Category Archives: Magical Memories

Marriage Math

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I grew up reading The Family Circus in the Sunday paper. It was one of the few comic strips I could relate to as a kid. Now that I’m all grown up, I don’t read the comics much anymore. I’m more interested in the coupons and grocery circulars these days.

For whatever reason, on June 3, 2007, I picked up the comics and saw this. It was very fitting. I was just one month away from delivering our fourth child. I’ve mentioned before that she was a surprise. Truth is, she was a shocker! Let me be clear–she wasn’t a mistake or an accident–just a big surprise. One we hadn’t fully wrapped our heads around by the time I was eight months pregnant.

But this spoke to me. It has been on my refrigerator ever since. It’s one of the few things I put back on the new fridge after the remodel.

I’m reminded every time I see it.

I’m reminded of how this blissful chaos came to be. My husband and I fell in love.

I’m reminded that this chaos is short-lived. They will grow up (are growing up) so fast. They will move out, hopefully marry and give us lots of grandchildren.

And when they do, we will once again be two.

I’m reminded to cherish every moment of this chaos and to nurture the relationship that started it all so it will still be alive and well when the house is quiet once more.

Birthday Dinner

Today is my birthday. We have a tradition in our family. The birthday girl/boy gets to pick what we have for dinner—whatever they want.

Hence, my husband dutifully asked me last night what I wanted for my special meal.

That’s a difficult question for me.

  1. I want something I love and don’t get very often.
  2. But more importantly, I don’t want to have to cook it!

Up until a couple years ago, my mom would make the one meal that she always made when I was growing up that I don’t seem to be able to do justice—pounded steak and fried potatoes. But she’s just not up to cooking a big meal for all of us anymore. I am getting better at fixing it, but my husband wouldn’t have the slightest idea how to make it.

This is my birthday dinner, so while pounded steak and fried potatoes fulfill point number one, they don’t fulfill point number two.

Have to pick something else.

Thin Pancakes.

My granny, and then my mom used to make these for me when I was little. You call them crepes. Served one at a time, slathered with real butter and white sugar. Rolled up and cut into bite sized pieces.

A little heaven on earth!

Because they are very quick to cook, and you can only really make one at a time, it’s almost impossible to fix these for yourself.

It was necessary that my husband learn to make these. If we had signed a pre-nup, that point would have been a line item in the document as justifiable grounds for divorce if he didn’t.

So, several years ago, I asked my mom for the recipe.

Before I share that, I have to tell you that she used to complain about her mother’s “recipes.” Apparently, my granny made THE best chocolate chip cookies ever. When my mom asked for the recipe, she replied, “I just follow the directions on the package, but I change it a little.”

She would also use “handfuls” as a measurement. According to my mom, her mother had the smallest hands on the planet.

You can see how this form of recipe recording would be troublesome to one who was trying to duplicate a much loved family favorite.

And now I give you my mother’s recipe for Thin Pancakes. And I quote:

“About 4 eggs—blended a little bit. About a cup of flour. Shake a little salt in there. Blend—make sure it’s mixed together. Put milk in until it looks about right. Blend. Need a pan that slopes and that is really hot. A little Crisco in the pan between medium high and high.”

Thanks for the recipe, Mom! And thanks for cooking, Michael!

My birthday dinner was delicious!

Silent Saturday

Yup, there it is, more alliteration.

I’ve heard some bloggers do Wordless Wednesday–where all they post are pictures. I’ve never been one to follow the crowd so I’m going with Silent Saturday. Maybe it’s what my head needs after the cacophony of Saturdays when all the kids are here, and often, some of their friends too.

With that, I will stop writing and leave you with this:

Sarah: The. Best. Surprise. Ever.

Sarah: The. Best. Surprise. Ever.

Friday Funnies

I’m dedicating Fridays to things that make me laugh. Might be a joke or a story of something that happened to me, but more than likely, it will be something one of my kids did or said. Afterall, they make me laugh out loud every single day. I hope they bring a smile to your face.

So here’s the first edition–

100_2017When Leah was being potty trained (3 yrs old), she was wearing only undies on her bottom half–you know for easier and quicker access when she “got the feeling.”

She was playing on the floor one day and declared, “I have a hole in my underwear.” To that, I replied, “You can’t possibly have a hole in your underwear, they’re brand new. Let me see!”

Sure enough, the seam had ripped. Surprised, I said, “You do have a hole in your underwear, I wonder how that happened.”

Her reply was swift.

“I think I passed gas.”

So many books, so little time.

Nature vs. nurture. It’s the age old question when it comes to parenting. Our children love to read. Personally, I think they were born with an affinity for books–nature. But, My husband and I have encouraged that affinity at every turn–nurture.

100_4612We began reading to our children when they were just weeks old.

Once our oldest son was crawling, he would crawl to the bookshelf before he would crawl to the toys.

I remember our oldest daughter sitting on the floor with a book when she was 3. She started crying. When I asked her why, she said, “I don’t know what the words say.” Another time, I remember her looking at the title of the book and declaring the letters were all mixed up. (She had realized for the first time that they weren’t in ABC order like the song.)

Our youngest son, was a little harder to motivate. Once he got in school, he was expected to read books that challenged him. The trouble was, in order to challenge his reading ability, the content was too mature. He was in first grade. He still wanted pictures and large-print. Eventually, he found some books he loved and it was like flipping a switch.

Our youngest, now 2, amazed us months ago with her first sentence, “I’ll read!”

Our nightly routine includes family story time before bedtime.reading together cropped for blog

If you can’t read, someone will read to you.

If you’re learning to read, you’ll read to someone.

If you are an established reader, you’ll read to yourself.

Occasionally, we’ll read a book together.

100_1435While many parents struggle to get their kids to read, we often have to tell them, “Put the book down and go outside.” or “No, you can’t read just one more page–it’s time for bed.” A fact we’re really not complaining about.

One of our fondest Christmas traditions is sitting in front of the tree on Christmas Eve reading The Night Before Christmas. I used to read it. Now, I mostly listen.100_2210

We have more than 1,000 books in our collection of children’s books–including little board books to classic novels and everything in between. So it seems fitting that we share our love of books with others. Thus, a new category begins on My Chaotic Bliss: “Books We Love.” Future posts will highlight some of our favorite authors and titles.

We hope you’ll find something here to share with your children and that you’ll suggest your favorites to us.

Let the games begin!

As our children settle into their sleeping bags on the living room floor tonight for a camp out–a frequent Friday night occurrence–we bring to a close a full week of nightly family game times.

We didn’t do this on purpose, no one dared us to, it just sort of evolved and took on a life of its own. It all started last Saturday night when we were all laying on the floor together. My husband started copying our six year old, Leah and we all laughed.

Not one to be outdone by her older sister, Sarah (2) wanted us to follow her. She had us flipping from our backs to our fronts, spinning circles on our butts on the floor, dancing conga-style through the house. Up-down-up-down. Over and over and over. We giggled and giggled. If the neighbors were watching through the windows, they probably thought we were nuts!

After we all settled down and relaxed, our 9 year old, Noah, asked me if we could do something together the next night. Sure!

So, the next night we played a game together. I think it was Jenga Max. It was our first time to play since Noah had just gotten it that day for his birthday. I don’t like to brag, but we totally mastered the game first time out! We rock!

When that game was over, our oldest son, 11 year old Zachary, looked at me and said with a smile, “That’s two nights in a row.” I said, what do you mean? He replied, “Two nights in a row that the whole family did something together.”

And so it went, an impromptu game of follow the leader led to a week of game play including charades, Sorry Sliders, Wii games/Wii fit and more.

I feel it important to mention here that we do eat dinner together as a family EVERY night. And 6 of seven nights are at the dining room table. We talk about the day, say nice things about each other, laugh and all too often, get silly. So it’s not as though we don’t have family time nightly. But clearly, game time was different, special. Our children recognized it as such and it meant enough to them that they commented on it. (That’s a big deal, especially from the boys.)

So what used to be Family Game Night–where we would try to cram as many games as possible into one evening every few months, has evolved into Family Game Time–a nightly event lasting 15 minutes to a couple hours.

The lesson to be learned here, I think, is that everything doesn’t have to be an EVENT to be meaningful and fun. Some nights we have homework, activities, etc., so we only have time for a quick game. Other nights, like tonight, we have a couple hours.

Either way, we connect in a fun way as a family.

Let the games continue!

Lessons I Learned While Coaching Robotics

My son and his partner watch their robot maneuver the field.

My son and his partner watch their robot maneuver the field.

I just wrapped up my second season as coach of our school’s FIRST Lego League Robotics team. I won’t go into details here about what this program is. If you’re interested, look here. I’ll just say it’s a phenomenal program that teaches children 9-14 about science, technology, engineering, public speaking, teamwork, research skills and more.

That’s not what this post is about. This post is about what it and the kids taught me. Continue reading

Brotherly Love

I wish I had a better memory. I wish I had taken more time over the last 11 years to journal all of the wild, wacky and wonderful things that my kids have said and done so I could remember them all forever. But alas, I don’t have a great memory and I didn’t have time, especially early on, to write it all down.

That’s why I cherish the moments I do remember with complete clarity so much more. They must be very meaningful for me to be able to recall them so clearly, right?

One such memory is that of a 3 year old Zachary crying inconsolably about something. We were sitting on the end of the couch and I was trying so hard to calm him down, but to no avail. Then along came Noah. He was just 10 months old. Not walking yet. He got one of Zachary’s toys, crawled over to the couch and reached up his little hand to give the toy to his big brother. That was all it took. Zachary stopped crying.

I recognized in that moment that they had a bond that only they would share. An ability to communicate with one another that only they understood. The beginnings of a friendship that will outlast every other relationship in their lives, for the rest of their lives. As an only child myself, I still can only wonder at this beautiful brotherly love.

Brotherly Love

There have been glimpses, reminders of this love, over the years…

When Noah was learning to talk and not even Michael and I could understand him, Zachary knew what he was saying and would translate it for us.

When Zachary learned to read, he spent countless hours reading to Noah.

When Noah started school, Zachary looked out for him, like any big brother would.

Now Zachary is 11 and Noah is 8 1/2. Summer vacation 2009 just ended. A summer in which they seemed to bicker from son up to son down (that’s not a typo, by the way) and would then plead with me to let them sleep in the same bed night after night. A summer when it became very clear that Noah thinks Zachary hung the moon.

Now school has started and the bickering has lessened since they have more time apart. This week, I was reminded again of this brotherly love my boys share when Noah was chosen as the star student of the week and had to answer the question, “Who is a person you admire?” His answer, “My brother, Zachary.”

I know. The teen years lie ahead. They’ll likely bloody each other’s noses once or twice before that’s over, I suppose, but I know that the foundation is there for them to be more than brothers as they grow up, get married and start their own families. They will be friends. They will have each other’s backs. They will love each other. Forever.