Thursday, September 29, 2011


"This law was never designed to hurt fellow human beings," says [Alabama Governor Robert] Bentley.

But it does, Governor. But it does.

And with that I'm headed to PCB with my guy for a redneck romp the Harley way. ;)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


My favorite food is Italian. I pretty much love it all. A trip to Italy is my dream vacation destination. I will go one day. One day. To soak in the culture, feast on the flavors, revel in its beauty - just take it all in. I would also love to speak the language, but let's face it... that ain't gonna happen. Chris, though, is not a fan. He's a meat and potatoes kind of guy. He also cooks most nights around here so things such as pasta are few and far between. But hey, as long as he's the one doing the cooking, I'm not complaining. :)

One night last week, however, he called from the grocery store and said, "Hey you wanna make lasagna tonight?" Is that a trick question? Of course I do!

Wait, me make it? I've never made semi homemade lasagna before. The pressure. was. on. 

What would I do without google? Seriously. I would be lost. Once again I combined what I thought I would like from this one then added a few things from that one to sort of make it my own. This lasagna was simple. So simple. So simple yet so delicious.


2 lbs. ground turkey (obviously you could use any meat: ground beef, venison, italian sausage or a combination – and yes, that is a lot of meat – if you prefer a less meaty lasagna use 1 lb.)
1 large jar spaghetti sauce (I use original Prego because it's basic then I “soup it up” like I like it)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce (instead of this I used a jar of our canned tomatoes but if I didn't have them, it would definitely have needed this)
1 small onion, diced
1 (8 oz) pkg. mozzarella cheese, shredded*
8 oz provolone cheese, shredded
1 (15 oz.) container ricotta cheese
2 eggs
¼ c. milk
9 lasagna noodles raw
¼ c. grated parmesan cheese
*I bought a big bag of shredded mozzarella to have extra to sprinkle on top with parmesan - can't imagine how yummy it would be with fresh mozzarella. 

Brown meat and onion. I do this together – I don't have to drain meat using lean turkey. Add spaghetti sauce and tomatoes/tomato sauce. This is where the recipe becomes rather vague, as I don't have a “recipe” for the sauce. I always add salt and pepper, garlic salt, a pinch of sugar, a squirt of ketchup, a little shake of this and that of whatever is in the pantry. :) Pretty much however you would fix up spaghetti sauce.

In a separate bowl combine ricotta cheese, eggs and milk until mixed well. Add mozzarella and provolone, mix well.

Layer a 9x13-inch baking pan with just enough sauce to cover bottom. Lay 3 lasagna noodles in pan. Cover with sauce, then with cheese mixture. Repeat layer. Finish with a layer of noodles, remaining sauce (I had just enough left to barely cover noodles). Sprinkle with parmesan cheese (and extra mozzarella if you have it).

Place on cookie sheet. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 375°. Uncover and continue baking for 15 minutes. 

In the words of my favorite Italian, Giuliana Rancic (who I'm just a tad bit obsessed with), it was "amazeballs." See? I can speak the language.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Captions follow...
Love that sweet crooked smile ;) 
Silly boy
Getting ready for target practice with G's bow 
Gotta get it just right 
Checking the distance
Shot two arrows almost Robin Hood style
Yeah, I know I'm good even if I am a beginner :) 
Me and my Turbo the first day of school
Claire's first meet
Fuzzy picture but so pretty
After meet at Mimi's opening happies from RaRa
More happies
And yet more happies
I should have kicked RaRa's butt
Sissy love
Redneck creativity

What you DON'T want to see when you open your
GasBuddy app on the way to the beach when you're almost out of gas
and have forgotten where the nearest gas station is. 
The first spell of cooler weather and the boots HAD to come out
He was super thrilled I was taking his picture 
Cute little booty - not much of one - but still cute
Mac and Reid: Their walk is identical. It's also identical to their daddy's walk :)
Enjoying the sunrise most mornings now that we're in a routine
A pic of a pic I found at mom's the other day
Grace, Mac, Bethany, Reid, Grant and Mags... SIGH
Would someone please stop the hands of time from turning so darn fast!?!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I love Jim 'N Nicks' pimento cheese. Chris thinks it's crazy that I go to a BBQ restaurant to eat pimento cheese, but I love it. It's homemade and delicious - and also a little spicy. I was craving it the other day so I took to the google in search of a recipe. After combining a couple of them, I came up with what is a very close second to Jim 'N Nicks. And it's only second because I don't have those yummy cheese muffins served with whipped honey butter while I wait. :).

If I don't post it, I will forget how I did it. And then I would be sad.
8 oz. block sharp cheddar cheese
8 oz. block pepper jack cheese
2/3 c. mayonaise (I use Hellmann's)
4 oz. cream cheese (room temperature)
4 oz. jar diced pimentos*
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. finely grated onion (the onion I used was strong so I didn't use the whole teaspoon)
salt and pepper to taste
garlic salt to taste

Grate cheese and set aside (grate your own cheese – don't use store bought shredded). Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add mayo, pimentos, worcestershire sauce, sugar, onion, garlic salt, and salt and pepper. Beat until blended. Add cheese. Mix well. I like it served as a sandwich on sour dough with lettuce and tomato, but it's also great with crackers.*I believe Jim 'N Nicks uses roasted red peppers in place of pimentos. I may try that next time.

I have a couple more recipes to share (a simple and delicious lasagna recipe and pizza muffins for the kids) but I'm out of time. I'll try to get to those tomorrow.

Look at me dishing out the recipes. No, your eyes are not deceiving you. HA! 

Obviously this is not a Wordless Wednesday post. But if it had been...

Monday, September 19, 2011


Friday evening. You know, Chris and I sitting out front watching the boys play ball...
While Liza Jane Deer roams in the yard.
Then Big Mighty Puppy a/k/a Lucy wants to be friends with LJ.
That deer will roam through a yard where wild little boys play ball, run, chase each other, shoot Nerf guns, etc. BUT she's afraid of a fur ball who weighs all of 3 lb. 11 oz. So She runs. Lucy thinks she's playing which results in Lucy chasing Liza Jane through the front yard.
And then around to the back ultimately sending LJ into the woods like she's running from a bullet.

So like I said, just your typical Friday evening at the Norton home. :)

I'm not sure what type shrubs these are but I wish I could somehow make the picture scratch and sniff. When they bloom they have the most delightful aroma. Tea olive maybe? Gosh I wish I knew who built this house. (heehee) I literally get to wake up and smell the shrubs. We have some on the side of the house and in front so whether I'm getting in the car or we're out front playing, I can smell them. They're very fragrant, and the scent carries for quite a distance. I'm so very sad to see summertime slipping away, but these blooming make me enjoy the beginnings of fall. Plus it's been nice to be outside without melting. I'm in the process of changing the boys' closets and drawers from shorts to jeans. One of the shrubs is right by Reid's window. I decided to make his room the go-to place for going through everything so I can open his windows and enjoy the sweet smell. It's delightful.

Speaking of sweet...
But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
Psalm 13:5

Friday, September 16, 2011



Last week Grant's class read a story about a puppy. His teacher sent home a note asking if anyone had a small dog/puppy they would like to share with the class to correlate with the story. Grant was super-excited Lucy would have an opportunity to visit his class.

Before we arrived Mrs. Turnipseed asked Grant to use a word to describe Lucy.  His word was fragile.  Such a Professor-esque word. They also used a spelling word to help out on how they should act while Lucy was there:  tranquil. HA! Bless Lucy's fragile little heart. They were anything but tranquil. Lucy Belle was a nervous wreck. :) They were just excited, though, and were all very sweet and gentle with her. I think they were as "tranquil" as 20 second-graders with a cute little fluffy puppy visiting their classroom can be.

I forgot my camera :( (I'm surprised I remembered the dog) so a few snapshots from my phone will have to do.

So far Grant is having an awesome 2nd grade year. We love Ms. T. She is very positive and really wants the kids to have fun while learning. She has told me more than once what a joy it is having Grant in her classroom saying he is "very bright, is always on task, and a good friend to his peers." Maybe she says that to all her parents. I like to think she doesn't. ;)

Mac and I had to make a trip to the dentist first-thing Monday morning. Not too long ago he cracked a tooth, but they did something they call "build up" to fix it. It looked so good it actually looked better than his "good" tooth. After tossing a baseball with Grant and subsequently getting popped in the mouth with it, the "build-up" came off exposing that ugly broken tooth.
He is my vain child, so he was in tears thinking he would have to go to school with his tooth looking like that. I assured him it was very fixable and that we would be in Dr. Cumbus' office as soon as they opened. We were. They fixed it. All is well.
Now he can turn on the charm flashing that sweet smile at Maddie. His teacher informs me they're attached at the hip. He calls her his best friend. :)

When I checked him into school after the dentist, I walked him to his classroom. Mrs. Schweers needed me to help her with a few things, so I stayed a little while. It was reading group time while I was there. Mac's group was at the reading table. Mrs. Schweers asked Mac to read aloud the two pages of the book they were on.

He read, "I. am. the. little. yak. I. am. the. little. ox." I have to admit I teared up. I know they're sight words, but to see him "read" those words melted my heart. There's something very special about watching your children learn and grow right before your very eyes. He was so proud of himself and rightfully so. We're so proud of you, Bueller!!

Until recently Reid hasn't shown a lot of interest in baseball. He will hit off the tee, play in the yard when his brothers are just messing around, and say he wants to play. That's about as far as it goes though. As far as really wanting to hit with his daddy's help showing him how to get better, he just hasn't been into it like his brothers. And that's okay. He loves music so much we've always said instead of baseball guitar may be his thing. If that's the case, guitar lessons it is. However, his interest in baseball has peaked in the last couple of weeks. After his brothers get in the cage and hit, he wants a turn too.
I'm excited to see what Spring ball will bring when Turbo's finally on the field.

Bethany's friend, Ellie, came to Wetumpka with B this past weekend. Chris took the boys to the hunting land so the lemurs and I... I mean girls (wink wink - kidding, B) and I could have some girl time. After a fun, delicious and entertaining lunch at Panera it was on to the movies to watch The Help. It's one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. If you haven't seen it, go see it. It's great.
B and Ellie before the movie
B and Ellie after we had a head lice discussion.
I can't wait for the next lunch/movie date with my baby girl.
Talk about watching someone grow up right before your eyes. She'll be driving in 65 days. I'm not ready for that. I don't know what parent ever is. 

Fall baseball is officially underway. We decided to play in Millbrook again this year. Wetumpka doesn't have a fall league, so our options were Montgomery or Millbrook. After being enlightened on a few key issues we opted for Millbrook. Montgomery doesn't even keep score. As one parent put it, "That's like killing a buck and not counting the points." Only in Alabama would someone make that reference. 

We had our first three games jam-packed into one week this past week. I'm learning this baseball thing as I go and have learned that fall ball is so much more laid back than spring. Don't get me wrong, it's still competitive (at least for us) and we want to win, but it's a totally different ball game. Pardon the pun. ;) We have a great group of boys and parents. These boys want to play baseball. They have done a good job so far, scooping up a win each game. Last night's was a nail-biter. Those are always fun. 

This is the first time we've played in 7-8 year olds. It's also the first time a catcher has been needed. For some reason when Grant learned a catcher was needed, that was the position he wanted. Chris tried to sway his decision as catcher is a demanding position, but Grant was determined. So Chris ordered catcher's gear, and they started working on it. 

They worked really hard so that Grant would be ready for the first game.

And ready he was. He looks like a natural. Although it is so very unnatural for his momma to watch as his sweet head is so close to those swinging bats.

Mac is also on team Wetumpka. He's only 5 but is playing up. He looks teeny on the field compared to the bigger boys, but Bueller holds his own in every way. I think that says a lot in and of itself. 

These are the days...

Happy weekend!!

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Matthew 19:14

Saturday, September 10, 2011


I'm giving you fair warning (as if the post title wasn't enough of one) that this is a long one with lots of pictures. I've tried to sit down and post about each beach trip individually, but life happens. We've been busy getting back into the swing of things with school (for the kids), taxes (for me), routines, schedules, baseball, etc. I love it all. Yes, even bookkeeping-type spreadsheets to help our accountant with our taxes (and to help our wallet where our accountant is concerned). For us routine is good. But after living up the summer with the kids - which I'm so blessed to be able to do - it's nice to now be able to put a coherent thought together. Because let's face it:  summer + kids at home all day + no schedule or routine = zero coherent thoughts. This stage in life does, however, leave little time to sit at the computer to blog. Or do anything else for that matter, like... oh I don't know, get a pedicure. THAT would be lovely. If you could see how jacked up my feet are you'd probably insist I MAKE time.

Back to the beach. We went from not going for two years to going three times this year - twice over the summer and again for Labor Day weekend. And if all goes as we hope, Chris and I will be going back for bike week in a few weeks. It will afford us some much-needed couple time as well as a little break from the kiddos. Every momma needs one now and then.  

Chris and I knew when the camper made it's way out of a four-year hibernation this year that the beach is one place we would be hauling it. It didn't make sense not to. Neither of us have ever camped at the beach so we were starting from scratch as to where to camp. After consulting the google, we narrowed our choices to Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores or Emerald Coast RV Beach Resort in Panama City Beach. 

Both, for the most part, received great reviews. There was just something about Emerald Coast, though. Maybe it was that it's in PCB. Gulf Shores will always hold a special place for us because it's where we were married, but we love PCB. It's the only beach the boys know. Some of our favorite restaurants are there. It's easy to get around - there are so many different ways to get to different parts of the beach. The beach/water is usually beautiful. We're partial to it for some reason. 

However I must admit I was a bit anxious to get there and see if it measured up. I was the one who ultimately decided on Emerald Coast which meant if it was crap, it was all my fault. ;) As we know from the blogosphere, pictures can do anything justice and can easily create a false reality.  

I could not have been more pleasantly surprised when I pulled into the park. It is like a well-kept secret. The park is beautifully landscaped and is very well maintained. They have concrete pull-through lots. Should you need them, their private bathrooms are not only spotless but air conditioned. For me to think of a bathroom as spotless is impressive. There were two pools, one of them brand new, sparkling, with a game room. Most of the people who work there also live there. Everyone is so very friendly and very accommodating. On Saturdays and Sundays they offer a hot buffet-style breakfast in the Clubhouse. It is convenient to everything, situated right off Front Beach Road. A little added bonus (to us at least) is that ZooWorld is situated behind it so in the evenings or mornings you can enjoy the sounds of the tropical birds. So in other words, the park is grand. Just grand. But probably the best thing of all about having our camper at the beach is just that:  It's OURS. We're the only ones who sleep in the beds. The sheets are ours and they're soft. We're the the only ones who shower in the shower. And our butts are the only ones who sit on the toilet. HA!

Our first trip included all 6 of us. Bethany was already down there, so we picked her up when we got there. One of the first things on the agenda was Bethany and a new piercing she's been wanting. This chick continues to surprise me. I never would have thought this is something she would want. If you know me I'm all about it, so I was excited when she told me she wanted to do it. Only the closer we got to having it done, the more nervous she grew.  

  So Chris tried a little comic relief to lighten things up a bit.
And of course her brothers were there for her to squeeze their hand until the blood supply was cut off support. She was a big girl, though, and despite saying at this point,
"Mom, I don't think I can do this. MOM, I really don't think I can do this. MOM, I CANNOT DO THIS."
She did it. And it didn't really even hurt. And it looks really cute. She rocks it. :)

It's been so long since Reid has been to the beach he kept saying this was his first time ever, so I couldn't wait to get him on the beach. Bethany said the beach the day or two before was absolutely beautiful, clear and turquoise. What a difference a day makes because it was pretty from a distance, but there was a good bit of seaweed which I can do without. The boys didn't seem to mind it too much and couldn't wait to get out in the water.

When they had their fill of swimming in what felt like was a giant pool of orange juice with a lot of pulp floating around it was time to enjoy the sand.

I could stay there all day, but my family doesn't share my love for sand and sun, so after a few hours we called it a day. We headed back to the camper to check out the park's new pool. 

And what's a trip to the beach without some fun on go-carts. This particular place had kids go-carts. I think Grant and Mac could have stayed there all night.  

Only Reid wasn't quite tall enough to drive himself, so Sissy said she would take him on the bigger track. While they were waiting in line for their turn, Chris was watching the go-carts on the bigger track and said, "Hurry, go get us two more doubles - you can take Grant and I'll take Mac and we can all be out there together."

In other words he took what was going to be a fun little drive on the track for B and Turbo and turned it into a competition. Oh it was ON then. 
BEFORE the race - so sweet
AFTER the race and the WIN
Do you see that face? Do you see it? That's sheer excitement that she and Reid totally smoked all of us. In fact, with the exception of two single carts, they beat everyone out there. To say she was excited about her win was a big understatement. It was more like, "OOOOOOH IN YOUR FACE. WE SOOOOO SMOKED Y'ALL!" :)
When you're with Chris there is no agenda. It's surely not my nature but after 8+ years it's something I've gotten used to. I actually kind of like it when we're somewhere like the beach. After all, we don't take a beach vacation to feel like we have to be certain places at certain times. While on our way to Boatyard one day, we passed by a marina where you could see all the charter fishing boats lined up. I knew exactly what he was doing when he whipped in the parking lot. I was ecstatic. I love to deep sea fish but haven't had the opportunity to go many times. Chris found one he liked so we all got out to meet Captain Chris of Killen Time. We found out the boat holds 6 plus the captain and deckhand so it would only be us on the trip. The cabin is air conditioned and has a bathroom. It sounded perfect. We were sold. We ultimately decided on an 8-hour trip although I was a bit skeptical of such a long day with four children who had never been deep sea fishing. After lots of prayers for seasickness to be kept at bay, Sunday morning came. A few doses of Dramamine/Bonine later and we were on our way. 

Heading out.
The Dramamine got the best of all of them for a bit.

But I would much rather have sleepy babies than sick babies. After a little nap on the ride out they were great! Plus, there's nothing like seeing this
to get the adrenaline pumping and wake you up. It was impressive. At one point there were two of them, and the deckhand was constantly keeping watch to make sure one wasn't forming on top of us. Needless to say the weather could have been better, but at least it wasn't miserably hot. 
I'm sad to report my baby girl does not share my love for fishing in the deep blue sea. This was one of the few times she was out there catching fish. I doubt she will go back. :( But she sure did look fabulous in her big floppy hat for which we had to make a special trip to Pier Park. :) 

The boys are still a bit young/small to fully enjoy it. The rods and reels just with the weight and bait are very heavy for them, so as long as they had a rod in their hand, someone had to be assisting them. Every time we dropped the line we would catch fish, so we all had our work cut out for us which means my hands were full which resulted in no pictures of the boys catching a fish. Boo. After a while they decided they would stay inside the cabin to help Capt. Chris.

This was a very kid-friendly charter, and they were great with our kids. The boys had the best time feeling like they were really "driving" the boat. It also allowed Chris and me time to try our hand at catching bigger fish. Or shall I say it allowed ME time to catch bigger fish.
Do you see those three big grouper hanging up? Yeah, that's right. Those are mine. Chris tried to blame the deckhand for giving me bigger and better bait. HAHA! It was pure luck and sure was fun!! We could have doubled the number of fish we caught had everyone been fishing on their own, but it wasn't about that. We got cleaned up and headed back to Boatyard with our catch of the day where they fixed us up a feast. Despite some rain, a water spout, and the fact that I was worried B's pouty face was going to stick (heehee - kidding, B), it was a great day. AND no sick tummies! PTL! Next I want to go back sans kids for a two-day trip.

Another stop was what the kids call "the upside down house," Wonder Works.
Architecturally it blows my mind. I just like to stare at it.

Chris on a bed of nails. I did it too & don't let them fool you. It hurts like hell

I could see Professor as an astronaut

Sissy liked reading all the different interesting facts.
There were a ton of them and some would blow your mind.

After a busy, fun-filled few days it was time to pack up and go home. We were sad to leave but Bethany had cheer obligations. Much to my delight we decided to leave the camper. We went home for a couple of days to regroup, wash laundry and handle some things, then it was back to PCB and Emerald Coast to soak up what was left of our summer.

We took a trip to ZooWorld to see what it was we were hearing from the camper. This isn't a fancy zoo like a big city zoo. It was a very up close and personal type zoo which we loved even more than a bigger zoo. We all thoroughly enjoyed it. 

This guy had the right idea... it was H-O-T!
I've always said they were monkeys. :)
This guy "talked." The boys were mesmerized. 

We finally made it around to the petting zoo - our favorite part

Look at Reid's face. How can that not make you smile!
Grant feeding the giraffe. That's one big nasty tongue. 
A quick shower rolled in one afternoon. What better to do after that than jump in the puddles!

We had a wonderful few days there. But school was starting in a few short days so we had to get back. We were excited about the beginning of a new year of school, but it's the beach. Who wants to leave!?!

Leaving was a little easier knowing we would be back the next month for Labor Day weekend. Our friends, Scott and Wendy and their two girls, Madison and McKenna decided they would join us. 

We made it down a day earlier than the Privett's, so we knew the boys would be anxious for them to get there. And since Friday was likely to be the only dry day thanks to tropical storm Lee, we decided on Gulf World to keep the boys busy. It was the perfect day to go as it was mostly overcast with a slight breeze. Just perfect! I've always loved places like this and have secretly always wanted to be a trainer. Wouldn't it be fun to go to work every day and swim with dolphins?
Notice Professor is not participating and was a nervous wreck we were. ;)
But he'll hold a snake. ???
Bueller was called on stage to assist during a magic show

Mac and 'Kenna have been buddies since they were both in diapers with pacis. We joke they're the future Mr. and Mrs. though they could pass for brother and sister. They went to the same preschool but now go to different schools. We don't see them as often anymore. When we first started camping Scott and Wendy were always our Wind Creek "neighbors." We have many, many memories together. It was fun being neighbors again. They're sweet friends with two sweet girls with whom we always enjoy spending time, not to mention most of what comes out of Scott's mouth is hilarious - even when he's not trying to be. Laughter is so good. You never would have known it had been quite a while since we were all together. 

Somehow Kenna talked Bueller into each wearing one of the other's shoes.
I wanted a picture of it. He didn't want to give me one.
This is her trying to pull him back. HA!
My hot husband.
Chris isn't a fan of pictures. This is proof he was there. ;)
Getting ready for laser tag
All geared up 
The results...
Grant was #27 - General
It was a room full of kids AND adults. I warned all the others going in with Professor that he is a marksman. Both times he's played he's won. Which is why I don't play.

Sore loser, you ask? Why yes, yes I am.

We had a really, really good time, but by Monday Lee had gotten the best of all of us.
We made one more stop on our way out to see how Lee churned up the Gulf. It was crazy. This iPhone pic does it no justice. I have never seen waves like that before, and the wind blowing the sand felt like tiny little needles. It was incredible.
This is where I apologize for any and all errors in the above post. I usually proof before I publish but goodness gracious I just don't have it in me. I have a date with B and her friend, Ellie. Chris, Mondo and the boys have headed to the hunting land to check deer cameras, etc., so we have a girls day planned which will include, but will not be limited to, Panera Bread and The Help

Happy weekend!