I know I’m a bit early with my Easter egg tips, but April 4 will be here before we know it, trust me.
I was inspired to share after flipping through the latest edition of Family Fun magazine, a Disney publication that I got for the amazing price of $4.29 for a year’s subscription on a tip from a favorite blogger (and friend) of mine. (Check her awesome deals and witty writing at frombottle2box.com — the title refers to her money-saving switch from expensive bottled wines to the asceptic varietal.)
Anywho, back to Easter eggs. When I was cleaning out the pantry the other day, I found a Nickelodeon egg-dyeing kit (that I can’t even remember purchasing), so we are good to go on that front.
I can’t imagine not dyeing eggs! I even made Hubby do it before we had kids. Now it’s an engaging activity for us all. I just make sure we’re all wearing grubby clothes, which makes the pictures even more precious.
After the dyeing, hiding, finding, the problem becomes: What to do with all those boiled eggs?
Family Fun provided the answer with this article on upgrading the underappreciated deviled egg. Their creations are just too cute!
(Although AllFreeCrafts.com offers an equally adorable chickie.)
Now that I have a plan, that basket of Easter eggs will no longer taunt me each time I open the refrigerator door.
— Family Fun subscription on sale for only $4.69/a year! click here
— How to make the best boiled eggs: cluck here (haha)
We had a birthday party for my great-aunt last weekend. She turns 89 today, Feb. 25, and is my oldest living relative by a good score.
My sister and I didn’t have to discuss whether we would throw her a birthday party. Between our two families and kids, everyone gets at least a little soiree each year in honor of his or her birth.
But I didn’t realize how significant the occasion might be to this birthday girl.
My great-aunt was one of four girls in her family, one of which was my grandmother. My great-aunt was always the sickly one of the group, and she said many doctors had all but written her off years ago.
She once had a case of bronchitis that the doctor told her would last for 11 years.
“And, sure enough,” she said. “The day after the 11 years was up, I stopped coughing.”
Another time she was sick, she said the doctors (who must have been a little more glib in the day) told her parents that at least if she didn’t make it, they still had three other girls at home.
Since then she has survived cancers and multiple afflictions, as well as the accompanying surgeries and treatments, to arrive at this most current point in time.
And now, of her generation in the family, she is the last.
This relative desolation was behind her decision to pick up and move from Chicago to the Dayton area in March; so she could be closer to my sister and me, and our families.
It has been a year of adjustment, for her and for us, as she settles into her new life.
Although she lives in a retirement home, my sister and I help her out as we can by doing an assortment of little tasks — changing batteries, ordering clothes, helping with mailings, etc., as well as doing her banking and grocery shopping.
We have learned many things from these chores, like that there is such a thing as canned potato salad and that Von Maur might be the last store in the world that sells girdles.
Part of the reason our intervention is as requested is that our great-aunt can’t see or hear well — although the parameters of those limitations are still negotiable.
She can’t read without her magnifying machine, but those little fuzzies in the carpet (the ones I can’t see) can drive her to distraction.
And, kind of like the short people in my house, she hears what she wants to hear a good amount of the time.
But, as my sister and I remind each other, she has lived by herself for decades and never had children, so she is used to having things a certain way.
Besides, I figured, you don’t survive an 11-year case of bronchitis without more than your fair share of moxie.
As a result, the three of us have had some difficult and often clamorous conversations about how my sister and I can best help her without neglecting our families’ needs in the meantime.
We also have been trying to focus more on the enjoyable and truly invaluable aspects of living close, like spending time together, sharing family stories and celebrating life’s milestones … such as 89th birthdays.
So Saturday night, we got everybody together, ate dinner and had a delicious “whipped cream cake” as requested. The birthday girl opened a couple of presents, all the while saying, “You shouldn’t have!”
Then she told us that it was the first birthday party she had had in 20 years.
“I thought the neighbors would bring me a cake for my 75th,” she said. “But they didn’t.”
It really brought home the contrast between her life and ours, and how lonely the last several years must have been for her.
It made me more glad that she is with us today.
It also reminded me that although family life isn’t always easy, it is still infinitely better than life without family.
The month of February is half over and my children have been at home more than school.
I admit it, the first big snow fall of the season is exciting - even for me. But, three of them back-to-back?
The excitement has all but fizzled out.
My new mantra is simply, “I love my kids, I love my kids, I love my kids ”
Over the course of the last month I repeated this through clenched teeth while my little angels climbed the walls.
The nostalgia of the first snow day and even the second was soon replaced with “we’re bored” and “it’s too cold outside.”
So, mommy found things for them to do - like, unload the dishwasher. We watched movies, played games and even broke out the Play-doh, too.
But my boys are full of energy and sibling rivalry - accompanied by incessant tattling - soon grated on my nerves.
“Mmooomm! Nicky hit me!”
“Mmoooomm! Noah said butt!”
“I love my kids, I love my kids, I love my kids ”
Finally at my wits end, I went where nary a mom braves to go (voluntarily, anyways).
“Saddle up, fellas! We’re going to Chuck E. Cheese.”
I wasn’t about to do this alone, after all my sanity was at stake, so I recruited two of my best friends to go with me. And yes, so desperate to get out of their houses, they showed up.
One even showed up childless (this has to be quite unusual at said location) to enjoy some afternoon “adult time,” if you can call it that.
The social time was much needed and the energy was well burned. But soon the walls were closing in again and that brought us to Valentine’s Day. The day of love that no longer holds any romantic value for exhausted parents.
So once again, we planned an afternoon with friends and children. This time at the bowling alley.
Frankly, it was one of the best Valentine’s Days I can remember. The kids played, the adults laughed (a lot) and no one cared whether there would be candles on the dinner table.
We all felt a little better, a little more relaxed, and though not quite ready for the next snow storm to shut us in again, we had warmed up a cold day with friends of all ages.
Thank God for good friends - and good kids - this dreary winter.
Email this contributing writer at Motherhoodcolumn@yahoo.com.
It has nothing to do with the toy store, but I am afraid too many kids have adopted the credo professed in the catchy jingle: “I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys R Us kid.”
I don’t know whether it is because they are paying too much attention to the toiling adults around them, if they just have it too good at home or if it is something else entirely, but I know many kids today — from ages 10 to 18 — who say they would much rather stay a kid than become a grown-up.
Their reasoning? Because being a kid is fun, and being an adult, well, not so much.
My oldest son is one of those kids. The 10-year-old told me he thinks being a kid is far better than being an adult, “because you get to do what you want to do more — play sports, watch TV, play video games.”
While, he added, as an adult, “you have to pay bills, clean the house, go to work.”
Of course, some of this is true; there are far more responsibilities for grown-ups.
But what I found interesting was that he thinks he has more freedom than his parents, because he rarely gets to do anything unconditionally.
He and his brother have far more limits than I did growing up. They aren’t allowed to have a TV in their room and can only watch after their homework is done, have strict limits on video games, can’t watch most of the movies they want to see, and aren’t allowed to roam about the neighborhood without supervision.
They have been able to play most sports they want, although we do plan to pull back a little on that this year.
In contrast, I grew up virtually without limits on TV and video games, no rules about what movies I could see, and spent hours playing sports and with my friends all over the neighborhood.
Yet, I couldn’t wait to grow up, move out, go to college, travel, meet new people and explore what my life would hold — on my own terms.
And it just hit me that maybe one reason for that is because I was allowed to think for myself. Maybe my son is so restrained in our modern, protective parenting that he doesn’t even deign to make those decisions and projections for himself.
Maybe he and his brother are so swaddled in good intentions that they don’t feel the need to break free.
Also it seems likely that, as a result and without realizing it, my husband and I have made other aspects of our kids’ lives too pleasant: In place of freedom, we have given them comfort.
For example, although they have weekly chores, this week was the first time that we made our kids help shovel snow. The older one, the one clinging to kid-dom, complained throughout the process.
The younger one, whose life is inherently less comfortable since he gets bossed around by his brother, amiably did what he was told.
Then there is the possibility that, in a generational sense, it’s just their turn to feel this way. The baby boomers, as also noted in an earlier column, famously fought getting older.
I bet if I had told my mom that I didn’t want to grow up, she would say one of two things:
“Neither do I.”
Or, more likely, “Tough.”
Maybe that’s just what I should tell my son. That and things like: “Do the dishes,” and then, “Go out and play for a while.”
Maybe these will be the first few steps that will help him learn that there is much more to life than what he has now.
And, pretty soon, maybe he will want more than just a Toys R Us kid.
Before I had children, my friends who had already embarked on the voyage of parenting would tell me, “Just wait until you have kids!”
Often, this was said while I was laughing at them for forgetting something so simple like their own address.
Now as a mom myself I seem to have a chorus of crickets following me around.
I have mastered the “blank stare” when I am questioned about nearly anything, and am lucky I haven’t left the house in my pajamas yet.
My children have suffered most of all from my over-the-top case of “mom brain.” Noah has been sent to school without his lunch, Nicholas has missed out on multiple show-and-tell days and occasionally, the baby has been swaddled in the same mushy diaper for well, a while.
Noah has a pretty good grasp on the daily routine and keeps me in check, “Mom, you already gave us vitamins today.”
And, thankfully, my husband pays the bills.
I googled “mom brain” and a few other like-terms, and found some interesting things.
One mom became so forgetful she had the birth dates of her five children tattooed on her arm.
Another mom in Florida drove home from a department store and returned 90-minutes later to retrieve her 1-month-old baby.
I also found that “Mom-brain” isn’t just an excuse for those of us in the profession who forget to drop Junior at his piano lesson - it begins with pregnancy and has been scientifically researched.
Julie Henry, a psychologist at the University of New South Wales, said lifestyle may be a factor, as is sleep deprivation.
Of course, some researchers still claim “mom brain” is a myth. Dr. Ros Crawley said “maternal amnesia” may be due to “cultural expectations of impairments which make women more aware of forgetting things and attributing such mistakes to their pregnancy.”
I think they are both right on.
Had I not heard of mommy memory loss before I had children, I’d likely just be attributing my mindlessness to lack of sleep.
On the flip side, while I am forgetful, I am sometimes stunned by the amount of things I do remember - birth dates being one of them (no tattoos for me), what clothes go in which sons dresser, how many diapers are left, to feed the dog, take and distribute vitamins, doctor appointments, who needs more fiber in their diet, to clip 60 tiny finger and toe nails, who picked the last movie, to feed the fish (sometimes), stock the diaper bag, write a weekly column, feed the fish, take vitamins Oops! Did I already say that?
Email this contributing writer at Motherhoodcolumn@yahoo.com.
I’m feeling guilty lately because I haven’t blogged in a few weeks. Been too, too busy with daughter’s spelling bee, son’s confirmation, sick 4-year-old, the Super Bowl (it’s a national holiday!), etc., etc.
But now Valentine’s Day preparations have kicked into high gear at our house, and I felt compelled to share a few of my favorite chocolate recipes.
Need a quick gift? Take 15 minutes out of your day and whip up one of these no-fail confections. No candy thermometer needed, I promise.
Go to grocery store and buy a big carton or two of red, ripe strawberries and a tub of Saco Foods’ Dolci Frutta hard chocolate shell (about $3).
Go home. Wash berries and dry them well with paper towels.
Follow directions on the Dolci Frutta’s microwaveable container to melt chocolate, stirring at intervals (takes about 2 minutes).
Dip fruit into the chocolate and let dry on wax paper till hardened. Voila!
(I have also used Trader Joe’s Pound Plus dark chocolate bar — for a lactose-intolerant friend — and a small hunk of Gulf Wax in a double-broiler to achieve the same effect, although this method is more labor-intensive. The big bar is a bargain at under $4.)
Note: If you run out of berries, dip dried apricots, raspberries, raisins, pretzels … anything tastes better smothered in chocolate.
Buckeye Bars (compliments of Theresa Cox)
As good as dipped buckeyes in a fraction of the time!
2 cups peanut butter
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 stick softened butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla
Mix above until somewhat creamy/smooth. Press into a 9X13 pan.
12 oz chocolate chips (your preference of semisweet or milk, I use semisweet)
1 stick butter or margarine
Melt chocolate chips and butter or margarine in microwave … careful not to burn. I microwave 20 seconds at a time stirring in between. Usually after the third time chips and butter are melted.
Pour over peanut butter and refrigerate till set. Slice into small squares and enjoy.
Note: Do not, under any circumstances, use a product called Brownulated Sugar. Your candy will taste like sand!
Rolo Pretzel Cookies (from RecipeZaar.com)
These taste like Take 5 candy bars! And mini twist pretzels resemble hearts, so they’re perfect for Valentine’s Day.
96 miniature pretzels
48 Rolo chocolates
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place unbroken mini knotted pretzels in one layer onto a cookie sheet.
Unwrap the Rolos and place one on top of each pretzel.
Slide the cookie sheet into the oven for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes (until Rolos get shiny, but still hold their shape.
Take cookie sheet out of oven.
Place another unbroken pretzel on top of each Rolo and press down.
Place cookie sheet in freezer for 10 minutes or more for chocolate to reset.
Scrape pretzels off cookie sheet with spatula.
Note: DO NOT try to slide Rolo Pretzels off of cookie sheet if chocolate isn’t set — the chocolate will smear all over the place (really, I tried it).
Mecca’s Butterscotch Candy
These are dreamy — Thanks, sis!
2 bags butterscotch chips
1 bag semisweet chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
Mix in bowl till shiny and microwave 1 minute at a time on half power, mixing between intervals, till chips are melted — about 3 minutes.
Add about 8 ounces of cashew pieces and stir well.
Spoon into small paper or foil baking cups. Let set, then store in an airtight container.
So there you have it: LucyB’s magic chocolate arsenal.
Make them for bake sale, a classroom treat, or for your well-deserving hubby or little sweetheart. Or even better, with your little sweetie — someone’s got to unwrap all those Rolos, you know.
Across the world on Sunday, people of all ages will celebrate love and romance.
Handmade cards will be exchanged, crushes expressed, rings presented, lifetimes joined and so on, during the heart-peppered 24 hours that will make up Valentine’s Day 2010.
However, none of these occurrences, near or far, will matter to at least one segment of the population 8- to 10-year-old boys.
These little male grade-schoolers are between the ages of when they make sweet and frilly cards for their mothers and when they write sweet and frilly notes to girls.
For my sons, who both fall in this less-than-lovey-dovey window, the chasm was most evident recently when classroom lists were sent home for their respective Valentine’s Day parties.
I found the lists in the boys’ school folders, and asked them if they wanted to come with me to the store to pick out valentines.
“Could you just pick them up?” they asked, looking over their shoulders during a video game.
“Just try to get something funny,” the older one added.
It is just like when they need pants. As long as they aren’t too embarrassing, they don’t care a whole lot what they look like. They would just rather avoid the whole process.
Then the 8-year-old asked: “Why do they celebrate Valentine’s Day again?”
“Well, love and romance,” I said.
I started to think that not only did they not have any love for the beauty that can be Valentine’s Day, but they might even regard it as the least endearing holiday on the calendar — less special even than clunkers like Groundhog Day or Columbus Day.
But, just to confirm my suspicion, a few days later I did a little experiment. I asked each of my sons to rank 15 “holidays” on a given list — from Earth Day to Christmas — in order of importance to them.
The younger only had one question, but asked it repeatedly about various holidays: “Do we get off school for that?”
He then added, somewhat seriously: “It’s important to me if I get off school.”
Unfortunately, even though it’s on a weekend this year, Valentine’s Day wasn’t helped by that criteria overall. It came in 14th out of 15 on the third-grader’s list, beating only Columbus Day.
The fifth-grader didn’t ask any questions (as is his way), finished his paper and handed it to me. I was surprised to see Valentine’s Day in fifth place, and thought maybe I had misjudged him.
“Wow,” I said, “Valentine’s Day is pretty high up there.”
“Well, it is named after a saint!” he said. “And, there’s a whole movie named after it, and all you see in the stores in February is about Valentine’s Day, blah, blah, blah.”
“But I asked you to rank them in importance to you,” I said.
“Well, then it is probably closer to 10th,” he said, “since you can get candy and all.”
That made more sense at least for this year.
I had another “helicopter mom” moment. This one had nothing to do with bullies, but I think the end result - unfortunately - was my son learning to play hookie from school.
It all began on a wintery morning My husband was taking Noah out to meet the bus when he realized it was already waiting at the end of the driveway. He took Noah’s hand and quickly headed down the driveway when - splat! - they both hit a patch of black ice and fell smack on their backsides.
My husband hobbled in the door, soaked from the fall. “Noah hit his head,” he informed me.
“How hard?” I asked.
He wasn’t sure since he’d wiped out, too, but Noah had shed a few tears. Still though, my little man got on the bus.
My engine started humming “What if he has a concussion?”
My chopper blades began whirling, I lifted off the helipad and headed for the phone.
“Noah fell on the driveway. He hit his head and we aren’t sure he’s ok,” I told Sue in the school office.
She made sure Noah’s teacher and the school nurse both knew what had happened - just incase.
An hour later the phone rang. It was the school nurse.
“Noah’s in the clinic. He says he has a headache and feels dizzy.”
Initially, I thought, “Oh-no!”
Then I remembered that my son has a tendency to be a bit well, dramatic.
Not to mention, if I recall correctly, getting sent to the clinic for an injury is “cool” when you’re six.
Of course, the school did the responsible thing - he may very well have been hurt. And I, after all, had called and asked them to please keep an eye on him.
My husband went to pick him up.
Upon his return home, Noah, promptly dumped his back pack and made way to the couch - not to rest - but to play a video game.
“Uhm, excuse me, I thought you had a headache?” I said.
“I do,” he said pointing to his forehead (mind you, he fell backwards). “But, not all the time.”
I had to laugh.
I’d been duped into a long weekend - by a child who eagerly goes to school - and it was most likely my own doing.
Email this contributing writer at Motherhoodcolumn@yahoo.com.
When you are just inches from a snow day, you may find yourself doing some pretty strange things.
About 6 inches of snow is expected to fall in the Dayton area between Friday and Saturday, Feb. 5-6, but for kids (and maybe a few teachers) the snow can’t come soon enough.
I just got off the phone with my 8-year-old son and one of the first things he said was, “We have to remember to do the snow dance tonight!”
And that made me wonder how many others out there will be doing the same, and what everybody else’s snow-inducing rituals entailed.
My sons have assembled the following process over the last couple years, having been given tips from other students and teachers:
— Wear pajamas backwards.
— Put ice cubes in the toilet and flush them down.
— Put a spoon under the pillow.
— Do a silly dance. (Some say to dance in a circle 10 times.)
I would say it has a success rate of about 30 percent, although the kids swear it is closer to 80 percent.
It should be noted, however, that it did work last month.
What about you? What do your kids do for a snow dance?
This basketball season has been a challenging one for my son and me.
My son is 10 and in his first year with this select league, and I have been helping coach.
Although the experience has had many bright spots, the level of competition and how to handle it at this age has been an education — for us both.
The funny thing is, both he and I are extremely familiar with the often combative world of youth sports. He and his brother have played on multiple teams and have both been in select soccer for years.
But this basketball season has proved to be much more intense; both in time spent and emotions involved.
Basketball has long been the favorite sport of my son and me, and one at which we both excelled.
This season, the fifth-grader, a veteran of the rec center league, begged to be a part of the select program. As a result, he was now just one of many talented players, rather than being among a top few.
From a coaching perspective, it was a windfall: the head coach and I could run plays, teach the kids moves, and actually have them retain and execute what they were taught.
As I told friends at the beginning of the season, “It’s like real basketball!”
For the kids on the team, it meant more to learn, more aspects of the game to address and, most significantly, more pressure to succeed.
To this last aspect, some kids responded well and some did not. My son was among those who initially struggled.
Instead of fueling the added pressure into game-time intensity, he went the other way. And his self-doubt began limiting not only his success, but his enjoyment of the sport.
I could see this was happening, and knew what he needed to do to succeed. In my mind it was easy; just go all-out, be more aggressive and get fired up.
But I couldn’t convey that to my son in a way that was useful to him.
At first I told him: “You just need to try harder.”
But he would tell me: “I am trying hard!”
I honestly believed him. It also reminded me that I didn’t even start playing basketball until I was 13, and likely didn’t get to any great level of intensity until I was 17 or 18. He is still just 10.
So then I tried not saying anything to him about basketball when we weren’t on the court.
That made him think I was mad at him.
It was around then that I also noticed that if he scored a basket, it would spark his intensity.
So I told him to find a way to score early, knowing that would get him going.
I also started telling him just to have fun and not worry so much.
The problem with that tack was he could tell that it was just words. That even though I said that, there still was the same resounding sentiment to do well or get pulled from the game.
Since then, I have put my full support behind the “have fun” approach, although I always include “and work hard.”
I think he is starting to believe it — as are other members of the team.
At halftime of our game the other night, we were behind by about 16 points, and I told the kids on the bench: “You know what, let’s just have fun out there. Play hard, but have a really good time!”
One of the boys smiled and said, “It couldn’t hurt.”
Another one added, “Yeah, we could still learn some things.”
That made me smile as well. And, the team did much better in the second half.
At any rate, I think my son and I have both learned a lot this season — about basketball and ourselves.
Now I think we are both looking forward to more days of working hard, having fun and learning the true meaning of success.
Many items are designed to keep our kids safe at home: gates, toilet seat locks, cabinet locks, doorknob deterrents, cushy bumpers I could go on.
But, as a parent, I am also concerned about the safety of my car. After all, I’m hauling my most precious cargo.
However, call me paranoid, but I think my “safe” car has been taunting me.
We have a pretty long driveway. In inclement weather (or when we’re being lazy) I drive the boys to or from the bus.
We also have an infant who is forced to make this daily trek in her car seat. While waiting for the bus one afternoon, said infant began wailing, so I hopped into the back seat to console her. Naturally, the bus turned the corner at about that moment.
I attempted to open the back door of the car to go greet my sons. My attempt became frustrated tugging at the door handle.
I couldn’t get out. The car was unlocked, but I was stuck.
I pondered my dilemma and realized the child safety locks were on - so the boys won’t jump out of the car, of course.
I not-so-gracefully climbed into the front seat and scrambled out the door.
But the car wasn’t done with me yet, it sat in the garage plotting.
This particular morning, our driveway was a sheet of ice, so we hopped into the mom-wagon to go meet the bus.
I turned the key, the dashboard lit up, the radio came on and then, nothing. I turned it again. Still nothing.
The bus was in the cul-de-sac, better hurry.
I began jiggling the key in the ignition, but it still wouldn’t turn. I “jiggled” it a little harder and the break-away key snapped off in my hand.
Noah stared wide-eyed as if waiting for me to explode into a tantrum. “Get out!” I yelled. “Let’s go!”
We began running through the frozen grass to the bus now waiting for us.
My mind reeled with what could possibly be wrong with my car.
After a call to the dealership and arranging for a tow, my husband suggested I check a few things, like if the car was in “park.”
I must have bumped the shifter. Hence, the car’s safety feature was engaged. It won’t start nor will the key release if it is in gear.
I think the break-away key was designed specifically for frenzied mothers. Thankfully, it clicks back together.
I’m a little anxious about the next “safety demonstration” the car has in store for us.
Better get busy reading the owner’s manual.
Email this contributing writer at Motherhoodcolumn@yahoo.com.