Lessons Learned, Parenting Pearl

Morning Glories

imageThere’s something about morning glories.

In the evening they look like weeds, snaking around my porch. It’s almost impossible to crank the garden hose in, the vine has it so tightly gripped.

But in the morning? It’s a different story. Blue flowers peer through huge green leaves, giving a completely different perspective.

Mornings do that–offer a new way to see things.

Nights can be dark and lonely, perfect places for worry and fear to hide out. Grip us tightly. Make us  feel as though there are no answers

But the morning brings new hope, changed thoughts, and fresh ideas.

We remember things are possible.

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

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


  • 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!)


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?

Parenting Pearl, Recipes

Daughter, “All my boyfriends were afraid of you!” Me, “Good, that’s what I was going for.”

I took that as a compliment. Scaring my daughter’s boyfriends is quite an accomplishment considering her dad is rather physically intimidating.

He came in third once in a state body-building contest. And sadly, with time things have sort of settled on both of us, but he’s still over 200 pounds and he can beat just about anyone at arm wrestling.

But they’re afraid of me. I’m okay with that. I like them thinking that I’m just unstable enough to come after them with a machete should they do something I don’t like. Fear is good.

Of course, the downside is she might be 30, single, and still living in our house.

I guess I could be a little nicer.

Fall is here and that means I’m breaking out the dutch oven and crock pot. I jazzed up a box of Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice and it was awesome!


1 box of Red Beans and Rice

1/4  cup green pepper, diced

1/4 cup red pepper, diced

1/4 cup yellow pepper, diced

1/2 cup onion, diced

1 lb turkey Kielbasa sausage (pork would be really good too), sliced

2 cups of white rice, cooked

1/2-1 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Saute the sausage in the olive oil in the dutch oven over medium heat. Remove the sausage and saute all the peppers and onion. Remove the cooked peppers and onion. Prepare the red beans and rice according to the box instructions in the dutch oven. With 5 minutes to spare in cooking time, add the sausage, peppers, onion, extra rice, and chicken broth. Cover the pot and continue cooking until the mixture is bubbling.

This is really easy and there’s only one pot to clean up.  It’s so delicious, you’d think it came straight from the bayou. Next week, beignets. Or maybe just gumbo.

I meant to take a picture but we were starving and there weren’t any leftovers. Next time!

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.

Parenting Pearl

Gone Fishing

My son has a romantic notion of fishing. He’s been a few times when he was much younger and he seems to have forgotten the less attractive side of fishing, like: waiting, putting crickets on the hook, waiting, tolerating the heat, waiting, taking the fish off the hook, waiting…

He’s begged to go  fishing this summer, so because I’m a really good mother (okay, he was driving me crazy) I took him and a friend to the local park for some fish’n.

But first, we had to stop here. Does this place scream character or what?

For $4.60 they got about 20 crickets and some fishing advice, like stick the hook through the cricket’s head because it’s thicker there. I’ve never cared much for crickets. When they get loose in the house, they drive you batty and I usually have to squash them with my shoe, but nobody deserves a hook through the head.

I left them on the dock and went for a walk.

The only thing more boring than fishing, is watching someone fishing.

After about forty minutes, the excitement was over and the boys spent the rest of the afternoon sliding down some very slippery rocks. Now, that looked like fun so I took off my socks and shoes and walked across. Nothing says you’re old like hearing your son say, “Don’t break a hip, Mom.”

So all in all it was a great way to spend a summer day. In summary –

Fish: 0

Crickets: 2 bite the dust, 18 are pardoned

Broken Hips: 0

Cell Phone: -1  That’s right. Somehow the cell phone fell out of his pocket while he was casting.

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.

Parenting Pearl, Recipes

Simple Rosemary and Pizza Dough Appetizer & Middle Schooler Appreciation, Part II

I got this recipe from the FoodNetwork website when I was looking for an appetizer idea to serve at Christmas. (I altered it a bit.) It was a HUGE crowd pleaser, even with picky eaters. Now I make it as a side to meals because it’s so simple.  Enjoy!

Rosemary and Pizza Dough Appetizer/Side


refrigerated pizza dough

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (my new special ingredient in just about everything)

2 tablespoons each of chopped Rosemary and Oregano

sea salt to taste (for me, that’s 1 1/2 teaspoon)

1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced (you can increase this)

Roll out the pizza dough on a floured surface. Place the dough on a cookie sheet that has been brushed with olive oil. Mix all the above ingredients, except the onion, and then brush half of it on the pizza dough. Let the dough set for an hour. Press dents in the dough with your finger and top with the red onion slices. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and brush the remaining oil mixture on top.

I know I have a winner when my son asks if he can take leftovers for his school lunch.

I made this the other night to help my son recover from the humiliation he experienced at school that day.

In January, his schedule changed a bit at school and so did his routine. The other day he discovered why the bathroom at school he’d been using didn’t have urinals. That’s right…

…he has been using the Girls’ Restroom for  a week.

His favorite bread (above) went a little way in helping him recover from the look he got from the girl who was washing her hands.

This should earn another vote for Middle Schooler Appreciation Day  https://momslifeponderings.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/middle-schooler-aprreciation-day/

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?


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.