First of all I would like to apologize for being away from my page for so long. I appreciate all the emails asking me if everything was alright.  Apparently all Bloggers go through this stage every once in a while.

I had Major Blogger Funk!

There is just no way around it. There had been so many things going on in my family last summer that I decided to take a “short” hiatus only to have it extend much longer than originally intended.

As you know, my two older kids are from a previous marriage and although I have been most happily divorced from that one for quite some time and ecstatically remarried to the love of my life, the ex has not been so happy. Unfortunate, but that situation comes with unavoidable issues. The term misery love company comes to mind.

Anyway, after many many months of back and forth travel, court dates, intense negotiations, and a few thoughts of murder, we have come to a point where he is tired of stirring up trouble. Which means I can expect at least 4-6 months of peace. **Yes I am wishing hard***

Also in these past 8 months my hubby and I have been hard at work trying to catch a blessing in order to round off our most lovely family. I am happy to announce that after a few setbacks, we are now expecting our last little miracle.

Our entire family is absolutely besides itself with joy, hope, trepidation, and awe.

In other words….I am speechless.  And for me, that’s hard to do. :0)

So now that I have gotten back on the horse, so to speak, I am diving head first back into my blogging, cooking, recipe posting, book reviewing and who knows what else.

I am officially out of the FUNK!!

I am so grateful for all of you that have stuck by me throughout this past 6 months. It has been….interesting to say the least.

Love you all,

APK

I have had a few emails inquiring as to what has happened to me in the last month or so because I have just not been really active here with posts. As much as I would love to be here at this moment, my family has been going through a few trials this summer. Not to mention that the kids’ are off from school so any extra time I would normally have has been nicely flushed down the toilet. :0) But, my Mill has not been far from my mind. I have quite a few things to share, stories to relate both funny and sad, a few mouth watering recipes and one HUGE RANT. :0) I’m sure you all will be waiting on that one. Wait til you get a gander at this one. (talk about a cliff hanger hu?) Be patient with me please as we work to solve a few hiccups life has insisted we have right now. I’ll be back full fledged as soon as I can ship the kids off to school. Which thankfully, where I am is August 2nd. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, but I really need them to go to school and get educated. :0)

So, my friends, I will once again take up my keyboard and share all the fun, and not so fun, things that happen in my world with you all very soon. Thank you so much for the concern and love I have had sent to me during this short time.

Love always,

APK

Yes. That wonderful time of year where school is out, Mr. Cheese takes some time off of work and we all pile into a car to take a long road trip to…well just about anywhere but here, has come and gone. This year we decided to take the kids to Disney World. We left the day after school let out and stayed for 8 glorious days. (which is why there was hardly any posts done here for the first week or so of this month) oops. :)

This is where we stayed. It’s one of the great resorts on the Disney property.

Oh yeah, I was so loving it. This is a view from the back where the river runs through it. Hmm, ok I’ll avoid going there as that would end up being way too cheesy.

Beautiful isn’t it? You bet. It gets better though.

See? I told you so. The best part about it was that we were all there, happy and loving every single second of our time together. Since we stayed there a week, we were able to get to know quite a few people that we interacted with regularly. One of which was our housekeeper Judy. Who, to my kids thrill, decided to arrange their stuffed animals into different scenarios each day so that when we came back to our room, it looked like they had been doing something too.


The fun was seeing the excitement in my daughter’s eyes when we were making our way up to our room. She would give this huge smile and try to guess where her animals where going to be that day and what they were going to be doing. She was always surprised and thrilled at what she found. The memories one makes as a child can be so profound that even the smallest things can become etched in our brains forever. I’m guessing this is not a vacation either of the older two will forget. They had a blast. We had a blast.

Bubba and Cookie were pretty good sports most of the time considering it was hot, muggy and extremely crowded. Which I found unusual for late May early June. It was Memorial Day weekend, so I’ll give it that. But seriously, it was mid July hot and mid August busy.

Nugget loved every single minute of it. See this isn’t the first time I have been there. I have actually been there about six times. This was Bubba’s third and Cookie’s second, but they were each so little when we came last that it really hadn’t lost any magic for them. I have each park down to a science too. This really, and I mean really, makes life so much easier. You don’t avoid standing in line altogether because lets face it, it is Disney, but you do avoid 30, 45, 60+ minute waiting times. And when you have kids, that is HUGE!

Now the weather down in Florida is as predictable as anything else in life. It will rain each and every day, even if for only 20 minutes, but it will none the less. Why? Because you are on vacation. That’s why. I am convinced that if you lived there and had to work it would be a wonderfully sunny, not too humid day. However, between down pours we did get to see some really nice things.

There was the street parade in Magic Kingdom.

Got to love those crazy characters dancing as they stand precariously on moving floats… in 95+ degree weather.

We had a really nice stroll through the streets of Paris in Epcot. Which by the way also allowed us to travel through 12 or 13 different countries without having to go through customs. Come on, you can’t beat that.

China…. Doesn’t Bubba just look thrilled at this point? Oh yeah, we had short fuses that day because it kept raining off and on, not to mention the heat. But they were pretty good sports about it.

Especially since this happened.

Yup. She got to take a picture with Cinderella just as the last person in line had left and Cinderella herself was about to leave for a break. That was the highlight of her day… and secretly Mr. Cheese’s too as he reveled in not having had to stand in line with her for an inhuman amount of time in what he claims was 1000 degree weather with a 200% humidity level.

All while Bubba, Nugget and I stood near by watching it all go down.

Life is good. We are so blessed that sometimes, during the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, we can lose sight of what we have. The day’s are consumed with ordinary happenings that it can be so easy to get overwhelmed and anxiety ridden. There has to be moments in our lives where we stand back, take a deep breath, and bask in the splendor that is our family. Whether you live in a mansion by the sea or a one bedroom apartment over the local laundry-mart, the greatest gift is the love, respect, and bond you share with those you call on when you want to laugh, cry or scream.

Here is hoping you all have a wonderful summer.

APK

A few weeks ago I got the chance to get an advance copy of Tony Hsieh’s new book, “Delivering Happiness, A Path to Profits, Passion and  Purpose”.  I have been a big fan of Tony, following him on Twitter where he has offered some interesting perspectives. So, I jumped on the opportunity to read his book and write this review. What I like about Tony’s book and his style of writing is that the book reads as though he were holding a conversation with you. No pretentious language or extra sophisticated words, just a simple down to earth, everyday conversation filled with tidbits of information that has allowed him to become who he is today.

Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.com, explains how he’s always had the entrepreneurial spirit in him from the time he was a little boy.  His first stints with entrepreneurialism went from selling worm farms to button-making as a boy, selling pizzas on his college campus, and then to his big break with  LinkExchange, which he sold to Microsoft for $265 million.  After the sale of LinkExchange, Tony became an investor and advisor to small business start-ups and took this time to find his new passion. While in search of his new passion Tony had feelings of self-doubt and wondered if he had just gotten lucky with LinkExchange.  Venture capitalists were still not interested in Zappos.com, which Tony felt had a great shot at succeeding, so Tony took off the investor and adviser hat to work full-time at Zappos.com.  He had found that his passion was proving everyone wrong.

Delivering Happiness is a book that sets out to prove that your culture is your brand.  Happy employees make a happy company.  The great thing about this book is how Tony offers examples of how he achieves this in his company. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for encouragement and a window into their own happiness.  It is a great read that one can use in many facets of life.  One of my favorite quotes from the book is:

“I thought about how easily we are all brainwashed by our society and culture to stop thinking and just assume by default that more money equals more success and more happiness, when ultimately happiness is just about really enjoying life.”

The passion Tony found in Zappos.com and the determination and pure will he poured into making this company a success should serve as a source of inspiration to anyone who holds the dream of success. No matter how big or small that dream may be, giving it your all and forging ahead, regardless of negative outside perspectives, can payoff in the end.  In 2009, Zappos.com was sold to Amazon.com for $1.2 billion.

Its been a week or so since my last post and I’ve got to let you all know I’m still alive. School here let out  the Friday before Memorial day so Mr. Cheese and I decided to take our kids on a week long trip to Disney. Post with details and pictures on that will follow soon since we got back home yesterday.

Today, I have been running back and forth with Bubba who is going in to get his tonsils and adenoids removed in the morning. Doctor said they are the size of Texas. Funny thing is he never had any infections associated with them, only breathing issues as they are blocking a significant amount of his air way. So….they are being taken out.

If everything goes as planned ( :) knock on wood) I’ll be back with some really great things to share sometime this week. What I am working on now and I am so excited to share with you is a new book review: Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. The founder of Zappos. I will also be hosting a giveaway for a copy of this book. So far it is one heck of a story. Follow me on twitter to get the entire update on the giveaway.

To enter the running for this free book, all you have to do is write a post on twitter, (it can be just about anything you want) but include #busypeppermill in it. The winner will be selected on Friday June 11, 2010 @ 4:00pm Eastern time. This is definitely one you won’t want to miss out on. Best part…its free!!!

Good luck all and stay tuned for some great stuff soon.

APK

Ok, so this is the first meme I have ever participated in and I’ve got to say I’m a little excited. I was tagged by Kim from Sandbox Gems. Who by the way, has the cutest site. :0)

Here goes, 7 things that really burn my wicker:

1. People that are totally oblivious of others around them. You know what I mean. They are the ones that walk out right in front of you without giving you a sideways glance because they are so engrossed in what they are doing that they can’t be bothered enough to look out for who or what is around them. AND then to make matters worse, they simply just stop walking causing you to walk right into them because they were going to darn slow to begin with. UGGGHH

2. People who put dishes or cups into the empty sink when they know perfectly well the dishwasher is being loaded for a wash. Now, I won’t say specifically WHO that may be, but you know who you are. I’m watching….always…. watching!

3. Customer Service people who give you an attitude when you call. When are they going to realize that the only reason they are getting paid IS to take your call and solve the problem? That is their job. Don’t like it, don’t go to work there.

4. Mechanics who talk down to you because you’re a woman and therefore cannot possibly understand why anything needs to be done to your car. I don’t think I need to explain this one. It’s pretty much all there. One of these day’s I’m going to go all “hysterical woman” on them just to see what they do. They should be afraid, very afraid. :0)

5. People who talk to you instead of with you. Do you know anyone like this? They are the ones who you can spend hours on the phone with, yet only get in 5 sentences the entire time.

6. Grounds in my coffee. Don’t like them. They ruin my day.

7. Waiting. Period.

Alrighty then. LOL Breath! Man did that feel good. Now I’m going to pass the baton and tag a few more that might be interested in spilling the beans.

Raising 2 Boys 1 Day at a Time

Kellyology

Wyndsong Writes

Two Cups of Kids

Anybody Want a Peanut?

TAG! Now its your turn.

I am so happy to say that recently I was awarded the Versatile Blogger award by Christy N, author of Christy’s Coupon Corner. I am so thankful to be one of the blogs she founds cool. :0) Thank you so much Christy.

When I first started this blog, I really didn’t think anyone would read what I had to say. But I am so thankful to have been proven wrong. To all of you who come back on a regular basis to read about what’s happening in my life, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. To all of you who are just now getting a chance to look around, I hope you like what you see and keep coming back for more.

As with similar blog awards, where one blogger is acknowledged for their effort and creativity, certain responsibilities need to be recognized and adhered to. For one thing, and this one should go without saying, you need to thank the person who gave you the award. Two, you need to tell us a little bit about yourself. Share seven random things with the world. Three, (and this is an important one) you need to go out and give this award to 15 other bloggers. Our blogging community is large and there are some really awesome people out there sharing their lives, thoughts, insights, and tips with everyone. So let’s acknowledge them too.  Lastly, and this is a pretty easy one. Just let them know you are giving them this award.

Now for my seven random things:

1. I love thunderstorms. The sound of the rain on the roof is amazing, until the tornado warnings start, then not so much.

2. I knew I was going to marry my husband within a week after I met him. I was right. :0)

3. I would love to have a dozen kids, as long as I didn’t have to give birth to all of them.

4. When I’m pregnant, I become an emotional mess. I can cry at Kleenex commercials.

5.  I’m a closeted germ-a-phobe

6. I would walk around with an iv full of coffee all day long if I could.

7. I am obsessed with picking my baby’s nose. He can’t blow them out so….

Now, here are the 15 blogs I think are awesome:

  1. Coffee with Julie
  2. One Hungry Mama
  3. Starting Over – 3 guys and a girl
  4. Mom’s Peace bites
  5. Thinking outside of the box
  6. Peek at my Paper
  7. I’m gonna kill him
  8. The Confused Homemaker
  9. Musings of a Reluctant Adult
  10. Clean Mama
  11. Mostly about being a mom
  12. Pattern Hound
  13. Home Spun threads
  14. Chubby Mama’s Blog
  15. Just For Love

So… go and take a look at each one of these lovely blogs. Thank you again for the award and I look forward to so much more with everyone.

APK

Alright, it’s Wednesday so we are doing a check-in on our getting healthy group. How is everyone doing so far?

This past week has been a tough one for me as I went through Michael’s birthday without being able to go visit his grave site almost 1000 miles away. I have to say that even though you never quite get over the loss of a child, the pain really does lessen  from a mind numbing stab to a slowly simmering throb. But every once in a while, it just returns to whack you upside the head before it sneaks away again. That is what happened this past week. I made absolutely no progress with any of my goals. So, I have renewed my efforts and am going to get back on track.

That is what life is. A constant renewal of commitment. Whether it be to yourself, to your spouse, to your family, work, hobbies or even your faith. We are continuously working on something. Which is a good thing because if we didn’t do something, the alternative would be utterly and dreadfully boring.

This brings me now to the upcoming weeks. My kids’ last week of school is coming up and we have planned our yearly family vacation. This year it’s going to be Disney World.  We, and by we I mean me, will be packing up the car, the kids and the kitchen sink to drive down to Orlando Florida for a week of “blissful” family time. Now, we are a family of road gypsies so going on extended road trips is really a great things for us. My kids look forward to it and they really enjoy every minute of it.

BUT!!!

Although this is not Nugget’s first road trip, it is his first time going to a place like Disney that has a whole lot of people everywhere. I have taken my older kids to Disney a few times. Bubba’s first trip was when he was 1 and Cookie’s first trip was when she was two. The last one of which I did solo. Let me tell you, one person alone with two little ones at any amusement park is not a good idea. No matter how much you think you can do it. Logistics for everything, including potty breaks, are a nightmare.

I am, however, really looking forward to spending some time with my family. Mr. Cheese doesn’t work for a company that allows for much time off so the fact that we got this week is great. I love having days of him around. But until then, we have a week full of “end of the year” activities. There is spirit day at school and since my kids are in two different grades, that means lugging the baby around from one side of the school field to the other. There are awards ceremonies to attend, end of the year teacher gifts to get. OK, I know this is weird, but even though there is a week for teacher appreciation, we chose not to make a big deal of it during that week so that we can make a big deal about it at the end of the year. I can’t afford doing it twice and around here teacher appreciation week is three weeks before the end of the year. So, there you go.

We just had my daughter’s Girl Scouts end of the year party this past Sunday and now I am preparing for both Bubba and Cookie’s end of the year Soccer party this Saturday after their games. Which will then be followed by our annual neighborhood block party. (Oh honey, did I forget to tell you about that?) Not to mention that this is my last week in school before I graduate and I have two final exams to take, a 10 page paper to start and finish before next Tuesday. Am I looking forward to vacation? Like you wouldn’t believe.

I have about 6 different recipes I have almost ready to go, but have to put some finishing touches on them before I post them to the Food Korner. Well… OK, I have a little more than a few finishing touches to do, but I’m working on it. They will be up soon.

I have a great idea for those that are joining me in the getting healthy group. I am going to be spreading the word around my neighborhood trying to get a group of mommies together that will do a daily walk. Usually I have found that if you have a group of people to do an activity with you, the higher the chances are of getting that activity done. By themselves or kids in toe, we are going to motivate each other and get going. If you can, this is a great idea to do in your own neighborhood. Not only will this let you connect with those around you, but allow you to create avenues of accountability for your own personal progress.

So this week, don’t forget to evaluate, redirect, recommit, and connect with those around you. Success is so much better when you can share it with others. It helps motivate you and those around you.

APK

I was so excited about this new find that I had to share it. You know how the grease on your stove just wont go away no matter what you do or how much elbow grease you use? Well, I have tried everything to clean my black stove/oven and until now, have not been able to do even an adequate job. I’ve even Googled it. Nothing. After walking through the market and looking at each and every product there was, I decided to pick up Mr. Clean magic eraser. They are not paying me anything for this, I was just so impressed that I said what the heck, why not let everyone else know how awesome this is.

It works to take the grease off of your stove and microwave without giving you an elbow injury.

When I saw this clip on one of my Blogfrog friend’s posts Minivans Are Hot, I just knew I had to re-post and share it with everyone. If you have ever felt matronly or unsexy driving a minivan, this will give you a little smile and hopefully some swagger next time you usher your kids from one event to the next. Enjoy people!

The love hate relationship consumers have with corporations runs deep and wide. Today, we greatly depend on the local and not so local markets for just about everything. Every product we use, every service we hire, every luxury we crave comes with the added bonus of having to interact with people selling goods and services as though they were doing you a favor. Gone are the days where customer satisfaction ruled the roost and product reliability was king. Today, we deal with companies that seem to find great joy in getting us to spend our hard earned money on products and services that don’t work or don’t quite live up to the selling hype.

Recently, I had the “pleasure” of doing business with Budget Rental Car Company when I flew to New York. I had made the reservation three weeks in advance, had actually spoken to a representative on the telephone and even prepaid my reservation.  All had been set up. So I thought. The day came and I flew into LaGuardia airport in NY and prepared to go pick up my car. Since the rental car lots are actually off grounds, they have shuttles that run every 10-15 minutes. Or at least that was their claim.

After 45 minutes of waiting at the exit doors to the airport terminal and 2 phone calls to ask about pickup service, I was finally picked up and shuttled over to the customer service counter. There, I was informed that 1. I was late for my pick up as my reservation had been for almost 1 hour earlier and 2. They had somehow over booked and didn’t have a car available for me. Also, 3. They couldn’t use my visa debit card to secure a larger more expensive car as policy had them stop accepting debit cards months before. The manager to this company told me “there are other rental companies around the airport if you’d like to call them and see if they have a car available to you. But you’d have to do that off premises and we can’t take you to any of them. You’d have to walk.”

GOD HELP ME, THAT IS THE HONEST TO GOODNESS TRUTH.

My jaw dropped and I was momentarily speechless.

For me….that’s big. I am hardly ever speechless.

But it only lasted a mere minute or two while my brain came to a complete stop. Then the steam started to pour out of my ears, the whistle blew and words I can’t really say out loud threatened to pour out of my mouth.

You would be proud to know. I stood there collecting myself for a brief second or two and started to explain to the manager that I did not live in New York, nor did I have any other means of transportation, and that my ultimate destination was 45 minutes NORTH of the city.

All I got was this wide self satisfied grin as she said “Sorry to hear that but there really isn’t anything I can do at this point. We could take you back to the airport on our next shuttle if you’d like so that you can make alternative arrangements, but I’m going to have to ask you to leave now. ”

So there you have it. I was taken back to the airport, now almost 2 hours after I had landed to try to make other arrangements. Budget Rental Car left me stranded with no alternatives and no regard for its paying customer.

Budget Rental Car has now been added to the  “DO NOT USE THIS COMPANY FOR ANY REASON” list.

Has regard for customer service, basic human regard, and honest business behavior completely died in today’s age? Have we no power as consumers to insist that this change?

We do! Its called “I will take my business elsewhere” So listen up companies and big name corporations. We the consumer will no longer stand for disrespect, neglectful policies, dishonest promises, and snotty rude representatives. You are not doing US  a favor. We are PAYING for a service. One many other companies are also offering.

People, lets demand that corporations bring back common courtesy and respect for its patrons.

APK

Today is a difficult day for me as this day 12 years ago I gave birth to my oldest son, Michael. 12 years ago, we both almost died during the ordeal of delivery because of one person’s lapse in judgment and careless mistakes. 12 years ago today, the course of my life was changed forever.

So today, I am sharing my sorrow, my strength, my memories because even though I lost my angel five years ago, its his birth day not his death day that affects me the most.

Tomorrow will be better, but today…today is still hard. And that’s OK.

Week 2 of our journey has ended. Yes, its Wednesday not Monday but that’s OK. We have to remember that our efforts to become healthier do not stop life or any of the other millions of things that we deal with on a daily basis. And that is OK. This journey isn’t about focusing on what we can’t do, but on what we can accomplish.

Every week we discuss the successes, the trials, the temptations and the defeats. Why? Because its important to identify the areas that we need to focus on in the following week. Did you meet your goal for the week? Yes? Excellent. NO? That’s OK. There will be weeks in which you slide through home base with fanfare and confetti, other weeks where you get stuck on third base. You can’t let that discourage you. That is just how life is.

The important thing is to keep going. Refocus on your goals, commit to yourself, be truthful to yourself because no one will hold you more accountable than yourself. You are the one to reap the benefits of a committed relationship with yourself and your journal.

This week I ask: How did your week go? What do you see is your worst habit? What steps have you taken to fix those habits and redirect your attention to something else? What steps did you take this week to make you a priority in your life?

Look forward to some comments. :0)

APK

Ok Everyone,

We have gone through our first week. So here we go with our weekly wrap up and discussion.

1. What did you get accomplished this week? You set goals for yourself at the beginning of this journey, so tell us how you did this week. Remember, it’s not a sprint it’s a marathon. One in which you have running buddies there to help you when you need it.

2. What were your struggles this week? Did you have anything exceptionally difficult you had to deal with? This could be food wise, emotional wise, hormonal wise (PMS…need I say more) physical wise and everything in between.

3. What are you most proud of today that you were able to do this past week? Focus on the good things, little or big, so that you can redirect yourself and keep motivated. Discouragement is the #1 enemy of success.

TIP OF THE DAY!
If you haven’t already, start your food journal today. Everything you put into your mouth gets written down. Water, coffee, juice, food, candy etc. You would be surprised at how much you actually do eat and what you eat throughout the day. Not only will this let you make a conscious decision about what you allow yourself  to put into your body, but it will stop the mindless eating. The journal helps in two ways. 1. Having to write things down before you eat, gives time for your brain to determine whether or not you really want to make that choice. 2. Makes you accountable to yourself for what you do allow. The majority, me included, eat things throughout the day without actually realizing it because we are so busy. A cookie here, a chocolate there, it all adds up. So write it down BEFORE you eat it. This way you won’t forget to jot it down later.Remember, no one else will see this journal but you. If you cheat the journal you are only cheating yourself. Lets stop doing that.

Not having time for yourself is an excuse. So, just do it.

Any thoughts? You can respond here or join my community on BlogFrog for more discussion opportunities.

APK

I don’t really know if its just me, but I find myself saying to my kids “Can you hurry up please” ALOT!! In fact, the more of a rush I am in, the slower they go. Mornings are the toughest as we have a limited amount of time before the bus comes, to get two kids showered, dressed, fed and out the door.

Here in Georgia, elementary school is the first group of students to go in.

HUH? Oh yes.

Why? Don’t know

When I was going to school in New York, it was high school and middle school students that got up at the crack of dawn to tread their way into school. In fact, that was the reason most of my friends got to school late. (Notice how I said my friends? I never got to school late. Nope, not I.)

Today, where I live, high school is actually the last group of students to go in and the last to come out. I wonder how that works if usually in high school, kids are starting to get jobs and gaining responsibility. I had always thought that was the reason older kids went to school early, so that they were able to get their schooling done and still have time to go to work in the evening. I don’t see how that happens if they are getting out around 4:30 or 5:00 pm.

But in any event, I digress from my original rant.

It happens.

What can I say.

My daughter is the slowest human being on this planet. I love her to death. We have a really really close relationship. BUT… she cannot get going to save her life. She could take an hour long shower if I let her. Then she would take another 30 minutes to brush her teeth, and 45 minutes to get dressed. God help me. And this is WITH laying out her cloths.

The thing is, all other times she can’t sit still. She is constantly going, moving around, talking, etc. The moment she hears me say, lets go we are getting late. Bamm! Her breaks go on and her butt goes into molasses mode. She doesn’t even have to hear me say it though, she can sense it.

Like bees sense fear.

One day. One day, I’ll be able to get ready and not stress over whether or not the little girl is on time. One day.

Until then…. I’ll just have to continue going insane.

APK