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Kids Really Do Say The Darndest Things!

November 13, 2011 9 comments

This week I’m taking a cue from a blog I follow where the genius mom actually documents her kids’ quotes! Brilliant, cause kids really do say the darndest things!

If you follow my blog, you probably know I have two kids (that I love and adore) but I will only be quoting one today, my 10-year old daughter. Besides, if I were lucky enough to even overhear a conversation, let alone have one, with my 13-year old son, the entire quote would most likely consist of these three words:

Um, Yeah and Nah.

There. 

I’m a good mom and have just documented my boy’s quotes for the past six months.

My girl on the other hand, is a non-stop chatterbox. (I think it’s a gender thing.) Ever see the Volvo commercial where the Dad puts his 5-year old daughter in her car seat, closes the door, gets into the driver’s seat and takes her to school, all the while, she is non-stop chatter, going on and on about who knows what?

That’s my Hannah and at age ten, not only do I get the non-stop chatter about who knows what, I  get the added bonus of her opinion!

Here are a few recent ones….

On The World’s Status

My daughter goes to a progressive school and we do not practice any formal religion. I of course went to Catholic school and was a practicing catholic until I went to college, receiving many of the sacraments up until that age, including confession of my sins.

Not too long ago, my girl came home from school and asked,

Mom, what’s a sin?

Me, in freak-out mode responded, “A sin? Why? Why do you want to know what a sin is?”

I heard it was bad. My teacher doesn’t teach us about sins or war or anything. She pretty much teaches us that the world is perfect but I know it’s not perfect.

You’re a super sleuth, Hannah and you’re right, the world is not perfect.

On Getting A New Car

At the onset of having to get new wheels, I admit, I had a brief moment of panic at the thought of having to bring the car I loved so dearly back to the dealership it was leased from, knowing, now, there would be no way I could afford to lease the same car again. Myself and my girl were driving around town when it hit me and without really thinking about it or looking for a response, I tugged at the steering wheel and said,

“Hannah, how am I going to keep this car?”

Not a full minute passed before my girls’ wheels started turning and she sprung into solution mode……

Here's my Billboard Baby scooter-ing throughout the neighborhood, drumming up sales for our yard-sale earlier this year.

Mom, I got it! From tomorrow to the end of the summer, I say, we go out in the middle of the median and sell like there’s no tomorrow!

Sell? Sell what, Hannah? Lemonade?

Lemonade AND ice-pops mom, lemonade AND ice-pops!

Turns out, I LOVE my new car but Thank you, Hannah!!


On Edward

A year and a half ago, I brought Edward home. My Edward is a creepy but important part of me being able to live life on life’s terms and while we sometimes bring him out to participate in various family activities, his primary function is to keep a watchful eye on my 22-year old punk neighbor.

Edward does an excellent job!

My Edward. Doing his job.

In a few weeks we will begin the process of moving from the only home my daughter has ever known.

Mom I think we have to leave Edward here.

Why?

At least until we get to meet our new neighbors.

Why, Hannah?

Well, if we put him in the window before we meet them, they’re going to think we’re freaks and they won’t bring us cookies or cupcakes (cause we’re the new neighbors) and I want the cookies and cupcakes.

Point well taken, Hannah. I  want the cookies and cupcakes too but Edward comes with us.

Hannah & Edward, just hanging around.

Besides, we both know you love him just as much as I do!

Aside from the funny stuff, there are also great pearls of wisdom and insight, as well as profound statements that often come from this blessing of a child, leaving me stunned but mostly, extremely grateful for the gift of her life in mine.

Those I’ll save for another day.

Meanwhile, for more adept quotes from other skilled and clever kids, visit the Young American Wisdom blog — the inspiration for this post!

For happy thoughts from a happy kid, visit Hannah’s blog, I’m Thinking Happy!

If you have an endearing or humorous kid quote, feel free to leave it with me!

Photo Credit #1: Sin

Photo Credit #2: Super Sleuth

Photo Credit# 3-5: Karen Szczuka Teich & http://www.takingtheworldonwithasmile.com

It’s Not That Easy Being Green

September 25, 2011 16 comments

“It’s not that easy being green …but green’s the color of spring and green can be cool and friendly like and green can be big like an ocean or important like a mountain or tall like a tree.”  ~ Kermit the Frog

So, it’s the first full week back to school and at the end of my work day on Friday, the Director and Fitness teacher ask me to take off my “office” hat so they can speak to me as a “parent”.

You know this can’t be good.

It’s about my 10-year old daughter of course and it seems there was an issue in her fitness class. There are 25 multi-aged children in this class on Mondays and Fridays and my little “lemon drop” happens to be the oldest. Many of the younger kids look up to her, literally. She is also the tallest kid in the school and would perhaps be, by any other standard expected to “set the example” maybe?

“Ahem.”

Okay. So, it seems my little “apple dumpling” is the only one, out of these 25 kids that said “no” and flat out refused to sign a goal oriented agreement that has the following requirements:

  1. Everyone feels safe and no one gets hurt.
  2. Everyone has an equal chance to enjoy each game.
  3. Everyone learns how to be a better team member.
  4. Everyone has fun.

Not unreasonable, in fact when queried, my little “butter-cup” said she had no problem with setting these goals as a group. She just didn’t understand why she had to sign her name to it.

Her argument:

“They know me, Mom.

I just don’t know why my ‘word’ isn’t good enough anymore.

If they don’t trust my word what difference does my signature make?

Either they trust me or they don’t.

Besides, it didn’t  say ‘pacificly’ that it was for fitness only.

I am the biggest kid — in the entire school. What if I hurt another kid by accident?”

They know her, indeed. She was welcomed by this school well before she ever spent her first full day there as a student at the age of three. From the time she was about 9-months old, she would tag along on school trips to the farm, to pick apples, pumpkins and attend theater shows with her older brother’s class. When she finally got there, it was in this fine progressive, hands-on learning environment that she was truly encouraged to be herself, to think, to ask and to imagine. She was the child who wore a communion veil to class every day for the second half of second grade, even though she never made her communion. She’s the kid who never wears matching socks and when I tell her in the morning…

“You either brush your hair or wear a hat to school,”

…nine times out of ten, she chooses the hat.

This school nurtured her, told her in no uncertain terms that she had a voice and helped her to find it, so there was really no disrespect when she said “no.” Her response, in effect was a culmination of seven years of being taught the importance of being your own person.

That day, she was told that if she wasn’t going to sign the paper, she wouldn’t be able to participate in the fitness program. She would have to sit out, and she did. That’s the price isn’t it, of taking a stand or being different, not following the crowd, standing up for something you believe in, even if you’re the only who believes in it? There could be a consequence.

There could also be a compromise, which is why I love this school.

After a few discussions with her fitness teacher (who just happens to be a former student of this fine school) the two exchanged positions and she understood the need for all the kids in the class to know they were all on the same page. She agreed to verbally acknowledge the four points and she did not have to sign her name. A resolution born out of mutual respect.

Many of the younger kids look up to her. Literally. She is after all the tallest kid in the school and the oldest and would perhaps be, by any other standard expected to “set the example”…..

……and maybe, she did just that.

She is her own person and while it may not be that easy being who she is, she’s cool and friendly like, she’s big like an ocean, important like a mountain and tall like a tree.

You can visit her blog at I’m Thinking Happy! if you like.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Photo credit #1: Kermit

Photo credit #2: ©Karen Szczuka Teich & http://www.Takingtheworldonwithasmile.com

Video Credit #1 YouTube

Foul! Parental Interference!

August 21, 2011 10 comments

As I mentioned last week, I’m a newbie to the whole playing-of-football thing and while I’m truly grateful for the side-effects it seems to be having on my boy so far, I can’t help but question some of the misconduct I observed during play, by a few of the parents!

I was only slightly perturbed when at a recent scrimmage game I overheard one dad in the stands telling another dad that he has given his son carte blanche on what he eats,

“I took away the vegetables. I don’t care what he eats as long as he bulks up.”

I was completely unnerved however by the actions of a few of the moms at the same game.

Tell me, is it really common place in football for a mom in the bleachers to stand up and yell out to her boy that for every kid he “hits”, excuse me, every kid he “hits and takes down– CLOCKS!“, he will get $50 from his dad?

“That could be an Xbox 360!” she said.

Or is it normal for a mom in the stands to threaten the loss of an activity to her son, if he doesn’t make a hit?

Some of these boys, like mine, are new to play and as expert as they may be when they watch the NFL, I suspect actually playing the game, is a tad bit different. You have to execute the rules you know so well by heart from watching. In this recent game, one newbie player from the other team had a tendency to put his hands up in the air, making it appear as though he was going to hit an opposing player, by way of fist.

You can probably guess how that played out; in a stock-pile tussle on the field ending with two boys crying and one parent spectator yelling out “Suck it up, man. Suck it up!” to his son.

I am all for NOT raising pansies. In fact, I happen to think parents in general coddle their kids a bit too much these days. Me included. I won’t let my girl go beyond our cul-de-sac without permission and when we move, I probably won’t let her go out at all. Meanwhile, when I was her age, I walked through town to go to school, meet a friend or to the movies, completely on my own.

The idea of yelling at an 11-year old to “suck it up!” after having just been punched and piled upon though, to me, seems a little extreme; among other things.

Worse was when one of our mom’s started screaming at one of our player’s dad because she mistook him for being a parent of an opposing player. Yes, for all the players and spectators to see and hear, this mother of one of our 10 to 12-year old boys, ripped this man to pieces from across the stands because he called out that the play was getting too rough. That prompted a screaming debate between actual opposing parents in the stands on whether or not kids who did not want to get “hit” (or hurt) should play at all.

  I thought they were here to learn the rules and play the game. Am I wrong? Am I being naive?

Football is an aggressive sport and tackling is part of the game. They have gear, they’re protected. I get it. I think competition can be healthy and I consider myself a fairly competitive person. I like to win, just as much as the next gal. And if no one knew I was at the game beforehand, there was no mistaking my presence when my boy got the ball, broke through the center hole and shot down-field like a bullet for his first touchdown!

WooHoo!! THAT’S MY BOY!!

I am after all, his biggest fan.

These boys are 10, 11 and 12-years old. They don’t need to be encouraged by parents to exhibit barbaric behavior. They just need to be encouraged. Even at 12, our children watch closely what we do and say. The power of example is a strong one.

Every year when I register my kids for soccer, I’m handed a piece of literature entitled Parents Code of Conduct. I’m asked to read and sign it. The first time I read it, I thought to myself, “Really, is this necessary?”  Perhaps it is. As I’ve never seen the same kind of behavior I witnessed at my first football game at any of the soccer games I’ve attended over the past seven years.

And while I must say, I was impressed by the way the coaches handled the boys on the field, I call, “FOUL! “on the way the parents’ behavior interfered with the game.

And to think, this was only a scrimmage.

Any advice on how to get through this from the not-so-newbies out there?

Photo credits: Google Images

Summer Lessons From My Father (That’s Right – I Went There!)

July 24, 2011 10 comments

Lesson #1.

When it’s 100° outside, QUICK — get in the kitchen and start baking!

Despite this past week’s sweltering heat, I gave a nod to my Dad and decided to spend one of those triple-digit temperature days baking. As a kid I used to think my dad was crazy because he would bake on the hottest of days. As an adult, I realize it’s only crazy, if you don’t have air-conditioning; which we never did.

I try real hard not to snack after 8pm and quite frankly it’s becoming increasingly difficult. Actually, it’s almost impossible since my daughter and I are obsessed with watching multiple cooking and baking shows in the evening. Yes, we’re foodies and we watch just about every food related program that comes on DirecTv including but not limited too, Chopped, Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, Tough Cookie with Crazy Susan, Ace of  Cakes, Cake Boss and our favorite, Cupcake Wars. We’re also fans of The Little Couple, Say Yes to the Dress, Clean House and House Hunters. We’ve even watched Hoarding: Buried Alive twice but honestly, I just found it too disturbing.

We prefer the “sweeter” programs and nearly every night we torture ourselves watching them.

Believe it or not, I never heard of red velvet cake or its connection to the Waldorf-Astoria until recently and for some reason this summer it keeps coming up, especially on Cupcake Wars. Intrigued, I looked up several recipes on the internet, put together what I thought would work best, ramped up the A/C and decided to give it a go, this week, the hottest week of the summer, so far.

It reminded me of when I was a kid and how my Dad would bake on the hottest day of the year.

I’m not sure if it was me or my daughter who was the genius behind the thought but we decided to do a little red-velvet-ice-cream-cone-cupcake thing and at least give the illusion that we were eating something that would help cool us off!

Yowza…we were so excited!! They turned out AWESOME!!

When we were done, we figured if there was one person who’d appreciate our efforts on this sizzler of a summer day, it would be my Dad, so we decided to take some over to him to see what he thought.

We plated a few cones and were on our way……………………………………………………………….

Lesson #2.

When it’s 100° outside, be sure to shut every door and window in your home before turning on your biggest, loudest, most antiquated, metal-fan and when possible, place it backwards in your window. This way you are sure to suck any air that’s in the house, out of the house, making it just a hair more unbearable and uncomfortable than it ever should be.

Thankfully, because I have air-conditioning in my house, there’s no need for the gigantor window fan to make it worse.

At Dad’s house however, we couldn’t stay too long. It was literally 100° degrees outside and with no A/C and all the windows and doors shut, it was probably close to 112° inside. At least the attic fan was off for our visit. Mom says it’s so loud, she goes crazy when it’s on. Dad says, it’s “physics”; draw the hot air out and …. I don’t understand it but when my 10-year old daughter questioned the logic of it and started to argue the point with him, well, I knew it was time for us to go.

Dad really enjoyed our cupcakes though. We put a cherry on his!

Lesson #3. 

Freeze an orange and then slice it (or try to anyway). It’s better than sherbert! 

Not really but it’s an option. As an adult, I choose to buy the sherbert.

Oh, and there’s also these lessons I’ve learned from my Dad:

#4. Whether your a toilet-cleaner or the CEO of a big company, take pride in what you do and do it well.

#5. You can do anything, if you put your mind to it.

#6. “Book-smart” has nothing on “common-sense”. Use the resources that you have.

#7. There are some things in life, that are better left unsaid.

Thanks, Dad.

Photo Credits #1, #2, #3 #4: © Karen Szczuka Teich & http://www.TakingTheWorldOnWithASmile.com

Crazy For Cannolis

July 2, 2011 8 comments

After researching several recipes, I chose what I liked best from each and then threw in my own secret ingredient!

As a first generation AMERICAN with parents who emigrated from Germany and Ireland, I ate lots of sauerkraut and Irish soda bread as a kid. I suppose it’s only natural then, that as an adult, I would want to learn how to make Cannolis.

Let me connect the European dots for you. My best friend’s Dad was from Italy. Once a year he would take us to New York City to the San Gennaro Feast in the historic Little Italy. The smells alone were enough to make a young girl giddy. Her mom used to make mostacciolis during the week and her grandmother would nurse a sauce all-day-long on a Sunday. Mid-afternoon she’d come out of her kitchen, wipe her hands on her apron and wave us inside for a serving of spaghetti and sauce with Italian bread. Heaven.

I grew up loving and yearning for what was on the other side of the fence, Italian food.

My love for all foods Italian may also (in a twisted sort of way) have something to do with the fact that when I was very young, we rented a second-floor apartment in a house owned by an Italian family who had three boys: La John-o, La JoJ-o and La Carl-o. We were often invited down to their basement to share a meal that always included home-made pasta, bread and wine.

Go ahead, turn me on my side, coax a little girl inside, close the lid and roll away!

I have a very strong and clear memory of the two younger boys coaxing me into a wine barrel one day, closing the lid and rolling me around their front lawn, just for fun.The smell of wine inside the barrel was so pungent, it too resurfaces every time the memory does. In addition to the obvious trauma that would accompany such an event, I truly believe this is why I don’t like confined spaces. It was also probably the first time I ever got “tipsy”. I think I was five.

Back to making Cannolis.

This holiday weekend I’m spending a few days Upstate New York with my daughter. I always try to have a few activities in mind for my kids when we come here and ever since they could stand on a stool and hold a measuring cup, my children and I have been creating in the kitchen together. I love doing things with my kids and the kitchen is a wonderful, natural classroom that provides a great opportunity to bond, learn and teach. We’ve made everything from soups to nuts, — including pasta, cakes, cookies and this weekend, Cannolis!

The ingredients.

Just check out the visual above for a clear view of what you’ll need. I guess if I was Italian, I’d know where to buy fresh ricotta but I’m not, so I settled for Sorrento brand from the supermarket. I didn’t need the granulated sugar or farm fresh eggs but they seemed to complete the photo so I left them in. And yes, those are boxed (store-bought) Cannoli shells you see in my picture. They were the only ones my grocer carries. I’m Crazy for Cannolis that’s true but I also know, what I don’t know and what my limitations are! Making the shells from scratch was not an option, this time.

Here’s my I’m-Not-Italian But Here’s My Very Delicious Cannoli Filling Recipe:

2 lbs. ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cups confectionery sugar

1/4 cup half ‘n half

4 tsp. vanilla

1-2 tsp. cinnamon (more if you love cinnamon like us – more cinnamon will result in a darker filling complexion)

Semi-sweet chocolate morsels (enough to make you happy)

1-2 tbs. honey (my secret ingredient that’s no longer a secret)

Drain the ricotta of any excess moisture. Mix ricotta, confectionery sugar, half ‘n half, vanilla, cinnamon and honey together until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips. Chill and fill the shells using a pastry bag or small spoon shortly before serving. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes about a dozen Cannolis.

Yummy! Not bad for a first try.

It’s that easy! Have a safe and happy holiday and most of all, enjoy!

Photo Credit #1: ©Karen Szczuka Teich

Photo Credit #2: Google Images

Photo Credit #3: ©Karen Szczuka Teich

Billboard Baby

June 26, 2011 6 comments

“Yard sale!  Yard sale!  Come check out the yard sale!”

Forget the PennySaver.      Who needs the classifieds in the newspaper?

Why even bother to advertise on Craig’s List when you can have this??

That’s right, for the price of a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on a croissant, this willing and able 10-year old will happily take your idea, event or function on the road! She comes complete with borrowed wings, a friend’s home-made shield, soccer shoes, red knee-high soccer socks, a Tinkerbell birthday hat and her very own pink-wheeled scooter!

Let this Billboard Baby loose in your neighborhood and customers will be clambering at your door, yard sale or lemonade stand. Satisfaction guaranteed!

But wait! Don’t just let these pictures alone convince you…. here is an actual client testimonial:

“No one came to our yard sale for HOURS. Finally, we agreed to give Hannah’s approach a try. It was amazing! A miracle! She literally stopped traffic! As soon as Hannah hit the pavement, customers started coming out of the woodwork (or at least their homes, to see what all the commotion was) and over to our yard sale.  I’ll never have another yard sale — without her!” ~ Karen Szczuka Teich

Okay, so while everything at my Everything Must Go yard sale eventually went, unfortunately, most of it went to the Goodwill. Not exactly the money-maker I had hoped it would be, despite the literally months of planning and preparation. Who knew the biggest flea market venue in the county was holding their annual “public” yard sale the same day I was having my little “private” one? Apparently everyone. Except me of course.

Oh well, I guess we never would have discovered Hannah’s new knack for advertising if our sale was such a success in the first place, right? It’s all in the way you choose to look at things and honestly, watching Hannah scooter through the neighborhood while hollering her heart out about our “sale” was worth every idle hour!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (mostly to remind myself),

It’s not what happens but what you do– how you deal with — what happens, that really matters.

It may not have been a profitable day but it was a great day, nonetheless.

 

Photo credits: © Karen Szczuka Teich.

Message in the Attic

June 12, 2011 5 comments

Somehow I let myself slip into the delusion that life would get easier as I got older. Maybe older, is meant for the over 60 crowd, in which case, I still have a little while to go. As for this mid-forties mom and for reasons I can’t begin to fathom, life just seems to be extraordinarily difficult right now and I find myself in the position of having to “let go”… of a lot.

Coincidentally, while recently rummaging around in my attic again (looking for more things to sell) I stumbled upon an old, yellowed-out piece of paper at the bottom of a box labeled “Childhood”. I’ve no idea where it came from or how I got it but of this I am certain, it’s mine and it feels like an appropriate time to share it.

Without credit of an author and in an old, bold, script type face, this is what was written on it:

Let go……..

to “let go” does not mean to stop caring, it means I can’t do it for someone else.

to “let go” is not to cut myself off, it’s the realization I can’t control another.

to “let go” is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural consequences.

to “let go” is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.

to “let go” is not to try to change or blame another, it’s to make the most of myself.

to “let go” is not to care for, but to care about.

to “let go” is not to fix but to be supportive.

to “let go” is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.

to “let go” is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes but to allow others to affect their destinies.

to “let go” is not to be protective, it’s to permit another to face reality.

to “let go” is not to deny, but to accept.

to “let go” is not to nag, scold or argue, but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.

to “let go” is not to adjust everything to my desires but to take each day as it comes, and cherish myself in it.

to “let go” is not to criticize and regulate anybody but to try to become what I dream I can be.

to “let go” is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.

to “let go” is to fear less, and love more.

Sometimes I can get so bogged down by the details of  “the issue at hand” that I just can’t see the obvious. Lucky for me, I believe in receiving signs, messages and answers from the universe (or whatever higher power has it’s hand in our fates) and I believe they can come in many forms and places. This time, it was in the quiet of a warm, stuffy attic and it was clear; certain circumstances are just out of my control and I need to let go.


Photo Credits #1 & #2: Google Images

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