Kid Talk

What do you call those camper’s desserts made with marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate?

Mary and Peter called them “Snores.”

I agree.  Eat them, then GO TO BED.

Speaking of, have you seen the graham crackers conveniently shaped as squares just for fireside snacking?  Very cool.

Good intentions

Mary wanted scrambled eggs.  I gave her a bowl and told her she could have ONE egg.  She would crack them all if I didn’t specify how many.
She is surprisingly good at cracking eggs.  Rarely does she get any bits of shell in the bowl.  I think she’s better than some of her siblings.  She’s had a lot of practice.  I have not encouraged this practice.  She has insisted on learning.

I also gave her a spoon.  She likes her eggs beaten with a spoon.  I don’t argue with her, even though I disagree.  The spoon works.

Peter saw Mary beating her egg and decided he wanted one too.  I gave Mary another egg and added a bit of milk.

Mary knows I usually put oregano in my scrambled eggs.  Have you ever tried that?  It’s quite good.  She went to the spice rack on the back of the pantry door.  She selected the lemon pepper.  She’s only three; I guess I can’t expect her to read.  I showed her the label on the oregano and pointed out the letter “O”.  We’ll see if she remembers next time.

She went to the bowl to add the oregano.  Peter objected.  “I don’t like that,” he said.  I narrowed my eyes and stared at him, but decided to not say anything.  As I said, I usually add oregano to my eggs.  He eats it that way all the time.

Sweet Mary, though, was concerned for the finicky palate of her sibling.  With oregano in hand, and poised over the bowl of beaten eggs, she pointed to one side of the bowl.  “This is my egg,” she explained, “and that is yours,” indicating the other portion. 

Fortunately, Peter didn’t seem overly aware of the whole scrambling process.  And also, fortunately, he really doesn’t mind oregano in his eggs.

Breakfast ideas

I’m going to the grocery store and making my list. 

Confession: we eat cereal here.  I know there are so many of you supermoms out there who make nice hot breakfasts (and lunches) for your deserving families.  You are wonderful people.  I do not do this.  Yes, sometimes, I feel guilty about it.  But generally, I just feel relieved that I have one less task to do.  And for most of my children, I don’t even serve them, breakfast or lunch.  And we don’t sit down as a family for those meals either.  Self-serve, eat when you are hungry (within reasonable parameters).

Dinner, though, is usually a family affair.  And yummy and hot.

So, back to grocery shopping.  And list making.  I usually buy cereal with coupons, because there are lots of cereal coupons every week in the paper.  I have a coupon for Frosted Mini Wheats.  But Katie doesn’t like FMW, the brand; she prefers the Malt-O-Meal equivalent.  Whatever.  With a coupon it’s probably the same price, or the MOM is cheaper anyway.

Peter, though, likes the flavored FMW.  The coupon reminds me that he had asked for that kind, so I asked him to confirm his request.

“What flavor?” I wanted to know.

“All of them,” he said.

“Well, the coupon is only for two, so that’s all I’m going to get.  What do you like best?”


He is my son.  For the record, they don’t have that flavor (Peter was disappointed to learn this), but I’m wondering what Kellog’s thinks of that idea.  I’m wondering if they can include caffeine…

Word Origins

Peter to friend: “It’s called a watermelon because it’s a melon and it’s made of water.”

Awed pause.

Peter to friend: “It’s called a cannonloupe, because it looks like a cannon.”

Awed pause.

Buzzkiller Mom: “It’s not a cannonloupe, it’s a cantaloupe.”

Reflective pause.

Peter to friend: “It’s called a cantaloupe, because it can’t…it can’t…it can’t lope!”


Random Procrastination from my Chores

Given the long list of things I have to do to prepare for an impending vacation (laundry, putting away Christmas decorations, calling the kennel), it was with amusement that I discovered myself vacuuming the garage.  I’m sure there are many who will think that vacuuming the garage ever is sheer lunacy, but for every one of you, there is someone else nodding her head in agreement.

And for every one of those, there is someone else saying, “What’s the big deal?  I vacuum the garage weekly.”


Another really important task that absolutely had to get done before vacation was dropping off the various bags of items I’ve been assembling to give to Goodwill.  As I furtively loaded the car, I impulsively grabbed the exersaucer and loaded it up too.  I’m not sure if this means I’m (a) admitting I am done having children, (b) thumbing my nose at Murphy and his laws, or (c) sick and tired of the bulky thing taking up space in my garage.  I’m leaning toward the last one.


When I stopped at the recycling center, I learned that they no longer took glass.  I rarely have aluminum cans, but always have some glass to recycle.  When I bemoaned this fact to a long-time resident, her response was, “What recycling center?”  I will never again feel guilty about tossing a cereal box in the trash bin.


I don’t get 9 year old girls.  They are foreign creatures, and I deny ever being one.  Case in point:

“Katie, would you please play Play-Doh with Mary instead of doing your school work?”

Moan, whine and wail: “But then I have to clean it up!  Why do I always have to clean it up?  I don’t want to play Play-Doh with Mary!”

“OK, then.  Fritz, would you please play Play-Doh with Mary instead of doing your school work?”

“Oh, sure!”  For a 12 year old boy, the choice between Play-Doh and schoolwork is obvious.
Moan, whine and wail: “But I want to play Play-Doh with Mary!  How come I never get to play Play-Doh with Mary?!”
Sorry…I thought “I don’t want to” meant “I don’t want to.” 
My husband has explained to me that this behavior is typical of all females of every age.  When you see him, ask him if he gets a good night’s rest on the couch.
The 3 year old girl is doing her best to exhaust me.  Frequently she interrupts my day to announce, “I have to go potty.”
“Then, GO,” I will say.
She will start to leave, but then will tum back and say, “You’re not coming, Mommy!”  And she’ll wait for me to get up and come.  If I’m not fast enough, she’ll do a little dance to show how urgently I need to move.
When there, I’ll try to help her pull down her pants.  “I DO IT!”  Fine.  I’ll try to help her up on the pot.  “I DO IT!”  Fine.  I’ll try to help her wipe.  “I DO IT!”  Fine.  Pulling up her pants, washing and drying her hands: “I DO IT!”  Fine.
But that’s only half the time.  The other times, she needs me to do everything for her, and there’s no telling which mood she’s in.  If I leave her independent self alone in the bathroom, she’ll call me back in.  I’m beginning to think she just wants the company.  Katie and Jenny tend to go to the bathroom together, another behavior I just don’t get.  I generally manage to hit the restrooms without a partner.  Maybe I can get Mary to ask her sisters to tag along instead of me. 
But then I’ll probably hear moaning, whining and wailing.  “I don’t want to!”
It’s been a long time since I had a little 5 year old boy to school.  Peter, who has always charmed me with his brilliance, is nevertheless still just a little boy.  He’s not too happy with school, because I actually want him to sit down and do it.  I watch him squirm and fidget and move up and down and all around, and it drives me nuts.  For the first few months of the school year, I seriously thought there was something wrong with him.  Jenny wasn’t like this; Katie wasn’t like this.  But then I stopped to think.  Jenny isn’t a boy; Katie isn’t a boy.  Billy?  Fritz?  Oh, yeah, wiggles and wriggles big time.
I pity kindergarten teachers.
Fritz had to write a ~700 word essay.  He chose to write about the Greek gods. 
Editing that paper was…painful.
I pity middle school teachers almost as much as I pity kindergarten teachers.
And since I feel bad if I mention only 4 children in a random post, I have to add a few things about my other 2. 
We did a morning chore swap, and now Katie and Jenny are emptying the dishwasher instead of Fritz and Peter.  While I no longer have to help Peter differentiate between the big and small forks (which have different receptacles), I now have to guess in which drawer Jenny decides various utensils belong.
A friend loaned me the complete Harry Potter series, and I’ve worked my way up to the 4th year (I had read books1-3 previously, but I re-read them so I could remember what happened).  Billy discovered the stash and dove right in.  He now disappears for hours on end, and is up to the 3rd book (I need to get moving!).  Unfortunately, I have to hide the book in order to get him to do chores, schoolwork, eat, go to the bathroom, play outside in the sunny, mild weather, etc.  It’s a good thing breathing is an automatic thing.
And now, back to work.

Good times

Oh my.  What a day.

Confessions are at 11 am at the Cathedral on Saturdays, so we hauled our sooty little souls down there this morning.  I noticed the line was moving quickly, which meant our usual favorite priest wasn’t there.  The kids went first, then me.  Bill was hanging in the back with the little ones and went after the three people behind me.

A sign inside explained the short confession time:  Deaf Priest.  Do not whisper.

This would have been a good day to have mortal sins.

So, no lengthy explanations, no probing questions, no nothing.  State your sins, say you’re sorry, get forgiveness, get out.

After confession, I like to compare penances.  I got one Our Father.  Billy said he got three Hail Marys.  Goodness!  Fritz admitted he couldn’t understand what the elderly Irish priest had said, so he did the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Angel of God and St.Michael prayers.  Covered his bases.  Katie said she, too, had not understood so she did three Hail Marys.  Then Billy admitted he didn’t understand the priest either.  (Was that a lie he told right after confession?)

I asked the kids if they saw the sign that said the priest was deaf. 


They asked about the man being Irish.  Jenny, being somewhat out of the loop since she hadn’t gone to confession, asked, “Are all Irish people deaf?”

“No,” I answered, “He happens to be Irish and he happens to be deaf.  Not all Irish people are deaf.”

“Oh,” she said, “He’s deaf and he’s Irish.  All Irish people are deaf.”

“No!” my husband said.  “You’re part Irish.  Are you deaf?”

Cheekily, my 7 year old asked, “What did you say?”


Then we went to the store to buy some pants, socks, and shoes because my children keep growing despite my expressly stated order that they should mature, but not grow.  Growing can be done when they have jobs to pay for clothes.

By this time, they were starving, and we decided to feed them even though, for sure, my son would grow a half inch during the meal.  While we waited for our food, I suggested we play a game to keep everybody’s mind off the fact that we were waiting for food.  I suggested that everybody pick a new name and we would all call each other by these different names for the rest of the weekend.

“My name is Empress Maria Theresa.  You may call me Empress or Your Highness and you certainly may curtsy or bow when speaking to me.  Please speak in German or Czech.”

Bill selected Hector.  Fritz wanted to be called Bob.  Billy, Hades.  Katie, Nancy Drew.  Jenny picked some fairy name, then said she didn’t want to play.  Fine.  Foo on you.  Peter first picked Carson Palmer.  Mary is Mary.

At one point, Peter was acting like a 5 year old and Bill suggested that he act like Carson Palmer, meaning, like an adult.  Images flashed in my mind of the notorious behavior of professional athletes, so I began to protest, “Well, I don’t know if that’s such a good idea…”  Then I pointed to Billy, “He’s HADES.”

“Good point,” said Bill.

Peter changed his name to Joe Hardy.


It was a steak place, this restaurant, but the children’s menu did not have steak on it.  The adult menu had 12 oz steaks or larger (or a 6 oz filet mignon for more than the 12 oz sirloin).  There was no steak salad or steak burger or anything small and less expensive, so I told Billy he could not have steak.  Feeling bad for our carnivorous young son, my husband ordered a steak and gave him some to supplement his chicken finger lunch.

Billy, I mean Hades, when given his portion, responded, “Thank you for your offering.”

If you don’t quite get that, you obviously haven’t read the Percy Jackson books.


More errands.  Mary falls asleep.  The kids are given an option to stay in the car instead of going into Home Depot for air filters and light bulbs.  Katie and Jenny want to come, but the rest will stay.

“Fritz, sit up front and look 12,” I say.  He’s been affecting a “mature” look since he was 11 1/2 so I could run quick errands while leaving a sleeping tot in the car.

“I am twelve!”

“Oh.  Yeah.  Good.  Sit up front.” 


At Bass Pro shops, nobody wanted to stay in the car.  That’s OK.  I came prepared with a book.  I happily stayed with Mary.

Bill wants to take me out to shoot shotguns.  I know, I know.  What a lucky lucky gal I am to have a husband with such romantic ideas for dates. 

He said he needed ear protection.  He said he knows I’m sensitive to things touching me, and thought perhaps the stick-in-your-ear ear plugs might annoy me.  “It’s OK.  I’ll just go deaf,” I said.

After the errand, he showed me the stick-in-your-ear $0.99 ear plugs he bought – for him.  And he showed me the full-cover-over-your-ears, much-more-than-$0.99 ear protection he bought – for me.

This is love.


On the way home, I read him a few snippets from Rachel Balducci’s book.  The theme of these excerpts was Chuck Norris.  Chuck Norris is not well known in my home…yet.  I noticed how eerily quiet the car became when I was reading.  My cell phone rang, and I spoke for a minute to a girlfriend.  The din from the back of the van was the usual volume – loud.  But when I hung up and went back to the book: silence.


We went home and somebody said something else very funny.  I can’t remember it.  But I do know that Fritz said, “Mom, you have to put this on your blog!”  It doesn’t matter what it was, really.  His comment wasn’t at all narcissistic, self centered – somebody else was the clever one.  And he has very little clue that complete strangers read this blog.  He knows my blog is our family history.

We ran errands and took care of business.  We ate lunch and spent the day together.  We had fun.

It was just an ordinary mundane Saturday, but we want to remember it.

Keeping me laughing

“Peter,” said I to my son, “remember this picture?”  He glanced up from something he was coloring and nodded.  “Do you remember what is on the chair?”

The picture by Van Gogh is called The Chair and the Pipe because it shows a chair with a pipe on the seat.  Peter, though, never seems able to disassociate the artist from the picture and whenever he sees a Van Gogh (any Van Gogh), thinks only of the details he has learned about his short, tragic life.  So what does Peter automatically reply in response to my question?

“An ear.”

Inspiring Creativity

My kids all love to draw, as long as the subject matter is their choice.  Drawing is a significant part of my school curriculum, especially in the younger years, and my children always resist the drawing assignments.  It’s not so much fun to draw what somebody else wants you to draw.  (Can’t say I blame them.  I enjoy writing, but assign me a topic, and I will procrastinate and complain as though it is near torture.) 

Usually, the children opt to copy a picture, because it helps to have someone else’s vision for what to do.  That’s if they like the picture.  But if they don’t feel comfortable drawing sheep, for example, and the Bible picture or Aesop’s fable or poem illustration shows sheep, my little students will dig in their heels and insist that the assignment is too hard.  Fortunately, by 2nd grade, they get over this, generally because they now have 2 more years of experience in drawing.

Also, fortunately, if you are the 5th student and your mother has kept all the drawings (done in bound blank books) that your older siblings have done, you have a wide variety of illustrations to peruse until your muse inspires you.  At the very least, it helps to know that they too had to do the same work and they managed, somehow. 

I knew there was a reason I kept that shelf full of drawings.