Chocolate and Happiness

June 24, 2015

Emma and share a love of chocolate. We are constantly reminding each other, “A girls gotta have her chocolate!” Emma and I also share a love of writing. I have shared creative notes Emma has written to the Tooth Fairy and also a hilarious note she wrote, along with illustrations, on how to pull a tooth using a rhino. Yes, I said a rhino.

Last week we were watching a video on YouTube about the ridiculous new proposal from the USDA and Michelle Obama to make S’mores “healthy” by replacing the unhealthy ingredients (chocolate and marshmallows) with healthy alternative ingredients (strawberries and yogurt).   The video showed a teenage girl trying to figure out whether to “roast” the strawberries or the yogurt. She ended up trying it both ways. She was more than slightly disappointed in the results. Emma and I both agreed we would stick with the original, unhealthy, but oh, soooo delicious version of the S’more. As the girl in the video said, “These new S’mores should be called ‘S’lesses’ because you want less of them!”

IMG_9173Watching this video reminded me of a note Emma wrote last year to Michelle Obama. Well, actually it was a petition. A “Petition to Bring Back Junk Food”. Emma had had enough and she wanted to let Michelle know how she felt. I think the thing that pushed her over the edge was when they took away the ranch dressing at school. Now I have to point out that Emma doesn’t even like ranch dressing. However, she was upset because many of her fellow students liked ranch dressing and her teacher liked ranch dressing. She felt very strongly that they should not have to put up with this “silliness”, as she called it.

This was not the first time that Emma noticed her rights and the rights of her fellow students being infringed upon. Earlier in the year the school had sent home a note about opting to bring in healthy treats such as hummus and crackers, popcorn or vegetables for birthday celebrations, instead of cake or cookies. Next, they took away french fries and ketchup from the lunch room. All of these changes were brought about by Michelle Obama and her quest to make us a healthier America. There were even rumors of more drastic changes to come such as outlawing bake sales and banning our favorite fund-raiser of all times, the Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough sale. (gasp!)

Below is the petition, which reads:

Petition to Bring Back Junk Food

Dear Michelle,

I’m sorry to say this, but this healthy food thing is getting out of hand. Taking away Ranch, then ketchup and then ketchup again. I CAN understand that you want us to be healthy, and some of us really are. But America literally NEEDS Chocolate. Chocolate gives kids motivation, and happiness. You can’t always be the perfect person and have the perfect body. Face it, do you eat chocolate? No need to throw insults but I’m just saying, and all of these people are with me to get our life back to normal.

Well, there you have it Michelle Obama. “Chocolate gives kids motivation and happiness.” Especially when it is melted in between two graham crackers and a toasted marshmallow! Keep the S’more alive in America!

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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!”

Oreo Brownies

August 17, 2011

Here is a recipe that I tried out this week for Oreo Brownies. I found it on the back of the brownie box (which you all know is how I make “homemade” brownies) and since Oreos and brownies are two of our family’s favorite foods I thought it would be fun to try. It’s easy (of course) … because I don’t have a lot of extra time to spend in the kitchen! 

Prepare a package of brownies according to the directions on the box except for add in 1 cup of crushed Oreos (I used Double Stuff).  Cook according to directions on box.  Let cool completely.  After they are cool frost with 1 tub of vanilla frosting and top with 2/3 cup – 1 cup of crushed Oreos. 

That’s all there is too it ! 

I crushed my Oreos by putting in a Ziploc bag and crushing them and the kids thought this was really fun. 

They are REALLY rich, but delicious!

Empty Oreos

January 31, 2011

It never fails …. I go shopping, come home and find more things that I need to buy. Not because I forgot to put them on the list, but because my kids have a habit of putting empty boxes back into the cupboards and the fridge.  I usually make up my shopping list quickly on my way out the door to Walmart.  I just take a quick inventory and see what things we are out of and add them to the list. However, the empty boxes look very similar to the full boxes so unless I pick up each box or container up and shake to determine fullness of the box I will not know to buy more.  I have tried to explain this time and time again to the kids, but their selective hearing must prevent them from picking up on what I think is a pretty simple concept … when you take the last cookie, cracker, fruit snack, etc. and the box is empty THROW IT AWAY! 

A couple weeks ago I returned home from the store and was putting the groceries away when Ethan asked, “Did you buy more Oreos?”   “No” I replied, “There is an almost full package in the cupboard” (this time when I was making up my shopping list I had gotten wise and picked up the package and could tell the Oreo box was not empty).  Ethan looked up at me with his sad little face and said, “Yeah, but those Oreos are all empty.”  “What do you mean, they are ’empty’?” I asked.  “You know … they don’t have any of the white stuff in the middle.”  he explained.  That’s odd, how could they not have any filling?  I went to the cupboard and opened the Oreo package to find that Ethan was right … empty Oreos. Hmmm …. who was the one that ate the filling out of all the Oreos ?  Could it have been Emma or Drew?  Or maybe it was Ethan and that’s how he knew they were empty. 

As I was pondering this mystery I walked into the living room where Drew and Emma were playing the Wii. Ethan was behind me and so I asked the three of them “Who ate the filling out of all the Oreos?”  Of course, I got the standard answer of “Not me!” from all three of them.  I knew it wasn’t Caleb because he doesn’t like Oreos and I was pretty sure Dwight wasn’t the culprit so that just left these three as suspects in The Case of the Empty Oreos.  I was frustrated that no one would confess to the crime and I was tired from shopping. I tried to remain calm, but unfortunately it didn’t work. “Fine! I said, until one of you admits you ate all the filling out of the cookies, I am not buying anymore Oreos! In fact, maybe I won’t buy any cookies of any kind at all !”  I took the package of empty Oreos and threw it on the coffee table. “You’d better enjoy those empty Oreos because they may be the last cookies you see for a while!”  As I stormed out of the room I heard Emma whisper to Ethan and Drew, “I think the lesson we have learned here today is that you don’t want to make Mommy mad”

Chocolate or Poop?

January 12, 2011

Before I had kids I thought poop was the most disgusting thing in the world, but now that I’m a mother poop has become part of everyday life.  One of my favorite lines in the movie “Baby Momma” is when a little kid runs into the room with an unknown brown substance on his hand and his mom grabs him and says, “Tyler, is that chocolate or poop?”  He doesn’t answer so she asks again in a louder voice, “Is it chocolate or poop?” Again the child is silent so the mother takes a quick sniff and then a lick. She smiles and says “It’s Chocolate”.  The other woman in the room is her sister (who has no children yet) and she looks over in horror and says, “What if that had been poop?”

Life with kids is messy and poop is a big part of that mess.  There are the dirty diapers when they are babies (who knew poop came in some many different colors) and then as they graduate into the toddler stage you have that lovely experience called “potty training”.  I remember with my first son, Drew, I naively thought that potty training would be a simple process where you simply showed the child how to go pee and poop in the toilet and then sat them on the toilet at regular intervals to avoid accidents.  I bought a “Bear in the Big Blue House” video about potty training and several pairs of big boy underwear.   Little did I know that 6 months later Drew would still not be any closer to being out of diapers as he was on the day I purchased the underwear.  I quickly learned the important lesson that a child has to be ready to give up diapers or it’s just not going to happen.

The first stage of potty training is convincing the child that they WANT to be potty trained. With Drew and Caleb that decision took longer than with Emma and Ethan. Emma and Ethan potty trained together (one plus of having twins) and it was like a competition so the motivation was always high. With Drew, he was still an only child the first time I attempted potty training and he was just not interested at all.   He thought it was neat to sit on the little potty and watch videos, but he didn’t actually use the potty to pee in.  Caleb was very similar to Drew in that he was not very motivated and since he didn’t like any kinds of candy or gum bribery was not an option.  With Drew the decision to be “ready” came about a year after I was ready for him to be potty trained.  However, when he made that decision it was a difference of night and day.  With Caleb it was the twins’ potty training that finally convinced him that he was ready. He knew they were younger than him and there was no way he was going to be the only one left in diapers.  I remember him looking at Ethan in his big boy underwear and then looking down at his own diaper. Since Caleb was still not talking at this point due to his Autism, he simply pointed to Ethan’s underwear and then proceeded to take off his diaper. This was his way of saying “I’m ready Mom”.  As many of you know, that moment when a child decides they are ready to give up diapers it’s like turning a switch and suddenly everything starts to go a lot smoother.

The second stage of potty training is teaching the child to tell when they need to potty enough in advance that they can actually make it to the potty in time.  Once they realize how to recognize the feeling you might think you are done with this stage, but when you add things like playing with their favorite toy or watching TV in the mix they become distracted and may not make it all the way to the potty. “Close, but not close enough” is what I always told them in these instances.   “Close” still means Mommy has quite a mess to clean up.  Another obstacle is going out of the house.  When you are home your child knows where the potty is and it is easily accessible. When you go out you have not only the challenge of making it all the way from the back of Wal-Mart to the bathrooms in the front in time, but you also have the issue of what to do when you are driving along and you hear from the backseat “Mom, I have to go potty!”  This usually happens when you are on some remote road and the next gas station or McDonalds is twenty miles down the road.  With boys you can always make a pit stop and pull off on the side of road to have them pee in the bushes or grass, but with girls you don’t really have that option.  This always upset Emma and she thought it was “just not fair” that she couldn’t pee standing up like all of her brothers.   When the twins were in this stage my husband was a youth pastor at a church about an hour away from our home so we started bringing the portable potty in the car with us so that we were prepared in case we happened to be out in the middle of nowhere when we heard the shout out from the backseat.

When your child moves onto stage 3 they are pretty self-sufficient in the area of pee but may need a little help with poop because wiping their bottom can be a very difficult task. A task that can end up leaving such a mess for you to clean up that you want to just say, “Next time just call me and I’ll come help you wipe.”    The other part of this stage that causes messes is that children are fascinated with their poop.   Once they get it on their hand and smear it on the wall they realize it’s really just like finger painting.  I have had to clean up poop off the walls, the toilet seat and my children’s bodies so many times that it doesn’t even phase me anymore.  I also have had the unique experience of cleaning poop out of a bathtub when a child claims “I thought I just had to fart”.   So I guess we can just give this stage the nickname of “The Poop Stage”.

When they make it though all three stages you are pretty much footloose and diaper-free.  There may still be the occasional accident, but you are relieved to know that this project is just about complete.  When Ethan was getting ready to start Kindergarten he still needed some help with wiping his bottom and I would usually hear a “Mom … I’m done!” from the bathroom when he needed my assistance.  One day he came into my room with a big smile on his face and announced “I wiped my bottom all by myself!”   I told him how proud I was of him and that he was such a “big boy” for doing it all by himself and he replied, “Yeah, I think I’m ready to go to college now.”