What’s going on over there?

I was at at church on a Wednesday evening, sitting in my ladies’ Bible study group. On the other side of the wall, the kids were playing games. We could hear them laughing and and jumping, and occasionally yelling.

We made a few little jokes about how it sounded like fun over there. When we heard something (or someone) hitting the shared wall, I mentioned that I hoped one of the kids didn’t come crashing through like the Kool Aid Man.

At one point, my group was sitting in silent prayer, and I could clearly hear a teacher’s voice next door, calling out the names of my twins.

Specifically yelling their names. 

Little Boy and Little Girl!

LITTLE BOY AND LITTLE GIRL!

LITTLE BOY AND LITTLE GIRL!

LITTLE BOY AND LITTLE GIRL!

Like, he seriously said just their two names four times. Including the “and,” that’s seven syllables.

I was thinking, “My kids are in some serious trouble.”

But the good thing was, since we are new to the church none of the ladies in my study knew that it was MY kids getting called out.

So there’s that…

Oh, and when I asked the twins about it later, they insisted that they were NOT in fact in trouble. On no. The games teacher was just “cheering them on” in a race.

Well… maybe…

A Disappointing Letter

We are still receiving Christmas cards, although it is late January.

Not that I’m complaining; I love Christmas cards! I also have a fun way of preserving cards every year. (Click here if you’re interested in that craft idea.) So, the more cards, the better, in general.

This particular Christmas card was forwarded from our old address in Alaska:

Little Girl was super excited to see this fancy envelope in the pile of mail.

“Is that from Hogwarts?!” she exclaimed.

Aw. I hated to tell her that it wasn’t. After all, she’s turning eleven this year. (And so is her twin brother, actually.) If there were such a place as Hogwarts, this would be the year for the letter.

I’m afraid this is going to be a disappointing year for Little Girl.

Thanks for ruining my kids’ eleventh birthday year, J.K. Rowling….

Easy Chicken

I haven’t posted any recipes on my blog for quite a while, so let’s start the new year with one, shall we?

I am not what you’d call a “foodie”. My favorite recipes are those with very few ingredients, and I tend to prefer it if some of those ingredients are canned or premixed things. I like a recipe with very few instructions as well, and one that doesn’t use many dishes. A recipe with “Easy” in the title is very good.

Actually, my VERY favorite recipe would be Not Cooking. But that’s usually not an option. Sigh.

Anyways, here’s a chicken recipe I found on the internet:

https://bakeatmidnite.com/3-ingredient-italian-chicken/

Now, that is an easy recipe!

But it still uses some words I don’t like, such as “preheat,” “small bowl,” and “dredge.” (Translation: Plan ahead, use an unnecessary extra dish, and spend more time touching raw chicken that you need to.)

Here’s what I did instead:

Take five or so frozen chicken breast tenderloins and stick them in the crock pot. Throw on top of them: some brown sugar and the contents of an envelope of Italian dressing mix.

Run the crockpot on “low” for four hours. (Or longer, if you forget about it.)

DONE!

Isn’t that lovely? I served this with frozen broccoli and boxed noodles (Pasta Roni “Angel Hair With Herbs” flavor).

Almost as easy as Not Cooking, but not quite.

A Post-Christmas Road Trip

This Christmas we enjoyed being closer to family, just as we did over Thanksgiving weekend.  I enjoyed having all of my kids together for the holiday. We had fun.

Our two college-aged daughters came to stay for Christmas here in Georgia, and then we planned to all go to visit my parents and in-laws in Alabama over New Year’s weekend.

My husband and I disagreed about the post-Christmas road trip. I wanted to leave on Friday afternoon after he’d gotten off work, so we could arrive at my mother’s house late that evening. He wanted to get up early Saturday morning and make the trip in daylight.

(I do not care for any plan that involves the words “get up early.”)

Since we had to take two cars anyways, as our daughter had driven her car from college and we’d need the minivan for ourselves. we decided to split the trip.

I left Friday afternoon with the three older girls, and he planned to leave Saturday morning with the twins.

This seemed like a win-win situation to me. I would get to take a road trip with the teens listening to fun music and having girl talk. I’d be The Late-Night Cool Mom.

He’d rather go in the morning? Fine. He’d have to do the getting up early and forcing the kids into the car thing. He’d have to listen to the twins complain and/or fight the whole trip.

But it turned out my husband had a plan to avoid all that….

On Saturday morning I was still in bed at my mother’s house when my husband arrived with the twins. I couldn’t believe he’d gotten there so quickly!

I woke up to see Little Boy’s face inches from mine. He looked quite pleased with himself.

“Oh, hi,” I said. “You must have gotten up early this morning!”

Grinning, he shook his head.

“What?” I said, confused. “You didn’t get up early this morning?”

He grinned even more widely. “Nope!”

“What?” I said again.

His grin was getting maniacal. “I didn’t get up this morning at all!” he crowed.

I groaned. It was too early for riddles. “You mean you’re still asleep?”

He howled with laughter. “Nope!” he said again.

I pulled the covers over my head, finished with the conversation. Little Boy chortled to himself and went to unpack his stuff.

When my husband came in, he was looking quite pleased with himself as well. I was out of bed by then, and I commented on what great time he had made on the road trip.

“You must have gotten up early!” I said. “Did you have any trouble on the drive?”

“Nope!” he said. “I had a plan.”

Grinning in much the same manner as his son, my husband revealed all.

DAD’S ROAD TRIP PLAN:

  1. Take the twins to the movies.
  2. Give them all the sugary snacks they want.
  3. Tell them they can stay up all night.
  4. Go to bed and let them roam free in the house.
  5. Wake up early and load them into the van.
  6. Have a peaceful drive while they sleep the whole time.

I was so shocked by this plan, I think my jaw hit the floor. I can certainly see why this  was not revealed to me in advance. I would NOT have approved it.

The twins, apparently quite refreshed by their road-trip naps, danced in and out of the room, wearing, “Dad let us stay up all night!!” expressions of glee.

I guess there’s a new cool parent in town.

In Her Sibling’s Eyes

Boo, my fifteen-year-old daughter, told me about a boy at her school who keeps awkwardly showing up near her and telling her she looks beautiful. She finds this embarrassing, apparently.

I was talking about this over the phone one day, because (a) it’s kind of funny and (b) I’m rather proud to have a daughter who is so pretty that awkward boys are compelled to comment. (No one EVER said anything of this nature to me in high school. Or at any other time, actually.)

Anyways, Little Girl, my ten-year-old, heard this conversation and said incredulously, “Wait. Someone thinks Boo is pretty?!”

I said, “Yes, of course. Don’t you think your sister is pretty?”

“NO!” she said, quite contemptuously. “She’s MEAN.”

Well. There’s a younger sister’s perspective, I suppose.

That was a good Thanksgiving

Over the weekend we drove to Alabama to have Thanksgiving with our extended family. This is the first time in twelve years we have been able to do that, so I was very excited.

Growing up, we always had Thanksgiving dinner at my grandmother’s house with lots of people in attendance. Having Thanksgiving with just my immediate family felt kind of too small, like we were eating in exile.

Here’s some pictures of a few of our “exiled” Thanksgiving dinners over the past several years. Each one of these is in a different house, by the way.

Besides the lack of grandparents or cousins, do you know what else all these Thanksgiving pictures have in common?

Every bit of food you see on the table was cooked BY ME (mom) ALONE.

And all the dishes you see on the table were washed BY ME (mom) ALONE.

Thanksgiving, for the past twelve years, has basically been pulled off BY ME (mom) ALONE.

This does not make for a fun holiday for ME (mom).

It’s pretty much been just a four-hour cooking marathon, followed by a fifteen-minute meal, followed by a hour-long cleaning session.

So I was THRILLED to drive thirteen hours round-trip in order to have someone else be responsible for all of that. Oh, and to see my family too.

We ate at my sister-in-law’s. I brought a pie and sat back to watch her work. It was great!

Happy Thanksgiving, folks!

Post-Halloween Fun

In the past, our family has had an after-Halloween tradition of smashing the pumpkin. I did write about this once before when we lived in Hawaii, if you’re interested; we’ve been doing this for a while.

Here’s a picture from ten years ago, when we lived in Maryland:

2008 might have been the most fun Pumpkin Smash Day ever. We had half the neighborhood outside gleefully destroying our jack-o-lanterns. There’s nothing like wanton destruction to get kids excited. Ah, memories!

The tradition kind of had to go on hold while we lived in Alaska; for the past three years we haven’t been able to smash the pumpkin at all.

Because it was frozen solid. I’m not exaggerating.

Anyways, this year we were able to resurrect Pumpkin Smash Day, although we had the small complication of having multicolored “pumpkins” that I’d bought to look pretty on the porch.

It turns out that the white and green ones aren’t actually pumpkins, and aren’t really meant to be carved. The white one was particularly hard to cut into; those square eyes you see in the picture were only made possible with power tools.

So when the time came for smashing, that white one was tough.

I don’t know if you can see the photo progression here, but that sucker actually BOUNCED!

Still we did eventually break it up, and Little Boy particularly enjoyed himself.

Ah, memories!

 

This is Halloween

This year for Halloween, we were happy to be able to trick or treat outdoors again, after moving to Georgia this summer.

(For the past three years we’ve lived in North Pole, Alaska, in case you didn’t know. Our first year there we attempted outdoor trick-or-treating, braving the snowdrifts and making it around one block before the kids were too cold to care about candy anymore. Which is pretty darn cold! After that we went to indoor Halloween events.)

Also this year I was particularly happy that to be getting by with minimal financial investment in costumes for the twins, who are now ten.

Little Girl wanted to make her own costume, and Little Boy wanted to wear last year’s costume again. I thought they looked quite nice, and posted their picture on facebook.

Of course, my brother had to make a snarky comment about the reusing of the Poop Emoji costume.

I suppose some heckling is to be expected from a younger brother.

He’s just jealous….

Helping With Homework

Every day after school I have to force the twins to do their homework.

It’s like a punishment. FOR ME.

You’d think that we’d have this down by now, as the twins are in fifth grade, but we’ve been having quite a bit of trouble with the homework routine this year.

For one thing, the homework is naturally harder in fifth grade, of course. For another thing, the school in Alaska had a no-homework policy for the last couple of years.

I know, right? What?!?!

They sent home a note that said studies had proven homework wasn’t necessary for academic success, and therefore the teachers had decided on instituting a no-homework policy for my kids’ grade.

What were these studies? Is this actually true? Would my kids be totally fine academically without doing homework? I DIDN’T CARE. The school had granted me a reprieve, and I wasn’t going to knock it!

Can I get an Amen here?

But this year, I am paying the price. Homework is back. WITH A VENGEANCE.

Now I am required to spend over an hour every afternoon SEPARATELY with EACH twin supervising homework time.

Because trying to have them do it at the same time was like refereeing a cage fighting match… with pencils. So, separately it is!

But that does double the amount of (already too much) time spent here.

And I’m not saying that their teachers are assigning an excessive amount or anything. It’s not the teachers’ fault. If my kids would stop dragging everything out then the daily torture would end much more quickly.

Here’s the illustrated version:

There. Now do you see?

Homework may or may not be beneficial to kids’ academic success. I haven’t researched the studies on that.

But it is definitely NOT beneficial for Mommy.

It finally got a little cold in Georgia

I just put on the heat for the first time this year yesterday.

When I did I smelled that weird burned smell that it makes when you first turn on the heater after it has been off all summer.

Do you know that smell? I recognized it immediately, actually. I don’t know if it’s only in the South that it happens, but I remember it from my childhood on.

But yesterday was the first time in about ten years I have smelled that, I realized.

The last time I smelled it was in Maryland in fall of 2008; after that we spent six years in Hawaii (where we never turned the heat on) and three years in Alaska (where we never turned the heat off.)

You know… military life can be really weird.