Thursday, May 26, 2011

You Know You Have a Large Family When

The combined mileage on your cars is 1,000,000 miles (and you haven’t left your suburb in seven years).

No one invites you over for Sunday dinner (unless it’s for a fast).

You have a laundromat in your basement (it’s open all night and you still can’t find an empty machine).

Holidays are always at your house (Santa has to use a “wide load” sleigh and 16 reindeer to haul everything down to you).

Your monthly grocery store receipt is 4 figures (the commodities market rallies every time you go shopping).

You are happy to get your oldest daughter's hand-me-downs.

As long as you book it by the fourth of July, you are guaranteed a reserved table at your favorite restaurant for your whole family for Valentine’s Day.

You use a whole box of oatmeal to make breakfast (and that’s for the younger kids and newborns).

Your driveway looks like a used car lot (your husband wears a plaid sport coat and has to check with his manager before handing you the keys).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How a Mom can Lower her Gas Bill at the Service Station

1) Only drive your kids to destinations that are downhill from you.

2) Tell your boss you can’t come into work in honor of Stephanie Tanner's
birthday (and hope he doesn’t watch Full House).

3) See if your automobile will run on syrup.

4) As a science project, have your kids siphon your neighbor’s gasoline.

5) Throw a family block party at your house; but instead of a side dish have
guests bring a barrel of crude oil. (Call it an OPEQ themed party.)

6) Car pool with neighbors and friends, but whenever it’s your turn to drive
tell them to take the bus because you're going green.

7) Use the squeege for the car windows at the gas station to wash your
whole automobile.

8) Make your kids quit all sports except cross country.

9) Check into the legal restrictions of taking riding lawnmowers onto U.S.

10) Have your vacation at home. (Tell your kids you're pretty sure that your garage is just like Universal Studios.)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Meal or No Meal?

I have added my own game show to the tradition of "Deal or no Deal?" I"m calling it "Meal or No Meal?"

I think I can compete with "Deal or No Deal?" host Howie Mandel but I refuse to shave my head.

My show works this way.

I have just been on a homeschool field trip to measure the width at the widest spot in the Fox River, the pediatrician, the post office, the oil change place, and pharmacy. But, of course, I am expected at 6:00 Pm to be home and produce a sumptuous, savory, and satisfying meal.

It's my 26 or is it 6 kids who are opening up the briefcases showing clues as to what they want for dinner. My kids claim they really aren't all that picky when it comes to eating but it's not true. One of them wants Kosher and organic, one is eating Atkins, and another one is eating carbs only. Then I have the child who wants no refined sugar or caffeine. Finally I have two who refuse anything unless you have to peel it or crack it to find the natural food inside like bananas or peanuts. Try making a meal out of that!

In the 17 days over Christmas break our college age kids joined us at home and with all of us bellying up to the table three times a day I estimated that before "vacation" was over I would have prepared 408 meals. That's eight people at three meals a day for 17 days. You do the math.

My son Pooka had the nerve to ask me, "Why wasn't I getting out more? Didn't I want some "me" time?"

"You've just got to make the time," he advised.

So the lights come on and here we are in front of the "Meal or No Meal?" studio audience. I open the refrigerator and produce the frozen pheasant my husband shot last fall. It's frosty, somewhat red, and has a tail feather sticking out.

"Meal or no meal?" I ask."

The kids huddle and confer. "No meal!" they yell.

I then walk over to the microwave and open the door so all can see the macaroni and cheese plate that got set on 10 minutes instead of 1 minute. They look like taconite iron pellets painted black. My husband plans to use them to shoot more pheasants. I point at both and say, "Meal or no meal?" (I am thinking I should have made it in the oven instead of the microwave because when I do that it's so much easier to pass off ready made meals as my own.)

They hesitate for a moment and then start jumping up and down, "No meal!" Everyone cheers.

I then casually walk over to the oven and open the door. There are two turkey legs from Thanksgiving that fell off and have been covered by aluminum foil for the last three months. Each one now appears to have the rough skin of a tyrannosaurus Rex. "Meal or no meal?" I ask.

"Maybe we should take it," one desperate kid pleads.

I tell them it's from the new genre of cooking called "minimalistic." It suits an extremely busy mom just fine. Some defeathered turkey legs and eight washed plums in an earthy, homemade basket in the middle of the table puts me on the cutting edge.

"No sirree!" the others respond. "No meal! No meal!"

"Very well," I say. I stroll over to the pantry closet, open it, and show the kids five potatoes that have grown horns like Santa's reindeer. They are soft, pliable, and now a lovely green. Just in time for St. Patrick's Day. "Meal or no meal?" I ask with a smile.

"Don't do it!" our youngest shouts. "I hate green."

The older children relent and say, "No meal!"

I casually close the doors and walk over to the couch in the living room. I warn them we are getting down to their last choice. I then lift up the middle couch cushion and produce the bag of Cheetos that was left there when my oldest son entered first grade.

"They're still orange," I say, "at least when you pull them apart. It fits in with the trendy medieval style of eating where no silverware is used."

The kids start to waiver. Someone lunges for the bell but then pulls back. "No meal!" they announce.

At that I take my coat, purse, and keys and casually answer, "You win! There's No Meal tonight. I'm going to Panera to eat supper with the Banker (your father) . See you tomorrow night, same time, same channel."

Behind me I hear the oven door open and one of the kids ask, "Why are those turkey legs still moving?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Read the Instructions or Else

Kenzie's dream was a lofty one -- to sit upon her own throne on her 9th
birthday and unwrap her gifts. So she talked me into buying a
Strawberry Shortcake inflatable chair to be used to fulfill not
only her royal ambitions but another dream as well. When we moved into
our current home four years ago she exacted a promise that I would
decorate her room in pink. As you guessed it is still blue, but for one
Strawberry Shortcake throw pillow, a Strawberry Shortcake poster, and
an inflatable pink throne she would consider her room officially decorated
until she reaches the age of 13.

How could I resist?

I must have been blindfolded and taken by a UFO because in a matter
of minutes I found myself walking through the aisles of Party City. It was
there I bought her the apparently indestructible Strawberry Shortcake
Inflatable Chair.
It was now the day before the party and time to blow up the inflatable
throne because -- well -- it's inflatable.  Being a gifted mother however
I informed Kenzie we must read the instructions first.

That’s when the trouble began.
The instructions promise that if the item is inflated properly it may
last up to 10 years (the perfect gift to send my daughter off to college
with). In fact, the instructions promise, if you take proper care of the
chair it can become a cherished family heirloom (“Yes, dear, it’s
true. Your great grandmother, Queen Cheryl, sat upon this very
inflatable throne and ruled the upper waste water management
district of the state of Illinois in the early 21st century. Her portrait
is down the hallway”). 
The instructions also warn you that if you want your Strawberry
Shortcake Inflatable Chair to look like the one on the box you need
to look at it under normal light. (Do you know anyone who looks
at chairs with abnormal light in their homes? If you do, put this
down and calmly dial the police giving their address and
Perhaps they’re talking about extreme weather conditions.
Let’s say there’s a major tornado in your area and you just saw
Dorothy and Toto fly by outside. Apparently the throne will change
Back to the instructions: To preserve this chair for future
generations you must do the following: 
Do not use around sharp knives or objects.  (Oh, no. I guess
I’m going to have to resign my activities with the Shopping Mall
Mama Gangstas.) 
Do not touch with a cigarette or open flame (And I wanted to
sit in my inflatable chair and have a fondue party.)
Do not rub against a rough wall or a rough wall surface.  (Now
they’ve taken all the fun out of life. Haven’t you ever been to a party
where everyone rubbed an inflatable chair against their head to form
static electricity -- then watched how long they could get their chair
to stick to the wall?)   
Do not jump on your Strawberry Shortcake chair. (So we can’t
do cannon balls off our sofa onto the chair anymore either? What do
these depressed, lonely, joyless shells of human beings who
invented the inflatable throne do for fun on their long winter nights at
home anyway?) 
Do not use in your pool as a flotation device.  (I guess that means
the 5,000 inflatable thrones on the USS Abraham Lincoln are all
going back to Party City – another awful case of wasteful government
misuse of our taxpayer monies). 
If you are sitting out in this chair in a cold climate added inflation
will be needed.  Now, I understand why in the movie March of the
Penguins (filmed in Antarctica) the mother penguins all pushed their
inflatable thrones 400 miles across frozen wastelands to the warmer
waters of the ocean. It was so they would need less air when they sit down.
Aren’t Mother Nature’s instincts nothing less than amazing?

This chair is made to last but caution is required to avoid damage
to this or any other inflatable product.  (At least I am not reading
this in vain since these principles are transferable.)
Please follow all of these instructions carefully and enjoy your
new inflatable furniture (What if I deliberately choose not to enjoy it
– does that void the warranty?)
You know, just thinking of having to follow all these instructions just to
enjoy an inflatable throne made me want to sit down, no, stand up, take
a nap, Oh, whatever.

Where is my sharp object?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Recyle Pampers!

(Those long strings of diapers individually twist-wrapped in clear cellophane.)
1) Soak them in cement and use for building suspension bridges (another modern marvel).
2) Dye red, white, and blue and use for outdoor bunting (keeps people off your grass during local parades).
3) Dye them yellow and black and sell them to the local police department for "Do Not Cross" tape (guaranteed no one will try crossing).
4) Weave them together and make large area rugs (keeps room traffic way down).
5) Spray gold, red, or green to use as garland on next year's "Christmas Tree" (great homeopathic cure for sinus congestion)
6) Spray them silver and tie them post to post as a chain link fence (guaranteed to turn back all unwanted intruders).
7) Hang around the neck of the large marble statute in the park to imitate a string of pearls (pigeons are history).
8) Tier around your coat like a rope belt (allows you to walk safely to your car at night).
9) Cut them into shorter pieces and wear as a necktie to a party (where you don't want to have to talk to anyone).
10) Store in your husband's brief case (guarantees him his own seat on the bus or train).

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Myths of Birth Order Dispelled

Does anyone have an older sibling that still treats them like they are five? Okay that’s me and I have three of them.

I love my older sisters, but they have always been my older sisters. It started when they were born first.

I always got the hand-me-downs. By the time I got the hoola hoop, it was square. When I got the easy bake oven, it had e-coli. And when I finally got the Ken and Barbie doll, they were already in a mid-life crisis.

Well, sometimes my oldest sister would watch us three younger sisters. My mom would give us four dolls and a stack of saltine crackers for a snack. She would of course decide when it was time to feed us. We would all sit there like baby robins in a nest with our mouths open waiting for her to drop something in our mouths – so she would ask if we wanted the cracker with or without salt. If we wanted it without salt she would take a cracker and lick the salt off and then hand it to us. It took the meaning of sodium free to a whole new level.

The 7-up Slurpee that we all shared... Well, that is why I have emotional backwash to this day.

How many of your remember when jelly came in those little Flintstone glasses? The neat thing was when you were done with the jelly – then you could wash the little glass jar and then use it at the table as a glass – if you ate enough jelly you could furnish a whole set -- even Martha Stewart hadn’t thought of that. One day I accidentally broke one – and one of my older sisters said, "How come can’t we keep anything nice around here?"

I love being the youngest in the family but some people don't like their birth order. The problem? The problem is all those books out there about birth order. And all of us believe it and live by it as though it were all true.

Well, I say if you don't like your order in the family why not change it so you end up where really want to be?

How can that be done? Well, what do you do if you didn’t like your first, middle or last name? You’d go to court and have it changed. Want to be first born? The youngest? Disappear in the middle? Go on the Web, find a site created by lawyers to change your birth order, download the forms, and voila! You’re now top of the heap and can run the universe. Or, if you’re now the baby of the family you can stomp your feet, get big alligator tears and threaten to go tell Mom and Dad even if you are 38.

To change your birth order you might try telling people the hospital got the ink footprints mixed up and actually you were born a decade before your oldest sister who looks nine years older than you. You can then go over to your (former) oldest sister’s home, knock on her door, and shout, “Give me back my make-up purse! Who said you could borrow it in the first place? And don’t let me ever find you in my bathroom again!”

Or, finally, to change your birth order go to and use Photoshop to insert your own picture into the class of ’86 where your brother’s face used to be. The amazing result? Suddenly, you’re now Wally Cleaver and he’s the Beaver. Even Ward and June are too old to go ape over something like that.

Finally, remember birth order begins to repeat itself in large families with every fourth child. This is mainly because no birth order book has more than four types of children so then by the fifth one the child starts acting like the first one. If someone could think of another chapter it would likely transform families overnight.

Birth order, according to some authors, affects everything about your life. It affects whether or not you have asthma, what type of exercise program you should undertake and whether the leaves turn in your front yard turn to autumn colors before or after others in your family.

Basically if you know about birth order, you don't need to know anything else. And why should you?

You already have a brother who knows everything for you.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cheryl's List of 13 Free or Nearly Free Gifts for Mother's Day

      My dad and mom, both 81 years old, when they were both 61.

1.  A Mother’s Day poem fest!
You can either write mom a poem or copy a poem from someone else, giving them the credit.:)
Or, you could read her some poems as they did in the 1700's!  Sounds corny, but she would like to hear you read some poems over the phone or in person.  Here are some ideas to get you started. And here are Mother’s Day poems for kids.
2.  Printable coloring pages that kids can color for mom.
You can google for these or here are sweet pictures that even the smallest child can color and give to mom
3.  Personalized coupons just for Mom
Just write it up, put a colored border around it, and wrap it in a box.  Mom would love some hours donated to window washing, car detailing, gutter cleaning, errands, yard work or IT stuff.  Offer to move a piece of furniture for her that she has been wanting to move from the basement to the den.  Call her today and ask her what she needs done this spring.  Then, make up a coupon with a deadline of when you will have it done to put in her Mother's Day card.  You will get lots of brownie points for this gift.  Click here for free Mother’s Day coupon templates you can download from Microsoft Office and here are some more cute IOU coupon templates good for gifts
4.  Email greeting cards you can send

Send her several!  Here’s a large selection of free Christian ecards.  Start sending her cards today, building up to Sunday. 
5. Printable cards you can personalize and print out
Write out your favorite Bible verses in your Mother's Day card. If you don’t want to send an e-greeting, here are dozens of printable cards that you can customize and then print out for Mom.  They have some great designs, from 1-2-3 Greetings.
6. Download some free tunes, put them on your mom’s MP3 player or burn them onto a CD.  Click here to google some free Christian itune downloads for mom. You can choose from thousands of songs!
7.  Take her to an art museum, the mall, downtown, the mountains, the lake, the ocean or the forest preserve.  Mom likes a view especially with you along!
There is something this weekend that mom would like to go to or drive by.  Park 1/4 mile from the airport and watch some planes take off and land.  Mom wants some pampering and a little attention. .
8.  Give her a luxurious car rideA car ride used to be considered a Sunday afternoon's entertainment.  Have you ever noticed how on Mother's Day all the cars are going slow out on the freeway and on Father's Day they are all going fast?  Give your mom a slow tourist ride down a new or old familiar road.  Be her limo driver for the day - yes You!  Don't worry she won't let you go too far with the price of gasoline this spring.
9.  Make her a personalized slide show
You can check out this special Mother’s Day free slideshow template at Smilebox or Snapfish, where you can upload your photos, put them into a virtual album and add music to make a slide show. 
10. Take Mom to a free concert this weekend at a neighboring church.
Proverbs 1:8-9 "Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck."
11.  Regift something special to you and tell her why.
Regift one of your favorite books and include a special note to her telling her why you are passing on the gently used book.  Dear mom, This was the best novel I read last year.  I loved the leading character, Barbara, because she reminded me so much of how caring you are.  Love, Your daughter
12.  What you can't spend on a gift, make up for with a sentimental touch.
Maybe you can't give her a gift certificate to Macys this year?  Instead, buy her a quart of strawberries, tie it with a big red ribbon and add a note, "Special memories of grandma's worldclass freezer strawberry jam."
13.  Walgreens has a special coupon for a free 8x10 collage picture for Mother's Day. 
You can make online for free and then go a pick it up to deliver to her.  Or, mail to her.  Or, have her pick it up at her Walgreens in her city.  Here's the free code.

Consider a For Keeps Ministry Product as a gift.

“A mother іѕ a person whο, seeing thеrе аrе οnƖу four pieces οf pie fοr five people, promptly announces ѕhе never did care fοr pie.” ~Tenneva Jordan

 2 Timothy 1:5 ESV I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Top Ten" Questions I have about Laundry

All of us have questions about our laundry. Women used to have their questions answered by their moms, grandmas and neighbors over the backyard fence as they hung their clothes up on the clothesline. I am a stay at home mom of 6 with mountains of laundry to do. These are some of my unanswered questions about laundry.

"Top Ten" Questions I have about Laundry

1) How come no woman I know has time to hang their bed sheets out to dry on a clothesline but has 45 minutes to drive to a Hallmark store to buy a candle named "country sheets?"
2) Why is it socks go in the washing machine as pairs and never come out?

3) How come people say it helps the environment if I wash cloth diapers instead of using Pampers for six children -- but in the end have to dispose of two Maytag washing machines and a dryer from running them night and day? Are these people willing to come and bury my appliances in their backyard?

4) Why did I let my Aunt Lillian talk me into washing my husband's new ties in the washing machine? Why did she smile and promise they would look "better than new?"

5) How come I have to use an entire cannister of Oxyclean on my kids' sports uniform to get a postage stamp of grass stain out each week -- yet they clean an entire carpet covered with sump pump sludge with only two tablespoons on television ads? Can I connect my sump pump to their carpet?

6) How come Metamucil tablets turn into lifesize baskteballs that have a life of their own when they go through the wash if they are left in a pocket?

7) How come my laundry pile is always taller than I am? How come I often hear the voice of a man from inside the laundry pile who once went into our laundryroom to work on our furnace? Is this the reason his truck has been parked outside for the last three months?

8) How come during the spin cycle my washing machine begins to vibrate with such force and velocity that it “walks” away from the wall? It really does. It reminds me of the robot from “Lost in Space” that used to follow family members waving its arms, “Danger Will Robinson…Danger Will Robinson.

9) How come one night we woke up thinking there was an intruder in our bedroom only to switch on the light and find out it was only our Maytag?

10) How come people ask me what I am going to do with all my time when I don't have all that laundry to do -- knowing full well that I will be dead.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Too Busy for Technology

As a mother of preschoolers, I fell behind the curve when it comes to technology. While other women were sporting ipods, ipads, iphones, Blackberries, Palm Pilots, and Blue Tooths dangling in their ears, all I could manage was a small spiral notebook from the dollar aisle in Walgreens. However, just to stay in the game I decided to refer to it as my Papyrus Pilot. My Bic ballpoint pen is my Cylinder Inkjet 5000.

These are some of the things that I have put in my Papyrus Pilot. First of all there's a listing of overdue library notices (now in the thousands of dollars, carryi ng with them threat of foreclosure on our home); the birthdays of all our relatives that I missed while taking anti-nausea drugs for throwing up during pregnancies; the names of our children (I forgot their names while taking anti-nausea drugs;) what my husband wanted for his birthday 12 years ago...

Are you wondering what I was doing while you were updating? While other people were updating, I was scraping out the remainder of my mauve lipstick with the cap of my ink pen so I could make it last one more week.

While other people were updating, I was spending an hour walking around the block. That's how long it took me to walk around the block with preschoolers.

While other people were chatting on their newest equipment, I was chasing Pooka out of a drainage ditch. Every time I would ever start a conversation with another human around my age, Pooka would head either for a wet ditch, a river, a train track or a tollway. Pooka makes Curious George seem satisfied.

While other people were updating, I was dating my husband.

While other people were updating, I was laboring in childbirth.

While other people were updating, I was handing out hugs and kisses for all sorts of boo boos that preschool kids can get into.

While other people were updating, I was making dinner. I don't have a palm pilot to plan the family's menus. My Papyrus Pilot does a good job recording the grocery list. I always use my Papyrus Pilot in meal planning. I need help because the three words that I fear most in the English language are, "What's for dinner?" I have trouble deciding what's for dinner. And it's a question at least one of the kids hits me with before 9:00 Am. I can't think pasta primavera before the Cheerios are scraped off the floor. And I know the clock will keep ticking toward 6:00 Pm and I'd better have someth ing steaming, stewing or grilling.

Over the years I've decided a number of meal planning methods. My least favorite was to open the freezer and make whatever fell out and hit me on the head. It had spontaneity going for it, but the lump on my head grew monotonous. Besides, we couldn't afford the monthly brain scans this home making method demanded.

Even with this failsafe method there are certain things I won't make for dinner. Because when I was pregnant with six children, not all at once mind you, I calculated that I threw up a combined total of 2000 times. I am not kidding. One of the combinations of foods I will not eat together is potato chips and milk. Why? Because I refuse to eat something that at one time has come out of my nose

I finally settled on deciding what was for dinner according to the days of the week. Monday is for M so we eat meatloaf or meatballs; Tuesday is for T so we eat tacos or turkey, Wednesday is for W which limits us to watermelon and watercress sandwiches. And how do I remember what day it is? I use my Papyrus Pilot, of course.

So buy a papyrus pilot, simplify your life and enjoy your husband, your children, sunsets, fresh air and the important things in life that really do last.