Monday, March 31, 2008


Ever since Aleita's tonsilectomy, she has undergone many positive changes. She sleeps much better at night and wakes much more rested. In the months leading up to her surgery, she was becoming quite the loud little sleeper, and we think, perhaps bordering on sleep apnea. Since her surgery, she has been happier and actually more obedient, we think largely due to the fact that she isn't tired all the time.

Since her surgery, Aleita also doesn't have problems at meals anymore with her food. Again, in the few months leading up to her surgery, Aleita had developed issues when eating. If she took a little bit too big of a bite, she would gag on her food because of the size of her tonsils. Since the surgery, her healthy appetite is there with no more gagging problems.

One of the strangest things that has occurred since her surgery has been her voice change. After a few days when she starting talking more following her surgery, we noticed that Aleita's voice was several pitches higher than it had previously been. I actually had never noticed how deep her voice was until after her tonsilectomy. Now we feel like we are living with a cartoon character at times. Her voice seems almost so artificially high that it seems as though she is trying to be funny - except that this is her voice now. It is taking some getting used to - - it is sometimes even difficult to understand what she is saying due to her new intonation. The doctor said that her tonsils were probably pressing on her vocal cords, which caused her voice to be different than it should have been. With the tonsils gone, we have what is now her "real voice," which seems to us to be an abnormally high pitched squeak. As unbelievable as it may seem, our tough-as-nails, Power Ranger & Spiderman lovin' little four year old now has the dialect of a little cartoon mouse.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


6. Post’s Live Active Cereal – I have reached that age where if I am going to buy a new breakfast cereal, the first thing I look at is the fiber content (goodbye youth and Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch.) One of my new favorites is Post’s Live Active Nut Harvest Crunch. It does have 6 g of fat per serving, but it does have 8 g of fiber per serving. They also make one called Post Live Active Mixed Berry Crunch which is good as well, but the Nut Harvest is my favorite.

7. Mad Men – This is an AMC original series. It is set in 1960 New York, and is about the lives of the competitive advertisers of Madison Avenue. It is so unbelievable at times – almost like looking at a snapshot in time from fifty years ago when white men had sole power, and for most women, their biggest ambition was to marry well and raise a passel of kids. For the women who did work, most became secretaries, elementary teachers, or nurses. Sexual harassment was rampant, and everyone smoked like fiends, anytime and everywhere. It is almost enough to give you lung cancer just watching it. Very interesting and enlightening series with good plotlines and believable characters.

8. warmer weather is coming – This winter has seemed to be a very long, cold one. We have had a few glimpses of spring in the past week. On Good Friday, it was warm enough that Maggie and I worked in the yard all day in just sweatshirts and jeans with no coats on. That night, Chris made chicken on the grill – our first grilling for 2008. I am ready for t-shirt and jeans weather.

9. vacation is less than a month away – We are taking the kids and heading to Charleson, SC in April for a week of vacation. They have been to the Gulf of Mexico many times, but never the Atlantic. They are going to be in for a surprise when they find out that it is quite a bit colder. They will love the fact that there are so many seashells to find though. The ones at the Gulf are tiny and not really worth the trouble of collecting. I am excited because we are staying in a condo that is directly ocean-front (actually on the Isle of Palms, near Charleston.) Momma is ready for some R and R.

10. Five Gum – Gum that came out about six months ago. It is made by the Wrigley Company. It comes in three flavors, Rain (spearmint), Flare (cinnamon), and Cobalt (peppermint.) I like them all – they are long-lasting, intense flavor and are sugar free.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


1. pistachios - I am addicted to them lately! I buy them by the half pound at Del’s and eat them at my desk at work (but a half pound will last me a few weeks.) They are a little higher in fat than I would like, BUT they are very high in fiber, and help maintain a healthy cholesterol level as well as have several nutrients and antioxidants. I mainly just like that they are a tasty little snack. I have found that I must buy the kind with the shell on though because it slows down the eating - - having to take each one out of each shell is a lot less dangerous than being able to pop a small handful in my mouth at one time.

2. Roomba vacuum – I push the little button when I leave home in the morning on the vacuum, and when I come home at the end of the day, it has vacuumed the entire downstairs and redocked itself on its charging station. All I have to do is empty the collection container where the dirt and dog hair are. I can even program it to run at a scheduled time each day if I want to. It has “cliff sensors” so that it doesn’t fall over the edge of stairs, and a rotating small brush to get corners and edges. It is only about three inches tall, so it can also get under areas that a regular vacuum can’t reach, and it does well on our carpet, hardwood and ceramic tile. My floors have never been so clean.
3. Blokus – I am addicted to this game! I was looking for a new game to play with friends, and stumbled on Blokus on I am now responsible for also having our friends Greg and Barb hooked on this game as well. They come down at least every other weekend (the whole block between our houses) and we get our Blokus fix. It is a strategy game, but it is never the same twice - - very easy to learn and play, but extremely addictive.

4. Daylight Savings Time – I am loving having the extra daylight at the end of the day. I am not President Bush’s biggest fan, but he did get this one right. A big thank you for extending daylight savings time by four extra weeks, Dub-ya.

5. Kendall Jackson Pinot Noir – I love a good Pinot, but I would have to say that this one is one of my favorites (in the range that I can afford.) I love to have a glass of red wine while I am cooking dinner after I get home from work. I try not to spend more than $12 a bottle for wine that I am just going to be drinking by myself, but occasionally, I will splurge on the Kendall Jackson - - not that it is THAT much more expensive, at about $18 a bottle. Sometimes you can find it on sale for $15 or $16, which is to me a sign from God saying that I should buy it :-)

Thursday, March 20, 2008


The devil stops by my house every other Wednesday evening. . .perhaps he visits your home too. Oh, he’s cleverly disguised, but I am fairly certain that it is indeed Satan. He drives his large yellow truck filled with frozen, fat-laden, calorie-rich goodness and I just can’t resist him. Yes, I am a little ashamed to admit it, but I succumb to his evils bi-monthly. You may know him as the Schwan Man, but I know better. He comes to my door with a smile and his booklet in hand, patiently waiting for my order that he is all-too-sure will be forthcoming. I have the best of intentions of just ordering, say, perhaps a half-gallon of that delicious vanilla ice cream, and then with a twinkle in his eye, he’ll say, “sorry – I ran out of that a few stops ago - - but I do have it available in the gallon.” I’ll think about it for a moment, then give in to his temptations and order the full gallon. “That’s all,” I tell myself, but Satan isn’t ready to release yet. . . oh no. . . he is just getting started.

“You know, we have a deal going that if you order a gallon of ice cream and one other item, you can pick a half gallon of ice cream free,” says my tempter. “Really?” I respond, and start flipping through the catalog filled with his tasty treats. He now has me where he wants me.

“Did you like that turkey tenderloin and gravy that you had last month?” he innocently asks. There is no sense in lying to the devil – he can see right through it. “Yes,” I answer truthfully, “It was good.” In the back of my mind I am thinking about how easy it had been to come home from work that day and just pop the turkey entrĂ©e into the oven, and then an hour later, dinner was ready. Oh my goodness - - this is just how Satan wants me to think - - now he is beginning to control my thoughts too!

OK – deep breath - - I had to gain control. But soon I spy the delicious wild rice soup bowls. We had them just last week - - so easy, yet so tasty. I think that they will be great to take in my lunch to work, so I ask him to grab me a package of those. He sighs, trying to appear sympathetic and says, “sorry – but those are seasonal - we’re not carrying it right now.” But then, he brightens, “Oh – we do have our chicken tortilla soup – it’s really good! I just had it for dinner myself tonight.” “LIAR!” I think, “you’re just working your wily ways on me!” I then say, “OK – grab me some of those.”

He adds, “You know – another good thing to take to work are the chicken lo mein bowls.” My ears perk up. I love lo mein, but I am the only one in my house who eats it, so we seldom have it when we order at a Chinese restaurant. Those get added to my order as well.

I suddenly come to my senses and get a hold of myself. “Enough!” I say. “Total it up!” He punches some buttons on his magic devil calculator and gives me my total. As he runs out to his truck to fetch my purchases, I sit down at the kitchen table, defeated, and write out my check. Satan wins again (and yet today for lunch, I will enjoy tasty chicken tortilla soup. . .)


Tuesday, March 18, 2008


If you read my blog yesterday, you discovered how Maggie, our seven year old, has started asking those questions that every parent dreads. Actually, she started asking those questions a few years ago, when our sister-in-law was pregnant with our niece, Kaylin. You know, I try to think of myself as a with-it, intelligent parent, but using the words “penis” and “vagina” in a conversation with my child are certainly not the highlights of my day. Of late, her questions about how babies are made are much more focused on how animal babies are made. If you missed yesterday’s blog, it is important you get caught up before you look ahead at today’s entry.

Being the super-great mom that I am and wanting to help sate my child’s curiosity, as well as allow her to understand that it is ok to ask questions, I decided to head to the library. It has become obvious from the confused looks I am getting from Maggie that she really isn’t grasping my fact spiel about animal procreation. I think I may have confused her even more actually. I thought it might be helpful to pick up some books on the subject so that she could see some drawing and illustrations to assist me in explaining just how babies are made.

I have been really busy at work these days, and left work late on my way to the library. Not wanting to spend too much time there, I found the appropriate section, and quickly grabbed a few titles that I thought would be suitable for our needs. I figured I could look through them after the kids were in bed and decide which would be the best to use.

I had told Chris I was stopping by the library on the way home, but hadn’t explained why. After I got home, I set the books on a higher counter that the kids don’t use, and started helping Maggie with her homework. I figured I would explain all about the books to him later. However, he stumbled on them before I had a chance to explain. He pulled me aside with one of the books in hand, and said, “what in hell’s name are you thinking?” Now keep in mind, I hadn’t really had a chance to look through the books while I was at the library.

I couldn’t contain my laughter as we flipped through this particular book, and immediately I knew, I just knew, what today’s blog would feature. So, without further ado. . . . I must present some excerpts from Schepp and Andry’s book, How Babies Are Made.

This first featured drawing shows that female chickens have eggs and male chickens have sperm. OK - so far, so good. These are basic enough facts - are you with me so far?

Here's where things start to go awry. First, the rooster spies the chicken and decides that he wants to get him some of that. Bend over, let me see ya shake a tail feather. . .

It doesn't take long for the funky chicken dance to begin. Dear Lord, how could I possibly explain this one to a seven year old?

Mission Accomplished - We now see the sperm heading toward the eggs. (Sidenote: What is wrong with this chicken? Does it never walk upright?)

I wonder if Maggie will be as keen on eating eggs once she figures out that the come from a chicken's butt?

The rooster is looking at his new little chick like he is his pride and joy. Wonder how the little chick will feel once he finds out that his ol' rooster daddy likes to spread the love around the barnyard, and that there's a little chick, chick here, a chick, chick there, here a chick, there a chick, everywhere a chick, chick.

Leaving the barnyard behind, we move onto Rover. Oh how cute! Rover has learned to sit up and beg! While he's sitting so nicely, let's check out his penis and testicles!

Bow, wow. No foreplay here. Rover gets right to it.

Don't run right out and try to check this book out from the Decatur Public Library! It is still at home on my kitchen counter. You will have to wait your turn.

Monday, March 17, 2008


I don’t know why I am always on the receiving end of the difficult conversations with Maggie. On Sunday, as we were getting ready for church, she springs this one on me, “How do girl dogs get puppies in their tummies?” I was brushing my teeth at the time, so my answer came out something like, “da same way dat women get babiesh in der tummies.” I was hoping that my half-discernable answer would be sufficient and that Maggie would run off and play and leave me to finish scrubbing my pearly whites, but alas, that was not to be. No, she persisted like a firing squad with the questions. Pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow.

Maggie and I have had the basic “sex” talk about how women get babies in their tummies. She seems to actually have a pretty good grasp on it, especially relative to her age. She understood that there was a connection between how people created a baby and how animals created a baby, but she wanted details - - lots of them.

Growing up on a farm, I learned at a very early age how animal babies came about. I recall being very little and seeing the pigs mating and asking dad about it. I am sure he was as thrilled as I was to try to provide details to the situation. However, having no available barnyard nearby to take my daughter to for a more graphic depiction of animal babies in the making, I did my best to explain how a female dog goes into heat, that she releases a scent to let the male dogs know she is ready to make babies, that the male dogs are attracted to that scent, etc.

Still, she pressed on for details. Dempsey looked at me like I was nuts as I used him as my model to try to explain the difference in boy and girl dog reproductive parts. One question she asked that made me laugh was to ask if dogs got married. I explained as best I could that female dogs were not particularly picky about who helped them make the puppies. She also asked if Dempsey could be a Daddy sometime, and I explained that Dempsey had been “fixed” so that he couldn’t be a Daddy dog. She had lots to follow up questions as to why, and I did my best to answer them all.

When I got done, I was pretty proud of myself that I had shown no fear and no embarrassment about teaching my child some of the basic facts of life. But Lord help me, just once I would like Chris to be on the receiving end of these questions!

Friday, March 14, 2008


After spending most of the week at home with my youngest, I have a few "Aleitaisms" to share.

The first occured yesterday morning. After I gave her a bath, I was cleaning up the bathroom a bit. When I was finished, the last thing I did was empty the garbage. Aleita had been playing on the bathroom floor with a few of her cars near me, but as soon as I took the new garbage sack out, she immediately jumped up. "Can I wap it? Can I wap it?" she pleaded. I looked at her, dumbfounded. I asked her what she meant, and her explanation actually made sense. She wanted to shake the garbage bag out the way I do before you actually put it in the can. Apparently, to her, the noise it makes is "wap, wap, wap." Not one to deprive my children of such wonderous experiences, I allowed her to "wap" the bag.

The other funny thing occured last night. (It actually almost wasn't funny - - if I had walked in the bathroom a few seconds later, my amusement would have been considerably less, in fact.) She told me she needed to potty, and I sent her in the bathroom. After a few minutes, I hadn't heard anything from her, so I stuck my head in to see if all was well. She was standing in front of the toilet, pants down, looking thoughtfully at the commode. "What are you doing?" I asked. Her response, "I want to pee like a boy."

Attending daycare has good points and bad. I have found that modesty is not a strong character suit among most daycare kids. Even at age four, they think very little of having another child of the opposite sex seeing them "doing their business" on the potty. Apparently due to this lack of discreetness, Aleita has come to realize that boys get to pee standing up and decided she would like to do the same.

In the most simple way possible, I explained to her that boys had a special part that allowed them to pee standing up, but that girls had to pee sitting down. She told me that Pauling and Hadrian (two of her best buddies who are boys from school) had a special part and that they could pee standing up. Then she asked, "where did they get that part?" I explained to her that it was just the way God made them. Her last question made me laugh out loud: "Mommy," she asked, "Can we go to the mall and get one?" Something tells me that it won't pop up in the sales ads for JCPenneys or Sears anytime soon.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Little Miss Tough Stuff hit the wall about 6PM last night. I think the drugs they gave her at the hospital finally started to wear off and she began feeling the full force effects of her tonsilectomy. Still, she did pretty well. She complained a bit of a sore throat, but not too much. She mostly just laid around and looked a little pitiful. At one point, she and Maggie had been sitting at the kitchen table coloring, and then when I looked again, she was gone. I found her laying on the living room floor, convalescing with Dempsey. I made chicken and dumplings for dinner last night and shredded the chicken really well for her, and she ate a respectable amount, considering.

She did wake up once in the night last night and require some drugs. Tylenol with codeine is a good thing. I also found out that a small adult can fit in a toddler bed with the actual toddler (note that I did not say "comfortably.") I woke up after laying in bed with her for about an hour, finding that all my extremities had gone to sleep. After removing myself from her bed as gracefully as possible (considering that I had no feeling in my hands or feet), I was able to make my way back to my own bed and sleep the rest of the night peacefully.

Aleita was up this morning about 6AM. She isn't feeling on top of the world, but still she is doing considerably better than I imagined she would be. She has already had a bath and even tolerated having her hair combed and put in her afro-puffs. She really didn't want much for breakfast this morning, so we settled on an orange popsicle and a glass of water. "Clingy" is not usually a word that appears in the same sentence as Aleita, but today, she doesn't allow herself to get more than five feet from me. I am going to go take advantage of my little lovey-dovey while I can, so we are going to go lay on the couch and watch "Finding Nemo."

The picture below shows Aleita being aided in her recovery, courtesy of friend Diana who brought by her homemade creation of "the world's largest popsicle."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Aleita had her tonsils out this morning. We had to be at the hospital at 6AM to start the pre-op stuff. At 7:30AM, the nurse wheeled her back to the operating room. She held my hand all the way to the doors where we had to part as she was wheeled along on the gurney looking way too small for that big bed. We then gave her hugs and kisses and told her we would see her soon. I thought she might get upset about us leaving her, but she was ok - - she had her little blanket and her beloved little dog, Crusty, with her. (Crusty was aptly named because she got him when she was a baby and would chew on him all the time, thus, Crusty.) In actuality, she was better than I was. I trusted the doctors and nurses to take good care of her. Still, it was hard to leave my baby.

In about a half an hour, the receptionist in the surgery waiting room came and got us and told us that she was out of surgery. The doctor came and spoke with us and said that all went well. He said her tonsils were huge, but that the operation went without a hitch. We waited about twenty more minutes in the waiting area, then were able to go back and see her.

She was doing that sob that starts way down in your body and makes the whole body shake. It was one of those that it takes you a few minutes to stop doing, even after you've stopped crying. She reached for my hand, and I asked the nurse in my nicest do-it-now voice to please put the bed rail down so I could get to her. The first thing she said to me in her weak, little not-quite-awake voice was, "I want to go home now." She wanted me to crawl in the bed beside her as much as I wanted to be right there with her. She climbed on my lap and within a few minutes, her sobbing ceased and she fell asleep laying on me. Since I got up at 4:30AM this morning, it didn't take me long to follow suit. We slept in the bed for about an hour until Rev. Ellen came by to check on her.

After that, her nurse came by and told us that she had to drink a certain amount before she would be allowed to go home. Within about an hour and a half, Aleita had drank all the required amount (and made three trips to the potty.) After the third trip back from the bathroom, you could not even tell that this child had had any form of surgery that morning. Chris had told her before she left for the bathroom the last time that once she got back, one of the ladies (the nurses) would come and let her go home. She came hopping along as we walked back, making sure to only hop on the blue tiles. Once we reached her bed, she refused to sit in it, instead peeking around her curtain and calling out to the nurses at the station, "hey lady! come let me go home!"

As the nurse was removing her IV and giving us discharge instructions and prescriptions, Aleita said, "I'm hungry - let's go eat breakfast." On the way from the hospital, she insisted on calling both sets of grandparents and chatted them up. We dropped the prescription off at Walgreen's, but it was 45 minutes before it would be ready. I had told her yesterday that once she had her tonsils out, she could have pancakes. She said, "let's go get pancakes!" And so we did. My daughter who only hours earlier had had a tonsilectomy got to go to the Cracker Barrel. She ate an entire pancake and two scrambled eggs.

She fell asleep on the way home and is now napping upstairs. They say that "only the strong survive." If that is true, then I have no doubt that Little Miss Tough Stuff will live forever.

Monday, March 10, 2008


I have written often about the distinct differences in my kids. Maggie is the girly girl, and Aleita is the son we never had. Maggie loves Barbies, long hair, pink and purple, and stories of princesses. Aleita loves Power Rangers, motorcycles, red and black, and stories of dinosaurs and a curious little monkey named George who is always getting into mischief.

To further illustrate this point, the kids were playing together yesterday morning before church. Maggie “locked” Aleita in the tower (her bedroom) and told her that the only way she could escape was to have the prince come to get her and give her the secret password. Maggie said she would go and make sure that the dragon wasn’t coming. Aleita patiently waited in “the tower” for about all of twenty seconds after Maggie went downstairs to look for the dragon. When Maggie came back upstairs and saw Aleita out of her room, she said, “How did you get out of the tower? Did the Prince give you the password?”Without missing a beat, Aleita responded, “No. A pirate came by and knocked down the door to the tower with his sword and then the prince runned away.”

I’ll bet Sleeping Beauty wouldn’t have known what to think if Blackbeard had shown up instead of Prince Charming.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Rustic, Schmustic

I am so sick of the snow. I am definitely ready for warmer weather. We got another five inches of snow yesterday, and it is going to be in the 30s all week long, with the possibility of more snow this Friday. Enough already!

Of late, I have been living vicariously through my vacation planning. We are going to go to Charleston, SC next month, and I am more than ready for some sun and warm weather. The condo that we are staying in is right on the beach, ocean front. The kids have been to the gulf several times, but this will be their first trip to the Atlantic. They are going to be in for a bit of a surprise when they realize that they are not in store for the white sugar sand beaches and warm peaceful waters of southern Alabama. I am excited for them to actually have the opportunity to be able to collect seashells. The only ones you can find where we vacation in Alabama are teeny tiny ones, if at all.

My husband’s family are all taking a group family vacation this year. They did ask us to come along, but two things prevented it. The first is that the week they chose in April, Maggie is in school all week, and I don’t want her to miss an entire week of school. (During the week we are going to be gone to Charleston, she is out of school for teacher meetings three days, and we are taking her out the other two.) The other reason is their choice of vacation venue.

The rest of the Hale family will be spending a week camping in Kentucky. Go with God, ya’ll. Becky don’t camp. I was assured that the campgrounds they are staying at are very modern, and they even have "rustic" cabins that we could stay in if we didn't want to tent camp. ("Rustic" read: no indoor plumbing.) The following week, I will fondly think of their week cooking over the open fire and peeing outdoors while I sit and sip my beer from the deck of my condo overlooking the ocean.