Tag Archives: Joy

What’s for dinner? (Blog and Recipe)

Typical Day with four teenage boys and a somewhat passive aggressive mom:
0700– Someone in the house ask you “What’s for dinner”. Say you don’t know and wait for the next 4 people you meet to ask you.
1000 – Nonchalantly get up and look at what’s in the freezer and see you have some boneless chicken thighs.
1200 – Next time someone asks “What’s for dinner” say “chicken”.

When they say how are you going to make it? Say you don’t know .

Listen to them ramble on about what they personally want and why you should make that particular dish. Explain patiently that different folks in the house don’t LIKE what they want and then say you’re only cooking one dish.

Listen as they relentlessly plead their case about how the others in the household don’t matter.
Approximately 1500 -Watch now, as they circle the kitchen more deliberately, but separately, getting really concerned about the dinner situation.

(Fun thing for mom): Send them on little goose chases – “Well do we have buns?” (that might mean friend chick-fil-a type sandwiches.

“No buns”.

“Hmmm…do we have charcoal?” (that might mean teriyaki grilled chicken thighs.

“Nope not enough.”…then shake your head in dismay and act as if you have NO IDEA what to do then.
1600 – Ask who is doing what in terms of evening activities to figure out the timelines you’ll be cooking.
“Well dad and Dan have practice at 6.”
1602-1645 – Listen to them moan about not being able to wait until Dad and Dan get home and how you really HAVE TO COOK SOMETHING OR THEY WILL DIE!
1800 – commence to cut up the chicken thighs and watch as they all settle down cause they know SOMETHING is coming soon.
1810 – cut some bread and put it out (see 6:16 entry).
1815 – stand by as they start to get aroused by the aromas and they begin to move out of their rooms to circle you.

Caution them as they try to reach their hands into the boiling hot pans ONCE AGAIN and tell them things in hot pans ARE HOT (ONCE AGAIN) and they must take care not to burn themselves.
1816 –  After the first one yells because he’s burned, direct them all to the bread.

1830 – Tell them they can get food but caution them that Dad and Dan still have to eat.

1833 – Tell them yes they can get seconds but they can’t divide what’s left into 5. Dad and Dan deserve a full serving. They may get a second SMALLER serving. (Explain that a couple of times as they protest about “snoozing and loosing” yada yada.)
1845 – Sit and finish your drink just smiling cause you know your dinner (or at least the passive aggressive build up) was on time and on target!
1850 – Sit at your computer with a second glass of wine and reflect on how freaking lucky you are!

1855 –  Say “Yes you can be excused” and smile as they get up and start to clean the kitchen without being asked!!!!

They are satiated beasts at this point and will be relaxed and somewhat slowed in their next few movements.
2200 – Go to bed cause it is all going to happen again tomorrow and you need your strength!
Recipe – “What’s for Dinner Pasta”
Boneless chicken thighs salted and peppered on both sides
Cut boneless chicken thighs up into small pieces and cook in a pan in hot evoo. Drain and put in a holding pan. (Don’t move them around too much on each side. Let them brown-hard to do cause you worry they’ll burn so get on Facebook work something for about 4-5 minutes per side).
Start pasta water BUT DON’T PUT THE PASTA IN YET. Wait until you’ve melted the butter for the sauce (follows).
Sauce:
Same pan you cooked the chicken in. Leave the brown bits (that’s flavor baby) but get rid of the excess fat.
Melt 1 to 1.25 sticks of butter. Keep the flame LOW so it doesn’t burn.
Add either three diced garlic cloves or in a crunch put in about a tablespoon of garlic powder.
After that melts SLOWLY and is bubbly add in about 2 tablespoons of cream cheese.
Once that is melted and smooth add 1/4 cup of whatever spaghetti sauce you like.
Keep mixing. By now you should have had the pasta in the boiling water.
To the sauce ingredients add either a 1/4 cup of diced basil or about 2 tablespoons of the tubed basil you buy in the store. Sorry I like that for sauces cause it dissolves.
Add 1 tsp of red pepper flakes.
Keep mixing.
Add the cooked Angel hair pasta and some pasta water cause the pasta will soak up all the sauce…and you want it a bit saucy.
Once it is all combined and “stewed” for a couple minutes…throw the cooked chicken on top and tell the heathens it is ready to eat.

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“Why Me” (A Thanksgiving Reminder)”

“Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, “Why me?”, then a voice answers “Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.”
Charlie Brown

We all get overwhelmed. We go to places that make us wonder what we’ve done to bring such challenges to our lives and question how in the world we’re supposed to cope when so many things are going wrong. The voice that tells you “Nothing personal…” is only slightly satisfying. I really believe you, and me, and everyone else; we need to look at the things in our lives that ARE working and that are, in fact, going better than we could ever have hoped for. When those things come to mind, we need to be just as diligent and ask:

“Why Me?”

When we are facing a challenge and friends rush to our sides to assist us:

“Why Me?”

When we suffer a serious accident, and somehow survive:

“Why Me?”

When we have a child who is struggling with school, and we have teachers who join with us to assist in moving them to success:

“Why Me?”

If we focus solely on the things that are challenges, we just don’t realize how each day brings positives we will miss when our head is down and shaking in dismay. We miss our opportunities to be thankful for today. I am not a Pollyanna, I have suffered many hardships in my life. As I’ve grown through them I’ve come to realize they were a gift that brought focus to the good times in my life. They provided clarity to my thoughts about “the routine” and sharp edges to what is really hard and what is just nonsense. They’ve helped me put into perspective how fleeting time really is.

Now when my sons, rush off the bus, jackets flying and backpacks bumping up and down; when they rush up the driveway in a full out race, laughing and fussing about cheating and head starts; all the time with their eyes smiling. I’ve come to understand that I am witness to the morning of their lives. That’s when I ask:

“Why Me?”

and that’s when I say thank you for all the moments that have shaped me and brought me to this place.

At Thanksgiving especially – look around at your place in this world and ask

“Why Me?”

It’s sometimes overwhelming when we realize just how lucky we are.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.

A letter to my oldest son

My oldest left today for college. One of the boys has a raging fever so I stayed home. Pretty tough to do that but I packed him a surprise box. Sharing the letter I put in there.

You know me…blah, blah…but when I write things I feel like I’m getting them out of me. So read if you care to and drive on if you don’t. This pretty much sums up how I see life…

My dear son:
Today you begin to step away from us. As your dad and I fade into the background of your life I want to tell you what a privilege it’s been to have you as our son. You’ve brought such joy to us in so many ways. Your spirit, your dedication, your integrity; all of that adds up to a future of such potential and such promise for you. A few things I want to impart in black and white because I think they are incredibly important for you to remember:
• People are basically good. That doesn’t mean all of them are but most of them are good. A leader’s strength, I think, is being able to find the goodness and bring it out to shine. If you can do that even when it’s hard you will find the best of what people have to offer.
• There is no finish line in life. Have goals but don’t think of them as the “be all” of what you do. Along the way toward succeeding you have to enjoy the experiences you have, as it will become a part of that success. If you are constantly pushing for the next ending, you’ll end up missing some pretty fantastic beginnings and durings.
• You have lived a life of privilege. That doesn’t mean you have been coddled or that you haven’t done your share when it comes to helping. It means you’ve never had to worry about whether you will be fed, cared for and supported. That is an incredible gift. To honor that gift I ask that you remember to be charitable in word and deed. The only time you should look down at someone is when you are extending a hand to help him or her up. You are young, strong and smart. You can change someone’s life with quiet support. Be someone’s hero. The world certainly needs more of those.
• Keep yourself open to new things but don’t be flippant about the fragility of life and limb. Take care of your body and test its limits. Take chances but I don’t ever want you to risk your health for a dare or a fool hearty adventure. People do exciting things all the time. When you want to do something outside of your experience base – go for it. But research it, find someone who KNOWS how to do it and then learn, practice and step forward with confidence. The best way to arm yourself for success is through knowledge.
• Respect women. This is a big one for me and there will be times that you’ll find women who don’t respect themselves. It is rare that you can change someone with love, so choose wisely as to whom you give your heart. If you find that “love” is causing you to compromise your other values; then examine it closely. Love is when your values align and you can see yourself working hard for the rest of your life to stay with that person. Falling in love is easy. You can fall in love with anyone. Find someone worthy of your love and then put in the work that defines a loving relationship. If someone is worth that effort over and over again, then you are on the right track.
• Never forget son, that YOU are loved for who you are right now. With all your goodness and all of your foibles, you are loved. Rest assured that you are not alone in any challenge you undertake. Our family is strong and regardless of the back and forth squabbles we have at times, we are all here for you as you need support. Don’t give up on the big stuff and don’t sweat the small stuff. Nobody’s shooting at you so it’s going to be okay.
You have been ready for this since you were 2 years old son. Even that young you were ready to run out into the rain and do what needed to be done. Of all my sons, you enjoy the exhilaration of life and living. It makes me happy to see that in you. Run in the rain, dance in the rain, look up to the sky in the rain and laugh as the drops splash against your cheeks. You can withstand any storm. Enjoy the sound of the thunder and when the lightning flashes, let the smile on your face reflect in the light. You will do extraordinary things.
Your dad and I will be there at every turn possible to embrace your successes, support your learning when you make mistakes and provide you a soft place to land when you need it. Home is more than a word, a house, a state or an address. It’s a place in your heart that makes you feel safe and secure.
You got this son and if you need us for anything; we got you too.
Mom

“Why Me” (A Thanksgiving Reminder)

“Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, “Why me?”, then a voice answers “Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.”
Charlie Brown

We all get overwhelmed. We go to places that make us wonder what we’ve done to bring such challenges to our lives and question how in the world we’re supposed to cope when so many things are going wrong. The voice that tells you “Nothing personal…” is only slightly satisfying. I really believe you, and me, and everyone else, needs to look at the things in our lives that ARE working and that are, in fact, going better than we could ever have hoped for. When those things come to mind, we need to be just as diligent and ask:

“Why Me?”

When we are facing a challenge and friends rush to our sides to assist us:

“Why Me?”

When we suffer a serious accident, and somehow survive:

“Why Me?”

When we have a child who is struggling with school, and we have teachers who join with us to assist in moving them to success:

“Why Me?”

If we focus solely on the things that are challenges, we just don’t realize how each day brings positives we will miss when our head is down and shaking in dismay. We miss our opportunities to be thankful for today. I am not a Pollyanna, I have suffered many hardships in my life. As I’ve grown through them I’ve come to realize they were a gift that brought focus to the good times in my life. They provided clarity to my thoughts about “the routine” and sharp edges to what is really hard and what is just nonsense. They’ve helped me put into perspective how fleeting time really is.

Now when my sons, rush off the bus, jackets flying and backpacks bumping up and down; when they rush up the driveway in a full out race, laughing and fussing about cheating and head starts; all the time with their eyes smiling. I’ve come to understand that I am witness to the morning of their lives. That’s when I ask:

“Why Me?”

and that’s when I say thank you for all the moments that have shaped me and brought me to this place.

Imperfect Parenting

A friend recently told me she likes to read what I write. I let parents look at my imperfections. They get to read about about the things I’ve done right and wrong and they often identify with it.

I do make a lot of mistakes.

I remember taking the boys on a journey to New Jersey when they were very young. Danny was still in a stroller, just an infant as I recall. We stopped to go into a break area and there was a pond at the top of an inclined walkway that lead to the rest stop entrance. The pond was filled with goldfish so I stopped with the boys to gaze into the water. Cool right?

As the boys and I leaned over the edge of the pond, I heard a woman call to me:

“Ma’am, your baby.”

I looked around and saw to my horror that the stroller with Danny in it was rolling down the hill, about to hit a curb and jump into the road of the parking area.

What do you do at that moment?

What exactly do you do?

I had three toddlers by a pool of water, and an infant in a stroller; a stroller that was rolling into a parking lot.

I couldn’t catch the stroller. It had gone too far and was picking up speed. In those seconds that passed, I held my breath.

Literally, I held my breath and stood there paralyzed for what seemed like hours.

As the stroller picked up speed and rolled toward the road, God,

(I don’t often mention God actually taking the time to touch my life. I know it’s happened, probably more than I realize, but I don’t think he’s there waiting for me to screw up as a parent and come to my rescue)

at that moment God, sent me two guardian angels. Almost like it was choreographed those two angels stepped from behind the building and stopped the stroller.

They stopped it. It was kind of like they were waiting for that moment to do something amazing and stopping my baby from going into the road was that amazing thing they were there to do.

It was like going from panic to a perfectly normal moment in the blink of an eye;

in the blink of an eye.

Okay moms, then what do you do?

You get the little guys off the pond’s edge and you run, YOU RUN, down the hill and try to manage your mixture of relief, joy, and embarrassment. Relief that a moment of impending disaster has changed to a moment filled with tears, thank you’s, and joy.

“Thank God” drips from your mouth and little beads of sweat finally have the nerve to show themselves and run down your face.

Then, you feel the embarrassment.

You just did something SO FREAKING STUPID that you can’t believe that you’ve actually been entrusted with these four incredible, little lives.

SO FREAKING STUPID when you realize that, ONCE AGAIN, you screwed up.

Embarrassment since people are now shaking their heads at you:

“That’s why there’s a break on it lady.”

“Why’d she have that many kids so close together anyway?”

“Can you believe that she didn’t move?”

When you start to breathe again, you take your little boys and walk into the rest area.

You take them into the women’s bathroom with you and go into a stall telling them to stand

“RIGHT THERE!”,

watching their little feet under the door stall.

Then you vomit. You vomit everything you’ve ever eaten in your life. You vomit until your sides are sore and your stomach is squeezed in spasms and then, you wipe the puke off your face, and the tears out of your eyes and you go back out to those four little boys and smile and ask:

“Who wants a milkshake?”

There you have it. My parenting guide:

“Imperfect Parenting”: How to do a million things wrong, and still raise pretty good kids.”

That’s what I’m good at.

Making lots of mistakes, messing up the experts advice,

(most of whom have NEVER been stay at home moms or dads, and actually dealt with the day in and day out parenting realities most of us face),

and still raising children who are grounded, responsible and pretty darn cool.

Last night I found a little girl wandering away from the middle school where I was picking up my son. She was cute as a button. She had long pig tails, dressed real sweet, and just walking like she owned the road ahead of her.

Problem was she was way out of anyone’s sight and I didn’t see anyone near her. I knew she’d slipped away.

I jumped out of my car, walked quickly to her, and talked to her.

“I can’t find my mommy.” She said. She was four.

We started walking back toward the school together and after I got a pretty good distance toward the door of the school I hear from way over at the baseball field:

“Skyler, Skyler; What are you doing?”

We looked and there was Skyler’s daddy running full speed toward us. I started walking toward him and Skyler and I did “knuckles”.

“Thank you SO MUCH.” her father called to me and little Miss Pigtails went running toward a very important discussion with her father.

“No problem dad.”

“I’ve been there.” I yelled as she closed the gap between her and her dad.

Phew, I thought.

Guardian Angels – 2

Imperfect Parenting – 2

As long as it stays a tie; we win.

Things I think:

Things I think:

1. If it is flameless…it is NOT a candle.  It’s a light.

 2.  If you are one of the four out of five women that cannot read a pregnancy test, you should NOT be having children.  You are stupid.

3.  Even if you didn’t take a little blue pill, any erection that lasts longer than 4 hours requires medical attention. Frankly, your wife needs to get examined too!

4.  Future episodes of Degrassi on the Nick TV channel should NOT be advertised during iCarly reruns; especially the ones about lesbianism.

5.  You should NOT check the “Correct Blemishes” box on your child’s school photo ordering sheet.  Kids should not think they need to be photo shopped to sit on their parent’s shelf.  They are perfect.

6.  Teenage kids should not be able to express themselves by wearing any part of a military uniform unless/until he or she has worn it in combat or in service to their nation. 

7.  Stay at home moms deserve the right to represent what they do at career day.  They don’t stay home because they are unable to do anything else.  It’s because they are putting their considerable talents into raising their children.  Trust me—it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

8.  If you are a commissioned officer in the United States military (or a retired officer drawing retirement pay) and you use contemptuous words against the President, you are in violation of Article 88 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice and are subject to a court martial.  Yes.  If you are retired they can reactivate you and court martial your butt.  That is the case even if you do it with a wink and a smile and a nudge.  Clean up your act.  You fight for democracy, you don’t live by it.    

9.  Skinny people do NOT eat McDonald’s food. 

10.  Going to the McDonald’s drive through, ordering coffee and having the little black box ask you “Where’ve you been?” is NOT a good sign.

11.  If you have 18 children, that’s enough.  Really, 18 of anything is enough.  If you cannot control yourselves please stay in separate rooms.

12.  If someone offers you a reality television show you are odd.  In some way you are odd and there is nothing good going to come of it.

13.  If you do get a reality TV show, when things in your personal life go to crap please, please, please don’t go on the talk show route and talk about the intrusion into your personal life.  Refer back to #12 and probably #2.  You are odd and you are stupid. 

14.  If airlines are going to sell food or alcoholic beverages then they should have adequate change for people who buy the food and beverages they have to sell.  I’ve been flying in airplanes since I was 16 years old and they STILL announce they can’t make change when you buy a drink.  Is this rocket science?

15.  If you are 24 years or under – you don’t have a “life story”.  Don’t write a book.  It makes us 40 somethings mad.  Only people that have lived longer than a horse should be able to write a book about their life story. 

16.  The world changes when both your parents have passed away.  If you are in this situation, you know what I’m talking about.  Home is no longer someone or someplace you go to visit.   There is a  painful hole that you will never fill with anything but sweet memories.  I respect the process and the whole circle of life thing, but I miss my mom and dad.

17.  If for some reason you are not speaking to one of your children, you need to fix it.  You are the parent, you are the grown-up, and you need to fix it.  It may hurt and it may be the last thing you think you need to do or you owe to your child; but someday you will die.  When you do, you want to leave someone grieving your loss.  It means you impacted a life. 

Your tombstone will not say:

“I was right by God”. 

and…

even if it does;

No one will come to read it.

Parenting Tip of the Day:  We struggled with our decision on letting the boys see their Grandmother’s body.  My husband was traumatized by that process when he was young and we all worried that perhaps our boys were too young.  In the end, we asked them for their thoughts.  We were very frank with our children that the body was not their grandmother that she’d left.  In honesty, they did not know her very well.  She was sick for about the past seven years.  They opted to be a part of the service and I’m glad they were there.  They heard me speak about her legacy and they rallied around me in support.  And the oldest, the one that did know her, he cried.  I’m glad he cried.  Some things are worth being sad about.

“What’s Wrong With Mom?”

Sunday Afternoon (The scene):

      Four boys sitting on one couch looking down and playing their new DS games they purchased earlier in the day.

     Husband of four boys sitting in “his chair” (why do men have “a chair” anyway); looking down at his laptop.

     Mom walks in, sits down and literally as her butt touches the cushion:

——————————————————————————————–

Brother #1 (not looking up):

    “What’s for dinner mom?”

Mom:

     “Flank steak and roasted red potatoes.”

Brother #2 to Brother #1 (not looking up):

     “What did she say?”

Brother #1 to Brother #2:

     “Meat and potatoes.”

Brother #4 to Mom.

     “What kind of potatoes?”

Mom:

     “Roasted red potatoes.”

Brother #4 to Mom:

    “Do I like those?”

Mom:

    “Yes.”

Brother #2 to Brother #4:

    “What’d she say.”

Brother #4 to Brother #2:

    “Potatoes I like.”

Brother #2 to Mom:

    “Do I like those kind too Mom?”

Mom to Brother #2:

     “Yes, you like those kind.”

Brother #1 to Mom:

     “They’re not the kind I like are they mom?”

Mom to Brother #1:

     “I’m not sure you do like those kind Jake.”

Brother #1:

     “Oh Man.” (In that long drawn out “maaaaaaaaaaan” sort of way.)

Brother #3 to Brother #1 (without looking up)

    “What’s wrong?”

Brother #1 to Brother #3:

     “Mom’s making the kind of potatoes I don’t like for dinner.”

Brother #3 to Mom:

    “Do I like them mom.”

Mom (a little louder):

    “I DON’T KNOW IF YOU LIKE THEM BEN.  But those are the kind I’m making.”

Brother #4 to Mom:

    “Can’t you make French fries?”

Mom to Brother #4:

     “Yes, I COULD make French Fries, BUT I’m making roasted red potatoes!”

Brother #1 to Brother #4:

     “Huh?”

Brother #4 to Brother #1:

     “She won’t make us French Fries.”

Brother #1:

     “Oh man!”

Brother #2 to Mom (not looking up):

    “Can we have peaches?”

Mom to Brother #2:

    “Yes, if there are peaches you can have peaches.”

Brother #4 to Mom:

   “But I don’t like peaches.”

Mom to Brother #4:

    “Then you don’t have to HAVE peaches.”

Brother #3 to Mom:

    “Can’t we have mandarin oranges.”

Mom to Brother #3:

     “I DON’T CARE if you have mandarin oranges instead of peaches; it’s up to you.”

Brother #1 to Mom:

    “How about salad.  Are we having salad?”

—————————————————————————-

Husband to Mom:

    “Where you going?”

Mom to husband:

    “I’m going to watch TV in my room.”

Husband to Mom:

    “What’s for dinner?”

Mom to husband (Who is STILL looking down):

     “You’re kidding me, right?”

Brother #3 to Dad:

    “What’s wrong with Mom?”

Dad to Brother #3:

     “She’s a little edgy today.”

Brother #1 (without looking up):

     “What’d he say?”

Parenting Tip of the Day:

When they were little I started serving the boys spinach with ranch dressing.  It was “dark green lettuce” I told them.  Now they are very happy to “eat their spinach”.  (All except #4 who won’t eat ANYTHING other than meat and potatoes.)