To My Daughter- For Her First Day of Kindergarten

I am NOT a Poet – but what the heck …

You’re off to Kindergarten, and you’re quite well prepared.
Your Tinkerbell backpack is fully packed
With classroom donations of paper and paste,
And a shiny new lunchbox to hold every snack.
The princess’ new clothes are laid out with lace socks,
New shoes and a polka-dot frock
A headband with a bow is the final touch.
Kiss your dolly goodbye; you’re out the door with no muss.

Off to Kindergarten

She’s off and running!

Kindergarten is a doorway, beyond its threshold your classroom awaits
With chunky pencils, glue sticks, safety scissors, and crayons of every shade.
You will write, your will draw, you will cut and you will paste.
There will be learning centers to explore how things work,
From lego-built forts to clock hands to shoelaces and boots.

Just a few words of advice before you bolt through that door,

Stand neatly in line; don’t push and don’t shove.
Try something new, each day
Don’t give up, ‘til you’ve mastered the task.
Share your pencils and snacks
Ask questions – your friends might just be glad that you asked.
Be daring and bold, and unafraid to fail.
Stand up for yourself, and for your friends too.
You know right from wrong, remember that too.
Solve problems; don’t start them.
Be patient. Don’t whine, some things just take time.

Don’t forget – your teacher will teach, but the learning is up to you.

The School Bus

Kindergarten – Watch Out!

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A Big-Family FAQ

So, like most people (at least I think like most people), who I am today is largely the result of a precise blend of nature v. nurture. I definitely inherited plenty of traits from my parents and grandparents, but my perspective on life was certainly shaped by my childhood, and the boisterous, hectic, big-a$$ family of mine.

Mind you, we’re not as big as the famous “Duggars”, but we give them a run for their money. I have the honor of being the oldest of 13 (yes 10 + 3) children. It was a wonderful way to grow up, and though this surprises some, we were downright normal. We played Little League, went to public school, had family vacations, and though we might have been on a tighter budget, we didn’t suffer.

 

Often I am asked “what was it like?” (All 13 of us get this question, and many others.) so, my witty and eloquent brother Dan posted the following: “Since You Asked: 20 Things You’re Dying to Know About My Huge Family.” Head on over to his blog “Speak of the Daniel” and check it out!

 

Celebrating My 100th Post

 At the beginning of 2011, I began this blog, and joined the WordPress “Post A Week” Challenge. Nearly 14 months have come and gone, and now WordPress tells me that this is my 100th post!

Hmmm, how should I commemorate this important occasion?

Should I revive some of my more memorable posts (memorable for me, anyway)? I could bring back the one I wrote about my mother last Mother’s Day – 13 Things You Should Know About my Mom. Or I could remind you of the love story I told about my grandparents around Valentines Day – Step One: Get the Girl. I could even resurrect the blog post that somehow managed to hit the Freshly Pressed Radar,  Mom, I Know Lots of Words,  about my son learning to read. Dear God, I was gushing with pride then, I’m almost a little embarrassed by it now.

Kindergarten Homework

Kindergarten Homework

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I look back at my posts, I realize that there is a lot of variety in my blog. (Translation: I have no direction!) I’ve shared some sappy stories about my kids, and family, as well as one or two Bad Parenting Moments.

Bad Parenting Moments Logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve thrown in a few travel posts, mostly about my family vacation. I tried, once or twice, to give some advice on SMART goals, and business skills…as if I know! I’ve even shared a few recipes, like the one for my Kahlua Chocolate Chip muffins. Those things should be illegal!

Maybe I should use my 100th post to give you a list of my blogging resolutions, or some of my plans for upcoming posts (as if I have some).

However, what I should really do is come up with some fresh material.

A “Challenging” Morning – Who am I Kidding? A “Craptastic” Morning!

Today, I had “just one of those mornings”, and really I have no one to blame but myself. Here’s how it went down.

  1. “Thud!” That would be the sound of my feet hitting the floor 30 minutes later than they should have, also the sound of the first domino in the chain-reaction-disaster that was my morning.

  2. I beg and plead with my almost-7-year-old son, and my almost-5-year-old daughter to pretty-please hop out of bed and get themselves dressed in a flash. (The background here – my husband has been away for 2 weeks on an overseas trip, and I am playing the role of single-parent. This means dragging the kids out of bed at 5:30 a.m. during the week to shuffle them off to Grandma’s and school, so I can start my 90-minute commute to work. Fun times.)
  3. I hop in the shower. Just as I lather up my hair, my daughter walks in to argue with me about what she’s wearing. The weather forecast is for 84 degrees and she wants to wear her fleece pants, rather than the “weather-appropriate” outfit we picked out the night before. I am in no mood to argue, and a tantrum ensues.
  4. Still washing my hair, I give her some other clothing options just to get her out of the bathroom. The tantrum lingers, and I “sternly” tell her to go get dressed, and remind her that she is letting all of the steam out of the bathroom.
  5. BIG MISTAKE. My son hears the comment about the steam. NOT good. (More background – the kid has legitimate, real anxiety about fire drills, and steam from our shower has, on occasion set off our smoke alarm.) So now, my son is standing in his underwear, in my bathroom in a full-blown panic, sobbing and hyperventilating. He won’t leave because he thinks the smoke alarm will go off is he opens the door. I BEG him to leave the bathroom – promising him up and down that the smoke alarm will not go off. I won’t get out of the shower with him there, either. (I figure a smoke alarm going off would be much less traumatic than having him see is Mom in her birthday suit.)
  6. In the meantime, my daughter’s tantrum continues on. The next thing I hear is her little voice, through tears saying, “Mommy, I peed.” Of course she peed! She just woke up, has a full bladder, and is having a tantrum.  So now I have both children in the bathroom with me, one with pee running down her leg. Me, I’m stuck in the shower trying to think of an escape plan.
  7. So I use the only tools I have: My Lungs. I stick my head out of the shower and YELL!  (Thank goodness we don’t currently have tenants living in our upstairs apartment.) I order my son OUT of the bathroom! I manage to grab a towel, and begin to clean up my pee-coated daughter.
  8. I regain my composure, and ask my daughter if there are any pee-puddles I need to address. Just “a little bit in the hall” she tells me. So, once I’ve thrown on my clothes, I go to inspect. Yep, there’s a little one in the hallway by her bedroom, and six more little puddles running down the hallway to the bathroom.

So, my over-sleeping managed to turn a normal morning of getting the kids up, dressed, teeth brushed, attending to the dog, and out the door, into a thoroughly CRAPTASTIC morning – full of tantrums, panic attacks,  and unexpected janitorial duties.

Thankfully my kids, for the most part, are rock stars. After all the stress of the morning, this evening could not have been better: not a single balk at doing homework; they cleaned their rooms without asking, and were just plain delightful. I also rewarded myself for getting through this day with a big ol’ dish of ice cream and chocolate sauce. (Yes, for those of you who follow this blog, the giving up chocolate for Lent thing went right out the window today!)

empty ice cream dish

Glad that my day is like this bowl of ice cream - DONE!

A Shameless Plug for a Brand New Blog: Bad Parenting Moments

A couple of very smart, funny, witty and creative Moms (who just happen to be related to me) just started a great new blog.

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Bad Parenting Moments is a blog full of refreshing stories from parents who try their best 100% of the time, and who, like me, sometimes fail miserably.

You should check it out … Really!

Keeping Dinner Easy With “Happy Turkey Taco-Pizzas”

Dinner just isn’t the same when Daddy’s away. It’s hard to muster up the motivation to make a big “family dinner” for just me and the kids (especially when one of them takes the prize as a picky-eater).

Nevertheless, we still have to eat but the kids still must eat right? So, I try to keep it simple, easy, and kid-friendly. Tonight’s dinner was the perfect blend of their favorite foods –  I call it Happy Turkey Taco-Pizza.

Happy Turkey Taco Pizzas

Smile - It's Pizza Time

Here’s the super-simple recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 jar of salsa
  • small can of corn
  • 8-10 flour tortillas (fajita size)
  • 1 package of shredded Mexican cheese
  • 12 grape tomatoes (cut in half)
  • Salt & Pepper (a pinch of each)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Brown the ground turkey with a bit of salt and pepper, and drain off any fat.
  3. Stir in the salsa and corn, and simmer until liquid evaporates. (No one wants a soupy pizza!)
  4. On a foil-lined cookie sheet, lay out 4-5 tortillas.
  5. Spoon a bit of the turkey salsa mixture onto each tortilla.
  6. Cover the mixture with cheese, and then top with tomato-halves (in the shape of smiley faces, of course!)
  7. Bake for about 10-12 minutes in the oven, or until cheese is thoroughly melted.

Voila! A happy dinner with the kids.

 

Olive Oil Brownies, and Other Things I Blame on Daylight Savings Time

I love having more daylight in the evenings, but I sure do hate losing that hour of sleep. It’s jet lag without the upside of an exciting vacation. The time change throws me off for the whole day. So, I’ve decided to blame all of today’s mishaps on the clock:

First, I stubbed my toe first-thing this morning on the barely noticeable bump from our kitchen threshold. Ouch!

Next, I was baking brownies for a church dinner in my bleary-eyed state this morning. I accidentally replaced vegetable oil with olive oil. The brownies were surprisingly good. (Thank goodness!)

Lovely brownies

Olive oil in brownies, ain't half-bad!

Of course, I was also late for Mass this morning, despite the fact that the kids and I were all up and dressed, with an hour to spare.

My car wouldn’t turn over this morning (leading to the late arrival at Mass). I guess my car doesn’t like Daylight Savings Time either.

I could not get the through the day without a mid-afternoon nap. Thank goodness my kids, were completely engrossed in “Puss ‘n Boots” and let me snooze on the couch for an hour.

My kids and I were generally cranky all day. There was plenty of bickering, toy-grabbing, whining and “she’s touching me!” complaints to last until we “fall back.”

The tough part about today, is that it takes a good few days to really physically work through the time change. I am gearing up for a couple of grumpy bears to greet me tomorrow morning when I pull them out of bed for school before the sun rises.

Here’s hoping we all catch up on our sleep by next weekend!

PS: At first I thought that adding olive oil to my brownie mix would be sinful, and barely edible. Not only did they taste pretty good, I’ve found that some people actually do this on purpose! I found a lovely recipe for chocolate, olive oil brownies over at the Cooking Madness blog. You should check it out.
Maybe my lack of sleep actually inspired genius! (I doubt it though)

A Dog’s Life

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This is our dog , Guinness. We love him to bits. However, we (and by we I mean Me) are not crazy about having him lounge on the couch, leaving is hair and distinct “eau de canine” scent behind.

So, every evening before bed, my husband and I make sure we barricade the couch with a baby gate, the coffee table, an ottoman, the kids’ beanbag chairs and whatever else we might have handy. We figured it must be working pretty well because Guinness usually makes his way onto our bed overnight, and he’s always been afraid of the baby gate.

But, I think we were wrong. I caught him in the act today.

Smart dog. We should start training him for obstacle courses!

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UPDATE: Caught in the act again

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12 Days of Christmas Countdown – Day 5 – A Wilting Poinsettia

I’ve done it again this year. We made a family trip to the local nursery during the first weekend of December and picked out our tree, and a couple of big beautiful poinsettias to decorate living room. And as sure as Christmas on in the 25th, my Poinsettia began to wilt with a week to spare.

If there is an opposite of green (purple? Brown?) then that’s the color of my thumb. I have purchased, and subsequently tortured and killed numerous house plants. For a while, when we first bought our house, I would buy plenty of petunias each spring to add to the garden bed. For the first fee years, I did a pretty good job tending to them, until July anyway, when I would lose the battle to weeds. Now, with two children running around, the weeds begin to rule shortly after Memorial Day.

I don’t even bother with indoor plants anymore! Except at Christmas. For me, Poinsettias are nearly as important as the tree. They add color and life to our home just as the temperature is plummeting outside. Every year, I spend plenty of time, maybe too much time, perusing the greenhouse full of every variety of poinsettia. I look for one that has full, bright foliage, and no signs of wilting. I’ve learned to park close to the door, and to quickly get my plant into a warm car, lest the New England cold air choke it before it reaches my living room.

I try to follow all of the “caring-for-your poinsettia” tips I’ve picked up over the years, even though they are sometimes contradictory. Nevertheless, every year I either over-water or under-water, and by Christmas day I am sweeping up fallen wilted leaves throughout the day – hoping my guests won’t notice the sorry state of my Christmas flower.

If nothing else, I think I’ve learned to resist the urge to grab a poinsettia on the first weekend of the Christmas Season. Next year, poinsettia shopping with be on the 23rd!

12 Days of Christmas Countdown – Day 6 – The Christmas Pageant and the Reluctant Shepherd

My first grader participated in his first Christmas Pageant yesterday at our church.

I was a little surprised that he volunteered for this gig. As of late, he’s been pretty vocal about how shy he is. (That actually seems like a bit of an oxymoron, doesn’t it?) He announced that he wanted no part of Christmas caroling with his Cub Scout Pack over the weekend, as it meant singing in public and no six-year old in their right mind would want any part of that. When I take him to Mass, at the Sign of Peace, he refuses to greet anyone he considers a stranger. I’ve seen him stare down one or two senior citizens who have offered their hands. One afternoon, as he and his sister were belting out “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” in the back seat of the car, I suggested that they sing it for Grandma and Grandpa on Christmas. “No way Jose!” He promptly announced that he would not sing, if his sister sang, he would hide in his room until her little concert was over.

So when on Sunday morning, he got up bright and early and was ready for Church on time (and was even pretty chipper about going off to meet his Religious Ed. Class), I was pretty proud, but a little surprised.

Alas, his sunny attitude was short-lived. As he was lining up with the other shepherds to make their way into the church, I saw him start to get a little antsy. He was even more edgy when I told him I needed to leave to sit in the audience. I crossed my fingers.

Mary and Joseph reached the altar first, followed by the cows, the shepherds, the angels and the Magi. About 20 children assembled in front of the altar, sweetly singing Christmas carols. My little boy sang too, or at least I saw him mouth the words. That is, until I pulled out the camera.  Once he saw me, I had no chance of getting a photo of a smiling little cherub this year. Instead, I got this:

Reluctant Shepherd 1

"Mom, do you HAVE to take a picture?"

The Reluctant Shepherd 2

Maybe if I just move behind Joseph over here...

Reluctant Shepherd 3

The Full Disappearing Act

Oh well, I’m sure there’ll be more photo-ops next year.

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