A waffle is like a pancake with a syrup trap.~Mitch Hedberg
“Mom? Ummmm, Mom?”I roll over. In which direction? Away from my interrogating child.He persists, “Really, Mom, you are going to want to hear this.”Fairly certain that I am NOT going to want to hear what Max has to say (he and I have very different communication styles at 7:00 a.m.), I pull the covers over my head and attempt to hide.“Max, unless there is a hippo tap dancing in our bathtub, I want fifteen more minutes of sleep.”“Well, okay but…”“No buts, Max. It’s early! It’s Saturday! I haven’t had any coffee yet! You should be sleeping in, too!” Nothing like pointing the Mom finger to get your day up and moving.Max yells down the hallway to his brother. “She’s not getting up, Alex! Maybe there’s more spray stuff in the basement.”Under my warm, cozy fortress of covers, I open one eye. Spray stuff?Now, let me rewind. I vaguely remember being tapped on the shoulder at an ungodly hour by someone asking for breakfast. However, I am a gal who has some pretty trippy adventures in dreamland, so when the beautiful vase of flowers I was arranging started to talk to me, I was not alarmed. When that vase of flowers started speaking in a voice that eerily resembled the one my seven-year-old uses, I didn’t even bat one dreaming eyelash. It wasn’t until the icy cold hand of reality reached very rudely into my dream and yanked me quite forcefully into the present that I started to worry. Spray stuff? My attempt to enjoy a luxury most moms surrender upon childbirth was thwarted by spray stuff. I make a mental note to write a scathing letter to whoever made children such happy little morning people, and I ask Max with the kind of hesitation reserved for walking through a landmine, “Did you say ‘spray stuff,’ Max?”“Uh-huh.”Reluctantly, painfully, I pull the covers down from my head. I look to my right, and there is Max, wearing nothing but Spiderman undies and a smile.“Hi, Mom.” He’s holding a near-empty bottle of Windex. I conclude, with much brilliance, this is the spray stuff of which he speaks. Not really wanting the answer to what I am about to ask, I realize it’s my parental duty to suck it up and do it anyway.“Why are you holding a Windex bottle, Max?”Max is a bright child. He knows in most cases how to properly handle a situation. He doesn’t always choose that option, but he clearly knows right from wrong. I can see the wheels spinning in his head, mulling over what to say. He makes his choice, and does what any respectable five-year old would do. He totally throws his brother under the bus.“You gotta talk to Alex about that, Mom. This was HIS idea.” And with that, I am forced to get dressed and start my day.I go downstairs, knowing I’m in for something, but not sure what. As I descend the stairs to my life, I notice that it’s strangely quiet except for the “shhht-shhht-shhht” sound of a spray bottle. I close my eyes and ask for patience. Deliver it immediately, please.Alex is bent over, backside to me, spraying something on the couch. I close my eyes and change my original request. This time, I ask for patience, guidance, and the willpower not to flip my lid.I have to give the kid credit: whatever he is trying to do, he is doing it with a crazy, focused passion. He didn’t even hear me come down the stairs. “Shhht-shhht-shhht” is all there is.“Alex, can you tell me what you are doing?” I believe I will require a medal for my calmness this morning.He turns around, bottle of 409 in his left hand, wad of paper towels in his right. He, too, wears nothing but his skivvies. I notice that my living room smells like an IHOP.“Well, I made breakfast for me and Max. I made waffles, but the plates were too small, and we kinda got syrup on the couch.”Okay, no big deal, I think. This is okay. I can handle this. A few drops of syrup are no big deal. Right?Then I look at the floor. I think I might cry.Two tiny plates and an EMPTY bottle of syrup reside there. Our kitten Roxie is perched in the middle, paws covered in syrup. Sensing that I am not at all happy, she looks up at me, and then takes her syrup-covered paws and bolts through the living room, the kitchen, up the stairs—you get the idea.Shock is starting to set in. I look at the couch and realize it’s not just a drop of syrup that was spilled. It’s more like an entire maple tree exploded in our living room. And now, it’s not just syrup covering the couch; it’s syrup AND Windex AND Formula 409. Since the living room is overwhelming me, I decide to go to the kitchen to clear my head.Roxie has come to a rest in the middle of the kitchen floor. At least she isn’t tracking syrup through the house anymore. But what I realize on further inspection is that she didn’t really come to a willful rest where she now sits—she is most likely STUCK there. I try to cross the kitchen, but my feet are sticking to the floor as if I am walking across flypaper made for humans.I try to recite the serenity prayer in my head, but I can’t remember the words. Roxie intently tilts her pretty little head in the direction of the trash can, and I look to see why. There, in front of the can, is a nice-sized puddle of the goo that is covering my house… and it’s moving. I can see why she was so interested. Moving syrup? I need to contact the people who handle all those “Virgin Mary in the French toast” sightings. Moving closer to the “miracle moving puddle of syrup,” I come to the understanding that it’s not really the syrup that’s moving, but rather a bevy of ants now invading my house to take a swim in the sugary mess on the floor.I turn and look behind me. There in the doorway to the kitchen are my two boys—dressed in underwear, covered in syrup, and holding household cleaners. If I had been mad, it dissolved in that moment. They were trying to handle the situation on their own. They were trying to be independent and make their own breakfast. They were ultimately trying their hand at spreading out their wings a bit. And, after all, isn’t that what being a parent is about? Giving our children roots so that they can grow wings? Granted, I need to tweak their culinary skills a bit, but, really, if you look closely, this was a pretty clear picture of them moving forward in being responsible for their actions.I hug them both, grab some paper towels and my own bottle of cleaner, and together we tackle the mess. But while wiping up ants and sticky kitten paws, I realize there was a lesson for Mom in this morning’s events, too. When a vase of flowers asks you for breakfast, you’d best get up and make it.~Jody A. James
I was feeling depressed and overwhelmed by the problems that were smothering me at the time. So I went outside to do what I often do at these times…walk through our yard, look at the blossoming trees,Listen to the birds singing, and feel the glory of our God in it all. Underneath the old apple tree, dressed in her finest gown of whiteBlossoms, I saw a sea of dazzling blue, where there should have beenNothing but green grass. As I hurried over to investigate, I found, toMy delight, a large patch of wild violets that had never been thereBefore. The tears started to flow, as I marveled at the beauty of my”magic garden”. I was immediately transported back to my childhood…a time thatShould have been carefree and happy. I was 6 years old again, living in that big old house with myMother, stepfather, and five of my siblings. A time when my parentsWere preoccupied with bars, and my siblings and I were pretty much leftTo fend for ourselves. There was never any money for treats in ourHouse, and so often my mouth watered as I watched the neigbors eatingIce cream cones and candy as they exited the grocery/service station,Across the road. I think, on those warm spring days, I wanted an iceCream cone more than I wanted anything else on earth! One morning, as I walked in the fields behind our house, I sawThese adorable wild violets – known to us as Johnny Jump Ups. I stoopedOver and picked as many of those beautiful blue violets as my littleHands could hold. I suddenly had an idea of how I could make money toBuy a piece of penny candy. Running as fast as my legs could carry me, I hurried across theStreet to Mr. Hoopers store, with my little treasures clutched tightlyIn my hand. As Mr. Hooper leaned down and asked me what I wanted, IThrust those fast wilting flowers towards him and asked him if he wouldLike to buy them for Mrs. Hooper. After what seemed like an eternity, and quickily shrinking underHis gaze, a smile slowly came across his face. He asked how much IWanted for them. Without hesitation, I said, “A penny”, as my eyesDevoured all the penny candy on the counter. Just then a lady walked out, with a strawberry ice cream cone givenTo her by Mrs. Hooper, and I stared longingly at it. My eyes were drawnBack to Mr Hooper, as he took the violets from my grubby little hand. IAlready knew just what kind of candy I wanted. Then, I heard him say the most wonderful words in the world to me.”These are worth more than a penny…I think these are worth the priceOf an ice cream cone.” I remember slowly licking and savoring each delicious drop of thatIce cream cone – how it felt slowly melting on my tongue and the tasteOf those chunks of strawberry – while I sat in my “secret cave” underThe lilac bush. Over the summer, I continued to pick flowers wherever I could findThem…mostly wild flowers I found as I wandered and played in theMeadows by myself. All the neighbors heard of my money-making scheme,And suddenly everyone wanted to buy my flowers. They paid not only withPennies, but with a big smile. I was able to buy treats, not only forMyself, but also for my siblings. When we moved yet again that Fall, I didn’t realize how wonderfulThose neighbors really were. They paid their hard earned money for aFew wilted wild flowers, just so this one small child could, at last,Enjoy what others took for granted….a strawberry ice cream cone! I realize today just how fortunate I was to have spent that oneSummer in that neighborhood, where people cared about others, and made aVery small child the happiest she had ever been. And I remember their smiles..long after the candy and ice creamAre gone. — Nellie Hicks
Our crazy dogs has been barking way too much lately and I am not a fan of the electric zapping bark collars. I was at my wits end so I purchased one of those so-called humane citronella collars. It is designed so that when the dog barks, it would shoot out a blast of citronella under his nose.
This morning I was getting the collar ready and filled it with the stuff ... and that's where my morning should have ended. But NO! - it's me, and I begin to become curious as to how said collar works.
I am standing on my porch "barking" at the collar. Nothing happens. I make sure it's turned on, recheck the fill level, and go through the "getting started" checklist one more time. Again, I bark. Nothing happens.
Now I'm not quite sure *why* I had this next thought, but I did ... I put on the collar. I extended the band, fit the growl box against my throat and barked. Apparently, the collar only works if it feels vibrations, because I immediately received a blast of citronella to the face. I began coughing, which only caused the collar to continue to squirt bug juice over and over into my nasal cavity. I am now on my hands and knees gasping for air, and to make matters worse, our dogs are now non-stop barking. So between coughing and yelling at the dogs to stop, I've emptied over a dozen blasts of citronella to my face.
During all of this ruckus, I'm trying to undo the clasp of the collar, which has somehow managed to weld shut during this whole fiasco. I finally get the collar off and threw that crazy (inhumane) devilish contraption across the yard! As I am laying on my porch, totally out of breath trying to suck in the cool morning air, I am thinking this is probably the dumbest thing I've done in a while.
Then I hear laughter.
My neighbor had witness the whole thing. He was belly laughing and in between gasps, he tells me, "I was going to come over and help, but every time I started toward your house, you'd set it off again and then I would start laughing so hard I couldn't walk."
So here I am, not only are my eyes red, but my face and ears are too. I came inside to take a shower so I wouldn't be smelling like ode de' Tiki Torch, thinking over the lessons learned:
1) Don't test dog collars on oneself.
2) My neighbor is not a good source of help in a comedic crisis situation.
3) I won't have any bug problems for a few days.
The red dawn peeks through the dense morning fog as Irene makes her way slowly down the stairs. She has been a farmer girl from the day she was born and has lived on this farm all 85 years of her life. As she shuffles over to the coffee pot, her thoughts turn to one particular day thirty-seven years ago. Her eyes twinkle at the memory still so fresh in her mind. Could it be that Kim was only three years old the day her and her family moved in to the small house on the farm next door to them? She remembers how polite the shy, blonde beauty was from the moment she met her and in her most respectful tone called out, “Hi Mrs. Sommers.” However, all the adults were soon laughing as Kim turned to Eddie, Irene’s husband, and called him “Mrs. Sommers” also. Even though she was promptly set straight that a man was a Mr. And a woman a Mrs., her three-year-old mind could not quite grasp that fact and she often mixed up their titles.That is how Eddie and Irene received their nicknames from the Conway Family who moved in next to them. From that moment on they were always affectionately referred to as “Mr.” and “Mrs.” by the four neighbor children.”Mrs.” remembers her initial apprehension to having a young family move in next door to their very busy farm. She can’t suppress the smile that spreads across her face as she reminisces…it worked out pretty well after all. All but one of her own kids moved far away upon graduation from high school. That is why the Conway kids became more than neighbors… More than friends… They were like grandchildren to “Mr.” and “Mrs.”She pours the hot black coffee in her cup and smiles some more…She can still here the giggles that always followed the loud knocking on her door every 1st of May. As she opened the door she could see the shadows of the children hiding behind the bushes waiting in grand anticipation for her to bend down and pick up the May Day baskets that were proudly sitting on her front porch. They were always made out of paper and most years were bursting with dandelions. She would always make a big show of how much she loved the hastily made baskets and would “ooooooh” and “aaahhhhhh” over the loving creations. She didn’t even mind that some years the paper baskets were chock full of flowers from her own magnificently tended flower garden!Irene’s thoughts are interrupted as the door slowly opens and Gary, her youngest son steps in to check on her. Gary has taken over the operation of the farm since her beloved Eddie died nine years ago. She hands him his customary morning cup of coffee and they laugh as they reminisce about the Conway kids growing up next door to them. They remembered the many crayon-scrawled, hand-delivered invitations that were placed in their hands inviting them to attend the plays put on in the Conway basement. They never missed a production and would patiently and lovingly, applauded every song, play and dance routine.As the last drop of coffee is slowly sipped from Gary’s mug, their thoughts turn somber. They know that today, of all days, is a hard one for the now grown neighbor kids.Gary excuses himself to check on the crops on this muggy day in July. As he makes his way down the path leading to his fields, he looks at the neighboring house and can just make out the large moving truck through the light fog that is still lingering in the air. The truck is almost packed and ready for the long drive. The silhouettes formed by the fog make the memories appear in his mind even stronger as they play out like slow moving pictures. He passes Kim’s Tree…. The tree where the oldest Conway child was most often found. The tree was Kim’s refuge, whether she was just out exploring or getting away from the duties that are always attributed to the oldest child of any family.In his minds eye he can see April, the creative, sensitive second child, singing or playing an instrument.He smiles as he remembers little Rickie, who’s face was always pressed up against the kitchen window as Gary would pass by in his tractor. Rickie loved everything about the farm and would spend countless hours asking questions and learning from “Mr.” and Gary about what it took to be a farmer. He learned that farming was, at times, a hard life, but that nothing could compare to the simple satisfaction of working in the fields and growing something that you yourself have planted. It is in these fields that Rick, as an adult, would learn the value of farming in a small rural community. A place where a farmer is still taken at his word and will drop everything, even during harvest time, to help out a fellow farmer in need. Help, which is never officially “asked for” but is always freely given.As Gary makes his way down the path he comes to the stretch affectionately called “The Lane” by Kristi, the youngest of the Conway kids. Being the youngest and not having as many responsibilities as the older children, “The Lane” is where Kristi spent most of her time. Gary would often see her walking barefoot down this stretch with a line of cats trailing her. Gary nicknamed her the “Cat Girl”, a name which stuck with her all through childhood.If she was not in the lane, she was with Rickie, sitting on the steps in the barn fascinatingly watching the new birth coming alive before her eyes…As Gary gets to the end of the lane, the sun is slowly burning the last of the fog away and he can clearly see the Conway house now. It has been four and half years since the Conway kids’ father has passed away and their mom has sold the house, leaving and following her new love to Florida. With the selling of the house comes the end of an era, but not the end of the memories. The memories are one of the few things that can not be taken away, nor can the love that was sown into four kids’ lives.As the Conway kids think back on their childhood years they realize how incredibly fortunate they were to grow up in this setting. A place where not only their parents loved them but that next door there lived Mr. and Mrs. and Gary, who, together with their parents, gave them more happy memories than most people get in a lifetime.They will always know that they grew up blessed.
Time: 55 minutes
Yield: 8 servings
Chicken, cheese, and broccoli wrapped in flaky pastry then baked in a delicious cream sauce sounds pretty good, right?! Dinner in just one dish and ready in under an hour. You can even substitute the broccoli for your favorite veggies! Make this tasty meal your own.
• 10 1/2 ounces cream of chicken soup • 1/2 cup chicken broth • 1/2cup milk • 1 tablespoon flour • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder • 1 can crescent rolls • 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese divided • 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken shredded • 2 cups broccoli, steamed
Begin by preheating the oven to 375 degrees F. Step 2
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add soup, milk, broth, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Pour the contents into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Step 3
Divide the crescent roll triangles. Fill the triangles with 1 1/2 cups of cheese, chicken, and broccoli. Roll up the pastries and place them into the baking dish with the sauce. Step 4
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with remaining cheese. Bake again for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.