Saturday, April 30, 2011

A to Z Challenge - Z

A to Z Challenge – Z
Z is for Zoo.
I know that Zoo is a rather obvious choice for this, but I really love the Zoo! In fact for Mother’s Day next Sunday, I really want to go to the Zoo. We live in an area that has two Zoos within reasonable distance, for the past two years we have been members at the closer Zoo…this year I think that we will be members to the other Zoo. (Okay, I know rather vague here…Closer Zoo is the Dallas Zoo, the further Zoo is the Fort Worth Zoo.)
There is quite a bit of debate about which Zoo is better…the consensus is the Fort Worth Zoo, it is a little bigger and the exhibits are more updated. The Dallas Zoo really stepped up their game this past year with a new Giants of the Savannah area. Gotta tell you, VERY, VERY nice and well done. Feeding the giraffes was awesome, watching the elephants chase the geese was hilarious and the Gorilla exhibit was amazing. We are still having the debate about which Zoo to be members of, or if we should do it at all this year. Money is always an issue and this year with a graduation and me working 2 jobs, I am not sure when we would ever make it. Mother’s Day maybe the deciding factor.
The best part of going to the Zoo, any Zoo is enjoying being with my family without a lot of electronic disturbance. Getting to watch the animals and my kiddos, taking photos in picturesque places, finding a cool new hat to wear, because no trip is complete without a trip to the souvenir shack, and feeding the birds in the bird house – I actually had one try to come home with me in my purse –

Our last trip to the Zoo involved two of my favorite cousins, their husbands, all of our kiddos and my favorite Aunt R! It was an awesome trip – I hope that we get to do it again. Perhaps one of the best arguments for getting a Zoo membership, because I got ALL 8 kiddos in for free!! Also got to ride the carousal SO many times we lost count and everyone got a trip on the monorail. We made up for it in food and souvenirs  purchased, to be sure! Another perk to a Zoo membership is if in the wild-blue chance we get to travel any this year (wistful sigh!), there are a lot of Zoos that have reciprocal memberships. Example, last year my husband had to go out of town for his job and Frosting and I got to tag along, one of our days there was a visit to the Zoo in the town – what a blast, got a hat and everything!
The worst part about going to the Zoo is that in this area of the country, most of the year it is TOO HOT to walk outside and enjoy being around the animals. Why? Because both animals and humans tend to be a little (more than!) stinky in 110 degree heat while baking out in the sun – EWWW!
I had quite a bit of debate for my letter Z – this being my last post in the A to Z challenge – Zip, Zap, Zoom was a forerunner as was Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz (Another Dr. Suess reference, love the A, B, C Book!). I finally settled on Zoo because it was in my head for next weekend.
This challenge has been a lot of fun and has really made the creative juices flow. It has gotten me into the habit of sitting down at my computer and spending some time just working on me. I have some catching up to do reading everyone and sorry to say it will be Monday before I can get caught up, but I am looking forward to seeing everybody’s Z posts.  I’ll also be pulling a Fortune Cookie out of my collection – I can’t promise one everyday, but I promise to be more regular in my posting and for that alone I am grateful for this challenge!
Probably the most incredible part of this 26 day challenge is how many people I have gotten to know virtually and I am looking forward to following their blogs and I am certainly looking forward to the next challenge!
Live, Laugh, Love –
Vanilla Mama
LATE BREAKING NEWS – A lovely lady has added me to her “Selections for Best of the A-Z Challenge” and she selected my “M” post for “Making it Up!”

A to Z Challenge - Y

A to Z Challenge – Y
Y is for Yoga.
At one point in my life, the fittest I ever was – I was doing Yoga everyday…sometimes twice a day. I have recently been trying to get it back in my life. I love the way my body feels, I love the way my mind feels when I am doing it.
I am going to tell you flat out, I am not into the spiritual part of yoga that everybody thinks about – new age, crystals, etc…but I am into the relaxation and the breathing, the connection with my body. One thing that I know about myself is that I need that time that I give to myself, to take care of myself. I enjoy the flowing movement, the breathing, the power that I am able to develop in my core by these few simple movements. ‘Cause trust me – I am not a “yogi,” my movements and my practice are SIMPLE!
Day before yesterday I pulled out one of my covered in dust DVD’s, put on some comfy clothes and went to it. I couldn’t find my yoga mat that I had purchased many years ago, according to wonderful hubby it is probably in the garage hidden underneath goodness knows what…Perhaps I will find it, someday – but I wasn’t going to put it off like I did last week (or even like I did on MONDAY!). I needed to do this.
I did it, my feet slipped all over the rug. I couldn’t grip my toes into ground to save my hamstring! Needless to say, I ended up very SORE and did not do any Yoga yesterday!
So, today I was on the hunt for a new Yoga mat (buried underneath goodness knows what Yoga mat, just DOES NOT appeal to me!). I wasn’t looking for anything fancy and I had a $15 coupon for JC Penney’s, no Yoga mats there – but an AWESOME pair of sunglasses and a cute, cute top! I thought about going to Barnes and Nobles, but I was really getting down to the wire and had a very LIMITED budget – so I went to Target (closer and probably CHEAPER!).
I ended up with a $10 plain mat, it was a hard choice for $10 more I could have had one with butterflies on it…but, I went for economy!
Today was much better – I could grip my toes, I could do Warrior poses without worrying that my feet were going to slide. I was able to relax and enjoy (as much as a person can while sweating) the poses and let the breath guide me.
Why, if I enjoy this so much don’t I do it more…why did I stop? Simple answer, several years ago – I fell. Not while doing Yoga, but while running to the phone on Christmas morning (my first Christmas morning without my Pop and Tart) and I slipped on the floor and fell. Rammed into the doorframe – dislocated my shoulder, fractured my elbow, bruised my hip and really jacked up my wrist. That pretty much put an end to it. That was way, way, way back in 2002 – almost 9 years ago!
I healed up as much as I could, my wrist was still not what it should have been, then I developed Herbert in my foot – who is Herbert, check this out and you will find out – now, he is not as angry and I am trying to get back into it.
So – Y is for Yoga…I’ll keep you posted.
What do You do to help your body and mind?
Live, Laugh, Love ~
Vanilla Mama

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A to Z Challenge - X

A to Z Challenge – X
X, boy that is a tough one…seriously, what starts with x? There are really quite a few, but unfortunately most are food additives! Since I try to steer away from those anyway (ummm…yeah, I don’t really read labels that careful, but I do watch for sodium, most of the time).
So, I decided to cheat a little and go for X-tra! (I know, I know…please don’t roll your eyes so hard that you give yourself a headache!)
X-tra…I have quite a bit x-tra in my life. (And, yes I will continue to spell it that way – just to justify it!) I watch x-tra tv I shouldn’t, I eat x-tra food I shouldn’t, and despite reading the lables too much x-tra sodium! I work x-tra hours, put x-tra effort into my jobs, spend x-tra money I don’t have, and incur x-tra fees!
There is really quite a bit in life that I could call x-tra. And, maybe that is why I never seem to have x-tra time for the things that really light my fire. This little blog has been a way to keep those embers burning – it is fun, it makes my brain click a little – it is x-tra, but it is an x-tra that I need!
On the other hand, I don’t need x-tra sodium, x-tra tv, x-tra food – short term gain, long term loss. Sodium kicks up my blood pressures and makes my ankles look like elephant stubs, tv literally rots my brain, food makes me just plain fat. All of which takes away time from what really matters…my family, my friends, my writing.
Why do I do them? Compulsion, obsession, laziness?! Not sure…maybe all three put together.
I want to give an x-tra shout out to some people that I have really been x-tra important to me…I won’t mention them by name, but if they read this they will hopefully know who they are – CB, you are sweet, funny and just all around nice. I enjoy working with you and hope that we continue to get to know each other. CABA, we haven’t spoken lately, but you are certainly in my heart and prayers – miss you, love you! NJT, I know this move has been hard on you, but I promise you, it is going to be okay! You have made the right move for you and DT! MM – funny as all get out, keep your chin up and dig your heels in, thanks for the cookies J!
How do the x-tras in your life eat up your time, energy and life?  What x-tras keep your fire going?
Thanks so much for spending  some of your x-tra time reading me….
Live, Laugh, Love ~
Vanilla Mama

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A to Z Challenge - W

A to Z Challenge – W
W is for wistful. 1. Characterized by melancholy; longing; yearning. Or  2. pensive, especially in a melancholy way. (Thank you Dictionary.Com!)
I have been very wistful lately, pensive in a melancholy way. I wistfully remember Pop’s first day of kindergarten as I prepare for him to graduate. I wistfully remember reading Pop and Tart Harry Potter and going for midnight releases of the new books and movies…I wistfully contemplate Frosting getting older and starting school next year.
Melancholy may be a little too strong of a word, but sometimes there is a definite sadness as I stand back and see all the time that has passed by. All the todays that have come and gone while I am trying to keep my head above water. I think about all the things that I have experienced and wonder about all the little things I may have missed out on while dog paddling. I am wistful.
As we are going through pictures and videos of Pop, applying for financial aid, thinking about a car to get him to and from college, preparing to buy bedding for a dorm room out of state – I am wistful…I am longing. I am longing for a time when he was small (not really ever small…but, you get my drift!) and his bright little eyes would look out at me from his crib at 2 in the morning. I am longing for the little red faced fits he threw in his cowboy boots. I am wistful for the cuddling of my little boy that is now in all truth a man.
All the while I am wistful I am also go incredible grateful for the wonderful memories and wishful for all the things that are to come for my Pop, Tart and Frosting.
What are you wistful for? What are you longing for in a melancholy way? I am wistful for the innocence of childhood to be sure! Kids today are growing up too fast in a world that has no consideration for the need to pace their growth. Kiddos are exposed to violence, sex and drugs at a younger and younger age…youtube, google, Facebook, iPods…you name it there is media out there to present it no matter how careful you are as a parent. I wistfully wish that I didn’t have to worry where my kiddos are 24/7, but realistically I know that this is now the world we live in.
Live, Laugh, Love~
Vanilla Mama

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A to Z Challenge - V

A to Z Challenge – V
And, yes I am going to go for the OBVIOUS! VANILLA! I had considered going a different route, but after a long day, being so tired and I come home and light a vanilla candle to smooth the edges out – I gotta write about Vanilla.
I know it is in my about me section, but exactly what is it about Vanilla that I love so much. Did you know that the Vanilla bean comes from an orchid? An orchid that grows as a vine, and does not bloom until it is fully grown. It is not an easy orchid to grow and the bean, of course not really a bean – they are pollinated by hummingbirds, stingless bees and of course by hand.  It is a beautiful flower that has a purpose.
As I understand the flower smells nothing like Vanilla, but has its own incredible scent. If I did not have a black thumb, I would attempt to grow it. I did attempt growing coffee at some point, and that was as my kids put it, an EPIC FAIL!
I find the scent of Vanilla relaxing and familiar – as a flavor, it stands on its own and enhances other flavors. I would like to think that I am a little like that – I can stand on my own, but with others I am stronger and can help enhance.
I know I am not the only Vanilla Mama out there, based on email address availability and user names on different boards and account. Some places you will find me as Vanilla Mama, Vanilla Mommy or even Nilla Mama. At some point I am sure my grandkids will call me Nilla – hehe – you never know.
So, that is my V post – Vanilla. Do you have something that you feel a little crazy about? For some people it is baseball, football for me it is Vanilla. I have other obsessions, I think I am an obsessive person in general – but, at least this one is a good one. When you think of Vanilla, you may just remember me.
Live, Laugh, Love ~
Vanilla Mama

Monday, April 25, 2011

A to Z Challenge - U

A to Z Challenge – U
U is for Unforgiving.
Sounds a little harsh? It actually has a bitter feeling in my mouth when I say it – Unforgiving. It could be the seam in your pants after you’ve eaten a large meal, it could be your heart after someone has done something terrible to you.
The pants are a little easier to fix, you take them to the tailor and they sew up the seam you busted out – maybe lose a little weight and not be such a glutton next time. But, what if it is your heart that is unforgiving?
It’s almost like a bitter seed that settles in your heart, you can feel it, pick at it, nudge it along a little and with enough bitterness and bile you can even make it grow. I had my own bitter seed of Unforgiving and from time to time I struggle with the vines that I let it grow and trust me I let it grow some doozies!  One thing I have learned is that it is really, really easy to hold on to the pain, the hurt, the wrong that was done and it is so incredibly hard to make the choice to forgive and let that little seed go. Especially if that little seed takes root, grows and spreads.
Forgiving is not a onetime event. If it were then life would be good – I know the motto is “Forgive and Forget,” but in reality our little brains hold on to the events that are painful to try and keep us from them. (Except for childbirth – apparently, our brains are wired to forget the pain of childbirth so we will have more kiddos!) Recalling those memories can trigger those feelings of hurt and anger all over again, even if you have already deep down in your heart forgiven that person. I have made it to the point that when those memories surface, I actually remember the exact moment I forgave that person. Sometimes it is easier than others…not gonna lie!
I remember the feeling of letting it go, of letting the unforgiving little seed go. It was heart wrenching, it was so much a part of who I had become…and I didn’t like that person. I was bitter, angry, I had a short fuse and I was in jeopardy of completely losing myself in the vines that the bitter little seed I had given so much fuel to feed would take over.
Unforgiving…I was, I was Unforgiving and I relished in it. I let anyone who cared see how wronged I had been, I was so unforgiving. Thank God, Thank God – I was able to finally forgive. I continue to forgive.
I haven’t really gone into the Bible Verse part of how I make it through, but now seems like a good time.  Romans 8:28 –“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” If this is true, and I believe that it is, then how can I let that bitter seed of Unforgiving ferment and grow in my heart. If God has a bigger purpose for whatever pain I experience, how can I hold onto the hurt, pain and anger? What is that purpose? I don’t know, except maybe I can help someone through the pain….
Do I think for an instant that means I shouldn’t let my memories protect me from future pain – no I don’t! God helps those who help themselves – RIGHT?!
Whew – this A to Z Challenge is tough!
Live, Laugh, Love ~
Vanilla Mama

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A to Z Challenge - T

Again, Check out this guy's Blog!
A to Z Challenge – T
T is for Two friends, again one is a last name K**** T******* and the other is T**** S****. I will start with the newest of these two buddies.
My newest T buddy is a co-worker with my full-time job…she is smart, beautiful and has a wicked sense of humor. Have a question about a car, a collectible, business function and this woman has it. I know that she has been through a lot in her life, she has a tough as nails core but is very vulnerable and if she lets down her guard and lets you in, you better not screw around. I think that when things are rough at work we get each other through it knowing that we have each other’s back. I look forward to getting to know her better and know that our friendship will continue even if we both change jobs.
The friend in my life that I have known the longest is literally the woman that I will grow old with. We met over a decade ago when our boys were playing basketball together, we had an instant connection – In fact when I think that I have known her for a decade it blows me away, I cannot imagine a time in my life that she was not there and I don’t want to imagine a time in my life without her. Beautiful, funny, smart, a heart as big as the state we live in, sexy as hell and just flat out amazing – that’s my sister, my soul sister. The Lord did not bless me with a sister-sister, but he knew that I would need a soul partner and he gave me T****. My wonderful hubby knows that she is a life link for me and that makes me love wonderful hubby even more! I have learned parenting from her, relationships from her, life lessons from her – and she has learned from me (or so she says!).  One day we will be sitting on a porch rocking watching our great-grandchildren together!
I am going to tell ya’ll flat out, I am really a pretty private person, I know, I know – you have a blog and you are a private person….WHAT?! How does that work? I am figuring that out as I go!  There are a handful of people on this planet who really know and GET me….I can probably count them on less than two hands. I am feeling guilty that I didn’t cover everyone with the letters – one of them I TOTALLY passed all her name letters by the time I thought to do this – CABA are all her name letters…I gotta figure something out, because again another lady that I have a connection with. I did not include my Favorite Aunt L****, my Mom, My Favorite Aunt S****….but again, these woman are so much a part of my life and my heart that I do not want to think about a moment without them there. I hope that they really understand how much I love them!
I don’t often give assignments, okay, really this is my first one ever – your assignment today…let your friends know how much they mean to you! Drop them a quick e-mail, give them a call, heck even a text message will get your point across! God put these people in your life for a reason, you need them and they need you- whether they are blood relations or soul sisters (brothers), let them know TODAY that they have a piece of your heart.
Live, Laugh, Love ~
Vanilla Mama

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A to Z Challenge - S

A to Z Challenge –
S – is for two friends…S**** and D** S****, again trying to protect the innocent from the ranting of the Vanilla Mama! I will warn a few people ahead of time, your time is coming, but it is ALL GOOD!
Since I used D already I had to honor D’s with her last name…that starts with S! My two oldest boys and her two sons have the same names…almost…Her oldest’s name is my middle son’s, and my oldest is her youngest son (Frosting doesn’t play into this equation, he wasn’t even a glimmer when this lovely lady and I met – although we call her Aunt “D”). We met many years ago with our kiddos in the same grades, I used to babysit them and she is one lady that is stunningly beautiful without really knowing it. I am talking drop dead gorgeous, move over Julia Roberts gorgeous! Her heart is lovely and sweet and even though we haven’t had time to speak much recently, this is a woman I know I could call in a crises and she could call me. We have shared sangria, my first cevhice, and she even braved a bridesmaid dress in my wedding – and she looked amazing!
Now S****, again I have known her for a LONG time! I, in a past life was a cubscout leader and her son was in my troop. I have been amazed by this young man’s growth and since I have already passed the letter “J” I will save him for a Fortune Cookie. A woman with a stronger backbone and heart I have not had the pleasure of meeting – beautiful inside and out! Our sons will be lifelong friends and we will too!! If I need raising kiddos in a crazy world advice, I always think of her. When I think of crazy party that is family friendly, I think of her! Am I am really bummed that the cruise we were planning as a group to celebrate our sons’ graduations fell through the floor?  You betcha!! (Don’t’ get me started on how our school district really screwed that on up!) Girl, we will be talking soon about something we can all do to celebrate – we have come this far chicha! My Pop calls her his second Mom and I gotta tell you, I trust this woman heart and soul when it comes to my kiddos. Her son is a joy in my heart and I call him one of my boys.
S is a wonderful letter – my name starts with it as well, some of my favorite people  start with it, SINGING starts with it (a BTW – I LOVE to do that!), and silence starts with it – and that’s where I am headed now…Into the silence of sleep!
Live, Laugh, Love ~
Vanilla Mama
BTW – There will be not post tomorrow. I work a weird shift and will try to make it up on Sunday. (EVEN THOUGH I HAVE TO WORK ON EASTER SUNDAY…WHAT?! UMMM!!! Did you NOT get the memo?!?! I DON’T WORK ON SUNDAY’s!!! Deep breath, in and out…I have another couple of wonderful women to talk about on T!)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A to Z Challenge - Q and R

A to Z Challenge – Q and R

Check out his Cool Paintings!

Well, yesterday was quite a trip! Woke up, couldn’t move my head because my ear hurt so bad, went to urgent care and found out I had a double ear infection and sinus infection. SO – now I am on an antibiotic and WOW some sort of medicine that had me going BLACK at work. I had to come home and I went straight to bed! Thank you for your well wishes and THANK YOU to two wonderful friends – one who made it possible to go home and the other that took me home, there was NO way I could even drive.
I had extra time to think about Q, changed my mind a couple of times…but, still came back to Quote. At the end of every post, my every personal e-mail, on walls I my home you will see Live, Laugh, Love. Am I going to tell you here and now I was signing that in my book SEVEN years ago – almost eight, before it became something you could find in EVERY catalogue and in every WalMart across the nation! I came close to abandoning it, but I will stick with it – since now everyone is changing it. There are a million variations to suit anyone, but I will stick with my original Quote.  I don’t know where I heard it or read it – honestly I thought I was the first one that came up with it….but probably not. (I also thought I was the first to say Wonky, Hinky and Cool Beans…but alas, now I see it in books everywhere! But, I promise you I am the FIRST to say…”What do you want? Wicker?” in answer to customers and children who are impossible to please! )
My Quote – simple, to the point and exactly what everyday should be full of – Live…Live your life! Get up off the couch and LIVE it! Laugh – Everyday you have to smile, no matter how bad it gets, find the something silly to make you laugh. Love – How simple is this, at the very least LOVE yourself. If you can’t muster that find something in your life that you can LOVE…a passion for something, a GUPPY or Sea Monkey…something!
So no matter what, you gotta Live, Laugh and Love – and if you can’t, e-mail me…the Vanilla Mama will help you find something. There are many dark places that life can take you, you have to, have to make the choice to find something.
Now…for R….RITA!
Who is RITA, she is my ghost…was my Ghost. You don’t believe? That’s your choice…but when your 3 year old tells you, “The ghost under the bed doesn’t like us.” You perk up your ears to listen!
Mommy, “What do you mean he doesn’t like us?”
Pop, “Wait…” turns his head like he is listening, “No, it’s okay, she likes us.”
Mommy, shaking a little because it is not the first weird thing that has happened, “Really, does the ghost have a name?”
Pop, listening again…”She likes us and her name is Rita.”
“Okay then, it’s time for us to go in another room!”
Ex-Hubby and I actually at one point called a priest out to do whatever priests do to get rid of haunting and he wouldn’t. We brought a physic to our house and he confirmed…without telling him ANYTHING that there was a child ghost in the house. I had a friend that saw her…I had another friend that WOULD NOT come in my house without me there because one time when she came ALL the cupboards were open. My ex-hubby had the door shaken like someone was trying to get in…no one was home, then all of a sudden a drawer pulled open while he was watching.
I lived there for many years, 13 to be exact. I will tell you straight up – I lived with a little girl ghost, named Rita. Other children in the neighborhood saw her at their houses without knowing about her in our house. She liked being around all the children in my daycare, she liked me (I think), she was sad, lonely, happy and mischievous. She would hide things, she would open cabinets, she would tease me with cold fingers up the back of my neck.
At one point I was alone in my house…separation, divorce, kids gone…I had never really been alone, truly alone until that point. I was in my kitchen having a drink of some sort and I felt her, cold and prickly and I told her, “I don’t know why you are here, but I accept your presence. Be nice and we will get along just fine.” The atmosphere changed and we continued like that for several years. When I finally was moving out of the house to get married to my wonderful husband I actually invited her to come with us. I never felt her again.
I don’t know why she was there, I don’t know why she was in other houses throughout the neighborhood, but I know she was there. You can believe or not believe…that is again your choice…but, I know. I also know that after I left my old house…people would live there for 3-6 months and then MOVE out! I will tell her story someday.
So, there you have Q and R –
Live, Laugh, Love ~
Vanilla Mama

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

No Post -

There will be no Q post today - I am sick. Double ear infection, sinus infection and just Quite simply worn out.

I am not Quitting on Q - just going to be quiet tonight. I promise I will catch up!

Live, Laugh, Love ~
Vanilla Mama

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A to Z Challenge - P

A to Z Challenge – P
P is going to be twofold – Patience and Praying, added together that is Praying for Patience.
I have been described at many points in my life as having the patience of Job…how did I get this? Was I blessed with it, born with it? Maybe to some degree, but I remember while I was doing my home daycare, I had two children of my own, was going through a separation and eventual divorce and I remember one night….I prayed for patience. Literally got down on my knees and told God, I can’t do this anymore…grant me patience.
I will not say that it was a mistake, but I won’t ever pray for it again! Never…no way, no how! (Probably not anyway, I have learned also not to tell God never – hehe – That’s how I was blessed with Frosting!)
Why?
How do you build a muscle? You break it down, you work it out and then that muscle grows back stronger, bigger and better. Have you ever thought about patience as a muscle? It is a spiritual muscle, like faith, trust, and virtue.
Prayer is also a muscle and it is one that I admit I am not very structured about. I catch myself praying in little snatches throughout the day, but I am not very disciplined about praying my rosary or dedicating time to praying in general. It is a muscle that I need to Practice using – another P word!
It’s really easy to tell someone you have patience, you have faith, you have virtue….but how do you know? Have you questioned your faith, but then allowed the Lord to fill your heart? Have you been tempted to cross A line in your personal life or your professional life and then allowed the Lord to guide you? Have you ever really felt like throwing in the towel, giving up, laying down and allowing life to carry you away…and then deep in your heart remembered that God would not bring you to it, if he would not bring you through it. I promise you…It is true! More importantly…He promises you!
What does all this have to do with Prayer and Patience…with Praying for Patience? You have to trust…another big muscle we work out everyday! We have to trust His promises for us, just like we trust the sun will rise. Everyday! And if you live WAY up north where the night can last 6 months of the year…your trust muscle is REALLY big, you KNOW that the sun is going to rise…it may take a while, but your trust it and you have Patience for it!
Lately my life has been one trial after another, it seems as if there is always someone sick, there is never enough time, there is always another obstacle in my way…and REALLY I didn’t pray for patience, but maybe it is time for me to work that muscle and stop whining. Maybe, just maybe it is time for me to put on my big girl panties and deal with it – deal with life and stop laying down and letting it happen to me.
Perhaps, -haha- another P word, Perhaps it is time for me to be patient and allow God to bring me through it.
Live, Laugh, Love ~
Vanilla Mama

Monday, April 18, 2011

A to Z Challenge - O

A to Z Challenge – O
O is for Obtuse….unfeeling, tactless, insensitive; blind, imperceptive, unobservant; gauche, boorish; slow, dim.
I remember the first time I ever heard this word used as something other than describing an angle, it was in one of my all time favorite movies, Shawshank Redemption.  Andy is an innocent man sent to prison for the murder of his wife and his wife’s lover, but he finds in prison a man who knows he is innocent and is talking to the warden about it – the warden of course doesn’t want to let Andy out of prison….Andy asks him, “How can you be so obtuse?”
I love that question! Absolutely love that question – I ask it several times a day in my brain!
To the customers that come in daily, to the phone calls that I get, to my children that continue to leave dirty laundry on the floor – How can you be so obtuse?! I may never utter it aloud to the customers in the store, or to the callers on the phone….my kids have heard it, probably don’t know what I am saying….they are thinking about the angles. They are wondering WHY on earth they are greater than 90 degrees. Is this a good thing? NO – how can you be so obtuse?! Really, is it SO hard to pick up the laundry off the floor, to bring your dirty dishes to the kitchen?
Is it perhaps a little obtuse to post this? Absolutely!
Sorry Pop, Tart and Frosting (although Frosting – you do pretty good when I count down from 5!).
Someday when you are parents you will understand.
To the customers, to the callers, to you and to me – let’s all try to not be Obtuse with one another…let’s all try to not be unfeeling, tactless, insensitive; blind, imperceptive, unobservant; gauche, boorish; slow, dim.
Maybe for just a day? I’ll do my part and I’ll gently remind you in my head to do yours – although I may get frustrated enough to say it out loud to you!
Live, Laugh, Love ~
Vanilla Mama

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A to Z Challenge - N

A to Z Challenge - N

N is for Next.....okay really pushing this one, but it is time to pass on the Next award :)

Here are the rules for the acceptance of the award: - the Stylish Blogger award - THANKS DANNI!

Thank and link back to the person who awarded you the award.
  1. Share 7 things about yourself. - See previous post for M
  2. Award 15 other bloggers.
  3. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.
 - here we go...this is tough, because I am REALLY picky about which blogs I read on a daily. basis, that whole TIME thing!

1 - Parenting by Dummies - Awesome lady, funny writing and lovely photos!
2 - A Storybook World - Great interviews that will inspire you, plus check out her writing.
3 - Random Thoughts by Danni - Funny and super cute!
4 - Focus - Insightful and sweet.
5 - Dolce Vita - Sweet Life, Sweet lady, cool pics and ideas.
6 - Oh hello friend you are loved - great ideas and lovely things.
7 - Holly's House - Not a Perfect Mom Blog - Frank, honest and funny
8 - Jabbolg - interesting facts and cool pictures.
9 - Sleep Talking Man - SUPER inappropriate and funny (Yes, I have a t-shirt.)
10 - The Life that I Live - Check out the Nancy Pelosi dream!
11 - An Authentic Life - Living the life in Montana, makes me want to visit! (Considering I am from the SOUTH, that is quite a feat!
12 - Cake Wrecks - If you can visit this blog without laughing, SOMETHING is wrong with you!
13 - Amanda Hocking - Make sure to visit BN.COM and read her books, very unique take on the supernatural and coming of age!
14 - other things amanzi - surgeon in Africa, very interesting.
15 - The Life of a Wanderer - Amazing young man (yes, we are related!) and his blog about travels to as a medical missionary.

So, there you have it. I will be letting everyone know - but I don't want this to end up like some crazy chain letter.

But....who is Next on your list to read?

Live, Laugh, Love ~
Vanilla Mama

    A to Z Challenge - M

    A to Z Challenge – M
    M is for Making it Up!
    Making it up as I go – I used to have a plan, but I quickly learned that whatever plans that I make, they usually go awry. Especially if I am very specific with God about what my plan does not include…example, “I am never going to get remarried!” – God said, “Really now? How about this wonderful man?”….example, “I am not going to have any more children.” – God said, “BTW, did I mention natural family planning means that you are open to life? Congratulations, you’re pregnant!”
    Do I regret either one of these things? Absolutely not! God had his plan for me, and I was just ‘Making it up’ as I went, flying by the seat of my pants. God still has a plan for me and I will keep making it up as I go – because in all honesty, God has my back no matter what. If he brings me to it, he will bring me through it.
    I was talking to a friend at work not long ago, he did not realize that I had been married before and remarried (fact #1 – for anyone that is counting). I don’t bring it up much in general conversation, it doesn’t define who I am…again, wasn’t part of my plan, but I made it up as I went. Life can throw you a lot of curve balls – are you ready? Can you make it up as you go?
    Here is a little curve ball…do you make it up as you go so much, that you don’t remember who you are? Women in general are used to covering up, making up to hide things…we all do it. We make it up, we make up who we are…but at what point do we never take the makeup off?
    I have seen shows about women who at night do not take their makeup off, they sleep in it, in the morning they jump out of bed and shower so quickly that their partner never sees them without their makeup on. What are they hiding? How self conscious are they? How self conscious am I, are you? Does anyone see you or I without the makeup on? 
    How many people can I honestly say know me without my makeup on? Not many, less than you could count on one hand – Everyone, you, me, the neighbor across the street – have places that they are making up as they go and are making up to hide the others.
    Personally there are sides of me that I do not share with everyone, I can’t. In some cases it is not appropriate and not comfortable, in others I am willing to open that part of my heart up to them. Personally everyday there is an element of my life that no matter what my plan for that day is, I will have to wing it – Make it up – very seldom does everything go to the little check-list that I have in my head.
    Now for another M word…hmmm, can’t think of one for this. I was awarded the Stylish Blog award, and wow, how cool! So, MMMMMMTHANKS! –hehe- In honor of the letter “M” and to fulfill the requirements of the award, here are seven facts about Vanilla Mama that you will have to figure out….which are Made up and which are true…#1 is a gimme!
    2 – I live with a host of dust bunnies that continually multiply.
    3 – I love to feed horses apples, carrots and any kind of produce that in my healthy dreams I am actually preparing and eating, but in reality start to rot in the crisper section of my fridge.
    4 – I can leap tall buildings, read minds and tell your future!
    5 – was a manicurist and daycare provider at some point I my life, at the same time!
    6 – I love, love, love the scent of Vanilla…in fact so much that my loved ones know I am around simply by the aroma, and they know I will haunt them through it from the grave!
    7 – I read, read, read and listen, listen, listen to books.
    Now….which one am I making up?
    Live, Laugh, Love~
    Vanilla Mama
    PS - Watch out, I have a few badges to hand out as well!

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    A to Z Challenge - L

    A to Z Challenge – L
    L is for Lover! Now, Now…don’t get all hot and bothered it is not that kind of Blog!
    Yesterday I got my Hot and Sour soup fix taken care of at PeiWei (found a ROCK in my rice, but that’s another story!), and my friend who knows that I love Fortune Cookies grabbed a big ole hand full of them for me. Out of this new influx of Fortunes I grabbed on – “You are a LOVER of words, someday you should write a book.”
    My wonderful hubby and I looked at each other, we have been trying to fit more time in for me to write – this blog is a writing exercise of sorts for me. I have so many things inside my head that I need to get out, writing these short little posts helps me to organize my thoughts.  It gets my mind moving again – it has been stagnant for way too long, dormant in a world of busies.
    I actually have written a book, I had it published, I got some great reviews had a handful of book signings and then got busy with everyday life. It is really easy to push aside something that you love, that you are a LOVER of. I am a lover of words, how they fit together form a thread and story. When you are a lover of something, there is a certain amount of guilt associated with it.
    I do feel guilty when I am sitting here in my padded seat at my kitchen table with paperwork strewn everywhere. I do feel guilty when there is laundry piled up on the bed that needs folding. I do feel guilty when there is a sink full of dirty dishes – I feel so guilty through all of this when I am sitting here being a lover, it is like an affair of the heart.
    Choices, balance – I am not really good at them. For many years I made the choice to say that I will start writing again tomorrow…recently I realized that tomorrow never comes.  Did you know that? Think about that for just a second….Tomorrow never really comes, because no matter what it is always today. Today I am sitting here wishing that I could get my life together tomorrow, today I am sitting here wishing that I have time tomorrow to do yoga, today I am wishing that I sit down and make the outline for my next book tomorrow….but tomorrow NEVER comes. It is always today – I need to do these things TODAY. Otherwise the list grows, the piles grow, the depression grows.
    L is for Lover – (Again THANK you Dictionary.com)
    I am going to skip the first 3 definitions, they don’t apply!
    4. a person who has a strong enjoyment or liking for something, as specified: a lover of music.
    5. a person who loves, especially a person who has or shows a warm and general affectionate regard for others: a lover of mankind.
    What are you a lover of? I am a lover of my family, a lover of my wonderful hubby, a lover of Pop, Tart and Frosting, a lover of words.
    Live, Laugh, Love ~
    Vanilla Mama
    BTW – THANK YOU so much Danni, I am honored that you selected me for the Stylish Blogger Award! Tomorrow (yes, I know what I just said – but REALLY!), I will get the badge up and pick my winners too!
    BBTW - LUCKY NUMBERS - 10, 13, 18, 31, 35, 36

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    A to Z Challenge - K

    A to Z Challenge – K

    K is for Kite!

    One of my favorite all time songs from a movie is – “Let’s Go Fly a Kite!” from Mary Poppins. In my full time job I see a lot of kites and kite string come through my line and every so often this crazy Vanilla Mama will break into song and treat/torture an unsuspecting person with a quick rendition of it. (If I am feeling really spunky I will even do it with an English accent!)

    The younger crowd doesn’t have a clue what I am doing – but they smile, some of the little kiddos laugh, most of the parents really get a kick out of it. At least no one has complained as yet. Even my co-workers smile indulgently, maybe someday I will get a duet going.

    I haven’t had a chance yet to fly a kite this year with my kiddos, but I already have a kite in reserve so that Pop, Tart and Frosting and I can get out and do that. For the older boys though, I think I will have to get them something other than the Plex kite that is leftover from last year…time to step up the game and get a stunt kite!



    Last year was so much fun, we did it just on our little street and Frosting was adorable running with the kite trying to get it up in the air. Tart really had one up there and Frosting was SO jealous and wanted Tart’s string. Pop came late to the whole proceedings, but he dragged out a dragon kite that the Easter Bunny had brought and got it up in the air for a few, and wonderful hubby wasn’t home. Poor Frosting got his Kite stuck

    Bottom line – grab some string, a cheap little kite and a breeze. Sing the song (lyrics below of course!) and HAVE SOME FUN!

    Mr. Banks: (If you do not know who these people are get thee to a VIDEO STORE!! or CLICK HERE to watch at least the song on YouTube!)
    With tuppence for paper and strings
    You can have your own set of wings
    With your feet on the ground
    You're a bird in a flight
    With your fist holding tight
    To the string of your kite

    Oh, oh, oh!
    Let's go fly a kite
    Up to the highest height!
    Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring
    Up through the atmosphere
    Up where the air is clear
    Oh, let's go fly a kite!

    Bert:
    When you send it flyin' up there
    All at once you're lighter than air
    You can dance on the breeze
    Over 'ouses and trees
    With your first 'olding tight
    To the string of your kite

    Londoners:
    Oh, oh, oh!
    Let's go fly a kite
    Up to the highest height!
    Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring
    Up through the atmosphere
    Up where the air is clear
    Let's go fly a kite!

    Live, Laugh, Love ~
    Vanilla Mama

    PS-I would have done Kindness for my K word - but I already covered that in a Fortune Cookie post! You can read it here!

    A to Z Challenge - J

    A to Z Challenge – J
    J is for Just…Hold on JUST a second, I am JUST getting to that, I will JUST be a minute, JUST set that down right there…JUST!
    I spent the day thinking about how many times a day I hear JUST – I am not going to tell you that I counted them all, because I didn’t, but I will say I heard it a lot. In so many variations. I even caught myself saying it…
    How can a word, an adverb and adjective sound so negative to me? Maybe it is my experience with it – maybe, JUST maybe! People use just to justify everything – customers in line, co-workers, friends, and family…listen to it, listen for it.
    I did and what I realized is I am going to be very, very careful when I use this word. It can be a wonderful adverb – “exactly or precisely: This is just what I mean.”  or it can seem demeaning, “only or merely: He was just a clerk until he became ambitious.”
    I can think back on how many times I have said, “Just a minute!” or “Hold on just a second!” even to my own kiddos, and I have never gotten back to them in that second or minute…it makes me sad. I didn’t mean to let them down or put them off, but I did. What a lost moment.
    How many times have I promised myself, “Just one more bite.” Or “Just another sip.” Or “Today is just Monday I’ll start tomorrow.” Or “Just 5 more minutes of sleep…” Too Many to count – way too many!
    Starting today, this minute I am going to try not to JUSTify anything like that – if I use the word JUST I want it to be in reference to something exact, or right. I want to be JUST in the right way! I think we should all strive to be that – exact, righteous, proper…not only or merely, or by a narrow margin. (BTW – Thank you dictionary.com!) It is something to shoot for, right? Don’t just shoot for the moon when the stars are within reach….(merely, only!)
    Life moves fast, so fast. We have quick conversations in the car with loved ones on our cell phone, a text message to let someone know we are thinking about them – we just reach out the best way we can….but is that a MERELY or ONLY?! Or are those small things JUST the thing our loved ones might need at that moment…Exactly?!
    And for now – I am again headed to bed…Just in time!
    Live, Laugh, Love ~
    Vanilla Mama
    BTW - In the pursuit of protecting the innocent from the Vanilla Mama - I have not mentioned two VERY important people whose names start with J. If you know me you know wonderful hubby and Frosting both start with J...but I couldn't focus a post on them, but I JUST wanted you to know!

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    A to Z Challenge - I

    Oh, My Ice Cream Obsession!
    A to Z Challenge – I
    I is of course for Ice Cream!
    I really did not know how much I loved Ice Cream (notice capital letters – it is that wonderful!) until I got pregnant with Frosting. –If you are wondering who Frosting is, you are going to have to go back at this post! – I mean, I always knew Ice Cream was good, I would eat it with my Grandparents when we visited – I remember Neapolitan the most, it goes great with birthday cake…and then fast forward to my pregnancy.
    I was already overweight, but I fell in love all over again with Ice Cream in my first trimester. Really, really loved Haagan Das Dulce de Leche, Moose Tracks, and anything creamy with chocolate or peanut butter (and honestly if it didn’t have peanut butter in it I would add it on the top – but alas, that is another obsession for another post!) Fast forward to high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and BED REST, not all because of Ice Cream – I was already overweight and under a lot of stress, and totally in love with Ice Cream and other things we won’t mention right now, but I am quite sure that it did not help any.
    These days, 80 pounds lighter, I have a healthier approach to Ice Cream – for the most part. I will admit that I have a true weak spot…Cherry Garcia Ice Cream Bars! Notice, I said Ice Cream Bar – not the Ice Cream. Oh My Heavens – that thing, that magnificent piece of Ice Cream confectionery magic, that ice cold, creamy crunchy bit of magical Ice Cream Heaven – I almost wish I had never laid eyes on it, let alone touched my tongue to it. At the end of nearly every shift I would treat myself to this masterpiece of Ice Creamness….but, then the terrible, terrible thing happened!! The Good Humor Man, yes…you read that right…The Good Humor Man, that until that moment I would have called a dear and true friend because he brought my beloved Cherry Garcia Ice Cream Bars to our cooler at work, told me that our store would no longer carry that bar!!!
    WHAT?!?!
    It was being replaced by another product!
    WHAT?!?!
    Any other sane, normal, non-obsessed person would shrug and say, “Oh Well.” But, not your Vanilla Mama….
    There were NINE left in the freezer and guess how many I bought….NINE!!
    Not my proudest moment. Really, really not my proudest moment. ***Shrug*** They will a laugh about that for a very long time!
    What was I supposed to do? I bought them and put them in the break room freezer and enjoyed them over the next few weeks – and now – now, they are GONE!
    I have eaten the last one, and I do not know where I can find them again. I have tried replacing this obsession with a different Ice Cream bar that we have – but I just cannot work it up. It is NOT the Cherry Garcia Ice Cream Bar…and before you even ask…YES, I have tried the Ice Cream you can get at the grocery store and even the Ben and Jerry’s store that is up the road and it IS NOT THE SAME!!! SO, SO NOT!!
    I is for Ice Cream and I guess for now I am going Ice Cream-less! Until I find the next thing I just LOVE – I refuse to spend unnecessary calories on something I don’t absolutely LOVE!
    (in a hushed whisper – “if you happen to know anywhere in the DFW area that sells Cherry Garcia Ice Cream Bars – feel free to e-mail, leave a comment, or IM me! I am not THAT proud! – haha-“)
    Live, Laugh, Love ~
    Vanilla Mama

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    A to Z Challenge - H

    No, I don't live up north. Apparently I don't
    take picture of my house unless it snows!
    A to Z Challenge – H
    I missed yesterday for the challenge, but since Sunday is a free day I already knew that I could do a makeup.
    H is for Home!
    I love my house, I love my home…needs a lot of work and our foundation needs a few piers to get leveled, flower beds are overgrown and all around it needs updating…but I do love my house, my home. My deck is going to need washing and resealing, I am getting to the point of needing to replace some furniture, but no matter what I am always glad when I come home or get to spend any time at home. Especially when my family is home too – although some nice quiet time alone enjoying a glass of wine reading a book is absolutely divine!
    I have a little plaque that my wonderful hubby and I purchased within the first couple years of our marriage – “Home is where your story begins.” Nothing could be further from the truth – our homes define us in many ways. We showcase our personal style, raise our children, entertain our friends and family, relax and be ourselves – may even walk naked through it. It’s our place, our space – our house, our home!
    Even now while I am sitting in my well worn padded kitchen seat with a table strewn full of paperwork and toys, I am home! I picked this home upon sight when wonderful hubby and I were engaged – it was in the perfect location, right school district, on a cul de sac, with a big yard and horses right behind us in a neighbor’s yard with a hole cut in our fence for them to stick their heads through to get apples. (No I don’t live out in the sticks, and that is what made me fall in love so quick, it feels like I am out in the country, but my grocery store is literally within walking distance!) We had our wedding reception here, in fact!
    This is going to be a short post, because I really have not home at all this weekend. I have my lovely red wine in my Love wine glass, a long awaited movie in the bluray player and a very patient wonderful hubby that I would like to spend some time with in my home!
    Live, Laugh, Love ~
    Vanilla Mama

    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    A to Z Challenge - G

    Totally NOT my gravy! But, makes me hungry-link to this below.
    A to Z Challenge – G
    G is for Gravy! I don’t think I have ever mentioned how much I love gravy! Brown gravy, biscuit gravy, turkey gravy and the king of gravies – Sausage Gravy! I don’t even need the toast, biscuit or mashed taters for it – sausage gravy you can eat with a FORK!
    I remember my Grandpa Roy talking about gravy wasn’t gravy unless you could eat it with a fork, and I would have to say that man was right! Every so often I will get a craving for gravy and if I am going to breakfast I will order it – and most of the time I am woefully disappointed!! Lately, I have been making my own…YUMMY!!
    I am not going to sugar coat this at all – it is pure fat, flour and my one concession to being healthy, skim milk. Oh yeah and SAUSAGE!! I have used turkey sausage and it works just fine – but good old fashioned Owens is the best. Do I do this often….NO! I haven’t worked hard to lose all this weight only to eat bowls of gravy and gain it back again (I would save that for Cherry Garcia bars!).
    I am not really sure what it is about gravy that I love so much. Maybe it is remembering my Grandpa  and Grandma – fried food, gravy in the morning, homemade biscuits on weekend visits; ice cream at night watching TV while Grandpa let me comb his hair; catching bumblebees in mason jars to earn money to spend at the General Store. I think it is a memory thing for me…and lately I have really been missing my family.
    Not just the family that lives away and I don’t get to see nearly often enough, but my Mom and Dad, my husband and kiddos. Maybe I am trying to recreate and create memories with them by making cookies, by molding toys, by making gravy on a Sunday morning…small things, little traditions.
    Don’t ask me for my gravy recipe unless you want to have a coronary while you are reading it – haha – not only that, but I swear to you I never, never make it the same way twice. It all depends on what I have in the cabinet – one thing I will tell you straight up – DO NOT make gravy with WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR!!! UGH, EWW, NASTY!!! Probably one of the first times I EVER threw gravy in the trash, the dog would not even eat it.
    Anyway, off to bed…my work week has not ended for either job. One has an event this weekend that I have to finish getting together tomorrow, thank GOD ALMIGHTY for the amazing, wonderful woman who I am so proud to call a sister who helps me with this! The other I will not have a day off until next Friday – But, I am going to ENJOY that Friday more than any other Friday ever, because I am looking forward to it so much!!
    Live, Laugh, Love ~
    Vanilla Mama

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    A to Z Challenge - F

    A to Z Challenge – F
    FORTUNE!!!
    “The time is right to make new “F”riends.”
    What a cool fortune for today –it has  an “F” word in it and I just can’t pass it up.  And while making new friends is amazing and fun, it doesn’t take away from the stable, deep friendships that I have with some of the amazing women that I call my sisters now. When I get to the first letter of the name (or first letter of their last name – since I already passed one!) I will have to tell the world how amazing they are with still protecting the innocent…ya know, it’s really hard to protect the innocent from the Vanilla Mama!
    What exactly makes a friend? What do you look for in a friend? Usually I am not really on the “make” for a new friend – it just kind of happens. There is a shared laugh, shared experience, some sort of connection that may happen in an instant or there is a kind of slow burn where over time you come to appreciate a person. I have both types, in fact I have a few friends that on the surface you would never imagine that we would be friends – but it is all about connections.
    People are made to connect. People are made to form attachments – it goes back to the infancy of our human race…an individual on their own would have an extremely if not impossible time providing food and shelter, even in fact, a couple. Coming together and living in caves, people formed connections, friendships to survive. Forming groups, societies, each person giving their talents – it is how we as a human race have evolved. We are still doing it today –
    I am still doing it today, I meet new people everyday in my work – both jobs – I have formed incredible friendships with people that I may never meet in person and I daily I meet people that I could imagine myself sitting across from and having a glass of wine and getting to know them better. How in the busy lives that some of us live do we nurture and feed these connections? Phone calls, IMing, Facebook, FACE TIME, even that amazing little act of jotting a note and putting it in – gasp – a MAILBOX!!
    Everyday “the time is right to make new “F”riends,” Everyday! You truly never know when you might meet a soul sister (you know the song is going to start in your head!). You might meet your soul sister (brother) at a basketball game where your sons are playing together…you might meet a soul sister (brother) in middle school that even though you don’t see or hear from very often , you think about and know that you could pick up right where you left off, you could even meet a soul sister (brother) at work and know that you will still be trading silly stories for the rest of your life.
    Be open, allow your heart to grow and let someone in. An incredible side effect of writing this blog is getting know other people through their blogs – I may never meet them in person – but, from reading what they have written I think I get a pretty good idea of who they are. Some people are so raw and open that you automatically feel connected, others are a bit more mysterious and you want to know more about them – so you keep reading, you dig a little deeper.
    I will say, everyday “the time is right to make new “F”riends,” but no matter how many new friends I make – I will always treasure those friends that have helped me grow into the person that I am today. I won’t delve into this too deeply now – this is about new friends – but, you can always renew your friendship with someone you have known for years. In fact…I challenge you to do that today! Pick up the phone, open up your facebook, dig through your old emails and renew a connection, make a new friend – make a fresh connection!
    Live, Laugh, Love ~
    Vanilla Mama
    BTW – Your lucky numbers today from this fortune: YOUR BEST FRIEND’S PHONE NUMBER!!!