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If you are a mother, chances are you have visited Chuck E. Cheese play palace. Perhaps you even had your child’s birthday party there. I have visited the giant play plaza too many times to count in the past few months, enough times to know that Chuck E. as cute as he is and as much as my children love him is no friend to me.
The majority of my visits to Chuck E. Cheese have been to celebrate a birthday. I am very familiar with the long tables filled of children and the two booths behind them that are meant to accommodate ten or more adults, which as you can guess is absolutely impossible.
More often than not I have found myself standing at the head of the children’s table hoping that I look like I belong there. As luck always has it, my children are on the opposite end of the table screaming for me. Off I go, weaving my way between a sea of parents, attempting to reach my child only to be told never mind the second I do.
Despite the fact my teeth are clenched I force a smile and make my way back to the spot I gave up and quickly notice another parent standing there. Inching back toward the adults my body becomes wedged between a side booth and a chair. A train of people standing behind the giant Chuck E. rush toward me encouraging me to hop on the human train. By some luck I manage to break away and find myself standing way too close to a parent I don’t know but can tell by the look in their eyes that they are just as uncomfortable with the sudden closeness.
The cake part of the day ends and the real fun begins. There is nothing like chasing after your child through an arcade, especially if you have more than one child and they are racing in opposite directions. My favorite part is watching helplessly as my three-year old screams for me to come rescue her out of a jungle-gym much too small and intricate for my shape. I do like the picture booth where for a token you can get a sketch of you and your child, but unfortunately when I sat down to take ours I was greeted with an Out of Paper notice.
Chuck E.’s best gift is received a few days after you get home. Long after the tokens have been spent, the cake eaten and the candles blown out something arrives in an unsightly package that you can share with others… the flu.

Thirteen Things about Maribeth
With four kids, a husband and two dogs life is guaranteed to get hectic at times. Chaos is what I know. I have had people ask me on many occasions, “How do you do it?” My answer is always the same, “There is a place in my mind that I go when life becomes frantic. I run through a field of flowers with a bandanna wrapped around my head, the sun is shining, birds are chirping and I am singing (okay so I’m singing off-key but no one could hear me so who cares). However, before I could run too far something always happens to jerk me back into reality, like tripping over a sneaker and falling flat onto my face while taking the bowl of cereal that I slapped off the cupboard in mid-fall with me.

Sure, there are days I envision jumping off a bridge rather than running through a field of flowers. It’s on those days that I remind myself that one day it will be the chaos I miss.
This week I will list thirteen daily guarantees with a family of six.

1…The garbage can seems to always be full

2… The dishwasher fills up very quickly. (Even with a dishwasher, the sink still accumulates dishes)

3… You can do three loads of laundry a day and still have more.

4… There is someone always hungry. (Despite the fact they just ate)

5… There is always someone thirsty (You pour one drink, sit down to do something and then someone else advises that they are now thirsty too.)

6… There is a spill at least once a day (Last night I salvaged the cheez-its my children left out in the rain only to have them fall out of the cupboard onto the freshly vacuumed floor minutes later)

7… Arguments are happening at all times (I was sitting there, I was watching TV first, Mom said it was my turn on the computer. Note to mother’s, it’s usually moments like this that I try to find my field of flowers)

8… There is never enough hot water for everyone to get a bath or shower (showers and baths must be spaced out over a few hours.)

9… There is always a mess somewhere (Trying to keep a tidy house with four kids is like trying to keep an up-do in a wind tunnel)

10… There are always too many lights on. I am constantly switching off lights to try to conserve energy.

11… Something always goes missing (like a homework assignment or a test that needed to be signed.)

12… Hugs and kisses happen constantly (This guarantee I like)

13…Everything will happen all at once as soon as you get the phone call you were waiting all day to receive.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

When you become a mother, you quickly realize that you must start living life at the seat of your pants. Just when you think things are going okay someone accidentally knocks over your steaming cup of coffee onto the newspaper you just sat down to read. There are few constants with motherhood. Life changes day by day and gets more hectic week by week. There is one thing that you can be sure you will always need, a dishtowel.
A dishtowel becomes an important valuable throughout the day. In my house, we can never have enough. The day starts with a quick clean of the kitchen. The dishtowels conveniently wipe down counters, wash stray dishes and dust off tables and chairs. They serve as hot pads when opening the stove because the hot pads never seem to be around. They can act as placemats and napkins in a pinch or tucked into a belt loop in place of an apron. The dishtowel is a handy invention.
There is always at least one episode during the day that a child accidentally knocks the Spaghettios and meatballs off the table and it lays in a giant red heap on the floor. The last paper towel used only seconds prior to the incident. When all else fails, you use a dishtowel.
When the same child that accidentally knocked over their lunch sits looking at you with sauce wrapped around its lip and there is not a napkin in the house, you use a dishtowel.
The dishtowel is a mother’s best friend. Sure, we women would like to think diamonds are our best pals, but, in reality, the only thing we see sparkling are the counters we just wiped up. Thanks to the dishtowel.

I love packing my children’s lunches. I take my time and put lots of love in preparing a sandwich. Lunches include a snack, such as the ever-popular fruit gushers and maybe even a pickle or two. Finally, I add a juice box and a letter from Mommy and send my kids on their way.
Recently I thought all was well and my kids were happy with their lunches. Until, the one day my son came home screaming. “My lunch bag and my book bag smells like pickles, don’t ever pack me a lunch again!” I assured him that I would Lysol both of the bags and he would no longer smell the pickles. The pickle-packing incident caused me many headaches.
Shortly after the incident, my son decided he never wanted me to pack him a lunch again. This was not okay with me because, I only allow my children to eat in the cafeteria twice a week (because of the sodium packed foods). The morning temper tantrums grew unbearable.
“I don’t want a sandwich, I hate your sandwiches and my lunch bag still smells like pickles.”
Once again, I reached for the Lysol to spray out the inside and assured him there was no dill smell lurking anywhere. By the time they left for school, I looked like a train wreck dangling over a cliff and I felt like it to. Tantrums play a toll on a mother. The son who once ate every morsel of food I packed was now leaving everything untouched until, we discovered his love of blueberry muffins.
One morning, while packing lunches I had an idea, instead of packing a sandwich that he would not eat, I would pack him one of the mammoth muffins instead. I asked him what he thought of having a muffin for lunch and was pleasantly surprised when he answered, “Yes, I would love that for my lunch.”
Yay, I was back in business, packing a lunch my son enjoyed. There would be no more pickle-smell discussions, no more wasted food and no more temper tantrums before school. I skipped through the day, ran some errands and came home to discover a missed call from my children’s school. I quickly called back, hoping nothing serious happened while I was out.
The secretary answered the phone and said slowly “Your son…” My heart was in my throat, I anticipated bad news.
“Yes,” I replied trying to hurry her along.
“He was packed a muffin for lunch.” I waited for more, but there was nothing.
“Yes, that’s correct, as well as a few other things,” I answered.
“We just wanted to make sure that was all he was getting for lunch.” My nervousness turned into annoyance. “Yes, that was plenty,” I assured.
We hung up the phone and I began to stew. How dare they question what I gave my son to eat, especially on the day I finally got him to eat something. I called back the school and informed them I was offended by the initial phone call and would like to know why I was being questioned. The secretary advised she would relay my message to the teacher who was questioning my choice.
Soon after, a phone call came and it was the teacher assuring me that she just wanted to make sure the muffin was his lunch and not a snack. She proceeded to ask why I did not just allow him to eat a hot dog in the cafeteria because certainly all kids love hot dogs. What happened the next day? My son refused to eat a packed lunch. He threw a temper tantrum and begged to eat the school lunch. So much for my great idea, if the teacher only knew.

 

Aah the joys of roller-skating, there is nothing like strapping on a pair of shoes with wheels, balancing yourself, then attempting to glide gracefully across a fake wooden floor.  Children look adorable wobbling back and forth while adults doing the very same thing look ridiculous.

My daughter and son surprised me with their skating abilities. Watching them zip around the rink brought a proud smile to my face. I was visualizing them as Olympic speed skaters preparing to take the gold and then reality set in. On the rink, my daughter was graceful. It was off the rink that her clumsiness resurfaced. One-step onto the dated paisley carpet and she was on her butt faster than I could say boo. She quickly pointed out that it was the kid in front of her that caused her to fall, if he didn’t move so slow she would have been okay. I smiled and nodded.

When she accidentally spilled a small amount of soda, she advised it was her younger sister who bumped her arm. Once again, I smiled and nodded.

The children gathered around the birthday boy to sing Happy Birthday, my daughter decided to stand next to me. Soon after the candles were blown out, she attempted to grab a handful of Doritos’s from the table. As everyone laughed and congratulated the birthday boy, they had no clue that within seconds the entire bowl of snacks and all drinks in front of it would fly off the table into their laps and onto the floor, compliments of my daughter.

The poor thing was embarrassed,what did she do out of nervousness? Lick her fingers. It would not be so bad except for the fact that those same fingers seconds ago slammed onto the germ-filled floor as she braced her fall.

As the guest looked in horror I swiped her hands from her mouth, smiled, nodded and prayed that she wouldn’t contact any disease.

A speed skater? Maybe. A balancing act-Never!

 

My five year-old nephew loves to antagonize my three year-old daughter. It usually starts with him telling her there is a ghost. It ends with her running towards me, arms wide opened, tears in her eyes, pleading for help.

I have told him many times to stop scaring her, and I assured her that there was no ghost next to her. I instructed her to say “Whatever,” the next time he mentioned a ghost.

 I forgot about the conversation and my nephew stopped the teasing. As I made my bed, my daughter delicately painted her fingernails with some Barbie nail polish. My nephew walked up to her and whispered in her ear, “There is a ghost next to you.”

I heard the whisper and spun my head around, opened my mouth and prepared to scold him for making her upset. I never had to say a word; my daughter came up with the best reply.

She shrugged her shoulders, looked at him and said, “I know, I am painting its nails.”

He hasn’t mentioned seeing a ghost since. That’s my girl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Sunday, we finally had a whole day out doors. The kids flew out my back door as if they were prisoners released back into the free world. Life was good. I nestled into my comfy Adirondack chair with a hot cup of java and watched them from afar. My nephew called my three children into a huddle. I could hear him telling them to pick a celebrity. My oldest daughter quickly yelled out, “I’m Hannah Montana.” My youngest daughter advised that she would be playing the role of Cinderella. Because my son was taking too long deciding, my nephew informed him that he would be Chris Brown, while my nephew declared himself to be Usher.

     My curiosity piqued, I sat at the edge of my chair straining to hear where they were going with this game. My nephew acted as a director, instructing the actors what their lines would be and informing them of the rules of the game. They all had a mission; they were to catch the bad people. The four of them ran through the yard chasing down imaginary men and taking nosedives into the grass screaming out “I have been hit.”

     “Wait, we have to take a call from our boss,” my nephew said.

     They gathered around the rock garden and looked nervous as they waited for the big guy to call (I must say, they were good little actors).

     “The phone’s ringing, Justin is calling.” My nephew hushed the others, advising them het would take the phone call from Justin Timberlake. They assured Justin that everything was going as planned, hung up the invisible phone and took off throughout the yard again.

     For a moment, I envisioned Usher, Chris Brown, Hannah Montana and Cinderella running through my yard chasing down bad guys while answering to Justin Timberlake and thought-Maybe my kids are on to something. It could be Reality TV with a twist, where real life and fairytales come together fighting for a happily ever after. Hey, they thought up an interesting cast.         

     Birthdays in my family are reason to celebrate. Another excuse to hang with the family, eat some good food, share a lot of laughs and make some silent wishes when blowing out the candles. It is always a given, a birthday does not go past without singing, applause and well wishes. However, for my brother it is a bit different. His birthday is at the tail end of a ton of birthdays so he inadvertently gets the shaft. It might be his unassuming personality that leads others to believe that he wouldn’t mind so much if we didn’t have a big hoorah for him.  Men really could care a less about that stuff right? 

     So, last week when his birthday came, no one thought it was a big deal that there was no cake, no eats and no candles to blow out. A few pecks on the cheek and some lottery tickets thrown into a card seemed appropriate enough. As he walked out of my yard, I saw the light. Maybe, for once he would like to be celebrated, he did do time growing up with four sisters who would have walked out in a storm if their birthdays were not acknowledged.

     “We should have got him a cake,” I said to his wife. Within minutes, we planned an impromptu birthday party that was held at my parents’ kitchen table to honor my brother. We ordered pizza and his wife ran for a cake. After we inhaled the food, it was time for the cake and candles. When the cake was placed in front of him, his celebration turned comical. His birthday cake had a giant leprechaun sitting upon the icing with the words Happy St. Patrick’s Day written underneath. The only candles we could find were a pack of Hanukah candles my mother purchased from a yard sale. It wouldn’t be half as funny except we are an Italian catholic family. Placing Jewish holiday candles upon a cake with a saint’s name on it seemed a bit out there.

     There was something on the kitchen table for every holiday except a birthday; we had the St. Patrick’s Day cake, The Hanukah candles, a Halloween dishcloth (we used to wipe up a spill) and some bunny decorations. It took us a minute to regain our composure and catch our breath from laughing so hard, but somehow we all managed to belt out a great rendition of Happy Birthday.

     We are not the Joneses, no one needs to try and keep up with this family but there is no other family I would want to be a part of. My brother did not get a fancy cake or hundreds of guests, but his birthday will forever remain one of my favorite memories. I don’t know what he wished for that night when blowing out his Hanukah/Birthday candles but I know I wished for many more of those happy birthday’s to come, I’ll even take a cake with a leprechaun, after all leprechauns symbolize good luck.

Thirteen Things about MARIBETHI’m very excited about this week’s TT. I have a very special guest writing the list. My father is one of my biggest supporters when it comes to writing. He reads anything I throw at him and gives me honest feedback. Because he is the most intelligent man I know, his opinion means a great deal to me. He is one of my consistent blog readers and enjoys the Thursday Thirteen’s. He came up with a list of his own thirteen. This week’s TT will be thirteen mini crisis in family life. Show him some love and leave comments to support his big debut. He’s a great storyteller, maybe one day I will post a story he wrote.

Have fun and don’t forget the comments.

1…Being in the bathroom with no toilet paper.

2… Losing your child’s tooth before the tooth fairy paid up. (This one happened to me this year, check out my post Tooth Fairy’s Identity almost revealed).

3…Meeting the town snob on a day when you’re dressed like an old tomatoe plant. (Happened to me too many times)

4…Having a hole in your sock when the teacher asked you to remove your sneaker.

5…Not having enough money for all of your children’s lunches. (My parents did a wonderful job raising five children. I can never remember being hungry- in fact I ate too much as a child)

6… Prom Night for your daughter (I’m still about nine years away from this one)

7… Prom Night for your son (Ten years away, I would think this one isn’t as bad as prom night for the daughter)

8…Deciding whether to play golf or watch your daughter’s 8hr softball game. (I can tell you he chose the softball games every time)

9… Deciding who gets to use the family car. (Yeah, this was a bit rough)

10… Driving to work in a blizzard. (over an hour away)

11… Trying to Locate the TV guide (Watching him search was pretty comical, hearing him get mad was quite scary)

12… Having to work on New Year’s Eve. (I certainly missed my daddy on New Year’s Eve, but I know now he did what he had to do. He is a father of five.)

13… Feeding the Family Rabbit. (I don’t think this was all that bad)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Kids can definitely come up with some clever comebacks. They are full of wit that makes adults envious. I love to see life through their eyes it’s actually pretty funny. My sister and I have daughters in the same grade, same class. Because I am the caretaker of her daughter while she is working, it is usually my duty to take them to school. Friday my sister had the day off so she offered to drive them. I was delighted. Trying to get my son and daughter out the door each morning is sitcom worthy. By the time I finally have them dressed, fed, and hair brushed we have about two minutes to get out the door, hop in the car and drive to school in hopes we get there before they are marked tardy.

My sister came early for them so she could assist me in getting them out the door. She zipped up my son’s coat and he was ready to go. She started to put my daughter’s coat on while I brushed through her hair once more. We were side my side primping her as if she was a model behind the curtains getting a quick wardrobe change before hitting the runway. While I was twisting her hair into a ponytail my sister was straightening the collar of her coat. We gave her a once over and without hesitation simultaneously put our thumbs to our mouths and gave a quick lick. Yes, we were doing what as young girls we swore we never would do, we were going to wipe the toothpaste that outlined my daughter’s lips off with our spit on a finger. We were in a trance and had one thing on our mind; get her out the door so they will not be late. It was what my daughter said that broke the trance. “Not your lick.” My sister and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. My daughter didn’t mind my thumb spit coming at her but she wasn’t going to allow my sisters spit to touch her face. That’s one for the books and a quick witted comeback if I must say.