...because we all have our motley moments!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Oreo Truffle

I don't know how these avoided my radar for so long. I'm a huge fan of chocolate and all things Oreo, yet for some reason this apparent party favorite did not get my attention until two weeks ago while I was talking to a friend. She told me how delicious these are, but while it piqued my curiousity I forgot about them until a few days later when in a new issue of a magazine I saw a recipe for them. Twice in a matter of days? I decided they were calling me, and I needed to make them. And make them I did. I ate a few, too. Are you ready for a simple, yummy, and fun recipe just in time for your 4th of July potluck? Here it is:

You will need: 1 regular package of Oreo cookies, 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese (softened), and some melting chocolate (melted)

Step 1: Crush the Oreos. I put mine in a Ziploc bag, crushed them with my hands, and called it exercise. I guess if you're lazy you could throw them into a food processor. It's your call. ;)

Step 2: Mix in the cream cheese. I used a hand mixer for this one because the cheese was still a little firm. The finished mixture will look like dirt. It is delicious dirt, however, and I highly recommend tasting it to verify that!

Step 3: Roll the "dirt" into balls. Smaller is better for this as the finished product is pretty rich. You can eat more of them if they are smaller. Chill the balls in the refrigerator for about an hour or until you just can't wait any longer.

Step 4: Dip the balls in the chocolate. I let my son and nephew sprinkle these with patriotic sprinkles for the 4th.

That's it. Seriously. And they are wonderful. So wonderful that I am going to eat some more of them now. Enjoy! :)

Monday, June 29, 2009

I Want to Love You, PYT (Pretty Young Thing) !

I LOVED Michael Jackson. Musically speaking, he was a genius. I grew up in the 80s during the height of his solo career. Picture me, circa 1984 with hair twisted into banana curls. I was in the sixth grade. All of the cool boys in my class of 18 could breakdance. The girls in my class were divided - who liked Joe and who liked Chris? Some of the kids even began pairing off in our first attempts at dating! At the end of the school year, we were invited to the junior high's formal dance. I am pretty sure the theme was Purple Rain by Prince. The teachers had taken all of our school pictures and put them on purple rain drops to decorate the gym. My mom made my dress for me. It was a really pretty spaghetti strap sundress over-layed with sheer lavender material and decorated with flowers. She even bought me pumps! My first heals. I remember being disappointed that she bought bone colored ones instead of white - how junior high was that?

During the dance, they awarded various different prizes, and about midway through the night, I won! I had never won a prize before, and I was so excited. My prize was my very first cassette tape - Thriller. It is so funny how fashion trends took so long to make it to the Midwest, but music was instant. Most of our families did not have cable since we lived out in the country. None of us had watched MTV, but we knew music. We loved Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and Madonna. The boys in my class were all "Bad", and it was really cool to be able to say all of the words to Thriller (even the bad one which, of course, I never did). During lunch recess, we would push the desks out of the way so we could dance. We would all bring our 45s to school. I could even moonwalk. Actually, it is probably more accurate to say I could only moonwalk. Those were days I loved, but I would never go back.

Now, as a mom to a preschooler, I am torn - did Michael Jackson really harm those children like he was accused? Does that take away from his musical greatness? Can anything take away from his musical greatness? I hope he was falsely accused. I would like to believe he wouldn't do that. Now that he has passed, I choose to remember his music and celebrate the artist he was. I can better understand why Elvis fans have hoped for years that the King is still alive. I have even been wondering if he pulled and Elvis. His music colored my life, and I hope he rests in peace.

Thanks for the memories, Michael! Do you have any favorite Michael Jackson memories?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

If you give a mom a cookie...

I saw this idea on another blog and thought it was cute so I put my own spin on it!

If You give a Mom a Cookie

If you give a mom a cookie, she will take one bite. Her one year old will come up to her and sign that he wants food and point to the cookie.

This will remind the Mom that it is lunch time. Since a cookie is not a good lunch, she will put it down and open the refrigerator to look for some lunch. After scraping together a few things for her little one, she decided it is well past time to go grocery shopping.

After writing list and packing her child into the car, she will go to the grocery store to get some food for her family. Once she is home and unpacked the food her little one will spill some of his juice.

The mom will clean up the mess with a towel and throw it down the clothes shoot and remember that the laundry needs to be done. She will go to do a load of Laundry.

While doing the Laundry, her little one will get into the bathroom and pull all the Toilet paper off the roll and dig in the garbage, (Gross!) She will have to clean up the mess in the bath room and her child!

She looks at the clock and it is time to get dinner ready. She sets about to preparing a meal that will make her family happy and full , trying not to trip on her child who is playing at her feet.

Her Husband will come home and they will sit down to a nice family meal, complete with burping and the throwing of food! After dinner, she will remember her cookie and go back to where she put it down.

It is not there! She asks her husband if he saw it... He says "Yeah, I ate it! It was good! You should have one!"

Adapted from the book "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Weekend to Remember

This past weekend, my husband and I attended the Family Life Weekend to Remember marriage conference in Orlando.

It was the best thing we have done as a couple!

This October will mark 18 years of marriage and 20 years of togetherness. Whew! I can't believe it! First of all, I never imagined myself being this old and secondly, I can't believe we've been married this long.

You see, when I went into marriage my thought was that if it didn't work out, then I'd just get a divorce. No big deal. Like returning a sweater that just doesn't fit quite right and doesn't make me as happy as I thought it would.

Looking back, I can see how far I've come. Now, my lifetime goal is to not only remain married, but to really find joy every step of the way. I want to leave a legacy to my girls of what a beautiful marriage looks like. Most everything I do revolves around this life goal that I have.

This is a list of top 3 things that have helped me remain married:

1) Believing that Christ is real and understanding what salvation, grace and forgiveness really are. Having a husband that also believes and understands these things.
2) Books, radio, movies, MOPS, Church, Christian organizations, and other people that support marriage.
3) Great friends and family that will discuss things from their hearts.

Do you have a support system in place to help you with your marriage? I highly recommend that you do because it will help you on those inevitable days that life being married just seems too hard and possibly not worth the effort.

I want to encourage each of you to do all that you can to safeguard your marriage NOW. Hard times will come and the decisions you make today will determine the decisions you make in the future.

Here's a link to Family Life. If you are married and want to do something awesome for yourself and spouse, go to one of their upcoming conferences. You'll be so happy that you did!


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

There's more than one way to top a waffle.

When it's hot outside I love the ease of popping a frozen waffle into the toaster oven for breakfast, but I'm not a big fan of the sugary syrups that usually go with them. I've come up with two alternatives to dress up our whole-grain Eggos while adding a little extra nutrition:

1. We cut the waffles into strips and then dip them into yogurt. This is easy to make, easy to eat (especially for toddlers), fast, and versatile--everybody gets to choose a cup, so no arguments over flavors and ingredients!

2. I sweeten Ricotta cheese (an excellent source of protein) with honey to taste, spread it on the waffles, and then arrange seasonal fruit on top. Sometimes I drizzle a little honey on the fruit to enhance the flavor. This is by far my favorite way to dress waffles, and I actually do this on toast as well. Berries are great for this, but so are the yummy nectarines and apricots of summer.

Do you have any breakfast food makeovers in your family? Let's hear them!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Weighing In on a Sensitive Subject

Cadbury Eggs, Twinkies, chocolate cupcakes, ice cream, frappuccinos, cappuccinos - these are a few of my favorite things. I love food. Food is my comfort, my steady. I even love thinking about it. My first real job after college was working for a small computer company in Evansville, Indiana on Green River Road. Just down the block in either direction was any number of delicious restaurants, and just around the corner was a Donut Bank. I would spend most of the morning dreaming about where I would eat lunch. Ironically, my first gym membership was at Tri-State Athletic Club, which was also just around the corner from work.

Eating junk foods in moderation with plenty of exercise isn't bad. My problem is that I cannot eat in moderation, and I have little time (outside of chasing my preschooler) to exercise. Over the years, I have tried numerous diets to keep my waistline in check, and I have been able to find a diet that will accommodate almost any craving. The low-fat diets would let me eat bagels with fat-free cream cheese. The low-carb diets let me dine on steak, snack on cheese and even eat whipped cream! When looking at a healthy lifestyle for my son, I considered the Fiengold Diet, which eliminates additives and preservatives. If you would like an exhausting list of diets, try this website: http://www.everydiet.org/diets.htm

Right after my hysterectomy, I gained 10 pounds in four weeks. My hormone replacement therapy wasn't right, which added to the rapid weight gain, but it was a wake-up call. My doctor suggested the Atkins diet, which worked really well for me. I ended up loosing almost 25 pounds, but I could not keep the weight off. I quickly grew tired of watching all of my healthy, slender friends eating brownies at MOPS. I gave up and have gained back 10 pounds. It isn't a lot of weight, but since I am very short, two pairs of my favorite shorts no longer fit.

Last week, I found an answer: Eat Carbs, Lose Weight by fitness expert Denise Austin. I have exercised with Denise for several years, and I love her! She is very energetic and positive. One of her fitness shows is still on the air on ESPN Classics at 7:30 eastern time. It was originally shot in the late 80s, early 90s, so her outfits and hair are a bit dated, but I love how she mixes cardio workouts with strength training.

In her book, Eat Carbs, Lose Weight, she explains the science behind her meal plan, and then gives you a 28-day meal guide. Each day, you eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, two snacks and a dessert! The best part is that she includes almost 100 recipes to go along with the meal plan. You can eat fruit, veggies, nuts, Popsicles, Fudgesicles, and even cheesecake (just not every day). Each day, you get to eat around 1,300 calories. Here is one of the recipes from the book:

Coffee-Chocolate Waffles
1 1/2 cups whole-grain pastry flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons espresso powder
3 tablespoons light olive oil
3 large egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips (optional)
Low-calorie maple syrup

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the milk, brown sugar, espresso powder, and oil. Whisk the liquid ingredients together until blended. Whisk in the dry ingredients just until combined. Preheat the waffle iron. Beat the egg whites and salt with an electric mixer at high speed until they form soft peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter in three additions, folding in the chocolate chips with the last addition. Cook waffles according to waffle iron directions. Makes 5 found waffles - 5 servings.

The waffles were delicious, and I bet your kids would eat them, depending on how you feel about coffee and chocolate, just don't tell Dr. Fiengold :).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Meet my Motley Better Half!

Happy Father's Day! This is one of my favorite pictures of my Hubby and son, I thought I'd share it with you!

I also thought that since it is Father's Day, I would post about my hubby. Here are some random facts about my Motley Man!

1. He has a very witty and subtle sense of humor. For Example: We were visiting my sister, her hubby (We will call him P) and kids 2 years ago. We had so much fun visiting! P is very particular about keeping the house clean and likes to have things in order. Karly and P have a cute wooden sign on their fireplace mantel in the shape of the letters RELAX. My Motley Man would flip it so that it was backwards (Don't miss the irony of him flipping the RELAX sign) Not saying a word P would later flip it back... this happened several times over the 4 days that we were there, all the while P did not know that My Motley man was playing with him. It cracked him up!

2. He is from a small town (pop. 891). And it is true you can take the boy out of the small town, but you can't take the small town outta of the boy.

3. One of his favorite restaurants to eat at is Dairy Queen... that was one of the only places to eat at in his small town (see # 2)

4. His favorite food is ice cream. Mint chocolate chip to be exact, but when it comes to ice cream he is not picky!

5. He is very competitive. We used to play cribbage until I started to win too much, so he had to come up with another game to beat me at.

6. He is the Idea Man. He has all these grand ideas of projects to do to our house and yard that will add value and charm. Most of his ideas cost A LOT of money! For example, he wants to excavate our hill in our yard to make room for a pirate ship swingset complete with a plank to walk off into our pool. Sure, it would be Awesome... but $$$$!

7. He is a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) so that means that he is very detail oriented, and very cautious with our money.

8. He is a very involved Dad. Sometimes he is more excited about the toy than our son!

9. He LOVES Movies. He thinks that he is Jason Bourne when he drives, James Bond when we travel, and Hitch when it come to being romantic!

10. He is a loving husband and father! I am so lucky to have him! Happy 1st Father's Day Honey!

Tell us about your Motley Man!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

I'm posting this so you'll know that I have absolutely NOTHING I want to write about today. Nothing. This happens to me more and more lately, so I figure I must need a little bloggy break. Being sick kinda drains me of creativity, and I've been dealing with this summer cold for over a week now - ugh!

Hope you are having a lovely weekend, wherever you are and whatever you and your little ones are up to. To all the Motley Pops out there...we couldn't do what we do without YOUR support each and every day. Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Father's Day

I'm not sure how you all feel about Father's Day - if it's the same as Mother's Day (I know some of you are kind of anti-Mother's Day), and feel free to debate the topic here today, but what I really want to do today is talk about my dad.
He was NOT into Father's Day, or any other holiday, to be perfectly honest. He was a very politically incorrect, unconventional kind of guy. But he was also brilliant, hilarious, generous, and a good dad. He wasn't exactly full of words of wisdom, but he did share some with me, and I want to share them with you, too.
"Tomorrow is another day." I know, I know, this is really from Gone With the Wind, but it's true. It's akin to "His mercies are new every morning." Last week I had a bad day. I mean bad. Probably one of the worst days I've ever had in my life. First thing in the morning I found out something very ugly that is going on in my family, then Ethan got poop all over the bathroom and got powder all over his bedroom while I was cleaning up the poop, then my house was robbed and the creep(s) stole my engagement ring, diamond earrings, bracelet with the boys' names on it, and an amethyst bracelet/earring set my dad had given me. I was so upset and discouraged. But, I remembered my dad's words and felt a little better knowing that the next day would be new.
"Don't regret things you've done. It's worse to regret not doing something." He wasn't talking about sin, of course. We all do things we regret. He was talking about taking risks and doing what you really want to do, even if you're a little scared by the idea. I like to think that because of this advice, I've done lots of cool things, like skydiving, traveling overseas, riding roller coasters, getting married, and starting tae kwon do when I was 26.
This last piece of advice was his favorite. I told you he was unconventional and I think I've mentioned before that he was really into guns. I don't think this one needs any explanation.
"If you're ever in a room with a loaded gun, make sure it's yours."
Thanks, Daddy, I miss you!
Happy Father's Day to you and your hubbies!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Was Once An Angel

Yes. I was once an angel. True Story.

Years ago, Mark and I took a trip up to New Jersey to where I grew up. It was a nostalgic trip and it was so nice seeing old friends and family. I showed Mark my old town, house, school and such. We also went to NY City and were in the studio audience for the Jon Stewart Show (when he was on MTV) and Mark actually got to say "Hi!" to Daisy Fuentes. It was a bunch of fun, but some weird and creepy things happened to us on the trip.

First weird thing that happened to us: In New Jersey, we stayed at the Red Bull Inn. Family friends told us that in times past, it was a place where mob hits happened. They showed us clippings and everything. We just laughed and said "we'll be fine". Well, in the middle of the night some guy came to the door and just pounded on it wanting in. We thought we were going to be the next mob hit. Wrong place, wrong time. He eventually went away, but our nerves were frayed.

The other weird thing that happened to us: On the way back to Florida, it was getting really late and so we stopped at a motel just off some interstate. I was driving, Mark was sleeping, and this place looked like a mirage. There was absolutely nothing around, but this really nice looking motel. I parked and went into the lobby.

I saw a girl behind the counter and a guy in the lobby just talking away to her. I thought to myself, "It's a good thing this girl has her boyfriend hanging out with her. It's so late to be alone working in some motel lobby in the middle of nowhere.". As I asked for a room for the night, the girl passed a note to me saying: "HELP CALL POLICE" then she turned away as if nothing happened.

What?!?! I thought, "This is NOT happening! I'm gonna die!"

I then noticed this guy was actually pacing around and starting to lock the doors. I walked out as casually as possible with the key to a room. When I got to the car, my brain and body was in overdrive! Adrenaline kicked in and I was just jabbering away to sleepy Mark.

"He's gonna kill her! He's gonna kill her! We have to call 911! We have to call 911!", I said, over and over again.

Mark was all irritated about being awakened and didn't get it. We got to the room and my hands were shaking so badly, I couldn't get the key in the door. Mark finally got his shoes on and mosied up and opened the door. I flew to the phone and dialed 911. I began barking orders to block the door and look for an escape route out the bathroom. He started to understand the situation and when he looked out our window, he saw the guy staring at us from the lobby down by the parking lot. MARK then started freaking out. He said: "He saw me! He saw me! He saw me looking at him! He knows where we are!"

We were gathering some weapons of choice, ie. lamp, phone, chair, and when Mark looked out again, we saw a police car drive in and HIM drive out right past the police car! We waited a few minutes thinking of the carnage that the police were seeing and bravely went to the lobby.

The girl was visibly shaken but all in one piece. She told me and the police that the guy in the lobby was a stranger that came in and told her about escaping from a mental institution. He stole a car and was on his way to "visit" his ex-wife whom he had some issues with. She said that when I walked in, she thought that I must be an angel. She had been praying for someone to save her because he was starting to act really mad and was locking the doors.

Needless to say, we got our money back and left town. We were so amped we drove another 2 hours and stayed at a well-known, well-lighted and safe-looking hotel.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Green Acres is the Place for Me?????

Last week our family traveled even further north to visit a school that would hopefully hire my husband. I have been asking him for the last several months to find a school near a big town for me and Alex. My wish list includes a mall, a Target, and a Starbucks, and finally, the new town MUST have a CVS. At the same time, I have been asking God for a safe place to raise our son and for the courage to go where He sends us.

The nearest town to this new school is Biggsville, which I thought was a good sign. The high school also has about 350 kids, which is about three times bigger than the town we left before our one-year working vacation in the sun. I thought for sure the town would have around 3,000 people and a small grocery store, maybe even a gas station with a Subway. When we drove into Biggsville, we were greeted by the sign: Biggsville - Population 350. I truly started to panic. If this is Biggsville, how big are the other towns? I didn't see any sidewalks when we drove by. Where do the people walk? More importantly, how do they entertain preschoolers?

Alex and I had some time to explore the potential new town, but I could tell that would only take two minutes as we drove back through with nowhere to go. I tried to call my mom to ask for advice, but I couldn't reach her. Alex decided to fall asleep, so I was left alone in my panic. I began to beg God to reopen doors that had closed, and then I started praying again for courage to do what he asked of me. I also started to pray for great success in my husband's next interview as it was my new first choice.

Later that night, three men from the school took us out for dinner, so we could discuss the job more. "How cold does it get in the winter?", I asked. They paused suspiciously, "Well, December isn't too bad. We usually only have about six weeks of really cold weather starting in January, but it's not as cold as Chicago."

In the next few days, I began to warm up to the idea of a cold winter. We picked up a brochure from the next biggest town (in Iowa!), and it looks really nice. It has a Target with a Starbucks, a Kohls, and a library with a coffee shop.

Somehow, I had forgotten that I grew up in Cooks Mills - Population 150. We didn't have sidewalks or even a school. I rode the bus to our school in another small town. Our entertainment included riding bikes, swinging, jumping rope and going down to the river. We had the run of the town, and we were safe. Some of my best memories came from hanging out by the flag pole in front of our fire station or inside Lola's General Store/Post Office/Coffee Shop (black coffee only - this was before mocha's and lattes). I don't know how I forgot that I am a country girl at heart. I also remembered that my husband grew up in a small town. It worked for us and John Mellencamp. Maybe small town life is what will keep my Alex safe growing up, and that is the top item on my wish list.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

You might be a mom if...

You might be a mom if...

Your idea of dinner theater is singing "if your happy and you know it" and "Old McDonald had a farm" to you child while they are eating to keep them entertained.

You think that a ponytail is a substitute for a shower

You know what the words robeez, bumbo, and boppy mean.

You talk about puke, poop and pee to your friends on an almost daily basis.

You know sign language for: more, food, juice, please, and all done.

The best time to talk on the phone is while you are driving in the car.

It takes you 4 hours to watch a 2 hour movie.

You think that sleeping until 7:30 is "sleeping in"

You have gotten your shower/hair/make-up routine down to 32 minutes because that is how long a baby Einstein movie last.

You know who the Wiggles, Blue and Dora are.

You love your child more than anything in the world!

Do you have an other "you might be a mom"-isms to add?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

So Much To Do, So Little Time!

We have 2 days to pack for the entire summer. This past week was filled with vacation bible school, doctor visits, and last minute errands. The kids are beyond excited. My challenge: How to channel that energy to the greater good of the family?

Lists are always good to focus us on the tasks we need to complete, so I made one for each kid. KID 1 can read enough to figure out what his jobs are, but KID 2 needed a picture list. After going over her list with her to make sure she understood her jobs (a picture of a shoe for "pick up shoes," a laundry basket and some clothes for "pick up laundry," and a dolly for "pick up babies"), she very self-importantly strutted to the kitchen and "read" her list to Daddy. When he started reading it with her, she stopped him and said, "No, Daddy. I can read it all by myself." And she did.

They love having specific jobs. We can't just tell them to "go clean your room." Not even our 5 1/2-year-old can handle that. Breaking it down into smaller parts keeps each task short and sweet. Honestly, that's the way I have to make my own lists when I'm feeling overwhelmed.

After their rooms are clean, I'll sit down with them and make their packing lists. KID 1 has been begging for the last 2 weeks to start packing. "Can I pleeeeeaaase just pack my cold weather clothes? I think maybe 6 shorts outfits and 6 cold day outfits will be plenty, Mommy, because we can wash our stuff there when we need more, right? I'll just pack my six cold day outfits, okay?" He's getting better and better at using very solid reasoning to argue his points.

I'll be so glad once we're on the plane! There is so much to do, but once we're actually on the plane, I'll feel like I can relax for a few hours. Then the vacation begins (or should I say "Family Trip?").

How do you get your kids involved in family tasks?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Family Meals

I read an article several years ago that explained the importance of the family meal. It talked about National Merit Finalists and how the only common denominator between the ones they highlighted was that they ate dinner with their families several times a week. That was it; socio-economic status, race, sex - none of that seemed to matter, just the regular family meal.
We don't have many family meals at our house. Once Micah was born, it was just easier to put the toddler in front of the TV with food and tend to the newborn. And, unfortunately, it became a habit. Ethan would wake up, go sit on the couch with some kid show on, and eat. Or, rather, be prodded to take every little bite. "Ethan, get a bite." Ignoring. "ETHAN, get a bite." Still ignoring. "ETHAN, GET A BITE." Turn the TV off. Squealing. Getting a bite. Two minutes later, the same routine. We did this every morning for months. Finally realizing that this approach was bordering on psychotic, we put him at the table to eat. At first he screamed and cried and sat there for over an hour, refusing to eat. Breakfast is still a bit of a struggle, but lunch is great. My husband usually doesn't come home for lunch, but Ethan, Micah, and I sit at the table and eat. We have conversations. We laugh. And I think we eat more healthily because we're paying attention to our food, not to the TV, and we're closer to the kitchen, so it's easier to cut up tomatoes for Ethan to snack on or get fruit for dessert. (Or cookies. Who am I kidding?)
I worried for a little bit that we weren't getting enough family "dinners." We do them, of course, but often we don't, just because our schedules don't permit it. Then I read about the Obamas, who eat breakfast together every day, so I realized that it doesn't matter which meal it is, as long as we share as many of them together as possible. And who knows? Maybe one day we'll have a National Merit Finalist in our house!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Something to think about...

I am always on the look-out for people that are not afraid to talk about their faith.

My friend showed me this and I thought it was really good. It shows Kathy Ireland (model)talking about some important stuff.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tonight at the Improv...

A few years ago I saw a movie called One Fine Day with Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney. It was a cute little romantic comedy, but I remember in particular one scene where Pfeiffer's and Clooney's characters needed to drop their kids unexpectedly at a day care center (apparently you can do that in New York). When they arrived they discovered it was "Super Hero Day," and all of the other kids were wearing costumes. In a moment of sheer genius, Pfeiffer rumages through her Mommy Bag and duct-tapes together two super cute super hero outfits using foil and other odds and ends.

When I first saw that movie the costume scene didn't strike me as being too important. Now that I'm a Mommy, however, I want to rewatch the scene over and over and take notes. I never realized that Mommy-hood involved so many MacGyver moments.

My most recent Mommy MacGyver moment happened at the blueberry farm last week. The little guy and I were going to meet Teresa and her kiddos to do some end-of-the-season blueberry picking, and as it had been raining that afternoon I had to make a decision about shoes. I decided that I didn't want to contend with soggy tennis shoes, so Crocs for him and flops for me sounded like a good idea.

Apparently I forgot that we live in Florida. Blueberries grow in sand down here, and where there's sand, there are...fire ants. We had only picked from a few bushes before he started to whimper. I knew to move quickly so the little pests couldn't bite me, but my son is too little to understand that. He just stood there and let them nibble his feet.

Teresa and I tried to come up with a solution, but with no other shoes in the car and no socks anywhere we were at a loss. We both had diapers but we couldn't figure out how that would be helpful. Then, in a light bulb moment, we remembered the extra plastic grocery bags I had stashed in case we needed more for our berries. I marched the anguished toddler back to the car, pushed his feet into the bags, tied them like leg warmers, then put his Crocs back on over them. We had a good laugh about his plastic socks, and I was grateful that his friends are sweet and too young to start heckling him. But, you know what? It worked. The ants left him alone, and the bags were so secure they were even able to withstand the mud bath our boys had when they were "all done" with the berry picking.

Have you ever had to channel your inner MacGyver? Do tell!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I am not a superstitious person. I don't care if I walk under a ladder, or break a mirror, or have my path crossed by a black cat. But it seems that I have some power to jinx myself.

My Little King does NOT like to sleep. Most of his naps last about 30 minutes (if I am lucky!). But if his nap does by some miracle last longer, all it takes to wake him up is for me to say some thing like "Wow, He is sleeping really good!" That is a guarantee that he will wake up within seconds.

If I want my son to stop eating and start throwing food on the floor, all I have to say is "You are being such a good eater today!"

If I want to break our week of being healthy I just say "Wow! We have not been sick for a while now!"

If I want to have my son starting put toys/food/anything from the floor into his mouth, I just say "Oh, it's OK. He doesn't pick up things and put them in his mouth!"

If I want to throw off our nap schedule that we finally gotten, I merely have to say "He usually naps around noon, so we can be there around 2 O' clock no problem!"

If I want him to wake up earlier in the morning. "He sleeps in until 9:00 so that is really nice for me!"

If I want him to freak out and cry in the professional photo of all the grand-kids: "He does great for pictures! he loves his cousins, this will be fine!"

Who knew I had such powers... now if I could find a way to use them for good and not evil, I'd really have something!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

G-R-O-U-C-H-Y Spells Mommy

I normally NEVER raise my voice at my kids. I usually talk them through their behavior, offering choices and calmly doling out consequences. "Keep your hands to yourself, or you will go to your room for timeout. It's your choice." Praise comes easily, and I usually have no problem finding something good to hoot over. "You went poops in the potty? Wow! What a BIG GIRL!" "Thank you for putting your plate in the dishwasher without even being asked. Great job!"

But that is not the Mommy heard around our house these last two weeks. I can hardly stand myself sometimes. My poor children bear the brunt of this growly grouch that snaps and snarls at my kids for the slightest provocation. I try not to roar, but I'm afraid I've let loose a few too many times lately. Why? Fighting off a cold, not sleeping well, and, quite honestly, facing a lot of changes in our lives has me apologizing to the kids daily...sometimes several times in a day. I just can't find my patience. "LET'S GO! GET A MOVE ON!" "If you don't climb up into your car seat in two shakes, your bottom's gonna be hurtin'!" "WHO FLUSHED THE BROKEN POTTY???!!!"

The bad thing is, this is a vicious cycle. When I get upset with my kids, it just escalates their behavior. They see me throwing Mommy versions of a temper tantrum and they just give it right back. This has GOT to stop. I don't want to be this kind of mom. My stress is totally transferring to the kids, and they are just innocent bystanders. Little witnesses to my "Monster Mom" transformations.

I'm tired of apologizing to my little ones and feeling guilty for my behavior. I have a feeling part of my problem is a total lack of exercise. Exercise is so good in so many ways: it releases "feel good" chemicals in your brain to improve your mood, it's a great outlet for aggression, it helps to reduce stress, and your body just works better when it works out regularly. So I'm thinking I need to get my move on, for me AND for the sake of my family. They'll never thank me for not roaring at them, but they might never get over it if I don't find a way to banish the grouch.

What do you do when you feel "Monster Mom" coming on?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

End of My Vacation

Tomorrow marks the end of my vacation time. Yes, public school gets out tomorrow and my vacation time ends and my kids' vacation begins.

How are we going to survive, I mean thrive this summer? Well, it'll be a collage of home time, swimming lessons, play dates, Cypress Gardens, Kids at College, art classes and maybe even gymnastics classes. I am hoping to get through those Bridges workbooks and maybe even teach them some spanish.

I am going back and forth on being excited and hopeful to being overwhelmed and negative about the summer. My goal is to keep them busy, but not too busy because I want to enjoy this time with them. When my life gets too pressured it makes it hard for me to be patient and kind and all the things I want to be as a Mom.

The following list is what I hope to accomplish.

Top 5 Things I hope to accomplish this summer:

1) Make reading a priority every day. I would like to have a reading time for myself and the girls. We have started the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on my Kindle and the girls really love the story. I have even loved reading it to them. Great book! I hope to finish it by the end of summer with them. I also want to read my Bible more.

2) Be patient and kind. This is a hard one for me when I'm in a hurry to get somewhere. It's something I really need to work on. If I'm tired, late and irritated, it gets ugly. So, I am going to try to leave myself plenty of time to get to places and finish things.

3) Plan memorable family times. I want to plan visits to family and create some memories for the girls with their cousins. Also, play with the girls. I mean REALLY play. Just cut-up and have fun with them. I want them to see my fun side most of the time.

4) Exercise! I am now enjoying some exercise classes at the YMCA. I plan on going 3-4 days a week to keep my heart strong and muscles toned. Very therapeutic.

5) Spend some time with hubby. We are going to a marriage conference in June to learn the basics of what it takes to have a great marriage. Where else do you get to learn these things? It'll be a nice weekend away from the kids and I hope it'll strengthen the great marriage I already have.

Well, that's it. I know August will be here before we know it. Hope everyone has a great summer! Do you have any goals to reach this summer?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Things that make me go "grrrrrr..."

I was packing lunch for a play date the other day, and when I grabbed a container for our sandwiches I noticed the symbols on the bottom. Inspecting them started my mind reeling with the little things that, well, drive me a little nuts. I try to be a positive Mommy, but sometimes I feel like there are things that are just a little more complicated than necessary in my hectic day (and, honestly, most of the time they are pretty funny, too). For example...

Pictures instead of words.

This is the bottom of the container that I was studying the other day. I get the snowflake--that probably involves the freezer. Since these are freezer containers, I would think that little symbol means that yes, indeed, the container can be frozen. That looks like a fork and goblet on the other side. That must mean something about food. The other picture, however, has me lost. Is it a cassette tape? Can I use the box to store my collection of cassette singles from middle school? Is it a VHS tape? The container is too small for those. Maybe the container is made of recycled VHS tapes. It could be an owl looking through a window. I don't really know why, but it could be. What if it's important? Should I devote a Google search to it? How would I even start a search for a symbol when I don't know what it means?

This is a page from the "directions" we were given when we bought our son's bed at Ikea. Ikea is a big company, and they have stores nearly everywhere in the world, so instead of printing words in their directions (that would involve way too many languages) they give much clearer illustrations. Here's a fun game--study the three pictures above and tell me what's different among them other than the exclamation mark and the giant "x." I'm not sure either, but I do hope we pointed at the bed correctly when we assembled it. (*FYI: See note at the end of the post.)

CD's and DVD's as toys in kids' meals.

Dear Fast Food Restaurants:
When I bring my toddler to your establishment and take the time to order inside and actually sit down and eat, I would appreciate it if you would provide us with a ready-to-use toy instead of a CD or DVD. You see, the whole reason why I bother ordering your over-priced kids' meal is because that little plastic car or action figure might just buy me the time I need to finish my fries before they get cold. The sleek multi-media we've been receiving as of late is really just useful as a weapon. Please, please bring back the junk toys. Seriously.

What about you? What gets under your Mommy-skin? :)

(*My husband just informed me that the Ikea directions above are referencing the matress thickness for the bed. I still think it has something to do with making correct hand gestures.)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Motley in the Midwest

Later this week, my family will be moving back to the Midwest. It seems like just a few months ago we pulled into town, shell-shocked and weary from our cross country journey. Wait a minute, it was just a few months ago. I'd like to say that we had so much fun moving cross country last summer that we thought we would do it again, but I'm not saying that because it isn't true. Nonetheless, for many complicated reasons, we are packing up and moving home. Rest assured, we will be greeted by numerous friends and family saying, "I told you so."

We have been inundated with questions. Where? When? Why? How? For some families these would be simple to answer, but not for the Carvers. The short story is this: moving back to the Midwest is best for the three of us as a whole. I am really glad that we moved to Florida, and I have loved living here. We would have always wondered what we were missing, and now we know what works best for us. We're not exactly sure where we will land, but we are looking forward to it.

I keep thinking of Luci Swindoll, Chuck Swindoll's sister. One of her books is called, "I Married Adventure." She shares stories about her life as she has followed God's will for her around the world. Following God is sometimes difficult, sometimes uncertain, and most of the time adventurous. We are committed to doing God's work in our lives, and we believe this move will take us to our next mission for Him.

When you picture my family on our next moving adventure, I hope you see me singing fun travel songs and handing out string cheese and juice boxes. I hope you see us smiling and counting cows along the country side because I sure wouldn't want you to see what really happens. Our trips tend to be a lot like the Chevy Chase Vacation movies - the longer the trip, the more the trip falls apart.

Last summer, we sent my husband down to Florida in a Budget Van with my car hitched to the back. He had five days total to make the 2-day trip, find a house to rent, unpack the van, return the van, get a blood test for work, and get back to the airport. I was at my Mom's with Alex. We were out of our routine, and Alex was really missing his dad. Plus, the stress of the move was affecting him as much as us. Charlie called on the third or fourth day to tell me he might need to change his flight and keep the van for another day. I remember saying something like this, "I don't care what you have to do, but you have got to make that flight home. " This move has to be easier for all of us.

My good friend Jody has moved all over the country, and she gave me a wonderful tip. She said to mark a box as the First Night Box, and fill it with anything you will need for the first night at your new place. You can even let your kids have tons of fun decorating it, so it will stand out from the other boxes. Do any of you have some great moving success tips you can share with me?