Thursday, March 8, 2018

Throw Down on the Four Square Court

We have a serious issue in this household. It seems that three out of three children in this family hold the prestigious title of "King of the Four Square Court" at school. Of course this is problematic. They can't all be king, especially since they have parents who were both the King/Queen of the Four Square Court in their day. (Incidentally, their mother was also "Queen of Tetherball". Yes, this is a lifelong title and yes, I do get to claim it at my age.) #greatnessisageless

There was only one way to settle the issue...purchase a red rubber ball and host a family Four Square Tournament in the driveway. GAME ON!

It was a lively game full of surprises and "new rules". Army Guy and I were stunned at some of the rules and moves these younger whipper-snappers have created. I'm just gonna come out and say it... these little brats have bastardized the game. No...this is not an exaggeration. They have forever altered Four Square to resemble something more like Dodgeball on a tiny four square court. #kidsthesedays

Hey... here's an example of what I'm talk'n ‘bout here:

1) CHERRY BOMBING:  This is when an opponent grabs the ball and slams it into your square. No...this isn’t a "spike" like in volleyball. It’s more of a holding and slamming kind of move. "I'm sorry, but you can't HOLD THE BALL in Four Square", I proclaimed. Army Guy and I deemed this an illegal move.

2) TINY TIMMY: When an opponent holds the ball and runs over to your square and drops it just over the line from a height of about 6 inches. I rolled my eyes and promptly yelled "ILLEGAL MOVE!" #fortheloveofmuffins  

3) QUADRUPLE TAPS: When a player is allowed to touch the ball up to four times while it is in play in his square. This allows the player to juggle and maneuver the ball. He can also set up a spike, like in volleyball, only he sets and slams the ball himself. "ILLEGAL MOVE!" #areyoukiddingmewiththis?

This kind of made-up-crap went on and on and on. After about fifteen minutes of this nonsense, Army Guy called "Retro Rules". We took the game back to the 70's y'all... and we meant business. We schooled these youngins on the proper way to play and we set them straight. #priorities #raisingthemright

I am pleased to announce that Army Guy is still King of the Court…and I am Queen. Of course three boys would argue that it's because we played by "old dude rules". Whatever helps you sleep, son. #oldschoolrocks 

For those interested, The official Four Square Rules are listed here. Incidently, Cherry Bombing is generally frowned upon by all Wikipedia commenters. #thatsright #vindicatedbywiki 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Brief Career of Four Tween Pastry Chefs

"Mom, we want to make cookies!" 

That's all it took...I WAS IN!

"YES!" I exclaimed, "You may use my entire kitchen and everything I own if you will produce for me a warm and delicious cookie while I sit here on my bottom watching the Olympics." 
(translation: NOT watching you!) It was a fantastic idea and I was IN with my entire being! 

Why were there four tween chefs and not three? Because the very charming and delightful neighbor boy was visiting our home (sarcasm font NOT engaged...this child is very delightful). Bonus:  this child knows how to make cookies, he loves to make cookies, and was very eager to share his skill with my boys. When I say this news was heaven for me, I am not at all exaggerating! My thought process: you mean I can actually sit here...doing nothing...and my children will produce yummy cookies for ME?

The picture in my head looked a little something like this...except in my head the cookies were all glow-y and I'm pretty sure there was angelic background music.

Who wouldn't love that?

So I set them up for success. I pulled out every ingredient and tool this process would require, then I preheated the oven and gave them a little direction. "Cream the butter, eggs, sugars, and vanilla together and then add the dry ingredients. Oh...and also, those are half-sticks of butter. The recipe calls for two so I have given you four". And with that, I left them to their task with the knowledge that I had achieved success as a mother. I had given them the skills and tools in which to please me with the chocolatey-chippy-goodness of life. All I had to do was wait 20 minutes...

Insert giant "record scratch" sound here

When I say something went horrifically wrong, that would be the understatement of the universe. So many things went so super wrong. I was left standing in a completely destroyed kitchen, with a serious burn smell wafting through the air and an are-you-kidding-me-right-now? look on my face. But the burned product really wasn't the worst of it. After some serious sleuth-like investigating I discovered the baseline issues.

It seems that the Tollhouse Chocolate Chip bag (on which the recipe was printed) was torn at the corner. This destroyed some critical information regarding the amount of flour to use. It seems that the "2" part of the "2 1/4 cups flour" was missing. So our mixture had a scant 1/4 cup of flour. But when I found nine butter wrappers on the counter I realized just how much of a disaster this had become. NINE BUTTER WRAPPERS! So when I said "these are half cubes, you need to double that" nobody heard the "Here are the four cubes you need". And then I guess somebody either miscounted or threw in an extra cube for the butter-tsar...or something. 

So we had a mixture that consisted of nine half-sticks of butter and a quarter cup of flour in addition to the other ingredients. This created the most unfortunate sheet of greesy, burned sugar-butter-tar the world will ever see. I am saddened to report that I failed at getting a picture of the blackened butter mess…mostly because I was just in shock.

So not only did this mama not get her cookie fix, but I am now out of butter and my new cookie sheet is in the trash. Sigh… I'm a failure a momming!

Please send cookies. I’m not above begging. For real!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Andrew's Cafe v. Matthew

All good things eventually run into a bit of a snag. One day things are just humming along and the next day you find yourself in court. Such was the case for Chef Andrew when he was forced to sue a customer for skipping out on the bill.

For those of you who are new to the House of Crazy, you can catch up on Andrew's Cafe here. Chef Andrew has some sketchy business practices, chief among them is his policy of sending an invitation to "be my guest" at his cafe and then springing a bill on an unsuspecting customer. It's both underhanded and genius.

So recently Andrew opened for lunch. His first client was his brother, Matthew. Andrew offered to prepare a very lovely grilled cheese sandwhich with a side of humus and chips. The chef served his brother and then, once the customer was fat and happy, he presented the bill. This created quite a scene in the cafe. Quickly the spat became a full-on fight and the two ended up in my bedroom in front of their dad, pleading their case in his "courtroom". (Army Guy loves to hear grievances in his court. He enjoys any opportunity to be "Judge Wapner".)

Andrew presented his case:  "Matthew.... (Army Guy Cut him off and instructed him to use the term "The Defendant").  Andrew continued with a roll of his eyes..."The DEFENDANT won’t pay me after I made his lunch."

Army Guy:  Turning to Matthew.  "Is this true?" Did you skip out on the bill?"

Matthew:  "No... I tried to pay him but he can't break a $5".

Me:  Bahahahahahaha

Andrew: "I don't have change and Matt...The Defendant... won’t pay me. He has to pay".

Army Guy to Andrew: "As a business man are you prepared to take payment in cash form?"

Andrew: "Yes, but he has to give me dollars. His bill is one dollar and I only have three dollars to give him for change"

Army Guy to Matthew:  "If you include a tip, could you pay the bill and accept three dollars in change?"

Matthew:  "He is SUING ME! I am NOT going to tip him 100%!"

Me (thinking) He knows tipping $1 on a $1 tab is 100%. He's paying attention in school!  PROUD!!!

Army Guy: "Andrew did you explore ways in which you could create change? For instance, did you seek assistance from your other brother, your mom or myself?"

Andrew: "No, but..."

Army Guy: "Don't you think a business man should open his store prepared to accept payment in cash form, which includes making change?"

Andrew "Yes, but..."

Army Guy:  I find in favor of the defendant. Since the plaintiff is unable to make change for the defendant, the plaintiff will give the defendant three days in which to come up with a way to pay this bill."

Matthew:  "Mom can you break a $5"



I am happy to report that the District Court of Army Guy settled the dispute and Chef Andrew received payment. Though his pop-up café had mixed reviews, I think the legal battle is what caused him to close up shop.  It was just too much for the young chef.  Sadly, I have not enjoyed breakfast-in-bed prepared by my little guy since his legal problems began.

In other news...Matthew did NOT tip and was last seen grilling his own dang cheese sammich.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Dewey was Bean-Boozled

Junior High Youth Pastors are a very unique breed of human being. They are energetic and completely entertaining at all times. Translation:  They are just plain crazy, y'all!  I guess they have to be to keep the attention of young junior high kids. These people can come up with some seriously wacky stunts. But sometimes I'm guessing they regret their decisions.  Case in point...

It was a beautifully sunny January Sunday. As Army Guy and I waited patiently to pick up Louie from children's church, Huey and Dewey entered the scene. They were just returning from their youth group shenanigans with a tale to tell. Dewey was somewhat weepy and Huey could barely contain a smirk of amusement. As Huey relayed the story, Dewey started to full-on cry and I (the mother who is supposed to provide the empathy and the wise advice) full-on laughed out loud.  (And then I felt super bad for laughing when my dear sweet son was in tears. Mother of the year award right here people!)

So here's how youth group went down on this lovely Sunday morning.  Apparently there is a new game on the market called "Bean Boozled". If you haven't heard of it, you are in for a disgusting and hilarious treat. The genius people at the Jelly Belly Company have come up with a way to market their mistakes. For instance... after an attempt at making a pizza flavored jelly belly was a complete failure, resulting in a product that tasted more like vomit, they decided to save the recipe and rename the product, thus creating a whole new line of intentionally disgusting flavors. They now market the gross flavors to kids (because, seriously... who else will gleefully eat a "vomit" bean?)  Anyway, they've now come up with a game... a sort of Jelly Bean Russian Roulette. Oh sure... all the jelly beans LOOK tasty and delightful... but not all of them actually are! Sometimes you'll get a nasty bean! Is it vanilla ice-cream or sour milk?  Strawberry or vomit? Lime or grass clippings?  You get the idea.

Anyway...the Jr. High youth pastors decided to play Bean Boozled with the kids at church. Nobody forced Dewey to play, he actually volunteered because he knows the winner usually gets a cool prize. He was delighted to be selected for this fun game of grossness.

About six kids played and each was given five beans. Supposedly they all had three or four yummy beans and one not-so-yummy flavor. They were then instructed to eat all five beans at once and I guess the idea was to keep a straight face or guess the flavors or... oh heck, I really don't know the point. You have to be twelve to get it.  Anyway, as it turns out, all five of Dewey's beans were the gross kind. He believes he got "Vomit, Booger, Trash Can and two of the Sour Milk variety".  Dewey was NOT amused. Dewey barfed. All the other kids were delighted by the barf! Pretty sure the youth pastors won't be playing Bean Boozled again.  

Now, as a mom, how can I hear this story and NOT LAUGH?  HOW? And the funniest part of all was when Dewey informed me that he did it for a prize and then THERE WAS NO PRIZE!  Drat! The child was completely Bean Boozled, up one side and down the other.  Poor Dewey.   (Snicker snicker)

Ah to be in Jr. High again. (no thanks)  Though Dewey suffered initial embarrassment from the vomit, I do believe he is now some sort of hero in the youth group. Props my son!  Mega PROPS!

And also, it turns out that sometimes it’s okay to flat out laugh in your child’s face. Sometimes it lightens the situation and makes him laugh too. (Phew)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Andrew's Cafe

"Pillow-mail" is the most special kind of mail a mother can receive. No contest. Though you never really know what message it will contain, it is practically guaranteed to be something delightful and heartwarming. Pillow-mail is my absolute favorite! It is rare and special and usually makes my heart melt. Sometimes it even includes gifts! 

So when I saw a blue envelope on my pillow, I knew it would be something completely fabulous... and I was NOT wrong!

I opened the mail to find an invitation. 

"Hello, The staff and owner of Andrew's Cafe is proud to welcome you and a guest to Andrew's Cafe. We open at 7:00 AM. You are currently reserved for 9:00 AM. To confirm your reservation, please call the number below."

Apparently a new restaurant has popped up inside my house. I was instantly intrigued and immediately called to confirm my reservation. The manager who took my call was very polite. At one point he did have to put me on hold while he checked his reservation book. But he quickly returned to the call and confirmed my reservation with a very grown-up professionalism.

The next day I was handed a grocery list of items Chef Andrew needed for his cafe. Though I had not yet seen his menu, the ingredients he requested gave me a peak at the culinary genius I was about to experience. Chef Andrew made sure to add "Andes Chocolate Mints" to his requisition. This was going to be special indeed.

This morning I woke to Chef Andrew himself standing beside my bed. It was then that I discovered this was a "room service" sort of cafe and I would be dining in my jammies. Clearly the boy knows how to impress a girl.

The menu, though simple, was delightful. I contemplated ordering "normal milk" but opted for coffee instead. Though I would have enjoyed popcorn for breakfast, I witnessed Andrew's trial run at popcorn popping last night.  Let's just say 2/3 of the kernels were left in the bowl, un-popped and swimming in butter. Though I do enjoy butter...very much...I thought waffles would be a better option for breakfast today. As a side I chose eggs. Chef Andrew prepares them one way...scrambled. 

The food was simply lovely. The waffles were of the "Eggo" variety and were lightly toasted to perfection. The eggs were fluffy, beautifully seasoned, and most importantly, without shells. The meal was a home run!

As I savored my last few bites, Chef Andrew handed me the bill.    


Dude was serious! He actually prepared a bill. So let’s dissect his genius business plan, shall we?
  1. Set up shop where the rent is free.  
  2. Get someone else to pay for your supplies.
  3. Prepare your meal using the kitchen tools, appliances, and utilities somebody else has purchased.
  4. Send invitations to your grand opening... using the words "would like to welcome you and a guest..."
  5. Create a beautiful dining experience and then...PRESENT A BILL!!!
Dude has ZERO OVERHEAD! I find this both hilarious and genius! Little man has a bright future in business. Plus, he is aware that including chocolate makes paying the piper a little easier. Nice touch!

This made me laugh...HARD!  For my amusement alone, I gladly paid the a 100% tip. Because I'm generous like that! And now I have to run, because I suspect this is the sort of establishment where "somebody else" cleans the kitchen.  Just a hunch.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Pioneer Woman is GENIUS!

Ducklings love anything from The Pioneer Woman. Seriously! When I try a new recipe, the first question is, without fail, "is this a Pioneer Woman recipe?" If my answer is "no" the response is always "aw man" or "you really need to stick with The Pioneer Woman. Her recipes are never bad." This is a fact!  Case in point... the most often requested recipe in our household: Cheesy Olive Bread.

This is the most yummiest, goodest, mostest bestest receipe of all time (if you love olives and enjoy bad grammar, that is). If you don't enjoy olives, this might also be yummy with green chilies or jalapeno and cheddar substituted for the olives and jack cheese.  Ooooh...I need to try that.

Our other favorites from Ree Drummond herself include Alfredo Sauce, Corn Chowder, and Dr. Pepper BBQ Ribs. But seriously, everything is fantastic. You can explore more yummies at The Pioneer Woman website here

The Ducklings give this 1000 thumbs up and hope you love it too.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Best $17 Ever Spent. EVER!

Louie realizes he doesn't like his face painted after all

3-Day Ticket to Disneyland - $4,000,000
The face painting that the child begged and begged for - $17
Getting this photo 4 minutes later - PRICELESS

It was the summer of 2013 and we were in the middle of a California vacation. During that trip we made a last minute decision to visit Disneyland. The Ducklings were super excited. 

On this day we were at the California Adventure Park and Dewey and Louie had spent hours begging me to take them on the Tower of Terror. Now, I love a good thrill ride, I do. Give me the scariest stink'n roller coaster you've got and I AM IN! But the Tower of Terror is not my idea of fun. AT ALL! I rode it once and that was enough for me. There were naughty words involved. Let's just leave it at that.

So I was not at all inclined to take my 6 and 7 year old sons on this torture contraption which includes the word "terror" for good reason. NOPE! But they begged and begged and, quite frankly, they just wore me down. I might have given in so that I could teach them that I really did know best and that they should just trust their mother's judgment. However it goes... I gave in.

While standing in line I tried to get them to change their minds. "It's super scary.... Please don't make mommy do this... please". It should be noted that they were too young to go on the ride alone. So if they really wanted to go, I had to go too. Why didn't Army Guy go, you ask? Bahahahahahaha...  breathe...  hahahaha... Army guy gets queasy on the Tea Cups. True story.

So we went... we screamed... it sucked... we survived. End of story. Or maybe not...

Prior to this little adventure of terror, Louie had been begging and begging to get his face painted. "Please mom... PLEASE".  He wanted it pretty badly. As luck would have it, there was a face painting stand right as we were leaving the Tower of Terror ride. So Army Guy and I decided to give in and let the child have his face painted. We knew it was a waste of $17.00, but this was Disney; at some point you stop caring about what you are spending because... whatever... right?  

So Louie chose his face painting design. When I say "chose" I really mean, "carefully selected... CAREFULLY". He wanted just the right one. So, Louie got his face painted and he was super happy; until he saw his reflection and then he was super not happy. Within four minutes the child began begging us to take it off. By that time we were in line for another ride so I told him, "OK, as soon as this ride is over, Daddy will take you to the bathroom to wash it off". Apparently the line was too long, or the paint was itchy, or something and Louie LOST HIS MIND. So, Army Guy left the line with Louie to go wash his face; but I made sure to get this photo first. I'm evil like that.  

In hind-sight, Louie was probably just traumatized by the Tower of Terror. But no matter the reason... I promise you... as long as I breathe... this photo will make me laugh. It just will. Army Guy and I text it back and forth to each other just for grins. Louie thinks that's just mean, but whatever. This photo cost me $4,000,017... and it was so worth it!  

This story highlights two times that my son pleaded for something that he didn't need and wasn't best for him. And two times, against my better judgement, I gave in. In the first case it was to teach him a lesson, and in the second case, to please him. Both of these instances were miserable failures. It occurred to me that this is exactly what happens when we leave the plan that God has for our lives. When we "go rouge" misery often follows.

A favorite scripture among Christians is Jeremiah 29:11.  

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future".

God has big plans for our lives. He knows what is best for us in addition to what is not good at all. But often times we think we know better than God. When I was in high school I wanted this particular young man as my boyfriend. I told God what I wanted, but God "wasn't listening". I cried and begged and pleaded; my tender little hormonal teenage heart was broken. The drama was real, y'all. But God knew he had something so much better for me if I would just be patient and wait upon the Lord. 

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint."  Isaiah 40:31

What if God had given my teenage heart what it wanted most of all? I can say with absolute certainty that, at some point, my face would have ended up like Louie's in this picture. No doubt! God knew that boy wasn't part of my future or my hope. He knew Army Guy and my precious Ducklings were the treasures He intended for me. My life is so much better than I could have ever imagined and it's all because God said "no" to what teenage me knew was best. I am overjoyed to admit I was wrong, and incredibly thankful that God said "no".

When God says "no" remember that he knows how your life will turn out and His plans for you are big. Going "rouge" never ends well... ever. Wait upon the Lord and in His perfect time He will reveal His perfect plan for you.

Copywrite 2017 - Loretta Monroe

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