Tuesday, January 28, 2014

IN MY LIFE, I LOVE YOU MORE

What makes someone become so imprinted on your heart, that no matter the time or distance, they remain there to stay?  It could be any of the million little moments of silly, uninhibited laughter that you shared. Or the big moments when, just as you thought you'd fall, their gentle, yet steady hands caught you in midair. Perhaps it was how they viewed you through their eyes that matched the admiration you had for them pouring from yours. Maybe it was those hundreds of times you witnessed their selfless nature when they thought no one was watching. But you were. You saw. You soaked in those moments. Hour by hour, day by day, the fondness grew ever stronger. Until you spread your wings and found your own piece of what they modeled, what they treasured. 
They had imprinted not only on your heart, but on your soul. You became that person that someone else looked up to and you too felt that serenity. You made a difference. You brought out a smile. You wiped a tear. You fixed a broken heart with one, very simple gesture. You made it better.   
For that…I'm forever grateful. 
For that…I'm forever changed. 
For that…I'm a better woman. 

I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM, WE ALL SCREAM FOR SNOW CREAM

Mags: "Snowflakes are little pieces of happiness on my tongue."

Snow days have been abundant across the country this season. So why not make the most of it? My friend, Michele, sent us a recipe for Snow Ice Cream during a big storm we had back in December. I adjusted some of the ingredients to fit what I had available. The kids led the process and created a really delicious treat! 

Since Michele, who resides in New Orleans, is expecting her first snow storm in many, many years, I'm returning the favor. Here are some easy to follow instructions. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! 



Scoop 8 cups of CLEAN snow
(Yellow snow is NOT lemon flavored.) 



Pour into a bowl.


Let your sibling have a turn to scoop some, too.



 In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 a cup of white sugar 
and 2 cups of the milk flavor of your choice.
We cheated and used a chocolate milk box. 
Stir together until the sugar is dissolved


Pour the milk and sugar mixture into 
the bowl of snow. Stir.


Once mixed together, it will have a smooth consistency. 
Test it out to see the flavor is to your liking.


Sit and enjoy!


Happy Snow Day(s), Everyone! 




Thursday, January 23, 2014

SNOW DAY WISDOM

Mags: "SNOW DAY! SNOW DAY! MAMA AND DADDY, IT SNOWED LAST NIGHT!" 
Me: <opening one eye> "Yes, Mags, I heard you. But it's 5:30 in the morning and a snow day means we get to sleep in a little bit."
Mags: "No way! We need to get sleddin'. Let's get up and get goin', Mama! Move it or lose it!"
Me: "Oh. I'm about to lose it."

My first year of teaching, I was told the following story by our favorite principal, Preston. He had a way of narrating that captivated his audience. Maybe it was his New Orleans accent or his boisterous laugh, but when he had the floor, everyone sat up and took notice.  Chris and I often refer to the following tale told by Preston at a staff meeting, especially this time of year.

Preston began simply: 
(paraphrasing from Chris and my memory)

"I was standing in the check-out line at the grocery store picking up milk and bread like everyone else. It was a snow day, afterall.  I noticed a mom in front of me struggling with her fighting school-aged kids and balancing a baby on her hip. Her face had a look of defeat. She was obviously worn out. In front of this mom was a young, bright-eyed woman chatting it up with the store clerk. The clerk was ringing up a six-pack of beer as the young woman went on and on about how much she just LOVED snow days. Announcing loudly that she was a teacher, and snow days were AWESOME, didn't seem to temper the mom's look of disdain. 

You see, that mom probably had to call-in to work, cancel appointments, re-arrange meetings or deal with a not-so-empathetic boss. She didn't want to stand in line to hear what a FANTASTIC day this teacher was having gallavanting through the snow with her Sam Adams.

The moral of the story? Teachers are often talked about in a negative light. There are people, often vocal people, who think teachers have it easy. Be mindful of those around you when you are out and about. Not everyone enjoys a snow day." 






Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A CUT ABOVE THE REST

Chris: "Ouch, babe, where'd you get that bruise on the back of your leg?"
Me: "Where?"'
Chris: "Right there. It's huge. Does it hurt?"
Me: "Oh, yeah. I see it. Hmm. Nope. No idea where it came from."


Be honest, how many of you have a mystery 
cut or bruise right at this moment? 





GIMME SHELTER

Guess where Michele and I were invited to go a few weeks ago? The screening of the much anticipated movie, "Gimme Shelter" that will be released into theaters this week. Based on a true story of strength and survival, these star- studded cast members had their work cut out for them. Yes, I used the word "star-studded." James Earl Jones, Brendan Fraser, Rosario Dawson and Vanessa Hudgens to name of a few of the talented actors that graced the screen. Written and directed by Ronald Krauss, an award winning director, this movie captured me from the very beginning. Vanessa Hudgens, best known by me as the sweet girl in High School Musical, was unrecognizable both physically and characteristically.

So, after watching the trailer and reading the positive buzz about the movie,  I was looking forward to going to see it in Washington DC, which is about an hour and a half from me. But Fate and Mother Nature had other plans. A miscommunication and treacherous ice storm later, there was no way I was able to go. Our friends at Grace Hill Media sprung into action and I was sent a secure link so I could watch it from home. Michele had already seen it earlier that day from her home in NOLA and I was DYING to talk to her about it.

I popped some popcorn, grabbed a beverage and sat down with my laptop to start the movie with a two-hour run time from the opening scene to the credits. I was hooked. This powerful story made me cry multiple time, which made me partially grateful I wasn't in a theater full of strangers. I found that I really connected with the characters. I also found a few times that I wanted to jump through the screen to smack a few of the characters upside their heads. Long and short of it…I was all in start to finish. At the end of the movie, I immediately Googled the woman who inspired Ronald Krauss to write this story, Kathy DiFiore. She is a woman of pure endurance and all heart. Her work is admirable and unmistakeably selfless. 

Below you can find the trailer. Once you see it, make a plan to go see the movie. Believe me, you will not be disappointed. 


Sunday, January 19, 2014

HURT FEELINGS…WELL…HURT

Chris' Facebook update: 

"Maggie came home sad today. Some kids at school made fun of her shirt saying it looked like a boy's shirt. I asked her if she thought it was cool. She nodded and I told her that was all that mattered."



As I was waiting at the stop light on my way home from work, I read this update on Facebook. My heart dropped. I couldn't get home fast enough. I wanted to wrap Mags in my arms and protect her from feeling insecure.  Her confidence is one of the MANY things I admire about our little spitfire. She has always been tough. Very little shakes her. 

Little did my munchkin know, I had a day similar to hers. I was made to feel bad about a decision I had made. My feelings were hurt. However, I, unlike Mags, have never hid my feelings well. I should just have a sign on my head that reads "DEFEATED."   

I ran through things in my head to tell her that would help to ease the sting. Chris, being sensitive to her needs, already had made a huge dent in perking her back up a bit. We've always tried to teach the kids that everybody is learning, some people choose different ways to communicate and sometimes people say things that hurt. Unfortunately, we all have been givers and receivers in those instances. 

Once I arrived home, I leaped up the stairs to scoop up my little woman. Her eyes told it all, but so did mine. We shared our stories with each other. Mags told me how her friends had come to her defense when they saw her crying, how they had made her laugh and how that laughter made a booger bubble come out of her nose. I told Mags that I also had friends come to my defense that made me laugh, but I DID NOT have a booger bubble come out of my nose…thankfully. 

I want to foster her pizazz. I want to foster her individuality. But, even more importantly, I NEED to model that confidence I want her to hold onto tightly. 

As a sweet friend of mine reminded me today


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ketchup WIth Us - #34 - Belly up to the BlogHop!


Here at #KetchupWithUs HQ, the high-brow, test-your-limits, bare-your-soul writing prompts that you guys have come to expect from us are currently in … well … hibernation.


Giving new meaning to Ketchup versus Catsup.

For now, we're just running a good, old-fashioned blog hop. The overhead is much lower and it's the only way Michele could secure our liquor license. So pull out something you want to share, show off or expose and link 'er up at the linky below. Oh, and be sure to visit some of your fellow linkers and say hi. There are scads of truly awesome people in this little community of ours. 

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Our esteemed Ketchup With Us Featured Writer from last time is …


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BEHIND THE KETCHUP

Click here to read how this foolishness all began.

KEEP TRACK OF OUR STUPIDITY

SPREAD THE WORD & POST OUR BUTTON … please!

ketchup with us
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Our regular writing prompts are in hibernation so link up any post you want!



Lordy, Lordy…

Tuck: "Mama, how old is Daddy gonna be tommorrow?"
Me: "Forty."
Tuck: "Wow. That's ancient."

Today is a VERY big day. It's Chris' FORTIETH birthday. The big 4-0. You've all met Chris on the blog, right? Not only does he produce his own podcast called the A.T.TIPSCAST, but he also co-hosts ANOTHER podcast with me called Night Light Stories. In fact, he's even written numerous guest posts on this blog. 

Check these out:  


In addition to all of the above things, my husband has a gift. He can sniff out presents a mile away. (See what I did there?) But, what I love most, is that he acts so surprised even when he knows what he is receiving. I have no doubt where our Mags gets her "ham-ness." 

This year, it happened to be a Whirley Pop. He discovered this contraption during our summer getaway at a lake house with his lifelong friends. I've honestly never seen someone so excited about a popcorn popper…which is one of the million reasons I adore him. 

Happy 40th Chris! You are one of a kernal…I mean…kind, 
in the best way possible. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

There and Back Again: A Blogger's Tale

As I was visiting Michele over at ODNT, the subject of her post really caught my attention. It was a writing prompt that came from MamaKat, so I thought I would give it a try, too. 


Here it is: “Find a photo of yourself taken 10 years ago and display it on your blog along with a current photo. How have you changed since the day that photo was taken?”



The photo on the left was taken at my bridal shower. I was a blissful bride-to-be, teaching the sweetest class of kids (second graders) I ever had.  I was confident in my job, certain of my near future and loving my life. My hair was cut every six weeks, professionally highlighted and I wore clothes that were Dry Clean Only. I was spontaneous, rarely watched the clock and drank my coffee hot. 

The photo on the right was taken this summer. I was a bundle-of-nerves-mom-of-a-soon-to-be kindergartner and third grader. I had just landed my first full-time job as a high school special education teacher after being out of the classroom for eight years. My hair hadn't been cut in six months, my laugh lines were deep as canyons and I wore clothes straight out of the dryer (and still partially damp).  The three most incredible people I'm honored to call mine surround me in this picture. My clock is run by school, work, dance classes, Cub Scouts, and piano lessons. I live for Friday family movie night.  Hot coffee is overrated. 

What about you? How have you changed in 10 years? 

Friday, January 10, 2014

FROM THE HEART

Me: "Hey, guys! I have an idea for a Christmas present for Meme and Papa. I need your help."
Tuck: "Sure, Mama. What do you need? Wood? Nails? Wipes?" 
Mags: "A sledgehammer?"
Me: "No, no, no and DEFINITELY no. I need your toys."
Mags: "WHAT? WHY?"
Tuck: "Huh? We're sending Meme and Papa our toys?"
Mags: "You better think of another idea, Mama."

Sigh. When they finally let me finish my thought, they were on board. I wanted to make my parents a letter art collage.  You know what I'm talking about? They are all the rage right now. See …



I originally wanted to hunt down some cool pictures from Boston that would spell out a word that was meaningful to my parents. I was thinking of  "Tuck and Mags" or "Family" or "Love." But, as I searched, nothing jumped out at me. I wanted these letters to have real sentiment behind them. Basically, I wanted the word to tell a story. 

That's what led me to my choices of the words "Meme" and "Papa." I thought about all the things the kids do with my parents when they come to visit. Mags and my mom share an obsession for lip gloss, for example. Tuck and my dad often spend hours on the floor building the latest and greatest Lego set they found. It's these objects that hold true meaning … of time spent and memories made. I was excited to get it together. More so, I was anxious to see what toys or mementos the kids would choose. They didn't disappoint.

Mags chose her Ariel and Rapunzel dolls with their villains, lip glosses (of course), a letter of her name that my mom bought when Mags' was born, and her big Pink bear my dad bought when he found out we were having a girl. And the finishing touches … her Silkies (complete with Ebola). 




Tuck chose his bear, Ben, that my dad bought when he was born. Surrounding Ben's head are Tuck's socks (comfort items).  Next were his cars from the movie Cars. Papa could recite that movie in his sleep after watching it with Tuck about 20 times. Legos (no brainer) came next. And last, but not least were the superheros. (Hulk is Papa's favorite.)




I was touched at what they gathered. We snapped, re-sized, printed and framed the pictures. I got a little misty eyed at the finished products. These objects formed the letters that made these very significant words. But beyond that … within these words and letters … my kids' created their lifetime of memories with two very special people. 


And that, my friends, is a story worth telling. 



Friday, January 3, 2014

COMPLEMENTS OF MAGS AND TUCK

Tuck: "Mags! You can't put a huge blob of glue on it like that. That's gonna squirt out of the sides of the paper."

Mags: "Chill out, dude. I'll just lick around the sides like an envelope."

Tuck: "Nooooo! Mags! You can't eat glue. Stop it!"

Mags: (pretending to bend down to lick the glue…hysterically laughing)

Tuck: "Mags! Don't!! MAMA! MAMA! She's out of control!"

My kids, like the thousands of others out there, are opposites in many ways. They've been raised in the same house with the same parents, yes. However, Tuck, our first born, is a product of our hyper-parenting. He's a cautious rule-follower, in the best way possible.

Mags…well…we were WAY more relaxed when she came along. Having two years and three months worth of parenting under our belts revealed to us that these little creatures are pretty darn durable. Mags is our limit tester. She understands the rules, and will follow them, in a round about way.

So, while we were decorating our numbers to make a 2014 for New Year's Eve, the following creations and work spaces didn't surprise me. AT. ALL.















They are complete opposites. But, one thing did become clear to me. When we put the decorated numbers together to make the final product, they each had a different approach and style to offer. And for that I'm grateful. 

From Tuck, Mags is learning that sometimes following the straight line is faster and more productive. From Mags, Tuck is learning to take risks and lessons like there is no such thing as too much glitter. 

Most of all, when you place them side by side, 
they complement each other perfectly. 













Thursday, January 2, 2014

Fly Baby Bird, Fly

Tuck: "Mama, I'm all packed."
Me: "Remember the sleepover isn't until tomorrow, bud?"
Tuck: "I know…but a Cub Scout is always prepared."
Me: "Good point. Carry on, then."

We just dropped Tuck at his first sleep over tonight. I was torn. I was so happy for him, but a little hesitant at the same time. Why didn't any of those millions of baby books I read in preparation for our first born (and used as coasters for our second born) never mention how hard it was going to be to let our baby bird fly? I mean, I put him on the bus for kindergarten for crying out loud. Shouldn't that buy me some flying time at least until he starts driving? Don't even say the c-o-l-l-e-g-e word. Shhh. 

My husband, being a helpful, supportive kinda guy, came into the kitchen before dinner and played me the song below. This song has been part of our car sing-a-longs and kitchen dance parties for as long as I can remember. It's called "Sleepoverland" by Justin Roberts. (Check him out, his songs will hook you immediately.) Needless to say, we both ended up a little teary eyed once it played. Listen to the lyrics and you'll know what I mean. 




So far, I've received a few texts and pictures of how well the boys are doing. I'm appreciative that the mom at the sleepover has taken the initiative to text me so that I don't have to look like the paranoid, overbearing mother. I miss him tonight, for that there is no doubt. But no where near as much as his little sister. (Well, maybe as much as her…if not more.) 

Here's to a great first sleepover, Tuck! 


"Hello? Hello? Hello? We really miss you. 
Hello? Hello? Hello? We want to kiss you."

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Ketchup With Us #33

It's January, it's the middle of winter and it's c-c-c-c-c-cold! So we're taking a tip from our animal friends and trying something new around here. Hibernation!


Ketchup With Us has never been easier. Michele and I will still co-host it on the 1st and 15th of every month but you can now link up whatever you want. Just pick one of your posts. ANY post. As long as we all get to "Ketchup" with each other, right?


Oh, and our featured writer will now be determined by the highest number of clicks. So title your posts well to draw 'em in!


Happy New Ketchup!

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Our esteemed Ketchup With Us 

Featured Writer from last time is ...

Becky

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BEHIND THE KETCHUP

Click here to read how this foolishness all began. There are no rules. But we'd love it if you posted our button and followed us on Facebook (Michele /Mel), Twitter (Michele/Mel), Instagram (Michele/Mel) and Pinterest (Michele/Mel). Oh, and SPREAD THE WORD!
ketchup with us
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'KETCHUP WITH US' #33

Since our regular writing prompts are in

hibernation, link up any post you want! 



Shhh! Let sleeping Ketchups lie.