Last night, while lying in bed, I solved some of the world's problems. It really was a productive night. I re-enacted my day correcting all my conversations I had to be more witty. I went through entire scenarios of what I would say and then what they would say and then what I would say and then what they would say.... it would go on and on. Most of the time the conversation would play out that I, being extremely succinct, witty, and thought provoking, left the other party admitting that I am so right, how could they not see it?

I did this for about four hours last night. When I couldn't take the constant replay I gave in and took my lovely Xanax.

But before the pill took effect I was rockin' and rollin'. I had about ten blog posts written, the "kidnapping" of Casey Anthony in Florida solved, my mother-in-law put in her place, created a new position for me within my company, what McCain should say to Obama, what I want to say to the people making me change my light bulbs to those ugly fluorescent things, and a way for me to work from home and still keep my job.

I can solve it all. I just need a few more nights of insomnia and I can figure out a way to keep my old incandescent light bulbs and still look like I believe changing bulbs will keep the earth from burning.
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My Daughter is seven. Seven. She has been working to master the art of hair brushing, pony-tails, teeth brushing, using soap not just water when showering, just the basic hygiene and grooming skills. Our deal is once she is able to take care the basics, without nagging prompting and help from me, but especially without nagging prompting, she can then get her ears pierced. No age requirement for this rite of passage, just independence and responsibility.

Most days she does a pretty darn good job of pulling her hair back and brushing her teeth. She sometimes skips a step in the process, like forgetting to brush her hair before pulling it back, or forgetting to actually brush her teeth once she puts the toothpaste on the toothbrush.

Last weekend I figured out how to motivate her toward good hygiene and independence.

Jensen, my friend's 12 year old boy.

Sunday, before Sherry and her family of four boys came over, Anna had hastily pulled her hair back in a pony-tail and added a headband to catch all the stray hairs that failed to make it into the rubber band. She looked like she had just rolled out of bed but I did not nag say a word.

Within fifteen minutes of meeting Jensen, Walker, Hunter, and Dawson, Anna went back upstairs. The next time I saw her my heart skipped a beat and I started to panic that I was going to be raising one of "those girls", the too young to be boy crazy, girls.

Her naturally curly hair had been brushed as straight as she could make it. Her dress-up makeup had been applied to her eyelids and cheeks, her face was as reflective as a disco ball with all the glitter. Her lips were protected from drying out and cracking due to the careful application of Hello Kitty sparkle lip gloss. She was a picture of beauty and perfectly made up to be a light reflector for a late night bike ride. But I don't think bike safety was on her mind.

Did I mention she was seven.....

Meet Millie, name subject to change, our new puppy. She is a seven week old, 8 pound, green-eyed, chocolate lab. Isn't she the cutest thing? Look at her, fall in love with her, help me raise her, tell me I am going to be so happy with our new addition because I am scared. But isn't she so adorable? I need to sear this image in my brain for when she is 150 pounds and knocking off my knick-knacks with her mammoth tail.

My mom called on Sunday, while I was rushing around getting ready for our cookout, to tell me that a friend of hers was giving away lab puppies and they were soooo cute. I immediately said, "No mom. We do not have time to train a puppy. We need to finish the remodeling before we think about getting a puppy." She said that she knows but that they are so incredibly cute and sweet.

My mom called me at work on Monday asking if I was positive that we didn't want a dog. She was so sure we would change our mind that she took one of the puppies home anyway! Looks like my mother really does know me.

My 20th reunion was great! I saw some people I hadn't seen or spoken to in 20 years and some even longer than that. After we did the, "Where do you live?" "Has it really been twenty years?" question and answer time then it was like no time has passed and we were picking up where we left off, standing in the hallway in front of Mr. Martin's classroom.

I am so glad I went and I am excited about renewing friendships that were such a huge part of my life growing up; but fizzled with moving, careers, families, and time. Most of the people I was able to see I had gone to elementary school with or started 7th grade together. I think that is one of the cool things about growing up in a small town with one high school the ties go way back. Then again that is why it is hard for others that have to move to a town with only one high school the friendships have been established since grade school and they can be hard to penetrate.

When we got together at my house on Sunday I looked around and saw all the kids, FIFTEEN, and thought - how in the world did we all get here, this place, this year, these kids, those husbands? How were we able to do all that on our own without passing a note or talking on the phone for hours? It was funny, I was able to decide who to marry without their advice but my judgement failed me when I had to pick out an outfit for this shindig. Crazy.
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I am home and about to jump in the shower to get ready for my 20th reunion mixer. Since I didn't buy a new outfit and we are not shelling out $60 for a babysitter as previously planned, I splurged.

I had a manicure and pedicure last night at Ulta for $65!!! (that is a complete rip off but at least I was able to have a whole conversation in English) This morning I went into an empty cubicle and painted my nails a different color because I wasn't thrilled with the choice I made last night.

I am also having my hair blown-out. I failed to tell my husband of this frivolous appointment and let it slip while I was on the phone last night. But hey! my 20th high school reunion only comes around once.

Though not really since I actually graduated high school from Bob Jones Academy, in Greenville, South Carolina, a year later. My husband is safe from that reunion because the last time I was allowed on campus I had to write a letter to the Dean and promise to stay with my parents the entire time I was on campus for my little sisters college graduation. But that is a story for another day.
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Every Thursday Sandra at Diary of a Stay Home Mom has recipes for Slow Cookers from other readers. She calls it Slow Cooking Thursdays and you can find some really good recipes. She also just got back from visiting her family in South Africa where she is from. She hadn't been back in over ten years! The pictures of her trip were great.

I made this Tuesday night and our kids loved it! Great flavor, tender meat, and super easy. No one in our family is a fan of mushrooms so this recipe does not include any vegetables commonly found in Beef Burgundy. Plus, I used inexpensive meat and had wine with dinner since I didn't want the bottle to go to waste.

  • 2lb package of cute up stew meat
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup

  • 1 package of Dry Onion Soup Mix (I used the Golden Onion mix)

  • 1/2 cup of dry red wine (I used Columbia Crest Merlot because I have no idea what is "dry" and what is "non-dry" but my husband who actually reads our subscription to the Wine Spectator told me it would work)

  • Cooked Egg Noodles

That's all!

Lightly grease your crock pot and then mix the cream of mushroom soup together with the red wine and place the meat on top. Sprinkle the entire packet of dry soup mix over all. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4.

When I came home from work I gave this a good stir. I thought it seemed a little thin. In a 2 cup measuring cup I added a 1/2 cup of cold water and 2 spoonfuls of cornstarch and mixed it together to get out all the lumps. I poured this into the crockpot and stirred. I let it cook for another 1/2 hour. I thought the consistency was perfect.

I love to find good deals. But, I am not a huge shopper. Ever since being a buyer and repeatedly walking the markets here in the US and overseas, the idea of randomly shopping without a specific target killed my shopping bug. Too bad because my shopping bug was finally coming out of the larvae stage after working retail and every Christmas for ten years. However, I occasionally get out and zero in on certain stores and items. My husband tells me that I seem to get a little high/tipsy/buzzed when I buy something I find fantastic. The degree of euphoria increases with the more money I am able to save.

Therefore, I was literally walking on air the other weekend when we stumbled onto this headboard while seeking air conditioning in a furniture store. This headboard was in the "As-Is" section marked down to $29.95 from $595.00! It came in an unopened box since it was not damaged just discontinued. The footboard was only $19.95 but I left that at the store. I figured I could cover up the fact we have a queen size bed with a king size headboard. I just don't think covering the foot of the bed in pillows and leaning the footboard against the bed will work.

Because the headboard has not moved from in front of the piano since we brought it home, I get to have a good little buzz every time I walk into my family room. Just imagine what it will be like when it actually gets put into the bedroom.

I did the best I could with what I had. I didn't take a sledgehammer and knock out my patio; but, as sore as my back is I might as well have. Can you see the crumbling cobblestone wall? With the lovely re-bar showing through and the metal frame taunting me with a tetanus shot? But this is as good as I can make it without being on Landscapers Challenge.

We did have a landscaping design company come out for an estimate two months ago. The first comment out of the estimator's mouth? "We will definitely use this for our before and afters". Except to get to the 'after' would cost us a mere $40,000! and that does not include a poolboy pool.

7:30 a.m. Saturday morning I was outside pulling weeds and water grass out of this flower bed.

Saturday afternoon I had transformed the shallow planting bed into something I could look at without griping about stupid it is to have a planter 12 inches deep. My husband helped me spread the mulch. The lady we bought the house from was so completely ripped off by the concrete crew that laid her patio, walls, and flower beds. It all literally crumbles and your feet hurt when you walk barefoot on it.

Sunday afternoon I tackled this lovely portion of our backyard. Such an inviting area to relax by the small pond no? See the huge hosta? I tried to replant it but my spaghetti arms would have nothing to do with a shovel so the man of the house stepped in and planted it next to our shed.

Look at that! I actually might sit and relax in my own backyard. But it is really just for show unless you are immune to mosquitoes. Still, it at least looks tranquil.

This is a view from the tranquil side of the yard looking at the "Watch Me!" area the kids play in. I even put a comfy chair facing the trampoline so I can comfortably be astounded by how high the kids can jump and push each other. Have I mentioned the crumbling patio yet and how much I hate it?

I did leave the mosquito breeding ground alone. But my husband poured bleach into the water and put one of those mosquito deterrent poison rings in the bottom clam. Hopefully, the birds won't be thirsty for a while.

But you know what I did NOT tackle? What I just cannot wrap my head around on how huge this pile has gotten but am so incredibly thankful it is not in the front yard?

THIS! I see a lattice partition in my future.

I do have a plan and that plan involves an inground pool which would involve excavation. Excavation would mean destroying the patio, walls, and planter. Have I mentioned that I despise my patio?

My high school reunion is next weekend. I didn't go to my ten year reunion because it was the same weekend I moved from Chicago to California. This time I am much closer, just an hour away so I will be going to the Friday night mixer. Finding a babysitter was not easy and I just do not feel like going through the same hassle for an additional night. Besides, can you believe what babysitters charge now days??! I was floored when I called a babysitting service and the prices were around $10-$15 an hour. Come on! There are guys on my shop floor with technical degrees running machinery that could cut their head off and they don't get paid that much when they start.

I think my husband was hoping there wouldn't be an available babysitter to be found but he got the soul crushing news that I found one yesterday. He gets to go to my reunion! He couldn't be happier.

We are going to have some of my old classmates and their families over on Sunday after the reunion wraps up. It should be fun and chaotic with kids way outnumbering the adults. But before then I have some work to do. No, not lose the ten pounds I put on since marrying the love of my life two years ago. Besides that would still make me 15 pounds heavier than what I was in high school. I was an absolute freak. 5'8" and 100 lbs with a spiral perm that was bigger than my whole body. What a nightmare, or as my best friend LouAnn will tell you, "Kim had the longest ugly stage of anyone we knew" uh-huh, thank you may I have another.

Anyway, I will not be working on starving myself instead I need to pick up and tidy the backyard. The same backyard that I would pay a gazillion dollars if someone would just come with a backhoe and tear it ALL out then haul away all the crap the previous owner installed and planted. Seriously, I HATE our backyard. I try not to think about how much I hate it and that is why I have to drink adult beverages anytime we sit out on the patio furniture. Otherwise, I just start listing off the things that have to go. This drives my husband crazy because he will take me serious and start telling me all the other projects we have going inside the house to bring our house from 1970 to 2000, not even 2008, just 2000 in fact I will settle for 1995. See, I went off on the house again.

This weekend will find me sweeping, picking up limbs from the ice and wind storms we had, last winter. Finding forgotten shoes in the underbrush beneath the trampoline. Pouring bleach into the fountain to kill the mosquito nation that made it their breeding ground. Planting the enormous hostas we were given that I jumped on but then was too exhausted and hot to plant. I just can't decide. How long would it take me, wielding a sledgehammer, to take down the patio retaining wall? Can I get it done in a day? Could I put all the debris over the fence where the house is for sale and empty? I need to shut up he is going to kill me.....
Last weekend we went to see Wall E at one of America's oldest operating Drive-In. We went with my high school friend Cheryl and her family. None of our kids had ever been to a drive-in before and I thought they would really enjoy the experience. The only other time I had been to a drive-in movie was in the early 70's to see Benji but I still remembered sitting in the back of my dad's pickup and eating snacks my mom had brought.

The movie started at 9:15 pm and the kids were excited, I think more for the popcorn, roll-ups, dipping sticks, homemade ice cream, and capri suns. At least that is what it seemed like since we went through the stash in the first 15 minutes. The boys were in one vehicle and the girls in another.

The four adults had adult beverages and just like the kids we started to partake before the sun was fully set.

As the night wore on there was bickering to break up, whining to hush, and repeated movement from car to car. We are not sure anyone, adults included, really watched more than 15 minutes uninterrupted.

But as the sun completely went down and the novelty of gorging on snacks wore off the movie began to take center stage.

Even though it was July in Oklahoma it was not too hot. And after separating the two youngest each kid created their own space and took in the experience of the Drive-In.

Everyone had a great time and I was so glad we were able to do this. Though next time it looks like the adults might need to take a nap beforehand to make it through the credits.

When we were getting ready for bed I commented to my husband that this was the first holiday where nothing was planned to the max. And I LOVED it for that reason. We started off going to a neighborhood parade where the kids decorated their bikes and rode behind a firetruck. A girlfriend from high school organizes this huge party every year. It just so happens that another high school friends lives in the same development and she invited our kids to participate in the parade. They loved it. I had no idea that a fire hose could spray water that far. There was face painting, goodie bags, and firemen how could you ask for more?

After we went swimming for a couple of hours we came home and waited out the "When are we going to light fireworks?", "Is it time yet?", "When will it be dark?", "Can I light the biggest one?" Good times.

My dad, being the pyromaniac of the family, bought the kids a huge box of fireworks. When they got tired of the sparklers and started in on all the questions I had them kill time channeled their energy by yelling at them suggesting that they should line up the fireworks in the order they wanted them to be lit. It actually worked!

The four year old has switched his loyalties. He no longer shadows his oldest sister. He prefers instead to be near, at all times, my daughter. Initially she loved it. Someone to boss around, perfect. But after moving her chair further away from his she began to realize what a heavy burden adoration can be.

"But he is sitting right next to me and I am hot." Paybacks are a bitch sweetie.

Eventually he got very tired because he kept climbing into my lap and kissing me. At one point he put his arm around my neck and started touching my ear and stroking my neck. When asked if he was tired the answer was always NO! and then he would climb down to help light the fireworks. Everyone kept looking at the two of us because it is very rare for him to be lovey dovey with me. I tend to keep my distance as well letting his dad pretty much take care of him. It is hard to hear a running commentary about what his mom said, what his mom does, and what his mom has.

Divorce/stepfamily reality: I know it is not his fault and I am fully aware of my non-forgiving attitude toward her from when she tried to have the kids taken away. It is an ugly spot in my life that I can't seem to let go. But when her son wants me to hold him and I pick him up and he is as light as a baby I wish that I didn't hate her so much.

The idea was to finish our fireworks in time to watch three different firework shows from our balcony; Jenks, The River, and Drillers Stadium. This year we could barely see the Jenks show because of all the trees. That is strange considering all the limbs and trees we lost during the ice storm. At 10pm we drove to a parking lot by Drillers Stadium and waited for the game to end to see their show. During all the complaining that they couldn't see from the balcony I had failed to whisper that bright idea to my husband, oops!
Answer: When you find your kids laying on the marble in the entryway and when you walk by they tell you it is so much cooler right here. Our three new pets.

Our air-conditioning went out again. Over a holiday weekend. In July. In Oklahoma. We had to turn the computer off because the fan in the CPU sounded like a small jet engine. Thank goodness we have window units in all the bedrooms. We knew when we bought the house the A/C was pathetic and that one unit could not cool 4000 sq. feet much less upstairs. But when I wished for the A/C to breakdown so we could get a new one with the home warranty and add one more unit? I really wanted that to be when I was at work....need to clarify my wishes.

On Wednesdays Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer hosts Works For Me Wednesday and I find some of the best ideas, like cleaning my shower while I am taking a shower-duh, but somehow I had never thought to try that. This Wednesday the theme is a 5 ingredient or less meal and I thought I had the perfect one for that. My recipe for chicken burritos is only FOUR ingredients including the tortilla and then you can add all the toppings you want. The chicken is so good sometimes only a little cheese is added. (I originally wrote this post on February 12th)

The kids absolutely love these burritos! The reviews were fantastic tonight. The four year old ate TWO!! The nine year old said, "I love these. This is the best night". The seven year old was overheard saying to her sister, "The chicken was the best tonight, the juicest, moistest, yummiest that we have had".

If only I could get this praise for the meals I actually work on. I made the chicken when I went home for lunch in less than FIVE minutes. Let me show you how.

Take 2-4 frozen boneless skinless chicken breast, Rotel, and Taco Seasoning. That is it!! Easy peasey.

Pour a can of Rotel over the chicken and generously sprinkle taco seasoning over all. Normally I use McCormick or Pace Taco Seasoning but we went to Sam's this weekend and I got this. I noticed no difference.

***If using more than 3 chicken breast add a 1/4 cup of water to keep moist.

Set your Crock Pot on Low to cook for 5 hours. Yes, most slow cookers will say 4 hours is high so I set mine to 8 or 10 hours so I get a low setting. You could also start this in the morning just put it on the lowest and longest setting. Today I only used 2 breasts because I didn't want leftovers.

After coming home from a long day put the kids to work. Get the table set and get out the next ingredients: Refried Beans, Tortilla (burrito size for adults, taco size for kids), sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa, lettuce, and any other condiment your family likes or you have on hand.

Refried Beans can be optional but our family likes them and I tend to think it makes the burritos/tacos more filling. I added Taco seasoning to the beans as the seven year old was cooking them.

If you do not own a comal then wrap your tortillas in foil and put in the oven at 300 degrees for 10 minutes to warm them up. (My friend Carol would call me a guera if I put tortillas in the microwave)

Shred the chicken, there should be just enough liquid to make it perfect. Take the tortillas out, put all the condiments out and call them to the table!!

Did I mention he ate TWO??!!

Their burrito folding skills do not stand in the way of devouring these chicken burritos!

Yes, the nine year old was right, this was a pretty perfect night.