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Friday, October 30, 2009

If carpets could talk, mine would be saying, "Thanks and it's about time!"

As I was vacuuming today I could  hear the sound of my carpet breathing a big sigh of relief.

Or maybe that was just the sound of dirt, debris, fish food pellets and cat food being sucked into the vacuum.

And yes, I said cat food.

More on that later.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Did I miss something?

Every season I look forward to the new edition of Kraft's Food and Family magazine to arrive in my mailbox.

And a new Holiday edition arrived today!  But when I pulled it out of my mailbox  I noticed it was in a plastic bag.  Hmmmm...that's odd, I thought. Normally that only happens when you are receiving a bill with a magazine but that can't be right because this magazine is free.

Upon further investigation I discovered that I was correct.  Inside the plastic bag was my copy of the magazine and an URGENT NOTICE telling me that if I wanted to continue to receive their formerly free magazine I would need to send them $6.99.  (Which is a reduction in the Regular Subscription Rate of $13.98)

And for my $6.99 in addition to receiving the magazine (did I mention that it  used to be FREE), included would be recipes, how tos, solutions for everyday meals, and affordable ways to serve family favorites.  And all of those would be INCLUDED with the price of the $6.99 magazine.  Well excuse me, but all of those are supposed to be in the magazine in the first place.

I do enjoy the Food and Family magazine but come on people!  Let's call a spade a spade.  The "magazine" is really just one pretty advertisement for Kraft.  And now I am supposed to pay Kraft $6.99 for an advertisement.

Did Kraft send a memo telling me this and I chucked it like it was my kids artwork?  Or is Kraft trying to pull a fast one?

Or perhaps they have come up with the world's cheapest marketing plan.  I wonder how many people will pay the bill thinking they've been buying this magazine all along? 

I keep thinking I missed something. What did I miss? 

When will I learn?

My kids are always drawing or coloring or writing something.  And when they are done it always lays on the kitchen table for a while.  And then I toss it.  And usually I make sure that it's pushed way down underneath the coffee grounds, the onion peels, the junk mail and the other general household debris that makes it's way into our garbage can on a daily basis.

However, once in a while, I will accidentally toss the drawing into the garbage where it lands on top in plain view for little eyes to see.

And every time this happens I get busted!  And then the artist pitches a huge fit.  "How could you throw away my beautiful drawing?  You always throw away everything I ever do!" (Which is completely untrue.  And if you don't believe me, I can show you the Rubbermaid containers full of preschool crafts and old homework I have stashed in the basement.)

By the amount of wailing and moaning and foot stomping that ensues, you would have thought that I had thrown away the Mona Lisa.  Or at least something that hadn't been sitting largely ignored on the kitchen table for over 4 hours.

So you would think I would have learned my lesson by now.

But no.  Now I am taking my art-trashing skills to a whole new level.  I am trashing other people's kids tiny masterpieces.  Today at preschool, one of our students told me very sweetly that he was going to draw a picture for Nanny. 

He sat down with the crayons, markers and a big blank sheet of paper and lovingly began working on his drawing.  Fast forward to 30 minutes later when we were cleaning up to go home.  I saw the drawing and thinking nothing of the abandoned artwork, I trashed it.  And not only threw it in the trash, I wadded it up into a ball and completely crumpled it.

It was nothing against this sweet little boy and his Nanny, I was just cleaning up the room.

Fast forward 5 more minutes and the little boy is frantically searching the art table for his drawing.  And then the panicked whining began.  "Where's my picture?  The one I drew for Nanny?  Where is it?"

Oh crap, I thought to myself.  I've done it again. I've tossed something that I shouldn't have. At first I tried to pretend I didn't know what he was talking about.

"What?  Huh?  Grab your backpack sweetheart.  It's time to go home!"  And then I flashed a big grin.  Surely he will drop it if I flash a giant cheesy grin, I thought.

But the whining reached a fevered pitch and the tears were starting to well up. 

I shot a desperate look to the head teacher and she jumped in with "Don't worry honey, we'll make TWO pictures for Nanny next week and they will be even BIGGER than the one you drew today!"  And then she patted him on the back and led him away from the art table.

And just as quickly as the picture mattered, it wasn't so important any more.  Because with preschoolers, size really does matter and bigger really is better.

Except when it involves cheesy grins!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A much better way to start the day!

It all started during preschool right after we moved into our new house.  Every morning while the kids were eating breakfast I would let them watch Little Bear or Miffy.  And then it gradually turned into The Magic School Bus and Arthur.  And then Sponge Bob. 

I knew eating while watching TV probably wasn't a good idea but it seemed o.k. at the time.  The kids could see the TV from the kitchen table so it wasn't like they were eating in the family room.  And it seemed to help them wake up.

Fast forward several years and now both of the kids are in elementary school. We are getting up even earlier than we had to for preschool and we have a bus to catch.  We only have about 40 minutes from the time the kids get up to the time they get on the bus.  And we have a lot to do in that 40 minutes.

They have to get dressed, eat, brush their teeth and their hair.  All of this is very doable in 40 minutes.  However it seemed that I spent that entire 40 minutes yelling at my kids. "Eat faster!"  "Don't forget to brush your teeth!"  "Put your shoes on NOW!"

About a month ago I decided that this was a horrible way for all of us to start the day. And I realized that the culprit was the TV.  The kids were so engrossed in whatever show they were watching that they didn't want to get ready for school.

So one Friday morning after finally getting fed up with the constant yelling, I told them that on Monday there would be no TV at breakfast and instead we were going to read the Bible.

I started my day with prayer and devotions so it only made sense for the kids to do something similar.

I headed to Lifeway Christian store and I looked through all of the kid's devotional books and realized we just needed to start simple.  So I bought a Bible.  My kids have many children's Bibles but they only contained stories.  I wanted us to read the entire Bible.

So I purchased The Day By Day Kid's Bible by Karyn Henley.

For the first couple of days the kids  were not happy about not being able to watch TV with breakfast but let me tell you it has been a lifesaver. While they are eating I read one 7 minute section.  Sometimes they ask me questions, sometimes they don't.  And sometimes I wonder if any of it is sticking in their sleepy little minds.

All of the early morning screaming has stopped.  (Well except for that one morning when the bus came really early and we weren't ready!) 

I can send my kids peacefully out the door knowing that they have heard the Word.  And really, what better way is there than that to start the day?

"...but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you. - 1 Peter 1:25

For more Works For Me Wednesday ideas, please go here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Miracle Monday - The Reluctant Messenger

Have you ever experienced or witnessed a small series of events and looked back on them and realized that God had been completely in charge and you were just going along for the ride?

Last Monday I received this devotional in my inbox from Proverbs 31 Ministries. In the devotional, the writer, Tracie Miles, mentions receiving a wonderful gift from someone.  The gift was a little box that contained slips of paper with Bible verses written on them. 

But these verses were extra special.  They were written in a conversational tone and the person that gave her
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this gift included her name in each verse.  It was a very personalized gift and made her feel as if God was truly speaking directly to her.

After reading this devotional, I went to Tracie's blog where she had written about it further and bookmarked the page.  I thought that I might like to do this for someone in the future.  On Tuesday, Tracie even posted all of the different verses that were in her Treasure Box.

On Thursday I was at school when I happened to overhear part of a conversation between two of the other preschool teachers.  I blurted right in and asked them what they were talking about.  This is very unlike me and even as I was doing it I felt as if someone else had taken control of my body.  I just assumed I had too much coffee that morning.

One of the teachers was asking the other teacher to pray about a particularly difficult situation her family was going through.  This situation deeply affected her sister.  Without going into any of the details, current events were bringing up horrific situations from the past and were causing this family (especially the sister) great pain.

Because of these events the sister had drifted away from God and the church over the past 35 years.  I told her that I would pray as well and then I blurted out, "What is your sister's name?"  Again, I felt as if my mouth were being overtaken and the question had come out of no where. 

I woke up on Friday morning with my day planned out.  After getting the kids to school, I was going to work out, clean the house and have coffee with some friends.

While I was working out, I got the idea that I would make a Treasure Box for the sister of the woman I work with.  It sounded like she could definitely use some comfort from the Word of God and this personalized box would be a great way to help her.

But I already had my day planned and this certainly did not fit into my schedule.  So I decided I would just do it later.  For me, "Do it later" usually translates to "Keep thinking about it, never get around to it and then come up with a hundred reasons why it wasn't a good idea anyway."

I hopped out of the shower trying to decide which part of my dirty house I would tackle first.  I only had a short amount of time before Jennifer was going to pick me up to take me to the coffee shop so I had to maximize my cleaning efforts if I was going to get it all done.

And then it came to me that I needed to make the Treasure Box right then and get it to my coworker immediately so she could get it to her sister. After all, I already had her sister's name so there was no reason I couldn't put the box together right then. I felt a sense of urgency to get it done as soon as possible.

It was one of those moments where I knew I didn't even need to fight it.  I knew God was nudging me and telling me what I needed to do.  And I know from past experience that I just needed to go ahead and do it.

In my boldness I told God in a bit of a huff that I'm embarrassed to admit now, "Fine.  I'll do it but you have to make it o.k. that my house is this dirty." (I usually clean my house once a week and even when I clean it, it still isn't very clean.  But if I don't clean it, I start to feel apprehensive and nervous.  The dirt and grim seems to grab a hold of me and makes it hard for me to breath when I look around.  I have  kids so my house is normally dirty but for some reason dusting, cleaning the toilets and getting the visible crumbs off the floor just once a week makes me feel better.)

And God said, "You'll be fine.  Just do it.  Make the Treasure Box."

So I hopped on the computer and got to work.  And then I looked around for a suitable box.  What in the world was I going to put these verses in?

And then I remembered the Willow Tree box that a family friend (who is a priest) had given me and Dan for Christmas two years ago.  It was a beautiful little wooden box with the Holy Family carved on the top of it.  Dan and I thought it was very special, not only because of who gave it to us but because the name of our church happens to be Holy Family. 

I'm not a trinket person and I never knew ecactly what to do with this box.  I didn't know what to put in it or where to put it so it had been sitting on the top of my dresser for two years empty.  Almost as if it were waiting.

So I grabbed that box praying that my husband and the person that gave it to us wouldn't mind and I started filling it with little slips of paper.  And each time I put a slip of paper into the box I prayed the verse out loud using this woman's name.  And with each prayer for her, I felt calmer and more blessed. 

In my attempt to help bring the Word of God to someone else, I was being blessed.

I got the Treasure Box finished right before Jennifer came to pick me up and we dropped it off.  No one was home but I had written a note to go with the package, left it on the porch and then I was off to enjoy a latte with my friends.

Around 5:00 that evening the teacher from work called to thank me.  She said when she got home later that morning she opened the package and read the letter.  She said she immediately burst into tears and called her sister to tell her about the box.  She then got into her car and drove it over to her sister and her mother.  The three of them sat and read through each of the verses one by one.

She was calling to thank me for the gift that I had given to her sister.  But I had to tell her that this gift wasn't  a gift from me to her sister.  It was a gift directly from God to her sister because I had other things I wanted to do that morning, because I don't normally barge into conversations, because I don't normally have beautiful boxes laying around, because I normally come up with a million excuses not to do something. 

No, this gift was something that God wanted her sister to have and  I just happened to be the reluctant messenger who delivered it. 

I have spent the last two days looking at the dust and crumbs covering my house and instead of feeling a tightening in my chest or an uneasiness, I have felt a deep peace, a  joy that can come only from listening to God and doing what he tells me. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. - Galatians 5:22

What about you?  Have you listened to God lately and done exactly what he wanted you to do?  I would love to hear about it!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The challenges? Not so much.

I have to get my kids up at 6:45 every morning so we can be ready for the bus which comes around 7:25. And because it is still dark and because my kids are always in a deep sound asleep at 6:45, sometimes it can be a struggle to get them up.

Yesterday while I was trying to get Peter up, I said in a sing-songy (and probably extremely annoying) voice, "Good morning, Peter!  Time to rise and shine!  It's time to start a brand new day!"

"Good morning, Momma," was his sweet reply.

"Are you ready to start a brand new day?"

"Yes," he sleepily resonded.

And I continued babbling, "Are you ready to face all of the challenges of this brand new day?"  (And yes, I realize this is a goofy thing to ask a 6-year-old at 6:45 AM. It's probably a goofy question to ask anyone at 6:45AM.)

"Um, the challenges?  Not so much," he replied as he was rubbing his eyes.

I laughed out loud, gave him a giant hug and told him that I wasn't ready either and then we headed downstairs for a Toaster Strudel.

Because everyone knows you can't face challenges without a hug from mom and a full belly.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Juggling it all.

Hey, y'all!  Don't worry.  I'm still here.

We spent a long weekend at the beach and between working, volunteering and the kid's crazy schedules, I haven't had have much time to sit down at the computer.

My skin continues to look like a relief map, I haven't worked out in a week and my car is in the shop.  The dreaded Service Engine Soon light came on and  both the air conditioner and the heat don't work.  And this week, there have been several times when I've needed both in the same day.

So things are plugging along here just as I would expect them to be.

And speaking of plugging....

My friend Susan makes car seat covers and I would love it if you would check them out.  They are adorable!

She offers all kinds of great materials and she even offers custom embroidery.

Check out her blog, Juggling It All and her eBay store.  These car seat covers are so darn cute it almost makes me wish my kids were still using these and not the booster seats...well, almost!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Calm down, honey.

I figured I better post something quick so my husband would quit freaking out about the picture I posted.

After he read my last blog post he came rushing into the family room and declared, "I can not believe you would post that picture!  Every picture I have ever taken of you is rejected because you don't like how you look in it.  And they are all great pictures!  And then you post that horrible picture of yourself!  That is the worst picture I have ever seen of you!"

And I just started to laugh.  Because posting that ugly picture of myself was very liberating.  To me it said, "Here I am - zits, wrinkles, and taken at an angle that makes my nose look like I've been telling lies."

And it made me laugh.  The whole concept of posting such a bad picture of myself just made me laugh.

But apparently it disturbed my husband.  Because again last night he said, "It's still there!  I just can't believe you would post that picture!  After all those pictures of yourself that were great and you couldn't stand!"  And then he just shook his head and muttered under his breath.

And I chuckled some more.  Sometimes even my beloved doesn't get me or my sense of humor.

So in honor of him, I failed to post a picture of me this morning sporting yet another gigantic zit.

Besides, I'm running out of brown eyeliner and even Cindy Crawford couldn't get away with that many large moles on her face! 

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cindy Crawford doesn't have anything on me!

God has a great sense of humor.  Want to know how I know?

Because at the age of 40 he has decided that in addition to wrinkles I should continue to get zits.

But I have a great sense of humor too.  I'm going to take my brown eye liner pencil and turn these zits into moles and pretend that  I'm Cindy Crawford.

Well, I'm off to finish working on my latest line of furniture for Rooms to Go.  And after that,  I've got a photo shoot. 

Ta ta for now!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

This is how I know that we were meant to be...

My husband thinks he got the better end of the deal with me.

But I know I did.

Friday, October 9, 2009

If you give a mom a bread machine...

Have you ever wondered what happens when you decide to make your pizza dough in your bread machine but then leave the house and don't come back for 4 hours?

Well, I'll tell you what happens.

You will open your bread machine thinking "eh, it'll be fine" and will be practically knocked over by the smell of cheap wine.  And then you will think to yourself "I guess the yeast in pizza dough really is the same as the yeast in alcohol!"

Have you wonder what happens when you think that it will be o.k to use anyway and try to remove the dough from the breadmaker to salvage it?

Well, I'll tell you what happens.

The dough will be so sticky and gooey that it takes a 1/2 cup of flour just to unstick your fingers from themselves.

Have you ever wondered what happens when you decide you will just make another batch of pizza dough the old-fashioned way and open up your refrigerator and realize that you used your last tablespoon of yeast on the sticky drunken dough that is completely unsalvageable?

Well, I'll tell you what happens.

You immediately call Hungry Howies Pizza and order a "real pizza" as your kids like to call it making them extremely happy.  And then you will pay the bill and remember why you make homemade pizza in the first place.

Frankenstein Snack Mix

While the Frankenstein colored Sweet Pea Mash did not go over well at all with the kids, the Franken-Snack Mix Sarah and I made was a huge hit!

I go this recipe from Gourmet Mom on the Go.  If you have never been to her blog, you should make an extended visit.  It's a great place for cool fun food ideas.  Your kids will thank you!

Here's her recipe which we followed exactly as she had written it.  However, you can change it up based on what you have on hand or what your kids like.

8 c. Corn Chex Cereal
1 package Lemon-Lime drink mix (unsweetened, we used Kool-Aid)
1 c. Granulated Sugar
1/2 c. Light corn syrup
1/3 c. Butter or Margarine
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 oz. vanilla candy coating (we used Candi-Quick, available in the baking aisle)
1 oz. chocolate candy coating (we used Candi-Quick, available in the baking aisle)
1/4 c. Cheerios
Wax Paper
Non-Stick cooking spray

Mix-ins (you can change them as desired):

3 C. Kix Cereal
2 C. Trix Cereal
3 C. mini-pretzels
1 bag Goldfish Crackers
1 C. M & M's Candies

Heat oven to 225 degrees and spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
Heat the sugar, syrup and margarine in a medium saucepan over medium heat until boiling, stirring occasionally. Boil for 3 minutes (do not stir).
 Remove from heat and stir in soda and Koolaid.
Pour over 6 cups Chex Cereal and stir gently. Spread onto greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 225 F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and while still warm, set 20-30 pieces on another greased cookie sheet to use as your "Frankensteins". Cool completely, stirring occasionally if desired.
To assemble "Frankensteins", melt chocolate candy coating in a small microwave-safe bowl for 45 seconds. Stir well. Dip one end of a Chex square into the chocolate. This is your "hair". Set on wax paper to dry. Using a toothpick, dip end into chocolate and draw two eyes and a mouth on your creature. Repeat with all 20-30 squares. When set (about 5 minutes), melt vanilla candy coating as above. Dip two Cheerios in coating and attach to sides of Frankenstein (these are his "bolts"). Let dry completely.Mix remaining Chex and other Mix-ins in a large bowl. Top with your "Frankensteins" and serve it up to the waiting Goblins and Ghouls!

 To see what other moms and kids have been up to this week, visit Ramblings of a Crazy Woman.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sweet Pea Mash anyone?

My kids don't eat enough vegetables.  They eat lots of fruit but other than mashed potatoes and carrots that have been cooked in brown sugar and butter, they tend to shy away from anything that looks like it might have been grown in the ground.

So when I saw this recipe at Disney Family Food for Sweet Pea Mash I decided to give it a try.  I thought perhaps I could convince them that they were spooky Halloween mashed potatoes.

And they had a little bacon and a little sour cream in them so I thought they might actually be tasty.

So I drug out the ole food processor. 

I love my food processor but it's big and bulky and my kitchen is tiny with minimal storage so the Cuisinart spends it's time sitting forlornly on a shelf in the garage waiting to be used to create some grand food masterpiece.  And since I don't tend to whip out very many (um, any) grand food masterpieces it spends most of it's time gathering dust.

I cooked the peas.  I cooked the bacon.  I dumped it all into the food processor with the sour cream and some spices and I pulsed and I pulsed until I got this....

And yes, it was just as disgusting as it looks.

The texture was very course and grainy.  Even with the bacon and sour cream these had zero flavor.  And I never thought I would ever say that about any recipe that containd bacon and sour cream.

And even with lots of "Oooh!  Look!  It's the same color as Frankenstein!  These are Halloween Mashers!  Yum!"  the kids knew better and would not touch them.

Heck.  Even my husband who will eat anything I put in front of him would not touch these.  And I could only get down two very small bites before I officially declared these as inedible.

The only upside - the next time I feed them regular peas they won't seem quite so bad!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Proof! I finally have it!

This afternoon, Jennifer dropped off her two sons and her youngest daughter while she and her older daughter went to Brownies.

Sarah and Cheyanne practiced their handwriting and when they got bored with that asked to watch the My Little Pony DVD.

I popped up a couple of bags of popcorn because I knew the minute Cody, Colton and Peter smelled it they would drop their Lego's, guns and swords and coming running.

Sure enough before the second bag had finished popping the three boys began to come out of the woodwork. I assumed they would grab some popcorn and head back into which ever rooms they had emerged from to continue playing their testosterone games.

But no! The three boys sat completely rapt for over 45 minutes watching the Flutter ponies flitter and flutter all around Flutter Valley.

45 minutes! The popcorn was long gone so it wasn't the food that was keeping them there. I think they were actually enjoying the movie.

So I have it! I finally have it! I have proof that men do enjoy chick flicks.

It might be time to rent a good Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore or Reese Witherspoon movie and watch it with Dan. Surely he won't mind. After all - I have proof.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Grandma, Peter and Popcorn

Now that Peter is in Cub Scouts he gets to sell popcorn. (And by "gets to" I guess I really mean "has to".)

Since we live right next door to my parents, Grandma and Grandma are the logical first stop. (And based on Peter's extreme shyness perhaps the only stop.) So yesterday Peter and I headed over with the order form.

Grandma spent lots of time reviewing the form and writing down her order. As we were leaving I told her she didn't have to buy so much but she assured me that not only was it for a good cause it was good popcorn.

And last night during his bath Peter told my husband, "Grandma sure does love popcorn!"

No honey. Grandma sure does love you.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tres Mocos

I'm working with the Kindergarten Enrichment program again this year. I didn't want to do it again but Sarah asked if I was going to "be in her class this year like you were in Peter's last year?" How could I say no to that?

Every Wednesday morning I assist another mom in teaching Spanish to all 5 kindergarten classes. And if you recall from last year when I wrote about helping out, I don't speak Spanish. I took French in high school. Luckily at this stage of the game it's pretty easy to keep ahead of them.

As we were sitting in a circle going through the numbers 1 - 10 in Spanish, I glanced around the circle and noticed one boy absentmindedly pulling his finger out of his nose.

And stuck to that finger was a big ole booger. And I say stuck because it was not a dry flaky one. It was a wet sticky stretchy one.

You know the kind I'm talking about.

And before I could even utter the words "Go get a Kleenex!" his finger immediately traveled from his nose to his mouth.

My eyes widened in horror and I felt my stomach lurch.

I sat still, silent and motionless. The damage was already done. Nothing could be gained at this point by interrupting the Spanish lesson and reprimanding and embarrassing this boy.

So I remained criss-cross applesauce on the floor with the kids trying not to throw up into the circle.

And the little boy continued, dos, tres, quatro, cinco.... completely unaware that I had witnessed his indiscretion. Heck - I'm sure he was completely unaware that he had even committed an indiscretion!

But it gets worse.

Not only did I witness this one kid pick and eat a booger, I witnessed ANOTHER KID from another class do the exact same thing. And once again it all happened so fast I didn't have a chance to stop it.

But the woman I work with is more astute and quicker-witted than I am because right in the middle of the number review in yet another class I heard her scream, "Noooooooooooooo! Don't put that on the carpet! Get a Kleenex!"

And she wasn't quite fast enough either because I looked over just in time to see this boy wiping his picker-finger onto the carpet.

TRES MOCOS. That's THREE BOOGERS in one morning!

Next week before we review the numbers in Spanish I think we need to review MOCOS and KLEENEX and how nicely the two go together.