Monthly Archives: November 2011

the opposite always happens

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When you tell children not to do something, there’s an almost certainty they will do just what you’ve told them not to do. This was the case yesterday after school. As we walked home under umbrellas, trying to shield ourselves from the driving rain, I said to all three girls, “The kitchen is off limits!” Mary and Elle in unison said, “AWWW”. “Then where are we supposed to do our homework?” Mary asked. “The living room” I replied. “Oh, I hate doing my homework in there…” said Elle. “Even so, we’re in the middle of tearing apart the kitchen, so no one is allowed in, okay?” I asked. “I can hardly wait until your kitchen is done!” Said Mary, a bit peturbed with the change in our routine. “Me too darling, but it will take some time.”

When we entered the house, the first thing all the girls did, my doll included, was walk into the kitchen to assess the change. “What part about the kitchen being off limits did you girls not understand?” I asked. Laughing at their faux pau, they exited just as quick. “Aunt Marsha, I need a pencil” Elle asked. “Where did we put the pencils?” I said to no one in particular. After searching through some boxes in the basement, I found enough for all three girls. “Aunt Marsha, I need help…” Elle said, walking into the kitchen and handing me her math homework. I read the instructions to her out loud and then she said, “Okay, I get it now.”

“Aunt Marsha? I’m hungry. Can I have some soup?” asked Mary. A moment later Elle asked. “Aunt Marsha? Could you make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich?” “Girls, have you noticed my kitchen is not really put together right now? Do you remember I asked you to stay out of the kitchen?” “But we’re hungry!!” Mary said in reply. Sigh, I guess hunger trumps a gutted kitchen every time.

Patience is a pain

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“Mom, what are we doing today?” the doll asked.  I was still lying in bed, recovering from the OSU v MU football festivities from the night before.  “We’re going on a road trip today to this really big store.”  “What kind of store?”  she asked.   I could see the wheels in her heard turning; this was  Thanksgiving weekend after all.  “It’s a really big warehouse filled with displays–huge displays that you walk through to get ideas.”  Not the store of her dreams she replied, “That sounds boring”.  “Well, they have a cafeteria in the middle that serves Swedish meatballs” I said trying to make the place sound more attractive.  “A cafeteria, really?”  she said surprised.  “Really!”

Normally my husband has a great sense of direction and studies maps before we leave our general area.  So I had no worries when we started out.  First mistake? We both  thought we knew where we were going.  We were wrong.   After an hour and a half of going in the wrong direction, he finally gave me the green light to call my brother for directions.  Several traffic jams later, we arrived at Ikea two hours later than we should have.

Second mistake?  We took the kids along.  We decided to eat  inside their cafeteria first thing, hoping to squelch the displeasure that had been building with during our long drive in.  Afterward we wandered through the showroom until we came into the kitchen area.  Originally, we were just going to price out the materials needed to replace the kitchen, but found their sale prices ended that evening.  After mapping out all that we needed and the (significant) savings to be had, we decided to order all the cabinets and appliances right then and there.

Third mistake?  This process took about 4-5 hours.  The boy’s eyes kept welling up with tears as he shot daggers at his father and I.  “How much longer is this going to take?” he said frustrated by our lack of concern.  “Sorry boy. I know you don’t understand this but you need to be patient.  I’ve been waiting 17 years for a new kitchen.  If this takes four hours or more, you’ll just have to deal with this.”  Unhappy he said, “This is a colossal waste of  my time.  Time I wanted to waste in a completely different way!” Mom’s stock answer?  “Deal with it!”

After we wrote up our order, paid and prepared to set up delivery, the boy’s anger rose again and said, “I will never take my children to a place like this!!” I can’t say as I blame him, we were moving in on 8 pm Sunday night, with over an hour drive home. Smiling I looked over at him and said, “Famous last words boy, famous last words.” The kids were hungry, cranky and according to the boy, pissed off. Thankfully Ikea is smart enough to have a “Bistro” area filled with junk food so parents can bribe said bored and pissed-off children.  They both ate hotdog combo meals, complete with free pop refills. 

While eating the boy added, “I’m still not happy with how I spent my day mom, but at least the hotdogs help.” 

Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving in my family takes a bit of planning.  The husband’s family lives out of town, so we celebrate with them on the weekend after.  My family however gathers at my brother Bill’s, for a day of overeating, laughing, yelling at the TV and catching up with nieces and nephews seldom seen.  Whenever you gather fifty or more people in a house to share Thanksgiving, there are bound to be many, many desserts.  At the end of the evening, all but one of the pies had been eaten, and all but a handful of the turkey cookies.

The end of the Dallas v. Miami football game made for some tense moments.  My nephew Conor seemed worried the Cowboys would blow this opportunity, while his cousin Adam chided him on. Thank goodness for a nice sized family room to fit everyone in!

Technology is a great tool to have, especially when one member of your family is in Japan, having the time of his life.  Skype is such a cool program.  We  enjoyed having a teleconference with him.  While he looks thinner, you could tell his adventures in Japan have been worth the weight loss.  I think everyone had a chance to tell him how missed and loved he is.  What a cool way to share our day with him!

What do you do at 9:00 pm when your beginning to get hungry again? Hungry again?  Easy, pull out the turkey that’s been roasting in a vermont mapel seasoning all afternoon, that’s what.  Like we needed to eat again…but there we were, making gravy to go with the left over dressing, heating up the green bean casserole…  in other words….getting fatter!

How do you escape this fat full day?  Easy, plug in the Wii and play the latest Just Dance game.  At close to 1:00 am, all the girls were dancing up a storm–burning much needed calories in the process.  Too bad us older folks never got the chance–the kids kept hogging the remotes.

Just before dinner we all had the opportunity to say what made our life worth being thankful for; in other words, blessed.   I chose how my kids wish me goodnight–by “choking” me with hugs and kisses; a husband who for some reason still likes me and the best family a girl could have growing up.  I hope in the oncoming years, when my kids look back on these days, they too will feel as loved and blessed as I do.

a tree, an apple and something to stir…

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The doll along with her Aunt Ann and I set out to make pies for Thanksgiving dessert, Wednesday evening. She was very excited to help in the making of more foods for Thanksgiving, thinking she would have bragging rights over her cousins, Mary and Elle. Not only did she help make the pies…she got to hang out some more with her uber fun Aunt Ann.

Our plan was to make three types of pies. Butterscotch, lemon and chocolate. We decided to go with pre-made pie crust shells, because as everyone knows, pie crust is difficult to make. The doll was given the task of stirring the pan that held the pudding mixture over the heat. Stirring takes patience, effort and a keen eye.

Two out of three ain’t bad.

The doll was very proud to be called the “Master Stirrer”…until the job became boring–very quickly. At one point I stopped to show her how to stir the entire pan, not just the edges. She watched with eager eyes then dismissed herself from the kitchen, leaving me to stir.

She came back into the kitchen when she overheard me say “The pudding is beginning to thicken up.” Excited she said, “Let me try…”. Gladly handing her back the whisk, she made two revolutions and then said, “Wow mom, that stuff is really thick and hard to stir” and handed me back the whisk.  Ann burst out laughing and said,”Marsha, that apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!” Smiling, I remembered my own laziness in the kitchen at her age and  agreed, “Yeah, no, it doesn’t.”

However, on the next two pie fillings (all cook and serve) she did much better–until the end when they thickened up.

In the end we made eight yummy pies.

What’s one more?

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People used to ask my mom what it was like having nine kids.  She would simply smile and say, “One kid took all my time, what’s one more?  How could another one take any more of my time away?”  I don’t think I fully appreciated that statement until I got older and began trying to have children myself.  I know there are days when my patience level is in the toilet  that I wonder how  she had such a nonchalant way about her; especially with a bunch of kids at her feet?

When my BFF talked with me about the sleepover, she commented on how nuts they were inviting all these girls.  My response to her her was, “What’s one more?”  We both readily agreed, one more was nothing to worry about.  Having all those girls at the sleepover made for a fun and interesting evening, I’ll be forever blessed with.  I’m sure she feels the same way.

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When the school sends home midterms, they generally do so to show areas of concern.  The doll almost never comes home with one, the boy, all the time.  The boy’s midterms usually refer to organizational issues, like not turning in completed homework (because he can’t find where he put it, once completed).  His standard stock answer to me is, “I forgot”  (I loathe those two words in combination).  If I had a nickle for every “I forgot” answer he’s given me lately, we’d have no financial issues whatsoever.

“Mom I have a midterm to give you” the doll said to me.  Surprised I said,   “Doll, what the heck?”  “Oh mom, there’s only a few F‘s, no big deal.” the doll said.  “A few F’s?” I said in surprise; shocked my head did not pop off my head.  “Mom you already knew about me forgetting to take my spelling book to class that one day, which explains these…” she said pointing at the “F‘s”.  I can tell you, seeing  an “F” printed on the page is a lot different than hearing about forgetting a book.  “Doll, you should be striving to NEVER receive an “F” I said sternly.  “Mom, it’s only spelling.  Besides what’s one more “F” in spelling?”

To be fair, the doll has never been the best speller. As her teacher pointed out at conferences, this girl likes to be the first one done with classwork, which can make for lazy spelling choices.  Coupled with the speech impediment she had, she has never fully understood the need for vowels.  Needless to say, my response to her midterm was not what she expected.  “Doll, we’re going to start buckling down on your spelling–I don’t care if your teacher “makes” you do these exercises or not, because, from now on, I’m your spelling teacher.  I don’t ever want to see one more midterm with “F’s” in any subject.  Got it?”  “Mom, you don’t understand it’s just Spelling” the doll tried to argue.  “Doll I do understand.  No more “F‘s”, period”.

What’s one more F?  Dear God!

epic…

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A. Seventeen 9/10 year old girls, one house, two adults for a Friday-Saturday sleepover. 

Q. How do you officially declare yourself insane?

Welcome to last Friday night, as I helped my BFF throw an epic slumber party birthday celebration. Her daughter ALM invited every girl in her class because she didn’t want anyone to feel left out.  Plus they threw a surprise birthday party for another girl whose birthday party was ruined by a girl scout camp out a few weeks earlier.  Only one girl in the class couldn’t make the party–which made for one loud evening of laughter, singing and dancing.  Talk about fun on a Friday night!

A. Hindsight is 20/20

Q. Would you ever do something like this again?

One by one as the children were dropped off, many of the other parents were asking, “Are you going to stay and help?”  To which my BFF would say, “I was not doing this by myself!”  I smiled and noted I was spending the night as well.  Several parents smiled back and said out loud, “You are brave women” to which we replied, “Let’s hope that is true!”

A. Split into four groups, the girls were much more manageable, especially when making pizza.

Q. Did you use any special technique to keep from going totally insane?

The evening activities included making pizza for consumption, decorating cupcakes for desert; trying not  to overdo the sugar quotient (right?),  decorating sleep masks (the majority of which were worn to sleep that night), playing a guessing game (Which celebrity are you?) Watching the “birthday” girls open their presents, sing karaoke, sing in unison and then retiring to the basement to watch a movie.  I can’t tell you how many times we had to stop the movie because keeping all seventeen quiet (so others could watch the movie) was darn near impossible.  One girl told her mom at pick-up they needed to rent the movie so she could figure out what it was all about.

A. A prize was given for the first person asleep.  A prize was not given for last awake, simply because by then, we wanted them up and  ready to go home.

Q. How did you survive the night?

In the morning, I pulled out my iPod dock and played music from a “Now That’s What I Call Music” download I purchased a few months ago.  Let the dance party commence!  All the girls began dancing on the table, singing along with the song, wanting to switch to the next song.  “Do you have any Lady GaGa?” One girl asked, “I love her, I want to be just like her when I grow up!”  Scary thought right there.  Another little girl approached us and said, “You are the coolest moms!”  Which made me feel special.  Another girl came in looking uncomfortable then said, “I don’t know any of this music they’re listening to.  At my house it either Country music or K-love (Christian music station).   My BFF and I laughed because, my Ipod contains more Christian music than not.  She just needed to find the right channel.

A. A tie.  The clock inching toward pick up time and the first parent who arrived to pick up her child.

Q. What was your favorite moment of the sleepover?

In all honesty, we had a great time.  A scream fest–which I tried to upload, but wordpress doesn’t like screaming 9/10 year old girls.  I kept telling the doll “I’m not your Mom here, just another parent”, because I didn’t want her to think I was singling her out, for bad behavior.  She appreciated this I think, until the time came for us to leave.  “Mom you were a chaperone, I have to be the last one to leave…” she argued.  “Doll, I have things I need to accomplish before noon…we’re leaving!”  What she was really upset about was ALM had opened the make-up kit she received the night before and the girls were beginning to play with all the different colors of eye shadow. “You didn’t even give me have a chance to try one on!” the doll said angrily to me.  “Sorry doll, but I’m done.” I replied as we walked out the door for home.

A. The expression on my BFF’s face when learning her daughter has a “boyfriend” because they wear matching bracelets and stare at one another all day at school.

Q. What was the most hysterical part of the evening?

“No, ALM doesn’t have a boyfriend” my BFF insisted to the girls.  “Yes she does!” came all the other girls.   As she ascended the stairs into her kitchen I smiled and said, “By the way, did you know I went to school with a couple who started “dating” in 4th/5th grade who are married to each other today?”  “You’re not making this easy on me are you” she said bewildered.  Smiling I patted her on her back and said, “Well at least you know his parents.”

 

dressing…..

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My dad at 90 years old loves his kids and grand kids, but can come across as harsh and downright scary;  if you’re a nine year old girl.  “Mommy, I don’t like eating at Grandpa’s, he’s mean.” the doll has told me on more than one occasion.   My dad is old school.  Don’t speak unless spoken to, never interrupt while he’s talking and absolutely no running in the house.  How he managed to raise nine kids under these rules surprises me simply because how in the heck do you get nine kids to stop talking???

A few years before my mom passed away, she wanted someone to learn how to make Thanksgiving dressing and I became that person.  Together we would talk about life lessons while we broke up wet bread added some sausage and other ingredients.  Once she passed away, the task landed on my dad’s shoulders.  Once a year he and I  get together in his kitchen, breaking wet bread while discussing my children and other life lessons. I’m sure my mom is with us, though unseen by our eyes.

“Doll, would you like to go with me to make the dressing with Grandpa?” I asked yesterday morning.  “YES!!” she said enthusiastically. I thought this might be a good chance to see my dad as the loving father I refer to him as.  “Is Aunt Ann going to be there?” she asked.  My sister Ann takes dad to church each week, then out to brunch afterward.  “I don’t know, do you want to call her and ask if she can play with us?”  Grabbing my cell phone she began searching Ann’s number.

A few hours later, there in my dad’s kitchen the doll, Aunt Ann and I began making the dressing.  My dad opted out, seeing all the women folk there to do the work.  What a wonderful afternoon we shared.  Aunt Ann pulled out pictures of me, from my youth which prompted the doll to say, “I don’t look at all like you, mom”.  Laughing, Ann and I disagreed.  “You may have your daddy’s family look about you, but strangers tell me how much you look like me.”

As I continued to cut the celery and onions, Ann and the doll broke up the bread and made the dressing.  “When I was a little girl, I asked my Aunt Nonie what the difference between a dash and pinch was”  Ann began.  “She told me a pinch is when you just grab some between your index finger and thumb and added it like this….” all the while showing while she spoke.  “She said a dash is when you put some in the palm of your hand like this, and then add it to the mix”.  As she turned her hand to dump the seasoning in, some sprayed toward the doll, who began to sneeze of gag on the cloud of seasoning.  Laughing we all took mental notes on how not to do that again.

After we finished making, bagging and cleaning up, the doll sat back soaking up the laughter Ann and I were sharing, as we talked about growing up and different people that came and went in our lives.  When we announced it was time to leave, the doll was sad.  “This was the best afternoon I’ve ever had” she declared.  “Liar” I said, laughing, “but, this was a great afternoon I admit”.  Ann conquered.  Turning my attention back to Ann I asked, “When are you going to make the pies for Thanksgiving?”  “Wednesday evening” she replied.  Looking at the doll she asked, “Would you be interested in helping me make the pies too?”  “YES!!” the doll said with bright wide eyes.

Smiling we all left for home.  “Mom, is it hard to make pies?” the doll asked.  “Not at all, if you know what your doing–and aunt Ann knows what she’s doing.

I love being a member of a large family.