Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Image

This begins a new segment called "The Friday Image". Yes, I'm hurting for blog ideas. But actually, there are some friends of mine in China that do a Tuesday Morning Image on their blog and it's one of the highlights of my week. So maybe it could be fun.

To get this thing started, here are some pictures taken from my phone this morning of what the road looked like on my way in to work. The roads were finally clear enough for me to make the trek, for the first time since Monday. The drive was both beautiful and scary. As you have probably heard, Kentucky is under a bit of snow and ice this week. The kids here have been out of school every day this week, and there are 1 million Kentucky homes and businesses without power. President Obama declared Kentucky and Arkansas federal disaster areas yesterday. We are fine-- we have power and phones and cable and internet-- many of our friends are without these luxuries and have been for days. The weekend should offer some relief, with Sunday's high expected to hit 51 degrees. Monday, however, the temperatures drop again and the snow returns. Fortunately, no ice is expected to accompany the snow.


Here is a picture of the beautiful, snow-covered Kentucky countryside:

And here is a photo of the road in front of me-- the trees are weighed down by ice, and there are trees down all over Kentucky.

Disclaimer: For all of you who are worried about the fact that I was taking pictures while driving, and putting myself in danger-- have no fear. I made very sure to take these photos when there were no other cars around, I slowed way down to take the pictures, took them very quickly, and then put the phone away.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I am his.

Yesterday was my birthday. I am not posting this in order to fish for birthday well-wishes. I have received (and enjoyed) plenty of those this week. In fact, thanks to my mother-in-law and her joy of celebrating birthdays, I have adopted her practice of celebrating birthweek. Not just birthday. Birthweek commenced last Thursday and we've been celebrating for days now. I am having a blast. We've been out to eat a couple of times, we've gone bowling, and even spent a day at the Newport Aquarium. Birthweek ends tonight, actually. We have made arrangements for some friends to keep Eisley for us, while we go out for sushi (YUM) and a movie.

That is all beside the point.

My perspective on things sure has changed since I became a mom almost six (!) months ago. I made a very dramatic entrance into the world. Or so I am told. My dad loves to tell the story. I was born prematurely, had some complications at birth, stayed in the NICU for a couple of weeks, and my mom and dad were released from the hospital without getting to take me home. My mom and dad lived an hour away from the hospital, so they drove every day to see me during visiting hours. Apparently, at one point I stopped breathing and no one had noticed-- my dad and my aunt Mary were peering through the glass window and noticed that I had turned an odd shade of blue. They found my nurse and they intervened and here I am. When my parents did take me home from the hospital, I didn't weigh very much. My parents had to feed me every 2 hours around the clock for the first few weeks. I was hard work.

I've heard that story a thousand times. I hear it every year on my birthday in fact. And a few times in between birthdays, too. But this year it has new meaning.

It takes a truly selfless person to parent and to parent well. Nothing is about you anymore. Before becoming a parent myself, when I would hear this story, I didn't quite get the significance of all of it. I didn't quite understand all the things my parents must have been feeling as they watched their little girl in her first few days of life from behind glass instead of holding her in their arms. I've never really understood what a big deal it must have been for my parents to have to feed me every 2 hours once I DID get to go home. Oh my, how exhausted they must have been. That gives me a new appreciation for those 3 & 4 hour stretches of time we got to sleep in the night when Eisley was brand new. And all my experiences with Eisley have given me a new appreciation for all my parents did for me.

Anyway, I think it gives my dad such joy to remind me of my birth story, because still to this day, 29 years later, I know he marvels at me. The way I marvel at my own daughter. I see it in his eyes when he tells me this story. He's still blown away by the fact that I am his daughter. For my dad, the events that surrounded my birth were and are a miracle. I like that my dad adores me. I used to think that my dad liked to remind me of my birth story to remind me of how much hard work I was-- but that's not it at all. He is a dad that is still as much in love with his daughter as he was 29 years ago when he and my mom weren't sure I'd ever get out of the hospital, or make it one more day. He marvels at me today, not because of the choices I have made in my life or because of my successes. And he marvels at me in spite of my failures. He marvels at me because I am his daughter, and that's it.

...Enter cheesy God analogy...

Except it's not cheesy at all. It's the truth. God still marvels at you. At me. At all of us. He is pleased with his workmanship in you and he delights in you. We are hard work. But our Abba loves us in spite of that. Just because we are his children-- that's it.

None of this is profound really and it's nothing that hasn't been said 1000 times before by every other parent. But I'm just feeling pretty loved today-- by my own parents, in thinking about all the sacrifices they have made on my behalf over the years-- and most of all, by my Father in heaven-- who made the greatest sacrifice of all, on my behalf, over 2000 years ago.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yes, We can hear you!

Below is my stepdad's column from this past Sunday. He is the Managing Editor of the Henderson Daily News in Henderson, TX.

I don't think the column needs a big introduction, so here's the text. I think it is just great. I've read through it a few times already. And if you know my stepdad and mom at all, you're probably smiling right along with me.


Can y'all hear me now?

Managing Editor
Henderson Daily News
Sunday, January 18, 2009

Let it be known that I really am committed to keeping current with modern telecommunications technology as the years go rolling by. It's really not optional around here, because ever-changing technology is such an important part of what we do in this business.

I mean, one just can't afford to let these youngsters run circles around him on a computer.

Even so, my old-school, hayseed true colors sometimes come shining through for everyone to see.

It's like that old saying about taking the boy out of the country but not being able to take the country out of the boy. Welcome to my world: There's not much chance of polishing me up.

I was reminded of this station in life a few days ago when we installed a Web camera on wife Jimmie Ann's personal computer, and scheduled a time for an online visit with our son's family in Frisco.

The Web cam was a Christmas gift from the oldest daughter's family, including five-month-old granddaughter Eisley, in Kentucky. It was the perfect gift for my wife, who can now see her new granddaughter growing up via the Internet.

For all you codgers, a Web cam facilitates face-to-face visits on a computer screen. In our case, the fist-size camera and microphone are attached to the monitor, allowing both parties to see and hear each other.

Pretty amazing stuff, even by today's standards.

After we made all the necessary downloads and adjustments and hooked up with our son's family, we sat down for a nice visit. Jimmie Ann had tried it the night before, visiting with the kids in Kentucky.

When I got home, I could tell she was pretty proud with her new technological prowess. The session went fine, she reported, strutting around as if she had launched the space shuttle.

The next night, it was my turn. When I took a seat in front of the monitor and camera, I was somehow compelled to raise my voice as if we were chatting with tin cans connected by a string.

She kept elbowing me, reminding me there was no need to speak so loudly. But off I went at the top of my lungs - or so I'm told - for the entire session.

I was reminded of my mother, who to this day still speaks into a telephone as if she were talking into one of the old crank-style models with the extended mouthpiece, which were common in her youth in the 1930s. Usually, we can hold the phone at arm's length and have no problem hearing her.

In the Internet Age, I had become my mother.

I'm sure the kids will be amused for some time about their hayseed Dad hollering into the Web cam during that initial chat session.

Let 'em laugh - they know nothing about the forces that helped shape this old-timer. For one thing, I'll bet they've never even heard of party lines, which were still quite common when I cut my telephone-talking teeth.

Many of you will remember party lines, too, but it's not something our children would know about.

Years ago, country folks who were lucky enough to have telephones in their homes were forced to share lines with others. If someone else was talking, too bad. It was the source of a tremendous frustration for people who shared a line with a motormouth. It also allowed gossips to eavesdrop on others' phone conversations. And, naturally, busy signals were common for people stuck on party lines.

“Get off the phone, I'm a-talking long-distance!” I remember them saying when I was a kid. “Well, how much longer are you going to be? You've been talking all day” would be a typical response.

Back then, most town folks had private lines, but they were still pretty rare for country folks. We lived out in the country.

So, the next time I'm chatting with the kids and grandkids on the Internet, I'll be sure to remember that slates, smoke signals, party lines and other ancient forms of communication were a long, long time ago.

I guess this Internet thing is going to catch on.

Tony Floyd is Managing Editor of the Henderson Daily News. His column runs on Sunday. E-mail him at Copyright 2009, Henderson Newspapers Inc.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Month 4: The Highlights

Eisley is now 5 months old! I can't believe it! Here are some of my favorite pictures from Eisley's 4th month of life. I feel silly doing this now since we are now halfway through month 5-- I meant to do this sooner but never got around to it.

* Special note: Many of these photos are from Christmas. It was such a joy to get to introduce Eisley to all of her family. Do not take it personally if you are not in any of the photos below! I wish I could have included all of them. To see all of our pictures from our Christmas trip, please go to my picasa page. You can get there by clicking here.

I just think this is a sweet picture:

I like this one because it shows her great big smile. She really is a happy baby:

This one is just funny. She received a Little People Nativity set from some friends at church. The first thing she did? Shove the baby Jesus in her mouth. Her Grandmom captioned this photo "Taste & See That the Lord is Good (Psalm 34:8)" I like it:

I like this one because it reminds me of the joy of celebrating our first Christmas with our daughter and thinking about what traditions will be ours from year to year. I enjoyed decorating the Christmas tree and letting Eisley sit beneath it in the mornings during the Christmas season:

I love how happy she was sitting out in the snow here:

I like this one because she went through a stage where she LOVED her tongue. She was constantly sticking it out. She was so entertained by it:

This is a special one for me. Over Christmas, we got to introduce our Sandra Eisley to her namesake, my grandmother, Sandra Efurd. I love how happy the both of them are here. This was within the first 2 minutes of the two of them meeting:

This is one of my favorites because she looks somewhat mischievous:

It was really fun for us to get to introduce Eisley to her cousins:

(With Kayla, Logan, & their Mimi)

(With Allie Grace)

This cracks me up. Eisley was mesmerized by baby Maggie's bow on Christmas Day. She finally got a hold of it:

Adorable Little Santa Baby:

And finally, I just love this picture. She was having so much fun reading the paper with her Granddaddy this particular morning. And I have a feeling her Granddaddy was quite delighted, too!

Another Favorite

I keep thinking that some day I will revive my blog as a place for thoughts, ponderings, insights, etc. But my brain has been in a fog for, oh, I don't know... about 5 months now. So until I come out of that fog, I'll just do the best I can here.

Here's another great recipe I wanted to share with you, courtesy of the Everyday Food Magazine. Had this for dinner last night. Unbelievably delicious.

Muenster, Turkey, & Apple Quesadillas

- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for baking sheets
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 8 flour tortillas
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Muenster (6 ounces)
- 8 ounces sliced cooked turkey
- 1 Granny Smith apple, hlaved, cored, & thinly sliced

1. Preheat oven to 425, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Lightly brush 2 rimmed baking sheets with oil, and place in oven to warm up. In a small bowl, combine honey and mustard; set aside.

2. Place 4 tortillas on a work surface. Dividing evenly, sprinkle with half the cheese, top with turkey, honey-mustard, and apples; finish with remaining half of cheese. Cover with remaining 4 tortillas, and brush tops with oil.

3. Carefully remove hot baking sheets from oven; place two quesadillas on each. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes, flattening with a spatula, and rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

4. Enjoy!

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Favorite Recipe

One of the best birthday gifts I have ever received came about two years ago from my friend Kandice. She bought me a subscription to the Martha Stewart Everyday Food Magazine. Once a month, a new issue would arrive in my mailbox and I would flip through the pages to see what tasty treats we could try out.

My magazine subscription ran out after a year (I need to renew it) but I still have the old issues and we are having a blast still menu-planning from them. I highly recommend this magazine to anyone out there-- these are wonderful recipes that are made from ingredients that are fresh and easy to find. Billy is trying to get us to eat less meat (we usually have a meat dish just twice a week), and here is my new favorite non-meat recipe. We made it last night and it was as tasty as the first time we made it. It was a flavor explosion! Give it a whirl. You won't be sorry!

Black Bean Tostadas with Corn Relish

2 limes
2 scallions
1 package (10 oz) frozen corn kernels
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 jalapeƱo chile
1 pint grape tomatoes
8 ounces monterrey jack cheese (to be shredded)
4-6 flour tortillas
1 can (15 oz) black beans
1 avocado
Sour Cream for Serving (optional)

1. Start corn relish: Squeeze limes into a medium bowl. Thinly slice scallions, and add to bowl along with corn. Add 1-tbsp of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper; toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate (you could make this in the morning to give the flavors a chance to mingle-- we usually don't though and it is still super-tasty).

2. Prep vegetables: Halve jalapeno (remove ribs and seeds for less heat if desired), mince. Halve tomatoes. Combine in an airtight container, cover and refrigerate.

3. Shred Cheese.

4. Make tostadas: Preheat oven to 475-degrees. Arrange tortillas on two baking sheets; brush both sides with remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil. Rinse and drain beans; sprinkle over tortillas. Top with tomatoes/jalapeƱos, and cheese. Bake until golden and crisp, about 10-minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.

5. Finish with corn relish: While tostadas are baking, pit and peel avocado; dice. Toss with corn mixture to combine.

6. For serving, top tostadas with corn relish, and if desired, sour cream.

Here is the photo from the magazine-- I promise you will enjoy them!