Friday, July 31, 2009

Food Shopping Fun

Okay, so I went food shopping today. That's not normally any big thing but I am finally getting my act together and remembering that hey, we need to save some money. I haven't clipped coupons in eons and I am looking forward to beginning again this Sunday.

So my friend A.D. told me about the Grocery Game - where you sign up and they match up all of the national coupons with the stores that you chose so you know where to shop and how much you will save in advance. I'm probably mangling the description but that's my Reader's Digest version. Then yesterday in the mail with all of the weekly grocery fliers, came my Lowes Foods one an on it it tells you how to sign up for Instasave. So I'm like "Instasave? What's that?" Well, I'll tell you... You go to their website and enter in your name, zip code, e-mail and your rewards card number and there are special sales and coupons that will be loaded on to your rewards card! You get to chose which ones you want, which is pretty darn cool. So I went, I entered in my info, clicked on my specials that I wanted and was on my way to shop.

Now there are two Lowes foods near me, one Nick works at, the other one is newer and better. Sorry, son. The other good thing about this new one is that you also earn GAS REWARDS! For every $100 you spend, you get five cents per gallon off at their gas station. I have to tell you, it's pretty sweet. You have a month to use them so over the course of the month you have the potential to keep adding to that little number. Some people I know have actually gotten twenty cents per gallon off at the end of their month. Not too shabby! But back to the Instasave... I go, I shop, I made a list of the Instasave things that I chose and did my normal shopping that I would do at that store. Well, between the in-store sales and the Instasave stuff, I saved (drumroll please!)...$$46.80!! I know, I know, pretty impressive, right? Add to that my five cents per gallon on gas and Stace is feeling pretty darn good right now.

Yes, I'm feeling pretty darn good...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

BlogHer 2010!

Okay, so I've been blogging for well over a year and just recently became a member of the BlogHer community (see ad right). As I am cruising through the blogging world this fine day, I am seeing a pattern - all of the gals that just got back from "BlogHer 2009" are posting their pictures from their wild weekend.


For those of you scratching your head in confusion, all I can say is this - BlogHer is a GIANT community and this was their annual convention. It was in Chicago (I think) and next year it will be in NYC. How cool is that? I could possibly swing by and see some family if I so choose! Now what is even cooler about this - and again, I'm new at this and don't know all of the details - you can get a sponsor! That's right, my little blog could get a sponsor to help me go to BlogHer 2010.


So if anyone is feeling generous out there, let me know. How fun for me would it be if DISNEY would be my sponsor?? It would be like the mother ship calling me home! Now I've got some research to does one go about FINDING a sponsor???

Oh, and just to plead my case a little bit more: remember, I am a pitiful, out of work mother of two and my ONE wish right now (besides that whole pesky finding a job thing) is to go to BlogHer 2010.

oh please oh please oh please oh please...(insert big, sad blue eyes here)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's Been Two Months...

Okay, so I've been unemployed now for two months. I have to admit, it wasn't as bad as I thought. Things - financially - have been okay, but now we are hitting that point where it's time to really consider what comes next.

Anyone? Anyone?

That's the thing - I have NO IDEA what to do next! We have a situation that I am sure is common to families in the same position as we are AND have kids. Michael is too young to be home alone. He is in year-round school which means he gets a three-week vacation every nine weeks. The cost of "Track-Out Camps" is astronomical! I would be working JUST to pay for the camp! That is not an option. So I would like to find something that I could do part-time or at home. I was telling this to a friend the other day and she was like "Well, what are your hobbies that you could turn in to a business?" Try this little exercise yourself and play along!

I read a lot. Not much of a call for that one.

I scrapbook. Yes, there is Creative Memories consulting but they are really expensive to start up with and everyone that I have ever known that has sold it, got out of it because there was no money it. I could try for a "Do your scrapbook for you!" type of a thing, but in this economy, are people really going to want to pay for that?

I cook. I don't measure anything and it annoys me when people are in the kitchen with me asking me questions.


What to do? What to do???

I went on line the other night and looked up being a Disney travel consultant. How much of a dream would that be? Um, huge, but the point is, I would have to be a regular travel agent first and THEN apply and PAY to become a Disney travel consultant. And even then, that is no guarantee of an income. Bummer. Yet another balloon deflated.

So here I sit friends. Sure, I've gone swimming several times a week, I've hung out with friends for lunch and whatnot, but I've got about another month before things start hitting the fan.

Any creative at-home job suggestions?? Anyone? Anyone?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm On a Quest!

So it's been a while since I've yammered on about Disney. Bet you thought something was wrong with me, right? October our church is having a one-day women's seminar. A friend and I are going to be leading one on going to Disney "cheaply". We haven't come up with a catchy phrase yet.

We got together this morning and began planning. I have a BOX of all kinds of Disney books and vacation planning paraphernalia. Honestly, every time I open that box it's like a little ray of light comes out and happy music begins to play. We went through it all and the main thing that we wanted was a brochure with the park maps in it. I have one such brochure - well, actually I have THREE of that one brochure. I contacted two travel agents, Walt Disney World directly by phone and e-mail and my Mickey Mom's Panel who I won the Disney party with. Well, the mom's panel hasn't gotten back to me yet and all of the others either never heard of them or don't have them.

I'm perplexed. I mean, it's just a simple brochure. It should not be this hard just to get one silly brochure! Sure I can go on-line and download all of the maps but that's just wasting a whole lot of ink and it would be a nuisance to copy them like 50 times. So I'm bummed. I thought we had the greatest little insert for our information packets but no such luck! Dang it!

Honestly, I think Indiana Jones had it easier than me!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Oh, Yeah...I've Got a Marathon in Three Months!

Okay, but to be honest, it's a HALF marathon and I am walking it, not running it. But still, thirteen miles is a big deal and it does require some training.

I've been doing water aerobics for two months now with some treadmill walking and some Walk Away the Pounds DVD's thrown in, but now it's time to get serious. I got an actual half-marathon training workout from Prevention magazine that I will be following. It has me scheduled to start actual training in two weeks but I think I am going to try and ease in to it before going at it full steam.

As of right now I am walking with ease at a 15-minute mile. At that rate I will finish the marathon in just the right amount of time without the bus coming to get me. But wouldn't it be nice to get there a little bit BEFORE I even see the bus coming around the corner? I mean, I'm not trying for any award or to set some great time, but I just think that it would be nice to finish without the anxiety of "Oh, no! Is that THE bus coming up behind us?" Who needs that kind of stress? Not me!

So today it's water aerobics. Tomorrow will be a 4-mile walk. Wednesday, water aerobics, Thursday, cross training, Friday, a 4-mile walk and I will take the weekend off. I know there are some of you out there who probably are looking at that and scratching your head like "What kind of wacky training is that?" For now, it's mine. I'm just trying to have fun with all of this.

Think endurance, friends! Pray for the 12 minute mile to come to me with ease!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Defending Your Faith

So I'm still unemployed. Still trying to figure out what to do with myself. The job market is pretty sucky and with a nine year old, my time is kind of limited because I refuse to let him stay home alone on his three-week track outs due to year-round school. I know that when I was his age I was coming home alone, but we were living in a different world then.

I ran in to a gal from church while at the library a couple of weeks ago and we stopped and chatted and she told me of an opening in a ministry at church that I was part of for around ten years. It is a ministry that is very near and dear to me and I figured if I am going to be out of work, I should at least try and find something purposeful to do with myself.

I called the woman I was told to and we set up an appointment to get together and talk. I have to admit, I was kind of unprepared for what would transpire - not because it was so horrible but basically because of my own pride. I was asked to defend my faith, so to speak. How did I become a Christian? What have I been doing with myself to stay in the word? What book of the bible am I reading? What studies am I involved in? What can I bring to the table of this ministry? I mean, I worked in it for TEN YEARS!! Anyone at the church who knows me, KNOWS that I was deeply involved in the ministry. I kind of felt like it was redundant to ask things like that. Now, I know the woman who is essentially interviewing me and although she kept saying things like "I know, but I have to ask..." I still had to answer. When she asked where I had been going to church...well, I had only just started going back to this church a couple of months ago and before that I had taken two years off from going to church.

Okay, here's my problem with that whole line of questioning: First, I was very honest with her in my telling of how I took two years off. I mean, if I am going to work in a ministry that I want God to bless, doesn't it make sense to not start off by lying? She appreciated my honesty but said that others might have a problem with my being out of church for so long. Okay that brings me to the second point: There are TONS of people in churches everywhere, every Sunday, that are NOT there because of their love of God or their need to grow closer to Him. They are there to be seen by others so that no one can say "Hey, I didn't see you on Sunday..." blah, blah, blah. Just because a person is IN the church building does not make them a good Christian. There are many people who come in, stand when they are supposed to, sing when they are supposed to, place their offering in the basket when it comes around, and then go home and beat their families. Or drink until they pass out. Or try and steal from innocent people while on the job. So I'm not seeing why my NOT being in church should count against me. But possibly it will.

I have to admit, I have very strong opinions on that topic because my husband was taken advantage of by MANY "higher ups" in the church. The type of people who stand at the front of the church and LEAD on Sunday mornings and then on Monday are trying to rob from the little guy who is just trying to make a living - and they do it all with a smile on their face. So yes, I have issues. I try not to judge others faith based on Sunday mornings because that all means nothing. How are they living their lives? What is their family like? If you saw them on two separate days of the week, would you see the same person? THAT'S what should be looked at, not where they are on Sunday morning. Anyone can walk in to a building, smile and look like the other hundred people in the room. We should be looking at who they are when they are not in the building.

I'm just saying...

So now I have a book to read, questions to answer and have to get back in to some sort of study so that I can show consistency. I don't totally agree with what they're saying, but it's nothing that is going to hurt me. I mean, really, I enjoy a good bible study. I enjoy growing in my Christian walk. All I ask is that you look at who I am - Stace. This is who I am on Sunday morning, Tuesday afternoon, Thursday Evening, etc. Any time you see me, this is who you get. I am a woman who loves the Lord, who loves my husband, who loves my children. I'm not looking to steal from you, I'm not looking to lie to you. If you tick me off, you're going to know about it. I love my friends and if there is something that I can do to help you, you can rest assure that I will do it.

All Stace, All the Time.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Childhood Phobia's That Linger On...

Okay so I know nothing is sleeping under my bed. I never have to check the closet for the boogie man. These are things that I outgrew YEARS ago. I'm not afraid of the dark. Thunderstorms don't scare me. I can watch a scary movie, most of the time, without lingering effects. None of these things were huge issues growing up but the ONE thing that terrified me and caused me nightmares and still does... well, it's heinous. It''s...Yes, it is Underdog. Why? Well, the reason are endless, really. You see, he, himself, the dog, is fine. Kind of cute, actually. I mean, who doesn't like Shoeshine Boy? But the music...OH DEAR LORD the MUSIC!! That theme song has creeped me out from the time I was four years old! And, to be fair, it was a fairly sinister little show - the villains were truly evil looking and the music was always ominous. That creepy giant who walked across the screen...great, now I'll be thinking about this all night! When I was little, my sister knew I was afraid of this and would call me in to a room and then BAM! on the TV was Underdog. She got a big kick out of my screams every time. It's still a long-running joke between us. Honestly, I don't know why this one thing effects me the way that it does. Last night I woke up in a cold sweat because in my dream, Underdog was on the TV. Then I woke up and for like an hour, that stupid, creepy theme-song played in my head. I tried to find some other ridiculous song to take it's place and I think finally Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up is Hard to Do" actually did the trick. Again, no one knows why. So here I am, a 40 year old woman who still cannot watch a cartoon dog. Seriously, if I think about it long enough, I can still remember how the TV stayed black for just a moment before the show began and the hum of the TV. Whenever I hear that...well, let's just say I've got a LOT of noise going on around me right now to make sure I stay distracted! Just to be clear, I don't mind the Underdog balloon on the Macy's parade, Shoeshine Boy is fine, but the music... (Insert shiver here) *The above is my entry for Scribbit's October Write Away Contest (which I am so glad is back in action!). For rules or to participate, go to Enjoy and good luck!!*

Friday, July 24, 2009

Date Night With My Boy

Lately it seems that one night a week, Michael and I are home alone at dinner time and we've come to make it our "date night". We get take out (which Michael goes and pays for himself, but with my money) while I wait in the car and then we come home and pop in a DVD while we chow down. I enjoy having this time just the two of us.

Tonight we chose our usual - Chinese - and popped in a disc of "The Big Bag Theory" tv show. It's actually a very funny show and we just shared dumplings, ate our dinners and laughed our heads off. Good times.

Earlier in the day while Michael was at school, Frank approached me with a composition notebook. I asked him what it was and he told me it was Michael's third grad journal. It was the one they used in school. The following is one of his entries that I thought was just about as funny as can be. Enjoy the laugh.

1 - Stretching
2 - Yawning
3 - Role a pencil
4 - Draw a picture
5 - Play outside and see if my friend Joe is home
6 - Have a snack
7 - Eat lunch at 11:30
8 - Stare at something
9 - Have a drink
10 - Play football

Personally, numbers three and eight are my favorites!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Kindergarden Reunion...

Yesterday we had an awesome opportunity to get together will some dear friends. One family was in town for a brief visit (they live five hours away) and the other family lives only two mile up the road but we hadn't had the opportunity to visit with each other in a while. I had everyone here for the afternoon and it was just so great because it was a get-together for everyone.

We, the three moms, have all been friends for over ten years, our teens have all been friends since they were five years old, and two of us have younger ones - who are nine - who have been friends since birth. It kind of makes it nice when we get together because there is someone for everyone.

The afternoon was spent with the teens in Nick's room listening to obnoxious music, the younger boys ran around outside for a while before coming in to play video games while the mom's sat around the table and ate. And yes, I did serve the Baked Garden Valley Veggie Wheat Thins with the Spinach and Artichoke Philadelphia Cream Cheese!! We spent the afternoon talking and catching up and it was just such a treat!

Before everyone went home we took some pictures and some day I'm going to get organized to make a collage of sorts to show these boys through the years. Last night I was on the phone with another friend and was telling her about my afternoon and she asked if the boys had changed much - other that looks/height, etc. - over the years. I had to think about that for a moment and then I realized that they really hadn't. Alex was always the well-mannered, athletic one, Nick was always the loud, funny one, and Greg was always the sweet, quiet one. Funny how they stayed true to that.

I know that I state it a lot around here how important our friends are and how much they mean to me, but it's really the truth. I think it's great when people STAY friends for more than just a season. I still have several friends that I talk with and keep in touch with where we've known each other since elementary school. My one girlfriend Lisa and I have been friends almost since birth! Since I've only ever known the girl angle on friendships so watching my son and his friends has been a real learning experience. It's good to see that boys can have and keep friendships too!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Maybe I'm Hip, But I Can't Hop

So I'm swimming with my dear friend Donna on Monday and she mentions to me how her daughter is taking a Hip Hop dance class and that after it's over they have a class for adults. Okay, I'm beginning to see where this is leading. She goes on to say that the first class is free, like a trial basis sort of thing, and then asks the big question: Do I want to go with her?

Awkward silence.

Way back when, I used to take dance. I took jazz, I chose dance as my PE in high school and I danced on the kickline. Twenty-two years ago. And you know what's weird? This is another one of those "a shrink on the couch" moments, I had no problem dancing in recitals or at football games and whatnot, but put me on a dance floor at a party, wedding or club and I totally freak out. No one knows why. Truth be known, there probably is no real reason for my phobia but it's mine and there it is. Discuss!

But back to the hip/hop thing. I really find little to no appeal in the whole hip hop thing. I don't like the music, the moves, the clothes, none of it. Last night Nick and I went to go pick up some pictures from Walgreens and he ran in to a friend of his that was dressed ...well, he was dressed like he ate Vanilla Ice! The rapper, not the actual food. I mean he was a BIG white guy but with the giant diamond studs in his ear, the baggy clothes...maybe this is the style somewhere but on him, I'm sorry, it was near comical. Maybe that's not even hip hop style but it reminded me of it. I guess I'm not all that hip, right? So I had to tell my buddy that it was really not something that I wanted to do. At all. I was kind of proud of myself because I normally end up getting myself invovled in things that I don't want to do, but I felt like this was something that I really, really did not want to do and I'd have to pay for it as well. All in all it would not be a good thing!

She was very gracious, as always, and was showing me some of her moves in the pool. I was not a very good friend and laughed. I apologized. So the next day, her daughter comes out and shows me some of the moves the way they are supposed to look, and again, while she looked adorable doing it, it was so NOT me! Last night she called and asked that maybe instead of swimming today if perhaps her daughter could teach us some moves for the hip/hop class - because it is a really good workout. I don't doubt it for a second. Isn't there a workout out there called "Hip/Hop Abs?" I think my mom and sister tried it a while ago and from the info-mercials, it does look like a GREAT workout, but just not for me.

So we're going to swim today. I really wish that I could support her more and do this but ...I'm about as white as you can get when it comes to dancing. I have rhythym but very little of it and just the thought of trying to make my body do those moves is just to much to even consider!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It's Like Cardboard Covered in Sauce...

...but it's so darn good!!!

Okay, all of you mom's out there, was there something that you ate during your pregnancy that really, no one would really want and even now, long after you have given birth you still like to eat?


When I was pregnant with Nick (some 18 years ago) I craved frozen pizza. You could not bring me a pizza from the local pizzeria, oh no, it had to be of the frozen variety. wasn't like the "good" frozen pizza like DiGiorno or the Freschetta. Uh-uh, not for me. I'm talking the kind of cheap frozen pizza that could be had from the local 7-11. My brand of choice was Elio's. I ate that throughout my pregnancy and really, once Nick was born, I stopped. Funny thing is, Nick LOVES pizza - and again, not "real" or even "good" pizza, he prefers the ickier stuff.

So imagine my surprise at finding Elio's pizza at the local Harris Teeter supermarket! I was almost giddy. I bought it and Nick and I have been having a regular pizza-fest for days. I mean, it's so NOT good that it IS good!! The first box had everyone looking at me like I was a ticking time-bomb. "Are you pregnant?" I had to reassure them all that I wasn't.

Just really in the mood for really, really bad pizza. What's wrong with that?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Because He Loves Me...

I've been under a little bit of stress this last week - as those of you who read daily are surely aware of. When something happens I tend to get very angry, very fast and stay that way for very long. But yesterday...well, I was quite honestly devastated by some circumstances and just about curled up in to a ball to cry when my Knight in Shining Armour came to rescue me.


Frank and I have been together for twenty years. No one thought we could make it that long and really, the first 3-5 years were rocky but then we hit our stride and I love him more and more each and every day.

As I was lying on the bed yesterday like a zombie, he came and laid down next to me and reminded me all of the ways that I am "okay" and that the people who are doing these heinous, back-stabbing things are really the ones that are not okay. They do things out of meanness. They create drama because they are bored and that by hurting others, it keeps the focus off of them and their craziness. For nearly an hour, this wonderful man just sat there and held my hand and told me how much he loved me and how he hates to see me so distressed. I mean, there was a Mission Impossible movie marathon on and yet he still came to me and put my needs first because he could not bear to watch me being so sad.

I am so blessed!! I can get through just about anything with this man by my side. It's not the first time he had to give me this kind of a pep talk and I really wish that it was the last. I really dislike feeling that bad about myself. I am better today, not great, but better.

I've said it before, friends, and I will say it again - God may not of have blessed me with a big house, a fancy car, an endless wardrobe or luxury vacations, but he blessed me with a man who loves me unconditionally and has given me a GREAT marriage. Thank you, Lord!!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Few Random Rants...

Sorry, but I'm in a mood...

- If you cannot have a conversation with someone that does not involve betraying a confidence or throwing someone under the bus, STOP TALKING TO PEOPLE.

- If you want to be involved with someone who is a psycho - KEEP THEM AWAY FROM OTHER PEOPLE.

- If you are going to betray a 15 year friendship by any means - DON'T GET MAD WHEN THEY TURN AROUND AND BETRAY YOU.

- When people stop calling you or wanting to having anything to do with you - THERE'S USUALLY A GOOD REASON.

- If you are going to be lewd and use filthy comments for all the world to see - NO ONE HAS TO LIKE IT OR FIND IT FUNNY.

Thanks, I needed that.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

And So We Ate...and Ate...and Ate...

So we decided on a place to eat last night for our girls night out. Drum roll, please! Texas Roadhouse!! I have to admit, I really do enjoy their food and last night was no exception.

We arrived at 7:00 and were told that there was going to be a bit of a wait but within ten minutes we were seated. The walk to the table was a bit sticky - a fact that freaked me out for a little bit. Then we realized that it was hot in there. Not just warm, but hot. We asked out waitress what was going on and she didn't seem to know and so we asked for a manager. Within minutes the manager appeared at our table and told us that there was a crew there working on the system and things should be cooling off soon. And they were. I was impressed with the service.

It was three of us for dinner and we started out with the appetizer combo - potato skins, chicken fingers and rattlesnake poppers (jalapenos and jack cheese fried in to a ball - very yummy), hot rolls with butter and salads. Whew! I was feeling comfortably satisfied but then the main course came - beef shish kabobs with steamed veggies (I opted out of the rice pilaf because of all I ate in the first course). It was done to perfection and delicious. We talked, we laughed, I showed the girls the pictures from my trip.

The Roadhouse does not have an impressive dessert menu and so we left there - slowly, we were all very full - and got back in the car and headed over to the Cheesecake Factory! What were we thinking?? Luckily it was a thirty minute drive and then there was a thirty minute wait where we walked the mall a bit. Honestly, I could have done without the dessert but it was just too tempting. Ironically, I don't like cheesecake! Fortunately, the Cheesecake Factory had other dessert option and so I decided on a slice of chocolate truffle cake.


I nearly went in to a sugar coma right at the table! It was the most amazing chocolate cake I had ever eaten and I know chocolate cake!! I only ate half and took the rest home. And because Frank was such a good sport and ate left over lasagna for dinner while I went out, I grabbed him a slice of white chocolate, macadamia, caramel cheesecake for dessert - at $7 a slice!! He did enjoy it - mainly because I didn't tell him the price!

If you haven't been out for a night with your friends in a while, let me encourage you to do so! I always feel so much better after spending time with my girls. Monday I am going to get back in to swimming with Donna and life will be completely back to normal. I love it!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Random Yumminess...Where to eat? Where to eat?

It's Friday - Yeah! Girls night out. We cannot decide where to go and eat. I know, I know, it's tough to be me, unemployed and contemplating where to go out to eat on a Friday night. Poor Stace. I get it. But truly, this is a dilema! I honestly don't know where to go where it will be all that we want it to be!

There are a lot of the usual restaurants around: Outback, Applebees, Chili's, Texas Roadhouse, Texas Steakhouse, Macaroni Grill, O'Charley's, Red Robin...yawn. All have good food and reasonable prices but they are all so LOUD! I mean, I am a loud person and sometimes it's hard for people to hear me in these places. That's not normal. Seriously, I am THAT loud.

Outback is most definitely my favorite. But when out with the girls, we all try to pretend that we don't want to eat a lot so that leaves out the Bloomin Onion and honestly, that's the best dang part of eating at the Outback! Applebee's is out because my one friend used to work there and well, let's just say that we know things now that we wish we didn't. Chili's? I'm not much on the Tex Mex thing. Texas Roadhouse? Love the food, hate the music and dancing that comes around every thirty minutes or so. Texah Steakhouse? made no impression on my life. Macaroni Grill? Their food is okay but I'm still Italian-ed out from last weekend. O'Charley's? We did that not too long ago and again, it was just eh. Red Robin? It was better in the 80's.

What do I do? Where do we go??? There are some smaller restaurants around town but they are more pricey. All I know is that I want to go SOMEWHERE! Sigh.

Now I need a snack...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Settling Back In...

It was back to business as usual today. Michael went back to school which means that I was up at the crack of dawn, had to fight an angry nine-year old followed by an angry 45 year old. It was not fun. Frank finally is working again - praise the LORD! And Nick went out with a friend for the day and is sleeping out tonight.

I have to admit, days like this still seem a little weird to me. I had the house to myself for almost four hours. I went out and grabbed myself a little take out for lunch, came home and popped in a DVD while I ate and then...nothing. I mean, my little tiny house felt giant and lonely and I sort of just wandered around wondering what in the world to do with myself!! How sad is that? I normally enjoy a little quiet time but if truth be known, I'm having a hard time dealing with the aftermath of the weekend. More and more stuff keeps coming out and my first instinct is to track this crazy woman down and inflict pain on her for the things that she said but then I have to remember that she truly is insane and doesn't really realize what she is doing. Why someone has not called the local insane asylum to come and get her with a large net and a tranquilizer dart is beyond me!

Michael came home with five days worth of homework that his teacher forgot to give him and expects it all to be done by tomorrow. Um, not gonna happen! We got through 90% of it and I am impressed with that and if she has a problem with it, well, she can pay for the therapy bills for us all.

Tomorrow night will be a girls night out and I am so thankful for my friends who are there for me and although they are all extremely curious to hear all of the loopy details of the weekend, I know that they are also there to just love on me when I need it. How awesome is that? All I can say is thank GOD tomorrow is Friday!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Diary of a Mad Vacation!

Okay, we're back!! So, so, SO GLAD to be home! It was six weird days, my friends. Six, long, weird days. Our drive down to Florida on Thursday took a little over 12 hours. We had no traffic, some rain, one detour and then one major storm in Palm Beach. When we got to our hotel, the power was out! Seriously, they gave us a flash light at check in and sent us on our way to our room! It was like a little adventure!

Let me start by saying that in no way will this blog post do justice to what went on this past weekend. Things happened that I am just not able to publish but suffice it to say, it was not boring!

Having sa
id that, our hotel was wonderful. It was a fairly new place (Wyndham Garden Hotel in Boca Raton - if you're in the area, check it out) and so it was very clean. That's always a plus in my book when staying in a hotel. We arrived in the dark but within 15 minutes we were fine. The next morning - Friday - we got up and headed over to dad's deli for breakfast. He made me his famous homemade ravioli. Yes, yes, I know it was breakfast but he had saved these especially for me and so I ate pasta at 10 in the morning. Only on vacation! They were very yummy. Next we headed over to the nursing home to see my stepmom (wife #2). I was heartbroken at how much she has deteriorated. She had no idea who we were and after only 25 minutes, I had to leave. I was too devastated and was just sitting there crying. Frank had to help me leave. We swung back by the deli, grabbed some lunch and then went back to the hotel to swim. All very nice and normal.

We headed over to dad's a little before four. Now remember, this was the first time we were going to be meeting his new wife. We got there, then my sister and her group arrived and we waited for more than an hour for this woman to make an appearance. Dad said she was getting ready. Okay, whatever. When she finally did co
me out, she seemed very sweet. Very sincere. I felt like I had known her forever. We talked a lot, we snacked, we took pictures, I mean, it was - again - very nice and normal. I felt like she had made some major improvements to our family and was so grateful to her for that!

My aunt and
uncle got lost coming over from the West Coast of Florida, so dinner was delayed a bit. This made dad cranky and I have to admit, I was a little cranky myself because he was making Italian for dinner and after having it for breakfast, I so was NOT looking forward to eating more of it. He wasn't making the ravioli but you have to understand, I only eat Italian twice a month TOPS due to acid reflux so twice in one day was a sure fire guarantee of a sleepless night! When they did arrive it was so wonderful. We ate, we laughed, we took more pictures. By the time we headed back to our hotel, I was asking myself "What was I so worried about?"

Oh, Stace, when will you ever learn???

Saturday dawned to confusion. I thought that we were doing one thing, but apparently no one knew what was going on and they all seemed to have different ideas. Frank got royally pissy and stormed off for a while. I was almost fearing getting stuck in Boca indefinitely! But he did return, we did make up and then just ended up taking the afternoon down by the pool. We were supposed to go to the beach - my husband's one and only request - but he was a good sport about it. Eventually. We met up at the deli at 3:30 to start doing the cooking for the birthday party. The wife came up to me and asked me why my stepbrother would tell her that we were all concerned about her leaving my dad . I'm like "Excuse me?" Honestly, I had no idea what she was talking about and told her as much and the subject dropped. We cooked, we cleaned, we laughed. All very nice, all very normal.

It was all downhill from there.

In a nutshell, this woman basically claims to have heard all of us saying things that she did not approve of and left my dad in the middle of the party. Not left like "I'll see you at home" but LEFT as in "We're through!" But because that wasn't enough, she then texted and e-mailed each of us nasty, hateful things. I won't go in to specifics but needless to say, it was far from a boring evening!

The remainder of our trip was wonderful! We swam and had a great time with my in-laws and it was a very uneventful drive home. I did NOT finish all of my books but did get through more than half of them. Honestly, I was too mentally drained there for two nights to do anything more than just sleep! It is good to be home and returning to the life where God has called me - being a wife and a mother to two wonderful boys and one wonderful man.

Life doesn't get much better than this. And here's something to think upon: Doing something with your life is not always something glamorous and something to be seen by the masses. Sometimes it's doing something that only a few will see. Way back when in the beginning of "All Stace" I did a post on "The Myth of More" and basically in it I stated that while I may not have the big house, the new cars, the big career, I have something that it worth far more than all of that. I have a God who loves me unconditionally. I have a TWENTY YEAR marriage with a man who loves me unconditionally. All that other stuff that people seem to think defines success in their lives, is just that, stuff. I don't need to do "Something More" with my life, thank you. I am already far more successful than some can ever imagine.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Vacation Reading Frenzy!

By the time you guys are actually reading this, I will be on my way home from vacation. Hopefully, I've survived. Since it is a massive amount of driving and I am an avid reader, I packed eight books to take with me.

Six days.

Eight books.

I know, ambitious, right? I am a super fast reader and four of the books are under 200 pages. I like a nice, quick read. I'm feeling optimistic that I will get it all done. I figure, between the car ride and sitting in the hotel room at night, sitting on the beach, etc., I should have PLENTY O TIME to enjoy a good book.

Or eight.

Friday, July 10, 2009

On the Road Again...

Because we are forever on a budge, when we travel as a family, we drive. We've been up and down the East Coast a LOT!

I consider us to be simple-folk (and not in a hillbilly kind of way!) but somehow when we travel we become very complex people. My children, who normally sit down and watch ANYTHING are suddenly movie critics about what they are willing to watch in the car! They have been discussing their selections for a month! When we get in the car to leave, they will already have a movie playing in the DVD player! For crying out loud, they don't even give themselves a chance to settle in on the road!

I have a very limited wardrobe and yet I look like some sort of Diva when I travel. I've got several outfit changes, multiple pairs of shoes, every beauty product known to man and everything in my medicine cabinet with me! It normally looks like I am going away for a month rather than a week!

In order to save money on food, we pack a cooler. Unfortunately, we are food snobs. No PB&J's for us! Oh no, I make fried chicken sandwiches that need to be made fresh on the morning of our departure, canned soda (the good stuff, Coke, not store brand), and snacks galore. Sometimes I even bake! Honestly, at this rate eating out might be the cheaper option!

This trip is 14 hours each way. We alternate driving every state. I'm unsure if Nick will get in to the rotation this time - he decided to wait on another road test until after we get back. I'm kind of relieve if truth be known. Stupid DMV!!

So off we loaded to overflowing? Check. Too much food? Check. My sanity holding on by a thread? Check.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Michael Jackson Memorial - My Thoughts

Michael Jackson died. Did anyone else hear this?? Seriously, I think the last time we saw this kind of coverage was when Princess Diana died. I watched the memorial and actually saw MOST of it live, but I caught the rest of it in re-runs later that night.

I understand that this man was an extremely gifted entertainer. The way he could sing, even as a child, was just amazing. His dancing was awe inspiring. It is likely that we will never again see such talent in an entertainer. What bothered me most was the behavior of the fans. I thought it was pretty amazing for the fans to be invited to such an event. The Staples Center seemed full to capacity. But all intents and purposes, this was NOT a concert, it was a MEMORIAL. When they wheeled Michael Jackson's casket in to the spotlight and you were waiting for things to begin, there were fans screaming out his name. I'm sorry, but if you went to a memorial for your grandmother would you be screaming "WOO! GRANDMA, WE LOVE YOU!!" Of course you wouldn't! Why? Because it is inappropriate! For crying out loud, people! Show some restraint!

Berry Gordy seemed to be doing a promo for Motown more than a eulogy. We all know the history of Motown and the Jackson 5, that was really not the arena to toot your own horn about all of the amazing acts that came out of Motown. Poor taste. Mariah Carey? Her original rendition of "I'll Be There" which she first premiered on MTV Unplugged, I think, was was more tasteful. Yes, yes, we all know that you can reach those really obnoxiously high notes. It's a MEMORIAL! Sing the song tastefully, without showing off, and get off the stage. And we could have done with a little less cleavage, too, by the way.

For the most part, it was very touching. It was nice to see him remembered in such a way and his daughter's speech at the end just moves me to tears every time I see it. And I have a feeling, we'll be seeing it a LOT in times to come.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fourth Grade Going on Forty!

Poor Michael. He went back to school today to start the fourth grade. For those of you who do not live in the area, you should know that Michael goes to year-round school and yes, it is just as annoying as it sounds. He had one week off between third and fourth grade. Now, granted, this eliminates the need for so much review at the beginning of each school year, but for the families, well, it means no summer vacation at all. Honestly, it sucks.

So being a newly crowned fourth grader, Michael came to us with a request. He is nine. Almost ten. He believes that his bed time should be later to compensate for his growth and wisdom. It really must be rough for him to be the youngest in the house. He so badly wants to be big. He wants the same privileges as his much older brother and when we try to explain to him that it is just not possible, well, you can imagine the response we get!

I tried to take him seriously tonight at the dinner table when he made his request. I listened intently as he plead his case and then I made a deal with him - if he wakes up on time for one full week without yelling or crying or whining or carrying on, then we will make his bedtime 30 minutes later. To him, this was sufficient but as his mother, I am well aware that there is NO chance of him accomplishing this goal. We finished eating and I thought we were done.

Now we tackle his homework. Yes, homework on the first day of school!! Honestly I think it is INSANE what is expected of kids in school today. He had eight pages of homework. EIGHT! I guess his bedtime will be increased because he'll be up all daggone night doing his homework! It's kind of my fault that he is working on it so late. I really did not believe that there would be homework tonight so when he got off the bus this afternoon, I took him swimming at a friend's house. We came home, had a snack, hung out and then I was like "Hey, did your teacher send home any paperwork for me today?" and out it all came! There were like a dozen forms for me to fill out and then at the very bottom of the pile was his homework. There has been much whining, crying and carrying on now - mostly from Frank!

My husband and I are from a different generation. When we were in elementary school (back in the 70's for crying out loud!), the work load was no where's near what it is now. Kindergarden was half day and that included nap time and play time! Grades one through three were fairly light and fourth grade, things did get a bit tougher but not eight pages worth of homework on the first night! So not only am I dealing with the nine year old being annoyed and upset over all of the homework, but I've got his dad carrying on too! I had to pull Frank aside and tell him to SHUT IT! I mean, the boy takes his cues from us and if dad is carrying on that the assignment is unfair, who do you think is going to take that attitude to school with him tomorrow and share it with the teacher? The same boy who once told his second grade teacher that she talked too much while giving a spelling test!!

I was sitting in my room watching the Michael Jackson Memorial - the condensed version - and Michael came walking in; clearly taking a break from the work. He sits down next to me and says "Mom, you know how you said that if I got up on time for five days that I'd get to go to bed a half hour later?" So I said yes and he's like "Well if I do it for ten days, can I stay up an hour later?"

Sure, when it comes to bedtime math he's like rain man, but fourth grade math and it takes him all daggone night to get it done!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

After Twenty Years, the Adventure Continues!!

Twenty years ago today, Frank and I had our first date. I KNOW! Wild, right? We met at his sister's college graduation party where he generously offered to pour me a drink.


We talked, we laughed, he invited me to go to a bar with him and his friends but alas, I was not of age and did not have proof, and so he left. Seriously, I think I was a little more interested that he was! So I did some investigating, got his phone number and two weeks later, called. We played phone tag for another couple of weeks and when we did finally have time to talk, we talked for hours! After several of these lengthy phone conversations, I was like "So are you EVER going to ask me out?" And he did.

And we've been together ever since. Romantic, right?

The Frank and Stacey of 1989 were: Frank was a machinist working twelve hour days living in a basement apartment, Stace worked in retail management at Foxmoor's (a Junior clothing store) and was renting a room at a friend's house. Somehow these two crazy kids found each other and fell in love. I moved in less than two months later and he hasn't been able to get rid of yet!

Happy Anniversary, Baby! I love you more each and every day!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Who Is This Boy??

Parenting is a weird thing. Some days you just have no clue where it all went wrong. Yesterday was one of those days.

Having a teen in the house means that we have to adjust to him NOT being in the house. He is very social. He has a job. We are uncool to be around. I GET these things. I remember being the exact same way at seventeen. Yesterday's drama unfolded in the form of what should have been a very easy conversation. He and his girlfriend have broken up. They started with a break but then decided to just break up. Okay. This is not a huge thing, teen couples break up all of the time. Well, the problem that we - the parents - have, is that the boy is still hanging out with the girl all the time. "We're best friends!", he tells us, and while that is ... well, that's weird! Plain and simple it's weird.

I think it's nice that they parted as friends. There was no drama, no one cheated, no one is angry, it seems that they just sort of outgrew one another. Okay, so then WHY be together all the time? Which is what we were asking him when he freaked out and basically told us to mind our own business because this was HIS life!


Um, excuse me...remember us, the people who GAVE you life? The people who put a roof over your head? Food on the table? Clothes on your back? Have taken COUNTLESS rides to the freakin DMV with you? Son, it is NOT your life yet. This started what turned in to a three-hour mini-series event. There was screaming, yelling, name it, we had it in spades. Somehow, though, the parents concerns got lost and suddenly we were no longer talking about the relationship with the ex-girlfriend but about how we, being scary people, have not allowed him to be his TRUE self.

Yes, you read that right. His TRUE self.

He is a man of God. He is a follower of Jesus Christ. He is a Godly man and he could not EXPRESS that because of US. For those of you who don't know me, let me introduce myself, "Hi, I'm Stace, and I became a believer in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior on February 4th, 1996." On top of that, we've gone to church for the last 14 years. The boy has been in church, Sunday school, youth groups and bible studies for 14 years. He tells us that we would have MOCKED him if he acted as his "true" self! Now, I will admit that Frank and I have some issues with some Christians who cannot talk about ANYTHING BUT the bible. I think being a Christian is great, but if you cannot talk about anything else, then I, personally have a problem. So we asked him "Can you talk about anything else but the bible as this Godly man?" and he's like "Yes" so where do we have a problem? Where do the scary, mocking parents come in?

Seriously, one a.m. is so NOT the time to be throwing this kind of discussion at me! I felt angered beyond belief at him for many, many reasons and not one of them involved him being a man of God. My main anger was that, once again, he took and issue that we had with him and turned it around to put the blame elsewhere. Secondly, I do not like people who then use the bible or their relationship with God to hide behind. And thirdly, I do not take kindly to liars. How is he a liar? Well, by his behavior and his actions. We have no idea who this child is because he never tells the truth. We think that it is great that he has a relationship with God, but you'd never know it by his actions in the home! He is nasty to his brother, he is disrespectful to us as his parents and honestly, you never get a straight answer out of him on anything! He wants us to accept him as he is (this newly formed Man of God) with no questions, no comments and just praise the heck out of him, but he is unwilling to accept US or anyone for that matter as they are! I have a HUGE issue with that one.

On and on and on it went. I'm still confused. After much talk I just laid it out for him - Okay, if this is what you are proclaiming then you better be prepared to be called on it when you are not doing it. Don't hold it over our head about how Godly and spriritual you are and then behave like a brat when you don't get your way. And you know what? I know that we all fall short. I get that, seriously. But as a Chistian, I know that I do things that I should not. I'm sure God would love it if I stopped cursing like a sailor when I'm angry. I'm sure that He'd also like it if I stopped getting angry! But I do not stand up and PROFESS my perfection. If you're going to profess it and want to shove it down everyone's throat, then be prepared to live it 24/7.

I'm still not happy with all of it but in the end I think we made headway on the original topic of not being a hanger-on with the ex. Pick your battles and baby steps seems to be the theme of the day.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

My Roll Hit a Bump!

So I've been extremely active this week with the walking and the water aerobics and was feeling very proud of myself AND seeing some results. Yes, my arms do actually look a little more tones as do my legs. I will have very little shame walking on the beach next weekend!

Someone forgot to inform my uterus of my progress.

Seriously, I was all set for some fun Fourth of July swimming action and now...well, I can't. I am not one of those women who - during their period - run on the beach in a white bathing suit so that I can get to my horse faster so that I can ride. I know! Weird, right?? Oh, well, I guess there goes the dream of ever starring in a tampon commercial!

So, there I was on a roll with everything and now I am too busy popping Advil like Pez to do anything. Well not anything, I did manage to get through a two mile Walk Away the Pounds walk. Frank was outside changing the oil in the car while I did it and when he came in he saw me here at the computer but noticed that I was sweaty and he's like "How fast are you typing??" Gotta love that man!

So, I'll be pool-less for a few days. Dang it! I'll have to walk again. The beauty of the water aerobics is no sweating! I hate to sweat! But I'll have to deal with it for a few days. The cool thing is that even while in Florida, I will have access to a pool every day so I should be able to stay on track. The key is to not indulge in too much "home cooking" while with both sets of parents! Dad has already promised me homemade ravioli (although, after he promised them to ME alone, he then took it back and promised half of them to my Uncle!) and my mother in law has promised her world-famous meatballs! Are we noticing a trend here? Italian much?

I hope that all of you have a fabulous Fourth of July. Stay safe!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Social Graces - Friend or Foe?

Today I was having a lengthy (in a good way) conversation with a friend. We speak several times a week and never seem to run out of things to say. Today the topic of guests in the home and hospitality came up. Her stepdaughter and the grandchildren were on their way here from out of state and they were driving through the night and her stepdaughter does not do well with coming in to their home after a long drive and have people she does not know there.

While we were talking, another friend called (beeped in) and informed my friend that she was stopping by. At that time, she very nicely but sternly informed her that it was not a good time and told her about the stepdaughter's imminent arrival. Well, the friend did not seem to listen and was coming over anyway - but she said that she was coming over "right now" and would be out of her hair quickly.

I'm sorry, but what part of "now is not a good time" is hard to understand? This person had something that she wanted to drop off at my friends house BUT they were going to see each other later on in the day and it just would have been the polite thing to do to WAIT. Now,we talked for another twenty minutes after their (beeped in) phone conversation and they only live five minutes away and they never appeared. So what defines coming over "right now"?

Is my friend inhospitable? No. Far from it. I am an extremely hospitable person. I LOVE having people over. When it is convenient!! I've had people show up at my door and while I always let them in, I find it rude that they don't bother to call first. What's worse is that they stay for extended periods of time without bothering to ask if I am busy or if they were interrupting something! Yes, I am partially to blame because I should speak up more but again, I am hospitable and it is just natural for me to invite people in.

How long do you stay? Were you invited? Can you clearly see that someone is busy ? I mean, we all have to be aware of what's going on around us. Every home is different. My sister's home should have a revolving door on it - people come and go all the time. I, personally, am not comfortable with that. So when I stay with her, I have to deal with that because it is her home. If I made a stink about it, would she change it? Probably not and I think it would be kind of nervy of me to expect that. But some people are more considerate of their guests feelings (like my friend was of her stepdaughter's) and her decision should have been respected. We were conversing with the understanding that we needed to be done by a certain time.

I don't know. Some people are just clueless. I love having people over but not for the ENTIRE day when I wasn't expecting it and not ...again, I don't know... I would NEVER just show up at someone's home just because their car was in the driveway. You have no idea what is going on inside or what kind of day they've had! In a cell phone society, CALL FIRST! And for the love of it, show some consideration of someone does say that now is NOT a good time.

This all reminds me of a line from the TV show "The Odd Couple" where Felix says "Never overstay your welcome or you will never be welcome to stay".

Wise words, Felix. Wise words...