take a quart jar of biscuit mix. Add a palm full of sugar (1/2 cup?)
Mix and bake as usual. Slightly sweet and the perfect accompaniment to
fresh berries and whipped cream.

Dinner Rolls
Take a quart jar of biscuit mix. Add about 3/4 cup shredded cheese.
Mix and bake as usual. Makes a great cheese dinner bread in a pinch.

For Michelle - The Biscuit Mix, please

For the Michelle who replied that she makes scads and scads of biscuit mix and fried sausage patties for breakfast, please reply to this Post with your biscuit mix recipe for those of us who might actually want to give this a go...someday. Michelle makes this mix ahead of time and puts it in jars for daily use. She freezes fried sausage patties and thaws each morning in the microwave for biscuits and sausage daily.

Also, what's your last name, Michelle? I know a lot of Michelle's. I'm pretty sure I know who you are, but let's end this mystery right here and now.