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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School Daze

August 17, 2013

IMG_5654School started this week and we are slowly adapting back into the routine of going to bed earlier, getting up earlier and having to do things like check homework and pack lunches. Wednesday night we ran out of lunchmeat and bread and so I decided I’d just run to the Dollar Store since we live in a remote location and the nearest grocery store is 20 minutes away.

Ethan joined me on my shopping trip with the secret hopes of getting a toy. I am a softy and so I conceded and let him have one dollar to spend. He ended up buying fake lottery tickets and playing a joke on Emma making her believe that she had won $5,000 – she was not amused when she found out it wasn’t a real lottery ticket.

When we got back from the store I was putting things away and found that the lunchmeat I had bought was “bacon lovers” honey ham. I had never heard of such of thing.

“Hey Emma” I called (since Emma is a big fan of bacon), “Look at this. I accidentally bought bacon lovers honey ham – it’s ham with bacon in it. What do you think of that?”

“Well, I love bacon, but I am not sure I would like it in my ham. Besides, I don’t even like ham.” she informed me.

“Wait a minute. What do you mean you don’t like ham? Last night you and Ethan made ham sandwiches to pack in your lunch and you even ate some of the ham as you were making them. And then tonight you had a ham sandwich for dinner.”

“No, I didn’t.” she objected. “That was turkey.”

“No, sweetie – that was ham. We just finished off a package of ham.”

“Really? It was ham? Huh, I guess I do like ham then. But I still don’t think I want to chance mixing ham and bacon.”

“Well, OK. Then you guys can just have peanut butter sandwiches in your lunch.”
They packed their lunches and got their backpacks and shoes and socks laid out and then started getting ready for bed.

Two hours and several requests for drinks of waters and hugs & kisses later, all was quiet in the house as the kids finally drifted off to sleep.

For those who are not aware I am currently taking classes and working on getting my MBA so after the kids are in bed it’s my time to study, do homework and write papers. I finished up my schoolwork, threw a load of towels in the washer, brushed my teeth and my weary body fell into bed around 1:30 am.

At 3:30 am I woke up briefly when I heard Caleb get up and go to the bathroom. I assumed he would go right back to bed so I didn’t get up. I fell back to sleep and was awoken again by Caleb standing over me and watching me sleep. I glanced at Caleb who was fully dressed for school with clothes, shoes and backpack on. I then looked over at the clock, blinked several times as I realized that it was 4:30 am. “Caleb, its way too early for school! Please go back to bed!” He took off his backpack and shoes and got back into bed. I went back to bed to try and get another hour or two of sleep.

“Mom, mom, mom!” I hear a little voice say in a whisper. I look up and see Emma standing at my bedside. It was 5:55 am.

“What are you doing up?” I asked her.

“Caleb woke me up at 4:00 and I have just been watching TV in my bedroom with the volume down really low.” Well, at least someone is trying to be quiet.

In the other room I could hear Caleb’s bouncing on his bed and laughing. Where does he get all that energy? I closed my eyes thinking I just needed five more minutes of sleep.

Emma came back in at 6:10 and said, “I’m hungry mom. Can you fix me some breakfast?”

I decided that sleep was not an option at this point so I might as well just get up and join the party. “OK Emma. What would you like for breakfast? Maybe an Eggo waffle?”

“Umm… I think I’d like bacon.” She said with a smile.

“Honey, I don’t have bacon. Unless you count that ham with bacon I bought by mistake. We have waffles, fruit loops, poptarts or fish crackers.” I replied.

“Oh, OK … I guess I’ll have waffles. I’m gonna go see what Ethan wants.”

“Wait, is Ethan up too?” I said as I followed her into Ethan and Caleb’s room. Ethan was stirring a bit since Emma was talking him, but he was still half asleep.

“I asked him what he wanted for breakfast and he said cinnamon rolls.” Emma reported.

“Cinnamon rolls? I don’t have cinnamon rolls. Remember, we only have waffles, fruit loops, poptarts or goldfish crackers.”

“Oh, that’s right. Sorry Ethan – you’re out of luck. Mom said we don’t have cinnamon rolls. Don’t feel bad though, I’m not getting the bacon I asked for either.”

Ethan just rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. I walked over and sat down on his bed and started rubbing his back. “Did Caleb wake you up too? He’s been up for hours and he woke Emma up at 4:00.”

Ethan yawned and said, “Well, Caleb woke me up but I just went back to sleep. But now that you and Emma are in here too and so I guess I’m not going to have any chance for sleep now.” Ethan, like me, had decided he might as well get up.

By this time it was 6:45 and probably time for everyone to start getting ready for school anyways. Ethan and Emma got dressed and Caleb started getting excited that everyone else was up and that it was getting closer to time for the bus to arrive.

We all ventured downstairs to Drew’s room and woke him up. Beware the sleeping teenager…..he was not happy to be awakened by his cheery siblings. He pulled the covers back over his head and mumbled, “Just five more minutes….” I know how you feel Drew!

By 7:15 the kids were dressed and happily eating their breakfast of waffles and poptarts. The bus came right on time at 7:25. I waved goodbye as they took off on their adventure for another day of school.

I would loved to have crawled back into bed since I didn’t have to be to work until 11:00, but I was scheduled to speak to Caleb’s class at 8:45. Caleb has autism and is mainstreamed into a general ed classroom. Every year my husband, Dwight, and I go and talk to Caleb’s classroom in the first week of school. We talk to them about autism and about ways they can interact, communicate and include Caleb. Since I needed to hop in the shower, get dressed and make my way over to the school sleep would just have to wait.

ImageAs I got ready for the day I thought about when the kids were infants and how every night was a series of feedings, diaper changes, etc. Especially that first six months of the twins lives. I don’t remember much from that period of my life and I blame that on the sleep deprivation.

I guess I should just be thankful that these short nights are much less frequent now and that, for the most part, the kids sleep all night. I am also thankful that on Saturdays I can sleep in since the kids are old enough to entertain themselves for a few hours.

This morning Caleb crawled in bed with me around 8:00 am but then after a few minutes of cuddling he went back to his room to play and I had the luxury of sleeping for another hour or so. I finally got up when I heard the kids talking about what they wanted for breakfast. Guess it would have been a good morning for cinnamon rolls and bacon… If only I had remembered to go to the store and buy some. Oh well, maybe next Saturday!

Time Marches On

June 2, 2013

Image 1Another school year has ended and I am now the mother of a 6th grader, two 5th graders and a sophomore in high school.  How can this be possible?  It seems like only yesterday I had three in diapers and one in kindergarten and today I rode in the car with my oldest son, Drew, behind the wheel.

He was driving to graduation to play in the band and I couldn’t help but think that three years from now it will be HIS graduation we will be driving to!  I mentioned that to him and he said, “Don’t remind me!”

I was a little surprised by his response and so I said, “Why do you say that? I would think you’d be excited to graduate. You know, no more school.”

“Well, I guess, but I’m not looking forward to leaving you and Dad and all my friends at school.  I’ll probably go to college close by so I can see you but it won’t be the same as living at home with you guys and being able to talk to you whenever I want.” Drew explained.

I thought it was just a mom thing that I was so worried about Drew growing up, but I guess he has worries of his own. I started to think back to my teen years and I remember having some of those same fears.  As I got closer to graduating I found myself more and more excited to finish and be done with high school, but I still had some anxiety about leaving all that was familiar and venturing out into the unknown.

I look over at my son, who now towers above me at 6’2”, as he carefully concentrates on the road and realize how lucky I am to have such a great kid. He really has a sweet, kind heart and has always been such a big help with Caleb and the twins.  Being the oldest is never easy, but he has never complained.

Pretty soon he will have his actual license and be able to drive alone and probably start dating and hanging out with friends more and more.  I am proud of the fact that he likes his family enough to want to hang out with us. He still gets along pretty well still with his siblings but they do have their moments when they get on each others last nerve.

The other day I was reading a book to the twins and it had the word “sibling” in it. I asked them if they knew what “sibling” meant.  Emma said, “Someone who drives you crazy but you love them so much you couldn’t imagine life without them.”  Wow, I thought …  that is a pretty accurate description!

ImageHere is the photo I took on the last day of school.  As you can see, Drew looks much less thrilled than the younger three.  After the photo was taken Emma said, “Geez Drew, you could at least smile and look happy. It’s the last day of school – it’s gonna be a fun day!”

“Maybe for you” Drew replied. “You are going to have parties and play games all day.  I have three finals to take. It’s not such a fun day when you’re in high school. Enjoy your elementary years while you can, pretty soon you’ll be taking finals too!”

Drew is absolutely right … pretty soon it will be Emma and Ethan taking finals and driving and that is an even scarier thought!

 

 

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ImageDon’t forget to check out my new book, Running Through the Raindrops … Finding Joy in the Chaos of Raising Kids

Now Available on Amazon in paperback and for the Kindle

I rolled over, opened my eyes and looked at the clock.   I blinked several times and bolted upright.  Can that time be right? Is it really 7:20? This is not the way to start the school year off.

“Wake up! Wake up!  We have 5 minutes until the bus is here!” I shout as I run into the kids’ room turning on lights and throwing clothes at them.  “Get up! Put your clothes on!  We don’t want to miss the bus on the first day of school!”

Emma was first up, dressed and downstairs. She had her socks, shoes and backpack on and was waiting on her brothers in under two minutes.  Caleb and Ethan both came barreling down the stairs together, racing to see who would be first. 

We had one minute left and I was getting worried, “Drew! Are you coming? The bus will be here any minute!”

“I’m coming, I’m coming!” he said with that wonderful teenage attitude.  “Man, this is too early to be up.” He complained as he started getting on his shoes and socks.  Yes, this was a stark contrast to his sleeping-in-until-noon days of summer and he was not adjusting well.

I glanced out the window and saw the school bus at the neighbor’s house. “OK – it’s go time! The bus is here!” I announce as I try to brush each child’s hair a couple more times on their way out the door.

Caleb, Ethan and Emma marched out of the house and onto the bus but not before I snapped this quick picture of Emma and Ethan.  We usually take first day of school pictures of all four kids but this year I accepted the fact that I would have to settle for second-day-of-school pictures.

Drew was still getting his shoes on so I held up one finger to the bus driver signaling her to wait just a minute.  “Drew, she’s waiting on you!  Hurry up!!”  It’s a good thing we have a patient bus driver!

He grabbed his book bag and iPod and put his head phones in. “See ya mom!” he called as he walked out the door.  A couple strides with his long legs and he was on the bus.

As the bus drove away I sighed with relief amazed that they all actually made it. I looked around the living room to make sure there weren’t any missing items (or kids) left behind but luckily it was just the normal clutter and mess.

My husband and I were talking the morning’s excitement when he noticed I looked a little worried. “What’s wrong?” He asked.

“I feel bad that the kids didn’t get any breakfast.”  I confessed.

“Do you normally feed them breakfast?” he teased with a grin.

I laughed and replied, “Well, I at least try to give them an Oreo or a couple fish crackers on their way out the door!”

“They’ll be fine!” He assured me.  “Maybe we should eat some Oreos in their honor. Would that help?”

“Well, maybe. Chocolate does always make me feel better.” I admitted. “But tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow we are not going to oversleep and I will be a better mother and make sure the kids get something to eat.”

A new school year always brings challenges for kids, but the parents often have an even harder time adjusting. Of course, it’s great to have the kids back in school and not complaining “I’m bored” five hundred times a day but it can be stressful.

So, if you’re stressed out with the kids going back to school … have an Oreo or two. Or maybe you are celebrating the kids being back in school … have an Oreo or two.  Or maybe you are congratulating yourself for getting up, fixing a homemade breakfast and giving your kids the proper send off … have an Oreo or two (but don’t tell me about how perfect your morning went because that’s just mean).  Or maybe you are exhausted like my friend, Tiffany, who was woken up by her kids standing by her bedside at 4:45am : They were dressed, had fixed themselves breakfast, and had their shoes, socks and backpacks on all ready for school over 2 ½ hours before the bus was to arrive … if so, have an Oreo or two.  See the common theme here?

Here is my favorite first-day-of-school picture.  This was from 2009 and I love the look of mischief on Ethan’s face! I originally planned to blog about the first day of school 2012 and have a nice picture of all four kids to compare with this picture from 2009. Oh, well! Maybe next year!

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!

Grandparents Rock!

March 5, 2011

Yesterday was Grandparents Day at school and Emma and Ethan both put on special programs in their classrooms for their Grandparents to come and watch.  Each class sang songs, put on plays and even did power point presentations with information they had learned from interviewing their Grandparents. 

Emma made a book of poems about her Grandparents. 

This one was my favorite :

Grandparents
My Grandparents are nice.
And some of them like rice.
My grandparents are excited,
and would be delighted.
My Grandpa’s cat
lays on a mat
                ~ By Emma
 

Ethan had the lead role in the play put on by his class … He was the Gingerbread Man and he ran away from all the others who were trying to eat him up and said

“Run, run, run as fast as you can …. You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man.” 

His Grandma tried to take some pictures of him in his starring role, but he was too fast (as a Gingerbread Man should be!) 

I think that it is great that the school dedicates a special day for the Grandparents to be recognized and that they invite them to come to the school so they can meet their grandchildren’s friends and teachers.  

The kids all went to spend the night with their Grandparents last night so their parents got a much needed break and even went out to eat at a restaurant “with cups that clink” (this is a term I stole from my mom … it’s a restaurant with “real” cups and dishes and no golden arches).  We were celebrating Valentine’s Day  – finally!  Hey, better late than never, right ?

Anyways, I’d just like to say that I think grandparents are pretty awesome. I really enjoyed going to my Grandparents house when I was a child and now that I am a parent I don’t  know how I would have ever made it though those early years with the kids if I hadn’t had the help of my parents and my in-laws. 

So if the Grandparents are out there reading this I’d like to say a HUGE “Thank You” and also let you know that you ROCK!

We went out to dinner last Friday night since we had been snowed in most of the week and cabin fever was in full swing.  While we were waiting for our food Ethan was telling us that he had been a little down because he got an F on his spelling test.  Apparently there were 11 children that got F’s since the week had been cut short with snow days and 2 hour delays.  We told him to not worry about it because it was just one spelling test and he would do better next week.  He seemed to brighten up when the food arrived even though he had eaten five waffles before we left the house (he must be going through a growth spurt I guess!)

Toward the end of the meal we were asking the kids what the best part of their day was. When we got to Ethan I said, “What was the best part of your day Ethan?” and then teasingly added “I’m guessing it wouldn’t be the spelling test.”  He laughed and said “No, definitely not the spelling test.”  Dwight asked him, “So, Ethan … was there a point in the spelling test when you knew that things weren’t going well?”  Ethan thought for a few moments and then Dwight asked, “Was there a certain word that made you think, ‘Oh, no … not good'”  Ethan nodded and smiled, but before he could answer Emma piped up and said, “Intelligence?”   We all burst out laughing and Emma just smiled and asked, “What? Intelligence is a word, isn’t it?”