Parenting Tales, Uncategorized

Real Mom Thoughts During a Blizzard

Day 3 is on. Yes, my friends, this is our third full day of being snowed in and I’m proud to say that I’m still sane. Maybe I’m weird or maybe I’m normal, but here are some actual real streams of consciousness that I have during these events. If you know me in real life, you know I’m not some fakey perfect person. I just told someone recently that my parenting style is definitely not always Mary Poppins, it’s more like Bernie Mac sometimes! Truth.

Anyway, read on if you wish. Other fellow Moms can hopefully relate!

Pre-Blizzard-the morning of:

7 Am: I’ve got this. Groceries? Already bought beforehand. We shouldn’t need anything for a good couple of days. We are set. I am not one of those people who will run out at the last minute today and buy 10,000 things to “stock up.” That is ridiculous.

8 AM: Okay, I’ve just watched something on the news about having your gas tank filled up before a big storm. Do I go or not? Hmmm…the tank was getting pretty low. I’ll just run out and fill it, that way it’s all set for after the storm.

8:05: Oh crap. I just checked our snow boot stash and one child is minus a decent pair. Guess I’ll look for some while I’m out—if there’s any left, that is.

9:30: (at the store) Whew! Snow boots are bought, even in the size we needed. Sweet! Let me look for something “new” for the kids to do while we’re at home. What about a puzzle? A big one that’ll take hours to put together? Yeah, that’s the ticket.

9:35: What the world am I thinking? Do I really want some ginormous 1,000 piece puzzle with cats or some such all taking over my kitchen table? No, I do not.  The puzzle is not happening. Again, WTH was I thinking?

3 PM: Okay, got the house in order, though I know it won’t stay that way long. Got myself a little quiet time before the crew comes home. I’m ready for this. Actually, I’m getting pretty excited about the storm too!

6 PM: Flakes are falling steadily now. It’s nice to be tucked in for probably the weekend. There are lots of projects I can tackle while we’re snowed in. This will be kinda fun.

8 PM: Okay, I just now remembered to check our fuel oil gauge in the basement. It is down to like 1/8 tank. This makes me a little nervous. Can one cold and windy weekend suck up that much oil? Can it? Oh Lord…I hope not…too late to do anything about it now!! Not even going to mention it to the man.

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SATURDAY-THE DAY OF

8 AM: Ooohh….so pretty! Can’t believe how much snow we’ve gotten already. These kids are SO excited.

9 AM: Just sent the kids (& husband) outside after a big ole breakfast. Maybe I’ll go out too after cleaning up some things.

9:05 AM: Eh, maybe not. This is sort of nice. I’ll watch them shovel from the window.

9:15 AM: Someone’s back in already and tracking snow all up in here. Glad I decided to stay in. Someone has to deal with all the gear.

1 PM: Just got lunch cleaned up and time to throw in a movie. Oh sheesh. These people are already fighting about what they do or don’t want to watch and it’s taking forever just to pick one thing out.  Lord have mercy. Keep it together Rachel.

3 PM: Okay, they’re headed back out again. It is super windy, still snowing hard, and COLD! I am going to be a wimp and stay in. That’s ok, right?

3:05 PM: But maybe I’ll feel guilty that I’m not a “cool Mom” who loves to play in a blizzard with her kids.

3:20 PM: Never mind. Who cares? I don’t. Besides, here comes a kid all frosted up like a popsicle. Time to deal with 5 million wet gloves, snow pants, and socks again. Thank God the electric has held out so I can run the dryer!!

5 PM: Still snowing hard. I go back and forth between wanting to watch the news for updates and flipping it off because it’s repetitious and gets on my nerves. Do I need this talking head to tell me that there are a couple feet of snow out? Nope.

5:15 PM: These reporters do keep mentioning something about checking outside pipes so they aren’t blocked and carbon monoxide doesn’t build up. Maybe we should do that.

6 PM: My husband rocks. He just cooked up the best batch of soup and we ate like crazy. This having him around so much is nice.

8 PM: Okay, he’s crunching an apple and it makes me want to throttle him. Not a fan of mouth noises. I’m going to leave the room so I don’t have to listen to it!

9 PM: Kids are almost ready for bed. Wait, how many things did I accomplish that I actually planned to do? Ah, who cares…looks like we’re home for another day or so anyhow.

10 PM: Oh crap. We forgot to check the carbon monoxide pipe thing. Do I want to bundle up now, go outside, and double check this? Do I? Nah…feeling tired…

The day after the Blizzard:

8 AM: We’re all alive. Guess we didn’t die in our sleep. Thank you Lord.

9 AM: Just had another fabulous meal. I better go outside and catch some exercise so I don’t gain like a thousand pounds while we’re home like this.

9:05 AM: In the meantime, I’ll embrace being in my nice, comfy, stretchy pants.

11 AM: Oh wait. I just realized my kids are wearing the same thermal pj’s they wore yesterday. They call it their “base layer.” Never mind. Who cares besides me? Not like anyone else is going to see us today. I can wash them tomorrow.

1 PM: Okay, I’m thinking they’re going to cancel school tomorrow. Do I want that? Do I want another day at home? The house is a mess….trying not to let it bug me. Embrace the mess. Embrace the mess. That’s what an in-the-moment Mom would do, right?

3 PM: Got the robo-call from the school district. Looks like we’re home for another day or two. That’s okay. If we had school Monday there were a LOT of things on my plate. Not sure I feel like that much adulting post-blizzard. Maybe it’s better this way…

 

 

 

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

Dear Winter, I’m Breaking Up With You

Saturday was a teaser. A beautiful almost 60 degrees and a good deal of sunshine.

I could be comfortably outside minus a heavy coat and felt an extra pep in my step. Oh the possibilities of spring! I can’t wait to plant a garden! Paint my kitchen! Clean out the garage!

Then the next day came, bringing with it that familiar icy chill in the air and snowflakes falling once again overnight.

I’m not even gonna ask you if you’re fed up with winter. I KNOW you are, unless you’re some arctic-loving freak—oops, I mean person.

I have had enough (actually, I had had enough by early February) and here are my personal signs that it has been a heck of a long winter:

1. Kids are starting to get disappointed when it’s a snow day. For real? Yep. They’ve had enough too.

2. Every activity that me, my kids, or my family is involved in has been cancelled or postponed at least twice. Every plan on the calendar I now automatically think of as tentative.

3. Never thought I’d be jealous of someone living in Alaska in the winter, or of the outside event spectators at the Winter Olympics. Now I can say I have.

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4. If I see another Facebook post with a picture of a ruler stuck in the snow I’m going to whack that person upside the head with it. Same goes for the car thermometer pics.

5. My kids’ snow pants are no longer in good enough shape to be a hand-me-down. The snow boots aren’t too great either.

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I finally broke down and bought Andrew a real, not-from-a-thrift-store pair of new boots because I was tired of duct-taping his old pair.

6. Not only do we have a “Normal” school day routine, but a “Snow Day” routine and a “Two Hour Delay” routine down pat. A lot of the snow days I had 2 of my nieces as well. (Yes, if you are counting that is 7 children here and yes I’m still sane. Sorta.) It’s kind of sad when they think a Snow Day at Aunt Rachel’s is just the norm.

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7. Our family has gotten more than their money’s worth out of Netflix. Sadly, we have now seen every single episode produced from several different series.

8. Our van went for several weeks on the same tank of gas. This happened a few times. My excitement over not spending as much on gas is overpowered by the realization of how much we are paying for heating fuel.

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9. I have now heard of the terms Polar Vortex and Thundersnow and can tell you what they mean. My kids are on a first-name basis with all the weathermen and weather girls.

10. I am starting to think we can easily combine graduation parties with 4th of July picnics. You know, a Two for One deal.

Okay, I’ll stop there as I’m sure you are positively sick of reading about people who are sick of winter. I’m sure you have your own list on the topic too.

Let’s focus on Spring and Summer, shall we?

This sign says it all…

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Craft/DIY Ideas, Parenting Tales

A Sweet Snow Day Activity

Early this morning at around 5 am, I got “the call.” No, it wasn’t Publisher’s Clearinghouse telling me I won a million dollars, or anything life-changing.

Two hours later I got “the second call.” Again, not life-changing, but definitely news that changed my whole plans for the day.

Yep–school was called on a two hour delay, then the powers that be declared it a Snow Day.

My kids were ecstatic. Immediately they had grand plans for our day. It’ll be Pajama Day! We can watch movies! We can go sledding and build snowmen! Play games! And the list goes on and on…..

Since I know many others of you are in the same boat right now, here’s a cool activity we did over the Thanksgiving holiday, but I thought would be even more appropriate on a Snow Day. You know, when the kids tire of all their grand plans and you’re looking for something to keep them busy.

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Got some mini-marshmallows hanging around? Got some toothpicks? Well, then that’s all you need to do this activity.

I told my kids we were going to have a challenge–Who can build the coolest creative structure using ONLY marshmallows and toothpicks?

Each was given a paper plate and approximately the same number of mini-marshmallows (I threw a couple of large ones in as well) and toothpicks.

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They immediately set to work.

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My oldest boy isn’t quite as into building as the other boys, but he was game.

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Notice that my girl roped Daddy into helping her almost right away.

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Busted! Someone thought they’d have a little sample while they’re at it.

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The results were varying and there really were no winners. However, my crew really enjoyed doing this and have asked when we’ll do it again. If and when I do this again, maybe I would assign a certain type of structure to make. For you homeschooling moms, maybe you could learn about snowflakes and have the kids make a geometric snowflake? The teacher in me thinks that would be a great lesson and hands-on activity.

I served hot chocolate when they were wrapping things up–a perfect treat to go with!

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Here’s a cute little way to make hot chocolate, from my blog archives.

Also, if you ever want to make your own marshmallows, here’s a link from one of my very first posts as a blogger.

Happy Snow Days to all!

Recipes

Homemade Marshmallows

For those of you who are also looking out their window at a beautiful white, snow covered world, you may enjoy trying this recipe. Being out in the snow, or simply being outside on a cold winter’s day begs for a mug of hot chocolate to warm me up. And, of course, you’ve gotta have some marshmallows to top it off! Last winter I discovered this recipe for homemade marshmallows that was just lovely. My husband, bless his heart, scoffed a bit at the idea of making marshmallows. Can’t you just buy a bag for like $1? Why yes, I can, but I have just enough inner Martha in me to want to try making my own. They were wonderful! Little pillows of white fluffy goodness. This recipe may sound intimidating, but I promise, it’s easy! I will also warn you that it makes quite a bit. So, if you have a bit of Martha-ishness in you as well and want to give them a whirl, here’s the recipe: (courtesy of foodnetwork.com)

3 packages unflavored gelatin

1 cup ice cold water, divided

12 oz. granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups

1 cup light corn syrup

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

Nonstick spray

Directions:

Place the gelatin in a bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 of the water. Have whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Place over med-high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3-4 min. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and allow to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, which takes 7-8 minutes. Remove immediately from heat once it reaches this temp.

Turn the mixer on low and slowly pour sugar syrup down the side of mixer bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once all syrup is added, increase mixer speed to high. Continue to whip until mixture is very thick, white, and lukewarm. This will take @12-15 minutes! Add vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While this is all whipping, prepare your pans as follows.

For regular marshmallows, combine 10X sugar ans cornstarch in a little bowl. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 pan. Add sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat bottom and sides of pan. Pour extra mixture back into the bowl to use later.

When ready, pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan, using a greased spatula. Dust the top with 10x mixture. Reserve rest for later. Allow marshmallows to sit uncovered for at LEAST 4 hours, or you can leave it out overnight. Turn marshmallows onto a cutting board and cut into squares with a pizza cutter that has been dusted with the 10x mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

For extra pizazz:

*You can use cookie cutters to make them into shapes (they are fairly thick, so I would use one that does not have a lot of small details).

*I have also used leftover candy canes, crushed them, and rolled one side of the marshmallow into them.

*Instead of making large marshmallows, pour warm mixture into a piping bag, pipe out onto cookie sheets covered with parchment paper in strips. Allow the strips to sit out at least 4 hours, then cut into mini marshmallows with your pizza cutter.

*Put some marshmallows in a pretty treat bag or cookie tin, top with ribbon, and give as a little fun gift.

Parenting Tales

Snow Day!

Snow Day! When you hear those words, are you excited?Giddy as a kid? Or do you audibly (or not) moan and groan? I have to admit, I am a combination of all of the above. Granted, the snow is really beautiful, and in one way it’s awfully nice to have all obligations cancelled out for the day and evening. On the other hand, if you’re at the same stage of life as myself, I am now used to having at least a couple of children in school. In fact, this year Ihave all 3 of my oldest in school ALL day.  My littlest two are just in preschool two mornings a week. Tobe honest, I have gotten to where I really, REALLY enjoy having a littl e break from my kids. My oldest is 9 1/2, 10 this summer. Since he’s been born, I hadn’t had any regularly scheduled time to myself. This fall was the first time that I had any kind of “break” on a regular basis. If you’re not to that point in life yet, I can tell you that it’s really wonderful! You learn to enjoy and savor that window of time like crazy. At one point in my life, when my twins were babies, I NEVER thought I would reach that stage. I felt like we were always going to be in the baby stage.  Well, unless you keep constantly having babies, you do get there eventually. I can say with complete honesty that I savor that time to myself, yet enjoy my little ones once we’re back together again. When my big guys step off the bus, I can honestly tell them that I’ve missed them and enjoy hearing about their day.

So, back to my point. Yes, I’m a little excited when I hear that it’s a snow day. We get to stay home (which, when your kids get older, seems to be less and less!) and have some downtime together. On the other hand, my kids tend to be constantly underfoot on those days. We have 7 bodies in a very modest-sized house. I may try to clean an area, but guaranteed minutes later my efforts will seem fruitless. I get irritated and short-tempered. Then I feel guilty for being that way. After all, I should just be glad to have extra QT with my main squeezes. At these moments I have to take a deep breath (well, maybe a couple of them) and remind myself how blessed I really am just to have all these little people in my life. Enjoy them, not just my short times away from them. I truly admire all of the homeschool moms out there. Though others may describe me as “patient” and “cool and calm,” I really don’t know if I would have what it takes to have them all home with me all the time. Fortunately for us, we live in a really wonderful school district with fabulous teachers, many of whom are Christians. For now, I feel completely comfortable sending my gang to public school. Whether or not that will change in the future, who knows? Right now I know that I need to enjoy the moments that I DO have with my kiddos. Forget about my to-do lists, attempting to keep a perfect house, etc.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to go out and play in the snow with my kids.