Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Horsey Woes

Punkin in February, being quite spry for an old gal.

Morgan's horse, Punkin, started limping and walking stiffly last week. It has progressively worsened, so we called the vet yesterday and she came out to the barn today. It was the one thing we feared - she has foundered. Basically, it is a condition that occurs in conjunction with laminitis and is the most common cause of lameness in a horse. We caught it early, mainly because Punkin has foundered before and we do watch her closely.

There are many things that predispose a horse to laminitis, but the vet believes hers to be a metabolic founder, more specifically she suspects Peripheral Cushing's disease.

The vet gave her IV fluids, three different medications to help decrease the pulses in her legs and improve circulation, and padded her feet. I'll have to give her injections three times a day for the next few days in addition to her other medication. I've never given a horse injections before. This should be a new experience.

Joshua and Punkin went to the American Quarter Horse Youth World Championship when they were both 16. Now Punkin is a senior horse, being 19 years old, and she may be done with competition. She has been a great horse for Morgan, too. We still love her very much and we're going to work hard to get her sound again, regardless of whether or not she can compete.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Celebration Continues

With the Connelly Clan, the birthday partying goes on for at least a week. First there is the actual birthday day and we usually do something as a family for that day. Then there is the Friend Party. And last, but not least, the Family Party. My MIL does a Family Party for everyone - even the grownups.

Dinner was delicious - grilled burgers, grilled veggies, then ice cream sundaes. And, of course, there are presents.

Morgan is obviously touched by Aunt Connie's beautiful, hand-crafted card.

Obviously, my nephews are touched as well. Perhaps not in the same way. :^D

And I just couldn't help including this picture of my handsome hubby. He's so darn cute!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Swim Team Awards Banquet

The YMCA Swim Team season is finished and tonight was the Awards Banquet. Yes, I had a birthday party the night before. Yes, I'm insane. I know it. But this year was a little easier than last year.

I'm always Team Mom. Do I WANT to be Team Mom? Not particularly. Do I have TIME to be Team Mom? Definitely not, especially this year. But no one else will do it, which irritates me and so I do it. My duties are myriad and varied. I do paperwork, buy concessions, organize team photos, order t-shirts and duffel bags, run an email information list to keep parents up to date, organize parent volunteers for working at the meets, enter times and score the meets, fill out award ribbons, just to name a few of my jobs. I'm good at finding helpers. I'm bossy. Perhaps this is why I secretly like this job. I can tell people what to do and they actually LIKE it. :^D

I'm also usually responsible for the food at the Awards Banquet. Last year, the coach thought it would be a super idea to have a luau. Ginger marinated chicken, made Hawaiian rice pilaf, green salad, and fruit salad for approximately 150 people. Ginger discovered when we went to start grilling the meat at the Y that they had loaned out their enormous trailer-sized grill to another Y. We had to cook all this meat on a REGULAR grill. Steve and one other mom were in charge of grilling. Everything was absolutely delicious (not because we did it - I dug up some awesome recipes online). But Steve and I were exhausted beyond belief.

This year Steve informed me early in the season that HE WOULD NOT BE COOKING!!! I concurred. We ordered Cajun jambalaya from a catering place. So when I woke up this morning, I collected four of the seven girls (one had been picked up early, Brooke and one other girl stayed home) and we went to pick up two ice chests full of jambalaya (pronounced, BTW, jum-buh-LIE-uh - NEVER jam-buh-lie-uh - that's a sure sign you're not from "around here"). Then it was onto Sam's Club for bags of salad and drinks. Drop off two girls, then come home to get ready for the banquet.

This was MUCH easier. And the jambalaya was delicious. Here are some shots of me and the girls with our coach. The coaches (there are two assistants) are always good to me and this year they gave me a gift certificate to my favorite restaurant. It's nice to be appreciated.

The team's parents all appreciate our coaches as well and are always generous when giving for the coaches' gifts. Morgan says Geoff is her favorite coach ever. I'm sure his bringing her beef jerky in the mornings has nothing to do with it. (Morgan is a sucker for beef jerky.)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Recipe for Turning Eleven

6 friends

1 birthday girl

1 birthday cake

a handful of birthday gifts

2 pepperoni pizzas, to be consumed in the living room

3 standard poodles (for pizza crust disposal)

7 boxes of assorted makeup and nail polish

27 cotton balls and 32 Q-Tips, to be applied to perimeter of living room floor

1 poodle chaperone

Mix well. If desired, may add iPods, rolls of duct tape, and hand and foot massages. Sprinkle liberally with laughter. Spread mixture evenly across a floor that has been prepared with blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows. Allow to giggle until 3 a.m. Serve with chocolate chunk muffins and milk before distributing sleepy girls to their parents. Yield: One petite 11-year-old girl.

What the mom does while the girls are giggling. (I did NOT stay up until 3 a.m. I went to bed around 1 and didn't hear them at all.)

I made ten of these cards. :^D In addition to cleaning the kitchen and trying to wash the 398 glasses all these girls used. Okay, it was just 16. But I washed these same 16 glasses at least three times during the less than 24 hours of the party. I bought paper plates and napkins, but neglected to get throw away cups. Silly mom.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sleepy Boy

My cats have played havoc with my mini blinds. I may be a slow learner, but I eventually catch on. Now I leave them partially open for the cats. Stewart LOVES to sleep in the window during the day. I find it fascinating that he was sound asleep in this picture, yet he looked like he should have been awake! Silly kitty.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sausage & Cheese Breakfast Cups

Steve and I are still South Beach'ing it and quick breakfasts are sometimes in order. Most of Phase I breakfasts are omelets with veggies, but sometimes you need something that's more "grab and go." These are perfect and are delicious!

You'll need:

4 ounces turkey sausage (or you can use turkey bacon)
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
5 large eggs
1 can (12 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 6-cup nonstick muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper baking cups. (Note: I used paper baking cups and they were hard to peel off. I would either use the foil cups and spray them or just skip the liners altogether.)

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook sausage until no longer pink.

Add pepper and onion to turkey and cook for about 5 minutes. (I grabbed a red pepper instead of a green one. Sweeter. And I had some fresh mushrooms that needed to be cooked, so I used some fresh and the rest canned. I sauteed the fresh mushrooms with the onion and pepper.) Spoon the turkey/veggie mixture into a bowl and allow to cool slightly.

Stir in beaten eggs and canned mushrooms. It seemed like it needed some seasoning to me, so I added a little salt, cracked black pepper, and a dash of Tabasco sauce. I like Tabasco sauce in my eggs. What can I say? I'm from Louisiana.

Evenly divide the mixture among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with the cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the egg is set. Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Baby is Growing Up!

Eleven years ago today, our family was blessed with the birth of our third child.

And she has grown from an adorable baby to a wonderful, beautiful, loving young woman.
Proverbs 11:16 says: A kindhearted woman gains respect...

This gorgeous picture of my girls was taken by Mrs. Nicki, the girls' homeschool PE coach, who is a very talented photographer.

Morgan, people always say how very sweet you are. I pray that your nature would be kindhearted and compassionate to everyone as you grow into a lovely young woman, sharing God's love in word and deed. I thank God for giving you to our family. I love you, Mama.

It's Monday Again....

....and nothing super interesting happened. No pictures either. So I had to resort to a blog quiz! My ideal coffee is a Starbucks Decaf Raspberry Mocha Frappucino.

What Your Latte Says About You

You are very decadent in all aspects of your life. You never scale back, and you always live large.

You are a very frivolous person. You don't take anything too seriously. Why should you?

You have a good deal of energy, but you pace yourself. You never burn out too fast.

You have a healthy relationship with caffeine. You're definitely not dependent on it.

You are a child at heart, and you don't ever miss the opportunity to do something playful.

You are inventive and creative, but you are never weird.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Simply Sunday

Today was just a plain, simple Sunday. Nothing fancy. We didn't do anything special. We went to church (very good service, great message served up by our associate pastor), came home, and I worked at the new house. That's all.

Oh, wait! We did have a new addition to the family.......

Phillip the Phrog would like to introduce to you.....

Tony the Toad. :^D Okay, they are actually the same species, so if one is a frog, they are both frogs. Mere technicalities. Not if you're a frog I suppose. But anyway.....

The house is coming along. Looking like a house. I'm ready to move in! Well, I guess a few things are lacking. Like running water and electricity.

Great! We have windows! Now we just need a door!

There's the door! Never mind that it's standing in the foyer against the school room wall.

This will be my view while standing at the sink. See all the wood and construction debris out the back? That's the clean-up crew's job. Guess who gets to be clean up crew?

Umm...no, not her! Unfortunately, the clean-up crew consists of me with rare help from Steve. I better get on the ball or we'll be buried in little pieces of wood! Morgan was climbing the ladder to join me in my scrapbook room.

Another great view! I certainly hope no one decides to develop this land behind us! It'd ruin my views!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Brooke's Photo Gallery

Brooke has been working as a counselor at choir camp all week and today was their concert. I am so sad that I had to miss it - today was Morgan's first junior varsity cheerleading practice. Both events were at the same time and I had to enlist my mother-in-law's assistance, so I let her choose. She decided a cool, air-conditioned church listening to children sing was preferable to sitting in a stifling, un-air-conditioned gym for more than two hours watching teens and preteens cheer. She made a good choice. That gym was HOT!!!

I heard the concert went very well and Brooke was very proud of the job she did this week. We're proud of her, too!

When we went to Target last night for the garbage cans and toad habitat, Brooke also begged me to buy a hummingbird feeder. We had one before, but it broke. She has been stalking the kitchen window like the paparazzi, watching for hungry little hummers. She hit pay dirt! Here comes one little, unsuspecting guy.

Then she decided to go outside. She caught this one on his way to my MIL's zinnas.

And back at the feeder, this little fella is checking it out before taking a sip! Brooke spent many hours both inside and outside with the camera trying to catch all the hummer action.

And, believe it or not, one of our little tadpoles hopped out on dry land today! Isn't he cute? His name is Phillip the Phrog. This picture is quite misleading - he is probably the size of a newborn fingernail. Very tee-tiny.

Friday, July 20, 2007

It's Official...

I have lost my mind. Anyone who knows me will tell you my greatest fear - frogs and toads. In the ditch in front of our new house are MILLIONS of little tadpoles! And since we've actually had (count them!!!) two days with less than a tenth of an inch of rain, the ditch is drying up. And the tadpoles will DIE!

Now, although I am scared of frogs and toads, I don't want them to die. So I came up with a brilliant (read: insane) idea - I would get a little habitat and collect them. We homeschool, so this could also be a science project - watching the little tadpoles morph into froggies. Perfect idea, except I'm afraid of frogs and toads, remember?

So while at Target buying garbage cans for the new house (in hopes that the messy construction guys will take a hint - probably not, but hope springs eternal), I saw a little froggy habitat. And it was on sale. So I bought it.

Morgan and I came home and collected about a dozen tadpoles of differing sizes from the rapidly shrinking ditch. They are now re-homed on my kitchen table.
Me. Raising frogs. Yes. I've definitely lost my mind.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


My day began at 7 a.m. when the fireplace installers called to say they were at the house. They didn't tell me they'd be there that early! So I threw on some clothes and ran over there. Then the heating and air people came. And the cabinet maker wanted to discuss cabinet details. I was at the house for almost five hours this morning in the oppressive heat (minus the 15 minutes of blissful air conditioned relief when I brought Brooke to choir camp at 8 a.m.).

Then there were errands to run, work on the computer, cleaning and washing to do as always. And the horses to care for, of course.

Tonight's supper, though, was given "two thumbs up" by my resident food critic. Steve thought tonight's meal was "most excellent" and said so a number of times throughout the meal and afterward. It was a South Beach approved meal and I must agree that it was very tasty. The girls' positive opinions made it unanimous.

We started with a Balsamic Tomato and Mozzarella Salad from the South Beach Cookbook.

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp flaxseed oil (didn't have it, so I added toasted sesame oil to give it a nutty flavor)

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

2 large bell peppers, halved and seeded

2 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2" thick slices

2 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into four slices (the only fresh mozzarella our grocery had was the little balls, so I measured out 2 ounces and cut each ball into three slices)

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, julienned

Preheat the broiler. Coat a broiler pan rack with cooking spray.

In a cup, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, flaxseed oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

Place bell peppers, skin side up, on the prepared rack. Broil without turning for 10 minutes or until the skins are blackened and blistered in spots.

Place peppers in a paper bag and seal. Let stand for 10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Peel the skin from peppers and discard. Cut into 1/2" wide strips.

(Now, here I must make a confession. I didn't do any of the above. I BOUGHT roasted red peppers. There. You can cheat and not add calories!)

Arrange the tomato slices on a platter. Place cheese slices over the tomatoes. Scatter the pepper strips on top and sprinkle with basil.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Let stand for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Serves 4.

I also roasted some veggies. I do this frequently. I pulled out whatever I had that I wasn't going to be using in another recipe this week and whatever struck my fancy. The colors in the picture look washed out, but it was really bright and colorful. We had yellow and red bell peppers, fresh asparagus, purple onion, crimini mushrooms, and green eggplant. I always salt my eggplant after peeling and cutting into chunks and leave it in a colander for at least 20 minutes to allow all the bitter juices to be pulled from the vegetable. Then I rinse it well. I tossed the veggies with some Pampered Chef Italian Seasoning and EVOO, as Rachel Ray calls it.

Then we also had Broiled Sea Bass Staten Island Style, from the SB Cookbook.

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic (I tossed in an extra - hey, they were small)
10-12 oz Chilean sea bass (I used fillets)
1/4 tsp salt (I used Kosher)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp fresh chopped Italian parsley
1/2 tsp fresh basil
1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 500°F.

In a blender, combine oil and garlic until well blended. (Or just mix it in a bowl like I did.)

Place fish in a medium bowl. Pour oil mixture over the fish. Marinate well for about 30 minutes.

Remove fish from the bowl and place on a small broiling tray. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika, and red pepper.

Combine fresh parsley and basil and sprinkle over fish. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Frog and Toad are Friends

This was one of my favorite books as a beginning reader. I loved Frog and Toad and their sweet friendship. Which is odd, because anyone who knows me know will tell you I am deathly afraid of frogs. And toads. I'm not as bad as my MIL - she wants someone to squish them. I think they are interesting and like the fact that they eat bugs. A definite plus here in South Louisiana. But I don't want them on me, I don't want to touch them, and I definitely do not want them in my house.

I awakened Steve just last week in the middle of the night to catch a small tree frog that had jumped in when I called the dogs back before putting them to bed. It was just a little tiny thing, but it could have chased me down and hopped in my bed. Or something equally cruel and slimy.

Today Morgan announced that Daddy had a toad in the boots he left outside by the door. So I bravely went over, turned the boot over (with a rake) and encouraged Mr. Toady to hop into Brooke's flower garden. He liked the lantana best.

Just so he would know I really liked him, (just didn't want him in a shoe - or on my foot - or in my house) I took his picture. He even smiled for the camera. See. I can be friends with Mr. Toad. But I prefer a long-distance relationship.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

But The Third Little Pig......

Inside the brick place - Steve is talking, I am looking.

Today we went to buy our fireplace and pick out bricks. We went outside first and I picked one out of this huge brick wall of samples. The sales person comes outside and looks at the one I like.

She says, "Oh, you have good taste. That's our most expensive brick." What is the chance that of a dozens of samples of anything, I'll always pick the most expensive. And, of course, it is a modular brick, meaning smaller and looks like old brick, so that means we'll need MORE of them than the queen sized bricks. Of course.

This picture has nothing to do with choosing bricks. I just thought it was cute. Morgan and Brooke came with us. Brooke occupied herself with the camera.

Thankfully, there were others that I liked. We narrowed it down to three and they gave us addresses for homes with those three brick styles. So guess what I'll be doing on Wednesday?

This is my favorite brick.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Today We Die.....

My weight has slowly crept upward and when I got on the scale last week and discovered that I weigh as much now as I did the day BEFORE Morgan was born, I decided something needed to be done. I'm not a good dieter, however. Kind of like Garfield. I don't like counting ANYTHING - not points, not calories, not fat grams, not how many times I chew each bite.

A few years ago, a new diet came out called the South Beach Diet. It made sense and seemed like something I (might) could do. I got the book and Steve and I tried it. It was easier than any other plan I had ever tried. We both lost, Steve more than me of course, and we were looking good. Then we have slowly slipped back into some old, bad habits. And the weight has returned - big surprise.
To start today's diet, a trip for groceries was in order. First the fruit stand, then WalMart. Ugh. Every screaming toddler in South Louisiana must have been brought to that particular WalMart and was waiting for me. I was there three hours and this one little fellow screamed THE WHOLE TIME. I knew it was the same child because he had an unusual piercing, high-pitched scream. And he wasn't upset, but simply screaming to hear himself scream. I kept passing him and his mother in the aisles. The mother was oblivious. I remember screaming toddler days, and have had much empathy for many mothers of screaming children as they hurriedly try to gather up what they need and high-tail it out of there, but this mother was aimlessly meandering and torturing the rest of the shoppers. I left WalMart with an enormous headache.
And I still have more shopping to do. The people who shop at our Wally World do NOT buy things such as tahini or sesame oil. I'll have to the big city for those things. But in our WalMart, we DO have potted meat and pickled pig snouts. :::snort::: Next time, I should take a picture of THAT!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Summer Clean-Up Challenge, Volume 2, Chapter 5

Tonight was my most ambitious project yet. Yes, I tackled the scrapbook table. It was bad. Really bad. The photos don't even do it justice. And the little cart on the side between the table and the place where my stamps are stored was filled with bins of photos and memorabilia all jumbled together.

First I tackled my stamps. They were just stuck in there and even stacked in front of other stacks, so you couldn't see what you were looking for. I needed to organize them in alphabetical order according to set name, then I needed to mark my new Stampin' Up! catalog with the stamps I have and also designate all retired sets with a little yellow slip of paper in the front of the box. This took most of Saturday, although I did finish Brooke and Morgan's copy of Friday's layout for their books and I put all three layouts in their perspective books. Here's what my stamp cubbies looked like before organization:

And after:

The stacks are still teetering a bit, but that's because of the weight of my stamps on this flimsy little cubby system.

Then I tackled the desk. Truly, this picture doesn't make it look nearly as bad as it really was. It took me six hours to clear off this desk and organize and put away the stuff that was on here. And the stuff that was in the little white cart.

Here is how it looks now. Wow! It was the first thing my children noticed when they got up Monday morning!

And my little white cart, now with memorabilia packaged by year.