Thursday, October 30, 2014

Teacher's Tricks are NO Treat #ThrowbackThursday

Remember when......

As I sit this year surrounded by hoards of candy collected during this past Halloween, my heart is grateful. You see, there was a year when the candy bowl was nearly empty before it even got filled. It was one of the scariest Halloweens ever. 

I’ll never forget the time when my son announced that he was done trick or treating despite the fact we had only gone two blocks from home. He looked at me through his superhero mask and said, "I have enough candy. Can we please go home?"

Like all mothers (and lovers of milk chocolate covered caramel) I encouraged him to press on. The weather that year was pleasant and I was sure that he would have a good time once he got into the holiday spirit.

However, as soon as we knocked on one more door he repeatedly insisted that we head home. Distraught we paused on the sidewalk, the revelers passing us by, and I examined him from head to toe. Was he feeling ok? I placed my hand on his forehead. Did his costume pinch or did his feet hurt? No, he assured me, he was quite comfortable. I surmised he must be suffering from a combination of fear and shyness and so I made a deal with him; one more block and if he still wanted to turn back we would.

I had faith that once he saw the candy piling up in his treat bag he would become much more interested and he would press on with enthusiasm. Instead after only a few more tricks or treats, he was done. He demanded with fervor to be taken home and refused to collect one more piece of candy.

I was quite disappointed. I looked down into his bag and my heart sank. Oh, not for him. I spied only a handful of my favorite treats and knew I would have great difficulty pilfering any of them from his bag unnoticed.

You see, I believe in a parent’s appreciation tax on Halloween. I bought and/or made that costume he is wearing. I applied the makeup. I endured the two-hour walk with misbehaving children doped up on sugar in the bitter cold. Certainly, there should be some pay off for me. 

Aren't I the one who makes sure Halloween happens? Shouldn't I be the one who gets a payoff? Lucky for my kids I like chocolate. I can be paid off relatively easily.

So, sadly we returned home. As my son dumped out of his treats on the floor and began to sort through them, I turned on the porch light to accept the lucky devils and witches who were still out on the street trick or treating. Turns out that was a brilliant move as I effectively got rid of all the subpar candy we had collected. I mean one can only eat so many Tootsie Rolls and nobody wants those homemade popcorn balls.

While hoping not to get egged for re-gifting Halloween candy, I turned to notice my little guy sorting and organizing his bounty. Impressed with his initiative and pre-math skills I sat down to join him. And that's when I noticed his piece of paper. He wasn't interested in sorting his candy for the fun of it. He had been given a homework assignment to count his loot.

Instantly I realized why my son cut our trick or treating adventure short. He wasn't sick or scared. He knew the less candy he collected the easier his homework assignment would be.

Which either makes him brilliant or a complete slacker.

All I know is when I look back on that year I shudder remembering how I failed to meet my quota for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Almond Joys, and Carmel Apple Suckers. That self-designated appreciation tax I look forward to each year was more like a chocolate famine. And it was a sad time.

Now years later my little guy is a big guy. At six foot three, he convinced me he should be
See? He's too big to Trick or Treat! 
allowed one more romp around the neighborhood. This very well may have been his last Halloween. Which is sad when I think that my little boy is growing up. It also grieves my heart to think that the days are coming when if I want candy I'll have to go out and buy it myself. The days of pilfering through my kids' bags for the good stuff are numbered. Isn't that the scariest trick of all?

This article originally appears in The Daily Review Atlas as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series. Stephanie is a mother to five children and is a Parent Educator for the Monmouth-Roseville School District. She is available for personal consultation or speaking engagements. She can be reached at

Fess up ..... you eat your kid's candy too! Right? I'm not the only one?
if you liked this article would you please 

Monday, October 27, 2014

10/27 Menu Monday

I'm using the crockpot this week. And the blender. Sometimes both. Here's hoping jawbone gets a good report at the doctor this week. He's got to be tired of milkshakes. 

The rest of us still need to eat so here's what's the Tribe is eating (with links) this week:

Sunday: Hootinany Pancake and Apple Cinnamon Rolls from YourCupcake

Monday: Maid Rites & French Fries

Tuesday: Roast with Potatoes, Carrots, Stick of Butter Rice (so so good!)  & Blueberry Muffins

Wednesday: Chicken n Noodles

Thursday: Taco Soup & Quesadillas

Pumpkin shaped Sugar Cookies that I will ice like this thanks to a site called Created by Diane
Pumpkin Bars

What are you cooking this week?

Join the Link Up at

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


I love to collect words.

My favorite apps on my phone are the ones that allow me to add words to my photos.

I simply adore words.
And when they are well arranged I tend to fall in love with them.

Last year I fell in love with this quote:

This one was hard for me as I, especially the last few years, have considered myself a recipient of other's blessings more than I've actually been a blessing. Call it a dry season or whatever. What I know is that a lot of people have fallen out of my life but the few who remained, who didn't run away when they saw my ugly cry, who bought my coffee and lent me their ear ... I am convinced, CONVINCED, they have been a bigger blessing to me than I could ever be to them.

And I lived grateful to them everyday in every prayer.

But what if this is true? What if I could possible be as valuable to someone else as that someone else was to me?

Do you know how hard it is to allow yourself to feel .... valuable?

I'm valuable?

I'm valuable!

Last week I called a friend so I could process a stressful event. I was near tears. I told her my story, she listened and was a comforting voice in my ear. 

I looked to the sky and breathed a mental prayer of thanks for her in my life. And in that split second that I reflected on her value in my life, I choose believe our friendship was mutual.

So? I asked. 
I said, "How are you?"

and there was a long pause. The kind that if you're listening closely you hear the span of pain in the silence.

Turns out she had a story to tell too. She needed to process. She needed a friend, too.

I could have hung up thanking God for her. She made me feel better and truthfully, I was really focused on myself in that moment. I wanted to linger in the comfort her words blanketed over me. But instead, that morning I choose to believe that we were a blessing to each other. Not just she to me.

What if we treated all our valuable relationships this way? What if we choose to believe people appreciated us as much as we appreciate them? Could you dare believe you are that valuable?

Because you are.

Oh yes. You most certainly are. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Menu Monday 10/20

The good news about working full time - I'm relying on weekly menus more than ever.

The bad news - I have no time to write about my weekly menus.

Aren't you sad?

Ok. No problem.

However, if you're looking for new recipes, kid friendly dinners and yummy fall food let me tell ya ... my kitchen is the place to be. 

Oh, and if you're on a liquid diet? Well I can hook you up. The biggest challenge our Tribe is facing these days is our 16 year old son's broken jaw. He's wired shut for a month! A MONTH! My blender has been promoted from hanging out at the bottom-shelf-in-the-back-of-the-dusty-pantry to front and center on my kitchen counter.

So, there's that.

Other than liquids, here's what's cooking in our kitchen:

Sunday Brunch - Eggs, sausage links, biscuits and gravy and Taste of Home's Pecan Pumpkin bread
And since college kid is home, I'm breaking the Cereal Sunday to cook up a batch of her favorite Cheeseburger Soup with fresh from the oven bread. (Thank you freezer dough, you rise very well!)

Monday - Mostly Homemade Mom's Oven Chili Dogs and french fries
(last weekend I made a batch of chili and a little is hanging around so I'm working it in tonight) (p.s. my kids won't do chili dogs, so regular ol wieners for them)

Tuesday - Crockpot Shredded Chicken Sandwiches and baked potatoes (place frozen chicken breasts in crockpot, dump a box of Chicken broth, 2 packages of dry Italian dressing and the juice from a jar of Pepperochinis - sometimes I skip the pepper juice - cook on low 6 hours or until easily shredded with a fork. Put on a toasted bun and serve with delicious provolone cheese if you want!) 

Wednesday - Roast, Carrots, Potatoes, Freezer corn and blueberry biscuits.

Thursday - Campbell's Creamy Chicken Enchiladas (made from the leftover chicken sandwiches! another kid favorite!!)
with  (a new recipe) Damn Delicious' Mexican Rice

Friday - Pizza night or our soccer team will be at a Sectional game & we'll eat on the road! We'll see. 

Just Because:
Cake Pops - Remember how migraine inducing the Easy Bake Oven was? Yeah, my twins destroyed my kitchen while making these lil gems. Do you know how hard candy melts are to scrape of a flat top cook surface? Do you??

Snack Mix - Pretzels, Cheerios, Nuts, M&Ms tossed with melted vanilla chips & 1 tablespoon of Vegetable Oil. Addicting!

Also, check out for a HUGE menu plan monday link up! As always, thanks for stopping by.

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