Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Here is a special Halloween/Fall treat we enjoy each year. Try it out!


2/3 cup shortening, soft
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. crunchy peanut butter
1 1/3 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. oatmeal
1 1-oz envelope no-melt chocolate
semisweet chocolate pieces for eyes
Whole cashews for nose

Combine shortening and sugar; beat until creamy. Add egg, vanilla, and peanut butter; blend thoroughly. In another bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add to the creamed mixture; blend well. Stir in oatmeal. Divide dough in half. Set one half aside. Shape other half to form roll 8 inches long. Add envelope chocolate to remaining half of dough. Roll out chocolate dough on waxed paper to form and 8 inch square. Place other roll on top of chocolate dough. Wrap chocolate dough around roll to make a log of sorts; pinch seam together, ends should show both chocolate dough and other dough. Wrap in waxed paper; chill at least 1 hour. Let stand at room temp for 10 minutes before cutting. Cut into 1/4 inch slices. Lay slices flat. Pinch chocolate dough on each slice at top to form ears for each owl face. Place the chocolate chips for eyes, and the cashew for the beak. Place on cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350-degree oven. Makes about 30.

Kids and adults love these and they are actually somewhat healthy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wave of Peace

It is hard to describe the way I felt this morning standing outside my apartment in the early sunrise, gazing at the colorful trees high on the mountain top through the layers of fog for which the Smokies are so famous. The air was a crisp 27 degrees; the perfect fall morning.

The feeling was sudden, it washed over me like a tidal wave. It covered me. I felt such a sense of tranquility and calmness flow through my body. My mind wanted to scream "but look at what is in front of you, look what just happened, what are you going to do!!" But, for some reason, and I am having a hard time finding the words to lend justice to the feeling, nothing mattered in that moment except for the feeling of peace. I reveled in it, feeling myself uplifted and placed back on track, knowing that although things look very dismal right now, all will be okay.

Today, I feel myself regaining balance, inner clarity and strength, though I can't explain why today and not yesterday or tomorrow, for everything is still in circumstance as it was when I retired to bed last evening. I have no tangible reason to feel better.

Yet, I do.

As I look around, I see things I do not usually notice within the hustle and bustle of normal activity. It is almost as if they are placed there solely for my awakening.

The car with a flat tire - a problem I do not have to face today.
The homeless person sitting in the intersection -- a problem I do not have to face today.
The jar at the gas station asking for money to help the child with cancer -- a problem we are not facing today.

I realize, with unarguable certainty, that although my family is up against some hard times, we could be facing even larger insurmountable issues, and within my gratefulness that we are not, I find lasting peace.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Thank You Virtually Much

I just want to take a moment to thank everyone for spending a moment on my blog to read my story in the previous post and taking the time to leave words of encouragement and advice. It truly did brighten my dark time to know that there are folks out there that care. And a special thank you to Slouching Mom, who sent people my way to read and pass it on.

I am frantically searching for some kind of work that I can do from home, that is legitimate of course, to hold us over for a little while until I can find a permanent job and a new daycare for my girls that I trust. That is the long-term hang-up right now -- I can't snap my fingers and enroll them in a new daycare, because the decent ones are always full and have long waiting lists, and without daycare, I can't work -- viscious circle, but one we will overcome eventually. So, if anyone has any ideas in the area of jobs from home, it would be extremely helpful right now.
Thanks to some of the commenters on my post, I checked into NC and filled out a couple of apps for work from home jobs like transcription and customer service calls, which also led me to other web sites that offer the same type of office work from home. I figure, as long as it isn't attached to my bank account in any way or asking me to pay for the job, it might be ok. Who knows? Just doing all I can do and keeping my fingers crossed at the same time that something will follow through.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Contrary to the fact that I thought a certain amount of wisdom and the ability to recognize an untruth comes with age, I was scammed this week.

Hopelessly, unexpectedly scammed. Beyond repair it seems. I have reached, or should I say sunk to a new level of gullibility.

Backing up a bit, let me explain. For the last three months, since finishing WCU, I have been job searching for something in the field of criminal justice or social work, as those were my programs of study. I have been working, while searching, as a preschool teacher because that has been my livelihood for thirteen years. I love working with children, but unfortunately, one cannot actually make a living working in childcare if he/she has a family to support. Very unfortunately.

So, three years ago I dropped everything, moved into subsidized housing (to minimize rent expenses so I could attend class full time), downgraded what luxuries we did enjoy, and hit the books for a solid three years until August of this year. Tough transition for all of us, but one I truly felt was going to benefit us in the long run. I was embarking on a journey that I thought would lead to a better life for my little family, as it had become apparent that their father did not want to participate in their lives long term. (By long term, I mean past the point of conception. He pretty much lost interest after that).

So, back to present times. I have sent out over 40 resumes, all to no avail. It seems that each time I hear the standard, "oh, we love the fact that you graduated Summa Cum Laude, however we need two years experience. Come find us then!". OR the job turned out to be something that would not fit my lifestyle as a single mother, which of course does not allow me to work nights or 12 hour shifts. It also appears that Asheville, where I reside, does not have a high call for social workers or court service workers, as it is mostly a tourist economy. Who knew? Guess I should have.

In frustration, I began to accept the fact that, for now, it was obvious that I would continue to work in the daycare and at least that would sustain us until I could either move to a different city or find more permanent employment. I posted my resume' on Careerbuilder, as a last-ditch effort to rake in the possible categories or places in the area that I had overlooked or didn't know about. WELL, do I wish I hadn't done that. Here begins the slippery slope.

I was contacted by a company stating that they had an opportunity for me, had reviewed my resume' through Careerbuilder and sent me an email with a link to a web page explaining their business, should I choose to accept their offer. I was intrigued, naturally, especially because the position would allow me to work from my PC at home and stay with my girls. I clicked over, read the entire site, felt it was legit, but just in case I sought advice from someone close to me. To make this part of the story short, I decided to take the offer, after a few days of thinking it over and looking into it a little deeper -- albeit, not deep enough. I reasoned that it couldn't be a scam because it was through careerbuilder, payed reasonably well for the task requirements, and I could begin immediately. Oh, if only I had had a crystal ball.

I put in notice at my existing job at the daycare, also let them know my girls would no longer need to attend, and plunged forth into a new opportunity. I was unbelievably excited at the prospect of being able to work from home and stay with my kids. I was going to be able to be with them, watch them grow, experience their joys, and enjoy their days instead of passing them off to a teacher every morning for her to do those things and enjoy my children the way I longed to. For those of you aware of how daycare works, there is always a waiting list at the good schools, so when children drop or terminate, their spots are usually immediately filled.

Two days ago, the bomb dropped. One day after I put in notice at my job and removed my girls from the school. Within a two hour period, as I attempted to process the first transaction requirement for my 'job', I came to the realization that something was dreadfully wrong. The transaction would not go through Paypal. They put a hold on the account awaiting further investigation. At first I was blinded by anger, then finally a silent, slow resolve fell over me like a dark cloak of doom.

This was indeed a scam, I was told. A money-laundering scam. A bogus company that preyed on people like me, through agencies such as Careerbuilder that made their facade seem even more legitimate. Because who would think that fake companies could gain access to people's personal info and resumes on job sites that proclaim the utmost security? They operate by stealing websites of reputable companies, rerouting the emails to their personal email and operate as such, using unsuspecting people like myself to do the dirty work of processing the fake shipments and accepting the dirty money payments into the Paypal account. What?! Excuse me? Fake payments? Dirty money?

I could not believe it. It was like a movie, or something that happens to someone else. How could I be so gullible and stupid as to not see the signs that I am certain must have been there. Did it sound to good to be true? Maybe. Did I want it too badly? Probably. In any case, I am left holding a very empty bag with very few possibilities left in it. I have no job, my girls have no school, and well, as a single parent those two issues are inconceivably huge to overcome.

Thanks for listening. Please pass this testimony on to anyone you love or care about in an effort to squash these companies and force job-searching sites to enforce even higher security measures. Because let's face it. Scam artists are everywhere. And anybody is fair game.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

All in a Name

There are many positive and rewarding aspects to working with young children, but one of my favorites is the cute nicknames their parents call them when they arrive at the end of the day to pick them up. Some of the names are just love names, some are variations and butcherings of the child's given name, still others are siblings attempts at pronouncing the other child's name and it is just considered so cute the whole family has to join in.

"Hi Bean!"
"come here Be'be' "
"How was my little pea's day"?
"Where's Jaxie?" (Jackson)

It goes on and some of the little nicknames will probably stick on into childhood, much to these children's chagrin.
For example, when I was younger and my brother Jonathan was born (much to my delight by the way), I nicknamed him "Thins". It wasn't as if I couldn't pronounce his name (I had actually learned to enunciate and speak in full sentences by the time I was 18 months old, so speech wasn't an issue) but rather just a way for us to be connected. It stuck, and throughout the years, as we were growing up I referred to him as such for various reasons -- to show I loved him, to irritate him, to embarress him, whatever and whenever the urge struck. There were times he didn't mind and there were moments I know he could have strangled me with his bare hands. My prents tried to force me to stop, but nothing worked and even now from time to time, I will dig into the recesses of childhood memories and pull out that little token of affection when talking to my baby brother.

With my own children, well, yes we are guilty of nicknaming.
Jacob is referred to as Jacoby pronounced Ju-ko-bee, with the emphasis on 'ko'.
Maxwell's name is of course already shortened to Max, but he still gets 'maxy' which I am sure he HATES, or soon will, and from other non-family members he gets dubbed names like Maximus, Maximillian, Maxwellian..the list goes on unfortunately. People seem to really have fun with his name. Poor kid.
Journey is 'sweetness', my name for her when she isn't whining or carrying on. So, needless to say I don't say it often! Kidding.
Serenity's little pet name is 'peek-ums'. Don't ask. Her brother designated that one when she was about 6 months old, I think because she was so enthralled and amused with peek-a-boo.

I have noticed around here a regional favorite that everyone calls their baby at some point is 'boo' . Regardless of name, gender or age. This one I do not understand, never heard before moving to the south, but alas, hear it nearly everyday when parents arrive to retrieve their little angels, and I can't help but smile.

Do you have a nickname? Do your children have love names or unfortunate nicknames that have stuck no matter what?
If so, do tell!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

It went something like this

The setting:
Our oversized, but not-so-comfy recliner in our living room, just after naptime. Journey was cuddling on my lap for a few blessed minutes before her sister woke up--a Sunday afternoon ritual in our home of late. Little did I know what that blond little head was cooking up and was about to spew forth from it's perfectly-shapen miniature pink lips. Oh mercy.


"yes, Journey?"

"Mommy, just where do babies really come from?"

As my heart flutters and I nearly choke on my diet coke, I stammer. NO, not yet. She can't be asking me this yet. Her brothers still have not inquired, for which I have been eternally grateful.
I fish around madly for an answer that will suffice until I can issue a more prepared and accepatable one--like 10 years from now. If only we could have some kind of parental-alert that would give us even a five minute lead on questions like this.

"Well, Journey, babies, well, er, come from inside mommies' bellies"

Pause. A pregnant pause, if you will.

"No, I know that already, 'cause that is where Serenity came from. Cause she was in your belly, then you went to the hospital, then the doctor helped, then she came out, then she came home. But How did she get in there?"
Of course, my exquisitely curious and out-spoken daughter was not to be placated with this kind of beat-around-the-bush response. No ma'm. SO, in brief, I kind of explained to her what helps a baby "get inside the tummy".
After our chat, which actually took only a few minutes, and much to my relief remained G-rated, allowed a few more minutes for me to compse myself while my daughter looked at me very accusingly. Her mind was trying to make sense out of what I had just told her, I convinced myself.

Her comment:
"No wonder I don't like to play with Porter, Mommy. I just knew he was up to something".

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Mom Song Sung to William Tell Overture with Lyrics

Thanks to Mitzh, many funny minutes of laughter with this video! Please listen and enjoy!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Repeat Performance



let it happen
live it
let it go

feel it
leave it behind

until next time..

Life is full of odds. And ends. And repeat performances.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

This and That X 4

Thanks Painted Maypole for the tag on this meme'!

4 Jobs I have had:

  • a pounce-on-customers-as-they-walk-in person at Gymboree (yeah, a bit scary)

  • Nanny

  • Infant teacher

  • Preschool teacher

4 Movies I love to watch over and over:

  • Erin Brockovich

  • Sound of Music

  • The Story of Us (from this movie I adopted a tradition at the dinner table with my kids each evening called High/Low, in which we talk about the best and worst parts of our day...very fun!

  • Parenthood--because it is just SO like that.

4 Places I have lived

  • Memphis, TN

  • Iowa

  • Rudolstadt, Deutschland

  • Maggie Valley. NC

4 TV Shows I enjoy watching. I despise comedy shows and I am not much for drama shows, so here are my choices when I watch TV.

  • The Closer

  • The First 48 Hours

  • John & Kate +8 ( show on Discovery channel about a family with a set of twins and a set of sextuplets--gives me strength to see them go through their daily life as it is with that many kids and know that i have nothing in the world to complain about!

  • Little People Big World ( Great family reality show)

4 places I have been:

  • Paris
  • Venice
  • San Francisco
  • Disney World

4 websites I visit daily ( a tough one for me b/c I am not a web-browser, I do not have enough patience)

  • my email
  • blogs I enjoy reading

4 Favorite foods

  • Hashbrowns
  • Romaine salad with sunflower seeds and Ranch dressing
  • Bagels
  • Anything 'soup-like'/ crockpot creations ( I love soups and stews)

4 Places I would rather be ( this one is a bit challenging b/c I am truly happy right where i am right now, but that is probably because the kids aren't fighting!)

  • a beach
  • a cruise
  • on a mountain top
  • can't think of any others!

Ok, so now comes the time to tag and since I am so far behind with this meme' these might have already been tagged!


2)Slouching Mom,

3)Amy's World,


Sunday, October 7, 2007

On the Spot

A few days (weeks?) ago, my new friend Amy over at Amy's World, did an interview and I had such fun reading the responses that I wanted to participate as well, so she sent me the following questions to answer.

Ok, girls' naptime has begun, I have a fresh cup of coffee (pumpkin spice), and I have a candle burning...I am ready to tackle these questions. Here goes!

1) What is the single greatest challenge you face being a single mom of four children? Ok, that is a tough one. I guess my greatest challenge lies in making sure I combine the tenderness with the firm hand in equal balanced doseages. Too much of either throws things out of whack and the results can be tragic and long-term (no stress there, right?) By that I mean with issues like discipline as this one is often tough for me. I have to play two roles simultaneously--mom and dad--and by nature, usually, women tend to be more nurturing than strict or firm. Children need Mommy's lap and a tender hand, but they also need and must have strict firm approach to discipline in order to learn respect, obedience and all that 'other stuff'. I have had to learn, especially with my boys, to kind of set that soft touch aside when they are in need of some 'guidance' and be more assertive in my expectations of them, as well as following through with any consequences I dole out for transgressions. I have had to learn to not let my emotions get the better of me in situations where a man would have undoubtedly commanded more instant respect and diffused the problem a lot more quickly than I mangaged to. Obviously, I can't use the old "Just wait until your father gets home" trick. Unfortunately, I yell more than I would like and we are really targeting that right now in our home. Whew! I kinda rambled on with that one...
2)What is your favorite guilty pleasure? Oh, this is a fun one. I don't get a lot of 'me time' obviously. So, after 9 p.m. when the kids are long asleep and I am able to sit down for a few moments, I allow myself to have a small delectable treat and unwind a bit. Whatever my heart desires. Chocolate, in one form or another, usually wins hands down (I know, boring and typical but what can I say), as I am not much of a cake/pastry eater. I give that to myself, feeling that I have earned it (damn skippy!). Although I should feel guilty because I know it is bad to eat sweets at night, too much sugar will pack on the pounds, heart diesease, blah blah blah., but I don't give a hoot. I enjoy every bite. Guiltlessly!
3)If money were no object and you could spend a week anywhere in the world ~ where would you go?Somewhere you have been before or someplace new? Why would you go there?
Lets see. Having spent some time overseas in Germany (as an exchange student) and France and Italy, I would more than likely go back there for a week. I adore it over there ~ the people, the food, the culture...and I would love to go back and visit some new cities that I didn't get to see before.
4)Looking back on your life, do you have any regrets? If you could go back and tell your younger self something, is there one thing you would change, knowing what you know now about life? Hmmm. As I see it my life is a culmination of choices I have made. A collaboration, if you will between good choices and well, not so good ones. I feel like, if I could go back and whisper something in my 18-year-old self's ear, I would say, "be less gullible and trusting and pay attention, for things and people are not always what/who they appear to be". I learned some lessons in my life the hard way, but I guess most of us do and that actually makes us who we are. Taking those times of tribulation away would diminish character and the ability to perservere through tough times. I do hope that my children grow up strong enough to weather what the world will inevitably throw at them and of course, I will want to protect them from pain and suffering. I have only one regret and that is the fact that the first time I went to college, at age 19, I stopped after a couple of semesters 'to work awhile'. If I could go back, I would finish college while I was young and without children b/c going to school amidst raising children, and having another baby in the middle of a semester, working and generally just participating in life was hard.
5)Your post where you spoke about your decision to have your youngest child rather than an abortion: do you think you will ever share that with your daughter?
This is often something I wonder myself. I think that in the run of things, probably not. If the cirucmstance arises where I feel it is pertinent to discuss ~ say if she one day finds herself struggling with such a decision (God forbid) or if she ever asks me anything about my feelings toward abortion in a personal way, I will tell her the truth. It is such an integral part of her birth story so I feel like someday, she will ask. She will feel led to know the answers to some of life's bigger, more difficult questions, and the opportunity will present itself. I do hope that when I speak of it, I remain non-judgemental, for if she is at that time struggling, she may not make the same decision as I and she deserves (every woman deserves) that freedom, the real freedom, of true choice.

SO, thanks Amy, I enjoyed answering your questions. You came up with some good ones!

Friday, October 5, 2007


Meet Dirty McMuddy...

and his sidekick, Dusty McFilthy.

This, my friends is after ONE AFTERNOON of playing outside.
Fun was had by all.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Different Language

Driving home yesterday I realized that I speak another language.
Now, of course, many of us do speak a language ( or two) other than our native tongue, but let me explain.
In this case, I mean that I speak toddlerese.

Serenity, having just turned two, is turning the infantile grunts and gestures and one-word commands into actual (well, kind of) words and vocabulary. All fine and good.

Most of her words are not even similar to real words yet, thereby leaving us baffled half the time as to what she is trying to say. A certain chain of syllables means ' big truck' and ' my cup of juice', but the real whole words do not yet fully exist.

It is truly fascinating, development of one's language, and the more I thought about it I recognized that we moms actually do, even if for a brief time, speak a different language during the vocabulary development of our toddlers. We must learn to recognize the chain of syllables that mean a certain word but sounds nothing like the word we know, and commit it to memory in association with it's meaning so we can more rapidly recognize it the next time we hear it. This does not mean that we don't say the word correctly often so as to help our toddlers learn the correct pronunciation. Here I must add that pronouncing a word correctly to a cranky, hungry, out-of-sorts toddler IS NOT a good idea so knowing what they are trying to say is VERY important.

In addition, we must learn to REPEAT everything that our little ones say so they know we are listening, thereby teaching them the art of conversation, which differs from communication vastly. To me it became apparent that right now, with Serenity learning to really talk, my mind feels the same way it felt (exasperated and overwhelmed) when I was living in Germany and trying to translate every word and phrase until I became familiar with the language.

Immediately following birth, infants watch the movement of people's mouths, listen to the rythym of the speech surrounding them, and begin to recognize voices. As chidren grow into toddlerhood, they are learning to communicate their wants and desires through gestures and very basic imitations of the speech they have been listening to for a year. Some children catch on very quickly and can speak full sentences very early, others take the two to three years to fully enunciate correctly most words in their daily language.
I realized, sitting at the traffic light (I am surprised at this point that I remembered to drive as I was so caught up in pondering this ) that as each of my children has reached this point in development, I remember learning to recognize these "new words" and constantly translating their meaning to other people who couldn't understand my child.

Of course, I had this epiphany while Serenity was in the back seat screaming "cee bu"..translated "city bus"...this is by far one of the easier phrases to decipher. One of the harder ones as of yet was "wa toma tay pee"...directly transalated "watch Thomas the Train please?"

So, as time moves on and my toddler becomes a pre-schooler, her speech will graduate to new levels in development, none as hard as this initial explosion into communication.
Well, maybe until she becomes a teenager anyway, and I don't even want to talk about what communication will be like during that period of time!