Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Maniacs!

If you didn't get one of these by snail mail and would like to be on my Christmas card mailing list for next year please email me your address and I'll add you to the list.

We hope you all have a very blessed Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Santa Ruby

Today's Drama

The cats or dogs helped themselves to part of Charlotte's gingerbread ornament that she made at school yesterday and hung on our tree last night.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Perfect Holiday Season Day

The day started out with Rehm making waffles for the family.  I love have a child old enough to do some cooking, with adult supervision, of course!  Then the kids and I were off to church for their choir practice for their Christmas performance tomorrow.  While they were practicing I used the hour to find Charlotte a Christmas dress as she did not have one and would have nothing to do with just wearing a regular Sunday dress.

 After choir my Bible study group and all our children met for a pizza lunch and then headed off to a local assisted living facility to sing carols.  We were only at the facility for about 20 minutes but it was so much fun.  The kids had a great time and the residents seem to enjoy us coming as well.  It was a great experience except for a very dramatic melt down over a candy cane in the parking lot when it was time to leave.  I'm blaming that on the drama level of said child and the fact that everyone was up too late last night.  I can't tell you who it was as they have asked to remain anonymous.

On the way home I stopped to get the mail.  The kids asked the question they do every time I get the mail, "Can we race you home, Mom?" I was in a good mood so the answer was "Sure!"  Unfortunately Rehm and Eliza Claire tripped over each other and fell almost immediately.  Rehm hit is knee wrong and decided to ride home with me.  The girls were determined to beat me today.

My kids have an obsession with silly faces.
And once one kid does it...
They all have to.
The afternoon was spent hanging out at home and getting stuff marked off my to do list.  Why is it every time I get something marked off, something new gets added.  I went to hang Ruby's new curtains only to find that one of the panels is the wrong length and will now have to be returned!  You know I really needed one more thing to get done this week!  Luckily I needed to buy gift certificates at Target so I can at least do both errands at the same time. 

This evening we went out to dinner at Chuy's.  Then took the kids to buy Christmas presents for each other.  To keep this somewhat affordable, the children are given a total of $10 to spend on a sibling - meaning, for example that Rehm, Charlotte and Ruby have a total of $10 to buy a joint gift for Eliza Claire.  It is a great exercise in working together and agreeing with each other and remembering to actually pick out a gift the recipient will like not just something the giver would like.  It makes for a crazy hour of shopping and switching off kids.  I know it is teaching them about a budget and I hope it is teaching them to be aware of their siblings interests as well. 

Not the best picture but it was taken with my phone and caught Ruby in mid sneeze.  We were holding up other people so I didn't have the opportunity to retake it. Notice how proud they are of their Starbucks.  This was their first Starbucks experience.

After gift giving we made a stop at Starbucks to get coffee/hot chocolate for everyone.  I has the salted caramel hot chocolate (yum!) and tried Micheal's peppermint mocha (also yum! and I don't like sweet flavored coffee, though you couldn't taste the coffee for all the mint and chocolate).  I had no idea that kids drinks were only $1.10.  For a once a year treat it was actually pretty reasonable.  We took our hot chocolate with us to view Christmas lights.  We walked our favorite cul-de-sac and read 'Twas the Night before Christmas. This year, Rehm and Charlotte helped with some of the reading. 

It was a great day.  The kind of day that is all about making holiday memories that I hope my children will one day cherish and emulate. 

It really put me in the Christmas spirit in a way nothing else has this year. 

"Happy Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!"

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Ruby's Night Time Retrospective on the Afternoon Shower Fit of 2010

Ruby pitched a major fit this afternoon when asked to take a shower.  She did not like her bathroom or shower vs. bathtub choices.  And in typical Ruby fashion pitched a fit.  Eventually, we helped her out of her clothes and into the shower in spite of her protests.  It was not pretty.  It was not quite.  It was not dry.  It was not short.

At bedtime (over two hours late) she was talking to her Daddy about the fit.  Here is how the conversation went on:

Ruby: Daddy, I got really grouchy, which is past grumpy, and that is past mad and upset. 

Daddy: So how did that work?

R: Not very good.  I got mad at Mommy and then Charlotte and then Eliza Claire and then you, Daddy

D: So what could we do to help you not get past mad or upset.

R:  Charlotte could give me a Tic Tac (she bought some with her allowance today and is not sharing as many with Ruby as Ruby would like)

D: What about just me and you and not involving Charlotte and Tic Tacs?

R: Well I could just say "Guts! Guts! Guts!"

At this point I came in the room and Micheal left.  She told me that she and Daddy had had a nice conversation and next time she got mad she was going to say "Oh, Guts!"  I told her I thought that might work better and asked if when she said that we should ask her if we could hold her.  She said we could but that she didn't want me to hold her "like a spider web" like I had that afternoon (I had my arms wrapped around her and one of my legs over her legs to keep her from kicking me).  Then she said, "You was actually like a spider in a spider web holding me, except you didn't try to eat me!"  We then talked about how there were many reasons why I wouldn't try to eat her including that if I ate her she wouldn't be here anymore and then I would be sad and that she wouldn't taste good.  She is such a funny girl.

Now if she really would just say "Guts! Guts! Guts!" when she got mad instead of spewing her wrath loudly on all those around her. 


PS.  On the way to a friend's house tonight Eliza Claire and I saw a deer in a driveway.  When Eliza Claire said she saw it, Ruby ask her where it was.  Eliza Claire told her it was in a driveway and Ruby responded, "That's a good way to get runned over!"

Friday, December 03, 2010

Eliza Claire Funnies from this Week

Eliza Claire Christmas 2009
 Tuesday night Eliza Claire had a stomach bug.  This is not her first stomach bug but apparently she does not remember past ones.  The first time she threw up she was in her room alone.  She started crying and when I went to check on her she said, "Somefing happened!"  I asked her if she threw up and she said, "I don't know!"  Of course looking at her floor it was obvious she had but she didn't know that that was throwing up.  I was really surprised that at four and a half she didn't know what throw up looked like.  Yes, I know I have a very weird since of humor.

The next evening we were home, just the two of us and were getting ready to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  She asked if she had ever seen it and I told her she had.  I explained that the Grinch dressed up like Santa Clause.  At that point she interupted me and said "I don't know what Santa Clause looks like."  I'm not sure if I should feel like a horrible mother or a really good mother if my child doesn't know what Santa looks like!  How can a four year old not know what SANTA looks like?  Granted, we don't make a big deal about Santa. He does visit our house but we don't talk a lot about him and we don't go visit him at the mall or anything.  Of course, five minutes later a commercial came on and she piped up with "Oh, there's Santa!" So obviously she really does know what he looks like.  I guess she just couldn't figure out how someone would dress up like him.

One day this week we were in the car and Eliza Claire was saying that her daddy usually sat in the seat I was in (the driver seat) and that then I sat in the "waiter" seat.  I guess that is the seat the person sits in who is waiting to drive. 

She always comes up with the funniest names and descriptions for things she encounters in her life. 

Aren't you glad after not posting hardly at all I've now posted twice recently about throw up?  I'll try not to make it a habit, but I make no promises

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Twins Take on Jesus

Eliza Claire: At Christmas Jesus is going to rescue us.

Ruby: Yeah, and then He'll be back to dying.

Cracked me up!


Sent from my iPhone

Friday, November 19, 2010

Eliza Claire's Art

Eliza Claire is really into writing and drawing this week. This is her "cat with long fur."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Always Family

With the approaching holidays I have been thinking often of two of my nephews that I haven't seen in almost five years.  Actually, I think of them very often as Rehm and Ruby have similar mannerisms, expressions and personalities to them.

The oldest, Justin is now in college.  I haven't seen him since he was a freshman in high school I can only imagine how he has changed.  Every time I play a board game with Rehm I am reminded of Justin.  Justin always jabbered 90 miles a minute the entire time you were playing a game with him.  Rehm does the same exact thing.  When he does it I always tell him he is just like his cousin and think fondly of all the times I played games with him. Justin and Benjamin were both very interested in robotics and now so is Rehm.  I wish next week he was going to get to visit with them and get to talk shop.  I wish Justin and Benjamin were going to have to endure playing a board game with Rehm and be annoyed by the incessant jabbering so we could remind Justin that we endured plenty of that from him when he was nine.

Benjamin is now a junior in high school.  He was just starting middle school the last time I saw him.  I especially remember Benjamin when he was the age the twins are now.  He had curly brown hair and the most mischievous smile you've ever seen.  He was always full of energy and just adorable.  Ruby has several expressions and mannerisms and just a level of exuberance that reminds me of Benjamin when he was her age.  I've remarked several times lately about how much things she does reminds me of Benjamin.  I wish she could meet him so that she would know who I am talking about when I say this.

When I was thinking about them today, it made me sad.  I miss them.  I miss watching them grow up and seeing the people they have turned into.  I know we didn't see each other that often - maybe three or four times a year, but they are family and even though we don't get to see them these days they are still connected to us in ways I can't put on paper.  In expressions on my four year old's face and in my nine year old's interests.   My older two children remember them but the twins obviously do not.  I hope they don't think we don't care about who they are and what they are doing these days.  We do and we miss them and would love to have the opportunity to let them know.

I'll be writing something similar to this in their Christmas cards this year.  Given their current ages they will probably roll their eyes while thinking I'm a crazy, wacky, old aunt, and they'll be right.  But, I hope at some point they will understand that they are and always will be family and that we miss them very much.


Backseat Conversation

Ruby: I love you, hook 'em Longhorns!

Me: do you mean you love the Longhorns?

Ruby: Yes!

Eliza Claire: No, Ruby! We're asposed (supposed) to love the Aggies!

Guess which one will be Daddy's favorite today?

I did tell Ruby she could love any team she wanted. I know Michael would disagree.


Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


We went camping at Krause Springs the weekend prior to Halloween with Rehm's Cub Scout pack.  Due to a birthday party that Charlotte could not miss, Rehm and Micheal went out early Saturday morning and the girls and I followed them around dinner(supper, for those of you confused by which meal I'm referring to) time. As most of you know, I am not a fan of camping and have in fact only had the pleasure on one other occasion.  Arriving late after everything had already been set up and everyone had already figured out where everything was did not help me at all.  Honestly, for the first half hour after the girls and I got there I was, um, somewhat witchy, or something.  It didn't help that when I went to get our dinner, I found it covered in ants or that when I opened the door to the tent everything was in a huge pile right inside the door and there was plenty of dried grass on the floor.  Once I got the girls fed and the tent straightened and organized to my standards I was a much happier, um, camper.

Waiting for dinner
The gigantic ant hill about 20 feet from the door of our tent. 

Everyone had a great time and the campground was wonderful.  The bathrooms were spacious and clean!  They were so nice that I regretted not bringing stuff to be able to shower. In addition, the springs and creak/river/stream that was on the property was awesome.  We had a lot of fun exploring in the woods and around the stream.
He really isn't as close to the fire as it appears. Isn't the heat wave neat looking in the picture?

This tent is much better than the last time we went camping!
This time my four year old isn't as tall as the tent.
Isn't this the coolest tree?  As a kid I would have insisted on camping inside it, I think.

The cypress trees were just amazingly huge
Sweet Sisters
Somebody slipped on the wet rocks and sat down in the water.  Oops.
Yeah, that's about how I feel about camping, too
Part of the falls from the springs into the natural pool.

This is the first time we had camped as a family of six and the first time in the 8 person tent.  The tent was a huge improvement over the last time we camped (make sure to watch the slide show).  There are definitely some things that got added to my camping packing list for next time, like a flyswatter and a broom, but on the whole I would be willing to go camping again, I think...


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dance Class

I am currently taking a Mommy and Me dance class with Ruby and Eliza Claire.  Yeah, I'm not really sure what I was thinking when I signed us up for this class.  Well, actually, I do.  It was the only dance or gymnastics class at the YMCA that would work with their school schedule and they loved their first dance class so I wanted them to be able to continue.  But I really, really wanted them to take a class that did not include me!Luckily the class is only six weeks long and we are halfway through - though we did miss one class because the girls were sick last week, bummer!

The girls love the idea of me taking the class with them. The reality is a bit different though.  When actually in the class Eliza Claire is usually somewhere half a room away from me, dancing her heart out, completely oblivious that I am there; and Ruby is in a puddle on the floor mad because I won't hold her for the entire class!  I am busy trying not to completely embarrass myself and set a good example of participating for the girls.  Did I mention the class takes place in a room with several large windows facing the main walkway inside the Y?  Oh and when you are well past 30, haven't taken a dance class since you were in elementary school, and have no natural sense of rhythm preschool dance class is, well, um, hard!   Between being on tip toe for the majority of the hour and trying to have "ballerina" posture I leave the class very sore.

To answer the questions I know you are dying to ask:  The class is only ballet.  I don't have to wear a leotard (thank God!) or ballet shoes. I don't know if there will be a demonstration at the end or not but if there is you will not be invited and no pictures will be taken.  And, yes, on the whole I'm very glad I moved waaayyyy out of my comfort zone and did this with my girls.  I only hope that one day the appreciate the physical sacrifice and loss of dignity I have suffered for them.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010


The garbage collector now thinks I am a complete and total nut.

I had a bowl of leftovers in the fridge that I meant to throw out on garbage day last week.  I waited too late and they had already emptied our garbage by the time I got down to take it out.  So this week I was determined to get rid of said leftovers as I did not want them in the fridge for yet another week nor did I want them in the garbage can getting really nasty for an entire week.  The leftovers happened to be in a bowl, covered with press and seal, that I apparently lost the lid for so I was tossing bowl and all.

When I went out to throw away the leftovers the cans had already been emptied.  I could hear the truck a few streets over.  I was determined to get rid of the leftovers so I loaded everyone in the van for preschool and brought along the leftovers.  I stopped on the street the garbage truck was on, grabbed my leftovers and approached the closest garbage collector.  I explained that they had already gotten the garbage on my street and asked if "I can please give you this," while extending the bowl.  He looked at me like I was crazy and asked what it was. I'm thinking what is the big deal can you just throw this away?  My response was something along the lines of "just some leftovers I don't want to leave in the fridge until next week."  He finally took in and almost stealthily placed it in the back of the truck with the rest of the garbage.

That is when I realized that he thought I was trying to give him the leftovers!  And that I had driven out of my way and gotten out of my van to do so!  Of course by this point I was driving away and it was too late to explain that all I was trying to do was get the blasted things in the garbage truck and that I was not trying to pass off my leftovers on the garbage collector!  I was mortified, but of course had no way to right the situation with out making it much, much worse.

In the end, I got what I wanted - the leftovers tossed.  I just hate it came at the price of having to hide from the garbage collector for the foreseeable future.


Sunday, November 07, 2010


Ruby had a toothpick today at lunch. Her names for it - a poke or a tooth stick.


Friday, November 05, 2010

Little Grown Ups

Ruby and Eliza Claire are playing vet. I'm the vet. Their animals need special food to eat. Ruby just told me that the food was on sale at the grocery store. Then she informed Eliza Claire that if she went to Target the food was much cheaper than the vet because it was on sale there. I think they've been on too many errands with Mommy recently.


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Homemade Tomato Soup

I have not had homemade tomato soup in years.  I used to love my grandmother's but it is a recipe I have never gotten from her and just something I've never made, well, until yesterday.

I have a spaghetti sauce recipe I love. I could literally drink it.  I decided to use it as my base for my soup. It worked perfectly.  The end result was yummy.  I just had the last of the leftovers for lunch.  I'm sad it is gone.  I'll definitely have to make it again.

Homemade Tomato Soup
1 28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes
1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes*
1 14 oz. can of tomato sauce
4-6 large cloves of garlic peeled and smashed with the side of a knife
1-2 medium onions quartered
1 stick of butter - the real stuff not the fake stuff
1 32 oz. container of chicken broth

1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup fat free half and half
Salt and pepper to taste

Add the first seven ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for at least and hour.  Use an immersion blender to puree.  Stir in baking soda.  Once it stops foaming add the half and half.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until heated through and serve.

Last night I served the soup with garlic and cheese flavored croutons and parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.  It was delicious!

In case you are wondering the baking soda is added to reduce the acidity in the tomatoes to keep the half and half from curdling when it is added.  Thanks mom for the tip.

*This would be better with all San Marzano tomatoes but since they cost 4 times as much as plain old whole tomatoes I used only one can of San Marzano and finished with regular whole tomatoes.

You can definitely play around with the amount of butter or use a mixture of olive oil and butter.  I used fat free half and half because that is what I had at home.  If I had regular half and half I would use it but definitely cut the amount of butter down then.  And if you don't like a creamy tomato soup this would be great if you just left it out and added another cup of broth. 

I served the soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.  Last nights were homemade brioche with sharp cheddar.  If you are doing a lot of sandwiches I find that buttering the bread, assembling them on a cookie sheet, and baking them in the oven is quicker and takes less of my attention than doing them in a frying pan.  I usually bake them at 350 for about 15 minutes(or until golden brown), turning them once.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Halloween Installment 3: School Celebrations

Ruby and Eliza Claire had a costume parade and celebration last Thursday.  Eliza Clarie kept insisting that she was going to wear and Indian costume they had in their class at school and that she did not need to bring a costume.  I insisted that we take her monkey costume in the car with us because I just did think this was the case.  She even made me braid her hair so she would be ready for her Indian costume.  Of course when we got to school and I asked the teachers about it there were no Indian costumes.  They had started talking about their Thanksgiving celebration and Eliza Claire had gotten confused on when she would get to wear her Indian costume.  She was a bit disappointed but happy to be a monkey in the end.

Rehm and Charlotte had a character parade on Friday.  They are supposed to dress as a character from a book.

All of the kids in Charlotte's class were mice.  They all had different books with mice characters.
Rehm as a very disheveled Harry Potter


If reading about vomit bothers you STOP READING NOW!

Michael and I were woken up this morning by a very cheerful Charlotte skipping into our room.  This is our typical weekday wake up.  However, this morning instead of Charlotte saying, "Good Morning, Mama!" she said, "Mama, I threw up in my bed during the night and have dried throw up all over me!" Yeah, in a cheery voice!  How in the world can you be cheerful about dried up throw up? Of course at this point I'm thinking OK, she gagged and got a little bit of something on her, no big deal.  There is no way it was a real episode.  She couldn't possibly sleep through that!  I was wrong!
Michael got Charlotte in the shower and I got her room cleaned up.  She seems to be fine now.  She had only one or two pieces of candy after trick or treating so this was not a candy overload.  I think she coughed in her sleep and triggered it as she has a very sensitive gag reflex.  I'm still just amazed that she could get sick and never wake up or realize it until her alarm clock went off this morning.  She has done this as a toddler and even then I thought it was strange but it seems extremely strange for a seven year old.  Upon further reflection, I decided I would rather clean up vomit at 6:45 am than 3 am.  But still, I just don't get it.

Aren't you so glad you checked Mayhem Mania today?  Yeah, I don't know why I felt the need to share this, either.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Installment 2: Trick or Treating

We started the Halloween festivities with a little pumpkin carving in the afternoon.  Followed by a Jack-o-lantern shape pizza from Papa Murphey's for dinner.  Then it was time to don costumes and go!

Rehm's costume got rave reviews.  There were several houses where he had to wait because the person answering the door called someone else in the house to come see him.  It was funny though that several of the "Grandparent Generation" didn't know what he was.  I heard "Oh, your a remote control...," "Oh, your a TV," and my favorite, "So, are you in Jail?"

Rehm's comments that were my favorite were, "Hey, wait for the iPod!" "Expensive merchandise coming through!"

Rehm's costume is now in the trash.  It made it through trick or treating but was partially torn at the bottom of the screen on both sides when he got home.  The cats proceeded to knock it off the table and finish it off.  It was a fun costume to create.  Not expensive but a fun and challenging creative process.  Of course even if it could have been saved it would have been obsolete by next Halloween as it no longer even looks like the current generation of iPod Nanos. 

Charlotte's costume was probably my favorite this year. Why? Well because it appeals to my sense of practicality.  She already had the shirt and jeans.  While I had to buy the boots, vest, hat and rope, they will all get lots of use.  The boots and vest will be part of her normal winter wardrobe and Rehm has a play in Theater Arts that he needs to dress in Western wear for.  So I'm set.  I love a costume that can be reused and not just packed away for another Halloween. 

Ruby and Eliza Claire are so neglected.  They were really not given any choice in what their costumes would be.  I refused to buy them costumes since we had costumes in their size already in the house.  Their choices consisted of the costumes they wore or anything they could find in the dress up box.  Next year they will have the same choices as the costumes should still fit them.  Eventually, they might get some say, you know, when they are grown and paying for their own.
Ruby was the first child to call it quits.  She and I came home as soon as Michael rejoined us after making sure the house was still standing - we left pumpkin seed roasting and Michael set a timer and then didn't hear it when it went off in his pocket.  Oops! Luckily all was well and the pumpkin seeds were still edible. Rehm was the next child to head home.  Charlotte and Eliza Claire made it until Michael called trick or treating over. 

When we got home from trick or treating the kids all dumped out their baskets on the floor.  I immediately started sorting their candy into two large piles.  One for chocolate and one for everything else.  Rehm immediately commented on the sorting and knew why I was doing it.  It bugs me when the candy is stored together and the chocolate takes on some of the fruity flavor - yuck! Ruins it for me.  And you know the Halloween candy is all about me. 

Our kids don't get to keep their own stash of candy.  Everything immediately goes in to the community pot.  Apparently I'm a Halloween candy socialist.  Once it is sorted into chocolate and non-chocolate the kids have a few days to enjoy the spoils.  Then I start sending it to work with Michael and donating it various places to get it out of the house.  At the end a week whatever remains in the house goes in the trash.  I refuse to have candy sitting around until Christmas.  I am such a mean mom!  I believe last year the kids kept begging for candy at non-candy times and complaining about how many pieces they got and I got fed up and threw it all away well before the week was out.  Surprisingly, on the whole there are no complaints about the community candy or how long it stays in the house.  I guess they know better :)

All in all it was a great Halloween.