(Not So) Tall Tale Tuesday: Bringing Joy in the Midst of Sorrow

Today’s (Not So) Tall Tale Tuesday prompt:

Write about a childhood memory that changed your perspective.

I could probably write quite a few stories about childhood memories that changed my perspective but for now, I’m going to go back to a memory from a long, long time ago that I barely even remember.

I am not sure how old I was but I was young enough to not understand death, funerals, or visitations.  However, my great grandmother on my Grammy’s side had passed away and we were in Lincoln, NE at the visitation at the funeral home.  I remember being there and there were so many people.  And they were all crying and they were all sad but they would brighten up as soon as they saw me.  I was just glad to be with so many of my family members.  I kept going to the many tissue boxes scattered throughout the room and pulling out the tissues one at a time.  I think I emptied all of them.  I might have picked a few of the flowers too.  I found it quite odd that they were all over the room.  They smelled so good, I couldn’t help it.  And for once, no one said anything.  I was shocked I didn’t get a spanking right then and there, to be honest.

At this point, you may be asking how this changed my perspective.  It didn’t change my perspective as a young child but what I got from this and the many other visitations and funerals that I went to as a child is that death is an inevitable part of life.  It’s something all must face and it doesn’t have to necessarily be a bad thing.

The other thing is this- I sometimes feel funny taking my children, knowing that it will be awkward for them (and possibly a hassle chasing the flock around).  But then I think back to the smiles that I brought the many grieving visitors and family as a child.  I see the same smiles from those that we share our kids with in these times of sadness.  Children bring joy in the midst of sorrow and are a constant reminder that life does go on.

Deep for me, I know….

017f89537a0905d084e75ed02fa953ccc6ceef910cMost of my (Not So) Tall Tale Tuesday posts have been a bit more upbeat, positive, or funny than this but it honestly was the first childhood memory that came to mind in terms of changing my perspective.  Sorry.  Not sorry.

However, if you need a laugh after this sobering post, check out this one.  It always gives me a chuckle.

Photo credit- Garen Graves Photography

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Mommy Review Monday: Batiste Dry Shampoo, Dark & Deep Brown

It took me a long time to break down and try dry shampoo, mostly because I always assumed it only worked for blondes. As I was getting my hospital bag ready for delivering the twins, one of the things I kept seeing on many new moms lists was dry shampoo. So I figured it was worth checking out. And I found that they make it for us dark haired beauties too. Duh. Of course they do. So, I went to Amazon and read a few hundred reviews before I decided to try out Batiste Dry Shampoo in Dark & Deep Brown.  It actually says Divine Dark on the spray can.

Mommy Review Monday- Batiste Dry ShampooAfter I got used to it, I was hooked. Here’s why I agree that it is divine dark:

  • It freshens my unwashed hair up. Obviously. That’s the whole purpose, right???  Second (or third day) greasy hair, be gone!  Don’t judge me….
  • It’s easy.  I saw online that there are some powders out there that you sprinkle on, which seems like (a) a mess for someone clumsy like me (b) time consuming (c) did I say a mess???
  • It smells good but isn’t too strong.
  • It doesn’t show up once you brush it out.  See comment below.
  • It provides camo for my stray grays that I’ve got peaking through.  I’ve got at least one for each kids growing right now…. plus one for the cat, Garen, the kitchen remodel, the yard sale….need I go on???
  • It’s reasonably priced.  $23.05 for a three-pack.
  • It’s available on Amazon.  Available in 2 days, which is usually plenty fast.
  • It’s not a huge can.  When you travel as much as I do, you consider things like the size of your cosmetics and products.
  • It gives me a bit of extra body.  Disclaimer- some people may not like this because it does make your hair a bit stiffer and full.  I, on the other hand, can use all the help I can get with my super-thin hair.

Here’s what I’d love more:

  • I’d love it more if it didn’t show up at all when you sprayed it on your hair.  Yes, I’m lazy enough to say that I’d rather not to have to brush it out.  However, you do need to brush it or you’ll look like you walked into a cloud of baby powder.  Once you brush it out, it’s as good as new though.  It’s still faster than washing and drying my hair….
  • I wish it was readily available at more stores.  Even though it’s on Amazon, there are times that I get somewhere and I’ve forgotten to pack it.  Dun, dun, dun…. Most stores don’t carry it and I’m just stubborn enough not to try another brand so I just have to wash my hair.  First world problem, right?!?
  • It gets your hands (see photo below) and can get your clothes dirty if you’re not careful.  It will also wash out brown in the shower.  The first time that happened I had forgotten about it and thought to myself, “Man, how did I get that dirty???”  Then I remembered.  Duh….Mommy Review Monday- Batiste Dry Shampoo

There you have it.  Now any of you beautiful dark headed ladies can enjoy dry shampoo too if you haven’t already.  And if any of you have a brand you like more, please let me know!  I’d love to try it out compared to Batiste but I’m hesitant without a recommendation from a fellow dry shampooer….

Happy Mommy Review Monday!

Photo Friday: Easter at the Blowin’ O

We celebrated Easter with the Odom side of the family on the Saturday before Easter.  The kids had a great time getting to play and explore the Blowin’ O, what we affectionately call Aunt Karen and Uncle Lee Roy’s place out by Aleman, TX, which is right outside of Hamilton.  It was Granny and Grandad’s house first and they bought it while they were still living in Fort Worth back in the 70’s.  They lived there still while I was still young and we had many, many Easter egg hunts in the yard and field.

Actually, we hunted Easter eggs until we were married.  That was the rule.  It may sound cheesy but a bunch of high school kids running around looking for the prize egg was pretty fun.  Good memories.  And I’m so glad my kids are getting to make the same memories with their cousins as well.  It’s even more special that Grandad gets to watch his great grandkids enjoy the hunt now!

It’s Photo Friday, so I’m sharing just a few of the photos Garen took.  You can see a few more on Garen Graves Photography’s blog.  Happy Photo Friday!

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My Dad turns 60

Growing up, and even in the recent past, my mom has told me, “You are just like your Dad….”

Man, what a compliment.

My Dad is one of my heroes.  It’s no secret that I adore him.  I’m proud of his accomplishments throughout his career, but I’m even more proud of the man he is personally.  Here’s a few things that I love about him:

He takes things as they come.  He has more patience than any person I have ever met….even Garen and that’s saying a lot.  He’s generous and truly believes in doing what’s right, even if it’s not the popular thing to do.  He’s got faith in what he believes in, even when others around him may doubt.  He loves my mom, his soulmate, with all his heart.  He taught me to get up early and to become a lover of all things breakfast-related.  He treats everyone with respect….and I truly mean everyone.  He can and will talk to anyone.  He is so very smart but also has common sense, which doesn’t always come packaged.  He loves a great debate.  He is passionate about whatever he sets his mind to.  He is a perfectionist and he goes further than measuring twice to cut once.  He can rock a sweater or turtleneck like nobody else I know.  He always wants to find better, more efficient ways to do things.  When he gets on a kick- whether it’s making bread, buying classic wool shirts on Ebay, or designing a custom anchoring system- he focuses in and perfects each process.  He admits when he’s wrong, quickly apologizes, and, on the flip side, also forgives quickly.  I believe him when he says he can fix anything but a broken heart.  And he can build just about anything too.  He believes in good shoes.  He’s an Eagle Scout.  He loves to read, listen to books, go to classes, and is a true life-long learner.  He is not afraid of change.  He’s hilarious and can find a way to make almost anyone laugh….or at least shake their head and grin.  He is an excellent friend to many.  And he truly is an amazing father and now also a wonderful YaYa to five grandkids and four grand-fur-babies, plus a grand-cat.

I could go on and on.  Really.

I’m sure, if you know him, you’d be able to add a few things too.

If you’re reading this, Happy 60th Birthday, Dad.  I hope you know how much I love you and how proud I am to be your daughter, employee, & friend.  I’m so glad for my kids to get to call you YaYa.  

To everyone else– enjoy the photos.  There’s nothing like looking at old photos to provide a bit of entertainment.  Genes run strong in our family, both on the Odom (Dad) and Bottlinger (Mom) sides, right?!?  Most of these photos were from the slideshow that Joe put together for Dad’s 50th surprise party that we pulled off, plus a few since then.  Yes, Mom, that means that I have found the video.  Hallelujah!

The above photo is from Mom and Dad’s 60th Birthday trip.  They climbed Machu Picchu.  Yes, I know they’re awesome!

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Thanks also to Joe for putting the man hours into getting these photos together.

Hippity Hop-pity, Easter’s on It’s Way: Easter Bunny Garden with Peeps

My Mom always sang us the “Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail” song around this time. And, between her and Grammy, we were sure to have plenty of candy, including Peeps! I honestly don’t think you can have Easter without these sugary, marshmallowy, packages of cuteness.

Yesterday, I needed to make a run for some labels at Dollar Tree and, as I expected, the Easter section sucked me in. Have I ever told you that I’m in love with the Dollar Tree? So many wonderful things only priced at a dollar. I got some extra-fun goodies for Easter baskets so it was a successful trip, especially since I managed to get the labels, which is what I made the trip for.

I also bought some peeps and some gummy carrots. I have been waiting on an opportune time to make “dirt cups” with pudding and some crushed up brownies I had leftover in the freezer for a while. The moment I saw the peeps next to the carrots, I knew it was the perfect time to put these gardens together for the kiddos.

Easter Bunny Garden with PeepsAnna was super excited and helpful with our fun little project. Thank goodness it was an easy one…. although we did have quite a bit of “dirt” on the floor.

We made the chocolate pudding together and processed the brownies. Anna got to scoop the “dirt” (processed brownies crumbs) into the bottom and top of the dishes. Then she got to top the garden off with a gummy carrot and a Peep.  You can use processed Oreos too but I needed to use the brownies and they were tastier than the Oreos I’ve used for this in the past.

Anna’s last job was to lick the bowl. I wish I’d taken a picture of her chocolate-covered face because it was adorable and disgusting at the same time!

Easter Bunny Garden with PeepsEveryone except Kate dug into their cup o’ dirt (She oddly enough doesn’t really like sweets much. It’s mind boggling that she’s mine!). Kate actually spit it out and said “Yuck, dirt!”

Even Garen enjoyed them. Ok, maybe not the Peep or the gummy carrot but he quickly ate the rest of it. The smiles and laughs made it all worth the time…and honestly, this was a pretty easy dessert/craft project. That’s the best of both worlds!

Enjoy!!!

This post is all my own opinions.  I’m not getting a kick-back from Peeps or Dollar Tree.  I just happen to be a satisfied customer.  

Mommy Review Monday: Ceramic “Non-stick” Instant Pot Bowl

After the first two times cooking in the Instant Pot, Garen, who usually cleans the kitchen after I cook, suggested that we look for a “non-stick” version.  Sooooo….I went to Amazon.  Where else?

Ceramic "Non-stick" Instant Pot BowlHere’s what we found and purchased:  Genuine Instate Pot Ceramic Non-Stick Interior Coated Inner Cooking Pot- 8 Quart.

Positives:

  • It is lightweight.  I read some reviews that people thought the lightweight properties made it not as great to use but I’ve had no issue with that affecting our dishes so far.  This could be a issue later potentially if it bends but I think being careful with it will prevent that.  Only time will tell.
  • It wasn’t as expensive as I expected, ringing up at $24.99 at the time I purchased it.  I really think it’s worth that much just to have a second bowl should I need one with a meal that requires multiple dishes cooked in your Instant Pot.
  • It seems to cook just as well as the original for the dishes I’ve used it for.
  • It fits fine into my Instant Pot even though I did read some reviews that some people got pots that would not fit correctly.
  • It cleans better than the regular pot it came with.  Yes, I am the mom that hates having to soak and/or scrub dishes.  And I married to a man that hates it too and since he does most of the kitchen clean-up when I cook, I’m going to make his job as easy as possible when I can.

Negatives:

  • I wouldn’t say it’s still completely non-stick but it’s still way easier to clean that the original pot.  See above comment. 
  • This isn’t really a negative so much as an added requirement- you must use non-metal utensils.  This isn’t an issue for me since I rarely use metal anyway due to almost always cooking in non-stick pots and pans.
  • You can’t use the metal steamer insert your Instant Pot comes with.  Actually, you can but I don’t recommend it because it will scratch the coating, just like metal utensils would.  Because of this I’m still using my original pot for boiling eggs, steaming, etc. but you can be assured that this silicone steamer set is my next purchase.  I’ll let you know how it works!

Ceramic "Non-stick" Instant Pot BowlWhat are your favorite Instant Pot accessories?  I’d love for you to share!

Happy Instant Potting!

For the record, I’m not getting any compensation or free stuff for writing this review.  These are strictly my opinions.  I’m just a crazy, working mom, trying to share ways to make your life easier!

Photo Friday: A girl and her doll

We got Anna her first American Doll for her birthday. She loves it. Garen got this photo of us “doing hair.”

I love it. So real. So special.

Here’s another great one that Garen took.

Happy Photo Friday!