Friday, May 29, 2009

Deliriously Happy

I'm in love with a certain plant in my yard. I think its called a Japanese Lacy Hydrangea. I know its a hydrangea, just not sure of the specific variety. It looks like hell in the winter but this time of year, the sweetest blooms come out and I like to check on them everyday. I have 2 of these and they are huge.

I've also got a serious crush on this guy right here.

It's a giant hosta and it's supposed to reach 4'x 4' one day. My Mom got him for me for my birthday this year for $19 from Lowe's. You heard me. I've watched people drive past my house slowly just to get a good look at him. He's that sexy.

These love affairs with my plants are real. I miss them all winter and then when spring comes back, we flirt a little with the water hose. But when summer gets here, it's full on and I'm deliriously happy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We Call Her The Pearl

Lil' Rucci can do some pretty funny things. And I'm not just saying that because she's my kid. She makes a hillarious stink face, belts a ferocious belly laugh and one of her latest is this pirate face below.

She loves dolls. She loves dresses and shoes. She has 10,000 pocketbooks and likes to put makeup on. I'm pretty sure that she's a little crazy and will eat men alive when she's older.

She's going to punish her father because she already has him on the ropes and she's only 2 1/2. He's a dead man walking. He can barely look at her without a smile on his face or a giggle in his throat.

She says "Shore" for "Sure" and will perform for us when we need her to as seen in the post "U so fart Mama." She's sweet as the day is long but can be mean as a snake at any given moment.

I dreamed of her all my life and we call her The Pearl.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Summer's Here For Sure

Who knew I would get so emotional at Big's graduation? I mean, yes, I figured I would well up a little but jeez. My boy's grown up and he received the math award ya'll! Me and Daddy have no idea where that's coming from cause it's no secret that the 2 of us are not the sharpest tools in the shed. It could be from the Grandfathers though. One is an engineer and the other a banker. Anywho, it was a proud day. He was waiting for his new car to be in the parking lot but we decided to give him a whole bunch of Spiderman stickers instead. He's alright with that.

So today is our official first day of summer. Big and Lil have already had 3 pretty decent fights and its 9:20. The 1st one was about the toy in the Froot Loops box. Here's my letter to Mr. Kellogg.

Dear Sir,
Thank you for making family size boxes of your delicious cereal called Froot Loops. Our family of 4 enjoy's the toucan's sweety crunch every morning. Just curious though. In today's world of the American family consisting of 2.5 children, why would you think that one freaking toy in the box would suffice? You know that toy is going to the oldest kid every time. Why can't you throw in something for the other one so she doesn't go nuts and scream her crazy loud lungs out when her brother snakes it every time? It would be seriously appreciated if you could think of Mama here and throw us a bone.

Just one more Beam Up Badge in the box would be great.
Mama Rucci

Summer's here for sure.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I Love Where We Live

Last week I took Big Rucci on a field trip to Magnolia Plantation. I totally forgot how awesome this place is. It is absolutely beautiful and a definite must on the list of things to do with Grandma and Grandpa P next time. 2 of my friends got married there about 8 years ago and I haven't made it out there since then. But this is definatey going to be added in to the list of "What to do with your kids when you're bored out of your mind." There was a little tram that took us all over the plantation but the most fascinating part of the tour for me was seeing this man who is 86 years old still working out there. The man isn't part of the tour, we just happened to see him. They've traced his ancestry back to the slaves that once worked on the plantation. They say he only works alone but he's there most every day on a tractor doing something. Isn't that amazing? One other fun fact. The plantation was given as a wedding gift from Mr. Drayton to his daughter and new son-in-law. Give me a break. I think Daddy Rucci and I were given a bottle of whiskey but you're not hearing any complaints from me on that. Here are some pics of our trip.

Wow. I love where we live.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

There Are 4 New Men in My Life.

Me and Daddy Rucci hardly ever buy warranties on things. So I'm not sure what prompted us to buy one on the tires for my car but we did about 2 years ago. We got my new tires from Pep Boys Auto. It was called the Road Hazard Warranty and let me tell you something. It has saved our marriage. For some reason, a leaky tire is attracted to me like a bee to a flower. I get alot of them. This is incredibly ironic being that I have a unique ability to notice random nails in parking lots and driveways. You would think this superpower would keep my tires safe. Alas, it does not. Anywho, let me get back to why I'm in love with Pep Boys.

Since buying my tires 2 years ago, Pep Boys has replaced 2 tires and fixed countless leaks for me. But here's how they've really come through. I took Big and Lil' to Chuckee Cheese the other day and somehow managed to pop the CRAP out of my tire. There was a hole the size of an apple in the side of it. I cautiously crept 1/4 mile to the parking lot of Chuckee Cheese, called Daddy Rucci and took the kids inside. Daddy Rucci called Pep Boys, they sent a tow truck and I met my new best friend Kevin the tow-truck man outside. Kevin sees me drag the kids out of Chuckee Cheese and says, "Instead of towing you, why don't I just change your tire for you?" I say, "Please and thank you with a little tear in my eye." He says, "Give me your keys and go back inside. It's chilly out here. I'll bring them in to you when I'm done." Are you serious? Who are you Kevin? Where did you come from? I follow his instructions and within 15 minutes, he comes in, gives me my keys and tells me all of this is covered under my warranty with Pep Boys. It was free ya'll.

So yesterday, I went to Pep Boys to buy a new tire. The warranty gave me a $75 credit towards it, so we only had to pay $50 for a new tire and the labor to put it on and replace my spare under my car.

There are 4 new men in my life. Kevin, and the 3 guys from Pep Boys.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

People are Pregnant People

I know alot of people who are pregnant right now. Seriously. Alot. Like 6 or 7. The one thing a new Mama needs is food. She needs help with cooking for her family. If you are pregnant or if you know someone who will deliver soon, here are some recipes that are good for sharing or freezing.

Poppy Seed Chicken

2 or 3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 16oz. sour cream
2 cans of cream of chicken
2 tbl. poppy seeds
ritz crackers
1 stick of butter

Mix the first 4 ingredients and put in casserole dish. Cover with crushed crackers. Melt butter and pour over. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350.

Meaty Cheese Manicotti

1-8oz package of manicottii shells
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 med. onion, chopped
1 c. dry white wine
2 c. whipping cream
4 tsp. italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Sprinkle of red pepper flakes
2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes w/ basil, garlic & oregano
2 c. mozzarella cheese
3/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese

Cook pasta and set aside. Cook meat in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add onions. Drain and set aside. Add wine to skillet, stirring to loosen brown bits, bring to boil to cook off alcohol. Add whipping cream and the next 5 ingredients. Reduce heat, cover, set aside. Combine meat w/ mozzarella cheese and tomatoes. Use a spoon or ziploc bag (w/ corner cut off) to put mixture in the shells. Arrange shells in lightly greased baking dish. Pour cream mixture over shells. Bake covered for 20 minutes at 350. Uncover and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for 10 more minutes.

These were left-overs and they still look this good.

Chicken Casserole

1 6oz. package of Uncle Ben's Wild Rice
1/4 cup of butter
1/4 cup of flour
1 - 13oz. can evaporated milk
1/2 cup of chicken broth
2 1/2 cups of chopped cooked chicken
1 3 oz. can of mushrooms (if you like them)
1/2 cup of chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup of slivered almonds

Prepare rice and set aside. Melt butter in saucepan. Slowly add flour and cook 1 minute. Gradually add milk and chicken broth. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Combine sauce, rice, chicken, pepper and mushrooms. Pour into a greased casserole dish. Cover with almonds. Refrigerate (if you can) for at least 1 hour. Cook for 35 minutes at 350.

Beef Enchiladas

1 lb hamburger meat
1 small onion, chopped
1 can of chopped black olives
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 can of enchilada sauce
8 oz of shredded cheddar cheese
6-8 flour tortillas

Brown the meat and saute the onions in with it. Once that is done, add in the olives and let it heat and then add in 3/4 of the cheese and let it melt - mix it all together. Fill tortillas with the meat mixture and roll up. Combine the mushroom soup and enchilada sauce and pour on top. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

One last note to add. When you prepare dinner for someone, make sure you cover all your angles. Take a salad or a side dish to go along with dinner. Also, throw in some bread. But always, always take a dessert. If you want to be super sweet, you can take 1 dish to eat and 1 dish to freeze.

I generally like to take food to people on their 3rd week post delivery. That's when its needed most I feel. Everybody takes food the 1st week. You're still ok that first week. It's when that 3rd week comes barreling in that you feel overwhelmed. So just wait a bit, use one of these recipes and then you'll be the star of the "Bringing Food Over Show." After all, these ladies just gave life to someone. They are tired. They are hungry and they still want to eat like they are pregnant. I say, give them butter, give them grease, give them Paula Deen casseroles.

People are Pregnant People!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ahhhhhh Edisto

I hear you calling me. I know its time for me to come see you. If anybody out there isn't familiar with Edisto, it's a small little island just 45 minutes south of Charleston. Here are some reasons I love Edisto and you should too.

- As soon as you make the turn towards Edisto, you're heartbeat automatically slows down. It's undeniable.

- King's Market has the best tomato pie you'll ever eat. Throw an onion one in there and its pure heaven. The chocolate one will take your breath away and you can order all of these online and have them shipped to you. You should.

- You'll see more wildlife in and out of the water than you will at any aquarium or zoo.

- The little Piggly Wiggly, and I mean little, not only has some awesome fried chicken but you can buy fishing bait there too if you want.

- I swear the sunsets make you actually think the sun kisses the Earth goodnight right across the forehead of the St. Helena sound every evening.

- My kids are so happy when we're there, their heads almost pop off. And if they want to pee on the beach, other people not only applaud you for letting them, but laugh so hard and then offer you a beer.

Edisto is perfect. It is kind and gentle. Like a warm blanket that smells like salty air that you want to sleep under and snuggle up with day after day after day after day after day.

Ahhhhhh Edisto. I'll be there soon.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Isn't She Lovely? Isn't She Wonderful?

Here is my new little niece. We're gonna call her Cluby for now. She's 34 uterine weeks old. Here's a 3D image of her.

Isn't she Lovely? Isn't she Wonderful?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

She's Something Else

A couple of years ago, I wrote this about my Mom. Most of you know her very well and I think you'll agree that this pretty much sums it up. I want to put this on my blog because I think its pretty awesome if I do say so myself and because I think she needs to hear it again. So here goes.

She moves with slow simple grace and dignity
as if she carries the history
of those past
on her shoulders.

She makes everything so much sweeter
as if your mouth will explode
with all the love
she poured in.

She grows the most beautiful gardens
as if God knows
she will take care
of the plants and the Earth.

She creates the softest places
as if she's a mother bird
creating a safe nest
for each of her eggs.

She loves so dear
as if she sees each day
as a gift
to be cherished.

She gives us everything
as if she knows
we would be
nothing without her.

She believes in you
as if she's caught a glimpse
of your purpose
in this world.

She heals your spirit
as if she knows
sometimes all you need
is your Mom.

Somebody who had never met her asked me to tell them about my Mom. I started thinking about it and after a couple of days, this just poured right on out.

She really is something else.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Eat Up

There's a spot in North Carolina that when I was child was heaven. When I was teenager, was hell. And now that I have my own children, is heaven again. It's called Wagram. This is the place where my Mom grew up. You don't really know what the people there are saying either because their country accent is so thick or because they are hispanic. But should you visit you would know this; it is a place where people work hard and a place that holds centuries worth of stories in its barns. A place that has raised many children and watched them die all in the same old big house. A place where still to this day, you may see people from the AME Church being baptized in the swimmin' hole. A place that I hope my children take their children long after I'm gone.

Most of Mom's family still lives there. They make their livings farming and cultivating an impressive plant nursery. During this time of year, an extra special thing takes place. And that is strawberry picking. There are rows and rows of manicured beds with the sweetest, most gigantic red strawberries you've ever seen. When we go, we eat and pick all we can at the same time. Our feet turn black from the sandy soil and our sweat make little racetrack marks down our faces. It is glorious.

There is an old recipe that my Grandma F. has passed down. A little something to do with all your strawberries this season. It is called Punch Bowl Cake and here it is:

1 Angel Food Cake torn apart
1 qt of Sliced Strawberries
1 large Cool Whip
16oz Sour Cream
1c Powdered Sugar
1 Small Can Evaporated Milk
1 Package of Strawberry Glaze

Mix milk, sour cream, cool whip and sugar together. Fold mixture into torn cake. Mix strawberry slices into glaze and place on top of cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Eat Up!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Awwwwww Yeaaaaaa

I love my birthday. I love it just as much as I did when I was little. It smells like Strawberry Shortcake's hair. It looks like a butter yellow dress twirling around and it sounds like a pool party in one of those little plastic pools in your backyard. I have three birthday traditions or rituals that I carry out every year.

1. I listen to this mix of almost every single one of my favorite Panic songs that my brother made me about 8 years ago. It's a cassette tape if that tells you anything. The first song on the tape is one from Captain Zoom singing my birthday song. Please folks, get this song made for your kids. It makes me happy.

2. The second one is one that I need to weed out and it's the newest one to be inducted. But it's gotta go. I like to run across the bar at a bar as fast as I can without knocking anyone's drink over. I started this one on my 31st birthday and its fun but I think only to me.

3. This one is my favorite and I've done this one every year (without missing) since I moved to Charleston in 1994. I go to the beach at sometime during the day. I stick my feet in the water and I look for a shell that I'm pretty sure was placed on the beach just for me on my birthday. One year I found over 30 olive shells, another a conch shell. This year, Daddy Rucci found it for me. It was the thinnnest, clearest clam shell I've ever seen.

Speaking of this year, I took the celebration to a whole new level. I decided to use all my birthday money (Thank you Mom & Bob, Mom & Dad and Grandpa S.) and take Daddy Rucci with me to The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island. It was lovely ya'll. Not only is the hotel absolutely beautiful but they really work for you out there. They have the squishiest beach chairs with soft towel covers and their pools are heated or cooled to just the right temperature. They left a bottle of champagne in the room for us and they'll pretty much go out of their way to take care of anything you could possible want or need. We spent our whole day drinking at the pool looking out over the Atlantic Ocean and watching the dolphins and pelicans feed on schools of fish. It was perfect. Everyone should go.

So the next time that early soft summer breeze blows across your face, think of me and know that I'm doing what I always do in May. Thanking God for another year of health and family and friends, sticking my feet in the Ocean and saying it's my birthday.

Awwwwww Yeaaaaaaa

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Boogers can be Friends

Lil' Rucci has imaginary friends. Every now and then, I catch her talking to them in her room, in the car and sometimes out in parking lots. I'm not sure what or who they are but she knows. This is all fine and well with me. I don't mind. I am so happy she is creative and has an imagination. However... I heard her in the kitchen yesterday saying "You stay here. I be right back." I thought she was talking to one of her friends again. But when I looked, I realized she was wiping her boogers on my dish towels and talking to them, treating them like little babies. This too is all fine and well with me because at least she didn't eat them but how do I explain that she should squelch her urge to talk to them? Oh well. I guess its good that she's friendly.

Boogers can be friends.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I need a drink and it's only 8:30

So here it is. It's time to register Big Rucci for school next year. First grade folks. Wait! I'm not ready! But he is. His teacher says he can do it. She says that he is one of the best in her class. He reads. He adds. He subtracts. He counts and writes to 100. But wait! I'm not ready! Is it really time? How did he grow up so fast?

Gone are the days when I cut his food and wiped his hiney. Now I'm gonna be buying school supplies and scheduling spend the night parties. The next thing I know, he'll ask for a cell phone and then a car. Then he'll leave me, go to college, seduce a bunch of women (like his father did - had to get that in there), get married, have children of his own, think I'm crazy, put me in a home and go on with his life and the whole time I'll be saying, "Wait! I'm not Ready!"

I need a drink and it's only 8:30.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

This one's for my Kids

Today I watched the Big One dressed as Batman, leap from chair to bean bag to bean bag to rocking horse because he said they were buildings he was jumping on. You were wearing the mask and the cape and you never missed one landing. You flew that 48" frame from one piece of furniture to the next piece of furniture without ever kicking me or your sister in the face. Your mind was racing against all the bad guys you were fighting. All I could do was watch you. I couldn't tell you to stop jumping on the furniture. I didn't want you to. You think. You consider.

While the Big One did this, the Lil' One fed her baby. The one you call Susan. Susan is ugly. No doubt about it. But you love her still. I listened to you and your scrambled conversations with Susan. You made her eat three more bites. You blew each one to make sure it wasn't too hot. You gave her a bath, dried her hair and layed her in her bed. All the while kissing her over and over again. You were running as fast as you could to take care of every need Susan had today. You are going to be a great Mama someday. You nurture. You love.

I watched you intently because sometimes its hard to believe that out of me, came you. Your perfect little body and your perfect little face and your perfect little mind. How did you end up so wonderful? How did every piece of you come together so wonderfully fantastic? I study your ribcage and I see an incredible work of art that protects the sweetest little heart. I stroke your temple with the softest hair and I'm so thankful for your strong mind. I trace your tiny veins and the wonderful web they weave throughout your legs and tummy and I'm amazed that my blood runs through you.

I am so thankful that you are mine. If you weren't, I would long for you. You give me purpose and all I feel at the end of today is gratitude. Thank you for coming to my life.

This one's for my Kids.