The Evolution of Parenting

Do you remember the episode of Little House on the Prairie when Albert Ingalls becomes addicted to morphine? It was a doozy complete with Albert stealing from Doc Baker, hitting his teacher and then going through severe withdrawals after Pa takes him away to a makeshift rehab at Mr. Edward’s cabin.

"Don't cry Pa. Albert will get over his drug addiction."

“Don’t cry Pa. Albert will get over his drug addiction.”

This episode shows that no matter the era, parenting is a really difficult job. Kids are kids. You will always have the needy infant, toddlers who throw fits for no apparent reason and of course, the rebellious teenagers.

The differences that come in to play between parenting during the 19th century and the 21st century, or even the generation before us is all of the technology and advancements to our world.

A lot of the technology and new inventions have made parenting in the present much easier. I feel bad that my mother’s generation had to use cloth diapers. I feel bad for the pioneer woman that had to wake up before dawn and start a fire in the house and bake bread even though she had probably been up all night with a baby. I know that dishwashers, microwaves and washing machines have made my role as a parent so much easier.

Technology is a double-edged sword though. It puts today’s parents in predicaments that Charles Ingalls never would have thought possible as he sat and cleaned up the vomit from one of Albert’s major puking sprees as he withdrew from that morphine.

The other day when I was in the shower, my 6 year old son came running into the bathroom screaming that my 3 year old son puked in the recliner while they were watching television. I quickly rinsed the shampoo out of my hair in a frenzy, horrifically anticipating the mess that waited for me when I got out.

I was happily surprised when I entered the living room and saw my 3 year old sitting in the recliner, watching his episode of Dora the Explorer with a blanket on his lap covered in puke. There was not one single drop on the chair or anything else. All I would need to do is deal with the blanket. As I lifted the blanket off of him I noticed something sticking out from the pile of vomit.

It was the remote control for the television.

Pioneer women may have had to make their own candles and hand sew all of the family’s clothes but they never had to figure out how to wash a remote control covered in puke.

Thankfully I got the remote cleaned up so my son can watch television again!

Thankfully I got the remote cleaned up so my son can watch television again!

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How I Became a Better Person

Hi Everyone!

We are all trying to be better people right? As we grow and age we try to be nicer, more generous, healthier, smarter, etc. Something recently came into my life that is helping me to achieve all of that and I am writing about it over at Sarah’s site called The Sadder But Wiser Girl. She asked me awhile back to be apart of her star-studded line up week of guest bloggers!

Please hop on over to Sarah’s site and read how I became a better person!

I should warn you it is shallow and silly!

Have a great day!

Melissa

I’m In England

Hi Folks!

Today you can find me in England!

Okay, actually it is just a blog out of England called Little Steps run by my friend Dean. She is originally from the Philippines and is now living in the most charming area of England by the ocean with her husband and daughter.

She asked me to partake in her monthly Chat With A Mom and I graciously accepted. So hop on over and find my answers to her burning questions!

October Chat With Moms

Also, I believe it is tomorrow you will find me over at the Sadder But Wiser Girl’s blog doing a guest post about what made me a better person (it is probably not at all what you expect)! I will be back with the link when that post comes up!

Have a great day!

Melissa

Swallowed Up by a Sea of Childhood Treasures

I remember being about 10 years old at my grandma’s house. There was an older lady who lived up the hill from my grandma whom my cousin and I would go visit from time to time. She lived in an old farmhouse all by herself and she was a hoarder. I had only stepped into her house once and at that time you could really only walk a few inches before being roadblocked by a huge stack of newspapers and a tower of milk jugs. Like I said, I was only 10 years old but even I knew this was beyond any mess I had ever seen.

Even though she wasn’t a housekeeper she was a very nice lady and strangely enough on one particular day I was visiting she took me with her to shop for a trailer to put on her land because she could no longer get into her house. Afterwards she took me to the local A&W stand for a hotdog and root beer and it was quite a lovely afternoon.

I often think of that dear old lady as I watch my own house filling up. I don’t save newspapers or milk jugs and you can usually find a path through our house, but the amount of stuff I save for my children is slowly engulfing our house. Someday I fully expect to be swallowed up by a sea of artwork, favorite toys and beloved baby clothes. If we had a big enough property I might actually consider buying a trailer to put in our yard to store it all and really that is just insane.

Instead of parting with all of this childhood nostalgia I just continue to add to it and with that comes more storage containers for it all. Our house is filled with tons of antique trunks and boxes holding all of these treasures and this past weekend I had to make one more:

The trunk I made this weekend for my daughter's treasures

The trunk I made this weekend for my daughter’s treasures

I also made a box for one of my daughter’s friends who is having a birthday this week. I figure we can’t be the only ones who need storage containers:

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A box I made for my daughter’s friend

And as I sat working on that trunk to hold more of my daughter’s treasures I pondered our whole storage problem and how we could have accumulated so much stuff and how many more years I have left in their childhoods to grow their collections. It’s really quite mind-boggling.

Even though I realize this problem; it apparently never truly sinks in because the very next day this is what I had my children do:

My kids painting huge canvases outside

My kids painting huge canvases outside

Someday, I will be that lady taking a visiting child to shop for a trailer with me because I can no longer walk through my own home. Afterwards I will take them for a hot dog and root beer and it will be quite a lovely afternoon.

There Really is a Candy Land

Do you lie to your children?

I do.

I tell them things like, “No, I didn’t put onions in the casserole,” or “We have to leave the park NOW. They are closing it early today,” or “Sorry, I don’t have any money for a bag of M&Ms.”

Two years ago I told my kids that there really was a place called Candy Land. This isn’t a lie. Candy Land truly does exist as I mentioned in a previous post called Yes Dear, There Really is a Candy Land.

Thanks to my mom, I really got to take my children to Candy Land this past weekend.

My mom has spent the last 6 months creating Candy Land in her backyard for my kids and many more. She found almost everything at rummage sales or the thrift store and then went to work handpainting everything herself. She also made quite a few of the things with her saw and power tools. She is truly a remarkable lady who brought so much joy to kids and adults alike with this labor of love.

Enjoy the photos that I captured on that glorious day!

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That’s my mom on the side of the tree who created all of this!

A clever sign above a mirror!

A clever sign above a mirror!

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This chocolate area was really cool. The pots are filled with cocoa bean mulch which really smells like chocolate. The kids had fun digging in it!

This chocolate area was really cool. The pots are filled with cocoa bean mulch which really smells like chocolate. The kids had fun digging in it!

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All of the children's furniture is stuff that my mom found for a couple of dollars and then fixed and painted! The treats on this cupboard were made by mom out of wax!

All of the children’s furniture is stuff that my mom found for a couple of dollars and then fixed and painted! The treats on this cupboard were made by mom out of wax!

This is an old manger converted into a little house!

This is an old manger converted into a little house!

These decorations were bought at after Christmas clearance sales

These decorations were bought at after Christmas clearance sales

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This cupboard was full of dishes and the kids had a ton of fun playing tea party!

This cupboard was full of dishes and the kids had a ton of fun playing tea party!

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My mom made tons of little cakes and treats out of wax!

My mom made tons of little cakes and treats out of wax!

One of the doll houses my mom painted and decorated

One of the doll houses my mom painted and decorated

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The table of candy

The table of candy

ribbon candy

ribbon candy

more doll houses in Candy Land for the kids to play with

more doll houses in Candy Land for the kids to play with

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My mom also cut boards and painted all kinds of signs

My mom also cut boards and painted all kinds of signs

Inside the candy house. My mom decorated this. She used blocks to make the furniture

Inside the candy house. My mom decorated this. She used blocks to make the furniture

All of the kids playing a game of Four Corners to burn off all of the sugar they consumed!

All of the kids playing a game of Four Corners to burn off all of the sugar they consumed!

My son was so sticky by the end of the day that all of the confetti on the candy table was sticking to him. My brother said he must have contracted a case of the "candy pox"!

My son was so sticky by the end of the day that all of the confetti on the candy table was sticking to him. My brother said he must have contracted a case of the “candy pox”!

This was truly a remarkable event and one that the kids and adults alike will never forget!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old School Blogging

My gal pal Sarah over at The Sadder But Wiser Girl recently tagged me in a post that consists of lists of 5 things about myself. I’m still laughing over some of Sarah’s answers! Below you will find my answers to these questions. Enjoy!

Five Things I Have a Passion for:

1. Creating and looking at art

2. Going to thrift stores and garage sales

3. Being a mom

4. History

5. Dessert

I love being a mom to these kids!

I love being a mom to these kids!

Five Things I Would Like To Do Before I Kick the Bucket:

1. Eat an entire can of sweetened condensed milk

2. Wallpaper an entire room with little magazine pictures like I did with my attic (I think I am going to wait until I’m 80 years old and don’t care what the resale value of my home is).

3. Build a rock wall

4. Learn how to build stuff with wood (I guess that would be carpentry skills).

5. Own an art studio for kids (this seems overly ambitious for me but MAYBE).

This is our attic wall...I would love to do this to an entire room

This is our attic wall…I would love to do this to an entire room

Five Things I Say A Lot:

1. Why on earth would you think this okay to do? (this is to both my husband and kids)

2. Just a minute. Hold on. Wait a sec. (I have 4 people constantly asking me for something so they get some sort of variation of this)

3. That is flippin’ hilarious!

4. You are driving me crazy!

5. I don’t know (I seriously have to say this a lot because I get asked questions like “Would hopping on an ostrich save me if I got stuck in a tornado since they can run really fast?” all day long)

This is what it looks like when I am on the phone

This is what it looks like when I am on the phone

Five Things I Read Recently:

1. The Birth Order Book by Kevin Leman (I read this to learn more about my kids and ended up learning a lot about myself)

2. Wonderful Tonight by Pattie Boyd (wife to George Harrison and Eric Clapton…pretty interesting)

3. Hundreds of children’s books ranging from The Potty Book for Boys, The Star Wars Easy Reader Books and Ramona Quimby

4. Penny Press’s Variety Puzzles (ok, so this isn’t really reading but it is a magazine I subscribe to…I absolutely love extremely hard logic problems that make me break out in a sweat trying to figure them out)

5. Country Living magazine (my mom always subscribes to magazines that let her pass on a second subscription to someone else and she always picks me)

Five Favorite Movies:

(disclaimer: I am really not a movie person because I usually fall asleep during them. The following movies are ones that not only I did NOT fall asleep during them but have watched  them multiple times)

1. Life is Beautiful (a movie about the Holocaust)

2. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (a movie about the Holocaust)

3. Say Anything

4. The Help

5. The Green Mile (this is the only book I ever read that I equally liked the movie)

Five Places I Would Love to Travel:

1. Oregon/Washington area

2. Hawaii

3. Costa Rica

4. India

5. A remote African village to help out (I actually looked into joining the Peace Corps when I was in high school)

Five Bloggers I’m Tagging For This Thing:

1. Courtney @ Embracing the Insanity

2. Cathy @ Go Mama O

3. Lidia @ Ohlidia

4. Christine @ Momtimes4

5. Kate @ Did That Just Happen

All you ladies need to do is get to answering and writing so we can all learn a little more about you!

Have a great day!

Melissa

There’s History in Those Love Letters Part IV

In the past I shared 3 love letters that my grandpa wrote to my Grandma Charlotte when they were courting back in 1936. My grandma was 17 at the time and my grandpa was 23. She was still attending high school and he was a school teacher in a one-room school house. If you haven’t had the chance to read those letters; you can do so here:

There’s History in Those Love Letters

There’s History in Those Love Letter Part II

There’s History in Those Love Letters Part III

Soon after he wrote those letters they got married. The letter I am sharing today is a letter written in 1943; 7 years into their marriage and with 2 of their 4 children being born (Janet and Judy). By this time my grandpa had quit his job as a school teacher and since work was somewhat scarce in the rural area of Wisconsin that they lived, he had taken a short-term job in Omaha, Nebraska helping to build their airport. He went with his brother, Denver. I guess in a way it is not a true love letter but by all accounts it shows that my grandpa was still very much in love with my grandma. There is also some important history in this letter. I thought about omitting a part where my grandpa made a comment about African-Americans. Although his comment wasn’t intended to be racist and merely indicated that rural Wisconsin did not have a lot of African Americans at the time; he used a term that is no longer acceptable. After some consideration I decided it was important to include it and to show how far we have come as a country.

Grandma Charlotte and Grandpa Ed

Grandma Charlotte and Grandpa Ed

Plattsmouth, Nebraska

May 31, 1943

Dearest Charlotte, Judy and Janet,

Denver is writing to Marie so I thought I would write to you too. I have just began to get rested up so I feel like writing.

Well I went to work today. I worked in the shop with Denver, helped on the trucks, took care of the gas pumping and fixed tires and things like that. I sure was a greasy mess when I got done work. I don’t know what I will get to do yet. Swanson isn’t here; he is in Minneapolis. I am staying in a room with Denver and a fellow by the name of Ed Jacques. He is a big fat fellow.

We eat at a restaurant downtown. It sure cost a lot to eat. It is awful crowded in our room. Denver and I may get a room to ourselves right away. One fellow from Arkansas thinks he may go to Asnaha (?) and stay.

Right beside the place we work is a bomber plant. They say they make eight planes a day there. They are taking off and landing all the time. They also try out their guns there.

There is only about two weeks of work unless something else turns up. I will let you know if there is. Some say there is an airport going in at La Crosse. I would rather go up there then. It wouldn’t be so far to take the kids.

I sure miss you and the kids. I sure hope your are well. If the kids get sick be sure and let me know as soon as you can.

Tell Janet there sure is a lot of negroes down here. I looked downtown for something to send home but I couldn’t find anything but I will look again tomorrow night. Maybe I can find something.

Did you go to the Cherser’s Memorial Day? I wished I hadn’t come down here when I did. If I had waited until now I would have known it would be a short job. The company put the bid on a lot of work but did not get it. Unless they can sub contract, the job will be very short.

Well honey, I guess that is about all I know. Take good care of yourself and the kids and give them a big smacker for me.

Are the berries ripe? I sure would like to have a big dish full with a little sugar and cream.

Write soon and tell me something.

Denver just asked me if I was getting homesick and I told him I wasn’t, but I really wish I was going to crawl into that old bed of ours instead of this bunk in the cabin.

When you get this newspaper read you’ll probably need a pair of specks. So I will quit.

With All My Love,

Ed

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The Girl and Her Shoes

“Oh Tony, I don’t want to go to school anymore. I can’t go. I won’t go.” moaned the young girl walking with her cousin down the dusty dirt road leading to their school.

Tony asked why and the girl explained, “It’s these shoes and socks Grandma makes me wear. The kids all make fun of me. All of the other girls have the shiny Mary Janes and the pretty, white anklet socks. Grandma says I have to wear boy shoes and the thick cotton socks because they hold up better.”

Tony listened with his head bent down as his cousin went on with her laments about her terrible shoes and socks. When she was done he spoke up with, “I’ll buy you those Mary Janes and some anklets.”

Tony

Tony

The girl’s mouth turned up at the corners and her eyes lit up momentarily until the realization that Grandma would never allow it hit her. Grandma would certainly make her return them. She expressed this to Tony who instantly said, “Well, Grandma doesn’t have to know. We will keep them under the bridge. Everyday on your way to school you can just change out of your old shoes and socks, put on the new ones for school and then exchange them again at the end of the day.

So that is what they did. Tony bought his cousin those beautiful shoes and anklets. Everyday on their way to school they would stop under the bridge and retrieve them so the girl could put them on. After school they would stop once more at the bridge so the girl could find her old shoes in their hiding place and replace them on her feet. The Grandma was none the wiser.

The girl and her Grandma

The girl and her Grandma

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If you think that those small acts of kindness that you do for others don’t mean anything; you are wrong. They have the potential to impact someone’s life greatly. You may not get a thank you card. You may not see the benefits with your own eyes. You may never give a second thought about that small kindness that you did. More than likely though; you made a difference. Maybe the girl I mentioned above would have quit school. Maybe her self-esteem would have been shattered. Maybe it wouldn’t have affected her at all. I don’t know.

What I do know is that girl walked into school from that day forward with her head held high. She went on to live a very long life with a husband and 8 children. That girl is now 73 and she told me this story about those shoes. She is grateful for it to this day. She said Tony has always held a special place in her heart. That girl is my mother-in-law.

The girl always wore fancy shoes in later years

The girl always wore fancy shoes in later years

Fun Things to do in Albuquerque, New Mexico

If you find yourself in Albuquerque, NM there are a lot of fun things to check out.

1. Albuquerque is known for it’s Balloon Fiesta every October. There are also plenty of companies that give hot air balloon rides year round. Even though I have never been there for the fiesta or gone on a hot air balloon ride; I got to see hot air balloons almost every morning when I looked out the window:

hot air balloon over my mother in law's house

hot air balloon over my mother in law’s house

2. Albuquerque Aquarium/Botanical Garden is awesome! It is a fairly small aquarium but it has many of the large sea creatures that you would find at bigger aquariums. It is also connected to a really fantastic botanical garden that my kids really enjoyed. You can get into both features for one very fair price. A must see!

Albuquerque Aquarium

Albuquerque Aquarium

 

Albuquerque Botanical Garden

Albuquerque Botanical Garden

Lots of fun statues at the botanical garden!

Lots of fun statues at the botanical garden!

The kids enjoyed the big critters in the garden!

The kids enjoyed the big critters in the garden!

3. Tingley Beach was pretty fun. However, I’m not sure why they call it a beach. It is really just a man made pond and there is no sand. I actually would have called it the Land of Misfit Ducks. We brought bags of old bread to feed all of the ducks and geese there and we saw some of the craziest birds! You can also rent paddle boats here but we opted not to do this because it was 109 degrees and I forgot the sunscreen and water for the kids!

Here I am with the kids at Tingley Beach

Here I am with the kids at Tingley Beach

This duck appeared to be born without any wings

This duck appeared to be born without any wings

This duck either swallowed a tennis ball or he has a goiter

This duck either swallowed a tennis ball or he has a goiter

This duck looked just like Elvis! Look at that hairdo!

This duck looked just like Elvis! Look at that hairdo!

4. The Sandia Peak Tramway is highly recommended. It is the 2nd largest tram in the world and goes 2 1/2 miles up to the top of the Sandia Mountains or 10,000 feet. The view and experience is absolutely spectacular!

 

Sandia Peak Tram

Sandia Peak Tram

5. Tinkertown Museum is one of my favorites! It took Ross Ward 40 years to create this place of art and eccentric collections. Around every corner is something that delights the eye and provokes a jaw drop or a giggle. He began his life carving wood figures for circuses I found out from his wife while I was there. Ross passed away in 2002 but his wife still keeps the museum running. I talked to her after our visit and told her the place reminded me of a place I went to as a child in Wisconsin called the House on the Rock. Her eyes lit up and she said, “That was one of Ross’s inspirations when he created this place!” I don’t think she told me where Ross grew up but she told me she lived only a short way from where I live in Wisconsin! What a small world it is!

The kids and I at Tinkertown Museum

The kids and I at Tinkertown Museum

The walls are all made out of bottle and there are so many cool things around every corner!

The walls are all made out of bottle and there are so many cool things around every corner!

My husband and kids in front of Otto and the one man band

My husband and kids in front of Otto and the one man band

The kids and I with the creator's wife

The kids and I with the creator’s wife

My favorite bottle on the wall!

My favorite bottle on the wall!

If this didn’t make you want to visit Albuquerque, New Mexico; maybe this will: They have some of the cheapest gas prices in the nation!

Gas prices June 2013

Gas prices June 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Have the Freedom to Marry Who You Want (Except Your Brother)

I remember being 4 years old and having someone ask me who I was going to marry. Without a moment of hesitation I told them I was going to marry my brother. All of the people in the room began to laugh and someone piped up with, “Oh honey, you can’t marry your brother. It’s against the law.”

Considering he was the only boy I knew at that age and I thought he was pretty cool; I was crushed. At the age of 4 I already began to picture myself as an old maid living out the rest of my days all alone because the one shot I thought I had at getting married was against the law.

Me at the age of 5 all dressed up in my Mom's wedding dress trying to figure out who I was going to marry!

Me at the age of 5 all dressed up in my Mom’s wedding dress trying to figure out who I was going to marry!

As a mother now to a girl and two boys I wasn’t surprised when my own daughter at the age of 4 declared that she was going to marry one of her brothers (her choice between the two fluctuated week to week) when she grew up. I only smiled and said, “That’s nice dear,” so as not to give her the same complex that I had at that young age. When she was still holding on to the dream of marrying within the family when she started school I decided that I better let her know the truth and I figured at least being in a school full of lots of kids she would see that she had plenty of options besides her own brothers. After I broke the news to her that her dream of her and brother standing at the altar wouldn’t be happening she looked at me and said, “Well, is it okay to marry girls?”

My response: “Ummmm….well….(goodness, I wasn’t expecting this question)…kind of, well, I think right now the only way you can marry a girl is if you go to California. Ummmm…actually, I don’t know if it will always be this way though.”

Since my daughter was only 6 at this point it’s no surprise that she had such a confused look on her face to my answer, shrugged her shoulders and walked away to go play Barbies.

Apparently, my daughter forgot about this conversation we had two years ago because a few weeks ago she asked me the same question, “Mom, can girls marry girls?”

This time around I didn’t need to hem and haw. I didn’t need to think about how I was going to explain this. Our country has made some important decisions concerning gay rights and I don’t think we have to worry about them going away. I think the freedoms for the gay Americans are only going to continue to grow.

I confidently told my daughter, “Yes, yes girls can marry girls if that is what they want to do.”

My daughter smiled and said, “That’s great. I wasn’t sure if it was against the law. I’m glad it’s not because I think I am going to marry (her best friend’s name) when I grow up.”

Of course since my daughter is only 8 years old, she has no idea who she is going to marry or whether it will be a girl or a boy. But even at the age of 8, it is just nice to know you have the freedom to marry whoever brings you the most happiness in your life.

This is my brother that I couldn't marry!

This is my brother that I couldn’t marry!