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?”

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.

Bubble Gum 101

May 13, 2011

About a week ago Emma bought her first pack of Bubble Yum and started trying to learn to blow a bubble.  She tried and tried without any success but she didn’t give up.  Emma was determined to learn to blow a bubble for the same reason she usually wants to buy or do something : “because ALL my friends are doing it”.  Oh, the peer pressure when you are eight years old … I can hardly wait for those teenage years!

A few months ago Emma was on this campaign to get her ears pierced.  It was all we heard about for weeks and although I never said “no”, I never said “yes” either so Emma persisted to keep asking.  One day after asking me four times in one hour she said, “Mom, do you know WHY I want to get my ears pierced?”  I sighed, trying to not lose my patience and said, “No, Emma. Why do you want to get your ears pierced?”  Emma smiled and said, “Because ALL my friends are getting their ears pierced!”  Thinking that this would be a good learning experience I said,  “Well, if ALL your friends jumped off a bridge would you jump too?”  Emma look confused and said, “Of course not … but I don’t see what jumping off a bridge has to do with getting my ears pierced.”  Hmmm … not the teachable moment I thought I was providing.

So, back to the bubble blowing story ….

I was helping teach Emma how to blow a bubble and after she went through about 10 packs of Bubble Yum she was finally successful and blew her first bubble.   Emma was thrilled to master this new skill and continued to blow bubbles and show them to everyone.  Ethan soon realized Emma was getting way more attention than him AND that she could do something that he couldn’t .  

Ethan asked Emma if he could “borrow” a piece of gum to which she replied, “You can keep it, I don’t think I’ll want it back!”  Ethan took the piece of gum, rolled his eyes and said, “I see you have your smartie pants on again today.”

I gave Ethan the same instructions I had given Emma.  I showed him how to flatten the gum on the roof of his mouth with his tongue and then how to move the gum to the front of his mouth so he could use his teeth and tongue to make a pocket in the bubble and fill it with air.  Ethan watched closely and tried his hardest, but couldn’t make a bubble.  He was getting frustrated and the tears started to flow. 

Ethan is very competitive (especially with his twin sister). For those of you who follow my blog you may remember my earlier post on sibling rivalry vs twin rivalry.  Ethan also has little patience when it comes to learning new things. It’s like when he first started playing basketball or baseball … he thought he would be able to just pick up a basketball and make a basket or pick up a bat and hit a homerun.  We have explained to him that it takes lots and lots of practice to learn a new skill, but that doesn’t seem to help calm him down.

 In this instance I also pointed out that it took Emma an entire week to learn to blow a bubble and that he had only been trying for 10 minutes.  This didn’t’ help ….he was now sobbing and trying to blow a bubble and ended up accidentally spitting his gum out onto the floor.  I told him I thought he should take a break and try again tomorrow. 

He looked at his gum that was covered in crumbs and dirt from being on the floor and agreed. He threw his gum in the trash and in less than 5 minutes he was happily playing with his older brother, Drew, and had forgotten all about the bubble gum.   At least he bounces back quickly!

So it looks like I will be stocking up on Bubble Yum again this weekend and we will begin another class in bubble blowing. Not that I am complaining … I have actually had fun chewing gum, blowing bubbles, and feeling like a kid again.  I hadn’t blown a bubble in years, but I guess it’s kinda like riding a bike ~ once you learn how, you never forget!

My Mom and I

I have always admired my Mom and when I was a little girl I remember saying “I want to grow up to be just like my mom”. I wanted to be a teacher because my Mom was a teacher.  I wanted to have three kids because my Mom had three kids. Although I didn’t grow up to be EXACTLY like my Mom I did learn everything I needed to know about life and motherhood from her. 

Motherhood is scary because no matter what age you become a mother you feel like you are never really prepared or trained to take on this awesome responsibility.  I remember bringing my first son, Drew, home from the hospital.  Dwight and I drove home with little, baby Drew in the back of the car and I kept thinking, “Why did they let us take this baby home? We don’t have any idea what we are doing!  Are we really qualified to be parents?”  There are no special classes on how to be a good Mom. They have classes on how to give birth, but what happens after the baby has arrived? How do you know if you are ‘doing it right’?  

I’m sure my Mom probably had these same fears while raising my brother, my sister and I.  I’m sure she had the same insecurities that I have and I’m sure she questioned some of her parenting decisions too.  However, she always made it look so easy and as a child I only saw perfection.  I don’t remember the house being dirty or her yelling at me. I don’t remember her struggling to balance the demands of working, raising three kids and being a pastor’s wife. I only have happy memories : Memories of having tea parties and playing school with my Mom.  Memories of my Mom using sheets and dining room table chairs to build tents in the living room for us to play in.  I have always felt lucky to have such a wonderful mom.  I only hope that my kids will have the same happy memories of their childhood and that they will forget about the times I have lost my patience and yelled at them. I hope that they won’t remember how messy the house was or all the times I forgot important things (like picking them up from school or feeding them dinner).

Ethan asked me the other day, “Did you have to go to a special school to learn to be a Mommy?”  I laughed and said, “No, they don’t really have classes for that. It’s more of a ‘learn as you go’ type job.”   The only “teacher” I had for Mommy 101 was my Mom and she has taught me everything I needed to know.  

Not only did she teach me about being a Mom but she also taught me several other important lessons about life.

If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well  – My mom has always been a very hard worker and she takes great pride in her work, both inside and outside our home. She taught me to always do my best and taught me to have a good work ethic.

J.O.Y (Jesus, Others,Yourself) – My mom taught me that to have true Joy in life you need to think of Jesus first, then Others and then Yourself.  If you think of yourself and your needs before you think of Jesus and Others then you will never find the Joy and happiness that life has for you.

Money can’t buy happiness – My mom taught me that you can have a lot of fun without spending a lot of money.  We didn’t  have expensive cars, brand-name clothes or take lavish vacations. Many of my favorite childhood memories were ones that were FREE (playing Monopoly, eating popcorn or ice cream together around the fireplace, swimming or taking hikes in the mountains).

Family Time is important (and fun) – My mom always sacrificed time and energy to make sure we were taken care of.  She always made time to spend with us and made spending time with her fun.  Even when I was a teenager I loved hanging out with my family and I NEVER thought my parents were “un-cool” or too embarrassing to be seen with.

It’s not always WHAT you say, but HOW you say it – My mom taught me that the “tone of your voice” can make a big difference in how what you say is interpreted by another person.  Use caution because a harsh tone, negative body language and other non-verbal cues will dictate how what you say is heard by others.

The hunt for the bargain is what makes shopping fun – I have always loved shopping with my mom and before I could even read my mom would find me picking up price tags and looking at them as she pushed me in my stroller through the aisles at the store.  She taught me that there is nothing quite like that thrill of finding a great sale at your favorite store or even a garage sale full of bargains too good to pass up!

The journey is part of the gift – My mom was always very creative and thoughtful.  The gifts I receive from her mean a lot to me because of the thought she put into what to give me and the time and energy she often put into making the gift special and personalized for me.  This taught me to do the same for others. It not only makes the recipient of the gift feel special, but it makes the gift even that much more fun to give!

Three Generations of Mothers

When I was born my Mom had some serious complications and almost died.  I am so glad that God decided it wasn’t her time to leave this earth because I can’t imagine growing up without her.  My Mom has always been there for me and I know that I can call her any time, day or night, and she will drop everything and rush right over to help.  She has taught me more about motherhood and raising children then I could ever learn in a parenting book or class. 

I love you Mom  ~ Happy Mother’s Day !!

Momma’s Boys

May 7, 2011

“Why do boys have to be so annoying?” Emma asked Ethan.  “I don’t know. Why do girls have to be so dramatic?” he replied.  I heard this conversation the other day when the twins had been playing together all afternoon and apparently were starting to get on each other’s nerves.  Ethan had been annoying Emma and she of course had been reacting in typical girl fashion by being overly dramatic about the annoying things he was doing.  She still doesn’t seem to realize that the dramatic reaction is what makes annoying her so much fun and just encourages Ethan.

It has been interesting for me to watch the relationships that have developed between my children and how different they are.  Emma and Drew have a much different relationship than the relationship between Ethan and Drew. The same goes for the relationship between Emma and Caleb and Ethan and Caleb … the brother / brother relationship is not the same as the brother / sister relationship.  I grew up with only one brother and one sister so I didn’t notice this difference until I had kids of my own.

This video clip shows that special bond of “brotherly love” and I can see Drew and Ethan doing something like this about 10 years from now.  (Ethan would definitely be the uncooperative one in the t-shirt!)

Happy Mother’s Day!