Month: November 2010

Hope Quote

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The latest from my 5-year-old, Hope:

“Mom, did I tell you I broke up with Miles?  My new boyfriend is Jack!  He’s good for me.”

Luckily she has an older brother to scare off the boys when she’s old enough to date.


In Need of Grace

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In need of grace
Lisa Baniewicz
Full House 

I think there should be extra grace for parents who attend church. There should be a grace period for how many minutes after the service starts is considered late. My family could use at least an additional ten-minute window for arrival. On occasion when we do arrive on time, I feel like the entire congregation can hear me exhale the moment we sit down. There’s always one child that can’t find their shoes, has a shirt on that had to have come out of the dirty clothes hamper, or bed-head.
And what about keeping small children quiet in church? This is a challenge and requires practice. I have brought books, toys, and snacks in the diaper bag for entertainment purposes (or at least to buy me five more minutes of peace). I’ve learned it doesn’t matter which books I bring, if there is a child sitting in front of us with books, theirs are always much more interesting. And I’ve had to frantically go through the diaper bag before heading in the building to check for toys that make noise. Magic wands that play music, stuffed dogs that bark and anything electronic stays in the car. Once in a while something slips by me. The latest was a Tinker Bell cell phone that played music and beeped anytime a button was pushed. I practically had to sit on it once I ripped it out of their tiny hands. No doubt, it’s always during the quietest part of the service when these toys surface.
Once I sat behind a little girl wearing a T-shirt with a horse on it. It neighed every time she pushed it. She must have pushed that thing 20 times during that one hour. If anything, it provided entertainment for my own children.
I’ve also learned what snacks don’t make noise and which ones to avoid. Anything in a cellophane wrapper is a no-no. It’s amazing how the sound of crinkling cellophane is magnified in church. I recently made the mistake of bringing Frosted Cheerios. This is another no-no. Each Cheerio must contain 25 grams of sugar, because let me tell you, my children were bouncing off the walls. Technically these snacks are only supposed to be for my 2-year-old. For some reason, my 5-year-old is suddenly starving the minute she sees them at church. This has resulted in more than one game of tug-of-war. And tug-of-war over a baggie full of Cheerios usually results in flying Cheerios. (I make it a point to always survey the area after church ends and clean up.)
I’ve also learned how to work things to my advantage. When in doubt about whether or not today is the day my children will sit quietly like angels from on high, I sit by other families with children louder than my own. This always makes me feel better. And on the way to church, one of my older children volunteers to take out our 2-year-old when things get really out of hand. This usually results in an argument over whose turn it is this week. For some reason, they all want to escape the service. As my mother would say, “Where did I go wrong?” Shouldn’t they want to stay in church?
Finally, after the service is over, I survey the damage, clean up, and sometimes feel the need to apologize to those seated near us. Then I leave the building hoping I’ve been given some form of grace just for making the effort.

Courtesy of The Atchison Globe


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R.I.P. Vacuum Cleaner
Lisa Baniewicz
Full House

My vacuum cleaner recently breathed its last breath. And although I would love to never vacuum for the rest of my life, I’m pretty sure that’s not an option. I was hoping it was a sign I was getting a full-time maid as an early Christmas present this year. I imagined her coming with her Deluxe Dyson vacuum with enough power to suck up anything not nailed down in my home. My bubble burst when a week later, my carpets were still in desperate need of cleaning and everyone in my house was having asthma attacks.
True to my husband’s nature, he told me he wanted to take a look at it. This is where men and women differ. Look at what? He’s not an electrician and dead is dead. It literally just stopped working while my son was vacuuming. I know because I was there. (Unfortunately, every mechanical thing we own takes its last breath when my son uses it. Finally he had a witness to back up his claim “it wasn’t my fault.”)
Well, a week passed and my husband still hadn’t looked at the vacuum. I know he meant well, but how many times can a vacuum be salvaged? We’ve owned it for so long, I don’t even remember what year we purchased it. Bottom line, my husband doesn’t like to spend money. Luckily I do, because how much electrical tape can one cord withstand? It was a fire hazard waiting to happen. My 10-year-old daughter who recently completed the Junior Fire Marshal Program at her school would second that (but then again, she’s female).
Nonetheless, it was time to spend money and replace the unfixable green machine. Although a Dyson would have been my first choice (that rolling ball thing just looks so cool), I opted for something that didn’t require a second mortgage. You know when the homepage of Dyson boasts, “free financing available,” it must cost a small bundle.
I settled on the Eureka 4870MZ Boss Smart Upright HEPA vacuum. It sounded like the sports car of vacuums (it even has a headlight) and the clincher … it came in red. And, for some reason, the word “boss” really struck me. Oddly, it made me feel empowered. (What’s wrong with me?)
Being the savvy consumer that I am, I dutifully read hundreds of five-star reviews during my thorough pre-purchasing process. I came across one that described the Eureka Boss as having “a Springsteen-like sense of freedom while at the same time keeping true to its working class roots.” He went on to say, “It has stylish lines that warrant taking it to any state dinner or soirée, and its name is sure to inspire conversation.” He recommended the “little sucker” to everyone. I gave him five stars for creativity and humor, although this person probably needs more help than I do.
Supposedly this model is one of the top ten vacuums currently on the market. That and the free shipping had me at hello. More favorable reviews validated my decision. They included comments like: “Everything I hoped for.” “Better than I expected.” “Not perfect, but great.” (Are these people talking about their marriage or a vacuum cleaner?) Then a red alert, I came across: “Falls apart after a few months.” (Definitely referring to their marriage.)
Nevertheless, I’m taking my chances. I’m hoping it will be the vacuum of my dreams. Great, now I sound like the rest of those crackpots.

Courtesy of The Atchison Globe

Missing Ink

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Lisa Baniewicz
Full House 

Isn’t there a writing utensil anywhere in my house? The answer is: Good luck finding one. The regular pencils aren’t sharpened, the mechanical pencils have no lead, and as for the pens, they just vanish. Missing pens in my house is equated to unmatched socks after laundry. Where do they go? Is there some abyss where all my pens have accumulated? Are they hanging out with all those mismatched socks somewhere? Do they even get along?
If I’m lucky to find a pen in my house, it usually doesn’t write and inevitably there will be no pen cap attached. I think my 2-year-old must eat them. Recently I found random ink drawings on some of my walls (which were newly painted a year ago). Picasso needs her own canvas because even those Mr. Clean Magic Erasers don’t remove pen. They seem to have no problem removing the first layer of paint though.
The favorite pens are always the first to disappear. I refuse to even buy gel pens any more. I’ve tried hiding them and rationed how many I set out by the phone. This method doesn’t work. They disappear leaving the ugly, plain ones with no ink and chewed ends. These are the ones I have to grab when trying to scribble down a phone number rattled off at the speed of light on my answering machine. Thank goodness for the rewind button. And if I have to put a caller on hold to search for a writing utensil, they might as well hang up. It could be hours before I return.
When I’ve questioned my children about these magically disappearing pens, they act oblivious and blame one another (I’m assuming this is normal behavior for a child to take absolutely no responsibility unless there’s a reward involved). Finally, one of my children leaked a little bit of information. They informed me they trade their pens and pencils at school. “You what?” I said. “Do you at least trade up? Then you must have pens.” They answer, “Oh yeah. They’re in my locker at school.” It figures. They’ve also mentioned they lend their pens out to classmates that don’t have any. I guess we’re not the only household with a pen shortage.
I seem to be the only family member without a pen. The other night while I helped my teenager study for a Spanish quiz, I was surprised to see her notes were written in bright, lime green (they made studying so much more fun). Clearly seeing I was elated with this “cool” ink color, she pulled out a slew of pens from her backpack. It was like she was showing me expensive jewels. She had a handful of them and they were in a rainbow of bright colors. I couldn’t help myself from grabbing one and doodling in her notebook. I think she thought I had lost it a little bit (in retrospect, I’m pretty sure I lost it a long time ago. As a friend recently said, “I found crazy a long time ago and decided to stay there”).
I was so jealous of her pen collection. Not only did she have a pen, but a whole bunch in fabulous colors. After I found my voice, I finally said, “These are so cool. Where did you get them?” She gave me a blank stare and then started laughing. She answered, “You bought them.” Sadly, I don’t recall this at all.
I need to find the perfect place to hide a slew of pens. I’ll just have to remember where I put them. If someone finds them before me, I’m upgrading pen stealing to a felony in my house. Not that I’ve never walked away with someone’s pen, but if so, obviously I can’t remember. So, that doesn’t count.

Compliments of The Atchison Globe

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Over the Top Birthday Parties

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Birthday parties have certainly evolved since I was a little girl. I remember inviting just three friends over, playing pin-the-tail on the donkey, singing happy birthday and then my guests were ushered out the door. My mom sent them all home in record time with a balloon as a parting gift (she was wise beyond her years).
I, on the other hand, have a mother-in-law who convinced me my children deserved nothing less than a party that took nearly 364 days to plan. In the past, my home has been transformed into an ocean under the sea, a jungle, a runway for models and much more.
One birthday cake was never enough. At one party there were five cakes all baked in different shapes and hand-decorated by my mother-in-law the night before. She even made a treasure chest out of a chocolate mold one year (sadly, it melted because it was so hot outside). Her hand-painted, homemade lollipops were a staple. After melting the candies, filling the molds and painting each one with a steady hand, hours later they were ready. Several times she was up until midnight creating these exquisite works of art, while I decorated the house until it was completely transformed. I even balanced on a ladder when I was eight months pregnant during the wee hours of the night hanging something that resembled seaweed (no one thinks straight when they’re that far along in their pregnancy).
The creativity didn’t stop there. My mother-in-law made costumes for each child and the parting gift bags were to die for. One year we gave each child a goldfish in a decorated glass bowl with fish food to go (one of those fish ended up living three years — I didn’t even know that was possible for a 39-cent fish).
For years, my oldest begged me to host a slumber party. I caved when she was eight. I was told at that age, it was easier. After that night I swore I would never host a sleepover again. First mistake, we invited every girl in the class (What was I thinking?). They screamed and squealed and ran through the house most of the night. Finally at midnight, I called it quits. I insisted everyone had to go to bed. The next day I awoke at 5:30 in the morning to the sound of high-pitched screaming and a herd of feet running down the hall. One girl woke up at the crack of dawn and decided it would be a great idea to wake everyone else up, too. When her parents picked her up, they told me she was an early riser. That would have been useful information prior to the invitations going out. It took me a week to recover.
Over the years as my children grew, I got smarter. The year my mother-in-law starting planning the next year’s party before the current one was over, I knew I had lost all control. Suddenly Chuck-E-Cheese sounded appealing. Let the stupid mouse entertain the kids and clean up the mess. What a novel idea! Bowling parties and pottery painting parties followed that. Life got much easier.
Now with two little ones in the house again and my mother-in-law miles away, it’s not as fun. I humbly admit I miss the days of overflowing goodie bags and endless homemade surprises. I want my house to look like Neil Armstrong just landed on the moon, or Malibu Barbie’s house exploded in my living room.
Desperate for a better party, my 5-year-old daughter, who recently celebrated a birthday, asked her Grammy to fly in from Arizona (she’s one smart kid). Believe it or not, my mother-in-law did fly in. She sacrificed some of her vacation time to suggest party games, stuff party bags, and start decorating my house. During her quick stay, she baked a butterfly cake, made a tower of butterfly shaped cupcakes, and sent homemade butterfly brownies to the pre-school. All this while I left town to attend a wedding. When I arrived back home she advised me when to thaw the butterfly cake for the actual party date. All I had to do was supervise a couple of games, serve cake I didn’t even make, and send the kids home with goodie bags compliments of my mother-in-law. Everyone should have it this easy, but I refuse to give out her phone number!

Courtesy of The Atchison Globe

Hope & Grammy