Category Archives: Parenting

Lessons learned the hard way.

Any parent worth his/her salt does their best to teach their children right from wrong and how to handle every situation that they may come into contact with.

But there’s no way to cover every scenario. Some lessons will only be learned through mistakes and wrong choices made by the children.

Last Thursday, my nine year old son handed me a note from his teacher while I was on the phone. Why is it always when I’m on the phone? I set it aside. Annoyed that he was interrupting.

A little while later, I sat down to read the note. Here’s what it said:

“Dear Family,

Our class will be enjoying a Valentine’s Day Party on Friday, February 12….

As a special surprise, I am asking that you become your child’s Secret Valentine. Please write¬† a personal note to your child and send it in a sealed envelope back to school. You may have to put this envelope inside another envelope so your child’s curious little eyes don’t see it. :) I will present these letters to them while they are opening their other valentines from their classmates. Imagine the joy your child will feel when reading this secret valentine. Your loving words and encouragement go a long way. This will be a letter your child will treasure and keep for a long time…


Mrs. Fisher :)”

I looked at Noah.

“Did you read this?”


“Was it in an envelope?”


“How was it addressed?”

“To the parents of…”

“Was the envelope sealed?”


I was absolutely furious! This is the kind of thing that I would love to do for my child, and that this child in particular would be thrilled about. But because of his “curious little eyes” the opportunity was lost. My first instinct was to punish him.

I did tell him he would not be getting a valentine from me because the surprise had been ruined. I also told him that if he breathed a word of it to any of his classmates he would be punished for the rest of the school year. (I don’t think that will be an issue as he has experience keeping big time secrets that have to do with Christmas, Easter and the loss of teeth, if you get my drift.)

While I was contemplating what his punishment for this offense would be, it became clear I didn’t need to punish him.

He feels terrible. He cried and he cried. He knows he can’t undo it. He’s. so. sorry.

No punishment I would dole out would make him feel any worse.

We haven’t spoken of it again. When the party comes on Friday, he’ll be sad as his teacher starts passing out the valentines from the parents.

Until she gets to the last one which will be for him, from me.

He learned his lesson. The hard way.

He’ll also learn, or be reminded, that no matter what mistakes he makes, I still love him.

He’ll be thrilled with his surprise.

And I’m quite certain he’ll never open my mail again.

Diapers are my life.

I have four children. The oldest is 11 years, 5 months and 26 days old. My youngest is 2 1/2. For all but about six months of that 11 years, 5 months and 26 days, I’ve been changing diapers. Diapers are my life. This Baby Blues Cartoon could be about my life.

Even now, as I’m nearing what is likely the last few months of diaper duty for my youngest (and last) child, the hormones, dating, curfews, driving, car insurance rates and college tuitions for my first child are beginning to creep in slowly or loom in the not-too-distant future.

I’ve made it through the diapers. Lord, help me make it through the rest!

Stolen Moments

Although I describe myself as a stay-at-home mom, I substitute teach once in awhile. Several blog posts could be written about those adventures, but we’ll save that for another day.

Today, I subbed in the classroom next to my third grade son’s room. Our lunch hours overlapped and we took the opportunity to have lunch together. We sat at a couple student desks in my classroom, eating and talking about our day so far.

Just the two of us. No distractions.noah and me cropped for blog

When we finished we went down to the office and bought some special candy bars that were on sale there. Then back to the classroom to share this little secret treat (secret because the rest of the family wasn’t going to get one, hee-hee).

When it was time for him to go back to class and for me to start teaching again, we hugged and wished each other a good afternoon.

What we talked about wasn’t earth-shattering. In fact, just a few short hours later, I remember very little of our conversation. But I think both of us will remember our stolen moment, when it was:

just the two of us.  No distractions,

for a long time.

Marriage Math


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.

We go together

like rama lama lama ke ding a de dinga a dong…

Danny and Sandy may have made it famous in Grease, but it fits my husband and I so well.

After nearly 21 years together (oh my gosh, does that make me feel old) we’ve got a system. Especially when it comes to parenting.

There’s stuff I’m good at…potty training, birthday parties, picking out clothes that match…

There’s stuff he’s good at…installing car seats, cleaning up after them when they’re sick, teaching them how to swing a bat, …

We agree on discipline 99% of the time.

When one of us is about to strangle one or several of our children, the other is always. always. calm. There has never been one time when we both thought we would lose it.

When our world turned upside down 17 months, 1 week and 7 hours ago (but who’s counting) by him being laid off we began spending all day and all night together every day. He now works from home and I am a stay at home mom.

That kind of togetherness is usually reserved for retirement. A time in life when, if you’re lucky, you have some financial and other freedoms that allow you to get out and enjoy life together. It’s a different experience when you’re broke and still have four young children at home.

So how has all of this togetherness impacted us? You’ve heard the expression “familiarity breeds contempt?” I wouldn’t go that far. We still get along very well. We still love each other. We still have faith there are brighter days ahead.

But, a break would be nice. I don’t mean the kind of break Ross and Rachel took on Friends.

I just mean a little time away from each other.

We got that this week. Rather unexpectedly. He left yesterday at noon for Chicago and is on his way back now. I’m sure he enjoyed the drive–time for thinking, music, quiet, maybe prayer. I know I enjoyed yesterday! Our youngest went down for her nap just before he left and slept until after the other kids came home from school.

I had lunch, watched TV, listened to some music, played a couple video games, did some housework…for three hours yesterday it was all about ME ME ME ME ME!

Today was different. Well first, I overslept (hearing the alarm would be another thing he’s good at). But, I still managed to get three kids up and out the door in 15 minutes. They brushed their teeth and had breakfast. I’m not sure they put on clean underwear, though.

So they left. It was just Sarah and me. I was BORED BORED BORED! I played with Sarah, did some housework, watched Elmo in Grouchland…

I missed him!

So you’ve also heard, “absence makes the heart grow fonder?” Yup!

Hurry home, honey! 100_9655

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!

Stain or badge of honor: the choice is yours

Are you a parent? If you are then you have undoubtedly found unidentifiable smears, splotches and stains on your clothing. Often, it seems these blemishes don’t appear until you are about to walk into the boardroom for an important meeting or you’re walking out the door for a fancy evening out.

UGH! How embarrassing!

What will people think of you?

What kind of person walks around with stains on his or her clothes?

I’ll tell you what kind–

The kind who cuddle and hold their newborn baby to feed him a bottle and get spit up on afterwards.

The kind who patiently feed pureed carrots to their baby and catch it all when she sneezes with her mouth full.100_4696

The kind that hugs their little boy as the last thing they do before they leave for work even though he’s in the middle of eating pancakes with syrup on them.

The kind whose little girl stops finger painting long enough to run to them when they come in the door and they scoop her up and shower her with kisses before taking off their “good clothes.”

Sure it’d be nice to be able to do all those things and still have clean clothes, but it’s not gonna happen! So grab your Tide-to-Go and wear those badges of honor with pride!