A glimpse into our family – the good, the bad, and, of course, the funny

Better late than never… September 5, 2012

I have put this particular post off for right around twenty-five pounds.  That’s how much weight I’ve put on since last year at this time.  I’m not one to focus on the numbers – I’m just at a point now where I’m not comfortable with myself.  My clothes are too tight, my energy level is too low, and I feel unhealthy.

So, now that the kids are back in school and we’re all on a routine, I’m going to buckle down and drop these unhealthy pounds.  Blogging about it will be my virtual accountability partner.

I actually love exercising.  Ronnie and I (and my sister!) completed Insanity last year.  If you haven’t seen the infomercial, check it out.  I’m a sucker for exercise infomercials in general.  I’ve done Slim in Six, several of the Firms, a crazy version of Tae Bo, the Ten-Minute Trainer, and I bought one called Yoga Booty Ballet, but I never really could get into that one.

We have a Total Gym in the garage that would make Chuck Norris proud.  I also have a punching bag, a bicycle, a vertical knee raise machine, a jump rope, and some free weights.

I guess the point is that I’m well-equipped to go in the garage and get an intense work-out.

So, I just need to start.

And eat right.

Right now I’m a little hooked on bad food.  Okay, to be perfectly honest, my diet is just downright bad right now.  I read a book once that said that Americans are addicted to the combination of sodium, sugar, and fat that is in most of our restaurant food.  I’m guilty right now.  Time to cut the junk and detoxify my body.  I know the first couple of days will be hard, but after that I’ll feel instantly healthier.

Along with that, I need to drink water.  Yesterday, I didn’t even have a single drop of water until dinner.  That’s embarrassing since I know the consequences of not drinking water.  I know better.

I’m not going to bore everyone by writing constantly about my progress.  But, I’m going to be working on it.  Every once in a while, I’ll update you on my progress.  Twenty-five pounds took me a year to put on, and I expect it to take a little while to take back off.

Wish me luck!


At least lightning doesn’t strike twice…Right? July 31, 2012

It all started with a lightning strike…

Our dogs are contained by an invisible fence.  When the lightning struck, it fried the fence, so obviously, it didn’t work any more.

This meant the dogs could now get to the garden that contains the rabbit hutch, and the dogs seized the opportunity.  I barely saved the rabbits from becoming a snack, and I moved them temporarily to the garage until we could repair the fence.

The fence is finally repaired.  The dogs are back where they belong.  The rabbits are back where they belong (and are enjoying weeding the garden for me again).

However, in the meantime, one of the chickens crossed from the back yard where they are safe to the front yard where they are closely observed by very interested dogs and then to the driveway where they are in the territory of dogs who have felt unnecessarily teased by the presence of chickens just out of their reach.

A dog ate the chicken.

We learned that hamsters are nocturnal.  Ours enjoys running in its ball all night long.  Not that it keeps me awake or anything.

Meanwhile, the goats got sick.  Very sick.  They had awful diarrhea and we had to sanitize everything and nurse them back to health.  “Poop” is not a strong enough word to describe what I scrubbed from their bottoms.  I straddled them backwards while Ronnie held their heads and comforted them while I cleaned caked-on sh*t from their behinds, legs, and tummies.  It. was. disgusting.

They’re better now.

But, Sparkles, our cat, is missing.  We haven’t seen her in several days.  Kendra is out looking for her right now.

So, currently, we have two dogs, six five chickens, two rabbits (thank goodness!), two goats (that was a close one, too), four toads, a tree frog, a hamster, and a missing cat.

Why do we have animals again?



What could possibly go wrong? June 18, 2012

My sister Nickie is leaving for Germany this week to visit Sandy, our aunt who is younger than us – the one we grew up with more like a sister than an aunt.  Nickie is very excited about her trip, but she’s feeling just a little apprehension about her arrival in Germany.

You see, Sandy is a lot of things – hilarious, adventurous, loving, optimistic, intelligent – but she’s also just a tad on the silly side.  Just a tad.  When she lived in the Dominican Republic, Nickie went to visit there as well.  When Nickie arrived, no one was there to greet her at the airport.  Hours passed.  Still no Sandy.  The airport closed.  Still no Sandy.  Nickie sat on a curb outside an airport in the middle of the night waiting on Sandy who forgot to set her alarm to wake her.

Nickie (left) and Sandy in the Dominican.

I guess this is part of why Nickie is a little nervous about her arrival in Germany.  Sandy couldn’t take the day off work to meet Nickie and escort her back to her home, so she sent Nickie the following directions:

when you get to the airport, follow the DB signs (train). some guys on the internet says: “when you come through arrivals at munich airport, you will see an escalator to your right,take that and purchase your tickets at the counter dont waste time trying to figure out the machines”. so, if that’s not right, blame him. either way, DB signs. so, at the ticket window you will be buying a “single bayern”. this allows you to use all the trains in bavaria for a day. it’s 21 euro, but we may be able to re-sell it to someone here and get some of your money back. so, don’t sign it unless they make you. 
now, you will be taking either the S1 or the S8. it doesn’t matter which one. they come every 10 minutes, alternating between the 2 lines. there is only one direction option, i believe it will be displaying ostbahnhof as the destination, but if it doesn’t, no worries. it all leads to the same place. you will be getting off at hauptbahnhof, aka central station. it’s about a 40 minute ride. there should be diagrams of the route, but in case there isn’t, it’s five stops from ostbahnhof.
SO, this is where it does get a little tricky, but i think we’ll be ok. i’m not exactly sure where the S1/8 is going to dump you out, but i’m fairly certain if you just follow the crowd and go up the escalators, you will be in the main area. are you comfortable with that? you can always ask any of the train workers too. anyways, in the main area (upstairs) there are tons of little food stands, a small grocery store, i think i store called “accessorize”. there is also a huge information booth in the middle of it all. above it is the board with all the departures. just stand in line and ask for the next train to garmisch. they will tell you the platform number. from there, it’s easy to find! don’t forget to ask what time it leaves as well. they leave every hour. so, if you have time you should grab either a mozzarella and tomato sandwich or a giant chocolate muffin. mmm….
ok. the train will take about 1.5 hours to get to garmisch. the train stops are really hard to understand. i would set an alarm for an hour and 20 min. (if you have one) and try to sleep. otherwise, you will be worrying about missing the stop the whole time. i will find out the 5 stops previous to garmisch and e-mail those to you. also, if you are still worried about it, just let the ticket guy know that you want to stop in garmisch. if he speaks english, explain to him that you are unfamiliar with the stops, and to please let you know when you are there.
you can let me know if this is not specific enough for you, but the taxis are literally right across the street from the train station. you are going to get off the train, go down steps (or elevator) under the other tracks, and back up to the platform. then you can either walk through the train station or to the left and around. there is a burger king. facing the road with the BK behind you, look slightly to your right and there will be taxis. hop in one of those and tell them to take you to the abrams. should be about 7 or 8 euro. and they all know what the abrams is (our housing complex). the taxi will drop you off at the gate. have your passport out, tell the guards you are on the “access roster” (i will put you on there as a visitor before you come). they will look you up in the system and let you through. go straight, there is an entrance under the clock tower thing. go in on the left. straight down the hallway until it dead ends. there will be vending machines. turn right. through that door (open) and we are about 4 or 5 doors down on the left. room 114. it will be open.

Wow.  A few things really jump out at me in those directions…I don’t think I could do this if I were Nickie.  I wish her luck.

She asked me if I can pick her up from the airport when she gets back from her trip.  Well, I’m not sure if I can get a day off work, so I am giving her the following directions just in case:

When you land in Greenville, follow the crowd off the airplane to the main area in the airport.  I haven’t been in that airport in a few years, but I know there must be a taxi company on the premises.  Find a cab, and tell the driver to take you to downtown Greenville to the Greyhound bus station.  Once at the station, buy a ticket for Hendersonville, NC.  While waiting for your bus (I’m about 50% sure a bus runs that route at least once a day), try to take a nap while sitting against a brick wall.  I don’t think anyone will bother you.  But if they do, I’m sorry about that.  Once your bus comes, enjoy the ride through the mountains.  It will drop you off on Seventh Ave in Hendersonville.  Walk two blocks east to Fifth Ave to the post office.  Check my mail for me.  Walk two blocks east to the library.  Go to the check-out counter and say the word “camel” – the librarian will then know to let you borrow a phone to call me at work (as long as you can accomplish this before 5:00, I will still be there).  Pay my fine for my overdue books.  This will cost you approximately two US dollars.  Wait on a beanbag in the children’s reading room, but don’t fall asleep.  At exactly 5:14, I will drive by the library and slow down enough for you to jump in the rear passenger’s side door.  I will leave it unlocked.  Trust me.  I should mention that there are several delicious eateries in Hendersonville, so if you have time, please feel free to grab yourself some lunch.  Perhaps Thai food?  Oh, and welcome home.

I can’t wait to hear about Nickie’s trip to Germany and about the adventures Nickie and Sandy have as they tour Italy while she’s there.  I’m sure it will go great.  Yep, great.  I can’t imagine anything going wrong with Sandy in charge…


Farewell, Restaurants. I will miss you. June 16, 2012

We’ve had some unexpected expenses come up lately.  Kendra needed braces at least three years earlier than I anticipated in our long-term budget.  Our air conditioner in our house went kaput and cost about a thousand dollars.  In spite of it all, we’re doing fine, but…

We want to put in a zip line off the tree house, build on to the kids’ bedrooms, finish the bathroom in the garage, put a roof on the tree house, take down some trees, go on vacation, and put in a pool (to name a few things…).

So, Ronnie and I decided to give up something we both love.  Something that keeps me sane after long days at work.  Something relaxing, enjoyable, and easy:  eating out.  We eat out a lot.  It’s so much easier after both of us work long days just to stop and grab something on the way home instead of planning, preparing, and (the worst part) cleaning up meals at home.

But, eating in restaurants is expensive.  And, trust me, we’ve tried to justify our spending in this category for a long time.  We’ve used all the normal excuses – if we drink water it’s not that bad; if we eat on kids’ nights, it’s pretty cheap; when we eat out, we don’t spend money on groceries, etc.  But the fact remains, eating out is throwing money away.  Money that we could use to accomplish the things we want to accomplish and to pay for some of the things we’ve already accomplished and haven’t quite paid for yet (but that’s a whole other post!).

I will now bid farewell to some of our favorite places.

1. To Blue Sky Cafe – You are one of our favorite places to eat as a family, which is why we eat with you every Tuesday night.  Tuesdays just won’t be the same without your eclectic menu and quirky setting.  I especially will miss your Hawaiian wrap with sweet potato fries – oh, and the lemon layer cake – don’t get me started on that!  We know your staff by name, and it’s so nice to be asked if we want “our regular” when we go in.  The occasional “hook-up” is great, too – there’s nothing like being sent fried ravioli compliments of our favorite cook in the kitchen.  Not to mention our favorite waitress in the entire world, one who hugs my children and walks us to our car when we leave, one who sits with us when she’s not busy and always makes us laugh – my beautiful baby sister Vanessa.

2. Papas & Beer – I’ve never really understood your name, but that’s okay.  The thought of missing out on our typical weekend meal of a fajita quesadilla makes me want to cry.  You just don’t understand how much we love sliding into one of your booths after a long, hard day of working outside on whatever project we had going on that day.  And you never judge!  We have eaten chips and bean dip in every state of disarray because we’ve worked too long and didn’t have time to shower and change and still make it in before you close.  Whatever marinade you use for that steak is perfect!  And who would have thought to add zucchini to a quesadilla?  Not me, and you know what?  It’s perfect.

3. Acropolis – You say tomato, I say to-mah-to.  You say Acropo-lis, I say Acropo-lee.  Who cares how we say it?  You’re wonderful.  All of your wait staff know us and put our order in before even asking: a basket of fries, Greek salad, and a large cheese pizza.  The waitresses even give the kids quarters to get prizes from the gumball machines.  Your atmosphere is relaxing, and we love your outdoor eating area in the nice mountain weather.

4. Hot Dog World – You are legendary in Hendersonville, NC.  Ronnie is partial to your foot-longs with mustard, chili, and onions; Kendra loves your tater tots; Max prefers a grilled cheese; but I love your Greek salad with chicken.  Who would have thought a hot dog joint would make one of the best Greek salads I’ve ever had?  It’s absolutely delicious.  And the fact that you are next door to Yogurt World only makes eating with you that much better.

5. Uncle Scott’s Pizza – Uncle Scott, I see you so much, I feel like you are actually my uncle.  Even though you recently added a seating area, what I love to do is call in an order on my way home and swing in and pick it up.  You are the closest eatery to our house, so even if your food weren’t delicious, we’d probably eat it anyway because of convenience.  But it is wonderful!  Our favorite is your meatball sliders – a garlic knot stuffed with a meatball, marinara, and cheese – heavenly!  And thanks again for giving me a second chance after I wrote you that check I had already used at the grocery store.  I’ve started writing VOID on those now after you had to hunt me down at work…

Goodbye to you all!  And to the others we eat at less frequently – Chick-fil-A of Hendersonville, Firehouse Subs, and French Fryz just to name a few, we’ll miss you, too.

Now it’s time for me to focus on creating a meal plan for the week and sticking to it.  I actually love cooking, and I’m pretty good at it, but I’m so used to not doing it that it will take me a while to get back in the groove.

To start the weekend, I think we’ll have a cook-out.  Burgers and all the fixings…

…at my parents’ house.  Thanks Mom and Dad.

Tomorrow, I’ll cook.  Unless someone else wants to invite us over…


Old MacHolbert had a farm… May 24, 2012

Filed under: family,food,gardening,photography — mandyholbert @ 8:57 pm
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Just a quick look at what is happening in the garden this evening…

a baby peach

blueberries will be ready soon

tiny grapes


cute little bunny nose

artwork in the strawberry box

hello, little goat

chickens are getting bigger

butterfly bush bloom




My Gardening Playlist May 13, 2012

Path to our garden.

Most of the time when I’m gardening (or just sitting in my garden enjoying it), I like to listen to nothing.  Well, at first I hear nothing, and then the longer I sit and unwind, the more I hear.  The rabbits nibbling on crunchy veggies, the birds flapping and chirping near the feeder, the breeze blowing through the trees…

But, sometimes, I listen to music.  I’ve put together a gardening playlist.  Here it is.

1.  “Homegrown Tomatoes” by Guy Clark – Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes, what would life be without homegrown tomatoes.  There’s only two things that money can’t buy, and that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.

Grape tomatoes on vine

Grape tomatoes on vine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Guy Clark’s matter-of-fact, simple ode to my favorite veggie makes my mouth water as I think about the tomatoes that will soon be hanging from my plants.  It definitely makes the weeding worth it.

2.  “Spanish Pipedream” by John Prine – Blow up your TV, throw away your paper, move to the country, build you a home, grow a little garden, eat a lot of peaches, try to find Jesus on your own.  Well, we still have a TV, but we did plant a garden, we eat our own peaches from our trees, and we have all found Jesus.  Great song.

3.  “Hard Worker” by The Avett BrothersI got up early to sing.  I’m a hard, hard worker, I’m workin’ every day, I’m a hard, hard worker, I’m savin’ all my pay.  This one just reminds me that hard work pays off.  Whether sweating over a garden or spreading mulch or building a fence, I’m a hard, hard worker every day.

4.  “I’ll Fly Away” by Allison Krauss and Gillian Welch – Some bright morning when this life is over, I’ll fly away.  To that home on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away.  Being outside, digging in the dirt, considering the intricacies of nature, I can’t help but reflect on the Creator.  My heart always seems to end up in a spirit of worship when I’m in the garden.  Put that together with the twang of bluegrass and these two beautiful voices, and you have a perfect gardening song.

5.  “Where the Green Grass Grows” by Tim McGraw – I want to live where the green grass grows, watch my corn pop up in rows, every night be tucked in close to you.  Raise our kids where the good Lord’s blessed…  Maybe this one’s a little cheesy, but I’ve never been ashamed to like cheesy.  Country music tends to appreciate the simple things in life.

6. “Carolina in My Mind” by James Taylor – Can’t you see the sunshine, can’t you just feel the moonshine?  Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind.

Clouds breaking up after a rainy morning in th...

Clouds breaking up after a rainy morning in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Photo taken from the Deep Gap overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina, with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 I would love my garden no matter where it was, but it happens to be in one of the most beautiful places in the world – the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.  It’s where my heart is, and nothing beats looking up from the weeds I’m pulling to see the mountains that surround us.  Perfect.

7. “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” by Darrell Scott – It’s a great day to be alive, I know the sun’s still shining when I close my eyes, there’s some hard times in the neighborhood, but why can’t every day be just this good?  Every day is a good day when I’m in my garden.  Well, maybe the day wasn’t good, but it is once I can go to my garden and let go of the day’s stresses.

8. “Ice, Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice – All right Stop, collaborate and listen…Just kidding.  Just wanted to make sure you’re still with me.

9. “A Little Bit of Everything” by Dawes – Oh, it’s a little bit of everything, it’s the mountains it’s the fog, it’s the news at six o’clock, it’s the death of my first dog.  My husband and I discovered Dawes on WNCW 88.7 when we were building the tree house by the garden.  We listened to this disc over and over while we worked.  This is my favorite song out of all of them.

10. “Poor Boy Workin’ Blues” by Dailey and Vincent – Work the soles right off of my shoes, I’ve got the poor boy workin’ blues.  This one is Ronnie’s contribution to the playlist.  Truthfully, any good playlist in this area must have a true bluegrass classic.

There’s my gardening playlist.  What songs would you add?


Pizza Run April 5, 2012

Filed under: family,food,humor,parenting — mandyholbert @ 8:15 pm
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I told Max to get dressed after his bath to run out to grab a pizza with me…  I made him wait in the truck.