Welcome to my head!

This is where I store the "extra" stuff in my head.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vampires Suck

Okay, my Twilight Girlfriends and I had talked about going to see this movie together, just to maybe help us get through the year until Breaking Dawn is released.  We never did get around to it, and it's a good thing we didn't.  My Twilight Daughter and I rented and watched it last night and I have to say, that was the worst movie either of us has EVER seen.  We expected comedy, but nothing was funny.  Dont waste your money or your time on this one, folks, no matter how big a Twihard you are.  I give it a minus 5 on the Melscale. Worthless.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Tourist

Rated PG13

Everybody knows I LOVE Johnny Depp. (Sorry,Zac)  So I was very excited to go see The Tourist starring Johnny and that chick living with Brad Pitt and all those kids. ;)  Before I get into my review, I just need to say, that I'm wondering who all the "critics" are that said this movie wasn't very good.  I NEVER listen to the critics anymore, because I have learned that if they hate it, I'm going to love it.  And if they love it, it's going to suck rocks.  Again, the professional critics were wrong.  This was a GREAT movie!!!!

Johnny plays a "tourist" caught up in a mystery when he meets a beautiful (albeit VERY THIN who I SWEAR looks like she had her lips done bigger!) woman on a train.  She's using him as cover.  The movie is set in Italy and the scenery was beautiful!  It had some action, some romance and even a little bit of comedy.  I especially loved it when Johnny kept speaking in Spanish instead of Italian. There were a couple of twists I didn't see coming, and I won't go into details about those because I want you to experience it for yourself. The story was good, and the acting was great.  I give it a 5 on the Melscale.  (and NOT just because I've been a Depp fan since 21 Jump Street!!)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Merry Christmas

I woke up with Mary on my mind this morning.  I was wondering what she was thinking this week, all those years ago, before she delivered Jesus.  What was she thinking? Was she scared? Calm? Resigned? I kept thinking about how miserable I was the last couple of weeks before I had each of my kids, and I can't imagine riding on a donkey at that time!  Or giving birth in a dirty, drafty barn. How overwhelming to be chosen as the mother of our Savior!  To see the angels singing in the hold that baby in her arms!  That baby grew up and died for ME.  He died for YOU, too.  He is truly the greatest gift EVER.  Have fun this gifts, sing carols, eat lots of sweets, watch all the classic holiday movies..but please, don't get so wrapped up in the tinsel that you forget the true reason we celebrate Christmas.  Happy Birthday, Jesus!  And thank you........  *turn up your speakers and take a minute to listen to the song

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I had an epithany today about my piano music.  More specifically, my fear of playing the piano in front of real, live people.  I've been taking lessons since January, and my teacher thinks I'm talented and that I play well.  (I have the email to prove it. ) My husband and kids love to hear me practice and I'm okay playing for them.  But I get crazy nervous about playing in front of other people.  My hands shake, I lose my place, I get hot and feel like I'm going to throw up.  So imagine my surprise when,  about a month ago,  my teacher asked me to play in a music festival in front of a judge and I said yes.  I'm terrified.  She KNOWS I'm terrified. Yet I'm practicing on my pieces daily.  I have to play 2 MEMORIZED pieces of music in front of a judge or two and that person or persons is going to JUDGE my playing.  They are going to tell me what I did wrong and how I sounded.  They are going to GRADE my performance.  Admittedly, I've been having second thoughts.  I had a hard time playing for my own mother when she was at my house. And she LOVES me!  And then, today, I had an epithany in the kitchen while I was making my lunch.  I was thinking about the contest, again, and getting ready to sit down to practice a little bit before I headed back to work.  Here is what occurred to me:   Do I REALLY care about what the judges say about my playing?  If I mess up, are they going to fire me?  Are they going to forbid me to ever take another piano lesson as long as I live? Are they going to shoot me for missing a note?  Am I going to let some strangers opinion distort my love of playing the piano?  Are they going to show up at my house and take my piano away from me?  Of course not!  I take piano lessons, not because I am forced too, but because I LOVE too!  I can make music and music is a gift to be given away!  So now, in the 2 and a half months I have left before the contest, I am going to perfect the pieces I am to play. I will walk into that room, sit down at that piano, and give those judges the best gift I can!  I'm going to make them cry!!

Robin Hood and Under the Mountain

I watched  two movies over the weekend.  AND I treated myself to another viewing of Charlie St. Cloud with Zac Efron.  YUMMY! Just sayin...

Robin Hood, starring Russel Crowe, seemed long and drawn out to me.  This version is supposed to be what happened BEFORE he was the famous bandit. Russel's character is fighting in the Crusades with the King when the King is killed in battle.  "Robin", along with a few of his friends,  also fighting with the Crusades, decide to leave then and there, since the King is dead.  They stumble upon the real Robin Hood in the woods, whose task is to take the crown back to Notingham. There was a brief battle before Russel's Robin arrived, where  the real Robin Hood is killed.  Russel's Robin assumes Hood's identity, and he and his men take the crown back. It's the only way they can get home. Maid Marrion, who in this version was already married to Robin Hood, knows he's an imposter, but she and Robin Hood's father play it off for the good of the kingdom.    The acting was good, there were some great battle scenes, but all in all, I didn't really care for it. It took me 3 days of starting and stopping it to get through it.  I prefer the Robin Hood starring Kevin Costner.  Maybe it's all about the eye candy?  :)

Under the Mountain was a gamble and a surprise.  I had rented it for the kids, not expecting much.  It's about twins who possess special powers and they need to work together to use those powers to save the world.  The special effects were great, as was the story line.  It was fast paced, well acted and well written. My kids liked it, too. 

I give Robin Hood a 2 and a half on the Melscale, and I give Under the Mountain a 3 and a half.  You can be your own judge!

Carpe' diem!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sweet Potato Casserole

This casserole is a staple on my Thanksgiving table.  It's more like a dessert.  Even if you don't like sweet potatoes, I promise you will like this one.  ( I hate sweet potatoes!)

Sweet Potato Casserole

3 large cooked sweet potatoes, mashed
2 eggs beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar, less if preferred
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

Mix all ingredients well. Put in a greased casserole and top with the following mixture:

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 stick butter
1 cup chopped pecans

Cut butter into remaining ingredients and sprinkle on top of sweet potato mixture in casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Caramel Apple Dessert

This was a new addition to my Thanksgiving table this year, and it was a big hit!  I hope you enjoy it! Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of it before my family dove into it!  It's gorgeous, trust me on this. :)

Caramel Apple Dessert

60 Vanilla Wafers, finely crushed.  About 2 cups.
1/3 c melted butter
1 pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
3 1/4 cups milk, divided
1 (8oz) tub Cool Whip, thawed, divided
2 pkg (3.4 oz each) Jello Vanilla Instant Pudding
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping, divided
1 EACH red and green apple, chopped
1/4 cup chopped nut topping (ice cream topping)

MIX wafers and butter and press into a 13x9 inch pan
BEAT cream cheese, sugar and 1/4 milk with mixer until blended.  Stir in 1 cup Cool Whip; spread over crust.
BEAT pudding mixes and remaining milk with whisk for 2 min. Stir in 1/4 cup caramel topping.  Spoon over cream cheese layer; top with remaining Cool Whip.
REFRIGERATE 5 hours until firm.  Top with apples, nuts and remaining caramel topping just before serving.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Life As We Know It

Life As We Know It

Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel (YUMMY!) are 2 single adults who become caregivers to their shared god-daughter when the child's parents die in an accident.  Holly (Heigl) and Eric (Duhamel...did I say YUMMY yet? ) meet when they are set up on a blind date by the friends, who later become the parents of Sophie.  The date is disastrous and they actually never make it out of the driveway.  It sets the scene for years of dislike for each other, despite always being at the same parties and celebrations due to their mutal friends.  Then the inevitable happens...or maybe we saw it coming...the parents of baby Sophie are killed in a car accident and  much to Holly and Eric's surprise, they find themselves legal guardians of her. Despite their dislike for each other,  they move in together to take care of Sophie , all the while trying to live seperate lives and trying to ignore the chemistry between them.  Yes, there are some funny scenes, but for the most part, I found it to be a sad movie and a tad long with a running time of 1 hr. 52 minutes.  I have to admit, though, that Josh's dimples made it worth it!  All in all, I give it a 3.5 on the MelScale.

Monday, October 18, 2010

In memory of my Uncle David Neal

Rock Stars

In memory of my Uncle David Neal, who passed away on Friday, I am posting this blog about one of my most favorite memories of him.  It will be read at his service in the morning. 

April 2007
We attended my Aunt Wanda’s funeral this week. She was a wonderfully funny, strong, BOSSY Christian woman. She is who I aspire to be. She was 87 years old and she had spent the last 18 years taking care of her invalid daughter at home, despite 2 heart by-passes. She taught piano her whole adult life and at the time of her death, she had 30 students. Her funeral was an amazing tribute of laughter through tears. My family has dealt will all of life’s blows with laughter. It’s how we deal. Case in point….my recent episode of rock stealing.

My cousin Kimber and I, along with our dads (Pat and Don) and our Uncle David, my husband Jay and my impressionable young son, Jacob, took a road trip on Easter Sunday to the Neal’s birth place in Braggs Oklahoma. Picture this: 3 brothers in their 70’s, 2 forty-something women and a 7 year old piled into one van. Jay was driving. The van is today’s equivalent of yesterday’s station wagon. My cousin and I were in the very backseat with my son. You know…where the KIDS sit. Some things never change. Our mission that day was to retrieve a rock from the old Neal homestead. Not just any rock, but a rock with the names of the three brothers, Pat, David and Don, carved by my Grandfather Neal back in 1941. There were 8 kids in the Neal family and they were all born in that house in Braggs. There were really bad jokes cracked during the drive about bail money , police chases, and Jacob’s impending criminal record.

And we laughed. A lot.

The lot is abandoned and the house long burned down, and we don’t even own the land it sat on anymore. But those 3 brothers knew exactly where that rock was. I couldn’t believe it was still there! So I took my post as look out in the street and while my dad was busy distracting a neighbor, David, Pat, Kimber and Jay dug up that 72 pound rock. In our family, fortunes have been made and lost, loved ones have passed on, marriages have fallen apart, and illness has left its mark on us. But at that moment, nothing, and I mean NOTHING meant more to all of us than that rock. A piece of our family history. Solid. Whole. Timeless. Just like the Neals. We loaded that rock with my grandfather’s handwriting on it into the back of the van, laughing the entire time. I believe with all my heart that Aunt Wanda was watching from Heaven. And she was laughing right along with us.

Melinda Neal Keeton

April 2007

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Brother

Easter Sunday 1968
Can you pinpoint your exact first memory of when you were a little kid?  I can.  It's as fresh in my mind today as when it happened.  I was 2 years old.  It was in late June, possibly early July, and I was sitting out in the car with a babysitter, waiting on my mom and dad to come out of the hospital with my baby brother.  It was sunny and it was hot.  I was standing up in the floor of the backseat and I could see my mom and dad through the windshield, walking towards the car with mom holding a baby. Mom told me later, when I was a lot older, that she was mad at Daddy for leaving me in the car with the sitter.  That may explain why I don't remember her smiling that day.  Nevertheless, I now had a baby brother.  I'm told now that after the first week of having Jamey home, I told mom to take him back to the hospital because I didn't want him anymore.  I was probably sick of him getting all the attention.  So mom made a big deal out of feeding him "for the last time", bathing him "for the last time", dressing him "for the last time" and wrapping him up in his blanket " for the last time".  Then she told me to kiss him "for the last time" because I'd never see my baby brother again.  She made it clear out the front door before I called her back and told her I'd changed my mind. 
King Tut
 We had a great childhood, Jamey and I, and I have a million memories of him. We played together, fought each other, and protected each other.  He tormented me by EVERY means possible and there was even a time when we didn't even like each other. (teenagers. go figure.) I used to think that he and I weren't very close because we are SUCH opposites  and didn't seem to have much in common.  But now that we are both in our forties, I realize that we have ALWAYS been close.  We don't have to like the same music, have the same friends and thank goodness, I dont' have to hunt, to be close.   We are more alike than I ever wanted to admit. I'm glad that my first memory ever is of him coming home. And I'm glad that I changed my mind and decided to keep him!  He's a pretty cool brother. Love ya, Jamey. :)

Loverboy Concert 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


The kids and I went home for Labor Day, to spend some time with my side of the family.  Dad cooked hamburgers and hotdogs out on the grill.  We spent the afternoon and evening just visiting and enjoying each other's company. And laughing.  A LOT!   My brother and I did our yearly song and dance about when the Neal Thanksgiving would take place.  I have to plan it around hunting season.  I mean AROUND hunting season for every conceivable weapon!  Personally, I think he's making some of them up. ( especially the blow dart one)  He always winds up saying "just send me a sandwhich" and I always respond "if you don't come, I won't make your pumpkin cheesecake."  The holidays can NOT start until we've completed this ritual arguing. We don't need a script...we've been doing this for years. I cook a traditional Thanksgiving meal a couple of weeks before the actual holiday, and they all come to my house and eat it.  They don't understand why I like to go to all that trouble fixing all that food. From scratch.  I do it because that is the ONE time a year I get to have them all under my roof, and that makes me happy. I do it because I love to cook and set my table with my Grandma Neal's china.  I do it because it offically starts the holiday's off for me.  But most importantly, I do it because I love them.  Even if they don't read my blog!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Greek Chicken and Pasta

Because I work a 40 hour a week job OUTSIDE my home, I don't like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen during the week.  Call me crazy, but I like to relax after work and after the chores are done.  I LOVE to cook, and I like to think I"m a pretty good cook.  But I take a lot of shortcuts during the week for our meals.  I drag out the Paula Deen and Pioneer Woman cookbooks on the weekends!  So the chicken I used in this recipe is pre-cooked packaged chicken you can find at the grocery store.  It saved a little bit of time. 

Greek Chicken and Pasta

2 cups uncooked penne pasta
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 can chicken broth
1 cup crumbled feta cheese OR shredded Havarti cheese.  (I like the Havarti better)
3 cups chopped chicken
1 six oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
1/3 cup sliced kalamata olives ( I just used black olives.  Any variety will work, so pick your favorite.)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (dried if you don't have it. Saves another step of chopping)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 quart glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Cook and drain pasta according to directions on package.  Meanwhile, in 3 quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in flour; cook and stir for 30 seconds.  Slowly stir in broth; heat to boiling.  Cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened.  Remove from heat; stir in cheese.  Gently stir in cooked pasta, chicken, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, olives and parsley.  Spoon into baking dish.  Bake uncovered 25 to 30 minutes or until hot.  Garnish with additional fresh parsley if desired.

I serve this with warm, crusty French bread, courtesy of Pillsbury!  It bakes at the same time as the casserole, so there's no extra waiting on the bread.

Carpe' diem!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Me and Orson Wells

I had a request for more movie reviews and because I love to please my friends, here is one on the movie I watched last night:
Me and Orson Wells, starring Zac Efron.  Now first, let me just say that if I were 20 years younger, he wouldn't be dating that Vanessa chick! ;)  So since he is my latest "movie star crush",  ( and yes, you can TOO have these when you are over 40!  As long as you don't REALLY act on them.  That could get you arrested.)  this was the only reason I rented the movie.  I like to see Zac in something other than High School Musical.  Because I love his blue eyes!  ahem, Okay, back to the movie review. 
Richard (Zac) is a bored high school student intent on being an actor in New York.  He joins an acting troop led by Orson Wells (Christian McKay) in 1937.  The play they are doing is Julius Caesar, Orson Wells style.  Richard strikes up a friendship with Orson's assistant, Sonja (Claire Danes) but desperately wants it to be more.  The story takes us through the week of this kids life in the Mercury Theater where he's taken under Orson's wing, so to speak.  Orson is a very demanding director and wants things done HIS way, or no way with ridiculous expectations from anyone around him and because of this, Richard has to decide if acting is really worth it or not .  I liked the story, if it was a bit slow, and I thought Zac did a great job with his role.  (I think this guy will be this generations Brad Pitt.)  The play within the movie was really well done and made me wish it was something I could see in it's entirety.  I give it a 3 on the MelScale. ;) 
Carpe' diem!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Banana Split Pizza

If you really love your family, you will make this for them tonight!  You never know, they might sing you love songs or make up a poem about how great you are. Or at the very least, they might clean up the kitchen for you when they are finished!  Seriously, this is very delicious and it makes a WHOLE bunch. So you might want to share it with a neighbor like I did! ;) But I wouldn't blame you if you kept the whole thing for yourself.

1 package (18 oz.) refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 container (8 oz) Cool Whip, thawed
1/4 chopped peanuts (optional)
2 Hershey bars (I used one of those BIG bars in the candy section)
2 bananas, sliced
1 can (8 oz.) pineapple tidbits, drained
1/2 cup strawberry ice cream topping

Preheat oven to 350.  Shape cookie dough into a ball on a large, floured cookie sheet.  I used a pizza pan.  Roll the dough to a 14 inch circle, about 1/4 inch thick.  Bake 16-18 minutes until light golden brown.  Cool 10 minutes.  Carefully loosen cookie from pan.  Cool completely on the pan.  Microwave the cream cheese on HIGH for 30 seconds or until softened; whisk until smooth.  Add Cool Whip and whisk until smooth.  Mixture will be thick.  Spread cream cheese mixture over cookie to within 1/2 of edge.  Coarsely chop chocolate bars.  Sprinkle peanuts and chocolate over the pizza.  Arrange banana slices and pineapple tidbits evenly over pizza.  Drizzle Strawberry topping all over to taste. Cut with a pizza cutter into  16 wedges and serve to your VERY grateful family!!!

 Carpe' diem

Friday, August 20, 2010


<----This is Rudy.  I didn't name him Rudy because he's a Ruby Throated Hummingbird, nor do I usually even NAME the dozens of hummingbirds that hang around our feeders in the summer.  Puh-lease.  I DO have a life.  But this guy!  This guy is tenacious and unafraid!  Like the title character in the movie "Rudy", about the football player that worked hard to play for Notre Dame, despite his small size. Good movie, by the way.  That's what I thought of as I watched Rudy take over the feeder on my kitchen window.  He's small and young, with some down still remaining on his "butt".  At first, I called him Fluffy Butt.  But then, as I watched him, I knew he needed a more worthy name.  He wouldn't let any other hummingbird get close to "his" feeder. He even ran off the bigger males!  The longer I watched him, the more respect I had for this little guy.  Pretty soon, Rudy wasn't even flying off the feeder to defend it.  He would just sit on the perch, twitter and flap his wings at any other intersted hummingbird, and those guys took to the trees!  He was not afraid of them or us, standing at the kitchen sink watching.  I have never seen a male hummingbird just SIT on the feeder perch like that.  My most favorite thing to do in the summer mornings is to sit out on my deck (when it's not 3000 degrees outside) and watch all the hummingbirds fly around the yard.  Sometimes, they fly so close to my head that my ears tickle.  They'll be gone by early October and I'll clean the feeders and pack them away until spring.  I don't know if the same birds come back to the same place or not. But I'll be watching for Rudy all the same.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Strawberry Cheesecake Bars

Even though the city called off it's firework display due to rain and high winds, my family still grilled out and I made a yummy dessert!  After all, it's STILL the 4th of July!  Happy Birthday America!  The original recipe for this cheescake calls for a box of Betty Crocker Cherry Chip cake mix and frosting.  However, the store was OUT of that kind.  So I bought Strawberry Cake mix and Strawberry Frosting.  YUM!  I think next time I make this, I'll try lemon cake and frosting!

Cheesecake Bars
1 box Betty Crocker Strawberry Cake mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 pkgs. (8 oz. each) softened cream cheese
1 container B.C. Strawberry Frosting
3 eggs

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat dry cake mix and butter on low speed til crumbly; reserve 1 cup.  Press remaining mixtue in bottom of 13 X 9 inch pan.  In the same bowl, beat cream cheese and frosting on medium speed until smooth.  Beat in eggs until blended. Pour over crust; sprinkle with reserved crumbly mixture.  Bake about 45 minutes or until set.  Cool completely.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  For bars, cut into squares.  Store covered in the refrigerator. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sour Cream Burritos

I haven't posted a recipe in awhile, so I decided to post my good old stand-by, Sour Cream Burritos.  I'm famous in 2 churches for these!  They are even better left-over the next day.   Now, I have made these "skinny", by using fat free products, and my family threatened to stone me if I ever did that again!  I do still use fat free sour cream, though.  I serve these with refried beans, home-made salsa and chips.  Hope you enjoy them!

1 pound ground beef
3 green onions, sliced thin
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 16 oz. tub of Sour Cream
 1  small can green chilis, drained
  1 package shredded cheddar cheese
    1 package burrito sized flour tortillas

Brown the ground beef in a large skillet.  When the meat is almost done, throw in the green onions and green chilis.  When the beef is done, drain it and return to skillet.  Add the soup, sour cream and about half of the cheese.  Mix well, over low heat, until the cheese is melted.  Spread a flour tortilla with a heaping wooden spoonful of the mixture and loosely roll up.  Place in a large casserole pan.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.  There WILL be mixture leftover!  This is spread on top of the filled tortillas and topped with the remaining shredded cheese.  Pop into a 350 degree oven and cook until the cheese on top is bubbly. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

47 years ago today, my parents got married.  (to each other!)  Wow.  47 years!  Can you believe that?  In an age where marriage seems disposable and divorce rates are climbing, it is so amazing and uplifting to hear of one that has survived so long!  Within a few months of their marriage, they left their familes and moved to Columbia, South Carolina and started their own family.  I made my appearance in 1964 and my little brother showed up n 1966. In 1971 or 72, we moved back to Wagoner and that's where they've been ever since.  I know from stories I've heard all my life, that they had their share of struggles.  As an adult, I've seen them face job losses and serious health problems  at a time in their lives when they are supposed to be retired and puttering in a garden or fishing somewhere.  I know they fought and got on each other's nerves at times.  I don't think you can live with someone for so long and NOT snap at them occasionally.   But I  knew, even as a child, that these "outbursts" would NOT lead to a divorce.  I was always confident that they would rise above it.  And of course they did.  They are still in love and devoted to each other.  I have seen that as they were caring for one another during their health scares.  It was reflected in their eyes, even though they didn't say a word.  It took my breath away.  Here is what I learned from watching them all my life: committment is a strong word and when you take it seriously, divorce is NOT an opition.  You work through your problems together and you "argue" every night about whose turn it is to kiss the other one good-night first. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad. 
Darling Daughter

Friday, June 4, 2010

She's Driving!!!

Michaela is driving.  I mean it, she really is!  Driver's Ed started this week and it's been a frenzied week spent driving her to and from Color Guard camp and  Driver's Ed.  And she wants to practice.  A LOT.  "Let me drive!" has become her mantra.  I have to admit, I have a hard time having patience with this because I want to go HOME and stay there after work.  I don't WANT to go drive along some dusty road while she practices.  I know it's important for her to practice, so I try to get over what I want to do and let her have the wheel.  She's nervous when she drives so she chatters non-stop while I sit there and say things like "mmm...scoot over, you are too close to the edge of the road" or "try not to stomp on the gas/brake pedal" or "holy cow slow down!"  Okay, I've never REALLY said holy cow slow down to her because she hasn't gotten the car over 30 miles per hour! Yet.  The first time we let her drive the car was last Sunday around the empty parking lot at our church.  She drove in loops and practiced parking between the lines.  Jake summed up my feelings about the driving thing when Michaela parked the car to get out and switch places with her Dad.  I looked back to see  him sitting stiffly in the backseat, with his arms straight down, clutching the seat.  I said "Jake, are you okay?"  He looked at me and said "Whew.  THAT was weird." 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mother's Day Gift

For Mother's Day this year, Jay and I made these keepsake frames for our moms.  Jay even sat down and scrapbooked with me on them.  They turned out really nicely and the moms loved them!  The question is WHO? and the answer is MY MOM.  Memories of things our moms did or said are printed on cardstock in different fonts and trimmed down.  I choose a black and white theme because that would go with either mom's house decor, so I printed the pictures in black and white, also.  We added some "bling" and embellishments along with ribbon to make it pop.

Jay even sat down and made his mom's frame, with just a little help from me.  When he was done, he asked when the next crop was so he could go!  I don't think so Tim!  That's my girl time!

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Wow.  This week was FILLED with changes for my family!  I'm usually FOR changes, but not one right after another.  First, I turned 46.  How did THAT happen?  Aren't I still 20something?  Yeah, in my dreams I am.  I realize that this puts me 4 years from 50.  Hello?  Isn't that MIDDLE AGE?  Don't answer that!
The next couple of big changes involve my baby boy, who really isn't a baby...he's a Tween.  He participated in the Boy Scout Arrow of Light ceremony where he crossed over from a Cub Scout to a Boy Scout.  He joined a new troop, filled with boys I do NOT know.  He'll be going camping with these young men without his dad!  How can I stop this?  Answer: I can't.  It's part of his growing up.  Then, to add insult to injury, he graduated from 5th grade, crossing over to the Middle School.  I knew this was coming.  I was head of the planning committee for the graduation ceremonies.  But it just happened so darned FAST! What happened to my "Binky Boy"?  The one who used to watch Toy Story over and over and over again? The one that used to snuggle in my lap with his binky and his blankie so I could rock him to sleep and sing Desperado to him?  The little boy who loved me to read Where the Wild Things Are to him?  The cute little boy in the Superman pajamas?  There is a book I have called "I'll Love You Forever" and it's a story about a mom and her baby boy and the changes the boy (and mom) goes through.  But through the whole book, the main point is, no matter what stage of life the boy is in, his mom's love never changes.  It always makes me cry.  This summer will be one of many new adventures for my Binky Boy. And in spite of my fear and worry, I am excited to see him take these next steps.  Jacob, I'll Love You Forever!  Mom

Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy 15th Birthday Michaela!

Today is my daughter's 15th birthday and I'm sitting here, wondering, where did the time go?  It seems like only yesterday....There are so many thoughts and feelings spinning around in my head, and I'm a bit emotional.  But I think the perfect way to celebrate her birthday would be to tell you the amazing story of just how much God blessed us in May of 1995.
It took us 4 years and 2 fertility doctors to get pregnant with her.  There was a time when I thought I wasn't destined to even be a mother. I BEGGED God to let me have a baby and  I had all but given up.  Then, on my brother's 28th birthday in June of 1994, he was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin's lymphoma. Cancer.  I stopped begging for a baby and instead started begging for his life. I told God that I would give up my chances of a child of my own if it meant saving my baby brother's life.  Whatever my brother might need from me, be it blood, bone marrow, an organ, it was his.
On the night of my brother's biopsy, my friend, Traci, called me from work to check on him.  I said "Cancer."  She said "I'm on my way."  As she was leaving, a woman named Willie that worked with Traci said to her, "Wait. God has a message for your friend.  He said to 'tell your friend that if she will profess her faith that God will heal her brother, she will get her miracle'."  This woman knew nothing about me, not even my name.  But Traci, being one of the finest Christian ladies I know, passed that message along to me.  So, I started professing.  To anyone I knew.  Especially to my brother.  Especially to my parents.  And life went on, as much as it can with such a diagnosis hanging over our heads.  Sometime later that summer, Willie told Traci that 3 different people had come to her to tell her that Melinda was pregnant.  Traci didn't tell me that news until later, as even she was a little skeptical.  But I believe with all my heart that those 3 strangers that went to Willie were angels, because I WAS pregnant!  That Christmas, my brother and I were both so sick...he from the chemo, me from the pregnancy.  We both looked terrible that day, but I was never happier!
On May 7, 1995, after 48 hours of labor, Michaela Anne was born via C-section, weighing 11 pounds, 9 ounces with a full head of black hair!  On May 10th, my brother went to his oncologist to get the results of his scans.  He was cancer free!  I got BOTH of my miracles!

So Happy 15th Birthday, Angel Baby Girl and Happy 15 years of being cured to my baby brother!
Thank you God, for both of them!

Monday, May 3, 2010

I can't believe I let my kids do that!

Yesterday evening, my kids experienced another first...I let them walk to the convienence store by our house WITHOUT me!  If you know me, I know you are shocked.  I am overprotective and will not apologize for that.  This is a crazy world and I want my children to be safe.  They aren't allowed to play in the street, put plastic bags over their heads or dry their hair while standing in the shower.  I watch where they are surfing on the internet.  I don't allow them to watch rated R movies and I don't approve of rap music. Yes, I DO allow them out of the house!  Michaela, 15,  babysits and Jacob, 11 in June,  plays golf and baseball.  They both go to different summer camps and activities and neither of their parents are there. I let them go to public school AND ride the school bus.  And occasionally, I let them shop on a different aisle from me in a store.  If it's a SMALL store. A VERY SMALL store.   But I have NEVER let them walk to a store and cross a busy road without me holding onto their hands!
When I suggested they do it, (yes, it was even MY idea!!)  they thought I had lost my mind.  They were freaked out and wondering where their real mother was.  I ran through different scenarios, the "what would you do" things that I've been preaching to them since they were in the womb.  I told them to stay together and to watch the cars and to keep that cell phone in their hands. I hugged them and told them I loved them.  And I let them walk out the door. Without me.  My heart was racing and I couldn't breathe. I thought I was going to throw up or faint. So I prayed for their saftey and did the only thing I could think to do....I called my mommy!!!! 
My kids made it home alive and when they walked in the door, they were beaming.  They admitted to me that yes, they were nervous, but that they had prayed before they left.  I could tell that giving them that tiny bit of freedom and independance was a GOOD thing and they proved to me that they HAVE been listening to my "lectures".  Jake sat down, looked at me and said "Now you can trust us."  Yeah, I think I can. But let's take this independance thing in baby steps please!!!!  Today it's a walk to the store...tomorrow...DRIVERS ED.  Good thing I have free long distance calling to my mommy!

Carpe' diem

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My favorite time of year

Baseball season has begun for the Keetons.  My son, Jake, loves to play baseball almost as much as I love to watch him play! Almost. :)  I love the excitement of going to the games and watching my favorite son out on the field.  Sometimes, he is actually playing the game.  Sometimes, he's out there pretending to pitch.  Sometimes, he's busy swatting at the bugs, or hitching up his pants. But when that boy bats, you'd better watch out.  He can hit that ball like nobody's business.  I was in the backyard with him over the weekend, pitching (very badly) to him so he could practice batting.  I was ducking flying balls like, well.... like a GIRL. I figure if he can hit what I was throwing, then he shouldn't have a problem during a game!  Baseball consumes our lives until the end of June.   Jay is an assistant coach and goes to all the practices, too.  Most games start at 6 pm, and both of us get off work at 5, so it's a mad dash to get home, changed and to the ballfield in time. There are sometimes 3 games a week so the laundry starts piling up and the dishes go undone and we eat a lot of sandwiches.  By mid June, we're complaining that we are tired of all of it, and even Jake is ready to be done.  But, every year, we sign up for it all over again. And every year, we are excited and happy to go to the field.  It's one of life's greatest pleasures, in my honest opinion, to watch young children learn a sport.  So, thanks, all you coaches out there...for giving your time unselfishly to a child.  There is no greater reward than to see a child loving playing a game.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Soles for Souls

My family and I went to church yesterday in our bare feet.  Yes, that's right...walked right into Eagle Heights Baptist Church barefoot!  Don't worry, we haven't turned into hillbilly's out here on the prairie.  It was an organized event to gather new or gently worn shoes for people in Haiti that don't have any.   It was chilly and raining, but we still walked in barefoot.  I think the uncomfortable weather made a bigger impact on us than if it had been a warm and sunny day.  We were uncomfortable for a short while.  For many, uncomfortable is a way of life. They say that one person can't change the world.  BUT, little stones dropped in a pool make big ripples.  We did our part by dropping 2 pairs of brand new shoes into the donation pool.  There will be 2 less shoeless kids in Haiti soon.  I can live with that. :)
UPDATE:  EHBC members donated 316 pairs of shoes!


Monday, April 12, 2010

I NEED Gerber Daisies in my life!

I am pretty sure it's really, truly, springtime in OK!  The evidence is all around me, yet my yard looks as if winter is still breathing down it's neck, waiting to dump 3 more feet of snow at the first hint of green grass. My MIL always told me to wait and plant until April 15 to ensure against a late frost.  Which means, of course, next weekend I will be busting my tushy in the yard!  DH and I recently took a walk around our property and wrote a list of things that we wanted to do and needed to do.  The list is 3 pages long!  We've been in the house for 8 years now and things are in need of repair. So our "need to do" list is longer (and more expensive) than our "want to do" list.  I checked on my annuals and was thrilled to see my 50 year old Peony bush exploding from the ground, covered in buds! I brought a start of that with me when we moved. I am never more excited to see a bunch of ants as when that Peony bush buds! (ants eat the nectar which opens the blooms)  My lily of the valley plants are pushing right on through as well as my irises.  I may need to build a new fence to hold my clematis.  And I noticed that my miniature rose bush is spreading so I will need to start training it around the new trellis I bought last season.  The last time I did that, I was swarmed with ants. They made it to the hem of my shorts before I noticed them.  NOT so happy to see them THAT time, believe me.  This time of year, I feel positively FRANTIC with the need to plant something beautiful! So I'm praying for gorgeous weather for the upcoming weekend so I can dig out my garden tools and get to work! Please, please, PLEASE don't let me see any snakes! 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter and Facebook

My family and I went back "home" for Easter weekend.  We spent time with family coloring Easter eggs, eating, making Resurrection Cookies, shopping, eating, hunting eggs and eating.  Did I mention eating? I stayed at my parents house, in the room I grew up in. (since 3rd grade, anyway)  I always sleep like a rock in that room, even though I don't sleep well without my husband.  After all, it's my parents house and mom and dad are just down the hall, so I can yell for them if I get scared.  Right?  And besides, mom leaves a night light on for me.  Yeah, I admit it...I'm afraid of the dark.  There.  I said it.  I've been afraid of the dark my whole life. Why change now?  It's good to have consistancy in your life.

The highlight of the weekend, for me anyway, was attending the church I grew up in with my mom and dad.  And here is where I realized that I am a Facebook junky.  I walked into the sanctuary and saw a guy I've known since high school.  I thought to myself "Hey, there's one of my Mafia members!" One of the ushers was another Mafia member.The sound guy is another! Pretty soon, I saw another friend with her son, who I've never actually MET in person,  and thought to myself "Hey! There are couple of my Farmville Friends!"  I sat down to speak to another friend and she told me who she was dating.  I said "Yes I know."  She said "How did you know?"  I said "Facebook."  I am not really in the mafia, nor do I really own a farm. Or a cafe. Or am I a  mayor of 2 "cities" that I have built.  But on Facebook, this is how I spend my time while interacting with people I haven't seen in ages! Facebook has made the world a "small town" for me.  If you are friends with someone, you know what's going on in their lives from who they are dating to how much coffee they may have consumed that morning before shouting "good morning" in ALL CAPS. (Mike :)  ) Conversations are carried out in posts and you can either leave a message or click the LIKE button, just so your friend will know you stopped by and cared enough to see what was happening with them.   And I LOVE it!  It makes me feel like, no matter how far away I am from my hometown, I'm never out of touch with it.  I hope that's how it is with all two hundred and something of my Faceook friends !

  I'm going to post this on Facebook now....feel free to leave your comments! Or, just click the LIKE button. :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon

Run, do not walk, to your nearest movie theater to catch a showing of How to Train Your Dragon!  The 3D effects are the best I've seen YET!  It was funny, exciting, touching, scarey, heartbreaking and beautiful!  The detail on the characters was amazing!  You could even see the tiny hairs on the Vikings arms!  I don't know how many exclamation points I can use in one paragraph, but I'm really excited about this movie!   The movie opened with a terrific battle between the Vikings and the dragons, with a little narration from the "hero" Hiccup.  He's different and trying to find his place in the tribe while clashing with his father about who he WANTS to be vs who his father THINKS he should be.   And as it so often happens, dad doesn't listen.  Sometimes our kids don't fit into the molds we have in mind for them.  But Hiccup finds a way with the help of his dragon friend, Toothless, and the pair eventually each find their place.  I plan to buy this one as soon as it's available on DVD.  I guarantee you will enjoy this movie as much as me and my kids did. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I went to the High School tonight for a parent meeting with the High School Counselors.  The principal stood up and said "Welcome to High School."  I literally stopped breathing.  It can NOT be time for my angel baby girl to go to High School!  High School has bigger halls, more people, open campus, teenage drivers, harder classes and worst of all, High School BOYS!  My head is reeling and my heart is aching.  This is the year I have to start letting her go.  This is the year she will start driving a car.  This is the year she starts leaving me! I'm not sure I can bear it.  This miracle baby that God blessed us with will be a Sophomore in High School. And she is not a little girl any longer.  She's perched on the cusp of her adulthood and she's so anxious to fly.  This is the year she will start experiencing true freedom.  Have I prepared her enough?  Have I told her everything she needs to know to be safe?  Will she make good choices?  Will she be happy? 
Yet, at the same time my heart is aching for that baby girl, I'm so excited to see the woman she'll be becoming!  I get the opportunity to relive MY High School days through hers! I look forward to her coming home from a date, letting her drag me out of bed  (yeah, like I'd actually be SLEEPING while she's out) and rehash every single moment of the night over and over and over.....just like I did with my mom.  Those memories of High School are some of my MOST favorite ones and the bond I had with my mother throughout those years is still just as strong today.  I pray, with all my heart, that I will get to share that kind of bond with my darling daughter.  She and I are both getting ready to start a new chapter in our lives.  It's going to be one HECK of a ride!  Bring on the Valium!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Day I Stole a Rock

Originally posted April 11, 2007. Since it's coming up on the 3rd anniversary of the death of my Aunt Wanda, I wanted to repost what I was feeling then.

My favorite Aunt passed away last week and her funeral was Monday. She was a wonderfully funny, strong, bossy Christian woman. She is who I aspire to be. She was 87 years old and spent the last 18 years taking care of her invalid daughter at home, despite 2 heart bypasses. She taught piano her whole adult life and at the time of her death, she had 30 students. Her funeral was an amazing tribute of laughter through tears. My family has dealt with all the blows life can throw at them with laughter. It's how we deal. Case in recent episode of rock stealing.

My cousin and her dad, me and my dad, my husband and my Uncle David, along with my young impressionable son, took a road trip on Easter Sunday to my dad's birth place in Braggs, OK. Picture this....3 old men, Jay, 2 forty-something women and a 7 year old piled into one van. The van is today's equivalent of the station wagon, so my cousin and I were in the very back with my son. You know, where the kids sit. ( Some things never change, apparently.) Our mission... to retrieve a rock from the old homestead. Not just any rock, but a rock my grandfather "engraved" with my dad's and uncles names back in 1941. There were 8 kids in my dad's family and they were all born in that house. There were bad jokes cracked during the drive about bail money and police chases. And we laughed. A lot.

The lot is abandoned and the house long burned down, but those 3 old men knew exactly where that rock was. Dad and the uncles took one look at it and decided it couldn't be dug up. My cousin and my husband grabbed the shovel.. So while I took my post as look- out in the street, they dug up the rock. Dad and his brothers were busy distracting a neighbor. In our family, fortunes have been made and lost, loved ones have passed on, marriages broken apart, illness has touched us; but at that moment, nothing, and I mean NOTHING meant more to all of us than that rock. A piece of our family history. Solid. Whole. Timeless. Just like our family. We loaded that 72 pound rock with my grandfathers handwriting on it into the back of the van, laughing the entire time. And I believe with all my heart that my Aunt Wanda was watching from Heaven. And she was laughing with us.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunny Sunday

Today was a rare sunny day, when we weren't stuck in our offices or classrooms.  My family and I skipped church this morning just to take it all in.  Jay I realized, as we lay in our bed talking, that this was the first conversation that we had had ALL week long!  It's been that crazy!  He and I have been running in different directions all week so it was nice to just spend the morning visiting and relaxing.  The four of us spent the rest of the day outside, working in the yard.  Jay and I made lists of what needs to be repaired and what we'd like to do to improve the house.  For supper, my Grillmaster Jay, grilled lemon pepper Tilapia.  It's my favorite type of fish, next to fried catfish.  It has a nice, firm texture and the lemon pepper sets it off nicely.  It's not hard to make...just sprinkle the lemon pepper seasoning all over the fish and put it on the grill until it's done.  We use a fish pan on the grill for fish.  It's solid, with holes in it for the heat to go through.  It makes grilling delicate things much easier. It's great for vegetables, too.   Just remember to spray cooking spray over the pan before you put the food on it.  I hope your Sunny Sunday was as peaceful as mine was today.
Carpe' diem!

Friday, March 26, 2010

While I was cooking fettuccini alfredo with mushrooms and artichoke hearts for dinner last night, I had a thought: who was the person that looked at an artichoke and said "Hmmm, that weird, green plant with thorns on the leaves sure looks good enough to eat." If you've never eaten an artichoke, you may be surprised to know that the only edible parts of it are the base of the leaf and the heart. I had a friend in California send me a box of fresh artichokes one year. I had never had one and had no idea how to cook or eat one. She lived Salinas, the artichoke capital of the world. (at least that's what she told me) She explained in an email how to cook and eat an artichoke. If you'd like detailed instruction, Google "how to cook an aritichoke" and you're questions will be answered! If you'd like to try my recipe for the fettuccini alreado, here it is:

1 box fettuccini--cooked according to instructions on the box. I added powdered garlic, salt and pepper to my water. Makes the pasta sing!

While the pasta is cooking, drizzle a little bit of olive oil into a skillet and saute' 2 cups freshly sliced mushrooms along with a jar of drained artichoke hearts. I also sliced these up, since they come whole in the can. When the pasta is done, drain and add to the cooked mushrooms. Pour a jar of alfredo sauce on top, stir and heat throughly. Serve sprinkled with blue cheese with a side of crusty bread.

Now you could go ahead and make your pasta and sauce from scratch, but I DID mention that I am a working mom, so not every single thing I cook is from scratch!

Carpe' diem!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

So I've decided to blog......

I've decided to blog. Mostly because there is all this extra STUFF in my head and I need a place to put it. I don't know if this will turn into a daily, monthly, or yearly thing. I don't expect anyone to actually READ it. (except my mom) I don't expect to ever post anything profound. But if you happen to stumble upon my "head space" and something makes you smile, then it will have been worth it. Stayed tuned to see if I can even figure this blogging thing out!
Carpe' diem!