Category Archives: Family

Why Can’t My Family Be Like the Duggars?


We’ve all seen the show.  You know what I mean.  You see the mom and the dad with big grins on their faces, all their kids have smiles, and their all dressed.  Heck, they even all do chores and are happy to do it.

The holidays and winter are upon us which means my children will be forced to spend time together.  I have to tell you I secretly wish for year round school because all three of my kids together equals the action of a three-ring circus and not in a good way.

Just the other day, there was a huge argument over who gets to eat the last bowl of Frosted Flakes.  It was so loud and went on for so long that I have now banned sugar cereal from the house forever.  We shouldn’t be eating that stuff anyway.

This morning the tween had an early morning tryout for the math team so he was up with the queen.  Could we do one morning with two kids and no arguing?  Of course not.  The tween had to find out why the queen was taking so long to get dressed.  Does it matter how long it takes the queen to get dressed?  Nope, he was just stirring the pot.

Last night we had some takeout rather than a home cooked meal.  Can we all eat at the table, talk about our day, and have a nice evening?  Nope, we have to argue about who took food from someone else and who’s job it will be to put away the ketchup.

Every car ride causes squabbles about who is sitting where, who is allowed to sing, and how loud everyone is allowed to breathe.  Does this ever happen with the Duggars?  Not according to their show.  Assigned sitting in the car is a wonderful idea…something we had not too long ago.  Thinking it may be time to bring it back.

All I want for Christmas is a drama free, happy kids, and smiling parents for a full 24 hours.  How great would that be?  It would be so great that TLC would be knocking on my door wanting to film the perfect family.

I love my family and can’t imagine life without them but sometimes I need a break from the chaos.  After I’ve gone through the house and turned off fifty million lights during the holiday season, you’ll find me wearing a parka (it’s cold in Northeast Ohio),  sitting in my car that is parked in the garage, sipping my Diet Coke, and dreaming of being a Duggar family.  Someday we will be just like them…less the dresses of course!


Wow, This Place Stinks!


The tween was recently invited to his first boy/girl birthday party.  Of course attending a birthday party requires the purchase of a gift.  Birthday parties and gift purchasing isn’t anything new to us but the tween buying for a girl turning 13…well that’s a whole new ball of wax.

I suggested we visit Bath & Body Works for a girl appropriate gift.  The tween agreed that it would be a good place because ALL the GIRLS in the seventh grade use hand sanitizer like it’s free.

For some crazy reason, the tween and I got to slip off on the gift buying adventure alone.

The fact that it was sleeting and the door to the local Bath & Body Works store was propped open should have been a clue that entering may not be a good idea.  However, we were on a mission and we pretended not to notice.  A wall of fragrance met us before our feet had made it on the doormat.

Tween:  Oh, mom this place stinks beyond belief!

Me:  Hang in there!  We just walked in the door.

Tween:  Grab something quick and let’s get out of here.

I should add here the sales staff has overheard this and are cracking up.  They offer their services but the tween wasn’t happy with their choices.

He found lots of little hand santizer choices and they were a bargain to boot.  I’ve taught them early to be savvy shoppers.  Believe it or not, they even sell little holders that light up…for a boy who is all about tech stuff, he was stoked to find this gadget.

Tween: I’ve lost a little of my manhood being in this store.  Plus, my eyes are starting to water.  So glad we’re getting ready to leave.

Me:  It’s not that bad.  Look, there’s a really manly guy behind us (super tall with 1.5 inch gauges in each ear).  As we are walking out the door I point out another man.

Tween:  Mom, they are married or boyfriends, they have no choice.  I on the other hand am 12 and have lots of choices and one of them is to not come back to a store like this.

We had a little extra time so I suggested a quick snack at the coffee shop next door.  The coffee shop was having a school event so there were several young girls sitting on stools waving to the tween as we walked by.  I suggested he should wave back.  He declined and explained that he is a hot commodity and those girls are at most in the third grade and he can’t be leading them on just because he is small for 12.

Sweet giblets, him becoming a teen is going to be an interesting journey!


Trash Bags are Not Created Equal


How do I know trash bags are not created equal?  Just ask my son the teen.  He happens to be 15 but back when he was 7 he could point out the merits of most any plastic waste bag.

You’re probably saying, “Come on, Amy, at seven?  Really?”  You betcha.

When the teen took over the taking out of the trash, Glad had just come out with a new and improved bag.  They advertised this special flexible reinforced bag that could even hold a smashed baby grand.  When you are seven, that is the bomb of all bags.  We just had to have them he said.  Like any other mom, I bought them figuring since he was so excited about his trash job this would just make things better.  Oh how wrong we both were.  Those bags were lucky to hold even a Matchbox car without tearing.

Those special reinforced bags made their way to the back of the cupboard and we happily left them behind when we moved to a different house a few years later.  Hope whomever lives in that house isn’t reading this and now discovering why we left a full box of trash bags.

A few years back we moved again to Rhode Island and lived in a condo type community.  All the trash went to a huge dumpster that was a short walk from our house.  If you’ve ever moved cross-country, you know the last thing you unpack is the stuff you really need…like Hefty trash bags.  We couldn’t find our bags so I picked up whatever at the market and then the trash drama started.  Of course, the teen (who was really a tween then) started out with the trash and it dumped out all over the drive.  The developer just happened to be there and started freaking out about trash being all over the place.  Don’t think he was prepared for the tirade the teen had to share about the bags not being Hefty and so on and so on.  It must have gone on for a while because I finally heard the developer saying something about helping pick it up and let’s just get this mess over with.  After that, I made a mad dash to Target to stop anymore trash issues.

We recently had a family meeting and reworked our family chore obligations.  The teen’s activity schedule is messing with the frequency of trash going out and we thought the tween might like to give it a try.  The tween doesn’t have to worry about the bags.  He seems pretty happy with Hefty but breaking down boxes is a sticking point with him.  Who knew the quiet one would get so freaked out about people not breaking down the boxes?  Look out world we have another lover of trash organization.

To whom do my lovely boys owe the honor of being trash perfectionists?  That would be my dad.  My dad, who has an OCD issue with trash.  He goes so far as to have clean trash (boxes, newspapers, and empty McD’s cups) go in this out in the garage.  The dirty trash is in the kitchen (for food waste and other nastiness that comes from having sometimes five grandchildren visiting at a time).  Of course we all like to chide my dad over the trash situation.  However it really does make good sense and since he is the one who removes it from the house we should probably just follow the plan.

Through it all, we could have bigger problems but I’ll be happy with happy trash taker outers.

All That Sparkles


If you are living with a young girl, you have experienced the thrill of shopping at Justice or buying all that sparkly clothing at another local retailer.  The queen recently received some really cool sparkly stuff for Christmas.  She has some high top boots, shirts, and this out of control dress–that is both sparkly and swirly.

Here’s what happens when you wash said sparkles:  they attach to all the other clothes that are in the washer or dryer.  I spent at least thirty minutes the other day dejazzling my husband’s work clothes and the teen’s stylish socks.  Did you know that they make cloth with adhesive sparkles?  Neither did I but four of us are now paying the consequences for my slow learning curve.

Here are some conversations that have followed now that we all glitter when we spin:

Husband:  Um, thought you should know, I raised my arm up at work last night.

Me:  Yeah

Husband:  It was like a mini disco.  There were all these little shiny stickers all over the outside of my shirt, under my arm.  Plus, there must be a million on the inside of my shirt.  I didn’t think to check the inside of the clothing or the under arm section.


Teen:  Have you seen my socks?

Me:  Yep, they are on top of the washer waiting for you to put them away.

Teen:  I know where they are.  What I’m asking is, have you seen the condition of them?

Me:  Yep, they look like really expensive socks.

Teen:  I could do without all the glitter stickers.  Seriously, I’m in high school.  Glitter is so not cool.  And, they are even on the inside of the socks!


Tween:  Hey, Mom!  Did you notice anything about the laundry this week?

Me:  Yep, it’s kind of sparkly

Tween:  I’m just saying in middle school it is not okay to go to school with a sparkly behind, especially if you are a boy.  I’m a boy.  Sparkle free is good.

Me:  Thanks for letting me know.

Tween:  How you going to fix this problem?

Me:  Cue cricket music


Queen:  Mom, I need the dress to these sparkly pants

Me:  The dress isn’t clean.

Queen:  But I put them in the laundry room at the same time.  At least she is learning how the laundry system works!

Me;  Yep, I noticed that.

Queen:  How come my dress isn’t clean too?

Me:  Because the rest of the family wants to be glitter free for the week.

Queen:  Oh man, I was really hoping to wear that dress again soon.


The dress is going in a pillow case on its next washing.  I’m going to spend the next decade scrapping glitter stickers off the inside of my dryer.  I will also be vacuuming them up because they have migrated to my pillow, on the central staircase of the house, and just about anywhere else that has had something that made contact with the laundry room.  No sparkles have been washed for over a week and they are still coming up on the dryer vent and the little rubber gasket of the washing machine.  I have a GE nightmare on my hands.  Pretty sure the manual has nothing about glitter exposure.  Actually I know it doesn’t because I’ve read it at least three times.

If you run into the teen, the tween, or the wannabe queen and notice a little extra glimmer, it isn’t just their charming personalities, it’s a little extra love coming from the laundry room.

Picking Up and Dropping Off


I don’t know about the rest of you but when I had that first little bundle of joy, I didn’t expect to later be picking him up and dropping him off at various activities six times a week.  Then came two more bundles of joy, which multiples those activities and shuffle time.

This past Friday the queen and I picked the tween up from a school dance.  We were listening to all the goings on of a middle school dance as we drove down the road.  I decided if the teen was going to have to be picked up much later, I was going to need a drive thru for some quick caffeine.  As we drove, I could hear the queen begging for some Skittles from the tween and the tween continuing to turn her down.  By the way, Skittles smell so goodEvery wish you could get some in only red?

Me:  Those Skittles sure do smell good.

Tween:  They sure do.  Would you like some?

Que the queen grumbling that she has been asking and not been granted a few.

Me:  No, thanks though.

Queen:  Oh, you’ll give some to Mom but won’t share with me?

Tween:  Of course, she gave me life.  You can’t ask for more than life.  What have you given me besides a hard time and a headache?

Queen:  Are you serious?  How can I give you life?  I’m the little sister.

Oh the joys of driving with kids in the car.  The sibling rivalry just doesn’t stop.  And neither do the filled up spaces on the family calendar.



Birthday Bash or Reality Bust


There is nothing more exciting than being seven and getting an invitation to a birthday party.  What can make that invitation even more exciting is when it includes make-up, pizza, sparkles, and cupcakes.

The queen was recently invited to attend a party at a really great venue where for a price per girl there is lots of fun for two hours and the mom doesn’t have to clean and then re-clean.

A wonderful goodie bag came home with a price list and services provided list.  Of course the queen was on the throne explaining how her next birthday party had to be at the same place.

No problem, right?  Big problem.  The problem is it costs $22.95 per girl (before cupcake, juice box, food and lip gloss station).  Then there is the issue of number of girls in class, neighbors, and Girl Scout friends…that number can get pretty high.

We are a one income family of five with a teen headed to college in three years.  Are we completely strapped for cash?  No, but do have to pay attention to what we spend.  A trip to the grocery lately can easily set you back $150 and that is just for the everyday basics for four or five days.

The queen has come up with lots of ways to have this party:

  • invite but tell them they have to pay (NO),
  • invite, pay half, and they pay half (No),
  • not serve pizza (could help),
  • don’t serve anything to drink (probably not going to work)
  • give up allowance for two months (this will pay for almost one person)

Of course the queen wants to know how it is one family can afford this and others can’t.  Welcome to the world as the rest of us know it dear queen.  Your parents appreciate you are getting older but hey we want to retire someday too and preferably not to your living room sofa.

This week, the queen has decided it is time for me to go back to work.  I explained that my going back to work would keep me from volunteering regularly at her school and her Brownie troop would have to find a new leader.  She says it’s time…she’s in the second grade now and really what is it I do all day long while she is at school.  Something tells me she spoke to some kids at lunch and realized that some moms and dads both work.

There is nothing quite like a real life economics lesson slapped smack in the middle of parenthood.  That degree in business education comes in handy when dealing with these delicate issues.

My questions to all the readers out there…do you share with your children what the family can and can not afford or is willing to spend on activities?

Hey Mom, What’s for Dinner?!!


I’m pretty sure I could disappear for 23 hours a day but come 3 p.m. I better be handy for the frequently asked question:  Hey mom, what’s for dinner.

Generally, it starts with the teen who begins with text messages:

Teen:  What’s for dinner?

Me:  Chicken Taco Soup!

Teen:  Really?

Me:  Yep, found new recipe.  It is going to rock.

Teen:  Yeah, I think there’s a team meal.  Will let you know soon.

Tween comes home at three this conversation follows:

Tween:  What’s for dinner?

Me:  Chicken Taco Soup!

Tween:  Does this involve tomatoes and corn?

Me:  You betcha!

Tween:  You know me and Dad have an agreement about corn and tomatoes?

Me:  Yep, and I’m not you or Dad.  Sometimes the rest of us like a good corn and tomato type dinner.

Tween:  Figures you’d say something like that.  Pretty sure I’m not hungry.

Queen comes home at 4:

Queen:  What’s for dinner:

Tween:  Mom’s making some kind of chicken taco soup.  It has corn and tomatoes in it.

Queen:  Did Mom forget you don’t care for corn and tomatoes?

Tween:  No, think she is taking a stand against me and my dietary desires.

Husband gets up at 4 to get ready for work and have a quick bite to eat.

Husband:  What’s for dinner?

Tween and Queen:  Chicken Taco Soup.  We haven’t had it before but Mom’s says it is going to be great.

Tween:  It includes corn and tomatoes so it probably isn’t.

Husband:  It is going to be terrific.  He always says this even when it is whole-wheat crepes that neither of us can choke down.

Dinner turned out great!  Hoping to make again soon!

Here’s the recipe.  It makes way more than my family of five and the neighbor who gets lots of my leftovers could eat.  We even had it another night with baked potatoes.

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

1 packet taco seasoning mix

2 medium green bell peppers, diced

2 (32-ounce) containers chicken broth

3 (10-ounce) cans mild tomatoes and green chiles

2 (16-ounce) can pinto beans rinsed and drained (I used one can black beans and one can kidney)

1 (7-ounce) can corn with green and red bell peppers

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Toppings:  shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions, crushed tortilla strips

  1. In a stock pot, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat.  Add chicken and taco seasoning, tossing to coat.  Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until browned on all sides.  Stir in bell peppers, and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until peppers start to soften.
  2. Stir in broth and next 3 ingredients.  Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is done.  Remove from heat, and stir in cheese.  Serve with desired toppings.

——-Recipe Source:  Cooking With Paula Deen.  November/December 2012.