Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I HEART...Fresh (EASY) Cranberry Relish




Everybody loves Wednesday, right?
The week's half over.  The weekend is on the way.
What's not to love?
Each Wednesday, I want to share something with you
that I absolutely love and can't live without! 

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I'm knee deep in preparations.  Cooking, cleaning, setting tables...  It's a big job, and I'm all about keeping it simple.  A short-cut would definitely be to just crack open a can of jellied cranberry sauce.  My brother, Jon, would definitely be happy.  (His love for canned cranberry sauce is a conundrum.  He fancies himself somewhat of a foodie.  Watching Iron Chef, however, does not make you an iron chef!  Although, I did steal his 5-Pepper BBQ chicken thighs recipe.)  No - I'm making my famous fresh cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving, and you'll be surprised at just how easy it is!  There are only three ingredients, and it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, so there's still time to get it done before the big day!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Our 8th Annual Halloween Party...The one with no pictures!

I know the title for today's post is a little long, but considering I started with "Our 8th Annual Halloween Party...The one that we spent months preparing for and then forgot to take a stinking picture of so we can never prove it really took place", what I ended up with sounds pretty good.  With that out of the way, please continue reading...
 
Ahhh, the rush of throwing a party.  The weeks of planning and preparing, cleaning and complaining, and most of all, completing much needed tasks.  Gerald will swear that the reason I throw a lot of parties is to get him to accomplish major projects!  True, we can always use a touch-up in the yard.  You know - fresh pine straw.  Trees trimmed.  A new fire pit.  You get the idea.  Fall is a really busy time of the year for us.  We entertain a lot during this season, so there's always a lot of work to be done.  This fall is no exception!

We hosted our 8th Annual Halloween Party on Saturday, November 2nd.  What started several years ago with just a few friends has grown to over 85 in attendance this year!  Despite all the hard work, we really look forward to this event each year - almost as much as our kids do!  Since I have no pictures to show you, we'll treat this post more as a tutorial than a show-and-tell. 

The get-together has really taken shape over the years so there is less planning to do, but still lots of preparation.  I used to make the invitations by hand.  The first year or two, I just printed them on Halloween paper.  Then I began to make them using my Cuttlebug.  It would take a couple of days to assemble them, but they were always so cute! As our guest list grew, it became pretty time-consuming and expensive to both make and mail them.  Then I discovered etsy!  I can purchase and download the invitation file and have them printed at my local copy shop for a total cost of about $25.  I hand most of them out personally at church and to friends.  Others get addressed on the back just like a postcard and then dropped in the mail.  Easy, Peasy!  Our guest list consists of mostly family and church friends plus the kids' friends from soccer, dance and swimming.  Here is this year's invitation.


In the past, we would schedule the party on the Saturday before Halloween, but one year we were rained out and had to postpone it a week.  It landed on the weekend we set our clocks back, so we had an extra hour to sleep after the big cleanup! It worked so well, we have kept it that way the last couple of years. 

I try to pick up my paper goods at 50% off the day after Halloween and put them up for the next year.  It really makes a difference when you are planning for around 100 people!  I tie them up in a trash bag and place them in the attic.  Works great!

For the last few years, I have made chili to serve as the main dish and then everyone else brings snacks and drinks.  We always seemed to be heavy on sweets, (not that that's necessarily a bad thing!) so this year, I broke it up according to last name.  It worked pretty good.  I made 12 batches of chili and my sister-in-law, Clancy, made another crockpot full.  We actually had a little left over this time, so we must have hit the magic number this year.  (Gerald and I go through the line last and a couple of years have had to literally scrape the bottom of the chili pot!)  I also make a ton of lemonade and serve it in drink dispensers so the kids can fix their own.  (My SIL, Allison, found a couple of toddlers standing underneath one funneling lemonade this year.  Ooopps!)

Gerald tried for several years to make a haunted hayride, but after hours and hours of prep-work, ghosts on zip-lines that never seemed to work at the last minute, or the (big) kids spotting the leaf blower that was supposed to sound like a chainsaw, he's finally given it up.  For now, at least!  And my dad's bird dogs that howl all night long at their own shadow couldn't be paid to bark when the hayride passes the barn.  None-the-less, the hayride is always a fun time and it usually takes at least a couple of turns around the our place and then around my parent's place to get everybody a ride.

Gerald works for hours laying a bonfire.  I understand the premise behind a classic bonfire is to just pile up wood and branches that are cut down throughout the year.  We always have at least a couple of those piles on our place at any given time.  But Gerald is a perfectionist.  He spends a great deal of time laying the fire so that it not only has great impact on lighting, but it also is low and wide enough to roast marshmallows.

In the past we have put up about 40 torches around the outside of the yard "proper" so that the kids wouldn't wander too far out.  The kids are growing up and after the incident last year - Oh!  I'm getting ahead of myself...As it was getting dark last year, Gerald was lighting the torches.  He stuck his index finger in one to fish out a wick.  When it got stuck, he twisted his finger around to get it out.  I'm standing in the yard talking when Ashlynn Daly runs up and says, "Miss Missy, my mom needs to see you in the kitchen.  NOW!"  As I head up the deck stairs into the house, I see big drops of blood on the wood.  I then find my husband leaning over the kitchen sink with Nurse (Joy) Daly attending!  He needed stitches, so Clancy ended up taking him to the emergency room while I ran the party.  My brothers handled the hayrides and bonfire, and believe it or not, it was so crowded, a lot of people never knew what happened!  We decided that since the kids were getting older, the torches weren't a necessity, so we didn't put them up this year.  (We will at Thanksgiving because my daddy likes to look at them while we roast marshmallows!)

This year's party was a total success.  Except for one thing.  I forgot to make a SINGLE picture.  I know.  But don't say I didn't warn you.  (See blog post numero uno!)  Those of you who were here can just think back to what a fun evening it was.  The rest of you - just imagine the most wonderful Halloween party you've ever attended.  Yeah, that's the one.  Nice visual, huh?  Great.  Now project those pictures on my blog.  Good job!  Thanks!

We're already looking forward to next year!  Think I'll go ahead and lay out my camera...

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Book Report...Martha Washington

Last night, I finished the book Martha Washington: An American Life by Patricia Brady.



I love to read, but it's often difficult to find time for it.  When I do get wrapped up in a good book, I forget to do things like wash underwear and feed my children.  Gerald is a HUGE reader.  I like to tell people that he read a couple of books on our honeymoon!  It was in Canada, and we were on a plane a good bit of the time.  Maybe he didn't actually finish them.  Anyway - he always has one or two laying around the house. 

I want to set a good example for the kids, too, so I am trying to fit more reading into my schedule.  I love history, and on our recent trip to Washington, D.C., I scored several books on the Washingtons and Mount Vernon.  I will be sharing more of them with you later. 

I found this book to be a really good read, so I wanted to go "old school" and share a little book report with you.  So...here are three things I learned while reading this book.  (Imagine me standing in the front of the classroom with my poster board drawing of the book cover.)  ;)

1.  Before becoming Martha Washington, Martha Dandridge married Daniel Parke Custis, a rich planter, twenty years her senior.  While this was not an uncommon occurrence, other circumstances surrounding their marriage were.

The Dandridges were what we would consider today "middle class".  Daniel and Martha were deeply in love, but his father swore that "he had not spent a lifetime amassing a fortune to have it spent by any daughter of Jack Dandridge".  Besides his opposition to the marriage due to class difference, it seems that John Custis had determined that he would spare his children the grief of a bad marriage that he had experienced with their now deceased mother.  (It seems that Daniel's sister had recently died after two thwarted attempts at marriage because her father refused to pay her dowry.  Many think she died of despair.) 

One of the best stories in the book is that of John Custis and his fiery and beautiful wife, Frances.  No one disputes that their's was a very volatile marriage.  Once while riding in the buggy, they began to argue.  Custis turned the horses toward the Chesapeake Bay and started into the water.  When Frances demanded to know where he was going, he replied, "To hell, Madam!"  Her reply?  "Drive on, sir!"  (Love that story!)  She died of smallpox not long after.

Seventeen year old Martha, eager to marry her love, went to visit Mr. Custis one day.  No one knows exactly what she said, but after she left, he contacted his lawyer and instructed that Daniel was allowed to marry Miss Dandridge.  Apparently, he was impressed with her frankness and strength of character.  The Custises had four children together.  Two of them died as infants and Daniel died after seven years of marriage.  Martha was left a grieving, but wealthy widow.

2.  While Martha was America's first First Lady, she and George never lived in the White House as the first two U.S. capitals were in New York and Philadelphia, respectively.  However, the name of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Custis' plantation on the Pawmunkey River was..."White House".  Pretty cool, huh?

3.  Martha Washington did not attend her husband's funeral although it happened at their home.  She was so grief stricken that she retired to a small bedroom on the third floor and probably listened as they carried "Her Old Man's" coffin about a hundred yards to the family cemetery.  She could not bring herself to take part in the ceremony.  In fact, the doctor attending her husband claims that she said upon his death, "Is he gone?  Tis well.  All is now over.  I shall soon follow him..."  She lived another couple of years, quietly enjoying her large family before she died in 1802.


Except for the fact that the author does not seem to be a fan of Thomas Jefferson (my favorite president), I recommend the book! 

So what's on your nightstand?

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I HEART...Deer Season

 

Everybody loves Wednesday, right?
The week's half over.  The weekend is on the way.
What's not to love?
Each Wednesday, I want to share something with you
that I absolutely love and can't live without! 
  
I'm sure you're probably scratching your head right now wondering why I love deer season, right?  Well, let me explain.  I'm not a hunter, but Gerald is.  And so is Jewell.  And Brack.  And they hunt about two hours south of here in Georgiana where Mimi (formerly known as my Mama) grew up.  So why do I love deer season?  Three out of four people that live in my house (and I'm not one of 'em) travel four hours round trip once a week for nearly three months.  You do the math!  That's a lot of Mommy time!

And to be honest, while I'm enjoying time to decorate for the holidays, knock out some Christmas shopping, cook what I want to eat (or not cook at all!) and just generally unwind, they're having a blast sleeping in a camper, fishing, hunting and eating out of gas station.  (YooHoos and Slim Jims, anyone?)  It's a win-win situation!

There's a lot of preparation leading up to deer season.  Before we had kids, Gerald would dump out all his hunting gear (and trust me, there is a LOT of it) in the middle of the living room floor and then handle each and every piece lovingly as he repacked it.  No joke.  Now that we have kids, it's not nearly as enjoyable or relaxing.  It takes both of us to get everything thrown into tubs that will fit on his trailer.

A couple of weekends before opening day, Gerald takes time to sight in the guns.  Now that the kids are older, they can help.  I even do a little target practice myself!
 
 
You won't see a lot of pictures of me in the blog because I'm usually behind the camera, but I thought I should add this one so people would believe me!  And if you zoom in, you'll see there's only one shot that didn't hit the kill zone!
 
 
My red-headed stranger getting in some target practice.
 
 
Brack and his buddy, Chase, showing off their results.
 
 
Jewell, the deer slayer!
(Yep!  The prissy, "little Missy" has killed three!) 
 

Ain't she cute?


Even Madison, Jewell's BFF, got in on the action!

These pictures were taken a couple of weeks ago on an absolutely beautiful fall day.  The kids had their buddies spend the day and they did everything from drive the go-cart, to target practice, to Crazy Loom, to girls vs. guys in basketball!  We made homemade pizzas for dinner and then roasted marshmallows and drank hot chocolate by the fire pit.



Well - it all paid off.  The opening day of gun season is not until this weekend, but last weekend was Youth Hunt in Alabama.  Gerald and the kids had a lot of fun and while Brack missed one, he brought home the bacon venison with this big guy! 
 
  
And yes, I will let him hang it on his bedroom wall.  He's my baby, after all!  His Daddy is not so lucky...I'm staring up at his trophy buck as I type at the computer, way in the back of the house in the office!
 
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Visitors Day at J.F.A.

Last Monday was Veteran's Day, and I had originally scheduled us to have the day off.  The kids were pretty excited.  ACA was out too, but it was teacher in-service so Clancy had to work.  When the kids found out Reagan was spending the day with us, they actually asked to have school so Reagan could be a homeschooler for the day!  In fact, they all but begged.  Go figure!  Even funnier - she was all for it!  So Jones Family Academy had a guest student for the day.

 
We asked Reagan to lead the pledge since she was our guest.  (And no - we don't do homeschool in our PJs but it was a special day!)
 
  
We did Bible, Language Arts and Math.  I made copies for Reagan so she could work along with us.
 
 
Brack working on his reading comprehension.
 
 
After lunch, we met my brother, David, and his kids, and a friend, Braden, at my parent's house.  (My parents literally live around the corner from us.  We love it!)  David works for the state and was off for the day so he brought the kids to do a little hunting and horseback riding.
 
 
My nephew, Ford, got in a little practice with his bow before going to my house to try his luck at bagging "Big 7", the buck we've been tracking with the game camera for about a year in our lower back pasture.
 
 
A boy and his gun!

 
Copeland, and his friend, Braden, got in a little target practice from Mimi's deck.  (No animals were harmed during the shooting of these targets.  Only Mimi's lawn chair...)
 
 
Meanwhile the girls and I took a ride in the Mule (IN a mule, not ON a mule!) around the pond.  We found a pretty, shady spot for this great picture.
 
 
Plenty o' room to swing a rope...

 
The cowboys practiced their rope swangin' skills by lassoing a jack.  Let's just say they shouldn't quit their day jobs!
 
 
The girls explored the barn and acted like the silly girls they are!
 
 
Seven kids is a lot, so luckily, I had a guest teacher for the day - my "baby" brother, David.


Reagan probably has a little more experience with horses than the rest of the kids.  She and her dad, (my other brother, Jon) ride pretty often.  She helped to get Chewy ready for saddling.  Poor, poor, Chewy.  If he had known what he was in for that day, he would have probably flat out refused!

 
As you can probably imagine, all the kids wanted to go first, so we guessed numbers.  Brack got to go first.  The rest waited (somewhat) patiently on the fence.

 
David had already exercised Chewy, so he stayed close but let the kids do the work.

 
Cowboy Cope!

 
Jewell lovin' on Chewy...

 
Anne Welch giggled the whole time!
 
 
Reagan prepares to ride.
 
After a while, David needed to split some wood, so I took the kids back to my house to play.  (Actually, I bet he holed up in the house and watched TV, but I cant prove anything.)
 

Brack hates it when I make him and Jewell pick up pine cones, but somehow, he managed to rake enough pine straw (with a broken rake, at that!) to fill a shade bed.  I'll keep this in mind, Little Buddy.
 
Brack, Reagan and Annie used the straw to form a maze of rooms.  I must admit, it's still there!


Jewell, Cope and Braden spent time in the treehouse, lifting up buckets of pine straw and spreading it on the floor of the treehouse only to kick it out and do it again.  Kids!


 
The kids had a great time being outdoors and more importantly, being together.  Brack and Jewell regularly (and affectionately) refer to the group as "The Cousins".  Here's a few pictures of them several years ago when I used to have them all spend the night during Spring Break week.  We called it "Camp Cousins". 
 

Here's the sign Jewell made to welcome everyone.  I'm so glad I took a picture of it!  It makes me tear up just looking at it.  They were so cute.  As you can guess, there's never a dull moment!
 
 
They would play outside until we would force them to come in to eat.  They'd decorate their own pizzas and then after dinner, they'd all pile up in sleeping bags in the playroom and watch movies until I made them go to bed.  They'd be up early the next morning outside exploring with Gerald until I called them in for breakfast.  I haven't done it in a couple of years.  They're getting older and going in so many directions.  But I think I'll try it again soon.
 
 
Remember the Cosby Show episode where Rudy's goldfish died and they had the funeral in the bathroom?  Well, this particular morning, while playing in the woods, they found a dead mole.  As Gerald threw it across the fence, they authored the original song, "Moe the mole..."  It is now a classic and the Camp Cousins anthem.  I still hear them singing it whenever they are out adventuring!
 
They always have a wonderful time together.  I'm so glad that we all live so close together and that they want to spend time together!  I'm not so sure that David will give up another holiday to supervise seven kids on a horse, but you never know.  Subs and guest teachers are paid pretty well at J.F.A.! 
 
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I HEART...Camp Stew


Everybody loves Wednesday, right?
The week's half over.  The weekend is on the way.
What's not to love?
Each Wednesday, I want to share something with you
that I absolutely love and can't live without! 
 
A few weeks ago, I told you that I "camped out" for the first time.  Granted, it was in the backyard, a mere 25 feet off our deck.  And I made Gerald leave the flood lights on.  Just in case.  But I was in a tent.  Therefore, I was CAMPING!

I have spent the better part of my 44 years on this earth avoiding anything that remotely resembles or even reminds me of camping.  CAMPgrounds, CAMPaign fundraisers, CAMPhor oil, sCAMPS, camp town ladies sing this song, do da, do da!  Well, you get the idea.

But this time of year, I start craving CAMP STEW!  It's not hard to make.  It freezes great and thaws in a snap.  It's great to have on hand for those nights when you don't have the time (or the energy) to cook.  It's a favorite in our house.  Put it on the stove to warm it up and I guarantee they'll come running yelling "when's supper?"!
 
Before we get to my recipe, let me give you a little background.  Outside of Alabama, it's known as Brunswick Stew.  But here's where it really gets interesting.  Ask a Virginian and they'll say it originated in Brunswick County, VA, in 1828, when a state legislator's chef concocted the recipe while on a hunting trip.  Ask any Georgia peach and she'll swear her recipe is the original coming from the town of Brunswick, GA.  After all, there's an old stew pot there, near St. Simons Island, that has an iron plaque stating it was first made there in 1898.  While I would love to support my Southern friends directly to the east, Virginia legend does have 70 years on them.  And if that's not enough, a recipe in a 1942 cookbook claims that it was one of Queen Victoria's favorite recipes and came from Braunschweig, Germany! 
 
Who knows?!  Most people in Alabama just call it Camp Stew.  Oh, and dee-licious.  If you google Alabama Camp Stew, you'll most likely find a recipe calling for cans of shredded Castleberry brand pork, chicken and beef.  And I will admit, that's the way I first made it.  But one day, I had cooked a Boston butt in the crock pot for Sunday lunch.  We ate it roast-style for lunch that day and shredded with barbeque sauce on buns the next night.  But I still had a TON of meat leftover.  I decided to make camp stew.  I didn't want to run to the store so I made it with what I had on hand.  It was a hit!  So my famous Camp Stew recipe was born.  It's not hard to make.  Just takes a little time and preparation.  But the payback is SOOOO worth it! 
 
Missy's Camp Stew
(Recipe circa 2002.  Just in case anybody wants to put a plaque
on my crockpot one day in memoriam.
This recipe is that good!)   
 
Start with a nice Boston butt, large enough to be worth it, but small enough to fit in your crockpot.  Season it liberally with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.  Sear it on both sides in a Dutch oven, then transfer it to your crockpot.  Cook on low overnight or at least 10 hours.  I usually put it on before bed and then turn it off in the morning when I get up and let it sit and cool enough to pick.  Be sure not to add any liquid when you put it in the crockpot.  As you can see below, it will release a lot of juice on its own.

 
Once it has cooled, remove any large pockets of fat and then shred it with a fork.  Set aside.  Be sure to skim any fat from the pork juices and reserve them.  Yes, there's lots of fat on a Boston butt.  That's why it's so yummy!  I just leave it on for flavor while cooking.
 
 
Peel and dice a couple of russet potatoes and a large yellow onion.  Add more potatoes if your family really likes them.  (Don't tell them about the onions if they're picky.  They'll never know they're there!)
 


Dump two 28 oz cans of petite diced tomatoes and one 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes in a large stock pot and add potatoes.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Cover.  Cook until the potatoes are fork tender.  Maybe 15-20 minutes.  Don't let them get mushy.

 
Once your potatoes are done, add your canned veggies.  Be sure NOT to drain the juices.  I add two cans of corn, two cans of creamed corn, and two cans of baby lima beans (or butterbeans).  I also throw in about a cup of ketchup, a cup of my favorite barbeque sauce and a liberal "squirt" of yellow mustard.  Mix well.
 
 
 Now it's time to add your pork.  Stir this in gently, mixing well.  Be careful to keep it on low and stir occasionally so it doesn't stick.  I like to let it "cook" for at least an hour or so.  That way, the flavors really have time to get to know each other.  Finally, add a bottle of French dressing and then season to taste with salt and pepper.  (Don't know why I add the dressing last.
It's just the way I roll.)
If it is still a little too thick (and it should be pretty thick- it's stew!),
just add a little bit of the pork juices to thin and add flavor.


I like to serve this with broccoli-cheese cornbread if we're having company, but Gerald's favorite way to eat it is with saltine crackers.  Either way, it's divine!
 
The great thing about this recipe is that it makes a lot.
I let it cool and then place meal-sized portions into freezer bags.
I use my ladle to do this since I know that 1 1/2 ladles is the perfect amount for me and Gerald and the kids just need a smaller ladle.  Perfect portions, every time!
 
I stack them flat on a cookie sheet to freeze, then once they're solid, I "file" them vertically in my freezer basket.  Takes up less space that way!  These are great to have on hand when you need a quick supper or need something to send to someone else needing a meal.
  
You can see I made a batch in early October.  Yes, it took a little time, but I got seven meals out of one recipe.  (We ate one that night for supper!)  I have a package thawing right now for a late supper tonight when we get home from church.  The high today is 50, so it will be so warm and delicious when we get home. 
 
Camp Stew or Brunswick Stew?
Doesn't really matter what you call it.
Just make it.  Soon!
Be sure to let me know what you think!
 
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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I HEART...The Crack O' Dawn

 
Everybody loves Wednesday, right?
The week's half over.  The weekend is on the way.
What's not to love?
Each Wednesday, I want to share something with you
that I absolutely love and can't live without! 
 
This may be my most controversial blog post yet.  I'm expecting to get lots of (critical) comments from people close to the source (my husband, my parents, my old college roomates...) who may claim to have evidence to the contrary, but it's true.  I  HEART...my early morning "ME" time.  I will admit it.  This wasn't always the case.  But over the last couple of years, I have really come to enjoy my quiet time in the morning before everyone else gets up.
 
 
I used to be more of a night owl when I was younger...and single.  But since having kids, there just doesn't seem to be enough daylight to get things done.  I decided a couple of years ago to start getting up earlier in order to have time to read my Bible, pray and plan my day.  Once I figured out how to set the timer on the coffee pot, my plan was ready for testing.  It wasn't easy at first.  I hit the alarm several times.  (OK - sometimes I still do.)  Sometimes I fell asleep while praying.  But after a few weeks, I began to find my rhythm.
 
Side story here.  I'll get it out there before Gerald does.  When we first married, I had a black cat named "Punkin".  She was about 8 years old.  Gerald was working from home a lot then, and he would often call me complaining that the cat was stalking him.  (What he doesn't know is that she would tell me the same thing when I got home in the evenings!)  In the beginning, he would refer to her as his (evil) step-kitty.  They finally became friends, and developed a pretty tight relationship.  If my alarm went off first in the morning, she stayed wherever she was.  (She knew I would hit snooze a few times.)  But when his went off, she would come running and jump on his chest, ready to play!  Man would she be surprised now!
 
Now, I look forward to getting up and having that time to myself.  The coffee pot is set to come on at 5:20 am so the coffee is nice and hot when I get up at 5:30.  With daylight savings time, the sun is just about up by then, but believe it or not, I like it better when it's dark outside.  I feel a little sneakier then...like I'm the only one in the world up and doing my thing.  Like I'm really getting a jump on the day.  I guess I could set my clock for 5am in order to rise under the cloak of darkness...but there's no need to get crazy here!
 
Since we started homeschooling, I have allowed the kids to sleep a little later since they don't have the old hour drive to school.  They have gotten in the habit of sleeping until about 7:00 or 7:15, and are then forced to eat a quick breakfast, get dressed and rush to the dining room for school!  While they enjoyed it for a while, they have begun to complain that they don't have any time to watch TV or play their iPod or see their Daddy before he leaves for work...  Seems like it has taken them a lot less time than me to learn the secret of early risers.  The secret?  Get up early and you have more time in your day.  Who knew?

So it's not about getting up earlier than your friends.  I know I have some nut-job friends out there who actually get up earlier than me and then go out and (gulp) exercise.  I'm not there yet.  Maybe never will be.  But I have come to appreciate my quiet time in the morning.  Especially now that we are homeschooling and I have the kids with me 24/7.  (And wouldn't have it any other way!)  If you're not an early riser, try it.  And then try it again.  It may take a while.  But just pretend you're the only person in the world who is up and see if you don't enjoy it a little more.

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