Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
~1 Timothy 4:12

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

That's a Wrap...

Today is New Year's Eve. The end of a rough year for the O's (that's us). While my parents were here last week I remarked to my mom that Mike and I had only spent three weeks together since LAST Christmas; she,thinking I had to be wrong, went to the calendar to count it up. Sure 'nuff, three weeks. Do I keep harping on this deployment? I certainly think I do. Just one more reason I'm glad to ring in the new year. It's often said that we can't truly look forward without looking back to realize the lessons learned. So, with that, here are 2008's lessons learned for me:

1. You should always, ALWAYS ignore the screaming dude in the celica with the Tennessee plates in the WaWa parking lot. Because he's wackadoodle.

2. Neighborhood conflicts are best left alone.

3. Tornadoes are not,NOT your friend.

4. Wisdom imparted often comes from the children in your life, and not the adults.

5. You should never be afraid to have no idea what you're doing when the thing you're doing is seemingly the craziest thing you have ever done.

6. No matter how many times you steam-clean the carpet, you'll always have to do it again. And again.

7. Nothing is stronger than good prayer and good coffee.

8. The plumber can be your best friend. Especially if you call him three times in three weeks.

9. Nothing is sweeter in this life than simply being in a room with the people you love. Who cares if you're not doing anything at the time. Just breathe them in.

10. It all boils down to family. They are the Heaven God gives us here on earth until we get there.

That's it. Tomorrow will be the things I hope for in 2009. Here's to Hog Jowls, Black Eyed Peas, Cornbread and Boiled Cabbage. None of which I've ever eaten. I'm Southern...not crazy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cornbread Dressing, Gorgonzola Prime Rib, and Pumpkin Pie Fantasy

And that's part of our Christmas supper menu. The rest?

Spinach Salad with Feta and pears
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Mango Cranberry Relish
Spirited Eggnog
Southern Iced Tea
Cranberry Prosecco

and for baking goodies for the neighbors and mailman and (yes) the trashman,
Peanut Butter Balls (not Buckeyes. Cover the whole thing in melted chocolate for cryin out loud. That bare spot is just a mean teaser).
Bourbon Rum Balls
Molasses Oatmeal Cookies

This is me trying to keep my mind on other things. Nine days ago my Grandaddy passed away after a ten year presence of Alzheimer's Disease. I drove home and sat with him in the hospital to give my mom a break, then after MUCH deliberation and convincing on the part of my family, decided to go ahead with Mike's and my trip to Las Vegas for the weekend (Well--LATE Thursday to EARLY Monday). His funeral was held the day we flew out. Hello, Family Guilt. Not that I got that handed to me; but it was I that felt guilty. But it was my mom's best friend who reminded me that I was there with my family when no one else was--when all the other family was elsewhere, and that my husband had been gone the better part of the year--that I needed to be with him and cultivate our marriage. She was so right. Mike and I had the most spectacular time. It was very, very needed and for the first time in a really long time, I found myself relaxing.

Now, however, it's "back to reality...whoops there goes gravity..." and the fall-out from my Grandaddy's death is beginning to rear it's ugly head. I'm not going to go into specifics here, but let's just say the Hatfields and the McCoys have nothing on us.

So, for that reason, I'm thinking on other things...things that are good, and pure, and right, and true and enjoying my darling, precious family. And I'm just thankful.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tomato Soup Cake and Lives Saved...

Ok, so this is to formally put any and all speculation to rest. Two of my friends who read my blog have asked me to explain Tomato Soup Cake and how I ended up saving Devyn's life twice. Now, I'm going to include a recipe for the cake; however, it's NOT the recipe my mother-in-law has perfected. I don't have that recipe because it has some secret ingredient in it and I think you either have to have kissed the Pope or been Brule by blood (my mother-in-law's family name), or to have been French Canadian by birth. So! Here we go!

Tomato Soup Cake is a very Southern dish. Go figure, because my mother-in-law is originally from New England, and hard-core Northern at that. Her great-grandfather was Whaler, and her mother still has the craziest strongest accent from Fall River, Mass, EVER. Anyway, she makes this cake once a year. It's a spice cake with nuts and fruit (raisins usually). It's ridiculously moist and although the name conjures up probably some really yuck stuff, if it's done right, it will BLOW YOUR MIND. Here's the recipe from

1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed tomato soup
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup raisins

Combine the tomato soup and the soda in a bowl, and let it stand.
Cream sugar, egg, butter, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix in tomato soup and soda mixture, and then flour. Stir in the raisins, and pour the batter in a greased baking dish.
Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 1 hour, or until done. Cool the cake, and top with cream cheese icing.

Ok, I managed to save Devyn's life. Twice...
She was about ten months old and she and I were in the kitchen while I was making supper. She was in her high chair and was happily enjoying some Zwieback toast while babbling to me about what Elmo had done that day on Sesame Street. She pretty well stopped babbling immediatly and I thought something had caught her attention, but when I looked over, she was very slightly blue. I grabbed her out of the highchair and threw her over my knee and started doing infant Heimlich on her back. It took about 15 seconds before the piece of cookie that was stuck in her throat shot across the kitchen. So. That was experience number one. Experience number two was much, much more magnanimous...

We had been in London about two months and Mike was off playing soccer one evening (it was a Monday--how do I remember that?). Devyn was 23 months old and I was again, in the kitchen cooking her supper. She was having chicken and green beans. Again, weird how I remember that. Now, it should be noted that the temperature in London during the summer can reach about 99 degrees, no breeze. Oh and no one has air conditioning. Read: miserable. Because of that, we had both french doors open and our windows, which were not typical sash windows. These had a handle that you turned and the windows opened inward from a side hinge. Hope that makes sense. Anyway, Devyn walked past the kitchen and said, "Mommy, I go play, k"? and made her way into the living room where her toys and the t.v. was. I brought her dinner in about 5 minutes later and sweet girl wasn't in there. So, I thought she was probably in her room playing or we had just launched into a game of hide-and-seek without my knowing it. I started playfully calling out to her, "Devyn...I need my baby bug"! Five minutes goes by without her answering and I was starting to get nervous...I had gone into every room of our apartment, which added up to five without finding her. I decided to go back into our bedroom and as I'm walking past our master bathroom, I hear her little voice..."Bye bye Mommy, I go fly now". I swear it was like slow motion. I looked in the door of the bathroom and there is sweet girl, standing in the open window (there was no screen) waving to me. We were on the third floor. She was standing on the outer ledge of the window on brick, three stories above concrete. I don't have to tell you that my heart stopped. I very, very carefully and calmly told her to look at mommy and stand as still as she could. I made it over to her (only about four steps, but honestly, it felt like a mile), managed to grab her wrist and pulled her as hard as I could. She fell onto me and we both fell back onto the tile of the floor. I held her more tightly that I think I ever had.

She was afraid of windows for a long time after that, but thankfully has no memory of the event. I however, will still close my eyes sometimes and I can see her falling out of the window, even though, praise the good Lord, she never took that fall. Mike thinks I had some post-traumatic stress afterwards and maybe I did. Whatever the case, God allowed me to keep my calm and keep her safe twice.

Ok, story told. Or stories apparently!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanksgiving...and all it's drama...

Seriously. Madness. My poor sister-in-law-to-be. My poor little girl. The following is a SHORT account of Thanksgiving weekend...proceed with caution...

Friday, 4:30 pm
Arrive at my in-laws for Thanksgiving with the whole fam--anticipating Tomato Soup Cake (doesn't appeal? Fine. More for me. You don't know what you're missing!), copious amounts of Sweet Potato Souffle, NCAA Football (yeeeahh, Hokies!), good, family bonding and just generalized relaxin.

Friday, 4:59 pm...
Hell is about to be unleashed...

Friday, 5 pm.
Hell, unleashed. There is a bark from the family dog, a horrifying scream and Mike grabbing Devyn and sprinting to the bathroom.

Friday, 5:01 pm.
Realization that dog has bitten Devyn. Square on her face and caused a rip on the bridge of her nose about 1/2 an inch from her eye. Subsequent injury to the side and underside of her nose.

Friday, 5:05 pm.
We whisk Devyn off to see Mike's aunt, who by the grace of God, is a plastic surgery nurse. Sweet Aunt cleans Devyn's wounds and fixes her up with six or seven suture strips and Derma-Bond. We go to Mike's family's home and eat a lovely dinner of Italian food. I collapse at the end of the night, exhausted, physically and mentally.

Saturday, 7:45 am
I start making two loaves of Pumpkin Bread. Which. Was. Wonderful.

Saturday, 9 am
Soon to be sister wakes with a killer stomach ache, which turns into poor girl in bed all day, fending off the demons of a possible stomach flu or food poisoning.

Saturday, 3 pm
The Hokies win the Commonwealth Cup, beating UVA. Yeah Hoos...Hoos your Hokie now?

Saturday, 7 pm
Thankgiving dinner with the family, enjoying copious amounts of Sweet Potato Souffle, Fort (don't ask me to explain what this is--it's a VERY French Canadian dish that's a family tradition), Turkey, three types of peas (to please everyone) and Tomato Soup Cake. There was much rejoicing...

Saturday, 8:30 pm
Family dog lunges at Aiden. Family dog is removed for the remainder of the weekend into a back bedroom.

Sunday, earrrrly...
poor sister to be is in the bathroom all night, probably pleading for her death.

Sunday evening...
We arrive back home, no worse for the wear (well, maybe I was worse for the wear), but ready to start another week. Sans drama.