27 May 2011

A Shady Character

Today I became that person. A shady character. Trying to get three kids out of the house so we could get to my first grader's awards ceremony EARLY drove me to that point. Has anyone else subconsciously thought that the diaper bag on your shoulder was your purse? You know, the purse that contains your car keys, house keys, phone, and credit cards. Yeah, that one. Not until I had slammed the front door did I realize that I did not have my purse.

No problem, right? That's why you keep a key hidden, for times like these. So I put all three kids in the van and went to get the key. Except it wasn't there. Apparently, I hadn't put it back the LAST TIME I was locked out.

But again, no problem, right? That's why we have neighbors. Except my favorite neighbors were already at the awards ceremony, and my next-favorite neighbors had gone AWOL. (Yeah, a few times ago, the purse became locked in a running vehicle. Again those neighbors were AWOL. I had to "borrow" their "ON TOPS" new roof sign [from under their front porch] to slim jim my car window. I wish I were making this up.)

So, hoping we had some junk credit card applications in the mailbox, I then checked the mail. No such luck. I knew if I could just get my hands on a credit card, I could get in my house!
So I ran across the street and hastily introduced to myself to my neighbor's new husband. I then asked him if he had an old MVP card I could borrow. You know, I didn't think I would leave a great first impression if I outright asked to borrow a credit card. He generously offered to get some tools and come help me. Well, the tools didn't work. That's when I informed him that I usually use a credit card or an old shoppers card to get the door open. He looked a little shocked, and stammered something about "never breaking in with a credit card before." But he offered me his AARP card. (I really did ask him if he had an old grocery card - I didn't want to mess anything up!) Well , in less than 15 seconds, I was in the house. But I think my neighbor is now wondering why in the world his stay-at-home neighbor is so adept at jacking open a door with a credit card.

Miraculously, we made it to the awards ceremony on time. (I was envisioning the Principal, also known as my Husband, calling Thomas's name for an award and discovering, and then having to announce, that he was not there to receive it. How tacky would that be! And how angry would he be....)

So anyways, here is a picture of Thomas and his friends Bryson and Lane after the ceremony. Aren't they cute? These little guys have been buddies since they were taking toys from each other in the church nursery. Whew! Glad we didn't miss this last day of first grade!

23 May 2011

Seizing those Moments

Teachable moments. The education classes I took in college included many discussions about looking for teachable moments - moments when the student's curiosity, observation, or even failure opened the door to a relevant and important discussion. Sometimes these discussions are related to the topic at hand; other times they bridge into another unrelated, yet extremely important topic. It's about prioritizing and knowing when to seize the moment. Seizing that teachable moment is not only vital to teachers, it's also vital to parents. It's something I've tried to discipline myself to do. Stop. Take time. Seize the moment.

Seizing the moment. That practice is not only good for training my children, it's also good for having fun with my children. But it's definitely a practice that I have to continually work on.

Tending to children and training children takes time. Keeping a house in decent (read: good enough, not perfect) order takes time. Being a wife takes time. So making time for fun with the kids can be further down the list of priorities; at least for me, it can. But that is exactly why I should learn to seize the moment, have some fun, and make the memory. Not use it as an excuse to shirk responsibility; but wisely look for times to show my kids I love them and enjoy spending time doing something that they enjoy. Today, we really did have fun seizing the moment (the moment being waiting on a car in the shop)!

This morning, we walked to the park for a picnic while the tire store checked our tires (that we thought were fixed a few weeks ago....) A very nice power-walker offered to take our picture after she saw me wrangling the kids for a snapshot.

Daniel discovered a creek on the way to the park. On the way back, it had become a potential hideout for him and Thomas. Gotta love the imagination!

Getting ready to picnic and play.

Daniel conquered the fireman's pole!

All played out. And the house is quiet... (also known as the calm before the after-school storm!)

16 May 2011

Good and Cheap

Couponing. Planning the menu around what's on sale. Sound familiar, anyone? Sometimes I'll buy an item because it's such a great deal, but I'm not really sure what to do with it. Like this.

Last month, I bought this product for just cents. I also had a scary amount of pasta. Harris Teeter was practically giving the stuff away, AND Addie's rice pasta had been on sale. So, needless to say, we needed some different ways to eat pasta! So here's what we've eaten twice now, and Travis and I love it. It satisfies that spicy craving. And gets rid of the pasta.

I know the picture is a little quirky, but I was determined to get those flowers in the picture. Anyways, here's the recipe for Santa Fe Penne Pasta:

1 1/2 cups of cubed chicken
vegetables (Last time, I used onion, asparagus, and squash. This time, I used zuchinni and grated carrots. Pretty much, I use what's on sale.)
1 tub of Santa Fe Philadelphia cooking creme
about 1/3 cup of milk
penne pasta, cooked (enough for 4 people)

Slice up the veggies and saute in olive oil.

Add the cubed chicken to the pan of of vegetables.

Add the creme to the pan while the pasta is boiling. (I added about two cups of chicken stock to the pot of water to boil the noodles.) Add 1/3 to maybe 1/2 cup of milk to the creme mixture and stir frequently.

When the pasta is done, do not rinse. Simply drain, divide it into bowls, and spoon the sauce over the top. Since we like ours a little spicy, we sprinkled red pepper flakes on it.

The sauce served my family of two adults and two children. And, honestly, I do not know nor want to know the nutritional value and caloric content. It contained vegetables, carbohydrates, and protein. And in my book, that's a well-balanced meal. We'll worry about the cholesterol another night. So enjoy!

05 May 2011

Helpin' and Hitchhikin'

Today, a memory resurfaced that brought me a little chuckle. It was a memory involving... hitchhiking. Sort of.

When Travis was in graduate school, he traveled to Greenville, SC, for several weeks each summer to take classes. So, I packed up 1-year-old Thomas and went to see him for a week. It was July-hot in South Carolina, and I was driving the old Taurus. Not a great combination. So while I was out shopping one day (the day before his final exam, to be exact), the alternator decided to give out. In the middle of a busy road. Fortunately, we were able to creep into a gas station on the corner.

To be honest, some of the details now are a little fuzzy. But I do know he was in class, I had our only cell phone, I had a baby, and it was HOT. And I was 4 1/2 hours from anyone I knew. The memory of sitting in the gas station and trying to give Thomas sips out of a bottle of water is still pretty vivid. Like a good mother, I had walked out of the hotel room without his sippy cup on the HOTTEST day of the summer! While I was sitting inside the gas station, waiting on a secretary at the university to track down Travis, this very sweet elderly couple began talking to me. Pretty quickly, they offered to give me a ride back to the university. Well, the next thing I knew, I was breaking the two rules that my mother had drilled into my head from the time I could say "Smarties!": 1.) Don't take food from strangers, and 2.) Don't go with strangers.

Despite the fact that I didn't know them from Adam, I had climbed into the back of their car and was happily feeding Thomas crackers given to us by strangers! I did quickly pray, "Lord, please don't let these people be serial killers!" After that creepy thought, being a captive audience to stories about grandchildren was a relief. Whew!

And what made me think of this little incident? Today, I found out while getting the oil changed, that I need two new front tires. Immediately. So on the way home, I called Travis, who told me to pull over and look for tire diameter info inside the door. So while I'm crouched down by my van in the middle of a deserted parking lot, a really nice, and again, elderly gentleman pulls over and checks to make sure nothing is wrong. He then proceeded to check the tires for me, and gave me the info I needed. Wow!

It all goes to show that there still are really nice people in the world, and the Lord uses them to look after others. AND I have a lot of paying forward to do when I'm a little old lady driving around town!