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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Maximizing on Our Time at Disneyland

When we originally started planning this trip--about three years ago, we went to visit some friends who go to Disneyland often. They are former Southern California residents, so they knew all of the ins and outs of just how to do this trip.

image: ridemax.com
One of the things they shared with us was something called "Ridemax."

image: kk.org
You pay a fee for the use of the Ridemax website. You can log in and choose which park you're going to, what day and times you plan on being there, and which rides you plan on riding while you're there. The people behind Ridemax have done all the research as to which lines are shortest at what times and days. After you've chosen your rides, it automatically creates a plan for you so you end up at the shortest lines at the best times.

You can also mark on your plan when you want to take breaks and if you're willing to send a runner to get Fast Passes.

Here's an example of what we did....

We paid $14.95 for six months use of the site. It was the shortest plan offered. Let's say I was going to be at Disneyland from 8-9:50am on Monday. I chose Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and It's a Small World. This wasn't a real plan, this is just an example. I ask them to create an itinerary for me and end up with the following:

image: csdaley.com
Runner gets a fast pass for Indiana Jones at 8:05am while the rest of the group goes to visit It's a Small
World and waits in line for approximately one minute. After It's a Small World, the group goes to Pirates of the Caribbean at 8:30am and waits for four minutes. We then head over to Indiana Jones at 8:51am and wait for six minutes and use our Fast Passes to ride. Of course you have a whole hour left, so you can go back and modify and add other rides. Ridemax will tell you if you've chosen too many rides for the time frame you've chosen. You can remake your itinerary as many times as you want, and Ridemax will save your plans for you.

Everything I read as I researched this trip said to take a break in the middle of the day and go back to the park in the evening. This was very wise advice. We were all worn out by noon or so, so we'd head back to the house and relax for a bit. I would make two itineraries--one morning and one evening. That way, if we missed a ride in the morning, we could tack it onto the evening's plan.

The first morning, when we got up to go, and the plan was all set, the family all scoffed at my idea of using Ridemax: "Mom! This is a vacation. We don't have to have everything planned. Can't we just go for it and do what we want to do?"

I asked them to just be patient and see how it worked. If they didn't like it or it didn't work, we'd scrap it all and do it our own way.

image: free-city-guides.com
Truth is, it worked beautifully! Everybody recognized that as we arrived at Space Mountain late in the morning with the Fast Passes our runner (me) had picked up earlier in the morning. We were able to completely by-pass the entire huge, snaking line.

There were two times we chose not to follow the plan. The first time, we ended up waiting in a line for nearly an hour to ride Goofy's Sky School at California Adventure. Let's just say we became good friends with those around us in the line. The second time, we waited for at least 40 minutes for a 35 second ride on a roller coaster in Mickey's Toontown. Painful!

With Ridemax, we shot to the heads of lines thanks to Fast Passes. We also ended up in the shortest lines at the parks--less than 10 minutes most of the time, but never more than 20. Seriously, it was FABULOUS!

I think we all learned a little bit of the truth to the saying, "Fail to plan, and plan to fail." I can't imagine how long we would have waited had we not known about Ridemax. In this case, we all felt that our time was very well spent. We saw WAY more of Disneyland and California Adventure thanks to Ridemax.

What I Learned from the Happiest Place on Earth

Yes! We finally did it! Mission accomplished....we went to Disneyland!

This trip was seriously YEARS in the making. Do you know how much it costs to take a family of nine to the happiest place on earth? Woah! That's some HUGE saving. But, we did it, and it was GREAT!

As we arrived the first night, I just kept pinching myself. Were we really there?

We had a BLAST! Everything went without a hitch, and when all was said and done, I had no regrets. We got to do everything we wanted to.

While we were standing in a line on our last day, the Warden got to talking to one of the guys who was supervising the line. The "cast member" (as they call all those who work at Disneyland) shared quite a bit of insight into the Disneyland mindset.

He shared that all who work there are "cast members" because they
feel that everyday they are part of a big show. Every day, when they come to work, their job is to entertain their "guests."

What a service these people provide. Their focus isn't on themselves or how they feel about ANYTHING. It's all about those who stand in their lines, walk on their paths, watch their performances, etc., etc., etc.

Once I knew this, Disneyland became a different place. These people were there to serve me and make sure I had a great time.

As we approached the place where you meet princesses, I walked up to the "royal page" and said, "Hey! How's it going?" He was a young man in his late teens by the look of him. I had momentarily forgotten that this young man was in costume. He was playing a part. His job was to stay in character and make me feel that I was truly going to be meeting some royal princesses. My greeting was met with "Welcome, dear lady," and he ushered me into the line I was to wait in.

Of course he did. It was his job to be a character in this play of the day at Disneyland.

Another thing the cast member had shared with the Warden while we waited earlier was that he was known as the "lead." In other words, as far as that ride went, he was the main character. He was the guy in charge. Of course, he had others he answers to but his responsibility was to lead in that particular area of the park. Others, he mentioned, had parts they were responsible for but his place was there. It was his specialty. He understood all there was to know about that one job.

All of these things have been jelling in my mind....

  • What if I were to face every day as if I were a cast member in a much larger show?
  • What if I were to focus my efforts on making sure that others were enjoying the performance that is life?
  • What if I were to stay in character no matter how others interacted with me?
  • What if I were to accept the responsibility for being the "lead" in my life?
  • What if, as lead, I came to understand my role so well that I can make those things I'm responsible for run flawlessly?

I felt safe the entire time I was there. It was clear that each cast member knew his/her role. There was more than one time when I got on a ride with #7 and was concerned for her safety. It was then that I realized that I needed to learn to trust more. I needed to trust that those "leads" and "cast members" had done their jobs. They followed the rules and learned their parts and their main focus was me and my family and all the other individuals and families who came to enjoy their time there.

I have my own kingdom here. It CAN be the happiest place on earth. It is my own little show, and I am one of the leads. As lead, I'm in charge. I can make things go the way I want them to--any way I envision them. As lead, though, there are responsibilities that I need to take on that will keep the other cast members and those who visit my kingdom safe. One of the best things I can do is learn my part and be consistent in seeing to my role.

I now see that I also need to learn to be trustworthy--to learn my job and do it every day without fail. I need my children to know that as the lead, I have done my part and they can ride the ride of life without fear. They can trust that I have prepared them for the ride ahead.

Now that we're home, it feels like it was all a dream. Did we really go? 

Thank you to the Magic Kingdom for helping me understand my own kingdom a little bit better.


I'm home from church today. It's Easter. I got up with all kinds of great aspirations of what this day would be to my family. So much of what I've been learning lately has emphasized the importance of having and upholding family traditions. There have been many traditions that we started with our oldest  that I have let go through time--through laziness; through being overwhelmed. I am now kicking myself. I know. I do that a lot.

Kicking myself, though, eventually leads to kicking myself in the rear end and restarting. I am working on allowing myself to begin again--to not give up.

Today, particularly, I'm sad that I gave up the Easter dress (and shirt and tie) tradition. Next year, my boys and husband will have new shirts and ties, my girls and I will have new dresses. I'm determined. I just think it makes this day that much more important and special.

I got up and put some caramel rolls into the crockpot and got the sausages out to thaw. I put the Easter baskets by each child's bed--thank goodness they slept in because so did I. I think our vacation wore us all out. It's taking us a few days to recover. I'm glad we returned a day early.

I stopped taking a medication the other day. It's been affecting my stomach in a very bad way. I'm now waiting for the effects to stop, but instead, it's getting worse. I'm hoping that this is just a "darkest before the dawn" scenario.

I have things I want to share. So many thoughts and experiences have been happening and teaching me. I feel that I've allowed myself to get distracted through the dark winter and now that the sun is out and the clouds are dissipating, I have a new vision for what I want life to become. I have more energy and more desire to change and make life what I want it to be.

This is what I feel that I need to write about. I need to make sure I jot down these lessons, so that I can come back and refer to them and learn from them especially when its dark and cloudy and I start to lose my way.

Here are a few key words (for my future reference), so I can remember all that I need to write about:
**small and simple things
**looking beyond the mark
**Julie B. Beck--"A Mother Heart" and "Mothers Who Know"
**Being the "lead"
**Mt. Baldy
**Planning - ridemax
**Organizing - a house of order
**Forgiving myself/beginning NOW
**Envisioning and brainstorming (day dreaming)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hope Smiling Brightly

I started my morning with a group of impatient people. It didn't help that I really didn't want to be where I was when I was and that I, in the process of being there, broke two nails down to the point of making one of them bleed--that's quite a feat considering I rarely have nails long enough to even break in the first place.

As I dealt with this, I remembered what I read this morning, and it helped center me again.

"Because of Christ there is hope smiling brightly before you, and you need not worry too much about sickness, death, poverty, or other afflictions. The Lord will take care of you. Your responsibility is to keep the commandments, feast upon the words of Christ, and stay in the path to your heavenly home." 
--Julie B. Beck, "There Is Hope Smiling Brightly before Us", Ensign, May 2003, 103

Even in as minor a situation as I was in this morning, this quote helped me remember that even if I'm hating my circumstances, there's somebody else in charge. I just needed to ride the wave and be patient.

I knew that things would even out later in the day to make up for my cruddy morning, and you know what? It did. It ended up being a great day.

Oh, but my nail still hurts.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Manicotti in the Crockpot? A TOTAL WINNER!

image: blogs.babble.com
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE manicotti. Seriously my favorite Italian dish. 

#1 brought it up the other day. Not sure what the context was now that I think back on it, but the wheels started turning...I wonder if I can find a recipe for the crockpot.

I had made manicotti once before. It was way, WAY back when the Warden and I were first married.

What a MESS! You had to cook the noodles and THEN fill them with the cheese mixture. No way! Uh uh! It was yummy, but probably not worth the work to get there.

image: fakinit.typepad.com
With this recipe, you just get the pasta out of the package, pipe in the cheese (I used my Pampered Chef thingy--not sure what it's called, but here's a picture for you), throw it on top of a lovely bed of sauce in the bottom of the crockpot, top it with sauce, meat and cheese and throw another layer of filled pasta on top then topping THAT with more sauce, meat and cheese.

I cooked it on high for a bit more than two hours.

Oh MY! YUMMMMY! And a whole lot less work.

Here's the link to the recipe again.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sweet Time with My Boy

I was working in the kitchen, emptying the dishwasher, alongside #5 today. The thought, out of the blue, hit me....This child is just different. He's different than the rest of us. Now, of course, I know that all of my children are different and individual, but he is much more serious and much more sensitive because he's the middle of my three youngest boys, I forget this fact rather easily.

Little did I know that that impression was necessary for today. I needed this information for what would happen later.

Today, fourteen years ago, I stood at my mother's bedside, alone, while she took her last breath. I shared a bit of the story of just what happened that afternoon in Primary today. #5 was sitting on the front row.

When I got done, I glanced over the kids from the back of the room, and I could see #5 hunched over, his teacher had his arm around him. I wondered if he was crying.

Within a few minutes, he came to the back of the room asking for the bathroom pass. His face was wet, and he was sniffling.

I took him by the hand, and we walked out of the room together. I directed him outside, and we stood there and hugged and cried together for a few moments. I asked him if he was sad about the story I shared. He confessed that he was. It was a sweet moment with my ten-year-old son, and I was able to share a lot of my feelings about life and death and the importance of Jesus Christ.

I was then grateful for the realization I'd been given earlier in the day--the fact that this boy was different. He doesn't joke around like the rest of us. Things hit him deeply. He feels deeply.

After church, I felt strongly that he was the one who needed to go to the cemetery with me--just him. So, we took off, flowers in hand.

As we drove, he, who is typically very quiet, piped up suddenly with, "Hey, Mom! Okay, I have a game. You ask me about my friends, and I'll tell you all about them."

So, I started in naming all the people I've heard him talk about: Brett, Eli, Tanner, Benny, Samantha.... He talked and talked and talked. When I ran out of friends, he came up with more. The talk went from friends to funny money (class cash) to state floats to his feelings about his younger brother.

It was a great day getting to spend it with a boy who never knew my mom in this life. I think he grew in his appreciation for her today. I think my mom would have been happy that I grew in appreciation of him. So glad he's my son, this sweet, sensitive, serious boy.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Crockpot Menu - Week #8


SundayBreakfastpotatoes and sausages
DinnerRoast beef
MondayBreakfastPumpkin pudding
Chicken Enchilada soup
TuesdayBreakfastApple coffee cake
WednesdayBreakfastchicken broccoli quiche
ThursdayBreakfastrice pudding
DinnerCilantro lime chicken
FridayBreakfastbiscuit breakfast casserole
DinnerChicken alfredo
SaturdayBreakfastGerman pancakes
DinnerChili dip

With the shopping list, please feel free to cross off anything you already have on hand. You don't need to buy salt every single week. If there's still some left in your cupboard from last week, just cross it off the list. I include everything here for you, but I cross off bunches of things. I don't know about you, but following these menus have saved me oodles of money. I've been pleasantly surprised.

Shopping list


Red potatoes


Ground beef
Breakfast sausage
Chuck roast


Cream cheese
String cheese*
Sour cream
Cheddar cheese
Swiss cheese
Parmesan cheese
Ricotta cheese
Mozzarella cheese


Biscuits – 5 ct.






Chili powder
Garlic powder
Parsley flakes
Bay leaves


Chocolate chips*
Baking powder
Biscuit mix
Brown sugar


Cream of mushroom
Cream of chicken
Evaporated milk
Pasta sauce
Diced tomatoes
Chicken broth
Stewed tomatoes


Peanut butter*
Alfredo sauce
Taco seasoning mix
Worcestershire sauce


Short-grain white rice


Refried beans
Corn tortillas
Enchilada sauce


Tortilla chips*


English muffins*

There are a few items I buy for lunches and breakfasts that are included in this menu. I've marked them with an asterisk (*). Please feel free to delete them if you don't eat them.

The BEST of the Crockpot Recipes So Far

Dinner tonight was honestly SO GOOD! Yesterday, when I told the kids we would be having fish tonight, I expected them to groan, but was so surprised to hear the opposite. Two kids were going to be gone for the night. They were seriously trying to talk me in to changing the order of the menu, and I considered it. But the kids who are here wouldn't hear of it. I'm guessing we'll have to make this one again.

Thought I'd take a minute and share our faves of what we've tried in our crockpot so far. Here they are in no particular order:

We've had some real losers too, so maybe that will be a future post. All in all, the kids don't love the recipes that have had eggs or hash browns in them. The consistency is just a bit grainy and not like what you love about either ingredient when they're cooked in a pan--firm and maybe even just a bit crispy.

I love that I've learned that pasta can be poured in uncooked for the last 15 minutes. That's so great! There have been too many times when I've made crockpot pasta dishes where they've asked that you pre-cook the pasta and pour it in. Ick! It ends up WAY overcooked.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Defusing Anger with Kindness

I believe I've mentioned before that Sweetie will sometimes get angry, and it has nothing to do with red dye. The red dye anger goes FAR beyond just being angry. It's aggressive and violent. His usual anger is aggressive, but it is calm-able. Red dye anger escalates out of control. There is no calming it. Sweetie has to let it run its course. At least, that's the point we're at now. Trying to flush it through his system by having him drink a bunch of water may have helped a bit last time, but I can't be sure. We've only tried that once; although, it did seem to shorten the duration of the problem.

When Sweetie is angry, red dye or not, instead of making things better, things are always taken to a worse place. For example, if I ask Sweetie not to do something and he gets mad about it, Sweetie will slam a cupboard or throw something. When I try to correct that behavior, Sweetie'll do something similar again. This will continue each time I try to deal with it.

Sweetie eventually ends up being moved to his bedroom or the backyard.

image: occupycorporatism.com
This morning, it was the backyard. I kept waiting for the police to show up at my door. Seriously, he was freaking out. Wish someone would put me out back sometime and tell me to stay there until I feel like coming in. It's the strangest thing. I walk him to the door and open it. Sweetie starts yelling. I say, "Please go jump on the trampoline and get some of that angry energy out there. Come back in when you're feeling less angry."

Within moments, the back door is being beaten on with whatever can be found. Thank goodness we have super good windows. Sweetie throws things and just really storms.

image: stokeelitetc.com
On a regular day, he'll take himself out there and jump to his heart's content, but when he's forced to against his will, it's like he's been put in a torture chamber. Isn't that just like human nature?

This morning, though, I think I finally found something that just might work in these situations.

image: jartheground.com
Each time Sweetie beat on the door or threw something, I told him he had a kind act to perform before he could come back in. He eventually caught on that the more he beat on the door, the worse things became for him. Sweetie built himself up to nine kind acts this morning. You could almost see the wheels in his brain switching gears. He had to start thinking of how to improve things instead of tearing them down. The great thing was that when he came in, my yard looked great!

I'm grateful for neighbors who trust that I'm still an okay mom even if my son is screaming, "Mom! Let me in!" in the backyard. I promise I'm not beating him. I just need to remove the angry child before someone gets hurt.

I'm doubting this tactic will work with Sweetie on red dye. I'm still trying to figure that one out. For now, he's doing fabulously in turning away from the things he knows he can't have....Thankfully.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tonight's the Night

One of the biggest rites of passage in the LDS faith is going to the temple for the first time. #1 will have that experience this evening. What an exciting time!

If you'd like to know a bit more about LDS temples, here is a good article, or I'm sure I know a couple young men or young women who could tell you more if you're interested.

Here are some past blog posts in which I've mentioned the temple:

So looking forward to #1's experience this evening. The temple will touch her for the rest of her life.


I just now received a phone call from a good friend telling me that her dad is dying. Ugh! Looking at the calendar, today is the day my mom slipped into her final coma and stayed there for five days dying. This coming Sunday it will have been 14 years since she left us.

Here is yet another reason why I love the temple. It gives me hope that I will see her again. I'm so glad that this friend has this hope as well. It just makes that awful pill a bit easier to swallow.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Little Piece of Hesstory: Parallels

We spent this afternoon with someone I admire so much. Truly. I really can't explain it, but when it comes to moms, she's my icon. I just love to sit and watch her in action. She's just really got her head on straight and always has had.

As I watched her son speak in church today before he leaves on his mission, I thought of her. I thought of the influence a mother really has on the life of her child.

I feel blessed in my life to have had people such as this placed in my path. I don't think she knows what an influence for good she's been on me. Even though we've been miles apart for years, those foundational lessons I learned from observing and talking to her have stuck with me. Those were simpler times, and I just absorbed as much as I could from her.

We were placed together as visiting teaching companions. We were both newly married after returning from our missions not long before. We never really discussed our missions much. We were both concentrated on husbands going to school.

We were pregnant at the same time. We would take our babies for walks almost daily through the little town we lived in. We would go down to the craft store in town on a regular basis and buy the remnants of the fabric they had left over and would make overalls--her for her son, me for my daughter. I think we almost got to the point where we could make those overalls blindfolded and with one hand tied behind our backs.

These were such wonderful times.

One thing I learned from Lynda was to never budge. Know your standards and live them. Don't be afraid to face hard things in defense of what you believe to be right. I love her for that!

As I reviewed our lives, it almost made me laugh to think of how parallel our lives have been. Way back then, our husbands were both going to school to become teachers. Her's to teach high school science, mine to teach elementary school. Both husbands ended up becoming administrators in funny ways. Our children are very similar in ages even though we moved away a long time before most of them were born. Now, our oldest children, the ones who rode around town in strollers while their moms chit-chatted about life as new moms, will be serving missions at the same time.

Lynda's son will enter the MTC in two weeks (the day before his 19th birthday and the Warden's and my 21st anniversary). He will head to the Alpine German-speaking mission. #1 will follow four months later. Really, who would have thought this would have happened all those years ago?

The other funny thing...as I mentioned earlier, Lynda and I didn't talk about our missions much way back then, but I knew where she served...the Philippines. Yep, you got that right.

Today, when we were with them, Lynda got out her photo albums and some of the memorabilia from her mission to share with #1. So fun! She lent her a tape of children's songs in Tagalog. It was very encouraging to hear stories about the wonderful people of that country and about her experiences.

It's crazy how things come around. It will be SO fun to share mission experiences between our families. What a blessing to have such people in our lives!

As we rode home today, I felt a further boost to be the best mom I can be. I understood a little more my importance to my children and their futures.

How grateful I am for wonderful friends!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Crockpot Menu - Week #7


SundayBreakfastChocolate zucchini bread
Bacon Ranch chicken
TuesdayBreakfastbreakfast cobbler
DinnerPenne pasta zuppa
WednesdayBreakfastbroccoli brunch casserole
DinnerVegan layered dish
ThursdayBreakfastcrockpot hash
DinnerTater tot casserole
FridayBreakfastCaramel rolls
DinnerFish au gratin
SaturdayBreakfastbreakfast potatoes
DinnerRavioli stew

Shopping list:


Yellow squash
Red potatoes
Green beans


Stew meat
Bacon (2)
Bulk sausage
Ground beef
White fish fillets


Cream cheese
String cheese
Sour cream
Cottage cheese (24 oz)
Parmesan cheese


Stuffed ravioli pasta


Potatoes O’Brien
Tater tots
Mixed veggies




Garlic powder
Dry mustard


Chocolate chips
Baking soda
Baking cocoa
Brown sugar
Powdered sugar


Cream of mushroom soup (2)
Cream of chicken soup
White beans
Diced tomatoes (3)
Cream of potato soup
Green beans
Vegetable broth (2)
Cannellini beans


Peanut butter
Dry onion soup mix
Ranch dressing mix
Lemon juice


Egg noodles


Sliced jalepenos


Tortilla chips


English muffins

Household items

Maybe I Don't Hate It as Much as I Remember

K, so as a follow up from my Facebook status this morning in which I asked for advice on how to start running again. Thank you to everyone who commented and left me private messages. More than anything else, thank you for caring. Dave, particularly, thank you for your message. It was very fitting for the circumstance, and I'm sure you didn't know that. Your message was inspired, and I felt very encouraged as I read it.

After all of the love that was shown, I thought I'd better give some follow up. It was too long for Facebook, so here  you go....

I went running. Yay, me! I knew I couldn't ask any of my three oldest to go with me, they are WAY too fast (Thank you, Wes, for taking the photos. I swear I wouldn't have any if it weren't for you). They all run cross country and track, so I asked #4. He doesn't do that crazy running stuff yet, so he was the perfect candidate, and he rocks! Did I ever tell you that? Well, he does.

We found a great park and just went for it.

image: brandeating.com
We went to breakfast with the Warden's parents for the Warden's birthday. I ate a light breakfast. Want to know what I had? Oatmeal. Yes. I ordered oatmeal at a restaurant where I could have had anything. It was DELICIOUS, and as I ate it, I thought, I'm being so good to myself. Again, yay, me!

#4, however, ordered an omelet and ate himself silly, so it was nice to have his gut an excuse to walk a bit during our run.

image: flickr.com
We ran at Noble Woods Park in Hillsboro. Hillsboro has some really nice parks. I searched them out online.

We ran on the main paths through the park and found ourselves on the opposite side, so we exited the park and ran through the neighborhood a bit.

I have no idea how far we ran distance-wise, but we ran/walked for a half hour, and you know what? It felt GOOD. I had forgotten how good it feels. I think the thing that makes it feel so good is the fact that I know I've conquered something in myself just to get out there and do it.

image: slashsport.com
I also have a new pair of shoes that I call my little gift from heaven that I'll have to explain, but once I explain, I think you'll understand why I feel such a compulsion to run.

image: store.nike.com
The other day, I mentioned that something awesome was going to happen and that I was waiting for it. Well, those shoes are one of three things (that I'm aware of) that were awesome that happened that day.

More on that later.....

Don't you just love it when I leave you with a teaser?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I Cannot Be My Mother

My mother did EVERYTHING for us kids. Seriously, everything--laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, you name it, she did it. Yes, I was VERY spoiled. By the time I left home, I knew how to dust and set a dinner table. Please don't judge my mother by this. She was an only child raising six children. I firmly believe she was doing the best she knew how and those were different times.

Because of that, though, I decided that as a mother I would do things differently. My children would learn how to do for themselves, and for the most part, they have.

This morning started out rough and led me into my mother's life (for the second time). Let me explain....

We, the Warden and I, began with a conversation surrounding the topic of a habit one of our children is adopting that might not bode well for the future. Such is the case with bad habits, right? In discussing this, I explained my opinion that this wasn't something that could be forced. We had to somehow help this child come to the conclusion that this wasn't a good thing and that the child would have to somehow decide to change it. We could not force the change. All we could do was explain and attempt to persuade.

We finished our conversation, and I went to talk to the child. Things were easily understood, and an agreement was peacefully made. Phew! It honestly took about two minutes. But, I also added that if what we had agreed upon didn't work, we would have to come up with something more to take care of the problem. That also was understood. Did I already say "Phew?"

All was seemingly handled, but then it unraveled before my eyes. We walked to the kitchen, and the Warden completely sabotaged my efforts. That child stormed out of the house and walked to school--no breakfast, no lunch in hand, nothing. Ugh!

I'm sure the Warden didn't mean to sabotage me. We hadn't even had a chance to discuss the terms of the treaty I'd pushed for yet. Did I already say "Ugh?"

image: tumblr.com
Add to this picture the fact that when said child walked out the door, I thought all that had happened was that the child had gotten into the car for the customary ride to school. I sent #7 out with a peanut butter sandwich (very like my mom would have done), so that the child, who has sports after school wouldn't collapse while doing said sports.

#7, after a few moments, rang the doorbell, she had accidentally locked herself out. We opened the door, and there she was standing there with her little blonde head against the wall, tears spilling onto the uneaten sandwich. Her words as she sobbed: "[Child]'s not there."This was when I understood how angry the older child really was.

image: theatlantic.com
Let's add to this picture, shall we? Immediately after that car drove away with its occupants, the last remaining children were milling around the kitchen. One of those kids comes to me and says, "We never have breakfast." In other words, we never have sugary cereals anymore.

That was IT! Really? Why is it that no one else around here can do what I do? I mean, that was the idea behind this motherhood thing, right? Teach them to do for themselves? Are they really this helpless?

image: mrbreakfast.com
I walked into the kitchen and showed the breakfast-less child the English muffins, oatmeal and bread. I explained about a dozen things that could be done with those ingredients.

I would like to step back in time for a moment....

Back to this, which was my rebuttal to some really ugly comments on this from March 4, 2011:

image: wakemedvoices.org
I confess
I made my 2nd grader go without lunch today.

My children make their own lunches.  They are given enough lunch money through their accounts at school to buy four lunches or one lunch a week for the month.  This particular child overdraws his account monthly.  It's to the point that the recorded voice from the school district calls and leaves messages daily about his account being overdrawn--they call until it's been paid off.  I only pay on the first of the month, so sometimes we're five days into the month when the calls start in.  He was warned last month that if he overdrew, it would be his last month with lunch money in his account.  So, you can see what happened.

Today, I volunteered in his classroom.  He came to me and told me he'd forgotten his lunch.  I told him I wished he would have told me earlier, so I could have brought it with me when I came to volunteer.  It was then that I found out he hadn't even made one.  His teacher was standing there--sweetest person in the universe.  She told me that he'd forgotten yesterday too.  She explained that she hadn't called because she was pretty sure what I would say.  This teacher is very good friends and a former co-worker with my mother by marriage, so she knows how things roll with the Hesses.  So #5 went hungry at lunch yesterday too.

I have full confidence that he'll start getting this.  Yesterday his teacher gave him some crackers to get him through the afternoon.  I thanked her.  She said she could do that again.  I asked her to please have him do something for her to compensate her for the crackers.  She agreed.

Do I sound like the worst mother in the world?  It all goes back to the idea of feeling entitled.  I don't want any of my children thinking that they can have what they want if they manipulate the system just right.

So, there will be a nice, healthy snack for him when he gets home today.  Like I said, I sure hope he learns this lesson soon.

Have I softened since that time? Maybe, but I don't think so. I am stressed about a child who goes off without breakfast and won't be home until after 5:00 tonight and will be doing sports in the meantime. I, however, wouldn't stress about a child who's had breakfast and misses lunch to come home to a substantial snack and dinner a couple hours later.

But, the child that went off without, set me off.

I decided that I'm tired of being sabotaged. I decided that if I'm the only one who cares, then I will be the only one who works. I will become my mother for awhile and see if there's maybe something I'm missing. I will touch every base. Every child will have a clean room and will be well fed. I will make sure of it ALL. They will wear the clean clothes I picked out for them.

At this point, I've finished four loads of laundry and three loads of dishes, fed seven people breakfast and four people lunch, put dinner in the crockpot, wiped tables and put clean tablecloths on, picked up #7 from preschool, visited the bank and deposited some checks, and welcomed two friends at my door. There is much else to do, and like my mother, I won't sleep tonight until they're done.

image: nairaland.com
I have to confess that doing this for a day makes me feel great love for my family. I now see why my mom did it for us. It was her way of showing selfless love, and in this I find my confusion. In serving them, I feel love for them, but what I've learned from teaching my children to do for themselves is that the greatest thing I've given them is self-esteem. When they are self-reliant, they come to see their own capabilities.

Is one right and the other wrong? I'm not sure, but I tend to think not.

Am I being a martyr? You'd better believe it, but I quickly learned that I can't do it grudgingly for very long. It has wrought a bit of a change on this morning's upset heart.

So, I wonder, will they notice my work and jump in to help? Yah, I doubt it too, but there was a little glimmer of hope this morning.....

#6 got up after all of this had gone down, having afternoon Kindergarten has its benefits. He asked what there was to eat. I told him about the bread, English muffins, and oatmeal. He immediately went for a bowl. He didn't sit around whining, begging me to get him a bowl, or to make it for him.

image: michelleprice.ca
Being in the mode I was, I think he was surprised when I took the bowl from him and poured the oatmeal and again when I took it from him as he was heading for the water and did it for him. I then took it, after he'd pulled it from the microwave and took over the job he was already doing of putting brown sugar in it. I think he was a bit confused as to what was going on. I think he wondered if I somehow found him incapable.

I was grateful to see that his natural tendency, at the age of six, is to do for himself. It isn't in his nature to sit around wondering who's going to serve him. He serves himself.

I have learned that my mom was wonder woman. How did she do this day after day after day?

Yes, I will continue this through today--picking up after everyone, every little thing they put down--but I don't know if I can do it like my mom did. Actually, I know I can't. I know my kids are capable of much more than sitting around, but this little perspective makes me appreciate my mom that much more. It reminds me to love and appreciate my family and all that they do and to overlook all of those things that I have been viewing as sabotage.

Maybe I need to find some balance--somewhere between me and my mom.

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