Middle School Mishaps, Parenting Pearl, Recipes

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie & Laundry Challenges

There’s nothing like baseball season to showcase my shortcomings as a mother.

Each game, I’m reminded that I don’t put in the same amount of effort into cleaning baseball pants as the other moms do. My son’s once white pants now have permanent Texas Longhorn brown stains thanks to our Georgia clay.

Luckily, he doesn’t seem to mind. I thought maybe nobody would notice, but when one of the boys came home with us after a game, his mother asked me not to wash his uniform. I didn’t take it personally.

He has another pair, but that’s another story. And I blame his father.

This year my #15 needed a blue batting helmet so his dad thought he’d save some money and spray paint his nice green helmet navy blue.

I said it was a bad idea. A very bad idea. But when it comes to saving money, I have no credibility. My husband is the King of Coupons, the Sultan of Save. Unfortunately, he’s not the Michelangelo of spray paint. Picasso? Maybe.

One Saturday the boys were waiting for the game ahead of theirs to finish. They were sitting on the hill and comparing batting averages, making bets, stuffing sunflower seeds in their mouths, doing whatever they do before a game.

Oh, and sitting on their helmets. Yes, that’s right. When my kid got up, he had nice blue streaks on his cheeks.

We got some good news this week. Before the big tournament in July, the team is buying new pants. I’m really going to try this time. Pre-treat. Soak in hot water. Add an oxy booster.

Or I could just spend my energy on pie.

peanut butter pie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream (this will make about 5-6 cups.) Whip in a chilled bowl until thick, then beat in ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar to sweeten it.
  • 1 can of Hershey’s chocolate syrup to drizzle on top (but not the entire can!)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make chocolate crust:

In a food processor, grind enough chocolate graham crackers (about 2 sleeves) until fine. Add 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar, ¼ cup melted butter, and a pinch of salt and pulse a few times.

Press the graham cracker mixture into a 9-inch spring-form pan. Bake until golden and crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Add 1 cup peanut butter and beat until smooth. Add the milk and  ½ teaspoon of vanilla and beat well. Fold 5 cups of the sweetened whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture and spoon into the prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 2-3 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and garnish with chopped peanuts and chocolate syrup. If there is any remaining whipped cream, place a dollop on or beside the piece of pie. You can also put a strawberry or two on the plate for dipping (or just to pretend you’re healthy).

Middle School Mishaps, Parenting Pearl

Vending Machine Surprises

My son has a fascination with vending machines.  If it was the type that stored year-old Funyuns and Oreos, I’d be okay. But he’s fascinated with the other type. The kind found in movie theater restrooms.

This didn’t happen when he went in the Ladies’ restroom with me. Is 13 too old to still go in the Moms’ restroom?

The other day I discovered a tiny empty box in the little compartment near the car door handle. It read:

Protocol – When life just can’t wait. Contains one.

One what? And I thought those things were supposed to prevent life.

His father had picked him up from the movies the day before. Why couldn’t he notice these things and talk about them without even involving me?

It was a good thing my husband was driving when I made this little discovery. Curious George was in the backseat and we were headed to…church. The discussion would have to wait.

I thought about it all through the sermon.  Each possible scenario started with… these items are used by some people… And they all ended with…So never ever put your hands on a restroom vending machine again!

Then I thought,

Wait a minute, what if the box didn’t belong to my son? What if my husband had bought the little treasure?

That possible conversation scenario took a much uglier turn. For some highlights, see this.

On the way home I settled on my lecture. Basically, it was a lecture I’d make my husband give. Then I saw a tiny plastic bottle roll by my feet.

Okay, so it was watermelon sour drops. Who knew?photo[3]

Last weekend we traveled out of state to attend a family wedding. On the way home he spent a little too much time in the truck stop restroom. When he came out, he asked for a quarter.

Does he listen to anything I say?

He explained it was for the scale that told his fortune. Okay, I was a little curious. Why don’t they ever have these in the Ladies’ restroom?

When he came back, he told me what it said. It was definitely advice worth taking.

photo[1]Of course that was after the message that told him his lucky lotto numbers.

What are you gonna do?

Middle School Mishaps

From the Files of Middle School Mishaps

So, I’m on my way to work the other morning when my son calls from school saying, “I forgot I was supposed to bring candy to school for my Careers class and if I don’t I’ll get a zero.”

After two minutes of sounding like one of the adults on the Peanuts cartoons (you know, wah, wah, wah) I let him know there was no way I could bring candy to the school and to try his dad.

Yes, I know… he should just suffer the consequences of being irresponsible and receive the zero; but in all honesty he hardly ever forgets stuff. There was only one other time last year when he forgot his lunch. I saw it on the counter and emailed his teacher saying I’d bring it up to school. She emailed back telling me he said it was okay and he’d just eat the school lunch.

I wish he’d do that every day because I hate making school lunches. Where’s the creativity in that? Slap something together between two pieces of bread? And I spend all my time looking for a container to put the sandwich in because I used the last baggie on yesterday’s lunch. Sometimes I get desperate and send in a sleeve of Ritz crackers and an almost empty family size bag of Cheetos held together by a gem clip.

But back to the forgotten candy.

I call my husband to see if he can rescue our son. And his response? “How can y’all let this happen?”

Y’all?

After more wah, wah, wah-ing, he said he was already late for work but he had a bag of Starlight peppermints in his car.

Peppermints?

This would be worse than a zero. Either the 7th grade Careers class would have the best-smelling breath in the school or our son would have to spend the rest of the year living with the humiliation of passing out peppermints like a WalMart greeter. I decided to let the chips, er mints, fall where they may.

When he came home I asked how the peppermints went over.

Him, “I decided to sell high fives instead.”

Me, “High fives? As in actual physical high fives?”

Him, “Yep,” placing the unopened bag of peppermints on the counter.

He’s likely to receive a high five when his dad gets home. Down low.

Middle School Mishaps, Parenting Pearl

Dear Abby, My son is in love with his socks. Should I be worried?

Seriously, if the original Dear Abby was still around (not her cousin, twice removed, knock-off Dear Abby), I’d ask her.

I thought this whole sock thing was just a fading fascination- kind of like the Razor scooter or $250 drum set. But no…he’s actually coordinating what to wear around his SOCKS!

Here he is with his mandals and favorite pair.

He said he’d get straight A’s this year if I promised him 3 pairs of Elite socks.

Yesterday on the bus, he traded his ITouch for a pair of sunglasses and a used pair of socks. Really!

I think it’s time to implement the 12 Step program.

STEP 1: Admit you have a problem.

So tonight before bed, I’ll have him practice saying,

Hello, my name is ____ and I’m a sockaholic.

Middle School Mishaps, Parenting Pearl

Boys and Girls are Different #41 – The Slumber Party

I am continuously amazed at how boys and girls differ. I made some new observations last week when my son had a slumber party to celebrate his 13th birthday and the end to his baseball season. My daughter, now almost 19, has had slumber parties since she was six. This was the first for my son. I like my sleep.

There were 12 boys total. After seven, does it really matter?

#1 Boys don’t call it “slumber party,” it’s a “sleep-over” or all-nighter.” The reason is because there truly is NO slumber.

#2 Whereas I can recall phrases like, “Oh, I love that!” and “I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings” and “You’re so sweet!” at my daughter’s slumber parties, the catch phrases overheard at my son’s sleep-over were a bit different.

Take for example, “Idiot!” and “You’re pathetic!” and “Shut your piehole!” and my favorite, “Necker!” Which means, you’re such an idiot I’m going to take my knuckle and drive it into your neck.

#3 The highlight of any girls’ slumber party is just having all the girls come. She likes me, she really, really likes me!

And for my son’s it was finding an unsuspecting group of boys at the park and challenging them to a football game—full tackle. Where most of the phrases in #2 could be overheard.

#4 At a girls’ slumber party the bulk of the time is spent talking, painting fingernails, talking, looking at yearbooks, talking, getting on facebook, talking…

At a my son’s sleep-over, the time was spent making teams and challenging each other to a baseball game (my son worked on the brackets for two days), then ping pong tournament, then air hockey tournament,  then breath holding tournament.  That’s when I went to sleep and was no longer privy to the tournaments. Thank goodness.

But later I heard that the losers had to drink really gross drinks (basically concoctions made from every available liquid from the basement refrigerator, without checking expiration dates) stirred with Twizzlers and poured into cupcake holders.

My learning never ends and…

when he’s 14, we get to do it all again!

Got some interesting ways that girls and boys are different? I’d love to hear them!

Middle School Mishaps, Parenting Pearl

The “Perfect ” Fit

My son has a fat foot.  Actually, two of them.

This wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that athletic (they don’t call them “tennis” anymore) shoes are the most important “article of clothing” for a 12-year-old boy. Finding a pair of shoes that:  a) fit and b) look “awesome” has become a monumental task.

Last week, two very kind salesladies helped me look for a pair. They said the problem was that he’s still in a kids size length-wise, but a man’s size width-wise. Tell me something I don’t already know.

After thirty minutes, they found the “perfect shoes”. They guaranteed me that he would approve of them. My search was over. I knew these would be THE shoes.

When I got home, he opened the box and the look on his face was…

not what I had hoped.

The color wasn’t right, the brand wasn’t right, and after he forced his humongous foot into the left shoe, there wasn’t enough slack to tie the laces.

I said, “When it comes to shoes, the world is not your oyster.”

He asked me what I meant, and I told him that everybody loves seafood, but not everyone can have oysters–they have to find a way to be happy with just shrimp or Captain D’s. “Just like you can’t have the shoes of your dreams because you have your father’s feet.”

Then yesterday, I’m at another store, one with lots of choices and again a very helpful salesperson. For some reason they take pity on me. It becomes a challenge for them to find the right shoes that my son can fit into, and more importantly, will like.

I bring the “perfect pair” home, and again…nada.

This time, they’re wide enough, but something about the treads looks like he should be mountain climbing rather than walking down the middle school hallway. He tosses them back in the box. I say, “Look, there is no shoes smorgasbord out there!”

Again I have to explain.

“You can order what you want at Subway—chicken teriyaki, with mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, and black olives; but if they accidentally slip a banana pepper in there, you just pick it off. You don’t say you’re not hungry anymore.”

I’m not sure he’s completely getting my analogies.

His father doesn’t understand why I don’t just take him with me so he can try on shoes in the store. That shopping disaster usually ends after an hour with twenty pairs of shoes out of their boxes and still no Cinderella fit, and with me screaming something like, “Wear flip flops to school for all I care,” as we walk out the door.

So, he’s just going to have to keep wearing the pair with the hole in the sole a little longer. Who cares if his teachers think I’m a neglectful mother who can’t buy her son a decent pair of shoes?

Let them walk a mile in my moccasins. Or down the aisles of Rack Room Shoes.

Middle School Mishaps, Parenting Pearl

Middle Schooler Apreciation Day

I’ve come up with another holiday that I think Congress should consider, Middle Schooler Appreciation Day.

I’m not asking for day off from work, just a little recognition for their contributions.

What contribution, you ask?

Hilarity.

On a regular basis, my middle school son (and his friends) make me laugh. It’s laugh or cry; I choose to laugh.

Yesterday, for example, while my son was stranded in the bathroom, he called out for some toilet paper.  (Side note: this happens on a regular basis and I’ve told him to look before he sits.) It was the longest 20 minutes of my life.

First, he tried to get my attention by shouting, at different volume levels, “Mom.” Then he progressed to saying “Mom” using different accents, which was followed by different versions of the endearing term (Mommy, Mama, Big Mama, etc., you get my drift).

I guess he finally realized I wasn’t coming and began to hum, using his kazoo humming voice, O’ Christmas Tree; followed by The Twelve Days of Christmas, with Jingle Bell Rock as the finale (which, I have to say, is one of my favorites).

He finally resolved “his issue”, but I’ll spare you those details.

I think something about this developmental stage, when they’re growing into their bodies, noticing and understanding things for the first time that makes them sometimes, well… one fry short a Happy Meal.

Take today for example. My son was writing his Thank You notes for his Christmas gifts and he asked, “Is ‘thank you’ one or two words?” What?

I’m relatively sure that his teachers are doing more crying than laughing, and they’d probably support my holiday idea if it came with a day off.

I’ll let you know when I need your signature for the petition. In the meantime, if you have a story you’d like to share, please do!

Note: I’m participating in another blog hop at the end of next week. Different bloggers are posting their “pitches” (a sentence or two written to get a literary agent interested enough to request to read the entire manuscript – yes, this whole road to publication is much more difficult than I ever thought) and the first 150 words of their manuscript.  Readers are then asked to make comments/suggestions. Please feel free to make your own comments.

Middle School Mishaps, Parenting Pearl, Recipes

Fractions Are My Forte

My son is in a difficult 6th grade math class at middle school – it has a very quick pace. In an effort to get the kids better prepared for the next unit, his teacher offered a “fractions boot camp” so they could remember all the rules about fractions.

This “fractions boot camp” was going to take place on a Monday morning before school. Unfortunately, we have a very difficult time, in general, waking up on Monday mornings, so getting to school early was not likely to happen.
(And when I say “we” here I really mean “we”, unlike all the other times when I say “we” and I really mean someone else entirely.)

I told my son not to worry. I could provide his fractions review as fractions were my forte. To which he responded with a chuckle.

This did not really bother me because he chuckles often at me due to my case of Early Onset Alzheimer’s. Case in point… yesterday.

“Hey, guess who I saw at the grocery store today?”

“Billy and his mom.”

“How’d you guess?”

“You told me about 30 minutes ago.”

Which is often followed 45 minutes later by, “Hey, guess who I saw at the grocery store today?”

So my middle schooler has now reached the stage where I don’t know much. (I had lost all credibility with my daughter years ago.)

Then the day of reckoning.

He came home with a homework sheet full of fractions. When I checked
over it, I noticed that he had missed most of them. As I started to teach him how to do them correctly, he interrupted and said, “No, I get it.”

Which resulted in … them still being wrong.

After 15 minutes of me saying, “No, listen. This is how you do it”  followed by his response of, “No, that’s not how you do it” I had had enough.

I said, “Listen kid, I used to be a high school math teacher. I know what I am talking about! Now be quiet and listen!”

He looked at me in shock and said, “You used to be a math teacher?”  I have to say, I didn’t much care for his tone.

I guess he had forgotten that his parents had a life before him. My husband and I had been married 13 years before he was ever born. I am sure I had mentioned my brief stint as a math teacher before, but he has only known me as a school counselor or school counselor educator.

Something about me saying I had once been a teacher, gave him the courage to finally trust my judgment. And so the lesson began.

Maybe I haven’t lost him completely. Maybe I’m still smart in his eyes for a while longer. At least until this afternoon.

I’ll take it.

Random thought…have you ever noticed on the box of Special K it says Drop a jeans size in two weeks? I’m thinking you’d have to eat nothing but Special K for this to happen, but my attraction to Halloween candy has made this a viable option.  Leave a comment and let me know if you’ve tried this or fractions lately.

Crock Pot Chicken and Stuffing (Prelude to Thanksgiving)

Below is a little something I invented (code for I stole it from some place and then altered it to make it mine). Note: if you are not okay with your stuffing being a little mushy, this recipe is not for you.

Ingredients: 3-4 chicken breasts, one package of stuffing, Campbell’s Cream of Chicken with Herbs soup (say it with me, WITH HERBS), 1/3 chopped onion, 1 – 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth, and a sprig of rosemary.

Place the stuffing in the bottom of the slow cooker. Salt and pepper each chicken  breast and place on top of the stuffing. Spread the soup over the chicken and sprinkle the onions around. Pour ½- ¾ of the broth over the mixture.  Top with the sprig of rosemary and throw in some thyme if you have it.  (Feel free to dot with a couple pats of butter – the stuffing package may call for this. )

Cook on low for 6-7 hours (depending on the thickness of the breasts) or on high for 4 hours.  Check about a couple of hours into cooking and add more broth if needed.

P.S. Has anyone noticed that on the Box of Special K it says Drop a jeans size in two weeks? 🙂

Middle School Mishaps, Parenting Pearl, Recipes

Raising Sons: Trick or Treat?

Raising a daughter is really not that tough.  Raising a son? Now that’s tricky.

I got absolutely no argument from my husband on how to raise our daughter. I pretty much got to call all the shots.

To him, girls are so complicated – all the emotion, all the drama, all the crying. He preferred to stand back and watch. From a distance.

But when it comes to raising our son, he’s full of opinion. We often discuss the best way to parent our son. (And by discuss, I mean argue.)

I want to raise a boy who is kind, sensitive, and likes to cuddle. I say I am raising our son to be a good husband. His dad says I’m raising him to be a sissy man.

We let our daughter choose his name. This was to make up for the fact she was getting a brother instead of the sister she wanted. My husband was thrilled with her choice. According to the baby name book, the name meant athletic. He took this as an omen.

I was just glad we were able to talk her out of her first name choice, Scooby. (Parenting Pearl –  when letting your kids make an important decision, first give them 2 -3 approved suggestions from which to choose.)

We continue to have these “discussions” as our son has entered middle school. Take for instance his connections (elective) class. Our son decided he wanted to try the orchestra. This did not go over well.

Orchestra did not fit into my husband’s worldview for our son – this worldview is limited to only things which involve a ball and some sort of competition.

I tried to explain that he could be a great athlete and play an instrument.

He wasn’t buying it. Then he said we weren’t going to spend a couple of hundred dollars on an instrument.

Enter my neighbor. She just happened to have a viola laying around her house. (The rental fee is a dessert a month – I’m a little behind.)

Six weeks of orchestra and our son is just as masculine as he was before. He even told us that his wrist was hurting and it needed to be wrapped.

Surely it was hurting because of all the baseball he had been playing. Or maybe it was the football game in the yard.

Nope.

It was a viola injury. Apparently that thing weighs more than you’d think.

If it’s any consolation, he has learned to play We Will Rock You. That song is played at just about every sporting event there is. That’s got to count for something, right?

A hearty meal often brings my family over to my way of thinking and this potato dish is always a winner.

Potato Casserole

Ingredients: 1 package of frozen hash browns (thawed), 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1/3 cup chopped onion, 1/4 cup of melted butter, 1/4 cup of chopped real bacon pieces,  salt and pepper to taste.

Mix all the ingredients together and put in a casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Note: use Campbell’s cream of chicken with herbs soup for a really good flavor and try a chopped red onion for a different taste. You can also add 1 cup of grated cheese to change it up.

Middle School Mishaps, Quotable Quotes

Strategic Seating on Bus #3

Today was the first day of middle school. I could tell my son was a little anxious about the whole thing so when I was talking with him about where he should sit on the bus, I wanted to be careful not to cause him any more worry. While I was licking down his hair, I said, “You know, you should probably sit in the one of the seats in the first three rows.”

His reply? “I’m gonna sit in row six.”

“Row six? That’s too far back.”

“But it’s not even past the center line!”

“The center line can’t protect you! Only the bus driver can protect you!” Opps. So much for not making him feel more anxious. I’m sure he’s heard that the bullies sit in the back of the bus. He’s seen Diary of a Wimpy Kid – twice.)

I could tell he was thinking and he said, “Okay, row five.”

“Row four – and that’s my final offer!”

When we walked out the door with my camera in hand, I could hear my husband saying something like,”Don’t take pictures at the bus stop.” But maybe it was more like, “Make pictures at the bus stop.” Well, of course – that’s exactly what I was planning on doing.

“You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up, down. Up, down. Oh what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together. Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.” ~ Grandma (in Parenthood, the movie)

If I were a really good Mom, I’d make my son’s favorite dinner – chicken pot pie. But…it’s too hot to turn on the oven, so I’m going to make one of my favorites – rotisserie chicken salad.

Rotisserie Chicken Salad

Ingredients: one rotisserie chicken (herb or savory flavored) pulled and diced, 1/4 diced onion (I like red, but any will do), 1/4 cup diced sweet pickles, 2 hard-boiled eggs diced, 1 cup of mayonnaise (give or take according to taste and exercise schedule), and 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard.

Rotisserie Chicken Salad

Mix all the above ingredients and add salt and  pepper to taste.  Chill. Serve with crackers or croissants.