October 31, 2008

I am a Hallo-weenie....

I like Halloween, but as my kids are getting older we are all realizing that I like the preschool version of Halloween. I like pumpkins, and witches, and little ghosts, and bats. I am not a fan of chainsaws, slashers, and x-files.

In my 15 years as an EMT I saw some really gross things, and talked about them openly over dinner. But pop in the latest horror flick and I turn into a squeamish weenie. My daughter and her friends have invited me to join them for some of their scary picks. I watched The Grudge and Darkness (both rated PG-13) with the covers up to my chin, hiding behind a bunch of fourteen year old girls.

At least when my youngest daughter's girl scout troop went to the haunted corn maze tonight, they knew they had me to hold down the fort outside.

October 26, 2008

There was a little witch....

My youngest asked me today if I would tell "the pumpkin story" again at her Halloween party next week. Another parent shared it when my 15 year old was in Kindergarten, and between my three kids I have told it every single year.

The best part for me, is that it requires no planning. I grab a sheet of orange paper from the supply cabinet on the way to the classroom and use my daughter's scissors. The story is about a witch who is trying to find herself a home for the winter. As you tell the story you make a few cuts in a folded piece of paper. When you open it up the sheet of paper has been magically transformed into a jack o'lantern.

The story is “The Little Orange House” from Paper Stories by Jean Stangl. And this is for those visual folks. Enjoy!

October 22, 2008

That's it, I'm outta here!

I'm walking to San Fransisco, starting tonight. Well, ok, I'm cyber-walking. I found a great website in the USA Today Weekend Section (I realize it's Wednesday night and I'm just getting to the weekend section, but it is what it is).

The Gal To Gal Walk is a virtual walk-a-thon for patients with late-stage breast cancer. The walk started on October 1 in Cambridge, Massachusetts and will end in San Francisco. It gives a whole new meaning to "you go girl" doesn't it?

And since I lost my mom to breast cancer, I had to join. Find team Marsha and sign on!

October 20, 2008

Update on the "Blanky Saga"

A guest post from my sister....

As I said I would, I faithfully walked the ground we covered at the Zoo the night before and came up with nothing. I asked numerous Zoo employees, and filled out a lost and found report at the administration office. Nothing.

My son still insists that his blanket is in the possession of a scarecrow seen leaving the Zoo with a cardboard box under his arm. Between my son’s fear of scarecrows and the absence of his “lovey” we are up against the odds for a good nights sleep.

With this truth at the forefront of my mind, I have found what might be the only two Circo mircofleece striped blankets left on the planet. One comes from an ebay sale in Illinois and will be here in two days (and yes, I did consider driving to get it). The other blanket is coming from a girlfriend who read the story on this blog. Her son has the same birthday as my son and the same love for a special blanket. She has seen our boys with their special items standing side by side with the blanket/thumb position and knew its importance. She will be by tomorrow morning with said item to see if it will do.

I know that you are all thinking, “He’s going to know it’s not his…” and you are probably right. My efforts may all be futile. But as I said before, the things we do for our children…

October 19, 2008

Deena's Homemade Chicken Soup

  1. Buy a roasted deli chicken for dinner at 8pm on Thursday night on the way home from basketball practice. Pull all the meat off the chicken and put it on a plate so the kids can eat the tater tots instead.
  2. Put the meat back in the deli container with the bones (because the deli containter has a cover and the plate does not). Refrigerate.
  3. On Sunday when there is still an entire chicken in the back of the fridge, dump it into a big pot and cover with water. Simmer while you go to the store for onions, carrots, celery, and egg noodles.
  4. Remove chicken pot from stove and dump into the spaghetti strainer placed over a popcorn bowl. Pick out the chicken, toss the bones, put the broth (already seasoned...) back into the pot. Pay the kids to cut up the celery, carrots, and onion while they whine about it. Add to pot.
  5. Simmer while you finish the laundry, bathrooms, dishes, vaccuming, and dusting, about 2 hours.
  6. Call the family to eat. Add the egg noodles and boil for 15 minutes or until the kids show up and tell you they are not hungry right now.
  7. Simmer two more hours and serve with bread and butter.

For the love of a “Blanky” (and some sanity)

And now a guest post from my sister....

Last night was our annual Halloween at the Zoo outing. With three costumed children in tow, we headed out into the darkness with our flashlights. My youngest son has long been afraid of the dark and “the mooner”, his newly acquired fear is costumed people. With Halloween soon approaching, he has a “love/hate" relationship with malls and department stores. From the cackling moving broom in the grocery store, to the scary witch statue that occasionally moves in Wal-Mart, he chooses to stay in the cart with his sun glasses on (apparently safer this way).

So, when it came time to go to a Zoo full of scary costumes walking around the in dark, I decided to break the “no blanky” rule and let him take his beloved striped blanket in his stroller with us. I am sure one can already calculate what happened. At the end of the night, we put the stroller in the car and within seconds of snuggling in his car seat, he asked for his blanket. Anticipating his request, I was already frantically scouring the back of the car for it. When my husband ad I realized it had been dropped in the Zoo. We panicked. As a mom or dad one can guess how a night without the “lovey” paired with his left thumb can be.

My husband spent the next 20 minutes scouring the Zoo in all the places we’d been. He chased two golf carts (with very fast Zoo employees), answering my three cell phone calls as I retraced my visuals on the blanket in my head, and encountered three packs of raccoons coming out of the woods. Needless to say, our efforts were in vain and we did not find “Striped Blanky”. On the drive home we retraced our steps with each other out loud and narrowed down the vicinity in which we may have lost it. After trying to convince my son that the “Puppy Blanky” was good, we put him in his bed. Thankfully he was traumatized enough by the costumes and the loss of his blanky that he crashed immediately. In between the cries for his blanket at 11:30PM, 2:00AM and 5:30AM, I plotted out my plan for this morning.

I will wake up, get some breakfast for my kids, and be at the ZOO by opening at 9AM. I will attempt to comb the Zoo in daylight once again for the beloved blanket with my new search parameters. I will go to lost and found with a current picture of the missing blanket and unleash on the Zoo employees until someone drives me in a golf cart through the Zoo until we find this blanket (o.k. maybe not the golf cart).

Oh… the things we do for our kids…. (I’ll let you know how it turns out!)

October 17, 2008

the lunch lady is going down

Today my daughter had a fundraiser at school (yeah, I know another one... but this one I didn't have to do anything for). For a buck, they could wear a hat in school all day. My daughter dug through the costume bucket and came up with a witch hat. As she was passing through the lunch line, the lunch lady (our oldest kids went to school together - we go way back) looked at my daughter's hat and asked, "Oh, is that your mom's?" When the teachers started laughing, she realized what she said and she started laughing, then they all laughed even harder when they realized my daughter got it too. I can't wait to see her face when I show up for the Halloween party at school dressed as... the lunch lady!

October 14, 2008

Pinkies Up, Ladies

My sister and I talk most mornings.

I have been through play dates, sleepovers, and theme parties, but today she shared an invitation that was a first for me. One of the parents invited the girls in my niece's class to a four-week etiquette series including: table manners, introductions, shaking hands, and a week tailored to the group.

Are you serious? Tea parties are great for 3 year olds. The Manners Try-it is a great unit for Girl Scouts. But a four-week series? My girls learned table manners at family mealtimes. They learned introductions and hand-shaking (hey, a two-for-one) when I introduced them to parents at PTO meetings or coworkers at the company picnic. We didn't need a "series" - a series with a $15 fee - to teach them to be polite.

But, we did not have all the other girls in class already signed up, not to mention the nagging thought, "Did they invite her because they think my daughter needs better manners?" I can't blame her for writing the check.

October 9, 2008

Oh, I give up....

My kids have a habit of leaving their dirty clothes lay in a pile on the bathroom floor when they are done taking a shower. I left them all week to see if anyone would take care of them. I am not surprised that they didn't - I am surprised that I thought they might. This week the laundry experiment is officially over.

From now on I will pick up their clothes each night and put them into the wash. I know this does not teach them responsibility. I know this does not teach them independence. I know this does not teach them consequences. And I'm ok with that. My oldest got home from volleyball at 9pm with more than 2 hours of homework still ahead. My second daughter went from her basketball game right after school to another practice, and she also got home after 9pm with 2 hours of homework. As far as teaching responsibility, independence, and consequences - managing a schedule like that trumps picking up their own laundry any day.

October 7, 2008

Communication Breakdown

My daughter lost her phone today. Well not really - it was confiscated. At school. As she was turning it off. In the hallway. Between classes.

Ok, I understand the school has a policy about phones in school. If she had gotten caught using it during class, I would be hard-pressed to defend her (not to mention all the work I would make her do before I gave it back). But she wasn't using it and it wasn't during class.

Our family depends on our cell phones. At 7:00 every morning we leave our house for work and school, then spend the afternoon and evening running from one activity to the next. Her phone is the difference between sitting in the rain for 20 minutes when practice ends early or calling me during the break to let me know. It means that I can let her know my meeting is running late so she doesn't think I forgot to pick her up (again). Our phones are a lifeline between each other.

To make matters worse, today after school when she went to get it from the office it was missing. Yep, the school lost my daughter's phone, so now I have to go in tomorrow and find it. All I have to say is her teachers better keep their phones off and out of sight while I'm around....

October 4, 2008

I disagree with the experts on this one....

I am always looking for ways to stay connected to my daughters as the walls of their worlds expand daily. There are a lot of experts with advice about keeping the lines of communication open with teens, creating meaningful discussion, and building relationships with them. Well, I have some of my own:

Don’t talk to them. Comment on the music, compliment their hair, but don't try to engage in meaningful conversation. Listen to how they talk to their friends - it's not long-winded discourse - they talk to each other in bursts. Sometimes the best information is not a conversation, but a snippet that can lead to a conversation later.

Let them text or type. I lost my ability to multi-task years ago. My children know this and use it to get permission for things while I am distracted by something else. Just the same, when teens are multi-tasking, they are likely to answer a question without thinking about it - so we get the raw facts.

Feed them. Food has long been a way for moms to care for their families. Teens let their guard down when they sit down at the table (or on it). Munchies seem to work the best because they have to keep coming back for more - again the snippet concept.

In one weekend, using these techniques I was able to find out that: Amber's mom won't let her watch PG-13 movies, Angela copies Sara's every move, Melanie got a concussion in cheer-leading, Sam was shopping for a different homecoming dress, the tendinitis in Erin's knee was still bothering her, and I had supposedly reported a drinking party to the school authorities.

It may not seem like much, but snippets work. Instead of the typical, "How was your day?" I can ask, "Did Sam find another dress?" to which she will reply, "You would not believe what Sam said in math today - I don't even want to talk about her." Hmmm, another snippet....

October 1, 2008

Why I’m not a cool mom….

I used to be a cool mom. Then one day, all that changed and now I am just a regular mom.