Call me, Nincompoop!

I was almost going to keep this little secret to myself because it makes me look like a nincompoop, but I decided that there has to be at least one person out there that will understand what it is like to have your mind race in a million different directions when you’re racing against the clock.

My 14-month-old daughter is cutting her incisors and molars all at once.  Yesterday, her tummy was a little upset so she and I spent a lot of time together on the diaper-changing table.  As I was walking out the door for pre-school pick-up, she needed to be changed again.   I looked at the microwave clock.  It read 12:02 pm.  Boy, that is cutting it close for pick-up on time.

I just couldn’t NOT change her.  I would feel too guilty to see her little red bottom later on in the day.  It had to be done. I did everything as fast as I could, and was off once again to get my son.  I even remembered his juice (That story is from my first-ever Hines-Sight).  It’s about 12:09 pm now.   Luckily, we live about five minutes away from his school.  Pick-up is at 12:15 pm, but they usually dismiss early.

As I passed the horse farm on the left like I do daily, my stomach dropped and I thought, “Did I wash my hands?”  I just could not remember if I did.  I then thought about all the germs I would be passing.  I tried to retrace my steps in the house, but hand washing must be so routine for me that I couldn’t pull up the memory.  My mind then quickly wandered to my purse and if I had any hand sanitizer stored in there.  

As I decided to reach over to grab my purse to check, I happened to glance in the rear view mirror before doing so and saw AN EMPTY CAR SEAT in the reflection.  My mind panicked, and it took me back to a vision of seeing my daughter like this on the floor before leaving as I got my son’s juice.

In less than half a second before I whipped my head around toward the backseat, I thought, “What do I do? Do I turn the car around? Call my husband to pick my son up from school?” I’m late!  I felt pandemonium.

With sure panic on my face, I took my eyes off the road, glanced in the backseat and there SHE WAS.  Whew! She was sitting behind me with her head cocked back in her seat, and a pacifier in her mouth that was preventing her from making any noise.

I realized I had looked at the wrong seat in the mirror.  I cannot tell you the relief I felt at that very moment. And we’re only talking about an incident that was probably less than a minute in overall thoughts.  It could have been only 30 seconds total that I had all those thoughts, but that is how a parent’s mind may work on any given day.  I sometimes feel that my mind is thinking at “Bionic Woman” running speed, and I just can’t keep up.

On this day, I was late for pre-school pick-up because I decided to change a diaper at the last minute and race against the clock.  I should know that the clock always wins!

Once I got home with both children at 12: 25 pm, and pulled into the garage, I laughed at my little nutty thoughts that caused me such heartburn and a spike in blood pressure.   I thought, "You know,  It could have been a lot worse! " In my rush, I could have easily backed the car out of the garage without raising the door.  Maybe I’m not such a nincompoop after all!

Have a great weekend everyone!  I’m off to get a cup of tea and go on a playdate!

Icing on the Cake

July 2019 update: We're still buying cakes in my family. Nothing has changed there in eleven years. I still love Whole Foods cakes.  However, I discovered Carlie C's, and the IGA grocery store in Garner, NC a few years ago, and they have the best 12-layer chocolate cakes so now we get that about 99 percent of the time.  The price is right, too. You can get half a cake for less than $10 and a whole cake for like $20. That's a bargain!  Now that my children are older, we have less cake crumbs than before on the floor, but if you have younger children then you may want a Roomba 675 by your side.  

Custom Cakes from a Grocery Store for Celebrations. Whole Foods and Carlie Cs in Raleigh, NC have some of the best for a good price.

Sometimes I just crave a good piece of cake. I think cake is my favorite dessert. I love cupcakes, too, because they are like mini cakes in my book. I am a cake girl instead of a pie girl.  I like pies, also, but I prefer cake.  I have such fond memories of my Grandma Powell's cakes when I was a little girl in the late '70s. I would stay with her a week at a time because we did not live in the same town, and we would make her delicious pound cake, upside-down pineapple cake, carrot cake, devil's food cake with vanilla icing, and plain vanilla cake with chocolate icing. 

My favorite part of the baking was licking the mixing bowls, but isn't that the favorite part for every child? It may even be better than eating the cake itself.  My grandmother, Pauline Powell, died in 1983, and my family certainly has missed those wonderful, southern sweet creations that she made with such ease.

Recently, my mom found some of grandma's recipes in her own handwriting, and since a coffee maker is the only thing that gets turned on in my mom's kitchen, she gave them to me. I think she is secretly hoping that I will serve one of grandma's cakes when she comes over to play with the kids.  In all honesty, I want to keep these recipes for posterity, but the recipes intimidate me!  It says to use Crisco and Swansdown cake flour, and then there are explanations about "sad streaks," and details on when it is okay and not okay to open the oven while the cake is baking.  It might as well be in a foreign language! It all seems so complicated for a person who didn't even make my own chocolate buttercream icing until this month because I wanted to give my children some of my same baking memories.

In the past, Duncan Hines made my icing.  When ordering cakes for events, it was not uncommon for me to look at a bakery worker puzzled when he would ask me what type of icing I wanted on my cake order. The baker would say, "Fondant, Cream Cheese, or Buttercream?" I would think, "Ah, icing that is good and similar to what country, southern ladies make for their cakes?" My cake icing needs to delicious, but not so sweet that you can't eat it. You know? The kind just like my grandma made. 

It's no surprise that when I find a cake that I like, I become obsessed with it, and it becomes my "Go-To" cake for any event I host. I'm proud to say I have found a cake that I think would get Grandma Powell's seal of approval not only for taste but also for looks.  I learned about this cake at a birthday gathering for my sister-in-law. At the end of dinner, her friend debuts this gorgeous cake.  It was so beautiful, and when I took that first bite, it took me back to days in the kitchen with my grandma.

My son's birthday cake from Whole Foods Bakery

I couldn't stop talking about the cake or its icing. It was a chocolate layer cake with white icing, and together the two merged into a gastronomic delight. I'm sure that my sister-in-law's friends thought I was quirky. I started putting my college journalism education to use, and asked my sister-in-law's friend on the "Who? What? When? Where? And How? Specifics of this gourmet delicacy that not only rivaled a southern woman's homemade cake but looked as if it had been designed and decorated by a top gourmet pastry chef. I just knew this cake had to break the piggy bank.

I about jumped out of my seat at the restaurant when she told me it came from our local Whole Foods Bakery. It was a double whammy when she told me the price was $24.99 for a cake that would serve about fifteen people. Let me tell you, I have paid a lot more for cakes in the past, even at another grocery store, and none of them even came close to topping the taste of this budget-friendly delight. That equals less than $1.75 a slice.  Whole Foods specializes in an all-natural, no artificial ingredients type cakes so you won't find Grandma's Crisco in it, and truthfully, it's hard to find a cake of this caliber under $25 so kudos to them.

I also served a Whole Food's cake at my daughter's baptism, my son's birthday, and the bakery even did a different design for my daughter's first birthday.  I also told my best friend about the cake, and she used it at her daughter's baptism, and even as a guest at that event, I still couldn't stop talking about the icing. She finally said, "We know you love the cake, Leigh !" And at my son's birthday party, the guests raved about this cake just like I did when I first tasted it.

So my thoughts are if Pauline Powell was here today, I can guarantee that she would be a fan of my local Whole Food's Cosmic Design Chocolate cake, and to quote her favorite game show host, Bob Barker, who came into her home every day at 11:00 am on WRAL TV, "The Price is Right!"

My memory is also a little fuzzy, but my grandmother always had a cake stand with a fresh cake displayed in it weekly. I do not remember ever seeing the stand empty. Seriously, she made one or two cakes weekly.  I have a plastic cake stand that I use to take places, but if I were to buy a glass one now, I think these marble baseboard cake stands are neat because you could also use it as a cheese platter. 

Pirate Princess In the City

I am an only child so I have no idea what it is like to have a sibling. But, from what I’ve observed in the past fourteen months, I would say it must be a love like none other. My daughter lights up as soon as she sees my son in the morning. He insists on giving her a goodnight kiss every night, and if he doesn’t get a chance to say goodnight before I put her in what used to be his old crib, he will cry like a baby. We learned that tidbit the hard way one night!

JH meeting his sister for the first time
My children are three years and ten months apart. When we brought my daughter home from the hospital, our son was thrilled. He was so happy to meet his baby sister. Due to the blinking sign over my head that read, “Advanced Maternal Age” each time I walked into the OB’s office, we knew a lot about my daughter before she was born. We saw her in numerous ultrasounds. I’m surprised she didn’t come out thinking she was a Hollywood star because she had been on the big screen so much within those nine months in the womb. Luckily, it enabled us to prepare JH for a sister because for the first 18 weeks of my pregnancy, he wanted a brother.

The thrill of having this new seven pound seven ounce bundle of joy in our house lasted about a week or so for my son. One afternoon, JH came to me with a frown and said, “Mommy, she does nothing, but take up space. She can go back in your tummy now!” We got a good laugh over that one and he's had to cope with her staying outside of my tummy forever now.

Like most parents who add a new child to the household, we had to deal with jealously issues, but it eventually turned to bliss once again when my little princess started crawling at about seven months of age. JH thought his "mobile" sister was fun. He was actually entertained by her and vice-versa. It was great because I was able to fold some laundry and the two of them would chase each other around the playroom while I watched.
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Guess what? The fun of having a crawling sister wore off on JH when she started to want to play with his toys at the same time he was playing with them. It is not uncommon these days for me to hear, ”You need to learn to share, baby!” or “You need to learn your manners, baby!” and the worse is just a screeching scream from my son as soon as she gets close to Batman, Robin, and his new pirate sword and hat.

Pirate Princess in the City

Lately, when JH is at school, I have been letting Little L become a pirate princess, and explore all the toys that he will not let her touch when he is around. She loves it! But, it does make her personality bolder since she now knows the thrill of playing with the coveted toys. She’s hauled off and pushed him a few times after he kept telling her no. My husband says she gets her feistiness from me.

I was folding laundry again last night and JH built this huge batman city with every toy he and my daughter own. His knight’s castle, a farm set, and a doll house were the borders for this huge play area he formed. from his creative mind. As I was getting a sheet out of the dryer, I heard his deafening shrill followed by, “She’s in my city! She’s in my city! Mama, move her! SHE’S IN MY CITY! HER CITY IS OVER THERE!”

The laundry room is right next to the playroom so I peeped around the corner and my daughter looked like Baby Godzilla as she inched closer to eat these miniature batman figures inside his city.

I still had a sheet to fold so I quickly said, “Oh, she’s fine! She’s just in the suburbs!”

I have a feeling that I may be the new policewoman for this tale of two cities for many years to come.

Until next time…I’m off to get a cup of tea!

Pack Your Bags: The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta

Georgia is on my mind! My son is learning about Dr. Martin Luther King, junior at pre-school this week. While prepping dinner, I told him that Dr. King was born in Atlanta. JH has a keen interest in travel so we talk about different places a lot, and we usually end the conversation with something like this.

“Maybe we can go there!” says JH.
“We sure can, and I know exactly what hotel we can stay in on that trip," I respond.

It is only fitting in light of my recent conversation with my son that we go to the Ritz-Carlton,Atlanta for our second, “Pack Your Bags” feature.

The luxury brand hotel has two hotels in the Atlanta area, but I chose this particular Ritz-Carlton, located in downtown Atlanta on Peachtree, N.E, because it is special to me.

My husband and I stayed here a few years ago while attending a dear friend’s wedding in Decatur. Georgia.  I think JH was two, and he stayed with my mother-in-law so not only was I happy for my friend, but also for myself because I was getting away for a long weekend—kid free. We all were so excited for my college friend’s wedding because she always told us that she would never get married. Well, I guess one should never say “never” because cupid proved her wrong. We would not have missed this wedding for anything. The UNC gang selected another hotel closer to the wedding site, but I had other thoughts in my mind and broke away from the pack.  I e-mailed them all and said, “You can join me or not, but I’m staying at the Ritz-Carlton!”

My choice was quite simple. We all have checklists in life!  Some of you may want to run your first marathon or perhaps backpack across the country or if you are really brave, skydiving could be on your checklist. . For my husband, it was to hike the Appalachian Trail and climb Mount McKinley in Alaska. He put a check mark by those items in 1996.  But for me, I wanted mark off on my paper: Stayed at a Ritz-Carlton Hotel!
Borrowed from the Ritz-Carlton website

Since childhood, I have had a love affair with this luxury hotel brand. As a feline lover, I loved its logo with the regal lion, and the luxury that it embodied as soon as you walked in its doors.  I was a television product of the 80’s, and watched shows like “Dynasty” and “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and in my mind, this luxury hotel was the best of the best. I even have childhood memories of my late father attending a convention at probably this same hotel in Atlanta, and not being allowed to go. I vividly remember saying, “How dare you go to the Ritz-Carlton and not take me. That’s not fair! That’s not fair!” and then I probably slammed my bedroom door. I was a teenager, after all!

This May wedding was my opportunity to spend three nights in a hotel that I had only dreamed about, and the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta did not disappoint with its turndown service, robes, slippers, and Italian Frette Linens. My stay was everything I imagined and then more. We felt as if we were the only guests they had to serve. The customer service was wonderful, and I loved it when the valet gave me water every time I got in the car and returned home for the evening, and he even knew my name!  For those three days in Atlanta, I felt like a princess who left her child with a nanny, and I ate like a Queen each meal I had there. Our breakfast buffet in the hotel’s signature restaurant, Atlanta Grill, ranks as one of our all-time favorite breakfast buffets. In between our scheduled wedding events, the concierge guided us to the nearby Georgia Aquarium, which was a great experience and very close to the hotel.  Upon returning, she had a table waiting for us at the hotel’s afternoon tea service. I have had tea in Paris, London, Canada and in many hotels in the U.S, and I have to say I was quite impressed with Ritz-Carlton-Atlanta’s scones and tea sandwiches. 

Whenever my son was old enough to engage in conversations, I have told him that when he is five, I’m going to take him to a Ritz-Carlton for tea, but he has to have really good manners, and act like a gentleman. Today, it dawned on me that JH is now five.  I told him with excitement at dinner that Ritz-Carlton opened a hotel in our home state of North Carolina so it will be much easier for us to take a weekend trip to Charlotte to have our tea, but he’s got to do better with his manners and listening skills.  Today he did not excel in those areas.

He listens, takes a bite of his food then says without hesitation, “Mom, what is a Ritz-Carlton?”

The child has so much to learn!  And I can't wait to teach him.

Until next time……I’m off for a cup of tea!


As a parent, have you ever reacted to something quickly and perhaps blurted out something not very proper? You realize it as soon as it comes out of your mouth. You look around wide-eyed and hope that your child with the bucket on his head didn't hear you.

Sometimes you aren’t as lucky and say the wrong thing when you just happen to have a captive audience like when your kids are in their car seats.

Being a role model for your child isn’t easy. We’re all human and we slip up, but I’m trying my hardest right now to practice good manners and think before I speak. I spent a good part of my adult life not thinking about who was listening unless I was “on-air”, and I will tell you that a TV newsroom would make a lot of people blush. It’s high stress, and the language can get ugly.

I have a good friend who I have known about 18 years, and he is now the godfather of my son. We met after college while living in Southeastern, NC when we started out in our broadcasting careers. I was in TV, and he was in radio. We both worked alone so we would team up, and cover events together so we would have company.

One evening, Columbus County where we were both assigned to cover its news, had some really wacky weather on an election night.

We had been working all day, and were continuing to work through the night because we had to do election returns, but for some reason Mother Nature wanted to lead my station’s newscast that evening. It was raining like a hurricane, and our police scanner reported that a “mobile home had been struck by the wind and debris was all over the road.”

I drove both of us in this downpour on a rural road to find a mobile home that got caught in a downburst of wind, which is not quite a tornado, but the damage is usually severe in these weather events. I unloaded my video equipment, which in 1993 weighed about 25 pounds. I turned on the camera, and the lens immediately fogged from the moisture, and I couldn’t see a thing. I lost it! It had been a very long election day, and on top of that frenzy, I had to deal with a weather disaster.  I think I said every ugly name in the book, and shed a few tears.  At the end of my dramatic meltdown, my TV competitor who was also a good friend, drove up in his vehicle. As soon as he opened his car door, and before he could get his camera,  it was like déjà vu. His mouth needed washing out with soap, too as the old saying goes!  My son's godfather never lets me forget that day.

Luckily, as I matured, my language skills also vastly improved. I tried to be a southern lady while on deadline, but on occasion, my inner Scarlett O’ Hara would emerge and through my feistiness, I would say some southern slang.  This leads us to this week’s family conversation.

My husband and JH were playing with our new Wii and my hubby wasn’t doing too well. My five year old was beating him so he mumbled words like “stupid move” or worse under his breath when he lost. When JH didn’t do well, he copied his dad and said some of the same things. My husband told him that he was wrong when he mumbled those unpleasantries earlier out of frustration, and he shouldn’t do it either.

A few minutes later as the game resumes, something else came out of my son’s mouth. He blurted out in his little southern accent, “What the HECK was that?” My husband shook his head, and said, “You shouldn’t say that either!”

JH said, “But mama says it.”

“I know she has said it and she shouldn’t say it either,” commented my my husband. I was warned by him not to use this phrase before when he heard me say it one day when something surprised me.

“But dad,” said JH quietly. “Why does she say it? Doesn’t she know that little boys copy their mamas?”

Well, I do now.

Until next time……….I’m off to have a cup of tea!

The Well Visit

Why is it that children look like angels when they are tucked in their bed at night, but during the day sometimes, they are far from acting like angels and as parents, we just have no control over the situation? I now have two words that may shake me in my boots forever: Well Visit! My five-year-old son had his doctor’s well visit on Wednesday. It didn’t go well! Fortunately, the good news is that he is healthy and on target for his age, but the bad news is, we probably left our pediatrician’s office with a huge red flag in our folder that reads, “BEWARE! Child is dangerous and out of control emotionally if blood work or shots are involved. Proceed with CAUTION!”

I’m sure I’m not alone, and other parents have issues when taking their children to the doctor, but it is mind-boggling when it happens to you. You feel helpless, angry, sad, frustrated, concerned, embarrassed, and so many other emotions. My son started having issues with doctors when I was pregnant with my second child in 2009. JH had to have allergy testing, a flu shot, and H1N1 shot within months of each other. I guess it was too much! At his four-year-old well visit last January, he yelled, “NO”, turned, and bolted out of the doctor’s office as fast as he could. He was almost in the parking lot before I caught up with him.

Luckily, he didn't go to the doctor for a sick visit last year, but we did go for a flu shot in October. He did great! Ironically, he even asked for a doctor’s kit for Christmas so I was trying to be optimistic for this well visit, but I still was worried about the appointment.

My husband was on deadline so he couldn’t go with me, and I made the crazy and bad decision to take my one year old because I wanted our doctor to check her ears while we were there. She’s been somewhat restless at night over the past few weeks, and I was concerned about an ear infection.

The infamous appointment was at 3:15 pm. I had to wake my daughter from her nap, which is just painful in itself, and dash out of the house with very few minutes to spare. Of course, we could not find a parking place. I get both kids out of their car seats, open the stroller, and make the very stupid decision because I’m running late to leave the diaper bag in the car. I guess the 15 seconds it would have taken to grab the bag would have made me even later. Who knows what I was thinking at the time?

We sign in and we wait! We’re in the lobby about thirty minutes. My daughter starts to get cranky, and a thought runs through my mind, “Can I leave them in the lobby, and run and get her food and Tilty Cup of water that is sitting in her diaper bag in the car?” I actually ponder this question off and on as I sat in the waiting room. I resort to having my son push the stroller back in forth in the lobby until we are called, and that made Little L happy.

We then get moved to the room. Things are going stupendously. He likes his tests with the nurse, the doctor, and Little L is entertained from all the commotion. But, things can go downhill mighty quickly! And that was the case here. We went from happiness to yelling, screaming, kicking, more yelling, and complete insanity over a single finger prick. My son is a slow bleeder so it took a little longer to get the blood the nurse needed, but by the time, she got on the band-aid, it was scene from the : “Exorcist.” I could not control him! I could not calm him down. He was an emotional wreck and we still had FOUR shots to give him! The nurse left the room. Meanwhile, my daughter is in her stroller looking at her brother, and he’s yelling and screaming at the top of his lungs, “I want to go home! I want to go home!” People in California probably heard him. Did you? I continue to try to calm him, and I grab my cell phone out of my purse, turn it on, and proceed to call my husband.

He answers. I immediately hold up the phone so he could hear the screams. I say exasperated,  “You owe me. You owe me big time!” I try to get my husband to calm JH, but it doesn’t work. He’s just distraught. I’m at a loss of how to help my child.

The nurse brings in two other helpers to help with the immunizations. My daughter is crying as we try to restrain JH. He proceeds to hit a nurse, kicks, screams bloody murder, and I look into his eyes with all of his terror as they administer these shots, and I just start to cry. It was the most emotional roller coaster ride that I’ve ever been on in my life. I feel bad about my son hitting this kind nurse, embarrassed that the doctor’s staff may think I’m a terrible parent because my child hit a nurse in the face, and sadness for my little boy who was apparently traumatized by this entire experience. It was an exhausting afternoon!

Later in the evening, I cuddled with my son, and we talked about our experience that day. He told me again that he didn’t like blood work. As we kissed, we focused on the positive. He said, “Mama, I peed in a cup very well today.” And that he did.

Until next time……I’m off for a cup of tea!

Pack Your Bags: We’re Heading to a Fairmont Resort

It’s been a week since I started my Hines-Sight Blog. It’s been a great week because I’ve heard from some of you, and I thank you for your kind words and support. It really brightens my day. Being a mom is my first job and my priority, but I cannot tell you how much reward and satisfaction I have experienced in one week since seeking this creative outlet. I rise a little earlier with pep in my step, and I can’t wait to sit down and communicate with you. My turning 42 last month is no longer a dark cloud over my head; instead, I have renewed energy and excitement much like a recharged battery. This is something that a stay-at-home mom needs from time to time.

We’re going to celebrate my Hines-Sight Blog’s first week birthday by talking about one of my passions: Luxury Hotels. I am one of those people who say a hotel is not just a place to sleep so I relish my hotel search when I’m planning any type of vacation. I spend countless hours looking up hotel websites, and have a drawer full of hotel club memberships. Even my five-year-old son has picked up on my little quirk. When someone asked him what he was looking forward to on a recent trip to Walt Disney World this year, he remarked in his little southern accent, “Staying in a hotel and eating in restaurants!” I must also interject with sadness though that since taking on motherhood that my luxury vacation planning has come to a screeching halt! So you can imagine how much joy I’m getting by taking a few minutes to write about a hotel today. My ultimate goal is to have us “escape” to a resort from time to time so we’re going to start today by talking about Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.

The luxury hotel chain announced this month that their restaurants are going to cater to the special dietary needs of its guests. All Fairmont hotels and resorts now offer Lifestyle Cuisine Plus, a new menu available upon request catering to guests with specific diet-dependent conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and gluten free, as well as unique dietary preferences including, macrobiotic, raw, and vegan diets.

We are fortunate in my family that we do not have any food allergies, but we do try to eat healthy. Since becoming a mother, I’ve become more aware of food allergies because I have friends who have children who have gluten, dairy, peanut, and egg allergies. I know the struggles they have to expose their children to meals that are safe. Dining out can be a huge challenge so imagine going on vacation where you need to eat in a restaurant almost daily! With Fairmont’s news and resorts all over the world, vacationing for these families just got easier.

I’ve only stayed in a Fairmont resort a couple of times in my life, but I frequented their resort restaurants several times while in British Columbia. The food was wonderful. I still talk about some of those meals today when I start reminiscing about trips. For fun,

I’ll post a photo of one of the best high teas I’ve experienced at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, BC. We came home with great memories, and just three weeks later after that trip, we learned that the next time we went to a Fairmont Resort, we would be bringing along a stroller.

Til next time…..I’m off to have a cup of tea!

Buzz, Buzz: Tweet! Tweet!

It’s an icy day in Carolina! My hubby left the rear wheel drive car in the garage, and took the company truck that he brought home yesterday to work so that means its just me and the kids like any other normal week day. My daughter is napping and my five-year-old son is absorbing knowledge from PBS since pre-school is closed.

I just had to write today about my excitement when I learned that Tilty Cup tweeted my blog to their followers. I had to put down my English Breakfast tea, jump up and down in my robe, and immediately tell all of my friends on Facebook.

The social-networking site is about as far as my technology experience goes right now so I don’t Tweet—yet, but I love Facebook.

This may surprise you, but I was in college at UNC-Chapel Hill before the Internet and e-mail buzz. It really is hard to believe since technology is such a part of our lives now. Both my roommate and boyfriend had word processors so I used to type my papers on their computers. In high school, I took a computer class where we learned some type of computer programming, and our end result ,was a blinking smiling face on the computer screen. Obviously, I didn’t retain much of that knowledge and can’t make my computer smile at me to this day.

I don’t have an IPAD, BlackBerry, Smart phone or anything smart or savvy like that at all. Actually, I have a phone that I forget to turn on, and it’s so old that when my husband takes it in to get us new phones, the young phone salesman says, “I haven’t seen one of these type of phones in years!” That should tell you something right there about our technology skills. My best friend has to remind me to turn my phone on before we meet one another because she tried to meet me some place sometime, and the place we were going with our children was closed and she couldn’t get up with me to change locations because my old phone was off in my purse. She finally went home with an unhappy pre-schooler that didn't get a chance to play with my son.

She’s also the same one who got me to sign up for Facebook, reluctantly I might add, a couple of years ago.  I said, “Well, I’ll do it to look at your profile because I love you, but I won’t use it much because I think that is for college kids.”  I have to admit, I fell in love with it, use it more than her, and even got my 75 year old mom on the site so she could see photos of the kids because I refused to upload them to photo printing sites any longer.

I wish Facebook existed when I was at Chapel Hill or I would never have lost touch with my college friends. We would have had so much fun through the years. We’ve all reconnected now on Facebook except one friend. She is the lone holdout and we make fun of her because she doesn’t know anything when we get together.   It’s funny, in my posh dorm; we did have a “Look-Book” that was published with a photo and hometown of the students who lived in the three towers. I loved that book, too  just like I love Facebook.  My friends and I would look at it and develop little crushes. Sometimes, we would see our “Look-Book” crush in the cheeseburger or ice cream line. Those were the days!

So, if you’re reading this and like what you read, join the Hines-Site Blog fan page on Facebook, and keep up with the latest updates.  Suggest the blog to your friends, too.  I probably won’t be abbreviating anything in my communications because I don’t know how to "text" talk.  I learned recently that my phone accepts text e-mails, but I don’t know how to text back or even put in contact numbers.  I really hate to admit this, but my friends actually put in their numbers for me.

It's no surprise that when I first read the acronym SAHM a few years back, I had to ask one of my Savvy moms what that meant. It sounded like some disease! I’m serious. Well, when Tilty called me a SAHM in their tweet, my two biggest blog fans (my mom and mother-in-law) tried to figure that acronym out like I did at one time. My mother-in-law said she thought it meant, “Savvy at Home Mom”. I actually like that much better than how “Stay-At-Home-Mom” sounds. I think that is how I will think of it. The best one yet though is from my dear father-in-law who is so sweet and is my third biggest fan, he wrote, “Congrats, but they not only reversed the I and the E in your first name, they called you a "Single At-Home-Mom”

Til next time…naptime is over, and I’m off to have a cup of tea!

Tilt This Way!

It’s snowing in Carolina! This is our first winter weather of 2011, but surprisingly, Old Man Winter visited us several times in December, and even gave us a white Christmas weekend. Luckily, JH has some boots for whatever this snow decides to do today. Last month, he had to use his tennis shoes with sandwich bags on his feet to help keep them dry. He didn’t like it and I’m sad to say that it didn’t work very well. I’m going to go ahead and tell you right now….it was his daddy’s idea; not mine. Big W had said that he had done it before when mountain climbing, and it worked. I don’t know what I was thinking? I actually tried to squeeze his feet in his old boots that were a size too small. You know…women are used to doing that type of thing with their own clothes occasionally, and we can get those pants to zip. It just takes a few tries! When my brilliant idea didn’t work then we resorted to Mr. Ziploc. He may have the strength to protect your sandwich from moisture, but he lacks on keeping your feet dry in the snow. Don’t even try it at home!

I wish I were one of those people who always had great tips, and the tips worked well. It’s just not in my DNA. I have to rely on others to give me those tips. I would love to be the savvy mom who could find great products or the mom who could invent great cooking tips that not only save time, but also money. I have to rely on others for all that information. I’m more of the fly by the seat of my pants mom, and when I’m flying by you, I want my behind to be in designer jeans, and that’s not good because that is not ideal for the family budget. So, when I’m flying by on my sometimes broomstick, it will always be the same pair of designer jeans because I can only afford one pair; not two. You get the idea!

But let’s talk about a great find that I, of course, did not discover own my own. One of Little L's little friends was drinking from this unusual looking cup at a tea I held for her on her birthday.

The inside of the cup tilted so that it was easy for the baby to drink the liquid. It was also BPA free. I didn’t really notice the cup or pay attention at the tea because I was too busy eating scones, but my best friend (you know like Oprah’s, Gayle) kept talking about this cup long after the party, and she and I e-mail about 20 times a day so we got on a sippy cup discussion.

As curious as I am, I looked up the cup. It’s a Tilty Cup. Little L, at the time, refused to drink from a cup at all, especially milk. I spent over $25 or more dollars trying out different cups, and she would push them away if milk was in them. Occasionally, she would take a sip of water, but I was not having success transitioning to cups at all. My friend said she was going to order some Tilty cups for her baby so we split shipping, and she placed the order for us. In about a week, we met at Starbucks for coffee, and I came home with my new Tilty sippy cups. I gave Little L her milk that evening and sure enough, she started drinking from the cup. It was MAGIC! I called my friend all excited, and she was, too. Her baby did the same thing.

At that very moment, I threw away every sippy cup I had and never looked back. We only use Tilty cups now, and Little L drinks from a cup like a pro, and as I mentioned yesterday, she is totally off of bottles.

Tilty Sippy Cup

Thanks to my savvy friends who found the cup first, I now have sippy cup joy. The cup is not easy to find in North Carolina, but one local store called Toads and Tulips in Wake Forest does carry it. The Tilty company website has complete details on where you can find one for your baby or grandbaby near you.

Til next time…..I’m off to have some tea!

A Second Helping, Please!

One of my college roommates posted a message to me on Facebook telling me that she liked Hines-Sight, but jokingly said, “Don’t talk about college-life!” Little did she know that as I was clearing the dinner dishes last night, I started thinking about those wonderful college days at UNC-Chapel Hill, and all the sudden, I looked at my one year old’s left-over macaroni and cheese, and it dawned on me that I’ve made a complete circle with my culinary skills. I’m making the exact same meals I made 20 years ago except the pitiful things is back then I didn’t even know how to make a grilled cheese or a quesadilla.
Delicious Mac and Cheese

I have definitely expanded my repertoire!

When I entered college in 1987, I lived in what some would call a posh dorm. We had a great dining hall among our towers, and we shared a bathroom with another suite. Those were two great perks not to mention the tennis courts and swimming pool which occasionally, fraternities would play ball naked at 2 am, but that’s a whole another blog! Right girls?

Like most college kids, I wanted to live in an apartment my junior year, and of course, that meant giving up all those home-cooked meals at your fingertips. My roommate and I lived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, boxed macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, spaghetti, pizza, and hot dogs! We didn’t even eat salads. Well, that about sums it up for what is currently featured on the kid’s menu at any restaurant in America today, and believe it or not, many of those same foods are all that my second child will eat when placed in front of her. Everything else gets one tasting, and immediately goes right back into the rather large pocket on her bib.

My cooking skills didn’t get any better as I entered life post-college. I didn’t even know how to use all the features on my Jenn-aire stove in the 1990’s as embarrassing as that sounds. I ate at least twice a week in a restaurant called Pizza Village in Whiteville, NC with my friends. Later, when I worked for the town’s local hospital, I took advantage of the food at my fingertips just like I did in my dorm, and ate a lot of vegetables in the hospital cafeteria and I even slipped out the door many nights with a to-go box.

When Big W and I married in 2002, we actually thought home-cooking meant frozen, processed meals you cook on the stovetop or an Omaha steak on the grill. Talk about unhealthy! It wasn’t until I gave birth to JH that I started to cook good, healthy meals. My motivation was I had 36 pounds to lose plus it gave me a motherhood outlet. I cooked while Big W took care of the baby. As a first-time parent, that was a nice trade-off for alone time in the kitchen. My recipe book collection grew tremendously from that day forward and I actually discovered that I love trying out new recipes. Who knew? JH is also my child that will eat tofu, tilapia, ethnic foods, and vegetables, but he doesn’t really care for traditional kid’s fare. When we took him to Disney World last year for the first time, I had to find restaurants that also served grilled chicken, shrimp, and steak on the children’s menu since we were on the resort’s dining plan whereas Little L is stuck on my old college food. I let her try what we eat, but I end up supplementing her meals with some type of pasta, or cheese dish specialty in fear that she will starve.

Even though I now cook about six nights out of seven, I do not consider myself a gourmet cook or even that great of a cook. I have many friends that I will gladly give that title to any day of the week. In fact, I like to prepare easy, quick, healthy meals and with Little L being so young, the quicker the meal is to prepare the better because I don’t know what your house is like at that 5 pm hour, but it is just a crazy time in the Hines house. Enough said there! You won’t find too much cooking talk here on this blog, but on occasion, I’ll share a successful recipe with you or tell you about a cookbook.

If I hear the words, “I’ll have a second helping, please” coming from the mouths of my babes then that is success in my book. Today’s honor of noteworthy mention goes to a cookbook written in Rocky Mount, North Carolina which also happens to be Big W's hometown. I bought this cookbook authored by The Junior Guild of Rocky Mount about three years ago when visiting friends. This wonderful book is called “A Dash of Down East…A Second Helping”.

I’ve cooked several great delights from this book from salads to main dishes. In fact, my mother-in-law is now in love with a salad that I make from this same book, but let’s talk about some beef. Yummy “Southwestern Beef” is a crock-pot cooked chuck roast. It cooks all day, and shreds into a tender, tasty filling for tortillas with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and of course, we like to add sour cream. It received two thumbs up by judges Big W and JH. I can’t share the recipe without written permission from the Guild, but the good news is that this scrumptious Rocky Mount cookbook is still for sale, and has been reduced to $5.00 plus shipping and handling.

The Rocky Mount Junior Guild members are cookbook pros. They produced, “Dixie Dishes” in 1947. They published “Rainbow of Recipes” in 1974, and “A Dash of Down East” in 1986. In 2003, “A Dash of Down East…A Second Helping” was born. These Guild members can certainly cook, and they have great recipes to share. Trust me! If we’re lucky, maybe they are working on a 5th cookbook for us. Hopefully, by that time, I will no longer be cooking my old college staples, and cooking just one whole entrée and sides.

Til next time….I'm off for a cup of tea!

Okay, Maybe Just One Commemorative Item

As I was reading today's daily news with my piping hot english breakfast tea, I stumbled upon a news clip that featured a learning toy made in England. It will be available right before the royal wedding.

I know I said yesterday that I have grown up, and that I will not buy Prince William and Catherine Middleton books. But this? Well, I have a precious little girl that would love to play with this toy, and I think I would love to play "wedding" with her. I may cave.

Only drawback is that the price is in pounds, and we know that equals expensive for us Americans.

Have a great weekend everyone, and thanks for being the first "Hines-Sight" followers.

Til next time--I'm off to get a cup of tea!

With this Ring, I’ll take a Day Off and a Cup of Tea

It’s dreary January, and even though North Carolina is not typically that cold, and Carolina Blue skies do peak through the clouds from time to time, it’s still a long, lackluster month.  I credit the dullness to the let down of the post-holiday hoopla.  Let’s face it!  December, even though it can be crazy, is a fun and festive month.  You go to parties with your friends, visit with family, the house is all bright and cheery, and you have an excellent excuse to be merry with a snowman cookie in one hand, and a glass of red in the other.  After all, red is Santa’s favorite color!   But after you stay up late on December 31st, comes January.  Sure, there are parades and football on the first day of the month, but then what?    You have to bundle up to go the mailbox, and you have no mail to look forward to once you get there because holiday bills replace the joyful Christmas Cards.  If you are like most, you also try to tighten your pocketbook this month, and that only adds to the dreariness.

To add some pizzazz to January, you may be thinking about vacations or days off from work, and are about to approach your boss with your selected dates.   My situation is different. I’m sure my oldest boss, five-year-old "JH," would love to go on vacation, but we have different agendas.  I would like a day off from him and his sister.   When I took this job five years ago, I didn’t know that meant I would forfeit all sick days and vacation days.  I know what working parents are thinking!!!!  You’re probably saying,  “you don’t have to make deadlines, be in meetings, and you can set your own schedule daily.   That sounds like a vacation!!” You’re right!  There are some great perks to being a stay-at-home mom, but at the same time, you never get away from your boss.  They are with you by our side morning, noon, and night, and actually outside your bathroom door yelling, “Mama” while you try to take the time to go to the bathroom.

Children of any age can be mentally exhausting when you can’t get away or hide from them.  When I was in the working world, I could close my office door and let the phone go to voicemail if I wanted to eat my Café Carolina Cobb Salad.   Now, I find myself not even sitting down to eat lunch, but rather nibbling off of the two lunches that I made for the kids while standing at the kitchen sink.  With the time and effort it took to make two different lunches because of the kid’s four year age difference, I have no desire and energy to make a third lunch for myself.   And on the flip side, taking two children out to lunch isn’t exactly the most tranquil experience either.

This all brings me to New Year’s Day.  I was standing in my family room with the TV remote in one hand, and with one-year-old Little L crawling up my pant's leg, looking at me with her big, beautiful eyes.  She wanted to be held.  At the same time, JH was yelling at the top of his lungs, which is his rendition of quiet, indoor play.  I was actually trying to watch some of the Rose Bowl Parade.  No one in the house had any interest and chaos was all around me while I was trying to focus on the beauty of the floats and the marching bands,  one of which was from my hometown of Cullowhee, NC.   Just at this exact moment of craziness, my husband, Big W, walks from our home office to the kitchen via the family room.   As he gets past the TV, I say to his back, “You’ve got to take April 29th  off, please.  I don’t think I can stand it if you don’t take that Friday off.”

My husband, who is genuinely a blessing says, “What?”  And I proceed to tell him that there is no way that I can watch the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton if it is like this, and I won’t be able to stand it.  Big W doesn’t even blink an eye.  He says, “Sure!” in less than three seconds.  He didn’t hesitate or roll his eyes.  He knows that I love a wedding like he loves finances, that I have been a follower of the British Royals since watching the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 when I was 13 years old, and that my collection of Princess Diana books clutter our bookcases.  We even chose London for our honeymoon.  You get the idea.

I’ve grown up a lot in 30 years, and I will not buy any William and Kate books to clutter our house, but I do want a day off to see this British historic event unfold live on my HDTV at 4 am in the morning with a cup of tea in my hand.   And thanks to my King, my little prince and princess will be upstairs with their daddy in the bonus room playing Wii while this Anglophile enjoys the British Royals putting on their best pomp and circumstance.

Prince William and Kate Middleton

So as Wills and Kate say,  "I do" on April 29th  and enter into a world of wedded bliss, I will be living my own fairytale that same morning----a day off with a nice cup of English Breakfast with one scoop of organic cane sugar, and a splash of milk.

Till next time….I'm off to get a cup of tea!

Welcome to the HinesSightBlog

Published January 2011/Updated 2019

After a daunting trip to Food Lion today, I decided that it was time to relieve some stress in my life.  Some people may exercise or eat a whole box of cookies to de-stress. Well, I'm going to write. I'll probably eat some cookies and exercise, too, but being able to write my thoughts and experiences help melt my tension away.  I don't care if I'm writing for my own entertainment and I"m the only reader.  I'm going to fantasize and pretend there are millions!!!  My goal is to write, and just perhaps,  it will help me remove some of the devilish, hormonal horns that have appeared on top of my head post-Christmas.

So welcome to HinesSightBlog.  As I pulled into the garage after that post-pre-school trip to Food Lion in which my oldest child, "JH," who turned five in December, whined that he was thirsty and hungry for the entire 30-minute trip, I knew today was going to be the day I began my blog.   JH complained so loudly in the store simply because I changed my daughter's pooh diaper five minutes before I had to be at the church for school pick-up, and wouldn't you know, I  forgot his drink as I was running out of the house.  His drink?  I was lucky to remember to buckle up Little L or bring my purse during this mad sprint to school for pick-up.  The infamous drink wasn't even a thought, but yet, I paid for it dearly.  In my Hines-Sight, I would be a better mom and make a nice organized list of precisely what I need to do instead of trying to live by the seat of my pants and count on my own memory for things.  Not being organized gets me in hot water and in situations like today at Food Lion.  The silly thing though is we're talking about a cup of juice mixed with water so he can get his daily fluoride that screws up the entire universe for less than an hour.  The cup of juice will be there when we get home.

As adults, we can handle not having our juice when we're thirsty, and as a 42-year-old adult, I have a tough time understanding why a five-year-old can't take it like a man and know that he will have juice as soon as we get home.   It won't be that long!!  As JH whines when complete strangers approach us in a very loud, annoying voice that he is thirsty and hungry, my embarrassment in the store just seems to swell.   I know most people have children, and even though that may have been a long time ago for some, they probably still remember the struggles,  but it doesn't make it any easier when your child acts like he is a spoiled, poor behaved child in public.  So in hindsight, I said, "Maybe I'm the bad parent and should have tried to go to the store at a different time instead of when it was the most convenient for our schedule. " I had fed "Little L" before we left, and JH had a snack at school, but I learned later that it was just "boring, old goldfish" as he told me in the check-out line.  I also thought that maybe it was because I am 42, and am dealing with small children at my age when most people my age are dealing with teens,  but as soon as I checked my e-mail, I saw that another parent struggled today as well so the age of a parent doesn't matter nor does the age of the child.  As I unloaded the car,  walked around in my coat, prepared two lunches, and put away six bags of groceries, still in my jacket,  it was like a lightbulb went off in my head, and it dawned on me that children are called children for a reason. Otherwise, we would call them "mini-adults."  It's not MY OLD age that can't handle the chaos, but every parent has these struggles no matter their age or their children's ages.  It's just the way it is.    

I think the only genuine people who really enjoy children are grandparents.  And they can do that simply because anyone can tolerate anything for a short amount of time.  Period!!!  I will not even bring up the issue that I broke about four nails trying to do the safety lock in the grocery cart to secure Little L.  We'll save that for another day...

Note from Leigh on September 1, 2019. 
My kids are now 13 and 9. Time sure does pass by quickly. I'm now 50 and of course, in an entirely new stage of parenting. I love to keep these old posts because they are like time capsules and I treasure them. Blogging was a little different in 2011, it was more like a diary, and of course, as I changed the blog did, too. Thanks for being part of my community and growing with me.

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