Monday, February 28, 2011

Bye Bye Tooth Fairy

Rachel despises doctors, nurses, dentists, and any kind of procedure performed on her by any of these professionals.  In fact, "despises" doesn't even seem to be a strong enough word.  The last time she got a flu shot, it took me and two nurses to pry her out of tornado drill position, hold her down, and give her the shot.  (That was after we had tried the Flu Mist.  The nurse couldn't administer it because Rachel kept covering her face.)  The dentist has to "gas her" just to fill a small cavity.  She refuses to take medicine of any kind.  Like I said, "despises" just doesn't seem strong enough.

As you can imagine, Rachel was not very happy when she learned that she was going to have to have two teeth pulled.  (This was to be the initial step in addressing some space issues in her mouth that will soon lead us to braces.)  I was trying to put a positive spin on the whole situation for her and reminded her that at least she would get some money from the Tooth Fairy.   She turned to me, rolled her eyes, and said, "Mom, seriously.  There is no Tooth Fairy."

I argued, "Of course there is.  How do you think that money gets under your pillow in the middle of the night??"  "You do it," she replied.

At that point she was about to leave the room, still ranting about it and spilling the beans to her younger sisters.  So, I had to stop her and confess.  I knew moments like these would come and I was prepared to feel sad myself.   I was not prepared for her tears, though.  Yep- she cried.  Just a little, but still she cried.

Not until then had I thought about it from her perspective.  To me, it was a sign that my biggest baby was growing up a little more.  But, for her, a fantastical piece of her childhood was over and she knew it.  It was a not-so-sweet dose of reality.

It is hard for parents to watch their babies grow up, but sometimes we forget that it can be tough for them, too.

Well, we still have Santa and the Easter Bunny. . . . at least for now.      

Friday, February 25, 2011

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

My 3 year old, Emily, is very smart and very witty.  She is also a liar.  And a really good one.

I know it is normal for kids to stretch the truth from time to time and there are  lots of reasons children lie.  The scary part, though, is how easily she can do it.  She doesn't even hesitate.  It's like she doesn't even have to think about it - it just comes naturally.  Does that qualify as a "skill?"  Maybe she is a future politician (goodness, I hope not!) or a future novelist (because of the imagination involved, not the actual lying).  Who knows??

Anyway, here are a few gems that she has given us in just the past few days:

Mom - "What animal did the Creature Teacher bring to preschool today?"
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I know this one is not purple!
Emily - "A purple dolphin!"

Emily - "Megan said this headband is too small for her so I can have it.  Can I wear it?"
Mom - "Sure, if Megan doesn't want it anymore."
Emily skips off, wearing the headband and singing, "I'm so pretty!"
A couple minutes later. . .
Megan - "MOOOOOM!!  Emily has my headband and she won't give it back!!!"
Mom - "Didn't you tell her she could have it?"
Megan - (almost in tears) "NO!  That one is special to me because I wore it in Allen's wedding!!"
-I called Emily to come to me -
Mom - "Emily, did Megan really say you could have that headband?"
Emily - "Well, it is too little for her!" 

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My husband and I had put the kids to bed and, less than 10 minutes after we turned out the lights, I heard Emily coming down the stairs.  She went to her Daddy who asked "What is it Emily?"  Her response - "I had a bad dream!"  When he reminded her that she hadn't even been asleep yet, she really got creative and threw in some "scary monsters."

O.K.  this is what you call saving the best for last.  Two days ago, she had a pediatrician - a full fledged M.D. - convinced that her minor viral throat infection was a rare case of mono in a child under 4 years old.  Seriously.  Ask my friends - I lost sleep over this one because convincing the doctor also convinces the parents!

 Here's one last tidbit about Emily - One of her favorite songs to request from my iPod. . . . .
"The Truth" (or, as she says it, "The Troof") by Jason Aldean.  Now that's what you call ironic!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Easiest Chicken and Dumplings EVER!!!!

I know that winter is coming to an end (Thank Goodness!) and that means menu planning will begin to incorporate more burgers, pasta salads, and other lighter fare.  However, I believe there is always room for good comfort food and since Spring is only almost here, you should definitely try this recipe in these last few weeks of  winter.

This is so easy and so yummy!!!

Easiest Chicken and Dumplings EVER

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts; cut into pieces
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cans (or about 2 1/2 cups) chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can refrigerated biscuits (I use Pillsbury Grands homestyle buttermilk 8 count - DO NOT use the layered biscuits) 

Place chicken pieces in crock pot.  Top with soup, broth, salt & pepper, and stir.  Cook on low 6 hours or on high 4 hours.  About 30 minutes before serving, cut biscuits into 4-6 pieces each.  (Turn crock pot up to high, if necessary.)  Drop dough pieces into crock pot; replace lid.  Let dough cook for about 30 minutes - stir occasionally, pushing dough pieces down into liquid.  **The liquid will seem rather runny at first, but the starch from the dough will thicken it as the dough pieces cook.  Voila!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Change of Plans

Today, my youngest, Emily, noticed my wedding and engagement rings.  She asked me where I got them.  Of course, I told her that Daddy gave them to me.  Naturally, she said "Why?"  Somehow in this conversation, she asked if I "wore a pretty dress" (talking about the actual wedding).  This past August, Emily was actually one of the flower girls in my brother-in-law's wedding, so she understands the concept of a wedding. However, I realized that she had probably never seen pictures from our wedding - at least not since she has gained this new understanding of what a wedding is.  So, I got our wedding album and looked through it with her.

As I looked at it with her, I was thinking about how things have changed.  Everyone in our wedding party looked so young.  The flower girls are now teenagers.  Two of David's brothers were teenagers then and they are both married themselves now.

She asked me "Where was I?"  I told her that "she was with God waiting to be born," but I was really thinking, "Where was she in our "plan"???  The fact is, even though I planned to have kids, I never thought I would have 3 girls.  I never thought about how difficult raising kids would be.  In the June Cleaver-ish picture I had in my mind, the house was always clean; a perfect dinner was on the table at 6:00 sharp; the kids never had temper tantrums or back-talked;  and we never worried about money.

I have certainly gotten a healthy dose of reality over the past 12 years.  The facts are more like this -
the house is never completely clean; there is no such thing as a "perfect" dinner when you are facing picky eaters (and even if there was, it wouldn't be ready at 6:00 on the dot); the kids have temper tantrums and back-talk and fight with each other and get moody and get mad and complain and- well, you get the picture; there is never enough money when you are raising kids- even if you pay off a debt or get an extra check, there is always something else to spend that money on.

See - PERFECT! ;)
No matter how cliche it sounds, though, I would go back to that wedding day and do it all over again.  If I knew then what I know now,  I would change a few things along the way.  But, I wouldn't change the end result for anything in the world.  After we looked at the pictures, Emily gave me a kiss on the cheek and we baked some cookies.  They probably didn't taste like June Cleaver's, but I still think they were perfect~!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

When I was your age. . . . .

Today in the car with our girls, we had one of those "When I was your age. . . " conversations. This one primarily revolved around car seats, but it got me thinking about all the things kids have access to today - things they "have to have" -  that were not around 20+ years ago.  I am sure my kids (and I) would be lost without most of the stuff on this list.  However, I made it to adulthood without them and sustained only minimal brain damage!  So, here are 10 things that didn't exist (or were not very available) 20+ years ago, but today's kids (and parents) cannot seem to live without them.

  1. Car seats - In 1978, Tennessee was the first state to make infant car seats legally mandatory.  By 1988, the other 49 states had followed suit.  When I have asked my mom "How did you go anywhere with a baby and a toddler and no car seats?" her answer is "I didn't go anywhere!"  Could we - parents or kids - survive today without going all around town at least a couple days a week?????
  2. Helmets - I NEVER wore a helmet riding a bike.  Now kids are supposed to have helmets for bikes, skateboards, horseback, etc.  Sure they provide extra safety and what parent doesn't want their kids to be as safe as possible???  But again, my generation seems to have survived - just sayin'.
  3. Target/Wal-mart -  I grant you that I grew up in a small town, but I only remember a small drug store, a K-Mart that would look pretty pitiful compared to Wal-marts of today, and a couple grocery stores.  In 1989, there were 1400 Wal-mart stores in the U.S.  Today there are 9,000 in 15 countries.  I personally go to Target at least once a week.  What am I buying and do I/we really need all that stuff?????  
  4. T.V. remote controls - My husband said, "When I was a kid, I was the remote control!!"  That's about the truth.  If you wanted to change the channel, you had to get your booty up off the couch and turn the dial or push the button.  Which brings me to the next item on the list. . . 
  5. Cable TV/5,000 useless channels -  Nowadays, kids can watch cartoons 24/7.  I remember watching cartoons ONLY on Saturday mornings.  During the week, we watched a few "wholesome" sitcoms like "The Cosby Show" and "Family Ties."  Shows like that don't exist anymore.  I have to admit that my kids watch more TV than they should, but I need my sanity.  B.C. (before cartoons) what did my mom do with us on all those day when we weren't going anywhere because we didn't have any car seats??  I survived, but it's amazing that she didn't go completely insane! :)
  6. Battery operated toys -  We played with Lincoln Logs, Legos, dolls, or (gasp!) went outside and rode our bikes without helmets.  Now, it seems that every toy has to make noise or light up or something.  Otherwise, it's boring.  No wonder kids have a hard time paying attention - parents and teachers don't light up!!!
  7. Computers/video games/electronics - Today, if the kids aren't watching T.V., they are likely playing on the computer, playing with their Leapsters, or listening to their iPods.  Just think, when I did research I actually had to open a book and read it - it was called an Encyclopedia.  Now, I just tell my daughter to "Google it!"
  8. Juice boxes - What did we moms do before spill-proof juice boxes???  This is definitely one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" items.
  9. Convenience foods -  Pre-packaged foods like Lunchables, individually bagged snacks, etc. sure have made our lives easier.  Amazing that people used to actually put forth the effort to create these things themselves with plastic baggies!!!
  10. Cell phones -With our cell phones, we are completely accessible 24/7.  As a former teacher, I was really glad when I could reach the parent of a sick child.  But, do I really need to be chatting with my friends when I am driving around town with my kids????
Anybody got anything else to add to the list????  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cheesy Chicken

I found this recipe about a year ago and it has become a "go-to" dinner for us.  Super easy, super quick, and everyone likes it!

Cheesy Chicken
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
one bunch green onions, chopped
1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1/2 soup can milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.  Heat a little oil in skillet and add chicken pieces.  When chicken is about half cooked, add onions to pan.  When chicken is thoroughly cooked, add soup, milk, and cheese.  Simmer on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes.

**I always serve this with some green veggie and mashed potatoes.  The extra cheese sauce is great on over the potatoes.  If you like and/or make mashed potatoes often, I highly recommend Ore Ida's Steam-n-Mash Potatoes.  They are NOT the instant potatoes from the freeze-dried flakes.  These are real potatoes that are cooked and cubed, then frozen.  Just microwave them for 10 minutes.  Then add milk, butter, etc. and mash them as you normally would.  They are much quicker and easier that doing it the "old fashioned" way (and just as good, I think!).

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I spend the mornings with my three year old, Emily, while my two big girls are at school.  She is quite witty and sly.  This morning she was in particularly rare form, so in honor of her, here are some of the funny things she has said over the past few months.

  • Megan (the middle child) comes to me crying and says that Emily hit her with a doll.  I went to Emily and asked "Emily, why did you hit your sister with a doll??"  Emily quickly replied "Rachel did it!"  Rachel is the oldest sister and WAS NOT HOME!!!
  • While my parents were visiting, Emily was sitting on the back of a chair and intentionally falling backwards into the seat of it.  My Dad said, "Emily, I don't think that is a very good idea."  Emily replied, "Well, Memaw showed me how to do this!"  (Of course, Memaw is my mom and I am 99.9% sure she did not teach Emily this new skill.)
  • Monday morning, Emily was a bit grumpy and decided she did not want to go to preschool.  After a tantrum about it, she came to me and announced "I don't have to go to school now because I hid my preschool bag from you!"  (She actually had shoved it under a chair in the den.  Needless to say, she DID go to preschool!)
  • My middle daughter had her 6th birthday in December and received a card in the mail from my brother and his family.  A few minutes after Megan opened her card, I noticed Emily creeping up the stairs.  This is unusual because she normally doesn't like to go upstairs alone.  So I approached her and asked why she was going upstairs.  She revealed 6 dollars in her hand and said she was going to put it in her piggy bank.  I asked, "Where did you get the money??"  She shrugged and said "It fell out of Megan's card so that means she didn't want it!"  (Megan hadn't noticed there was money in the card until Emily almost got away with it!)
  • At supper, we go around the table and each person tells the best and worst parts of their day.  One day, when Emily had mostly been at home with me, I asked "Emily, what was the best part of your day?"  She thought for a minute and responded, "Peace and quiet while sissies were at school!" 
  • My hubby was working from home one day and while he sat at the kitchen table eating lunch, Emily put a step stool in one of the chairs and started to climb.  Then this conversation occurred:
    • D - "Don't do that, Emily.  It's not safe."
    • E - "Just watch me."
    • D - "No.  I don't want to watch you fall and get hurt."
    • E - "Well, you can close your eyes!" 
  • Today, Emily wanted to "help" me do EVERYTHING.  As I said, she was in rare form and my patience was running low.  As she "helped" me do some laundry, I said "Emily please stop.  You are driving me nuts!"  She CLAPPED and replied "Yay!  I like driving you nuts!!"  I knew they were out to get me!!!!!!    

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I previously posted how important family meals are to my family and me (See Family Table post).  I also love to cook.  I am always looking for and trying out new recipes.  However, menu planning in my house is challenging to say the least.  You see, here's what I have to work with.  I have an 8 year old daughter who is a self-proclaimed vegetarian.  She decided this over a year ago because of her love for animals and has really stuck with it.  My 6 year old will eat most anything as long as it is not spicy (spicy to her is anything that has the tiniest bit of heat) and it doesn't look gross (such as creamed spinach).  My 3 year old is super picky and pretty much only eats chicken, spaghetti, French fries, and fruit.  If she can be persuaded to put anything "new" in her mouth, it is a real cause for celebration.  Then there's my hubby - a real meat and potatoes kind of guy.  For him, anything that can be spicy should be (like chili).  He is more than willing to try pretty much anything I cook (Thank Goodness!), but politely lets me know when he prefers that I never fix it again. 

Since I am sure there are lots of other families that struggle with picky eating issues too, I thought I would use my blog to share some recipes that work for my family in hopes that they will work for other families as well.  Here's the first one!

Chicken Spaghetti

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - cut into bite-size pieces
1 pound thin spaghetti
1 4 oz. jar diced pimentos, drained
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped green pepper (about 1/2 a pepper)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Saute chicken in skillet.  Cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain.  In large bowl, mix pimentos, onion, green pepper, soup, broth, and 2 cups cheese.  Add in chicken and drained noodles; mix together.  Transfer to a 13x9 casserole pan and top with remaining cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes (until cheese is melted and bubbly).

This recipe is easy and makes a lot.  You could probably make double and freeze one, too.  (For my vegetarian, I kept out some of the mixture before I added the chicken and then baked hers in a separate little dish.)  Enjoy! 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

An Unusual Saturday

This has been an unusual Saturday in the Witherspoon household for two reasons.  First of all, we spent most of the day at home.  We didn't really have any errands to run, no birthday parties to attend, nothing we had to do.  Very unusual.

Secondly, just after lunch, my three girls spent about 2 hours actually playing together!!!  There was no fighting, no yelling - just giggling and fun.  To make this occurrence even more unusual, they were playing "Fairies," something that none of them are particularly interested in.  The game required them to pull out dress up clothes that hadn't seen the light of day in quite some time.  For David and me, this meant 2 hours of blissful uninterruptedness.  Granted, we spent most of that time sitting around the kitchen table cruising around the internet, sorting papers, discussing finances, nothing very glamorous - but, again, blissfully uninterrupted.

Of course, there is the old saying that all good things must come to an end.  This was certainly true this afternoon.  Eventually, the Fairy game came to an end and this was the aftermath -

a playroom that looked like a Fairy tornado had been through it.  It took over 30 minutes and some whining, crying, blaming, and yelling to get it cleaned up.  Oh well!  I guess the 30 minutes of drama was a pretty reasonable trade-off for the two hours of peace!! :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Perfect Parenting

I am currently participating in a parenting class at my church.  We are studying the book based on the poem "Children Learn What They Live" by Dorothy Nolte.  The poem has been around for years and, when I taught preschoolers, I always had a copy of it in my classroom.  Back then, I read it through teacher's eyes, looking at how I influenced my students and how the parents (and other adults) in their lives effected them.  This class has given me the opportunity to revisit the poem and read it with the eyes of a parent, examining myself as a mother and how I influence my three daughters.

Over the past couple weeks, we have discussed the negative influences presented in the poem - criticism, hostility, fear, pity, ridicule, jealousy, and shame.  Several parents in the class (who are also my friends) have said they feel very guilty as we examine our mistakes and the shortcomings in our parental skills.  I admit that I have felt a few pangs of guilt as well.

Last week, the instructor gave us a "homework assignment" which was to talk to our children and ask their opinion of our parenting styles; ask them what they like about our parenting and what they would change.  I did this with my oldest two, 8 and 6 years old.  I braced myself for the response and reminded myself not to get defensive.  I was very surprised when they had no criticisms; no complaints.  They said that I was the best mom in the world.  That I was "perfect."

Trust me, I am not writing this to be boastful.  I am fully aware that I am in NO WAY perfect.  I get frustrated.  I yell.  I get distracted.  I get caught up in schedules and forget to just take time to laugh and enjoy my kids.  But, fortunately for me, those are not the things my children notice the most.  It made me realize that we have to consider the cumulative effect of our parenting.  No parents are perfect.  We all have our faults.  We have good days and bad days.  We are human.  Through it all, though, we love our kids more than anything in this world.  We love them enough to feel guilty about those moments when we are less than perfect.  We love them enough to go to parenting classes and try to be better.  We love them unconditionally, and, despite our flaws, they know it.  As long as I can continue to say that with confidence, I will rest easy at night and know that I am on the right path.

Side note:  Megan, the 6 year old, did finally suggest that, if I really wanted to be a better mommy, I could make chocolate fondue more often.  So, when all else fails and you are feeling like the worst parent ever - GIVE THEM CHOCOLATE!!! :)    
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