You Can Sleep With Me Forever

A few weeks ago, my 5 year old son, Bency told me he never wants to become an uncle.

I briefly closed my eyes, took a deep breath and prepared for what was coming next. I’m used to these kinds of statements. They happen frequently. They involve long stories; sit down discussions and lots of mind power on my part.

I asked why he didn’t want to become an uncle.

Bency said, “Once you become an uncle you die. It’s all over with. That’s it. I don’t want to die so I don’t want to become an uncle.”

I realized Bency had no idea what an uncle was so I explained that an uncle is the brother to one of your parents. I gave the example of his Uncle Bruce, the guy he sees pretty often and calls….”Uncle Bruce”.

Instead of setting his mind at ease, this explanation had him putting his head down, covering his eyes and shuddering, “Oh no, NOT Uncle Bruce! I didn’t know he was an….UNCLE! He looks more like a dad to me.”

Bency’s birthday present last year from Uncle Bruce..his uncle is VERY creative!!

Repeat me closing my eyes and taking a deep breath to prepare for delving in deeper with this issue.

Bency’s been like this forever. He thinks a lot. He makes himself scared a lot. In turn, this causes him to get scared in the middle of the night…a lot.

He has snuck into bed with my husband and me almost every night of his life like a stealth ninja. We wake up and there he is, all nestled in by us.

I haven’t made a big deal of it because I understand what it’s like to be scared in the middle of the night. I snuck into my parent’s bed plenty of times as a kid. The only difference between Bency and me is that I used to pee the bed so not only did I disrupt my parent’s sleep but they also woke up wet. Bency has never done this, so this does help his cause somewhat.

Regardless, I still try to offer incentives for Bency to stay in his bed all night. We had some luck when he started Kindergarten. I told him Kindergartners were big kids so they couldn’t sleep with their parents anymore. This did keep him at bay for a week. I thought my plan was a success. It wasn’t. Bency said, “I’ve been thinking about it and I think Kindergartners can still sleep with their parents. I’m really pretty small yet.”

Two nights ago, I set up a small Christmas tree in Bency’s room to hold all the ornaments he’s ever received. Bency decorated his tree all by himself and really thought it was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen.

At bedtime, Bency requested that his bedroom be rearranged so he had a better view of his tree so he could look at it all night. I wasn’t about to rearrange his bedroom but his enthusiasm for his Christmas tree gave me an idea.

Bency’s tree in his room

I said to Bency, “Now Buddy, make sure you stay in your bed all night so you can protect your tree so no one comes and takes this beauty.”

Bency’s eyes got HUGE and he gasped, “WHO would come take some little kid’s Christmas tree out of their room? There are no bad people in the world that would do something like that….IS THERE??”

My heart skipped a beat and I mumbled, “No, uhhh, ummm, no, ummm, I didn’t mean that. I just meant someone might want to come and look at it, because it’s so beautiful.”

In a high, squeaky, shaky voice Bency asked, “You mean people might be sneaking into my room tonight?”

My stomach turned, I wanted to pound myself with a hammer over the head. As much as I wanted to hit the rewind button and erase what I said, I couldn’t. So I said the only logical thing left to say, “Hey buddy, do you want to sleep with Mommy tonight?”

Bency sleeping

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Me Yoga Girl, You Gym Teacher

My 7 year old daughter, Iris, is a mover and a shaker. She is full of ideas, has a kind heart, is always busy and is constantly trying to change the world.

Yesterday, Iris asked me for several small gift bags.

Apparently, Iris is in full Christmas Spirit mode because she had created gifts for all of her teachers. I asked her if she perhaps thought it was a little early for Christmas present giving but she disagreed. It clearly is never too early to start doling out Christmas cheer according to her.

I had to hide my chuckles when I saw what she came up with.

Personalized cards in the shape of a Christmas tree with a special message on back and each teacher received some of her Halloween candy.

Iris’s homemade Christmas cards

 

The messages on the back of the cards were the hit of my day:

To: (Mrs. Art Teacher)

Merry Christmas! Thank you for teaching me about lots of art paintings! My favorite thing you teached us is to make portfolios. Did you know the elephant is kind of simple? From Art Girl, Iris

To: (Mrs. Gym Teacher)

Merry Christmas! Thank you for teaching us ALMOST everything! I really like stuff you teach us! From, Gym Girl Iris

To: (Mrs. Librarian)

Merry Christmas! Did you know I love books? Thank you for letting us check out books! From your book lover, Iris

To: (Mr. Gym Teacher)

Merry Christmas! I really like what you teach us in P.E. or gym! Do you know my favorite thing in gym? Yoga!! From Yoga Girl, Iris

 

Iris said she still has more teachers to give to so she will be working on more throughout the week! I can’t wait what other monikers she gives herself!!

 

 

Laugh, And The World Will Laugh With You

I am not an expert on anything. I rarely have strong views about any subject matter. I appreciate other people’s opinions and can usually see both sides to the story.

I used to ponder who the people were that took the time to sit down and write a letter, put it in the mailbox and send it to Reader’s Digest to say they strongly disagreed with a certain author’s point of view. Did they have so much time on their hands or did they feel that strongly about this issue?

Well, I found my answer one day when I couldn’t sit back any longer. A feeling inside my stomach became so strong that I had to get it off my chest or I felt it would burst. I wrote a letter (actually, an email) because I felt so strongly about something.

I began watching Saturday Night Live when I was 4 years old. I was born the year the show began in 1975 so I missed the first four years of production. I got to stay up late on Saturday nights and my whole family watched Saturday Night Live together.

Those early years, I was so entertained by Eddie Murphy’s skit Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood; the spoof on PBS’s, Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood. It was about a black man living in the ghetto. Watching those episodes as an adult; I realize I had NO idea what he was talking about. I also loved when the Land Shark would knock on the door, impersonate a human’s voice and then when the door was opened, would come in and eat the people. That’s always hilarious for a 4 year old!

I remember I loved Gilda Radner and hated Jane Curtin. I had become a critic of comedy at such an early age.

I think my favorite skit was The Olympia Restaurant. It featured John Belushi and Dan Akroyd and everyone was yelling “Cheeseburger” in a Greek accent. I remember running around the house repeating “Cheeseburger” over and over doing my best Greek accent for years. I had to have been the most annoying child when I think back on it. The funny thing is, I’ve seen those sketches in recent years and they really aren’t that funny!

My Dad, Mom and me at the age when I started watching Saturday Night Live

I have missed very few episodes of Saturday Night Live in the past 33 years. I have also read several articles and books about this show and the actors. I can’t say I’m an expert on this subject matter but it’s probably the one thing in my life I know the most about (that is really, incredibly sad).

When I was 24 years old, there was a cast member named Jimmy Fallon who was on Saturday Night Live. He was only a featured player which meant that he didn’t get many skits to act in. This irritated the beejezus  out of me because I thought this guy was a hoot! The reason I liked him so much was because he laughed. He usually couldn’t hold himself together when he was acting. He would start giggling and stumble over his words.

I don’t care how stupid something is; if YOU laugh when telling it; it makes it funny! When you laugh at yourself, the world will laugh with you.

I felt so strongly about Jimmy that I just had to let Lorne Michaels know (the producer of Saturday Night Live).

Somehow, I tracked down his email address from the internet and sat down and wrote him a letter that took me 3 hours to compose. I stated why I felt Jimmy needed to be upgraded from just a featured player to a star and why I thought I had enough credibility on this subject to make this kind of request.

The following week when I sat down to watch Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Fallon was moved to a starring role. I was in shock. I don’t know if it was just coincidence or if my email had made some kind of impact. Jimmy Fallon has his own talk show now. He’s doing quite well. I would like to think I had something to do with his rise to stardom. I keep waiting for him to give an acceptance speech and mention my email to Lorne and how he remembers my kindness all those years ago for believing in him.

I’m a mother now and have 3 small children. I do not let them stay up until 10:30 pm on Saturday nights to watch Saturday Night Live. I would be so annoyed having 3 little kids running around the house yelling, “Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger” in Greek accents.

Thanksgiving Makes Us Happy, Mad and Sad

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we are having our family and friends join us at our house for a feast.

Since I was busy this morning getting everything ready for tomorrow and the kids are off of school; I put them to work making things to decorate the house.

I decided upon a series of people cut out of paper bags for them to color and we could create a chain of them. I told the kids this symbolized the coming together as family and friends at Thanksgiving time.

Our Thanksgiving Family and Friends chain

I went in to check on them in between washing dishes and getting some cooking done.

My 5 year old, Bency was on his third person and said, “This person’s getting the mad face.”

I shrieked, “What??? No! You can’t have a mad person in the Thanksgiving chain! They must all be happy!”

Bency shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well, I’ve already made one happy and one sad. I need a mad one now.”

I paused for a moment and thought.

Bency really has Thanksgiving figured out. Thanksgiving brings out a whole range of emotions.

First, you’re happy when you see all of the food. Secondly, you’re sad when you realize how much you’ve just eaten and lastly you just get down right mad at yourself when you keep going back for more.

Bency said he needs me to make a few more people for him to color. He forgot to make a “surprised person.”

Yes, Thanksgiving brings out the surprise in all of us when we just can’t seem to button those pants the next day!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

Melissa

The mad, the sad and the happy of Thanksgiving!

Dick and Jane To The Rescue

He asked if he could read another story.

It was huge to me. It was a mind blowing, earth shattering, birds chirping around the world kind of statement.

My 5 year old son, Bency is in Kindergarten and is learning to read.

Unlike his older sister, who emerged from the womb and began her love of books and desire to learn to read Bency was indifferent about books.

He likes when I read him stories but he rarely picks up books during the day and tries to read them by himself. My daughter, by 2 years old had memorized the majority of her books and could fool anyone that she was a reader. She read from sunup until sundown and still does.

In Kindergarten they began by teaching the kids the easy words such as the, it, is, can, see, etc. Bency does have these memorized and so now they are moving on to simple books that contain these words.

Last week I brought out an old Dick and Jane book and told Bency I was going to have him read it for me. He made a noise indicating that this would be painful and threw his hands up to his head. I kind of tilted my head and gave him a look and he said, “Fine, but you know I can’t read yet.”

Fun With Dick and Jane from 1940

Lo and behold, Bency CAN read. He actually did quite well and only stumbled over a few words. The words he didn’t know he would only look at for a second and then throw his body back and whine, “I don’t know that word. I can’t read.”

He is seriously dramatic and stubborn.

I kept pushing on night after night. I was patient and amazed watching him get better and better.

Night after night Bency grumbled, moaned and threw his hands to his head like my suggestion for him to read Dick and Jane with me was on par with getting seared with a hot branding iron.

Last night something happened though. We got through the same two chapters we have been rereading for the past couple of days and I began to close the book.

Bency said, “Hey, wait…I want to read the next chapter. I think I know how to read now.”

A half hour earlier when I told Bency that it was time for us to go up and read he said, “Do I have to?” and proceeded to do a rolling flip off of the chair that I can only assume indicated that he would rather knock himself unconscious or end up in the hospital then have to go read what Dick and Jane were up to.

I’m hoping the future holds the constant request for one more story!

Mystery Solved

For years I have been puzzled by the fact of children falling asleep in their highchairs during meal time. I’ve seen hundreds of pictures taken by other families with their babies or toddlers strapped into the high chair fast asleep.

This has never happened to my children. They eat, they tell me they are done, I wash them up, get them out and off they go.

I thought that these pictures of sleeping kids in the highchair were some kind of set up. Parents were hijacking their children out of their cribs in the middle of the night for the sake of hilarious pictures. It was the only reasonable explanation I could come up with.

Last week I was let in on the secret. I have finally experienced it. The answer to my biggest question has finally been revealed.

My 2 year old Cesar fell asleep in his highchair while I was downstairs getting laundry out. I came upstairs after 5 minutes to an eerie quiet. I peered in on him and there he was all slumped over fast asleep.

After further investigation I discovered he had eaten all of his lunch except for his kidney beans. Cesar hates kidney beans and yet I continue to give them to him in hopes he has a change of heart.

He clearly didn’t and clearly it is just easier to fall asleep than to look at a kidney bean or try to muster the energy to try to choke one down.

As if I wasn’t beyond delighted enough that I finally had my own “child sleeping in high chair” picture, it happened again the next day.

This time he ate everything except for his squash. Cesar hates squash too.

In case you have been as baffled by this phenomenon as me I’m here to report that this happens. It’s real. I didn’t hijack Cesar from his crib in the middle of the night.

I simply gave him food he hates.

And that is how you get a picture of “child sleeping in a high chair.”

There’s An 80 Year Old Lady Trapped Inside My Body

I’m quite certain there is an 80 year old woman trapped inside my body. I’ve known this since an early age when my love of butter pecan ice cream, dates and prunes were not a popular favorite amongst other 9 year olds.

I’ve never considered myself “hip” or “cool” and have never gone out of my way to achieve this status.

I have never bought into the newest fads, trends or technology. I wait years to make sure all the glitches are worked out or that the “newest thing” stands the test of time.

I would probably still be using a 35 mm camera had my husband not insisted 5 years ago that I would save a lot of money using a digital camera due to my habit of taking 1000 pictures a month and the amount of money I was spending on developing costs.

I have no fancy gadgets in my kitchen. I still grate everything by hand and if I need chopped nuts …out comes a hammer.

I did a blog post one day for a recipe for carrot cake. My father was flabbergasted that I made mention in my story that I still grate carrots by hand. He insisted my mother buy me a food processor for my next birthday.

I few weeks ago I celebrated my birthday and my mom came with a wrapped present containing my first ever modern gadget….the food processor.

My mind instantly went to a recipe I had seen on 100 Days of Real Food that I thought looked really good, easy, contained dates but…..required a food processor. I had dismissed the recipe because it required a date paste and there was no way I could make this without this modern gadget!

The recipe was for Larabars.

Now if you’ve ever heard of a Larabar I think it means you’re “hip” and “cool.” I think you can only buy these at “cool” places that I never go to. They are wholesome snacks that generate a lot of buzz amongst the healthy crowd. They are expensive. I would NEVER buy these.

Equipped with my new food processor and a recipe containing my beloved dates I could make these and possibly even call myself a little “cool.”

I had the kids help me execute this recipe last weekend. The kids and I were excited to press the buttons and watch our ingredients twirl around in our new toy. It was magical watching it all spin into the gooey paste.

The outcome was a big disappointment to me though. They tasted nothing like dates. The peanut butter in the recipe took charge. My two older children will not eat them because they don’t like the consistency. My youngest son likes them so he has been the receptacle for all of them. He is “cool.”

Here is the recipe I used and more can be found on 100 Days of Real Food’s website:

Ingredients for our Larabars and my new food processor

Date/Peanut Butter Larabar

1 C. dates

½ C. peanut butter

½ C. peanuts (optional: I threw these in to really see what my new food processor could do!)

2 Tbsp. of flax seed (optional)

2 Tbsp. water or more if necessary

Directions:

  • Put ingredients in food processor and combine until mixture is of paste quality and no longer crumbly
  • Scoop out mixture onto cutting board and work it with hands to get it all formed into one clump
  • Grab small handful and pat into a square in your palms
  • Wrap each square into plastic wrap
  • Can be left at room temperature or stored in refrigerator

Our Larabars

I personally will be using the remainder of my dates to go make a date pie to satisfy the 80 year old woman trapped inside my body!

How To Play A Game With Goose Poop

A little over a week ago, my family decided to hop in the minivan and drive to Chicago for the day and visit the Shedd Aquarium. Although it’s a 3 ½ hour drive for us, this is merely a blink of an eye to me. I love road trips and a spontaneous adventure is right up my alley. However, we have NEVER attempted a road trip with this long of a drive with all three children spontaneously before.

I grabbed a bag of pretzels, goldfish crackers and a change of clothes for each family member and off we went at 7:30 a.m.

The first 10 minutes of the trip were absolutely wonderful! We sang, we talked about how much fun we were going to have and I passed out a few crackers to everyone.

15 minutes into the trip the question of “when are we going to get there?” began. My husband and I looked at each other with questioning concern wondering if we had just made the biggest mistake of our lives.

We somehow managed to make it to Chicago by 11:00 with little to no major problems until our 7 year old daughter, Iris exclaimed, “I think I’m going to throw up.” I quickly made my way to the back of the van where she was located and grabbed the first thing I saw which was her winter coat and held it in front of her.

This left us with a little dilemma since the weather was pretty chilly and we had to park 2 miles from the aquarium. I did have a sweatshirt in the car that I put over Iris’s shirt but it still left her a little underdressed for our long jaunt. She was a trooper though and didn’t complain at all and her upset stomach had quickly disappeared.

We approached our destination and saw the big building looming just a short distance. We were all excited and relieved that our long car ride was completely worth it as we anticipated our next few hours of fun!

The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, IL

As we got closer, our excitement was soon overcome by shock, disbelief and horror.

The line leading up to the aquarium stretched and winded 200 yards back. My guess is 3000 people were waiting in this line. We are from a small town. Even though a NFL stadium is 10 minutes from our home we do not understand the concept of waiting or large crowds for anything. If the checkout lane at the grocery store takes more than 5 minutes; we get impatient and think that something is going terribly wrong.

I thought the line I was witnessing for the aquarium surely had to be for something other than just seeing a few tanks with fish in it. I thought, perhaps they had just flown in a whale and it was giving birth inside or that Jacques Cousteau had come back from the dead and was signing autographs. Certainly, no one would stand in a line this long, with this cold temperature just to get a peek at a few sting rays.

The line was so long, I couldn’t even fit it all into the picture!

I questioned a few people in line and they told me it was in fact just for the aquarium. They didn’t seem the least bit concerned that they were potentially waiting 2 hours in a line to see jelly fish and sea horses.

I didn’t know who was crazier at this point… the people happily waiting in line or me, who should clearly have investigated this outing a bit more thoroughly.

At this point, my husband and I began whispering what we were going to do and what other alternatives of fun we should do instead when I noticed another door to the side of the building. It said “accessible.” I ran over to find out what this was all about and discovered it was the entrance point for anyone in a wheelchair or who had a stroller.

There has never been a point in my life that I have been happier to have a kid in a stroller until this moment. I showered our 2 year old with kisses and said, “Thank you so much for getting your family in the aquarium with no wait time!”

We spent the next couple of hours going from tank to tank looking at all the sea life. The place was really crowded so it was hard to get too close to anything but we managed to see a fin or two!

After we felt we saw everything we could possibly see we headed out and started our long walk back to our vehicle.

We cut through a park and noticed a huge flock of geese. The kids began chasing them and trying to get them to honk. After they had their fill of running amongst the geese we held hands and walked along the pathway that was dotted with goose poop every few steps. I began by calling out “Goose Poop” to alarm every one of the potential danger so they wouldn’t step in it.

Bency and Iris chasing after the geese

It turned into a game of who could spot the next droppings first and call out loud enough so that all of Chicago was alerted. Stepping over the droppings wasn’t adequate. Wild jumps and hops were in order to clear the areas of mass destruction. Laughing and giggling rang out on this cold walk and our tired legs were forgotten as we enjoyed this best part of our day.

The most amusement of our day!

There is an area 5 minutes from our home that contains walking paths and where I have spotted huge flocks of geese hanging out. The next time we need a little excitement in our lives a quick drive over there should suffice as we happily play our game of “Goose Poop.”

It Could Have Been the Worst Birthday Ever

This past week I was busy transferring our videos over to the computer. I came across this one from this past September when we celebrated Cesar’s 2nd birthday. This was definitely a scary mom moment! Thankfully, everything was just fine but proves more than ever NEVER trust a 2 year old!! Now, we will always have the memory of the “almost worst 2nd birthday ever!”

Click on the link below to see:

It Could Have Been the Worst Birthday Ever

My Hearts On Fire For Elvira

This afternoon I did an art project combining two of my childhood loves. Paper dolls and the song Elvira by the Oak Ridge Boys. This song came out when I was six and I can distinctly remember my Dad singing along with gusto to this song using his bass voice. I have since taught my own children this song!

collage piece I did today using an old book as the background, paper doll dresses from 1969 and my own drawings for the heads