Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What Odd Things We Moms Say Calmly...

"Okay, stop sawing your sister's head off now."  Ah, the joys of having a five-year-old boy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

On This Autumn Evening

There's a smoky sky out tonight and the moon has already risen above the prickly, bare treetops.  The moon's glow is soft, like the lamplight here inside.  The shadowy evening is hushing over our home as the older children play out the day's matchbox drama at my feet.  The little ones are quiet, as am I, enjoying the chatter and the crimson silhouette of the cardinal feeding on the porch.  The smell of our dinner is creeping about the house, and all is ready for Daddy's arrival. This is what I'm most thankful for.  God has moved mountains for us this year, but this feeling of peace and calmness is what I treasure most.  My treasures live here in this small house.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

"Home to Thanksgiving" by George Durrie
It's officially the holiday season.  Most people view the upcoming months with mixed emotions--eagerness for the good times the holidays bring, dread of the busyness, and if you're a child, focused attention on every mysterious package.  I can honestly say I don't have mixed emotions about the holidays this year.  I'm very glad to see that this year and all it has brought to us is coming to a close.  God has been incredibly sustaining through this marathon year for our family.  Thankfulness is all I'm feeling right now.                                                               I have to admit, the poignancy of  this year's gratefulness has made me reevaluate my traditional views on the holiday season.  I think I've officially crossed the line into becoming a bigger fan of Thanksgiving holiday than Christmas, which I know is downright peculiar.  My reasoning is this...I love Thanksgiving more because it is all Christmas should be and isn't.  For Thanksgiving, we make family and fellowship a priority.  You rarely feel the stress or regret of too many parties and obligations at Thanksgiving.  People generally leave you alone to celebrate with your family.  There's no overemphasis on gifts.  I find it so ironic that Christmas now is all about gifts, even more so than when I was young (and that wasn't all that long ago!).  Isn't it a wonder that God sent us the perfect, life-changing gift for free?  There was no expectation of an appropriate reciprocal gift; it was given with no strings attached.  That attitude is not one I often see emulated, particularly  during the Christmas season.                                                                                                                         There is so much to do, so much money you ought to spend, so much glitter and sparkle that it's difficult to see through the tinsel to what we're celebrating.  It's such an uphill battle showing your children what Christmas is about...you're contradicted at every turn!  It's not the same at Thanksgiving so far, and for that I am very grateful.  It's a wonderful thing to celebrate our very American holiday away from the maddening crowds and expectations.  It's  a wonderful thing to spend the day celebrating the goodness of God to you and yours without a pile of presents to distract, without endless parties to take you away from your children. The quietness and calmness (well, as calm as it ever is with four children) suits me when I want to think and reflect.  God is ever present for us...He keeps blessing and shielding us, even when we're so busy or preoccupied that we don't see it.  From my humble point of view, it's much easier to see and appreciate Him with the still, small voice of Thanksgiving than with the jubilant shout of Christmas.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Real Story of Cincinnati Chili, Part 6

Have I ever mentioned that I'm not a big fan of Hannistina's chili?
To brush up on what was happening, here is Part 5.                                                           I realize what cruel and unusual punishment it has been for you faithful readers to wait so long to discover Hannistina's next brilliant move.  Blame baby Megan...luckily she's cute enough to counterbalance all that criticism.  On to the story...                                   Hannistina allowed his arm to guide her across the street to her house and even handed him the keys to unlock the door.  It was fun to be taken care of.  She made her way into  the kitchen, hurrying to warm last night's disastrous dish.  She herself had come to think that it was one of her best creations.  The warm, comforting dish was not a delicacy, for sure, but it did have it's own charm.  She 
scooped  the chili into her favorite bowl and generously topped it with freshly grated Cheddar cheese.  She added a spoon and presented Dudley with her creation.  Dudley took 
the dish, closed his eyes and sniffed.  A smile crossed his face.  He tried one bite.  He took another bite.       "Oh, Hannistina."      Hannistina's eyes met Dudley's  as he leaned closer.  Hannistina was shocked.  She did not have time to react as Dudley's lips met hers.  This was not the reaction she had in mind! 
     A combination of instinct and self-defense classes took over.   She vigorously screamed and grabbed his arm from her waist, twisting it until Dudley  flipped  completely over.  Panic had given her superhuman strength.  As his portly  frame hit the tiled floor with a thud, his head flew back, slamming into the ceramic countertop, jarring the tupperware container of chili over the edge of the counter and into the sink.  Lucklily, the bulk of the contents were 
caught in the strainer full of spaghetti Hannistina had forgotten about when she left on  her errand. Dudley, rendered unconscious by the impact, was unaware of the  large, reddened counter mark on his expansive balding forehead.  After the initial shock, Hannistina distinctly remembered trying to run three ways all at once--to the ringing phone, the chili spaghetti draining into the sink, and to the unfortunate bulky, bruised specimen on the floor.  It was a moment of chaos  she would always remember in later years every time someone ordered what she  would affectionately name the "three way".
                                                                       ***Note:  For those of you not from the Cincinnati area, a three way is a way to order chili on spaghetti with cheese on top.  Local places keep adding toppings as ordered, thus creating the five way, etc.  I wonder if it goes higher than that...I have no idea.  Perhaps a local could fill us in...or I could just google the Skyline website...or not.  (cue music: "It's Skyline time...")                  Ah, yes.  As I recall, it was another writer who was feeling sentimental as this installment was nearing Valentine's Day.  I had different plans for our heroine, though, and inserted the injury.  Sorry to spoil your hopes of a sweet, romantic ending, C********.  (Name left out to protect the writer's identity).                       Stay tuned...the next installment is one of my favorites.  It's a great insight into Hannistina's manic-depressive, chocolate-obsessive behavior.  I know you're on pins and needles...         

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Grown Up Birthday Date With Daddy

Unbelievably, this gorgeous seven year old is my Cara!  I can't believe how fast the time has flown!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

So This is What We've Been Up To The Past Few Months...

This little bunch of cuteness is our little Megan.  It's official--we're twice as much girls as guys now.  Let the giggling begin!  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Comfort for a Bluesy Day

My Modern Day Perry Mason
It's been one of those days.  What with the election last night, all the doomsdaying on the news, and some terribly cranky children, I admit to feeling a mite tired and overwhelmed.  Now my normal approach to this would be the chocolate stash, but I happen to be a little depleted.  Option number two is on right now.  I'm watching Judge Judy.  Now that would be a career I could really endorse.  Having the legal authority to penalize and make fun of stupid people with an audience there to cheer you on is really living the dream.  When life seems like there's no justice or security, it's time to watch Judge Judy let the one-liners fly.  Imagine the fun of seeing a moron, rolling your eyes at the moron, then publicly declaring said moron to be moronic in a crowd of like-minded silently cheering grinners.  Also a grumpy policeman accomplice to grunt in agreement and do my fetching for me...I couldn't dream of a better day job.  Vive Judge Judy!  We responsible, tax-paying law abiders are living vicariously through you!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"Is This Your First?"

Any similarity with a real, living blog writer is purely coincidental...really.          The question was launched at "Anna" (the name was changed to protect the innocent) while she was entering the building for her six week postpartum visit.  A twitch of a smile--almost a snicker--played about her lips.  Obviously the asker is either ignorant or overly kind, ignoring the disheveled clothes, gray-speckled mass of untamed hair and the hunted, frantic look about "Anna's" eyes.  She thought about her far from maidenly figure and the nonchalance with which she approached the upcoming violating office visit, to say nothing of the ease with which she juggled an ungodly amount of baby gear while running through the parking lot.      She paused, smiled, then answered, "No.  This is number four actually".        The unidentified questioner said what everyone says, "Oh wow!  You must be busy!".      I--er---I mean "Anna" just smiled and rushed away.  Busy, yes indeed, and also late...another hallmark of a vanfull of kiddos.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Paraphrase of Psalm 23

I've often found that when I really want to think through some writing, it's helpful for me to paraphrase.  I often keep my 'interpretations' of Scripture especially to read through at a later time.  I'm not claiming any special biblical knowledge...here's my rough paraphrase of a well-loved psalm.

Psalm 23

God is like my shepherd; I won't need anything else.

He plans for me to rest and gives me peaceful places to do so.

He refreshes my faith, shows me His will, and shows me how to do it.

Even when I face the terror and doubt of death, I know I won't be scared.  He stays by me always.  His closeness and even His corrections are calming to me somehow.

You God--when I face enemies, you make me have a celebration.  You show that I'm your chosen one just like David was.  I have more good things than I could ask for.

You will keep on providing and blessing me until I die, then I will be with you in heaven for eternity.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Agatha Christie's View on Raising Children...

Yes, I'm still working my way through Agatha Christie's autobiography.  The slowness of my reading has nothing to do with the book and everything to do with my energy level right now.  It is still incredibly interesting.  Here's a snippet I ran across today; Agatha Christie's favorite part of motherhood is the sense of discovery.

"There is nothing more thrilling in this world, I think, than having a child that is yours, and yet is mysteriously a stranger.  You are the gate through which it came into the world, and you will be allowed to have charge of it for a period; after that it will leave you and blossom out into its own free life--and there it is, for you to watch, living its life in freedom.  It is like a strange plant which you have brought home, planted, and can hardly wait to see how it will turn out."

I sometimes feel this way.  Although there is much that a parent does to shape the character and direction of a child, the essential being is God-given.  It seems like every year is a new discovery about what each of your blessings will eventually become.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Trip to Nana's...

Scott will be leaving tomorrow on his vacation to Nana's house.  He's been packed for hours.  The packing list includes 147 cars (yes, he counted them all twice to be sure), 10 army men, then after I suggested he pack some clothes he added  three pairs of underwear.  What else could a young man need for five days?  So different from the girls!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

From the Mom of Girls

You know, I never thought of myself as someone who would have a whole flock of girl babies running around.  I grew up with three brothers in a not-so prissy farm-type atmosphere, so imagine my surprise when I found out that we would have another girl in September!  I've decided to embrace the giggly, hairstyling, chocolate-loving, nail painting aspect of my mothering with gusto.  In fact, Cara recently had her first sleepover, complete with giggling, beading, dressing up, and Barbie movies.  (Minus the presence of the manly contingent of our family.)

All this rambling is completely beside the point, actually.  On to today's review...

I'm sure you recognize this ultra famous, many times over printed Renoir.  It's called "Two Young Girls At The Piano".  I have to say, I've always liked this painting...its color and innocence.  It has taken on a new meaning to me recently, though, when I think about what my household will be like in a few short years.  Soon I'll have a whole troop of sweet girlies playing piano and singing together, and what a joy that will be!  I hope the girls continue to have a sweet, sisterly affection for each other through the teen and adult years.

Friday, August 3, 2012

No Mom, It's Really Not That Complicated

Well now, I had a humorous/humbling moment with the little old man last night.  Scott spent a large part of the afternoon unsmiling, squinty-eyed and almost growling at the girls and me.  This is completely abnormal for him.  In fact, it is a rare thing for him to not be smiling and mellow.  I immediately perked up and took notice.

The symptoms seemed to escalate after a minor punishment for arguing with his sister.  Being of the character-building sort, I followed the little old man to his room for a heart to heart.  What a great opportunity to teach and discuss the vices of anger and holding a grudge!  I chatted.  I talked about what makes me feel that way.  I asked him questions.  I saw no change.  Hmmm...

He was perfectly polite, but unchanged.  Still unsmiling, squinty-eyed and almost growling.  Since there was no overtly rude or wrong behavior, I decided in my motherly wisdom to let him stay in his room and think about our in-depth conversation.

Not long thereafter, I saw an amazing transformation.  He was smiling, giggling and making super funny jokes.  Had my heart to heart changed his demeanor?  Did our loving prayer time make the difference?

No.  Actually what did the trick was the three bowls of heaping taco salad that he manfully snarfed down.  Once the calories hit his bloodstream, he perked up in no time and was completely back to normal...running and playing cars with furious energy.

I had forgotten a fundamental consideration of raising a boy.

Sometimes there are no emotions attached to his behavior...he's probably just hungry again.  Most problems with him are just that simple...feed the kid, put the kid to bed, see the kid get happy again.  Poor little guy.  Maybe the character lecture will prevent problems some other time when it actually applies!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Real Story of Cincinnati Chili, Part 5

To brush up after our extremely long break, here is the link for Part 4

Hannistina had just had her culinary dreams squelched by the beastly Georgio Ghiradelli.  Oh what will she do?

Also, for some reason I decided that this was the beginning of Chapter 2.  No, it doesn't make any sense whatsoever, but I really like the title I picked out, so we'll leave it in!

Chapter 2:  A Banged Up BonMuffin

Hannistina felt the cold wind prick her skin as she marched down the sidewalk.  Her eyes were focused on her destination, not wavering from the Post Office doors which came into view.  Her arms tightly gripped the packages she carried as her mind still reeled from the wild ride of the evening before.  She wanted to banish all thoughts of the night from her mind, but little memories pelted her, repeatedly bruising her already sore psyche.  She struggled to keep her mind from the disastrous evening.  Her hopes had been so high for the future, her dreams of a bon-bon business, the man of her dreams...oh, Georgio Ghiradelli was not the man of her dreams!  He was arrogant!  His words were horrific and his tact was deficient.  How was it that all the men in her life turned out to be such duds?

Hannistina reached for the Post Office door just as it came flying open.  She felt the blow from the body that had torn through the now open doorway.  The shock had sent her body flying down to the hard, cold concrete.

"Oh, Miss Hershey, are you okay?  I am so, so sorry..."  The words from the assailant rang through her ears.  She knew that voice, but the world was spinning too quickly.  She tried to focus and noticed instead that a crowd was gathering.  She tried to intensify the face above her, but the sun in her eyes blocked her view.  

"May I help you up?  Please, Miss Hershey, are you wounded?".  The sun put a halo around her assailant and his features glowed with concern as he reached his hand down to help her up.  Her heart fluttered at the thought of this unknown man becoming her knight in shining armor.  Her dreams of this day often filled her mind.  Her mind raced with anticipation as she accepted his hand and tried to recover what little of her dignity she could.  As her body righted, her breath escaped along with the few remaining dignity shreds.  

"Dudley!" was the only word that she could manage.  He gently held her hand as she stood up, looking deeply into her eyes.  Was it only a dream?  Had she hit her head harder than she thought?  Suddenly this man she had known since second grade seemed all new to her.  The events of last night were all forgotten, as he bent to gather her belongings.  The sun again glinted off his head, and she realized that it wasn't a halo, but  the shine off his balding head causing the glow.  Hannistina furrowed her brow.  Perhaps she was just too dreamy lately.  There was no reason to go overboard.  It was only Dudley.  She calmed her overwhelmed, fantasy-wracked brain and adjusted her thoughts back to normal, yet still found herself agreeing to lunch in his shop after her business with the USPS.  His presence was comforting, and it was good to know he would understand her disappointment.

As he maneuvered his stocky frame around the table to the kitchen area of the shop, she was amazed by her urge to pour out the events of the previous night.  He brought out his new Thanksgiving dinner wrap, a creation of turkey, stuffing and cranberry.  Hannistina gazed skeptically at the concoction, then took a bite.  She was immediately reminded of her last Thanksgiving with her Dad and his staff.  She had been excited to be working in Italy until Thanksgiving rolled around.  The meal had seemed so cold and unfamiliar there.  Her thoughts wandered as she demolished more and more of Dudley's specialty.

"Listen, Hannistina, I think you were in the right.  After all, what is food without love?  I think the best food brings back memories and feelings of family.  I know how to make many gourmet items, but you know what?  I find that it is things like this ridiculous wrap that people keep coming back for over and over.  They feel a connection with the food because it is comforting, and there is nothing wrong with that.  It's the backbone of my business, in fact. "  Dudley noticed her gaze focus on him and immediately reddened.  Hannistina, stunned by such plain common sense, had locked eyes with him for a moment.  Perhaps here right in front of her, lay the answer --Dudley could give her his opinion of the chili.  He would know what would sell for sure; his shop had always been extremely popular.     That was her answer--she would ask him--besides, she had to return his dishes anyway.  

"Dudley, would you consider coming to my rescue one more time?"  Hannistina requested as she batted her eyes demurely.  Dudley flushed once again and his features glowed with pleasure.  He jumped up from the table, jarring it soundly in his haste.  He did not even notice the drinks on the table sloshing as he grandly bowed and waved his arms with flourish.  Hannistina choked back the urge to snort with laughter.  She managed restraint for a change, and showed only a calm smile.

"Mr. Dudley BonMuffin, would you accompany me to my home to taste my homespun concoction that Mr. Georgio Ghiradelli cruelly pronounced as food fit only for those lacking in taste and refinement?" she asked.

In answer, Dudley hurried to get their coats and assist her in every possible way...

Oh, what will he think?  And how does he become banged up himself?  You'll just have to wait until the next installment!

Friday, July 27, 2012

My Little Pumpkin

I got my weekly email yesterday.  You know, the one from Babycenter.com that marks your pregnancy week by week.  In fact, even for those of you who are slightly detached from the pregnancy process, you probably are friends with someone on Facebook who posts hers with regularity for the world to see.  I'm now officially two months from my due date.

My baby is the weight of four large navel oranges.  That's real progress.

In the last month, we've moved up in the world from a head of cauliflower, to some type of squash or other, to the multiple oranges.

My question is this...why all the produce references?  Is it suppose to inspire me to eat more healthfully despite the constant cravings for potato chips and fudge?  Are the publishers condescending enough to assume that a food reference will always magically click?  Are they possibly struggling with covert cannibalism?

My beef is this (ha, ha)...if you're going to constantly weigh your baby with food references, why not hit on things pregnant women want to think about and can really relate to?

"Congratulations!  You are 12 weeks along.  Your baby is the size of a Hershey's kiss..."

"Your baby has now achieved the weight of a single serving bag of M and M's..."

"This week baby is the length of a King size Reese's..."

"Hooray for you!  Baby is growing rapidly and will soon be as large as a Family size bag of Late Night Tacos at Midnight Doritos..."

Now THAT would make for some interesting Facebook reading.  Besides, it would be a more realistic representation of what pregnant women are really feeling.  If we have to force ourselves to eat spinach when we really want Extreme Moosetracks, do you have to constantly rub it in?

And just so you know, according to my personal measuring methods, my baby is now roughly the size of one Russell Stover Assorted sampler box plus two small Whitman's sampler tins.  <<sigh>>  Leave me alone to dream now, just for a moment.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Continuing on the Reading Theme...

I found this painting quite some time ago.  In fact, I think it was before we even knew we were having baby #4.  This struck a chord with me, of course, because I love to read aloud with my kids.

This painting is "Jungle Tales" by James Jebusa Shannon.  You can just see how thrilled they are...and look...no pictures...small print!  I've seen this look on my children's faces on occasion during read aloud time.    Forget the millions of lesson plans for 'listening skills'.  This is how learning to listen is truly accomplished...turning off the television and reading aloud on a regular basis.  

As always, my reviews have pretty much nothing to do with the actual skill of the artwork.  I just find art I like or art that makes me feel something.  I figure, if it makes me think or remember or laugh, it's a medium worthy of attention.  Doesn't this make you think of things you do with your children to build camaraderie and have fun in a calm and quiet way?

PS...this post has also been a good exercise for me.  Apparently I've forgotten how to spell 'camaraderie' correctly.  Thank you, dictionary.com!  Must be time to start up with the word of the week again...

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Reading Update

We've been enjoying our time off school the last couple months.  The older babies have been reading here and there for their library reading program, as well as our usual Bible and reading aloud time just after lunch. I'm very pleased to announce that we've begun to read an abridged version of Swiss Family Robinson together after lunch.  It's been a big hit--full of animals and imagination and excitement.  In fact, I have to say, it was one of my personal favorites growing up.

As for me, I'm continuing through Agatha Christie's autobiography, a really intriguing read.  She has a light style, but I've actually learned quite a lot about the culture of her time and class.  I'd highly recommend it, and I'm only halfway through.  In fact, Hercule Poirot has just begun to develop.  There are so many adventures to come!  It's also full of all sorts of quirky observations, such as her assertion that when in love, a woman has her beauty heightened; she glows.  A man looks uglier because he's feeling so smitten and worthless.  Hmmm...I have seen this on occasion, but I'm not so sure it's a hard and fast rule.  At any rate, it's a very interesting thought!

I also recently bought and finished a book of a more practical nature.  It's called Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman.  I plan to review it soon (well, as soon as I get around to it anyway), and I've already begun to implement some of her suggestions with success.  It has been great food for thought for me personally, as well as an encouragement.

I'm very excited about what the school year has to hold for Scott and Cara.  I'm really looking forward to the day when they can sit down and read a chapter book on their own, and they'll be quite a bit closer after this year's worth of learning.

I don't know about you, but there are some books I associate with certain events in my life.  I remember what I was reading when we were house hunting, during visits to family growing up, during my early married years (ie...before kids when I had time to read on a regular basis).   What a joy to look back at this summer and remember what we were all reading!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Children's Hour

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations, 
That is known as the Children's Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O'er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen 
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, o blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!

This reminds me so much of Daddy coming home!  What a sweet picture of fatherhood!

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Quote by Coco, not about Cocoa Products, for a change...

"In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different."

--Coco Chanel

Hmmm...I think I've got that 'different' thing down to a science!  Good to know no one could take my place.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Remember This?

Cara told me something really funny this morning.  Apparently one of the neighbor girls taught her the following...

"Girls go to college to get more knowledge; boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider..." (giggle, giggle, snort).

Ah, yes, the classics.  I'd forgotten about that.  I promptly taught her the "Girls go to Mars to get more candy bars..." bit.  (This could be construed as a part of my ongoing plan to indoctrinate my children into chocolate obsession--maybe that's where this all started!).

I have to say it brought back some cute little girl school memories for me.  Amazing how these playground rhymes stand the test of time.

...just a little scared for the day when the kids learn the diarrhea song!

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Catsup Bottle

(A poem for those of us who have stared at a Heinz 57 bottle and have kept tapping the 57 imprint to get some to come out.  Does that really work???)

by Ogden Nash

First a little
Then a lottle.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Warning Signs You Might Be An Extreme Couponer...

By now most people have heard about some of the wild shopping/saving techniques of the self-proclaimed 'extreme couponers'.  You may have watched the show...you may have even been on the show.  Although I do consider myself an extreme cheapie when it comes to grocery shopping, I don't think I've quite stepped over into the abyss.  Here's my method of determining one's level of couponing extremity.  If more than three of these warning signs describes you...call TLC immediately to set up a shoot for their show!

1. You call your pantry a stockpile.

2. You insure your stockpile.

3. You call your grocery shopping trip a 'haul'.

4. You've had to install more than one shelving unit to store your stockpile.

5.  Your bedroom (under the bed, in the closet...anywhere) has either toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo or cereal stored in it.

6. You consider leaving the store with Ramen noodles, flavored water, toothpaste and toothbrushes a great shopping trip.

7. You require assistance to your car and you DON'T have your kids along  or move about via wheelchair.

8.  You know what a line limit is, and you know your store's.

9. You plan on more than two transactions during your checkout--and they're all for you.

10. It takes you more than 10 minutes to check out, even with a competent employee scanning.

11. Your kids are excited when the Sunday paper comes and they keep ads in their rooms.  (Guilty on this one!  Like I said...more than three!)

12. Your kids know what stores in the area double coupons.

13.  You've invested in a paper cutter for reasons other than scrapbooking.

14. You bring either a binder or file box to the grocery store.

15.  You've  been in a dumpster or recycling bin looking for coupons.

16. You measure your toilet paper, not by rolls, but by height.

I'm sure there are many other signs, but these are the few I've picked up from the show.  Now, fess up!  Have any of you readers made it to extremity?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Feeling Weird Today?

Here's what Dr. Seuss has to say about it...

"We are all a little weird, and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love."

I have to say I've never thought of love in that way before!

To My Hubby:  I'm so glad we're both weird in the same sort of way!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hurricane Allison, Birthday Girl...

I can't believe how quickly time flies by!  She was such a sweet, mellow little baby.  A million messes later, we still adore her!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Nine Years Ago Today...

was the happiest day of my life.  No, I'm not just that into Flag Day, although it's a worthy enough holiday.  On this day in 2003, my hubby and I tied the knot.  Ever since then, we've been together making our dreams come true.

We've had some ups and downs through our years together, but one thing has remained constant.  Our relationship has always been a joy, a safe harbor, a delight.  We've worked together to be closer all the time,  we've (so far) survived the initial years of parenting, we've laughed at the same weird things for years now.  You've put up with my lame puns and corny humor; I've learned to appreciate the joys of college football.  This give and take of marriage is wonderful stuff...a safe place to learn, grow and love.  A sense of 'home' personified into a rewarding relationship.

This past year in particular has shown me that no matter what difficulties arise, we'll be okay.  We can stick together and brave whatever storms arise (including surgeries!).  I'm so excited to see what is coming up for us both.

Thank you, Andy for being the man I love!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Real Story of Cincinnati Chili, Part 4

Let's brush up, shall we?  Here is the link for Part 3.

We last left Hannistina rushing home from the BonMuffin Bakery...rushing from the short, bald man who sighed and dreamed over her next culinary disaster.  Poor Dudley!

So anyway...

Hannistina hurried from the cold, brisk evening into the warm kitchen.  She wrinkled her delicate nose.  The smoke still hung in the air and tainted the ambiance with the smell of imperfection.  She quickly set the table with the succulent offerings and whisked away her canvas tote into the back bedroom.  She was not a moment too soon, because there came a knock from the front door that sent shivers down her spine.  Hannistina hurried to the front door, pausing only long enough to glance in the hall mirror and see her cheeks glowing and eyes sparkling from the excitement.  She grandly opened the front door with a flourish, but the sight at her front door took her breath away.

Hannistina smiled slightly and asked, "May I help you?".

"Yes.  I am Georgio Ghiradelli.  I am looking for Miss Hannistina Hershey.  Is she here?".

"Please come in.  I've been so looking forward to meeting you."  Hannistina recovered from her shock as she stepped back and motioned him in.  She realized that he was standing in his coat and hat and remembered to offer to take them.  Her eyes widened as he took off his hat.  His hair was even redder than it had first appeared when she had first laid eyes on him!

Georgio laughed a loud, abrasive laugh.  "Most people expect me to be the tall, dark and handsome man that my name implies.  I understand the shock.  I hope the disappointment doesn't ruin our evening!".

Hannistina flushed with shame.  How could this presumptuous man read her mind?

"I am so sorry, " she replied.  "I did not mean to offend you.  I just..."

He interrupted, "Your house is filled with a mixture of smells."  His face scrunched as he worked to sort the smells in his mind.  Without any prompting from Hannistina, Georgio followed the mixture of scents wafting from the kitchen.

"I have a nose that knows food smells, some even call me the 'savant of scents', but this is a combination that I have never before encountered."  Hannistina followed him meekly, knowing that she did not want to explain.  Maybe he would let it go.  Before she entered the kitchen, her heart was struck with horror as her eyes went from the beautiful tablescape to her stove top.  She spied the large pot of chili on the back burner, still simmering!

"Ah, what have we here? A ragout, of course.  You must taste mine...".  His voice died away as he discovered the true contents of the pot.  "Oh, yes, of course.  You Americans rank supreme in the making of meals such as this.  One pot wonder, no doubt.  The only thing I wonder is how a person of taste can enjoy something so very homespun."  He said the word 'homespun' as if it were a curse word.

Irrational though it may be, Hannistina instantly began defending her chocolate-laced chili, which she had been more than willing to wish out of existence the moment before.  Hot words spewed back and forth, hers praising the simple cook with soul, his praising the extraordinary ingredient.    The result was this mutual ultimatum...each would try the other's fare and critique it in light of their extremely high culinary principles.  Hannistina retrieved a fresh spoon from her immaculate silverware drawer and scooped a sample of the fateful chili, making sure to give the spoon a dramatic swish to highlight her 'soulful' creation.

Georgio tasted, tasted again, then rested his features into an arrogant smirk. (the beast!)

I am fairly certain these were in my dream last night...along with fried chicken.  Don't ask...it's a pregnancy thing.

"You call that a masterpiece?  You have no idea to what heights a truly fresh, high quality product can carry you..."  His speech lasted for eight more minutes, despite her ferocious staring.  At last, he daintily put on his white silk gloves, retrieved his refrigerated briefcase and began to open.  Hannistina caught a glimpse of her heart's true desire...truffles, truffles, and more truffles.  Each truffle was enclosed in its own temperature-controlled plastic compartment inside the briefcase, so as to be absolutely perfect for the lucky taster.  A small hiss of air escaped as Georgio opened the case of a dark chocolate confection.  With white-gloved hand he cautiously picked up the tender morsel, fanning it lightly with his spare hand.  The aroma of the chocolate brought goosebumps all over her Hershey's kiss-gorged body.  She took a bite.  Somewhere in the distance she was sure she heard strings crooning out their romantic melody.  She closed her eyes...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Grandkids Are Worth It!

    Here's another poem by my Mom!                     
When families stayed close, get-togethers were no trouble,
But modern times force grandma to be a new kind of noble.
Life in the fast lane requires grandfolks to be mobile.
But grandkids are worth it!

If you haven't seen grandkids for many months,
If they're homesick for you, don't be a dunce.
Hop in your car, no matter the distance.
Natalie is worth it!

Don't sit around and whine for them, or pout.
It's just ridiculous for you to go without.
Once you're there, they'll meet you at the door with a shout!
And Jamie is worth it!

If the place where they live is very, very far,
Be thankful that someone invented the car.
Traveling, for grandparents, is now only par.
But Katherine is worth it!

If it's been so long you are going berserk,
Be grateful you no longer have to work.
Get a move on - a grandchild-fix is a wonderful perk.
Cara is certainly worth it!

If you miss your family even a little tad,
Don't mope around, increasingly sad.
Be glad these days it's not bad to gad.
And Scott is definitely worth it!

Your kids far away don't mean to deprive.
They figure you're up to a day or two drive.
You don't have to beg, or wheedle, or connive.
Because Andrew is worth it!

If you're feeling as bored as a stationary plant
And you MUST have a visit, and they obviously can't,
Hallelujah that modern grandparents gallivant!
You know Allison is worth it!

If your husband tells you you are losing your grip,
I'd advise a long journey at double-time clip.
What you need is a grandbaby-withdrawal trip.
Titus is totally worth it!

If you're suddenly informed there will be a new baby,
You'd better get moving, wherever they may be.
Go see 'em right now! And I don't mean maybe!
Baby Reeder is worth it!

If they've all gone so fast, you don't know which way they went,
And it won't be enough if a picture fax is sent,
Just don't drive so fast you get into an accident!
Jozef is worth it!

Lonesomeness is something you needn't reconcile.
Even though the trip may take quite a while,
They'll be cheering for you as you fly mile by mile.
Amos is worth it!

If you find yourself at some point nestless,
And your days and hours are exceedingly restless,
Drive on till their house just over the crest is.
Hannah is worth it!

If your days drag on in silent desperation,
Think of the kids - there's no better motivation.
Get packed and press on to your eastern destination.
Nicole is worth it!

If you just have to hug and squeeze your little pixie,
Your children won't have the heart to say nix, see?
A visit is great medicine, and I ain't whistlin' Dixie!
Scott is worth it!

If the pictures galore are just not enough comfort,
And you or they need a childlike cavort,
Get your husband and fly, walk, drive, or transport.
Michelle is worth it!

If your spouse is becoming morbidly terse,
Or you're thinking the quietness can't possibly be worse,
Then the miles between kids and you, you must quickly traverse.
Sarah is worth it!

Even if they're busy, it's all right to inquisite.
It's not as if you're asking the moon, is it?
Please, please, please may we come for a visit?
And Andy is worth it!

Wherever your kids and grandkids call home,
Whether you must drive to Tallahassee or Nome,
Grab your toothbrush, coffee cup, and comb,
And take off! Grannies today have to roam!
And family is worth it!

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Real Story of Cincinnati Chili, Part 3

To catch up on the first two installments, click here:  Part 1    Part 2

If one installment is all you can stand at a time, read on...  Hannistina was just screaming to herself....

"My lovely dinner is ruined! Oh what shall I do?".

The answer was obvious.  This was not the first time she had been in this sort of dilemma.  Her salvation was just across the street at Dudley BonMuffin's Bakery and Catering.  She squelched a pang of guilt as she stuffed three pieces of Great Grandmother's heirloom Le Creuset bakeware into a large canvas tote bag.  "Just once more and never again." she firmly resolved.

A small bell jingled as Hannistina entered the bakery.  Dudley BonMuffin looked up as he drizzled chocolate sauce over a fresh batch of profiteroles.  His pulse quickened.

"Can I help you Miss Hershey?"  His greeting was anything but rote.  There was a tender eagerness that washed over her unnoticed.  If she had taken a careful look at Dudley, she might have noticed what tender, sensitive eyes were set in his plump, bald head.    But she was always in a hurry.  Always in a predicament.  This fact did not bother Dudley.  She was his damsel in distress.  Fixing her culinary nightmares was the stuff of his finest dreams.

Yes, that is Dudley there on the left, sitting forlornly.  <<sigh>>

She chose zucchini vichyssoise to start.  Dudley ladled it into one of the dishes.  Next the entree: roast duck with haricots verts.  He placed the duck quite carefully so no one would ever guess that it had not been there to start with, then he arranged the haricots verts all around.  A perfect light dinner so there would be plenty of room for dessert.  Dudley's specialty was tiramisu.  He offered Hannistina a full chilled bowl from the walk-in.  Of course she could take his glass dish home.  Of course she could use some of his insulated carrying cases for the hot dishes.

"Miss Hershey, I would be honored to escort you home."

"That's not necessary, but thank you, Mr. BonMuffin." she said cooly.  She glanced down at him briefly and noticed only that he was nearly a foot shorter than herself.  Alas!  She noticed nothing of his noble heart!  The bell jingled and all too soon she was gone.  Dudley heaved a heavy sigh.

To be continued...try not to bite your fingernails clear off in your anticipation!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My New Cooking Philosophy

This may seem totally unrelated to my usual topics on this blog, but it was a great quote that really shows my new cooking philosophy.

"Recipes are just road maps, they're not contracts."

--Chef Michael Voltaggio

That is so true...at least after you figure out what you're doing.  For baking, there really is nothing like following a recipe, but I find that with everything else, I use recipes for inspiration, then throw them to the side.  I guess that's when you start to write a food blog!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Early Thoughts On Tee-Ball

We are officially a few weeks into the tee-ball season, and I'm finding that we're enjoying the whole experience...especially Scott and Andy, of course.  Despite the back surgery pain and fatigue, Andy is faithfully attending games and, being braver than wimpy Mom, is still able to pitch real tee-balls to help Scott practice.  (There's just something about  the image of a  strongly hit tee-ball screaming to the face or pregnant belly that scares me.  Or maybe it's just that I'm a wimp.  Not quite sure.)

Anyway, after analyzing Scott's amazing team in action quite a lot, I've come up to a conclusion about tee-ball. It is not a regular sport.  It is actually a strange hybrid of three sports...baseball, tackle football, and bowling.

The ball is struck first by a grinning boy who is wearing a helmet far too large for his head/body proportion.  This is usually done after a lot of coachly adjusting, many swing attempts, and lots of pro baseball player pre-swing imitations.  The ball flies taps out into the infield full of players, at which point the sport turns into tackle football.  Nearly all of the fielders (seems to be about everyone except Scott who thinks he's an umpire) runs toward the ball.  Instead of catching or stopping the ball, the natural reaction is to manfully tackle it to get it to stop.  Imagine all twelve, er, eleven boys doing this at once, and you can see where the bowling starts.  Despite their self-sacrificing moves of agility, somehow the ball escapes unscathed while the boys drop like bowling pins.  It brings a whole new meaning to the word 'strike'.  Sometimes the game takes on the feeling of dominoes as well, but only with base runners.  They hardly ever ALL remember to run.  They end up being piled up somewhere around third base where they each in turn hit and knock each other over in a pretty orderly and predictable manner.  Curious.

After all these antics, the game reverts back to being like baseball.  The boys just have to slide home and after scoring, they humbly saunter back to the bench, or out to the stands to jump and see how proud Mom and Dad are of them.  I suppose Joey Votto doesn't really do that, but he probably did once upon a time.

All in all it's been a lot of fun so far.  You almost hate to see them improve in their skills, because it's just so much fun to watch them like this!

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Little Laundry Maid

I thought it was about time to give an update on Hurricane Allison.  Last I posted about her, I was in a state of severe trauma while I adjusted to her new-found mischief-making prowess.  Don't get me wrong, there is something special about her amazing ability to find trouble, discreetly involve herself in trouble, carry out the trouble in silence, then try not to laugh in your face when you discover the trouble.  This age is always a heavy training time for children in our household.  We tend to have a terrible one's more than a terrible two's around here, but finally the training and the growing is starting to pay off.

What is it about this picture that my Dad loves so much?!?

While she is still an exceptional mischief-maker, there is a real sweetness beginning to develop in her.  She tries her best to help and is so proud of herself!  She's my right-hand girl.  She's not useful in the true sense of the word, but she's always there, always trying to please, always helping as much as she can.  It's such a fun age of discovery.  She's discovered dishes...she can put away pots and pans, as well as cutting boards.  She's discovered the laundry.  Any washing or folding is way too neatly done without her presence, not to mention the fun of watching her parade around with various unmentionables draped around her neck.  (Clean, I hasten to add, lest I lose my readership in disgust.)

It's so exciting to see your baby grow and learn and be a help.  Of course there will be messes and shocks (like her alarming habit of stripping down during naptime and climbing on top of Cara's dresser), but the sweet fellowship has begun to form a new joy of knowing my curly-haired trouble maker.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Now I Know...

I think it's fair to say that I'm officially not just like Cinderella.  I've been wondering about it for some time...the continual mopping and cooking seem strangely familiar, but now I know better.  Every morning when Andy leaves for work, I collapse back into bed and plan on dosing gently back to sleep.  It's so peaceful when the children are sleeping in their rooms!  But alas, the temperate weather has brought the back reality of the morning hours. From our open window, the neighborhood full of birds begin their wake-up routine.  We have no roosters around here; apparently we don't need them.  Sometime between 5:45 and 6:00 am the gentle tweets progress to the unearthly chorus to which we have now become accustomed.  What seems like hundreds of birds litter our ear intake with their barbaric yawping.  Cinderella would never have reacted this way.  No, she sings and laughingly scolds her feathered friends while she brushes her golden hair and dreams of her Handsome Prince.  My Handsome Prince has already left for work, so I either impatiently endure, then finally get up complaining about living next to the nature preserve or I briskly slam the window shut and fade back off into my slumbering bliss.  Sleep is a wish MY heart makes.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Good comeback!

Lady Astor to Winston Churchill: ''Winston, if you were my husband I would flavor your coffee with poison.'' 

Churchill: ''Madam, if I were your husband, I should drink it.''

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Real Story of Cincinnati Chili, Part 2

In answer to your question...yes, every installment is just this ridiculous...and 
chocolate-centric.  Read on...

To reread Part 1, click here.

Timidly, she greeted him. "Hi, Daddy.  Are you home from Europe?"

"Yes," he replied.  There was a pause.  She nervously wound her graceful fingers 
around a lock of spiraling hair.  

"Have you given any consideration to my proposal?". 

"Yes, Daddy, I have, but I'm sorry to say I can't accept.  I told you before, I 
have to follow my dreams!". 

"Hannistina Adrianna Hershey, I have told you and told you, this makes absolutely 
no sense!  How can you give up a reliable $60,000 a year job in my accounting firm 
to 'follow your dream' as a bon bon designer?  Following dreams takes money, honey,
I don't care what Dr.Phil says." 

She scrambled over to the pantry.  Just a few more Hershey's kisses won't matter.  "I can 
always work out an extra two or three hours tonight," she thought.  She took a deep 
breath...and another kiss...    

"Daddy, I was actually hoping you would help me finance the opening of my  shop.  
I'll give you a sizable percentage of the profits.  I know I can do  it!  You know 
I've always had a way with food..." 

It was at that unfortunate moment that the smoke alarm pealed its way through 
the house.  Smoke billowed from the oven.  Her apple crisp was certainly crisp. 
Laughter filled the receiver of the phone.  

"I see you're up to  your old antics again, Hannistina.  You know you belong with me.  
Let me know when you get this out of your system." 

Hot tears of frustration threatened to spill down Hannistina's face as she listened 
to the empty air on the other end of the phone line.  How like him to get the last 
word, thought Hannistina as she hung up the phone.  She jerked open the oven, grabbed 
the oven mitts and pulled out her spoiled dessert.  

Her shoulders began to shake with laughter as she scraped her mess of apples into 
the garbage disposal.   How ridiculously funny it all was.  She was not much better 
off than that cocky eleven year old that challenged her big sister to an apple crisp 
cook-off! She had been sure that she would beat her obsessive, direction-following 
sister with her "pinch of this and pinch of that" philosophy of cooking.   
Unfortunately, that method worked much better for her grandmother who had forty years 
of cooking experience to back her up.  Her challenge had gone down as a loss, and 
Hannistina ultimately chalked it up to a joint lesson in humility and the importance 
of following directions.  

She looked at the timer, still blinking with the original 35 minutes that she had 
forgotten to start.  Laughter is a good medicine,  but what in the world would she 
do for dessert?  Company would be here in thirty minutes. Her stomach tightened as 
she reflected on the importance of this meal.  His very name thrilled her to her rose 
blush painted toenails. Georgio  Salvadore Ghiradelli--if ever there was a man made 
just for her, she was sure it must be  him.  As she swept her spoon through the 
simmering pot of chili, her mind envisioned her upcoming meeting with the chocolate 
expert.  He would be tall and vital, an obvious result of the disease-fighting 
properties in the succulent chocolates his family produced.  She could see the dark 
sparkle in his eyes,  envision his robust Italian mannerisms, hear his rolled r's, 
and as he drew close to kiss her hand, the faint aura of cocoa perfumed his hair. 
He would be perfect. 

Hannistina sighed heavily; the glitter of silver caught her eye.  The blood 
immediately shot to her cheeks as she saw the pile of kisses wrappers heaped next 
to the chili pot.  How could she have let this happen again?   

"Daydreams and bulk bags of Hershey products don't mix," she fumed while sweeping the 
clutter into the trash can. "Somebody always gets fat".  

She returned to the stove to cover the chili and saw something that made her heart 
sink...melting chocolate in her chili pot. 

"My lovely dinner is ruined! Oh what shall I do?" she screamed.

Sorry to leave you on edge, but, 

To be continued...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Our Little Birthday Man

Scott woke up early this morning.  It's a big day today...he's officially five.

He told me he knew he was five today because his toes have gotten even longer.  That's a nice thing to know...next October, I'll start measuring my toes early so I can hit my birthday measurements accurately.

I sure do love this little guy...

Happy Birthday, Scott!!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

A 'Quick' Photo Shoot

Just so I'll never forget the fun it is to do a group shot with the kids, here is our 'quick' snapshot for the church directory.
Hey...Let's see if we can do a little better...

Don't you love the windswept tie look?

Ruh-roh.  Someone made us giggle.

So close...so close...

Obviously we decided to go with an earlier attempt.  The longer and harder you try, the worse it gets.