Friday, December 4, 2009

Flashback Friday: What Nana Passed On

For my Nana
12/28/17 - 11/22/09

Peanut, Pumpkin, and Nana in 2006

What Nana Passed On

Arriving at Nana and Pop Pop’s house
Their faces in the kitchen window
Making sure we arrived safely
No doubt their love was abundant

My nana passed on to me her love of sweets
In the smell of snickerdoodles
And homemade applesauce
That always greeted us
And the just-filled candy dishes
My brother and I liked to raid
When we were supposed to be sleeping

She passed on to me her love of music
As we performed impromptu recitals
With Nana at the piano,
Her passion for her chosen piece
Obvious with every keystroke

She passed on her love of cats
And I appreciated her inability
To throw away her beloved cat, Buffy’s, whiskers
And her choice to display them
In her miniature kitchen garden instead

Nana passed on her love of detail
Seen in every precious tatted card
She painstakingly handmade
After hours of designing a new one
Every Christmas season

She passed on her strong moral compass
When she chose to do what was right
And what was best for my Aunt Connie
Even when it was difficult for her
And others might not understand

She passed on her comforting hugs
In each afghan she crocheted
And gave as gifts to her family and friends
So that we would feel her warmth
Even when she was not there

She passed on her sense of humor
In each zinger and witty remark
She made to lighten the moment
And affectionately tease those she loved

And Nana passed on her most important gift to me
In the way she cared for my aunt, Connie
The way she mourned for my sweet Pop Pop
And in the way her eyes glimmered
Every single time she talked about my Dad
She taught me the importance of family
Especially during life’s trials

Nana will now see all that she passed on to me
And so many others
From a better view
And even though she has passed on
The loving gifts she gave us
Will be passed on to others as well

I imagine that when she reached eternity
My pop pop was waiting and watching for her
Through a window in heaven
And they will both be looking out for us
Making sure we are safe
Until we finally arrive to meet them
Once again.

Miss you already, Nana.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Trick or treatsgiving

Okay, just call me "Slacky McSlacker." Or simply "Slacker" for short.

I truly had no intention of making everyone hold their breath until after Thanksgiving to see my little Pumpkin and Peanut's Halloween costumes. If there is a bad blogger award, I humbly accept.

I could give you a million and one excuses, but who wants to hear excuses when you could be seeing cute costumed boys instead? Right? I think you have waited long enough!

Pumpkin was just a wee bit excited to be Nemo

Pumpkin and Peanut (as VeggieTale's LarryBoy) make their grand entrance

I loved both of their side profiles
(and Pumpkin's tail swished as he walked!)

P & P's parents make an appearance

The boys had a great time, despite the fact that it was drizzling when we left the house and was in full downpour mode by the time we arrived safely back home. At one point, Pumpkin said to us in a desperate tone, "Oh no! Finding Nemo is getting all wet!" Eric and I said, "But Nemo is a fish. It's okay if he gets wet!" Pumpkin said, "Oh, yeah!" and all was right with the world again.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Single Sibling

For my brother, Ken, 1/22/68-10/31/88

Two innocent children
Played together as siblings do
Fought one minute
Giggled the next
His feet were always so ticklish
But they were hard to get
When he was wrestling me
To the TV room carpet
We watched Fat Albert on Saturdays
Ate Dad's grilled cheese and tomato soup
While Mom gave piano lessons
We were each other's summer best friends
When we went on our annual camping trips
Hunting for weird bugs and baby toads
And singing Queen songs at the top of our lungs
In our one-of-a-kind TravelAll vehicle
We walked to school together in the morning
Almost always late
And played kick-the-can in the street at night
We blared the "Big Foot" record out of the window
And made up our own game to go with it
We took art lessons together
While listening to The Carpenters on WDOV
We convinced our babysitter
To fill up big cups with peanut butter for our snack
And we got caught by our parents
I went to his Little League games
He went to my concerts and recitals
He taught me Asteroids and Pitfall
But never once let me win
He attempted to drown out my Xanadu soundtrack
With his KISS albums
But he never expected that I'd like their songs, too
We created goofy lyrics to pop songs
And we called each other funny names
And he teased me endlessly
But defended me fiercely
And then somehow
We grew up
And in all that time
I would have never believed
That he wouldn't be here
To relive those memories
With me

Friday, October 30, 2009


That's a "boo" for this Halloween and a "boo" for not having a winning guess in my last post. Maybe I made you believe that the boys were going to wear the same costumes as a previous year by also posting links to their previous costumes. My intention was to give you the links so you knew what they weren't going to be this year and to see what types of costumes they have liked in the past. You know, like these:
See? They were plain and peanut m&ms last year. And they have both chosen new costumes this year. And no, unfortunately their costumes don't go together this time. But they are still adorable! And their outits really do look a lot like this:
Okay, fine. Here is some additional help!
Peanut will be...this...hero:

And Pumpkin will just keep swimming:

Now do you know?!? ;)
(Real-life little boy images to follow soon.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another Identity Crisis

Okay, are you tired of guessing games yet? (Assuming you said, "Of course not, Kristin! We just love your silly guessing games!") Well, good.

Peanut came home with this gem of a drawing, and I just had to add it to my blog. After all, you are all probably dying to know what my little men have chosen to wear for their Halloween costumes.

So, here you go!

What...that's no help?!?

Well, let's see if anyone can venture a guess. What are Peanut (left) and Pumpkin (right) planning to be for Halloween based on this beautiful artwork by Peanut himself?

And, just in case you need a refresher, here are the costumes my boys donned last year and in past years.

On your mark...get set...guess! :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Tiger the Grrrrrrreeeaaat!

Congrats to all of you who quickly and correctly guessed that Peanut has become a Tiger Cub. (Accepted answers also included "cub scout" -- the more general term -- and "boy scout.") And because I am feeling generous, I am going to give all of you shout outs! Thanks to Kristin, Kelly, Kristen, Heather, and Laura (who even specifically guessed "Tiger Cub"!) for participating.

Both my husband and my brother were cub scouts, so when Peanut heard that and some of daddy's stories of the pinewood derby, he was interested. Before that, he was really concerned that being a cub scout would entail us dropping him off in the far-off woods with only a tent to protect him from the bears. We assured him that we wouldn't do that until he was much older. ;)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Clearly a Hint!

Okay, so apparently using the watercolor effect on the secret identity photo made all of your creative juices flow! I thought the pic would be way too easy without some sort of disguise. But I had no idea how much your responses would make me giggle.

So, let's try again. Now do you know what Peanut has become?!?

As much as I loved your pretzel superhero, fruit roll-up, Care Bear crusader, parachute, and insect-like guesses, alas, the answer is far less imaginative. But it is still exciting for Peanut! So guess again....on your mark, get set, GO!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Peanut's Secret Identity

Let's have some blogging fun.
Can you guess by this picture
What Peanut has become?

As usual, the winner will receive lots of praise and a link to his or her blog. Oh, and you will also receive my utmost respect! Now that, ladies (and gentlemen?), is a prize worth fighting for!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pumpkin Loves the Single Ladies...

Note: Before viewing videos on my blog, you will want to pause the music. Scroll down to the Playlist on the left hand sidebar and click the pause button. :)

So, most people who listen to Top 40 radio know the ubiquitous Beyonce' song, "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)." The song's video was apparently so great that it even caused Kanye' West to become the most-hated musical artist of the year in a matter of seconds. But that's another story.

Many people also have seen this fun spoof of Beyonce's video with Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg from Saturday Night Live. And while I am on the topic, I wish every SNL episode would include JT. Just sayin'.

Now, this video of a talented little tyke named Ava is making the rounds. I have no idea how she dances like she does, but It is so stinkin' cute, I became instantly addicted to it.

And the addiction to that video just might explain the video of Pumpkin below. Yes, he thought Ava was funny, too. And, yes, I admittedly ran around the house singing and humming the song over and over. But who knew he would be such a natural?!?

So now, I am addicted to watching Pumpkin's video. I hope when he sees this as a teenager, he knows this was an act of love and isn't mortified beyond belief. That could warrant all of us to chant: "Uh-uh-oh...oh-oh-oh..."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Things I should have been blogging when I wasn't blogging (Part I)

So, during my blogging hiatus, lots of "blogworthy" events happened. Many of those things, I should have blogged about. But as you know, I didn't. So here are some of the highlights, and yes, some of them happened a good three months ago. So sue me.

Peanut attended and graduated from Safety Town
(and loved every minute of it!)

Pumpkin learned the great art of spraying others with a hose.

Peanut discovered -- gasp!-- vinyl records!

I definitely did not swipe a parked car. At church.
And Pumpkin definitely did not say the next time I parked without
hitting a car, "Great job, Mommy! You didn't hit anyfing!"

Peanut got a new bike and hasn't broken any bones yet!

Pumpkin responded so well to his potty chart...

...he jumped up and down when he completed it and decided
that he would be a proud wearer
of underwear from then on. Woo-hoo!

Eric and I managed to get a few days alone in the mountains to
celebrate our 12th anniversary. Don't we look relaxed?
Did I mention our resort had a spa? Ahhhhh....

So those are the highlights for now. And to those of you out there who are actually still reading my blog even though I have probably frustrated you with my lack of recent posts: I thank you. More posts to follow! (I promise!)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It's the most...difficult time...of the year....

Remember this commercial from Staples?!? "They're going BACK!" Well, even before motherhood, I despised this commercial. Besides the fact that they began playing it in July (July!), it was a reminder for me that my summer off was coming to a close.

Thankfully, I haven't seen that commercial this back-to-school season. Yet I still have that darn song in my head, even though I replace the lyrics from "the most wonderful time of the year" to "the most difficult." I keep thinking that each year will get better. Because -- let's face it -- leaving a six-month-old for the first time and going back to work as I did with both boys is just plain heart-wrenching, no matter how much you enjoy your job.

So, why I am still so emotional?!?

I'll tell you why.

Because this little pumpkin is somehow, someway, starting preschool tomorrow.

And don't get me started about this little peanut, who now has an actual number as a grade, (even if it is only the number one).

Hold on. I have to go grab a tissue.


I remember thinking when Peanut had such horrible colic that those hard months would never end. Or when Pumpkin vomited after every nursing and had to have surgery at eight weeks that I may not live through the anxiety. I certainly won't forget the emotions those days created, but how can the days go by both so slowly yet so very quickly?!? I have a feeling that all you mommies out there know exactly what I mean.

In honor of the day that is tomorrow, I am copying this post from last summer. Because it really says all I am feeling (as long as you replace "kindergarten" with "first grade" and add in that Pumpkin is starting preschool). And if you say a little prayer for me that I won't bawl like the babies mine once were tomorrow, I promise to do the same for all of you.


Original Post:

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Singin' the Back-to-School Blues

I should be used to this feeling because it has come over me every year for the past five years. But it doesn't make it any easier. The tears just keep coming. You see, I am technically two different types of mommy. In the summer, I get to experience stay-at-home mommyhood. But then, just as soon as I am really getting used to my new schedule and having my little men all to myself, -- wham! -- it's time to go back to work again.

Don't get me wrong; I love my job most days. I am aware that I am quite fortunate to be able to even have a job that offers two months off (no, we do not have three months off as urban legend would suggest!). But I miss those little boys. Desperately.

Somehow, the day before I return to work, all of the whines, temper tantrums, and messiness in the world mean nothing, and I only want to spend a few more precious days with my children...just us, playing together and relaxing on our lazy summer days, doing what we want, when we want. I realize I am not actually leaving my children; after all, I will pick them up every afternoon as per our usual school schedule. But it won't be the same. I will be preoccupied with all of the work I still have to do well beyond my "workday," Peanut will be starting kindergarten (!) and he will have his own brand new preoccupations, and Pumpkin will be read to and put down for naps by his babysitter and not his mommy.

Once I get back into the swing of things, I'll be okay. But I am never good at change, and these little boys of mine just change so darn fast. So excuse me while I relish the memories of these happy summer days that are gone way too soon with tissues in hand. I have to morph into Working Mommy tomorrow, and tissues will be a required part of the uniform for the first few days.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Top 10 Reasons I Haven't Been Blogging

10. I have been too worried about the drama that is Jon and Kate Plus Eight (or my renamed title, Jon Makes Me Vomit).

9. All my friends' blogs have been chock full of so much excitement that I have been enjoying reading blog posts more than writing them.

8. It's too hot. (What? Too lame an excuse?!?)

7. If I write that summer is almost over, it will be true.

6. We have been too busy celebrating that Pumpkin has finished potty training. (Woo-hoo!)

5. Full-time mommying is more tiring than full-time teaching.

4. I have been desperately searching for my favorite discontinued hair product.

3. Blogging doesn't burn enough calories.

2. I have been too busy rejecting Facebook requests from students.

And the REAL reason I haven't been blogging lately is...

1. I have too much competition to get on the computer from my three-year-old. (Seriously, Folks, who taught this child to scroll, left click, and use all the arrow buttons? Do babies these days just come with those genes?!?)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Mexican Jumping Peanut Lives On

I guess at least this time, he was supposed to jump. Although, you will notice halfway through the song, his Vacation Bible School teacher warns him not to jump all the way off the stage. But no doubt, he enjoyed himself just as much this year. Hope you enjoy, too!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Flashback Friday: Mexican Jumping Peanut

In honor of the end of Vacation Bible School today, I am reposting this entry from last year. Tonight is the performance for families; I will let you know if the Mexican Jumping Peanut makes another appearance!

Original Post from July 26, 2008:

Our firstborn recently finished his first week at Vacation Bible School and loved every minute of it (and secondborn vocally wished -- every day in protest form as we left -- that he was old enough to attend as well). We were thoroughly impressed with the organization, lessons, music, and all the fun this summertime program had to offer. And the highlight was the final performance for all of the families at the end of the week filled with singing and dancing as evidenced in the video below. I would make a point to describe where Peanut is, but based on my post title, I think you will find him without any trouble. Suffice it to say that Peanut "likes God" ("oh, yes, it's true").

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Oprah's Kristin's Book Club

I attended a graduation party this summer for a student I absolutely adore; she is everything I hope my children will grow up to be: inquisitive and smart but equally as modest, talented in practically every aspect of her life but so giving to others, beautiful on the outside but even more so on the inside. I often tell her parents that I wish they would write a parenting manual; having also taught their older child, I can tell you that they obviously did so many things right. And while I was speaking to the aunt of these two incredible kids, she asked me what I typically read. And I answered honestly: I am addicted to parenting books.

I am one of those people who just wants all of the information -- about any topic -- before I make a decision. This is much harder to do as a parent; there is no real "deadline" for learning new strategies, and the information available is endless, so I just keep on reading. I want so badly to be a great mom to my boys. I know I provide for them and give them all the essentials, but I want them to look back and think, "Wow, we had a great mom who understood us and loved us so much." The aunt at the party asked if I had read her favorite parenting book. Not yet, but as coincidence would have it, I had recently placed that book on my online library reading list. She said it helped her more than any other parenting book out there. So I was excited, and I checked it out from the library a few days later.

I even love the title. I really want my kids to listen to what my husband and I say, but I also want them to talk to us about whatever is on their minds. And I am here to tell you, thirtyish pages later, that I am already excited about the methods in this book. I haven't even finished chapter one, but I wanted to invite any other moms or dads out there to read it, too. Grab it from your local library like I did and read along with me! Or, if you are a parent who has already read it, let us know: Did it help you communicate better with your children? I'd love for you to share your thoughts.

I admit that I am a total nerd when it comes to finding a good book, but usually I don't get this excited about a parenting book. So, please consider joining me! (Just don't pretend to read it and then try to have an informed conversation about it; I get enough of that at school. And yes, we do always know who you are.) Happy reading!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Four Stars for the Fourth

Before my husband I had the boys, we used to go to the same festival each year and discuss our wishes and dreams on a blanket under the stars and fireworks. Inevitably, our conversations eventually led to having children. We usually ended up giggling and hugging when we thought of starting a family. But I remember both of us saying that it would probably be a long time 'til we were able to experience fireworks with little children. We had a feeling our kids might be the type who detest loud booms. And we were right. For the most part.

But we know now that our kids do love....

...dancing to their Pop Pop's band...

...playing fun games with fun prizes...

...making themselves comfortable when the mood hits...

...eating yummy treats at dusk (even if some is left on their faces)...

...celebrating our great country...

...and snuggling with their parents while anticipating their first real fireworks!

Besides the insane traffic leaving the event, we had an unbelievably successful day. In fact, Eric and I marveled at how well it went. When we were leaving, Peanut even said, "Mommy and Daddy, thank you for taking us here." Surprisingly, Pumpkin only shuddered a bit at the first few loud booms, but he was so impressed with the sight of the fireworks that he "ooohed and aahed" with the best of them. And -- unlike many days of late -- no one shed a tear. Unless, of course, you count the happy ones from me.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thanks, but no thanks

I remember sitting at the kitchen table as a girl in elementary school, grudgingly writing out thank you note after thank you note for birthdays and Christmases. My parents instilled the importance of a thank you note pretty early. I admit; I have never enjoyed writing them. Not because I don't want to say thank you; quite the opposite, actually. I always worry I will forget some detail that was important to me or that I won't express my gratitude as sincerely as I hope. Let's face it; a thank you note can easily sound cliche' and boring. Think back to your wedding thank you notes. I know that mine certainly weren't sent as punctually as I had wished; I needed some time off or else I worried they would all sound exactly the same. I figured out later that it really matters more that the gift was acknowledged than that the thank you note was terribly original or special. But I still try to achieve that in the notes I write, regardless of how punctual (or not) I am in sending them.

I was recently reading an article in one of my parenting magazines in which a mom was stressing to her teenage daughter that she should write a thank you note for a recent interview she had for a summer job. The teenager said, "But Mom, no one does that anymore." And the mom countered, "That's precisely why you should."

But the teenager is right. No one does that anymore. At a graduation party I attended this year, one of the parents so profusely thanked me for writing his son's college recommendation letter every time he saw me that he left me at a literal loss for words. But it was certainly nice to hear. And I started to think: I write dozens of recommendation letters every single year. How often had I received a thank you note?!? I can tell you this: In over a decade of teaching at my current high school, I can count on one hand. I'm not saying that for a sympathetic response; I just find it sort of a sad truth of my chosen profession. But honestly, I doubt it is much different in other work environments.

Peanut had a wonderful experience in kindergarten this year. He was assigned a teacher who quickly understood how his mind and heart work and the best ways to help him to excel. We were so impressed with her! I wanted to thank her in a meaningful way, but how do you express that in one end-of-the-year gift from a six-year-old?!? I thought about what I would find touching as a teacher. And I thought about what Peanut likes to do.

And here is what we did: We bought a photo album with pretty pressed flowers on the cover.

Inside, I wrote:

Dear Mrs. S, We are so grateful for all you did to make Peanut's kindergarten experience so special. Thank you for everything! Love, Peanut's Family

Then, we used a stack of plain index cards and inserted them into the photo slots. On the first one, I wrote:

Peanut wants to thank you in his own words. Thank you for...

Here are some of the pages that followed (in Peanut's own words!):

The last page is a picture of Peanut's teacher with him at their end-of-the-year ice cream social. On the next page, I inserted a gift card to Borders. Because, well...teachers love meaningful mushy stuff. But we also like gift cards. :)

I hoped that this gift would not only express our gratitude to an exceptional teacher but that it would teach Peanut a valuable lesson in saying "thank you." He worked very hard on this project for two nights before dinner, and I think he was surprised when Mrs. S was unable to look at the whole book because she "didn't want to cry so early in the morning" on their last day.

And guess what? Mrs. S sent Peanut a thank you note for his thank you gift. See? Told you she was a keeper.

And now I thank you for indulging me, my kind readers. Every time any of you leaves a comment or chooses to follow my blog and lets me know I am not writing just for myself, I thank you in my head. And now I thank you out loud. Well, in writing at least. Thank you, readers!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Birthday Portraits

I promise that my blogging will not always be this boring, but for now, here are the boys' newest portraits taken in April after their respective birthdays. Let me know your favorites!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Flashback Friday: Daddy's Little Girl

Dad and me at three weeks old

Since Father's Day is right around the corner, I thought this would be an appropriate Flashback Friday. I have and always will be a daddy's girl. I think most girls are -- I know that even my mom, my stepmom, and my mother-in-law were all daddy's girls, too. There's just some kind of unspoken code between a daddy and his daughter. My dad chose his words carefully and could scare the dickens out of me with just a stern look. He could also alert the entire neighborhood with his powerful whistle that we could all hear blocks away to indicate that it was dinnertime. We had a ritual when I was little of watching Fat Albert together on Saturday while eating grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup that he made. And he always gave me the sandwich with the most cheese drizzle, even though I know he liked them that way just as much as I did. But the most powerful of all things he has given me through the years is his unconditional love that has never wavered, regardless of some of my idiotic decisions or my immature perspective. While my dad's glares and whistles were strong, his hugs were even stronger. And he still is the best hugger ever.

At my Senior Voice Recital, December 1991

One of the funniest stories my dad tells is how I would not talk to him after he grew a moustache when I was three. I was scared of men with facial hair. If you think back to the seventies, you can see why; all men with facial hair were "bad guys" with the exception of Santa Claus (although I was not a fan of his facial hair, either). So, imagine my surprise when recently my dad arrived at my house, and I saw his upper lip for the first time in 36 years!

May 2009 -- My Now-Moustacheless Dad!

I know I am blessed to have such a wonderful bond with my dad and to have also had such other amazing fathers in my life: my Pop Pop who was my heart, my grandpa, my father-in-law, and now my own husband. (It is no wonder with such strong father figures in my life that I chose someone to love whose second job is being SuperDad.)

So, Happy Early Father's Day to my dad and all of the other dads who have influenced my life. And Dad, thanks for always letting me be Daddy's little girl, even though I'm not so little anymore.