Fred and Ethel

August 23, 2011

Our twins, Emma and Ethan, act so much like a little old married couple that my husband started calling them Fred and Ethel (as in Fred and Ethel Mertz from the show “I Love Lucy”).  They love each other and miss each other terribly when they are apart even for just a few hours, but when they are together they bicker and argue over silly things and usually end up driving each other up a wall.  The names have stuck and they will even answer to them if you say, “Hey Fred, come here” or “What’s wrong Ethel?”

The other day afterschool the twins came home from school and Emma stayed out in the yard looking for bugs and other creatures while Ethan practiced his soccer skills. After a while Ethan was bored of playing alone and so he started asking Emma to play with him. 

Emma looked at Ethan and the soccer ball and then looked back at the katydid she had been studying and said, “Can’t you see I’m busy?” 

Ethan doesn’t give up easy and he kept trying.  “Why won’t you play soccer with me?” he asked Emma as he continued to practice bouncing the ball on his knee. 

Emma sighed, got up and started walking in the house, “Right now I am tired and I’ve had a brain full of thinking today” she explained  

Ethan followed her and pointed out, “Well, you don’t’ have to think to play soccer …. c’mon let’s play!” 

Emma stopped and turned around glared at Ethan and raised her voice, “I AM STRESSED OUT!!” she said rather loudly. “That’s what I am saying! Leave me alone!” 

Ethan kept following her and started mocking her, “Leave me alone … I’ve had SUCH a hard day … boo hoo hoo” 

Emma rolled her eyes and put her hand on her hip, “What do boys have to be so annoying?” she asked. 

Ethan shrugged his shoulders, looked at Emma and replied, “I don’t know …. Why do girls have to be so dramatic?”

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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!

This year our Vacation Bible School theme was “Pandamania” and so the kids spent a week learning a lot about God and quite a bit about Panda’s too.  I was in charge of crafts and so we made Panda Masks, Panda Sand Art, Floating Panda’s on a raft and Panda Prayer Boxes.  VBS was the week right before our family vacation which was awesome because after it was all over I was REALLY ready for a vacation.  

We were sitting around talking with our four kids about things they learned at VBS when Ethan asked, “What does ‘Pandamania’ mean?”  I explained to Ethan that they were using a play on words and instead of “Pandemonium” they named the VBS “Pandamania”.  “Oh, I get it”, Emma said with a smile. “It’s ‘cuz of all the Panda’s, right?”  Ethan thought for a second and then asked, “Well, then what does ‘Pandemonium’ mean?” 

Since I am not a walking dictionary I did what most mothers do when their kids ask a question we don’t know the answer to : I Goggled it.

According to Google, “pandemonium” is defined as “a wild uproar or unrestrained disorder; tumult or chaos”.  Hmmm ….. that pretty much sums up our summer.  

Those of you who were loyal followers of my blog hopefully have noticed that I haven’t posted for almost 3 months now.  Well, that’s because this summer has been so hectic and crazy and through all the chaos and “pandemonium” of summer camps, vacations, softball, baseball, swimming, etc.  I have hardly had time to shower, let alone write.  (those of you who aren’t mothers find that gross … those of you who are mothers know exactly what I am talking about!)

So I basically wanted to check in and let everyone know that “yes” the Parsonage is still standing and “yes” there is still playdough (and kids) in it.  We’ve had a lot of fun this summer, but now it is back to the real world. School started today most of the kids were happy to go back to school.

As you can tell from the picture, the degree of happiness is inversely related to the age of the child.  Notice that our oldest son, Drew, looks less-than-thrilled to be up before 10 am and is definitely not happy that he has to go and sit through an entire day of school with no video games, TV or iPod. On the other hand, our youngest child, Emma, was up, dressed and had her shoes, socks and backpack on at 6:30 this morning … a full hour before the bus arrived!

I was watching Emma’s softball game last night when I felt several large raindrops fall on my arm. I looked up and saw the dark clouds rolling in. Rain AGAIN! Ugh!!   Ethan had a game that would be starting in about fifteen minutes and I wondered if they would get to play or not. If they did it would probably be another wet and muddy game.

Dwight was on his way to the ball field to watch Ethan’s game so I called him to make sure he brought an umbrella.  We had decided that I would watch Emma’s game while Dwight stayed home with Caleb and then Dwight would come out and watch Ethan’s game and I would go home to watch Caleb.  Drew was home with Caleb and would watch him for the overlap time while Dwight and I were switching places, but we didn’t want Drew to have to be at home alone with Caleb all evening … The last time we tried that Caleb knocked over a bookcase, knocked over a dresser, locked Drew out of the house, took down all the pictures off the wall in the living room and played his own game of baseball with my Precious Moments figurines … throwing them one by one at the wall.  He was one busy boy and his destructive creativity was working overtime. If you have a child with Autism (or know Caleb) you probably can relate.

Emma’s game was tied up and then at the very end the other team scored 2 points and won.  The good thing is that Emma isn’t all wrapped up in whether they win or lose … softball is more of a social thing for her. She loves to see her friends and wear the cute uniform.  She is usually out in the outfield twirling around in circles or picking dandelions and she gets most excited about the snack after the game.

I helped Emma gather up all her softball gear and we went over to tell Ethan “good luck” on his upcoming game.  The sky was getting darker and more and more raindrops were falling as we walked quickly over to Ethan’s dugout.  After talking with Ethan for a few minutes Emma and I took cover under the awning of the concession stand because the rain had started really coming down.  

After a few minutes Emma asked, “When are we going to leave?”  I looked out at the rain and said, “Well, we can either wait out the storm here where it is dry or we can ‘make a run for it’ now and run as fast as we can through the rain to the car.”  Emma smiled and said, “I think we should ‘make a run for it’!”  All the other parents huddling under the awning with us started laughing.  “I don’t think that is the option your Mom would have chosen.” one of the other moms pointed out to Emma.  I was just wishing I had my umbrella with me, but it was in the car (of course!).

So Emma and I took off running through the rain towards the car.  Emma seemed surprised at how wet we were getting. “Run faster Mom! We are getting soaked! Watch out for the mud puddles!”  Luckily I remembered where we parked and we made it safely to the car without stepping in any mud puddles.  Once we were both inside the car we started laughing at how soaking wet we were.  Emma looked at me and said, “That was FUN Mommy! We will have to do that again sometime!”

Show Me the Money!

May 19, 2011

I love it when I am in my car alone and I can turn the radio up and jam out to my favorite tunes from the 80’s.  It doesn’t happen very often … usually I’m stuck listening to SpongeBob SquarePants or Veggie Tales and I can hardly hear myself think over all the arguing and tattling coming from the backseat. 

On one of those rare occasions when I was driving alone my kids called to see how close I was to being home.  I told them I’d be there in about thirty minutes and also told them if they cleaned their rooms I’d give them each a dollar.  Emma and Ethan LOVE to get “dollars” so they were thrilled.  They hung up and I turned the radio back up and started singing along.  About 10 minutes later my phone rang again and it was Ethan.

“Hey Mom, do we have to clean under our beds?” he asked

“No, but don’t just stuff everything under your bed.” I replied. 

There was silence on the other end for a few seconds.

“Ethan, are you still there?” 

“Yep, I’m still here. I was just wondering” 

“What were you wondering?”

“I was wondering if you would pay us extra if we cleaned under our beds.  I’d clean under my bed if you paid me another dollar. Then I’d have two dollars!”

The twins have finally started to realize the power of money and are always trying to figure out how to make more of it. However, they don’t really have a concept of what a dollar can buy yet.  For example, yesterday Emma told me she was going to take her one dollar and buy a game for the Wii and then with the change she wanted to buy a Barbie. 

The other night after dinner I was doing the dishes when Emma and Ethan came running into the kitchen carrying Ethan’s piggy bank.  They both had huge smiles on their faces

Ethan said, “Hey Mom! ….. Hey Mom! ….. Mom, Mom, Mom!”  

“Yes, Ethan … what’s up?” 

“Me and Emma put all our money together and we have eight dollars and fifty-three cents.” 

“Wow – that’s great.” I said as I continued loading the dishwasher.  

“We were wondering how much past our bedtime would you let us stay up if we gave you our eight dollars and fifty-three cents?”  Emma asked.

I laughed at their proposal and asked, “So you want to ‘buy’ extra time to play and watch TV before bed?” 

“Yes! That’s correct!” Ethan exclaimed.  

It’s interesting to watch how the kids view money and the creative ways they think of to spend and to make money.  We have recently started having the kids do some chores around the house like taking out the trash, washing the dishes and doing the laundry. So far it seems to be going well and they have been working hard to getting the stars on the chore chart so they can get their allowance at the end of the week.  However, they now seem to think everything they do should earn them a star or more money for their allowance.  I have been trying to teach them that we don’t always get paid for things we do … like Mommy doesn’t get paid to clean the house or cook dinner but I do it because I love them.  They are getting better but they still have times when they try to slip in some extra money-making opportunities.

We were getting ready to leave for church one Sunday morning and I told Emma and Ethan that I was going to be leading children’s church and they needed to be on their best behavior and set a good example for the other kids.   Ethan thought for a second and asked, “Are you going to pay us?”   

While eating dinner one night we started talking about dreams.

Emma started telling us about her dream (or maybe more accurately “nightmare”) that she had the night before. 

This dream involves food (as most of Emma’s dreams do) and I’m pretty sure is the result of too much sugar before bed ….

So this is how the dream went (as told to me by Emma). 

 

(Images below were created by Emma with a little help from Mom)

There was this giant river of lava filled with cookies.

They were GIANT metal cookies. 

Well, the cookies weren’t metal, but there was metal on the bottom of the cookies to keep the lava from making the cookies soggy. 

I was jumping from cookie to cookie like this (she showed me how she was jumping or hopping from one cookie to the next).

One of the cookies was really far apart so I had to jump like I was doing the long jump (again she gave me a visual interpretation of the jump). 

I had to be careful not to fall in the hot lava!

I was going faster and faster because I was being chased by an evil donut! 

You know, donuts are my worst enemy! 

He was a mean donut and he was chasing me as I jumped across the lava on the cookies. 

I was so scared … he was getting closer and closer.

But then, my hero showed up!

Grandpa came and he scooped me up and saved me from the evil donut and took me back to his house.

We ate cookies together. 

I was so glad to be safe that I ate all the cookies that Grandpa had and drank all his milk too!

He didn’t care though, he was just happy I was safe and snuggled up on his lap.

Friday night we decided to go and try a new pizza place.  The kids all love pizza and since I couldn’t bear the thought of eating at McDonald’s AGAIN we opted for pizza.  Instead of carry-out we decided to pile the kids in the van and go eat at the pizza place.   So after pulling them away from ICarly and X-box games we got everyone in the van and away we went!

When I was growing up my family had a tradition of going out for pizza on Friday nights.  When the tradition started the plan was that we would go out for frozen yogurt after school, come home and clean the house and then go out for pizza.  After a while we started leaving out the cleaning house part and just went for the frozen yogurt and then pizza. (my brother, sister and I thought this was even a better plan!) We had a great little pizza place called Sam’s Pizza Boat and we loved it because they had movies showing while you ate pizza. (Remember this would have been twenty-five or thirty years ago so that was a novel thing … not like today where it’s more the norm than the exception to have TV’s in restaurants.)  The other thing we liked about Sam’s Pizza Boat was that we were often the only people there so we had the whole restaurant to ourselves.  However, as you can imagine, a pizza place that was that dead on a Friday night had a short life span.  So, eventually Sam’s Pizza Boat went out of business and we had to find a new pizza place to eat. 

When Dwight and I arrived at the pizza place we of course had to locate the bathroom first (always important when you have four kids dining at your table) and then we seated ourselves at a nice booth in the corner that had a window with a view of the river nearby.  We ordered our pizza and bread sticks and then talked about the various activities we had done this week and what we had coming up this weekend. 

 The bread sticks were delicious and the pizza was even better! The kids had a contest to see who could eat the most pieces and Drew won, but was in close competition with Ethan who we believe has a hollow leg because he can usually eat pretty close to what his teenage brother eats and he is only eight!  

We all left with full tummies and smiles on our faces … I think we may have found a new Friday night tradition.