Lesson and Week Planning

I finally landed a full-time teaching job. It’s been a wonderful balance of anxiety, stress, and lessons in time management. Something about being home full-time made it easier to keep up with the laundry, make sure the fellows had something semi-homemade for dinner, and the appointments for doctors, dentists, and vets were kept.
I have been working since October and feel that I have yet to master the art of keeping it all together, but I can tell you: the boys are eating well-even if it’s take out, my preschool kiddos enjoy all the hands-on learning activities, we manage to have clean clothes each day, and the house is still standing.
I think I am doing something right.


This weekend my husband and I had the opportunity to share in the love of a sport our children enjoy. We followed their team almost 4 hours away to root for them and share in the team’s success in learning how to play together.

First, let me say I feel extremely grateful that our children have never had a coach that demeaned them by calling them names or yelled at them asking derogatory questions like, “Do you all WANT to lose?” This year is no different. Both the coaches have been wonderful supporting each child all while trying to build a team of teenagers with different backgrounds and views of the game. But, believe me..these kids are in no way babied. There’s some tough lessons and lots of hard work going on. Our children talk to us about a lot that goes on on the field both during practice and at the games. Another things in which I feel extremely fortunate.

Unfortunately there are those ‘pillars of society’ that are parents that feel that whatever they want to yell at any of the children is appropriate. For example, the first game of the weekend this was yelled, “Come on (insert team name) You look like you’re playing patty-cake.” Followed by an undirected, “Wimp.” I couldn’t figure out who this woman was calling a wimp as the team was actually playing pretty well despite the weather and injuries. There were continued slews of insults that I hope that the wind prevented the kids from hearing. Second game was full of negativity and I thought, “She’s just having a bad day.” Honestly, I told my husband that I really enjoy the couple when they sit on the other side of the field. Perhaps that was negative and uncalled for but it was the truth.

Saturday’s game was no different. But this time a parent actually asked the couple to be nice. Of course, they reacted as if someone has attacked them and spoke and behave extremely rude. It would be really different if some of the comments made sense. It’s as if they know nothing of the game and just want to score. There’s much that goes into moving that ball to the hoop or goal….and those negative comments that are thrown out do more damage than good.

My expectation of people because of their position in the community was entirely crushed. Negativity breeds negativity no matter how pretty one is or how big of a following someone has. I’ve perseverated on these behaviors, reflected on my own, and also mentally kicked myself for not saying something when the word “Wimp” was said…It’s up to us all to ensure that all children aren’t being mistreated or bullied—especially by ‘adults.’

Don’t Throw That Away.

Every now and again, I open my mouth and something my parents have said a million times before comes out. This morning was one of those experiences. Typically, we buy a frozen orange juice concentrate to make orange juice for the boys. This week, however, there was a super deal at the commissary on a large ‘pitcher’ of orange juice that I couldn’t pass up.

The boys finished that juice off this morning with breakfast. Boy number 3 was tasked with cleaning the kitchen after our meal. Playing with the lid on the spout of the orange juice container, he announces that the trash is full and his brother needs to bag up the garbage or he can’t do his job. This, of course, turns into a huge conundrum that made me question if I really wanted the boys to do their chores causing me to deal with all the arguing that ensues. (I am sure this is their ploy each time they have tasks to complete.)

Entering the kitchen to threaten redirect them, I see number 3 playing with the juice container. Loudly, I announce, “Stop playing with that! And don’t throw it in the trash either, it’s a good container and we’ll reuse it for more juice.” Right then, a memory of my parents emphatically ordering us to save empty cool whip containers and butter tubs despite having a cabinet or two full of plastic ware that practically attacked a person upon opening the doors invade my brain.

Memory re-run ends and I walk over to my own plastic ware cabinet to take a peek.

Slowly, I am becoming my parents…

Morning Has Broken

sunrise 14 January 2014

It’s almost 6:00 in the morning. My dogs and cats are dancing quite animatedly at the kitchen door eager to do their morning business in the backyard. I’m trying to get pumped up to begin my fitness/health routine while trying to motivate a 15 year old and a 17 year old to jump in the shower. There’s only so much “Miss Merry Sunshine” that this gal can possess. Today, that disposition is running extremely thin. (Insert caffeinated drink number 2.)

   Typically in the morning, I prepare the boys chocolate chip pancakes. I also prepare a ‘go plate’ for boy number 3’s “brother from another mother.” This morning boy number 2 (also known as the bear as he seems to hibernate and is difficult to awaken during the week) announces that he’s ‘burned out’ on pancakes and would like something else. As I process the request, I am thinking to myself “Go with it, maybe this will motivate him to get up easier for at least a couple of mornings.” Sadly, the frustrated parent was also inside my brain thinking, “Okay, Mr. Prima Donna, eat some cereal like many of your buddies do each morning.” I am so glad that I didn’t verbalize that thought to him. He’s a big guy, but I am sure that a reaction such as my second thought would have caused him to overreact making the morning much more busier and more of a struggle. Shaking the negative aside, I prepare some chorizo and eggs for him, roll two breakfast burritos, and stow away the leftover mixture for tomorrow. It may sound corny or overplayed, but in all honestly, his smile and simple, “Thanks, Mom.” made the extra work all worthwhile. (Not to mention, everything is already prepared for breakfast burritos for him tomorrow.)

  Now, I am just waiting for boy number 2 to announce he’s done with pancakes, too (which will probably never happen as he’s a creature of habit).


Trials and Errors of Brownie Baking (New Recipe Day)

The other day, Boy Number 3 requested brownies. Apparently his pack of 12 “Donald Duck Cakes” from the local Mexican Store are in short supply and he’s rationing those until we visit the store again for our monthly purchase of carnitas.
Being the good mom I am, I decided today would be the day I made the brownies. Looking in my pantry, I looked for the packaged brownie mix that is usually a staple in our house. To my shock and disbelief, no brownie mixes were to be found. Since I am against the wearing of pajama pants to the local grocery store, not to mention yesterday’s make up isn’t that flattering; I decided to attempt to make the brownies from scratch. (shock and awe, people…)
I found a pretty easy recipe online for my brownie experiment. Laying out the butter so it would reach room temperature, I located the rest of the ingredients in the pantry. After knocking over a soy sauce container and cleaning the liquid-glassy mixture up once the jar exploded in the pantry, I began my kitchen adventure.

Heating the oven to 350* as the recipe directed, I mixed all the chocolaty goodness. I realized quickly that I did not have regular chocolate chips, rather, I had accidentally purchased the baking melts. I tossed those suckers into the mixing bowl and stirred them around in a little bit.

Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix

The recipe directed me to bake the brownies for 25 minutes. HUGE LIE. Although the wonderful aroma of something yummy was permeating my house and taunting this sugar lovers taste buds. The brownies actually baked for 40 minutes and were still a little gooey, which, just happens to be the way boy numbers 2 and 3 like their brownies.

Looks like this experiment was a success!

Looks like this experiment was a success!

Late Night Call From Mom

As I get older and my own kids leave the house to venture into the world, I realize how much I really can relate to my mom. I didn’t realize how much we were alike until the other night.

I call my parents every other day to check in on them, see how things are going, and make sure neither of them are ill. I even attempt to convince them to downsize their house and move closer to me by luring them with the idea of being in close proximity of the VA clinic, the town is older and has many activities for retirees, and they can see their grandkids whenever they want. To this day, that endeavor has not been a success.

Most of my calls are in the early afternoon to my parents; however, I have called mid-morning if my day is going to be busy and that afternoon call would be almost impossible. Never have I called after 9. I can still hear my parents stating, “No one needs to tell you anything important if the call can’t be made before bedtime.” This was a regular comment growing up in a house full of girls who constantly were on the phone. Imagine my surprise when my mom called at 1030 one night…

The sound of Cookie Monster singing, “C is for Cookie” invades the living room where I left my cell phone after returning from soccer practice. I had settled down in my bedroom reading the latest self-help book with a catchy title that I picked up at the bookstore. Boy number three and my husband were involved in a serious FIFA battle game against each other, but when that phone rang and I announced in a panic, “Grab my handy, that’s Neen and Pop’s number.”

Boy number 3 runs my phone to me and I answer. “Hello?” I hear my mother’s stifled laughter on the other end of the line, followed by “Did I wake you?” After assuring Mom that I wasn’t asleep nor was she bothering me, I asked if everything there was okay. Mom, apparently oblivious to the time answered, “Of course, I’m sitting here watching a show and I think you need to watch too. It’s on the ‘Life Channel.'” Together, we perform the process of elimination to figure out exactly what channel was the “Life Channel,” and I located the LIFETIME channel on my television. The show…Kim of Queens, a show about a woman who prepares girls and teenagers for pageants. Mother informs me that I missed the hilarious parts, but she has already gone through the menu and found that the show replays at 1 a.m., so I can catch up on it. Feeling much more relieved that nothing was wrong at parents’ house, I laughed and checked out the show a little. It was hilarious and perhaps it was my curiosity that wouldn’t allow me to sleep that caused me to catch the replay at 1 a.m.

After living overseas in different countries with my husband, I missed the silly phone calls to and from home. Sure there was communication, but typically the calls were to check in, fill each other in on what’s going on in family member’s lives, wish a happy birthday or holiday, and exchange new addresses. Now, living in one place permanently, I am afforded the opportunity to laugh at the silliness and plan the trip to help out when they are ill.

Our call ends, but just before my mom hangs up, I hear my mom say, “You know I love you, Patty.” This sounded different than any other farewell we had had on the phone and I got a little choked up but I replied, “Of course, and I love you too, Mom.”

Tell Me I’m Not The Only One (who feels this way)

Happy New Year…or is it, really? I’ve reflected over the past year, thought long, and developed that traditional list of resolutions. After looking at last year’s resolution list, I’ve come to the conclusion it’s quite possible I slept through 2013 or completely checked out of my focus after May. My resolve? Not to allow 2014 to become a simple extension of 2013.

How, one may ask? In all honesty, I haven’t the darndest idea! I have this naïve hope that frequently checking on my progress toward my goals will help motivate me into sticking with  my plans.

Plans…oh goodness! As an educator everything I do daily is developed into a plan. As an out-of-work educator, my daily routine is consisting of constant “to do” lists that I can easily tell the time of day according to my activity. Routine? Absolutely. Mundane? No in the least.

Back to my goals. You won’t see the annual “I’m going to get fit” resolution here. Instead, I’m pushing myself to write something each day; an entry in my journal, a recipe my family enjoyed, a photo I’ve taken, a dream. There are no boundaries I’ve placed on my writing..the sky is the limit. And well, we will all see exactly what (if any) platform this blog will take on….

And with that, let the New Year begin as I buckle my seatbelt in for this wild rollercoaster of life!