Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Turning Left

Ponder this for a moment (and try to follow along):

Do you ever look back to a time in your life when you came to a fork in the road? At this fork you took the right turn, which directionally, and morally, was the right choice. The left turn was a huge risk. The left turn would have hurt someone, but that someone was a person that hurt you many times before and would hurt you many times after. The left turn was exciting and totally out of character.

I know everything happens for a reason, but I cannot seem to get that left turn out of my head today...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

First Week of School!

The craziness that is my life has officially started. Here are the highlights of the week:

Monday - had the server of my largest office crash first thing Monday morning (thank you Hurricane Norman!) so it was not exactly the day I planned!
Started my first counseling class...LOVE IT! We had to go around the room and introduce each other and then had to repeat the names back. I did them entirely too quickly on my turn (about halfway through the class) so guess who got to say them all at the end of class...that would be me...stupid photographic memory! The prof is great and I'm really looking forward to it!

Tuesday - massive headache, went to work for about 3 hours and then slept. I felt so bad I didn't even go help with Scouts with the Sechrist clan!

Wednesday - more headache! (I have had a headache off an on for the last three weeks or so...it is all allergies and the weather changing) I had to go to class any way that night, but I'm going to love that one too! The prof is very much the "devil's advocate" type and he is going to challenge everything that we say, which should be good. We had to introduce ourselves and I went on with my whole story about wanting to work with parenting/pregnant/homeless teens and got an "Amen" from the lovely girl in the class with the Afro, Ebony. It's going to be a great class.

Thursday - Disclaimer Alert!!!! I am NOT going to post about relationships on this blog, past, present or future, BUT this is going to be a small exception!

I was engaged (not going there) and still had my ring (with a GORGEOUS diamond in it), so July 31 I took it to have it reset and got back my custom made pendant Thursday!

These pictures DO NOT do it justice, but it's the best I could get with my phone and I didn't want to mess with my camera:

Basically the diamond is floating and if you look at it from the top it looks like an open heart, which I think is just perfect!

Friday - Nothing terribly exciting except I finished Eat, Pray, Love. If you haven't read it I suggest you do! It was a great book. For my book club we read it for our August meeting (Aug 5). I had a conflict and missed book club, so I had not finished it. We were supposed to go see the movie last Sunday, but couldn't, so we are going tomorrow! Again, not talking about relationships, but I found this paragraph very, um, familiar sounding:

Today - I had Junior League training all day. Loved it! I am so excited to be a part of this organization. Best part of the day was that we drew for committees to "intern" on during this first year and I got my first choice: Baby Steps. (I'll touch more on Baby Steps and what I want to do with my life later!)

I came home to an icky pool! Algae all over the bottom. The pump has been running really loudly since I cleaned the filter last week, so I'm thinking I didn't clean it very well or didn't get it tightened right. I, voluntarily, cleaned it again tonight and I think I'm back in business. We shall see when I take a sample in Monday!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

CrossTimbers Pot Luck, A New Recipe and Four Boys!

My dear friend Michelle had to go out of town this evening, so I offered to take her youngest four (out of eight!) boys to the CrossTimbers Pot Luck tonight. These boys are the best kids ever! And not just for boys. They are Sheldon, age 12, Baley, age 10, Ashton, age 5 and Brantley, age almost 2. They all have nicknames too:
Sheldon=Hoofie or Moose
Ashton=Squirmworm or just Squirm
Tonight they got new nicknames from me: green, purple, blue and orange! Yes that would be the colors of their shirts! I really don't know how she does it, especially having more than just those four. I love those kids, but I'm just fairly certain I'm not a "boy mom"!

I took a new recipe to the pot luck as well. I think that is what started my fascination with blogs, as I found this recipe when I was randomly looking at blogs of friends of friends of friends!

Cream Cheese Chicken

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 package Italian dressing mix
1 can 98% fat free condensed mushroom soup
8 oz. neufchatel cheese, softened (this is a lower calorie, lower fat cheese that tastes just like cream cheese)

Here's how hard this recipe is...brace yourself:

1. Insert chicken in slow cooker
2. Pour butter over chicken
3. Pour dressing mix over butter
4. Combine soup and neufchatel cheese until smooth
5. Pour soup mixture over chicken, DO NOT STIR
6. Turn on slow cooker to low and cook for 6 hours if chicken is thawed or 7-8 hours if it is frozen (yes people you can have frozen chicken!)
7. After it cooks remove the chicken and whisk the sauce
8. Serve with a starch: brown rice (healthier!), white rice, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, etc.

SOOOOOO simple, SOOOOOO good!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Story of the Filter...Part Three (yay! today!)

This post could also be called "God has a sense of humor and likes to watch Wendy get frustrated!"

So a few days ago I start to notice that the pool isn't really filtering like it should be. I get out the calendar (thinking there is NO way it has been 8 weeks!) and low and behold, it had been 8 weeks. Good grief, here we go. I think I realized this about Wednesday. I was busy with Chase's arrival and knew that Saturday would be the day. I don't think I mentioned in previous posts how disgusting cleaning the pool filter is. I thought this was just because I didn't back wash prior to cleaning it. I learned today that this was a mistake. I put off cleaning the filter until around 6:00 tonight. I noticed on my way home that the sky was starting to get dark, but was determined to get this done (remembering that I don't have a free day until mid December, of course). I start to look at the pool and realize that it is looking a smidge green. Since I have managed to get the hang of this pool thing down I DO NOT like to have the pool in any condition besides perfect. There are also A LOT of leaves in the bottom, because contrary to popular belief fall actually begins the first weekend in August in Oklahoma (or that's how it appears based on my backyard). This is what the weather looked like when I started to clean the filter:

Notice the rain???

So here I go. I try to back wash the pool before, to little avail, but better than nothing. I have little problem getting the filter open and the filter out, I even manage to get it to the concrete! This is the before:

Notice the white goop on it? That is what I hose off. I spray the sucker down and end up with this:

It doesn't look all that different, but man, oh man, does it filter better. I think I'm home free on this filter cleaning thing! Until I start to put it back together...it starts POURING! I manage to get the whole thing put back together without too many more problems. I come in, write the first filter blog entry, start the second, look out at the pool, it's stopped raining, but I can see all the leaves and the green. I just cannot bear it...out I go at 7:45 to vacuum the pool. There were SO many leaves! I had to clean out the pump basket about 6 times (prior to the this it had been about 2). I have now dumped chemicals in and I'm hoping by tomorrow the pool will look like this again!

The Story of the Filter...Part Two

The first pool cleaning was April 30. Around the end of June the pool wasn't back washing like I felt it should have. I go into Thompson's and Zac asks when I last cleaned the filter, which I rattle off April 30 (my memory is too good sometimes), about 8 weeks before, so he says it's probably time to clean it. I ask if I will need to bring it in, he says no, I should be good doing it on my own. My darling friends Kimberly and Allyson came over for a girls' afternoon and we swam and chatted (in a greenish, algae covered pool). After they left I set out to clean the filter. I go to my (oh so messy) garage and find my ratchet set. I manage to get the bolt off without needing my fabulous bolt cutters. What I learn from this is experience is this: BACKWASH FIRST!!!!!!!! I had to tug and use every ounce of muscle I had to get that thing out. When I did I couldn't move it to the concrete, thus it stayed on the side of the house and I hauled the hose around the corner and just washed it there. I put it all back together and run the filter again...MAGIC! Worked like a charm! I think at this point that I have this mess down! :)

The Story of the Filter...Part One

Filter Cleaning #1
About a month into my pool career I had managed to drain it, remove the leaves, refill it, and vacuum it, all ready for chemicals (details on these events to come later). I had gotten all the chemicals from Thompson Pool and Patio I would need to open the pool and was sent home to clean the filter, a standard procedure to do at the beginning of the season as well as every 8-12 weeks. I have a Diatomaceous earth filter (aka DE), which I have been told is the best. What I know about it (from last summer) is that every time you backwash you have to dump a ton of this powder stuff into the skimmer.

I am informed this year there is a new stuff, called EcoClean and you use a whole lot less and it comes in a much smaller bag (not the 20 pound bag from last year!) Yay! I was sent home to clean the filter. A seemingly simple process: take the ring from off the filter, remove the top, take the filter grids out, spray them down with the hose, put it all back together. Well NOTHING with this pool was easy the first time (or second, or third...) I go home with my mission. First thing I realize, taking off the bolt that holds the filter together was not the easiest thing.

I, naturally, have an alternative plan: BOLT CUTTERS!!!! I go purchase a pair and off the ring comes!

 Woohoo! I spray that sucker down and put it back together. I got new bolts (bolt cutter, of course killed the original) and screwed them back in, turn on the filter, and water comes rushing out the sides. ARG! I call Thompson's and talk to Mike, God bless his patience. He explains how close to get the bolts, so I go back to work. Still doesn't work. I end up calling a friend who comes over with a ratchet set and we get it all closed up. It was pretty late that night and it was Norman Music Festival so off we went to NMF 3, away form the dear, wonderful pool.

It was a Tuesday, at lunch to be exact, that I went out to the pool to dump in all the chemicals that I had been sent me home with. The pool was crystal clear, an amazing accomplishment! I turn the filter on and...NOTHING. I felt really horrible that day and ended up calling into work and falling asleep...for three days! I did not go anywhere near the pool, or even roll over to look out the window until Friday. I went out and the pool is green and about the opposite of clear. I go into Thompson's with this PITIFUL look. My dear favorite pool expert Zac meets me as I come in and says "I don't like that look" I say, "I don't like it either!" I explain the current state of the pool and ask if I will have to drain it again. He laughs and says no, I have done everything I can (by this point I'm ready for them to just come to the house and fix it, but those guys had a lot more faith in me than I had in myself). I need to bring the "innards" of the filter in and they will chemically clean it and replace any grids that need to be replaced. Home I go to open the filter up. On the way I run out of gas...really??? I get through that, get home, remove the bolts in a reasonable manner: bolt cutters again. Take it in, and magically they get it fixed. Pool filters like a charm! (I also learned during this episode that you can put the pool on recirculate and magically the pool turned from green to blue!)

Saturday Mornings

In my child free world (and I'm praying in the world that someday involves children) Saturdays are meant for sleeping in. Last Saturday I got text messages from people at 8:17 am and 8:49 am. Unless someone is dead I DO NOT care about what is going on until at least after 10 (which I still count to be early). I was able to go back to sleep, but still... Today the text came at 10:37 am. Unfortunately (for me) I was up at 10 today. Nonetheless I hate when people text or call early (which, yes, in my world is not all that early). I love these early birds dearly, but it can wait! Promise! Did I mention this is my last free day until mid December??? Okay that was a rant. So sorry. :)