Party in the Parsonage

January 25, 2012

The past two weeks have been just party, party, party here in the parsonage. “What could be that party-worthy?” you may be thinking. Well, if you guessed a birthday you would be wrong. But if you guessed TWO birthdays you would right on the money.  The twins, Emma and Ethan (aka: Fred and Ethel), turned nine last week and we have been celebrating their birthday like it was Mardi Gras. 

Party # 1 was with my side of the family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc) and with 9 grandchildren on that side of the family it was one rowdy party!  We had ice cream cake to top off a delicious taco dinner – a birthday fiesta!

Then a few days later we had party # 2 which was a high energy bouncing party at an inflatable wonderland called Monkey Joe’s with cousins from the other side of the family.

Later that same evening we had Party # 3 with my husband’s parents where there was lots of yummy food and, of course, cake (what’s a party without cake?)

After that party was over and we got the kids home and tucked in bed I found myself up at 2:00 am making brownies and scotcharoos for the class party(s) the following day (Party # 4 & # 5 since the twins are in separate classrooms).

Party #6 was on their actual birthday and was a small intimate gathering of just our family and we ate dinner, sang “Happy Birthday”, opened presents and …. Hmmmm …. What else? Oh, yeah … ate cake!

Then this past weekend we had Party # 7 at the parsonage and it was an exciting hour-and-a-half of high energy boys screaming and cheering in one room and giggling, giddy girls laughing and squealing in the other.  Ethan and all his friends played football in our living room (with a Nerf football, thank goodness) while Emma and her friends painted nails (toes and fingers) and made cards with stamps and colored markers in the family room (my coffee table …. my poor, poor, coffee table).  They did all congregate in the same room for the important stuff like when the pizza was served, when it was time for cake and when they were opening presents. But other than that the girls pretty much stayed in one room and the boys in the other.

After Party # 7 was over and the kids had all gone home (well, except the four that live here – we let them stay) I walked through the house trying to decide where to start cleaning up the party aftermath.

Ethan was eating his third piece of birthday cake for the evening and asked, “So, is that all the parties we are gonna have?”

“Yep, that’s about it. Mommy is about partied out and needs a siesta before we have any more fiestas!”

“Oh, I get it.” Ethan said with a smile. “Siesta and Fiesta rhyme.  I know what a fiesta is, but what is a siesta?”

“It’s a nap” I said sighing as I wiped chocolate frosting out of the carpet.

“Why would you need a nap?” he asked innocently. “Parties don’t make me tired at all. They just make me very hyper and happy!”

Is it Time to Retire Yet?

January 13, 2012

Those of you who read my post earlier this week about playing “The Game of Life” with Emma and Ethan may be wondering who won the game and if there were any other “train wrecks” along the path to retirement. So I thought I’d give you The Game of Life, Part II because the trip around the second half of the game board had some interesting twists and turns too.

So after Emma and Ethan both decided to go back to school and get better paying jobs (and more expensive houses) they then proceeded to have to learn about some of the other “fun” things in life such as paying taxes, having kids and gambling. 

Yes, I said gambling

I guess it’s really supposed to be more like “investing”, but to Fred and Ethel (aka: Emma and Ethan) it was gambling.  Surprisingly, this was probably their favorite part of the game.  It’s called Spin to Win and you can bet (I mean “invest”) up to $50,000. You then put your token on the number strip on your “lucky number” and if the spinner lands on that number then you “win” 10 times the amount you invested. But if it doesn’t then you lose the money you invested.  

Well, with all the cheering and squealing you would have thought we were in Vegas.  

Ethan would plunk down $50,000 each time, “I’m betting it all baby!  Let’s win big!!! C’mon four … my lucky number is gonna be 4!”

I can just see them at 70 puttering around the slot machines in Vegas together arguing over who has won more money and which buffet they want to go to for dinner.

They both took “The Risky Path” which has more opportunities to play Spin to Win.  They each won a few times which made them very happy. But, they also lost a few times and found that was not nearly as fun.

One time when Emma lost and had bet $50,000 she grabbed her money back and said, “WAIT!  I changed my mind.  I meant to only bet $5,000.”  Nice try Emma.

They both had gotten married earlier in the game, even though Emma said she would have been content to just live with her cats in the $800,000 mansion she bought.  “I like cats because they are so cuddly and I can dress them up in baby clothes …. a husband won’t let you do that!” 

Ethan had several kids but they kept falling out of his car. “Man! These kids are a lot of work.  They just won’t stay in their seats and I have to keep picking them up off the street.  I hope when I have kids in real life they are better behaved than this.” Then he added, “They better be … otherwise I’m sending them to Grandma’s and she can deal with them.” 

“And you said I was the train wreck!” Emma said with a smirk

Eventually Emma and Ethan both started to get bored with the game. I, on the other hand, was finding it highly entertaining.

“Mom, is the game almost over?” Ethan asked, “I’m getting tired of playing.”

“We are almost through. We just have to get over here and we can retire and then count our money and see who won” I explained as I showed them the end of the path of Life. “You can retire at Millionaire Estates or at Countryside Acres.”

“I want to retire at Millionaire Estates.” said Ethan

“Me too!” Emma chimed in

“I wonder how old you have to be to retire.” Ethan whispered to Emma, “Do you think Mom is going to retire soon?”

They both looked up at me and then back at each other. Emma shrugged her shoulders and whispered back, “I think you have to be even older than Mom to retire.”

We kept on winding through the twisting road of Life inching nearer and nearer to retirement.

Taxes were paid by Ethan while Emma got a refund.  Ethan pounded the table, “That’s not fair!” he protested. “Why does she GET money and I have to PAY money!”

To which I replied with a quote I heard often growing up, “Life’s not fair, get used to it!”

Emma and Ethan both retired at Millionaire Estates just like they had planned and I decided to retire at Countryside Acres.

We counted our money and Life tiles and totaled up everyone’s net worth. 

And the winner is …. (drum roll please) …. ETHAN!

“Awesome!” he shouted excitedly

Emma came up and gave him a high-five.

“Great job!” she congratulated him, “But, next time … next time … you are going DOWN!”

The Game of Life

January 10, 2012

“You wanna play ‘Life’?” Emma asked. 

I looked up and saw her standing there with the box wrapped tightly in her arms and a sweet smile on her face.  She knows I can’t resist her big brown eyes and precious smile – yeah, Mom is a push-over.   

I agreed and we started setting up the game.  Ethan came into the room and wanted to play too so we gave him a little car with a blue peg in the driver seat.  He drove the car all over the table while making a “Vroom … Vroom” car noise along with a few screeches and peel-outs thrown in.

He looked up at me and said with excitement, “I can hardly wait until I have a car and I can drive! I am going to drive so FAST! Won’t that be so fun Mom?”

 I was shaking my head and nervously picturing Ethan as a teenager, “Oh, yeah – that will be FUN… maybe Daddy will teach you how to drive.” I don’t think Mommy’s nerves would be able to handle that much “fun”!

So once we had all the pieces set up and the money distributed we began to play the game. I had thought this might be a good learning experience for the kids about money, career and “real” life but as the game went along I began to doubt that logic. 

Emma and Ethan both decided to take the “Start a Career” path while I took the “Start College” path. 

“Why are you going that way Mom?” asked Ethan “Not me! I want to take the short cut and start making MONEY!” 

Emma chimed in and said, “Me too! And get married and have lots of babies!”

Emma’s career of choice was a hairdresser and she picked a mobile home for her starter home. She wanted to be a veterinarian, but I explained that she would have had to go to college for that career.

“Well, that’s silly” she said, “I don’t see why I would need to go to college for that. I LOVE animals and I know lots of stuff about them.”

She eventually decided to settle on being a hairdresser and I told her that maybe she could have a few cats in her mobile home with her.

“Yeah, I think I’ll just do that.  I’m gonna have LOTS and LOTS of CATS!! Maybe I don’t need a husband or kids. Maybe I’ll just have cats!”

Ethan chose to be a athlete and live in a $100,000 condo.  I could tell from his excitement and the sparkle in his eyes that he thought he was going to be the next Peyton Manning.


“This is going to be so AWESOME !!! I am going to have a cool red sports car and a hot tub and a big screen TV and lots of hot babes to hang out with!”  He looked over at me and added, “But you can come visit too!”

Once I finally got through the college path and graduated I became a doctor and choose a nice $140,000 ranch style starter home. In the beginning of the game I had to borrow $100,000 for college loans so at this point in the game Emma and Ethan were both much “richer” than their dear old Mom and they found this quite entertaining.

“Wow Mom! Look how much more money I have than you!” Ethan pointed out

Later in the game Emma and Ethan came to the point in the game where they could choose to go back to school and get a college degree and a higher paying career. Surprisingly, they both choose to do this and so Emma’s new career was a veterinarian and Ethan choose to be a lawyer. 

“Better watch out Emma!  I’m a lawyer like Grandpa Brock now so I can sue you if you aren’t nice to me or if you break the law!”

“I won’t bother you Ethan. I will be busy saving animals and taking care of my cats.” Emma said seemly slightly annoyed by her brother.

Since they now had better jobs, Emma decided she wanted a new house. She looked through the cards carefully weighing her options.

“I want this one!” she said excitedly waving the card with the $800,000 mansion on it.

“Are you sure?” I asked “That costs a lot of money Emma. It’s more than you have so you will have to take out a pretty big loan to buy it.

“That’s OK! It will be nice and big and have lots of room for me and my cats.  Oh, and probably room for my husband and our twins too”

Emma had to use ALL her money plus she borrowed $300,000 from the bank but she got her dream home … an $800,000 Mansion!  

As I was counting out the large pile of promissory notes Ethan looked over at Emma, rolled his eyes and said “Emma! You’re a train wreck!”

Rhino Teeth

January 6, 2012

In case any of you are looking for a creative way to pull teeth (or a use for any rhinos that may be lurking around in your backyard) I thought I’d share Emma’s latest idea. 

How to Pull a Tooth

  1. First, Tie a string to the tooth
  2. Next, buy a rhino
  3. Then tie strong to its horn
  4. Get  someone to kick the rhino
  5. Out comes the tooth!

I laughed out loud when I found this paper in Emma’s backpack. She walked into the room and asked what was so funny.

“I was reading about your idea of using a rhinoceros to pull out a tooth. That is a very “creative” idea … where did you come up with it?”

Emma laughed and proudly said, “It’s just an idea I had. You know a rhino is a very strong animal and he could pull out a tooth with no problem at all.  I got LOTS of great ideas especially about animals because I know a lot about animals.”

I have to agree that Emma does know a lot about animals and she seems to be well on her way to her dream job of becoming a veterinarian.  A few months ago she commented on how great it was going to be to have her own holiday, “Veterinarians Day”, every year on November 11th.   (Hmmmm … I think that’s a different kind of “Vet” sweetie). 

So here’s to Emma and her future ….

And if the veterinarian thing doesn’t pan out, I guess there is always a career in dentistry (that is, if she can round-up a few rhinos to help!)

R.I.P. Santa

January 4, 2012

“Mom, is Santa REAL?” ….. “Mom, is there really a Santa or are YOU Santa?” …. “Mom, how could Santa possibly make it to all the good boys and girls in one night? The world’s a big place you know!” …. “Mom, if there really IS a Santa then I will get an iPad for Christmas, right?”

It was about three weeks before Christmas and the non-stop questions and the relentless grilling from the little people in this house had started to wear on me.  November and December were crazy busy and with the stress of work and trying to keep up with church events and school Christmas programs I was feeling tired and overwhelmed.  I had so much Christmas shopping to finish and hadn’t a clue when I would do it … let alone when I would find the time to wrap all the presents.  All evening Ethan had been bombarding me with questions about Santa and I had done a pretty good job of giving vague answers or ignoring the questions. 

But the kid is good … like a mini Magnum PI … and I finally cracked.

“Mom, is Santa REAL?”

“What do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?”

“An iPad or a 3DS ….. but is there really a Santa or are YOU Santa?”

“What do you think Rudolph and Santa are doing right now? I bet they are busy getting everything ready for the big night!”

“Mom …. I was thinking about this whole Santa thing and how could Santa possibly make it to all the good boys and girls in one night? The world’s a big place you know!”

“Yes, the world is a big place.”

“Mom, if there really IS a Santa then I will get an iPad for Christmas, right?”

That was the question that pushed me over the edge …..  I looked at Ethan and realized this kid was not giving up!

 “Do you really want to know if Santa is real?”


“Are you sure?”

He nodded his head.

I looked him straight in the eye and broke the news, “Santa is not real … It’s just Dad and I.”

Instead of heartbreak Ethan seemed elated, “Yes!  I knew it!”  he exclaimed, grinning ear to ear.

I went back to folding laundry thinking that the questions would stop, but Ethan had to get the whole story.

“Wait a minute …. So you MAKE the cookies and then you EAT the cookies?”

I laughed and said, “Well … yes, but Dad helps!”

“Well, if Santa is not real then I guess I don’t have to be good. I mean, I’m not going to get coal in my stocking if Santa is not real!”

“Are you sure you want to test that theory?”

“Hmmm …. Maybe I’ll just keep being good. It’s not that long until Christmas and I think I can stay out of trouble for a few more weeks.”

As we were getting ready for bed Ethan decided to break the news to Emma.

“Hey Emma – did you know that Santa is not real?  It’s just Mom and Dad.”

“Wait … what? What do you mean?”

“There is no Santa. You know the cookies we leave out for Santa? Mom and Dad just eat those and then they put the presents under the tree.”

Emma’s mouth dropped open. She was shocked! “I really believed it! I believed there was a Santa … and reindeer ….and that they could fly! I believed that Santa had a workshop up at the North Pole … and that he made all the toys … and that he had elves!  I believed the whole thing!”

She thought a little more and said, “So it’s just you and Dad?” 

I nodded, “Yes, just me and Dad.” 

“Well, that’s kinda boring … not nearly as exciting as reindeer and flying and a sleigh filled with toys. Maybe we can still pretend there is a Santa … I mean, we will know it’s REALLY you guys, but we can pretend and still write letters and make cookies. Do you think we can do that?”

“Sure, I think we can do that. It would be fun to keep pretending, wouldn’t it?”

They both agreed and then Ethan added, “I bet you are glad we are going to keep playing your game because otherwise you wouldn’t get to eat all those cookies on Christmas Eve!”