Posts Tagged ‘family life’

“What happened to your house?” the little boy said as he quietly stood at my front door. I eyed him with a puzzled look and replied, “What do you mean?” But just as soon as I said those words, it dawned on me – I knew exactly what he meant. I squatted down to his level and said apologetically, “I’m so sorry. My boys grew up.” This little boy, dressed up as a devil, had come trick-or-treating at my home with the anticipation of finding my traditionally scary-looking house, but instead he found only a few fake spider webs strewn across some bushes. As I closed the door behind him, I felt the weight of his question and thought about what had happened to my house.

Halloween was always a fun time around our home. “What should I be for Halloween, Mommy?” was a question I anticipated every October 15th. Costumes were either purchased at a store or made by me – sometimes in advance, but most often at the last minute. And selecting which treats to pass out was always a dilemma. Being a dental hygienist, I didn’t like to pass out sugary sweets, but every year I relented when my kids pleaded that it wasn’t cool to pass out toothbrushes or dental floss. Other Halloween memories involved delivering secret “BOO” treats to neighbors. We would do reconnaissance by driving around the neighborhood to see which family did not have a BOO sign on their front door and later when it was dark, we’d sneak off and place a bag of treats on the doorstep, ring the doorbell, and then run like the dickens!

The most fun Halloween memories, though, are always centered around decorating the house. After my children were born, I started collecting little whimsical pieces of decorations, but as the children grew older they wanted to be more involved in the decorating. My sons, in particular, had their own ideas about how to transform our house for Halloween. With their help our Halloween decorations got more elaborate and progressively creepier. One year a skeleton hung from an oak tree in front of our house, but the next year bloody-looking, fake body parts joined it. Eventually, shrieks, screams, and bone-chilling music drifted out of a window and floated down the driveway. Playing the eerie music on our karaoke machine led to an unusual use of it – the boys discovered that by using the karaoke’s microphone, they could scream into it and scare unsuspecting trick-or-treaters. One son would man the microphone while the other peeked out the front window. If they knew the trick-or-treater’s name, they would personalize their ghostly greeting like this, “KYLE!!! . . . What are you doing heeeere? . . . I wouldn’t come any clooooser if I were yooouu . . . !” Add some swirling fog and orange-colored spotlights to the mix and our house evolved into one scary destination.

Then it happened. First one son went away to college and then the second one followed him. Although my daughter was still home, she was not into the gore of Halloween or into decorating the house. I enjoyed the “feminine” side of Halloween as my daughter grew up, but it just wasn’t the same without the boys’ antics.

Since the kids left, Halloween has always stirred up feelings of empty nesting in me; I miss my kids most around this time of the year. But with feelings of empty nesting come feelings of renewal and revival. I look forward now to going over to my son’s new home to see what gross and eerie scenes he’ll create with a bin of slightly used body parts and the old karaoke and fog machines of his youth! So to all the kids in his new neighborhood . . . BEWARE!

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Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?

Who, me?

Yes, you!

Couldn’t be!

Then who?

For some reason, bouncing my kids up and down on my knees and reciting this little nursery rhyme with them always brought smiles to our faces. Smiles because we were being silly and having fun, but also because the mere mention of cookies made us happy! In a post I wrote last week called The Way We Were, I mentioned that one of my sons and his girlfriend just bought their first home. I wanted to give them a little gift – something that somehow always makes a house a home – so I bought them a cookie jar! After baking three different types of cookies, I filled the jar, tied a bow on it, and then attached a tag that read, “Good for One Refill.” Many old friends and new neighbors have come by to say hello to the proud new homeowners – some even bearing gifts of much welcomed plates of cookies. How perfect that my son and his girlfriend already have a cookie jar in which to store them! My only question is, why isn’t a “Cookie Jar” called a “Cookies Jar”? Who stores only one cookie in a jar and who can only eat just one cookie?

Here’s a good, basic oatmeal cookie recipe that I got from a friend many years ago and it’s one of the cookies I made for my son’s new cookie jar.

Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used Splenda instead)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup orange-flavored Craisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Beat together butter and sugars until creamy.
2. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well.
3. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir into butter-egg mixture.
4. Stir in oats, Craisins, and nuts. Mix well.
5. Drop by the tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
6. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.


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A short volley darts across the net. My son starts to run towards the ball. I watch intensely as he scrambles to salvage the point in a district championship tennis match. With baited breath I wait to see if he’ll get there in time. I hear someone yell out, “Get it, Kevie!” Oops! That someone was me! I thought I had my emotions under check, but the words just kind of popped out of my mouth. To put this incident into proper perspective, “Kevie,” the youngster in this photo, is now in his mid-twenties and likes to be called Kevin these days! The point I described above was played just last week. I guess not much has changed – it’s just as hard watching my kids play sports now as it was when they were young.

I thought I’d learned my lesson to “zip my lips” during sports activities when my second child started playing soccer at age five. Because he was stocky and strong, the coach assigned him to the position of goalie. Playing this position was not fun for my son because it involved long periods of time just standing around when the ball was at the other end of the field. And in my case, this was not a fun position for me to watch my child play either. Anxiously, I would keep an eye on him, the lone figure standing in front of a huge goal, trying to fend off a bunch of charging offensive players. Sometimes when the ball came down the field towards him, I would yell out, “Watch out!” or “Get it!” or “Here it comes – be ready!” Then after one particular match, he came off the field crying. Alarmingly, I said, “What’s wrong?” He sobbed, “Mom, why are you yelling at me?” I didn’t think I was yelling at him as much as I was yelling precautions to him. Lesson learned either way. No more calling out from the sidelines and if anything escaped from my mouth it was only positive reinforcement.

Three children and three sports amounted to a lot of sideline sitting. Even though, I don’t play tennis, I always tried to give them a pep talk and remind them of certain strategies before they entered the court for a match. If people asked if I played tennis, I always answered, “No, but I learned the game through osmosis.”  Watching over a decade of lessons, three times over, I was bound to pick up a thing or two.

Moms are their children’s cheerleaders in life. We dream their dreams with them. We live vicariously through them. This cheerleading doesn’t automatically stop when a child turns a certain age. Whatever the endeavor and whatever the age of the child, you can bet there’s probably a mom in the background somewhere silently, or in my case not so silently, rooting for her child. Just ask my mom.

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