Category Archives: Uncategorized

Smooth Criminal

Smooth Criminal

I like rocks. I’ve always had a thing for them. I have a bunch of them in my jewelry box and other places around the house.  I’ve been accumulating them for years.  I have a pretty decent sized one in my glove box. My family refers to it as my “rape rock” meaning if someone menacing ever comes near me they are going to get a rock upside the head.  You can do many things with a rock.  Did you know that if you are hiking in the woods on a hot day and you run out of water you can put a small stone in your mouth and it will help alleviate your feelings of thirst?  I learned this from a scout leader on an actual hike in the woods.  I didn’t put a rock in my mouth when she suggested it because I wasn’t actually dying of thirst; however this crazy lady was popping them in her mouth all day long. She only took it out when she wanted to eat her GORP.  (GORP = good old raisins and peanuts which by the way would make you more thirsty in my opinion) Every time she said “Want some of my gorp?”  I would seriously crack up. There may be a reason none of my kids stuck with scouting.

 
The other day my husband I were shopping at a small hardware store and we saw this fake rock that you would put in your garden.  It said “Grandpa’s Garden.”  We both had an “awww” moment because he’s a grandpa and he loves being a grandpa. However we both agreed that the decoration on it was kind of hideous. It had a scary looking ladybug and I think that ladybug’s should always be cute.  It was also covered in flowers which for a Grandpa’s rock was a little girly if you ask me.  My last complaint was that it was plastic.  I mean if you’re going to put a rock in the garden put a ROCKin the garden.   “Cute idea but I can make something just like it on a real rock for free!”  I told him. 
 
I’m always admiring oddly shaped and cool looking rocks outside of restaurants, stores or anywhere else they are used in landscaping or are there naturally.  I’ll pick one up and say “oh look, I like this one” and my husband will say “Put it back, you can’t take it.”  To which I argue, “It’s a rock, who really owns a rock? The earth?  The universe? Applebee’s? 
 
Until Saturday that is…. 
 
We saw that plastic rock at the hardware store and it changed something. As we turned in to our neighborhood we drove past the community center.  They have these medium sized landscaping rocks all artfully arranged with flowers and bushes.  I looked at him and said “That would be the perfect size rock for your garden.”  I fully expected his usual response. Instead he grinned at me and whipped the car in to the community center driveway and said “Quickly.”  I jumped out of that car so fast it was a thing of beauty.  It took me only a moment to find the perfect one.   I was back in the car within seconds.  As we drove the last minute up the street to our house I held the rock to my cheek to feel its warmth. Few things feel as good in your hands as a sun baked rock.  We took it home and I painted it.  Not my best work by any measure but this little rock means something to me.
 
I know it’s a silly thing to be proud of someone for helping you steal a rock but I am.  My husband has a stressful job and I’ve been trying to get him to relax a little more lately.  When he pulled accomplice to one of my capers, he gave himself completely to the moment. For someone who has a hard time with that, this was HUGE. 
 
Hey honey…how’s your throwing arm?  I haven’t been toilet papering in years. 
 
 

The Bees Knees

The Bees Knees
 
This morning my husband and I were talking about something (can't remember exactly what at the moment) and I was being my usual ornery self.  Our conversation went something like this:

 

Joel:  You're a pip.
Me:  A pip?  As in a singer?
Joel: You're a pistol?
Me: What does that mean?
Joel: You don't know what a pistol is?
Me:  I do, it's a gun.  What does that have to do with me?
Joel: (big sigh) Ok, you're a firecracker.
Me:  As in dangerous?
Joel: (big sigh with eye roll) You are the bees knees baby! 
Me: Bees don't have knees.
Joel: (big sigh, eye roll, with exasperation) You my dear are the cat's pajamas.
Me: Do you know any compliments from this century?
Joel:  (big sigh, eye roll, exasperation and long pause) Boo, you so fly. Gurl you're so PHAT it's ridonculous.
Me: …What were you saying about kitties in pajammies?
 

Legal Notice

Legal Notice
PUBLIC NOTICE is hereby given on this date, June 9, 2012 to the three adults who reside with Felicia Agnew in their Woodbridge Virginia home.  Those individuals shall henceforth be known as “housemates.”  Felicia Agnew, who shall henceforth be referred to as “The complainant” alleges that this Cadbury Caramel Easter Egg (which shall furthermore be referred to as Exhibit A) has been sitting undisturbed in the fruit bowl since approximately April 8, 2012.  The complainant alleges that an unidentified “housemate” has abandoned Exhibit A and would like Exhibit A to be declared as unencumbered property.  The complainant would like to assume possession of Exhibit A immediately.  Any claims that are to be made in regards to this case must be submitted by midnight of June 9, 2012.  Proof of ownership must be presented.  At the expiration of this notice, Exhibit A will become the personal property of the complainant if no other petitioners come forward.  Once complainant has assumed possession of Exhibit A all evidence will immediately be consumed destroyed.
 
 

Engaged to be Married.

Engaged to be Married.

We've all heard the saying “A son is a son til he takes a wife; a daughter’s a daughter the rest of her life.”   As the mother of two sons I have issues with this statement and now that my oldest is engaged to be married I like it even less. It’s true that my daughter and I remain very close and in fact having the shared experiences of being a wife and mother may have made us even closer.  But who says I can’t stay close to my boys too?  Why is a man supposed to only have room in his life for his wife? Doesn’t whoever wrote this understand that my sons wouldn’t be who they are today if it weren't for their mother?  I didn’t pour my heart and soul in to these boys only to see them on holidays and at the occasional family gathering.  I pray my sons’ future wives will see me as friend not foe.  

 
I don’t worry about Alex.  Everyone knows he is a Mamma’s boy and the youngest.  He even refers to himself as my baby.  As in, “You would never kick me out of the house, I’m your baby.” (Future writings will reveal that he was oh so wrong!) His girlfriend and I feel like team mates on some special project called “Operation Alex.” Working together she and I might be able to slap him in to something that resembles an adult some day. 
 
Things are different with Nick.  I don’t get to see him as often as I’d like and the last few years there has been a bit of a distance between us.  It’s nothing deliberate on either of our parts.  He’s just all grown up and off living his life.  Sure we had some rough spots when he was a teenager but who hasn’t?  I’d love to see him more often but we both rest easy in the knowledge that our love for one another is infinite.  
 
He has been in a very committed and all consuming relationship for the last three years.  I told him a few months ago that if he planned on getting engaged I would appreciate the courtesy of knowing about it ahead of time.  I didn’t want to get a text message from his girlfriend (the usual method of news delivery) informing me that he had proposed. So a few weeks ago he asked me to lunch and told me he had the ring and he was going to ask.  It’s hard to describe how I felt. We love Katelyn and they are a good match but I also really miss the little boy he once was. I asked him if he was happy and his response was “yeah, I really am.”  What else can I ask for?  Isn't that what we wish for our kids when we are knee deep in raising them?  He knows it’s not going to be easy. Their situation is fraught with special circumstances.  The last three years haven’t been easy but he is going in to this with his eyes wide open. Marriage is hard work and he has seen me fail at it with his dad.  It takes commitment, dedication and sacrifice, but if anyone is loyal and loving enough to make it work, that would be my Nick.  Congratulations Son.  You got this. 
 
 

Photographer in the Making

Photographer in the Making
Yesterday I had my regular Wednesday night play date with my grandson Riley. He loves playing with my phone and wanted me to show him how to take pictures.  I showed him what to do and let him have at it.  Now I know I'm a bit partial but I think the kids got some natural talent. Here's a peek into the mind of a three year old. These are the things he apparently thought were important enough to take a picture of.

 

A rock.  If you have a rock why on earth wouldn't you take a picture of it?

 

 

 

 

The Wii remotes.  Maybe he was trying to point out that I need to dust back here.

 

 

 

His foot. Now this is a seriously cute foot.
His puppy Spot. That Spot is always getting in to some kind of jam.

 

 

 

His shoe and socks. See my beautiful daughter in the picture below?  He gets his stinky feet from his Mama. 

 

A picture of a picture of Mom and Dad.
He did this on purpose.  He knows she gets on my nerves. Where are her parents and why is she allowed to go out exploring without an adult?
This is sock puppet Mom. She has dread locks, listens to Bob Marley. eats tofu and doesn't shave her pits.

 

 

 

Bob the Builder. He says "Can we fix it?  Yes we can!" but I'm still waiting for this lazy SOB to hang a shelf in the guest room.
 
 
Random toys on my livingroom floor.

 

My favorite picture that he took.  Lord how I love this face.

I know everyone's favorite day of the work week is Friday but mine just might be Wednesday. No matter what kind of day I've had, the minute he gets in the car my troubles melt away. If that doesn't make for a favorite day I don't know what does.

 

Achoo!

Achoo!
This video is a skit they did on a recent episode of Saturday Night Live. On its own it’s mildly funny but to my husband and I it is hysterical.  Give it a look.
The reason it's so funny to us is because he swears I sneeze like that. I admit my sneezes are very loud but to that I say “I can’t help it!”  I’m not doing it on purpose.  I don’t ramp up the volume just to drive him crazy.  That’s just how they come out.  My grandmother once told me that you should relax and enjoy a good sneeze.  How can I put this delicately?  She said a sneeze can simulate other pleasurable sensations if you relax and go with it.  You had to meet my grandma.  She was WAY ahead of her time.  So while I’ve never enjoyed a sneeze as much as Gram apparently did I don’t hold back when I feel one coming on.  I recently had a co-worker tell me that she used to try to hold in her sneezes until she burst an artery in her nose and had to have it cauterized.  Ouch.   My husband’s chief complaint is that they usually come with no warning and as he puts it “One of these days I’m going to give him a heart attack.”  So we’ve devised a sort of warning system which basically entails me smacking him if we’re sitting close and if we’re not I wave my arms around like an idiot pointing to my nose.  He‘s lucky I don’t have allergies or the poor guy would be jumpy as hell. I know my sneezing is over the top and I’m sure it’s quite annoying but he loves me anyway.  That is the great thing about my husband.  He realizes that my maniacal sneezing is part of what makes me ME. And while I’m sure he fears for his cardiac well being every time I get a cold he wouldn’t want me any other way.
 
 

What the what?

What the what?
My son has this tattoo on his forearm.   
Why you ask? Why would he do that? That’s a question I’ve been wrestling with for over a year.
The short story is he’s an idiot.
The long and true story is that he wants to duplicate the tattoos his cousin Bobby had including this one.  I told him that just because Bobby had it doesn’t make it a good idea but I’m not sure it’s right to speak ill of the dead.
Bobby was killed three years ago in a drunk driving accident.  His friend lost control of the vehicle they were riding in and wrapped it around a tree.  They were both killed instantly.  It remains a tragedy of unspeakable proportion. My brother lost his only child.  My son lost his childhood best friend.  He was only twenty one.
So Alex wants to memorialize his beloved cousin by recreating his tattoos.  He never wants to forget someone that he loved.  I understand that.  I respect it.  I am not against tattoos but this one has been hard to swallow.  I think because it is offensive to many people, it’s hard for me to accept that it’s now a permanent part of his body.  When my brother saw it for the first time he literally said “WTF Alex?”
It’s pretty common knowledge what WTF stands for.  Even my mother knows. In my quest to make this go down easier I’ve convinced myself that there are lots of other things it can stand for.  What do you think of these?
Why the Frown?
Where’s the Food?
Well that’s Fabulous
What’s that Friend?
Wow that’s fun
Welcome to Facebook
Write to File
What's This For?
Who the Freak?
Where's the Fridge?
Where's the Fish?
What's This Foolishness
Where's the Fire?
We’re Tasting Frosting
Work Time Fun
Welcome to Finland
 
As much as I’d like to think it stood for something else I know in heart what it really means.  It means my nephew is gone way too soon.  It means my son has to deal with his loss in the best possible way he knows how.  And when I honestly think about it I’m inclined to say WTF myself.  In this situation….what else can you say?

 

 

 

Cookie Perfection

Cookie Perfection

A few years ago I took a speech class that was required for my course of study.  One of our assignments was to get up and teach the class how to do something from start to finish.  I demonstrated how to make chocolate chip cookies. I even brought some finished cookies for my classmates to sample. I got an A. 
 
Today on my way home from work I found out that tomorrow is my last day with one of my co workers this school year. I decided it was reason enough to bake cookies to take to work.  I'll be honest, I don't need much of an excuse to bake cookies. I'm kind of known as a baker in these parts. My husband is my guinea pig when it comes to trying new things out. Early in our relationship he instituted his own cookie policy.  It says "never ever EVER throw out a cookie, no matter if it's over cooked or looks funny.  I will be the judge of what goes in the trash."  He reminds me of this policy quite often. So today I came home and baked cookies for my friend.
 
For the first time ever I am about to reveal my Not Quite World Famous Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.  I hope my children don't mind me sharing this with the world.  I think they had visions of me on my death bed  like a character from The Godfather summoning one of them over and whispering "Come here my child. I will now share the secret cookie recipe with you. Do not write it down. It must be kept only in the family." and then I'd fall back on my pillow, cough a few times and die. 
 
So I'm going to show you how I make these things and give you a few tips along the way.  Pay attention closely because these cookies can win friends and influence people.  You might even be able to get out of speeding tickets with them.  I don't know…it's worth a try right?  My friend at work actually doesn't like chocolate so I am going to split the dough and make half with white chocolate and dried cranberries. (I know, she's a weirdo right?) 
 
Gather your ingredients. Don't let the butter get too soft.  Make sure it's just barely room temperature.  If it gets too soft stick it back in the fridge for a few minutes. I always use real butter.  I think it's what makes these cookies so delicious.  Margarine just doesn't taste as good.  I know Paula Deen gets a lot of flack for her love of butter but sometimes there are no substitutes. In these cookies butter is just not negotiable. 

Cream your butter for a few minutes until it's nice and creamy. Add the sugars and mix well.  Stop a few times and scrape down the sides. Add the egg and mix well.  I always break the egg in to a small bowl to be sure I don't get any shell in my batter. 

 

 In a medium bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture.  Go easy here.  If the mixer is going too fast you are going to get blow back.  I know this from experience.  Stop a few times to scrape down the sides.

 This is a good time to preheat your oven to 375 degrees . Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.  You don't have to use parchment but I never bake cookies without it.  Makes clean up easy and keeps the bottom of the cookies from getting too dark.

  This is where I separated the dough. I mixed chocolate chips in one half and white chips and cranberries in the other.  These are semi sweet chips but I prefer milk chocolate.  Mmmm chocolate.  At this point you will be very tempted to eat the dough raw.  You shouldn't eat too much because of the raw egg but seriously, when has that ever stopped me from eating cookie dough? 

 


  
Scoop on to a cookie sheet leaving plenty of room between them.  I don't like it when cookies run together so I don't crowd them on the cookie sheet.  Using a cookie scoop will give you about 3 dozen good size cookies.  If you want them smaller use a teaspoon.

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes and then move to a cooling rack.  Let the pan cool a bit before scooping out your next batch.   These cookies come out crispy on the outside but chewy and soft in the middle.  Pair a few with a cold glass of milk and you're talking heaven on earth!


  

Here is the full recipe. 
 
Felicia's Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

  • 3/4 C granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1 C butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/4 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking sod
  • a 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 oz chocolate chips
  • 1 C chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix butter, sugars and egg in a large bowl.  Add dry ingredients. Mix well.  Dough will be stiff.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by rounded teaspoonful about 2 inches apart.  Bake 9-11 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on wire rack.
 
Enjoy! 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Son in Progress

Son in Progress

This is my son Alex when he was a toddler. Look how cute he was.  Everyone in the family unanimously agrees that he was the cutest baby in history until my grandson came along. Here is a picture of him now.  I still think he’s adorable but I’m his mother so that shouldn't surprise anyone.  His was not an easy childhood.  Getting him raised was a challenge. When he was eight years old he was diagnosed with severe attention deficit disorder and thus began a ten year roller coaster ride trying to get him through school, through adolescence and ready for life in the real world.  I used to pray that when we came out on the other side we would still be speaking. I really worried about that. 
 
I used to keep a picture of us together on my dresser.  He was about four or five years old. We were playing in my Mom’s pool.  I was floating around on a tube and he was sitting on top of me.  We looked happy.  I kept it out as a reminder of a time when I knew he loved me and more importantly he liked me.  I feel confident that during his growing up my son never stopped loving me as his mother but I’m fairly confident that there were plenty of times that we didn’t like each other too much.  One of the ways he struggled was with impulse control and one day when I have his permission I will tell some of his stories. I can tell you though that his least favorite thing to do was write.  I often used this to my advantage when he had to be punished.  I still have his essays on “The Dangers of Smoking” and “Why going to McDonald’s on your bike without permission is a bad idea.”   I think if I really looked I could find “Why children should not befriend homeless men” and “Yelling at your friend when he is hurt is not nice.”  You get the picture.

It wasn't always rough.  No one in my life has made me laugh harder than he has. He is a good sport.  He often gets picked on for his somewhat lazy grooming or the silly things he does and he always takes it in stride.   He is smart as a whip.  He is the kid who would not do any homework all year and yet get a perfect score on his final exam. He passed advanced on almost all of his SOL's yet he was constantly on the verge of failing.  He drove his teachers crazy.  When I'm late coming home from work he calls me to find out where I am. He doesn't like leaving me home alone.  He worries about me.  If I ask him to do something for me he'll do it…if he remembers…which is not often.

This weekend I had a party at my house and a good friend of mine was there.  She hadn’t seen him in a while.  She commented to me that he is looking and acting more and more like his dad.  An observation I had made many times myself.  Imagine how hard it was to parent a child who is the mini me of a man you couldn’t stay married to. It’s been hard.  I do see so much of his father in him.  His dad is not a terrible guy.  We just couldn't keep it together and unfortunately many of the things he did to drive a wedge between us I sometimes see in my son.  I once expressed my frustration to my mother that sometimes it’s like I’ve had no influence on my son at all.  All of my hours at this doctor and that, all the driving from one counselor to another trying to find someone to help this kid.  All the conferences, child study meetings,  principal’s hearings , court dates, helping with school work, bailing him out of one problem after another, all the late nights and tears and prayers and he turns out just like his dad. His dad who never went to a single conference or doctor’s appointment in ten years.  It just didn’t seem fair.  My wise mother advised patience.  She reminded me that he only has half his father’s genes.  I am in there somewhere waiting to come out.  She reminded me that a mother’s influence is felt over a life time.

So Saturday evening we were talking and Alex told me that he is going to put his hair in to dreadlocks soon.  He has been talking about doing this for a few years now but he hasn’t done it so I usually say “Yeah, yeah ok” and don’t take him quite seriously.  This time was different.  He laid out his plan.  He has been researching it.  He knows what he has to do to form them and maintain them.  He made the comment “I am going to have to use this special shampoo for the rest of my life.”  Uh excuse me…what did he just say?  The rest of his life?!!? There is not enough punctuation on the keyboard to express my shock over this comment. He said “Yeah Mom, I’m making a commitment to them.”  Ok, a commitment is good, but to your hair?   So I then said “Well you know 15 years from now you’ll be going to parent teacher conferences like that” thinking this would maybe cause him to think twice.  Well dang if he didn’t shut me down.  He said “It’s just hair Mom.  It’s just freaking hair, if someone wants to judge me for that that’s their problem.”   
 
Schooled.

I am going to go call my mother and tell her she was right.

I am in there after all.

Little House Big Party

Little House Big Party

 

I come from a large family.  I am not referring to how many of us there are even though there are a lot.  I'm referring to our size. Someone once rudely said to my petite grandmother "your husband must have been a large man."  They couldn't figure out how this tiny woman had produced such sturdy progeny. Which brings me back to my original point. We are a large family.

Because we are also large in number someone is always celebrating a birthday and we get together fairly regularly. Almost always we gather at my sisters house which is large enough to accommodate the group.  However once a year I get a wild hair and decide that instead of making the hour plus drive to Maryland I will host at my house.

I love my house.  It's cute and cozy and just enough room for the four of us who live here. So for a week we scrubbed, we cleaned, we cooked and we decorated. I was excited but nervous because we were going to be packed in here like sardines. In addition to the 19 family members who were coming we also had two girlfriends, one fiance and my best friend and her boyfriend. That's 24 bodies in case you're doing the math. Twenty four bodies packed in to my little two bedroom townhouse.

 It is now 24 hours later and I am pleased to report that we survived, my house survived and as far as I know everyone is still talking to each other. Here is what I will remember most:

  • The weather was beautiful. We could not have possibly had a more perfect day.
  • The food was delicious and plentiful. Everyone could not get enough of my husbands home made BBQ sauce. (His smoked pork roast was pretty fantastic too)
  • The conversation was great
  • .No one stormed out. (Hey it's happened)
  • Everyone liked their presents.
  • Alex fell asleep on the floor in the middle of the chaos
  • The kids went to the playground and the house suddenly got several octaves quieter.
  • My family was willing to spend three hours in I-495 construction and traffic to get here. (It normally takes an hour.)
  • My grandson told my sister that maybe I should read his book to him because I knew the characters names.I love my sister but it kind of made me feel good.
  • My Dad had someone new (best friends boyfriend) to tell his stories to.
  • Everyone teased me about all of the Pinterest projects around my house.
  • My brother brought 11  2 liter bottles of soda.  That's about 1/2 a bottle of soda per person.  That's a lot of liquid.
  • My bathrooms got a workout. (See previous list item.)
  • Laughter rang from every room.
  • The house felt full but it didn't feel stuffed.

Overall it was a fantastic day. There is nothing in this world that pleases me more than having every single person I love most in the world all gathered under one roof, even if it is a tiny little roof. I wish I could slow down the clock and make it last longer.  Looking back on the day I realize not once did I feel like we were tripping over each other or that the place was just too small.  I would have been miserable packed in somewhere like that with strangers or even some folks I know.  It's simply because we love each other that we didn't mind. We love each other and because of it we'll drive three hours or sit shoulder to shoulder or listen to the same stories for the hundredth time. For your family it's just what you do.  It's what WE do anyway and yesterday I realized we do it very well.