Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ten on Thursday: 10 Girl Scout Memories

I know it's supposed to be Ten on Tuesday, but it's my blog and I can do what I want to!

It's all about goodbye's right now. I mean, you did see Oprah's final 3 shows, right? (More on that in another blog). But just as she reflected back on her favorite guests and shows over the years, I too am remembering some of my favorite most memorable moments with my past career, Girl Scouts. And to think that these memories almost didn't happen--I was actually sent a rejection letter after my interview. The 1st choice ended up deciding she wanted to teach after all, so I got a call with the 2nd offer. Don't worry--I've never let Rene live that down! I worked for Girl Scouts for 7 or 8 years, in 3 different offices. But these are my highlights from behind the scenes:

1. While most of my memorable moments happened in Springfield, IL (where I worked for 6 years), I will remember that nearing the end of my first day in Little Rock when I went to use the restroom, I noticed that my zipper had been down all day! I'm sure they got great instant first impressions!!

2. On my last day in Little Rock, I got to co-cost a bridal shower. When researching games, I knew we had to play the game that they played at my bridal shower! (Side note: I got the offer for the GS job on the same day I got engaged). The groom is asked a series of questions (ie: Where was your first kiss; What is the bride's favorite tv show, etc.). The bride must then try to answer what the groom likely said. For every wrong answer, the bride must chew a piece of that hard, nasty Hubba Bubba bubble gum. Well, you know where this is heading--My groom, Mr. Comedian, decided to just make up answers. I not only was slobbering like crazy, but nearly choked. (And choking is not on my list, but CHW and JO, you know I haven't forgotten that you laughed at me when I was giving the universal choke sign!). My bridal shower also included a game where I added clothing--don't remember why, but I remember the laughs when I added Esther's (RIP Esther) XXXXXL bra that definitely was on the smokey side! It was a fun day and I still use the white mixing bowls I got all the time!

3. The CEO, Sue, was always a put together woman. Nails were manicured, outfit was immaculate, hair never out of place. So picture the day when she walked into the office and bent down to pick up the fake snake someone had put in front of her door (Pranks were not uncommon). Except, the fake snake was real and it moved. She screamed...we all screamed! And then we laughed and laughed and laughed. Well, after we figured out how to get it out of the building. I think we put a box over it and wanted for the camp ranger to come get it.

4. Another memory of that office is in regards to training new staff. There is a lot to learn when you start a new job, but in Springfield, we always had to decide who was going to tell the new employee that the bathroom near the offices was "liquid only"..."non-liquid" duties had to be done in the public bathroom :)

5. Working with women, for women can be stressful. Yes, Girl Scouts was stressful! So (more than our husbands liked) our membership team went out to eat for lunch. Even though Rene thought we were always talking about work, we usually weren't. We just had fun together. Christina liked to flirt with the Mexican waiter; We had a mouse run under our table once; Someone left a note for us at Steak & Shake; I had food dumped in my lap (literally) at Smokey Bones; but we all remember when Jamie and I ordered the club sandwich and the waiter looked at us and said "somebody's hungry!". That phrase got repeated a lot.

6. Speaking of Jamie--Oh, Jamie! Jamie had the privilege of sharing an office with me. I always said it was for 18 years because it felt like we instantly knew each other. Not that we are alike--nope! But we were a good team. Jamie and I got to take 3 charter bus fulls of 4-6 graders to the Kalahari waterpark in the Wisconsin Dells. Oh, there was lots of memorable moments (girl taken to hospital; girls entering rooms to find people already there; hours and hours on the bus; etc.). But my favorite--Was hearing the sound when Jamie somehow fell off her tube going down the enclosed slide....all I could hear was the thumping of her hitting the walls of the slide and her scream. She came out with her limbs going in every direction and her glasses all messed up. I can laugh because she wasn't hurt. But oh my gosh, it was hilarious. I think it was just the icing on the cake that weekend.

7. Jamie was also notorious for being my helper at the all the Brownie programs I did. Planning programs was just part of the work. Actually delivering the plans was twice as hard. But I could always count on my Brownie, Jamie. Oh, we have tons of program memories. My favorite is probably the event "How the West was Fun." The plan was to have the girls take biscuits and roll them out, put on a stick, cook over the fire, then cover with cinnamon & sugar. But the plan didn't plan on it being really cold, and very windy. Probably not a good idea to have a fire at camp when it's windy. So as soon as Sam's opened that Saturday morning, I went and got all the ingredients for a new recipe...Amish Friendship Bread. I don't remember how I was going to incorporate it into the theme, but I had a plan. First of all, you can't just make the starter for friendship bread that morning. I didn't care at this point. Secondly, to buy enough flour, sugar, milk, etc. for 200+ girls takes a lot of supplies. My ole' Taurus was packed to the brim and barely was driveable. It took me forever to shop and unload and by the time I did, girls were starting to arrive. This was Jamie's station so I gave her quick directions...except how to incorporate this into the theme. Jamie just made it up and told the girls that when the settlers met the Indians, the Indians taught them how to make this bread to take along in their covered wagon. Of course, the girls believed every word!

8. Luckily, I didn't have to go to camp very often. But one time the whole membership team was sent to camp for an emergency. You see, there was a lice outbreak at camp. Sue didn't want to get all the girls freaked out, so we were sent to the rescue. We went cabin to cabin, putting each girl's smelly, gross clothes into individual black garbage sacks. Then we hauled it all to the laundry mat, washing each girl's load separately. Definitely a job listed as "other duties as assigned." We told the girls later that a special fairy had come and they were excited to find fresh, clean clothes! If they only knew!

9. In May each year, I hosted a bus trip for the Brownies to go on, using their earned cookie money. It wasn't just one bus trip, more like 3...with 2-3 charter buses each time. I loved them! Brownies usually went to St. Louis, as the 2 hour trip was just far enough for them. Again, too many memories to list. But once again Jamie was with me when we went to the City Museum. I think that place is awesome, but I'm surprised GSUSA hasn't banned it because it is definitely not the safest place on Earth. On one of the trips, a little girl fell on the giant outdoor metal climbing structure and hit her tailbone. I was called to the scene and the girl kept saying she couldn't move her legs. I think we had just taken our CPR/First Aid class and knew not to move her. 911 had to be called and the entire play structure shut down. The girls was freaking out. We called her mom who told us the girl was just a drama queen. But we weren't taking our chances. The firefighters could barely get to the girl, but as soon as they did....up she stood. She was drooling over them like a teenager. I wanted to break her legs!!

10. Finally, my last story is my favorite, but like most of these stories--you just had to be there! We had a beautiful new office, with an extra lot next door for future expansion. Sue somehow found out that is we hosted a girl event on the extra lot, then we could write it off on our taxes. So, the idea was started that we would have the girls make a butterfly garden. What Sue forgot to tell the staff, as we were sent out to prepare the ground for planting, was that the ground was harder than a rock. Oh, and this was like July. We set Friday as tilling day and we all came prepared with shovels, gloves, etc. Matt's dad gave us his little tiller to use. Jamie (aka Marge in Charge) was going to show us wimps how to use the tiller...but it took off and pulled Jamie behind it. It took us all day, but got that darn ground worked up. Those girls didn't know how easy they had it. And years later, on Christina's last day, we made sure to capture our picture together (minus Erin) where we had one of our many bonding moments.

L-R: Jamie, Christina, me, Jilla

Well, goodbye Girl Scouts. It was a fun ride. But I know that my buddies in Springfield will be lifelong friends and that was worth every penny I earned!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

To Do: Snake-A-Way

I HATE snakes! Not just dislike them, but HATE them! My whole life I have been petrified of them. I just hate the way they surprise you out of no where and the way they slither around gives me the heeby-jeebies! The last month has given us lots of rain here in Arkansas (like practically every day). Perfect for the snakes I guess.

Apparently, our next door neighbors have found 2 snakes in their yard in the last few weeks while their 3 year old daughter played in the grass. This enormous, gross snake had make it's way to their patio!

And to provide me more comfort, they just had to mention that it was headed towards our fence. Needless to say, I avoid as many trips to the yard as possible. You should have seen me mowing the other day....I think I literally looked at every blade of grass...just in case!

Then, this weekend I discovered this in the grass between our two houses:

(Yes Jeremy, I saw you moved it to our yard! Please don't be disturbed by our patch of dead grass here).

Oh, I forgot to mention that the snake on the rake above was killed. So...this means he has family around! OMG! This skin is over a foot long...probably 2 feet if you ask me!

I really have tried to get over my fear. Unfortunately, there are many more poisonous snakes around this darn natural state. Jeremy even told me once about a snake called a Blue Chaser, that literally will chase you. That makes my heart skip a beat just thinking about it! (But then again, I've learned I can't always believe what Jeremy tells me either). This winter, I took Sophie and her kids to the science museum. Go figure--it was snake day! They were everywhere!! By the end of the visit, I put on my brave face (all for the kids' sake mind you) and helped hold this monster. And yes, I was sure we got a picture.

My fear did not go away.

I don't know, but Matt better get the snake-away put down fast! (That's on his to-do list as I am still avoiding contact with grass).

Update: Prom photos

Good News...the official proof of Matt taking Erin to prom has been found!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

To Do: Remember prom

Last weekend, two of my nieces got to go to their first prom. It's hard to believe that these girls here are that old already!

I may be a little biased, but I thought both of them looked absolutely stunning!! And their dress choices were just the best!!



Of course, everyone wants to think back to how wonderful their proms were. Mine were just ok. I had fun and all, but it's not like I ended up marrying my prom date or anything. Oh wait, that's because he went with my best friend...

Trust me, I looked all over trying to find their official prom picture. It's somewhere in this house. I never will let Matt & Erin live it down! Unfortunately though right now the only proof I can find is this yearbook photo.

My junior year I was quite the rebel. I asked a guy, Ryan Young, from Macon--the school we were about to merge with. I went to Macon in the morning for classes and met Ryan in keyboarding. How romantic! He was actually a year younger than me so I didn't get to go to his prom. Ironically, I did get to go to his wedding...because him and Matt ended up becoming friends. Anyway, it was 1994, but my dress looks 1980's to me with those big ole' shoulder pads!

And what I remember most was that I was so darn sick that day. I remember when I went to get my hair done, I cried the whole time because it hurt my head so much. I was feverish and I just took a lot of drugs right before I left. I wasn't going to miss it. Let's hope that my illness is to blame for the extreme paleness!

My Senior year I opted to skip the date (or the dates opted to skip me), and I went with my friend Jennifer. Even though the rest of our group of friends had dates, I really just remember all of us hanging out. Especially at post prom--which seemed to be more fun for this girl that can't dance than prom.

Again, it's ok to laugh

Oh, the prom days. Fortunately, the dresses have come a long ways!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

To Do: Inspire

This week I talked about moms and inspiration. Today, let's bundle it all together and let me tell you about two moms who I just find to be two of the most inspiring people I've ever met! I tell you their stories not to bring about sadness, but to share why I have so much admiration for them.

First I met Bridget, oh gee, maybe 10 years ago. Bridget and Matt were in the same dorm at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville freshman year. At some point, they ended up sharing an apartment (just they tell me). Years later, I finally got to meet this spit-fire Irish gal I had heard so much about in person (along with some of my family who they too thought they had to be a part of this), and years later we attended her beautiful wedding in St. Louis. It was obvious that day that Bridget was just smitten with her husband, Mike.

A little over a year ago we were excited to hear (thanks to connecting via Facebook) that Bridget and Mike had just become parents to a little girl named Faith. What we didn't know was that the journey to Faith's arrival had already been a long journey. Faith was born with an SOX2 gene mutation resulting in bilateral microphthalmia, leading to minimal eye development. Faith also fights other battles including hearing loss (but fortunately is not deaf as once suspected), sleep issues, and general developmental delays. Her diagnosis is so rare--only in about 1 in 10,000 births. Bridget and Mike had learned of this months before delivery, and fittingly named their baby girl, Faith...also known to the blog world as Super Baby Faith.

This spring, I met Hillary. Our husbands work with each other daily, but Hillary and I first met at a horse race. The CAT families had met up at the track, but it was a chilly day, so later we moved inside to find warmer seating. In getting to know each other, Hillary told us that her and her husband had just recently moved to Little Rock from their hometown about 2 hours away. When Matt inquired about their decision to move, Hillary told us it was to bring her daughter to the School for the Blind. Hardly knowing what to say, I told Hillary the story of Bridget. I told her how moved I was by Bridget and how she taught me to look at blindness with a new light. While I had just worked with a variety of children with minor special needs while at my job in South Carolina, I didn't know how trying everyday life was for families. Bridget's blogs about Super Baby Faith taught us about the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Do I believe in fate? Absolutely! Because I realized that day that we met both Hillary and Bridget for a reason. My jaw still drops thinking back to when Hillary told me that her daughter, Madilyn, (now age 6) was also born with bilateral anophthalmia---nearly the same thing as Super Baby Faith!

I think raising any child must be trying. But what Bridget and Hillary face every day is unimaginable. Yet, both of them are truly their daughter's caregiver, cheerleader, teacher, advocate, and biggest fan! They both have delved into mountains of research, sought out the best physicians across the country, provided intense therapy, and more. I watched a video Hillary posted of Madilyn's successes with catching a ball (with her head full of adorable curls all over), and I cried because what I saw to be so challenging, was just another proud moment for Hillary. Bridget continues to chronical the ongoing struggles that Faith is faced with daily on her blog Read about the day Bridget learned of Faith's blindness and you'll see why I think she is one amazing mom. Hillary is no different, not only helping her own daughter, but teaching others how to adjust life for a blind child. Her blog is Now that's a smart girl! I hope you too find these moms to be inspiring. Their love for their girls is undeniable and I know they will make sure that their daughters have the absolute best life possible. Through Facebook, we were able to connect them. I hear they are meeting this summer at the International Children's Anophthalmia Network's conference and that truly brings tears to my eyes. Something tells me this meeting was all meant to happen!

Bridget and Hillary--Thank you for letting me tell your story. I have more respect for you than you will ever know!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Inspirational Projects

I first got swallowed into this darn blogging world because my sister introduced me to a few decorating sites. She told me to wait till I quit working (we were about to move to Little Rock), but like usual, I didn't listen. I hate being in suspense.

Quickly I realized that there was some super talented, very creative people out there. My blog list in my favorites is just simply ridiculous. And my saved pictures file is quite full too. So today I'm sharing 10 of my favorite inspiration photos that I have saved (sorry, unless they are stamped, I likely don't know where to find them to give them credit...or to get more ideas).

In no particular order...

This one is my #1 favorite! I think it will be on Matt's to-do list one day!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

To Do: Wish a Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to...

My mom, Nancy

My Mother-in-Law, Dianna

And my 95 year old Grandma Flamm

Also remembering today, our grandmas who we lost 6 weeks apart in 2008:

My Grandma Stahl

And Matt's Grandma Ervin

Still doesn't seem the same without them!

Also wanting to wish lots of my friends a Happy Mother's Day! For many, this is the first for them to celebrate. It's always exciting when your friends become moms!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Things I Plan To Do as a Housewife of Little Rock

Stayed tuned as I may be the new feature on The Housewives of Little Rock! I can't wait to be a housewife, as here are my summer plans:

  1. Join the Pool---Sure we will take the waverunner out on the weekends, but I better work on my tan. I know you all have high expectations on my annual tan!

  2. Get a Library Card--Kind of ironic that I want to teach kids how to read, yet I don't have a library card. Honestly, I don't even know where the library is! But this summer I am going to figure that out because I will need something to read by the pool for heaven's sake.

  3. Clean my house--It's nothing to be jealous about for sure, but I need to give my house a big ole' scrub down....oven, windows, baseboards, ceiling fans, porch furniture, etc. Oh, and maybe I really will get the storm closet cleaned out for good.

  4. Whip up some cards-- This is my chance. I want to have cards made ahead of birthdays, deaths, weddings, etc. Don't count on it, but I'll try to get your card to you at least the week of your event next year.

  5. Volunteer--Our House has probably wondered where I disappeared to. I really want to get back to a consistent schedule so I can love on those babies more often!

  6. Stain the Deck--And all other jobs on Matt's list. But I did promise him that I would get the deck stained...because let's face it...I could probably use the extra bit of sunshine hitting my white legs.

  7. Try New recipes--And paybacks to Matt will be that every week we are going to try a new recipe. Don't tell him though. He hates new recipes! But I know that I will instantly be sucked into a million blogs and my recipe book will be overflowing with ones I want to try.

  8. Clean off the DVR--I would almost be embarrassed if you saw how much was on the DVR right now. I mean, I have to watch every episode of Oprah's final season. But I do have to set some time aside for some serious tv watching.

  9. Clip Coupons--Times are going to be tough. I don't think it would be cool to be a Housewife of Little Rock AND be on Extreme Couponing, so I'll just do a little. But I used to be a lot better at using coupons and websites like and I just need to try again.

  10. Blog more often--Maybe I'll go for 2 times a week. Maybe. But then again, I wonder what I will write about??

To Do: Change My Life

I've got a little secret. Well, it's not really a secret anymore. (And no, I'm not pregnant!). I quit my job!!

Yesterday I turned in my resignation. I'm officially hanging up my Girl Scout hat, or should I say uniform. I mean it--this time I am NOT going back!

So here's the plan: Hopefully this fall I will have been accepted into grad school here in Little Rock where I am going to get my Master's degree along with my teaching certificate. I'm hoping to teach K-2 if I have a choice. But first--I have to pass my Praxis exam. From what I understand, it's the GRE version for teachers. Let's just say that after 12 years out of college, I need a little review on probability, algebra, and grammer. My test is June 11 so I will have 3 weeks to cram. Guess what I bought today at Barnes & Noble? The Cliff Notes for the Praxis. Here we go again, Cliff Notes saving my behind!

Then while I wait for my results, I get to enjoy the rest of summer doing whatever I want (on a limited income of course! Like Matt will let me forget that--Ha!). I'm hoping that once school starts back up, and obviously my classes too, I can work it out so that I can substitute teach everyone once in awhile. I figure if I can make it subbing, I surely would survive with my own classroom!

Matt said he wonders which of my students we will hang out with someday--because as you know, I'm really good friends with my 1st grade teacher.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Easter Review

Sure Easter was a week ago, but better late than never! I wouldn't want you to miss out on all of the exciting details of our Easter weekend in St. Louis. Matt somehow convinced my sister, Sharolyn that Easter should be at her house. It only saved us about 2 hours of driving (well 1 on the way there!) but we had fun.

We got most of our food made on Friday so we could relax the rest of the time. We went to Charming Charlies (jewelry store) at the mall, then met the guys for mexican. Meanwhile, we heard tornado sirens but pretty much just ignored them. Probably not such a great idea considering what happened to St. Louis that night, but oh well.

Saturday all the girls had arrived (my brother decided not to come). We all went to get pedicures...not my favorite thing to do but I managed to not kick the lady.
We did a little more shopping then headed back for our Easter dinner. Everyone chipped in to make the meal:

Susan taught us how to make some new appetizers. Sherry made oriental salad and my favorite--strawberry pretzel salad. Sharolyn made the fancy shmancy Paula Deen ham and gourmet turkey (with J.R.'s amazing basting skills). And I made the 7 layer salad and darn deviled eggs (they were a devil to shell). Mom made cheesy potatoes and pies. It was all super yummy!

We even got to eat off of Sharolyn's china! Here's the whole gang:

After dinner, it was a serious game of Rummikub, with several "rules" variations!

Of course that night we had to also have an Easter egg hunt. The coolest aunt & uncle were in charge! (Yes, that's us). I had a brilliant idea to make it a night hunt, except the glow-in-the-dark paint wouldn't stick to the eggs. Oh well. Nathan helped me stuff all the eggs. All 232 eggs to be exact! Told you we were cool!

And really cool aunts and uncles buy the eggs that come with confetti inside! (It cleans up!)

Maggie was right there with us too!

Because it was too nasty to go outside, the hunt took place indoors. They started by having all the lights off and only using their flashlights.

Natalie will tell you that she found the most! (She did)

But Nathan will find a way to convince you he found the most!

Sharolyn reports that they have since found a few more eggs since we left!

The joke of the weekend was that it was discovered that Nathan and Natalie didn't know their favorite aunt and uncle's last name. Apparantly, it's because when the other families arrive it's announced "The Turnholts are here" or "The Nicholls are here." But when we arrive, it's just "Matt & Sara are here." So we made sure that by the time we left they knew our name was Ervin!