Meet Rita Buettner:

“When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” After struggling with infertility, my husband and I were blessed to adopt our two sons from China. I’m a working mother who writes about family fun and faith. Oh, and I own hundreds of flyswatters. Join me on Twitter, say hello at openwindowcr@gmail.com, or follow me on Facebook

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Being a soccer mom x5, I understand completely. I do love watching them play, even the older ones. Really, now that the older ones really know how to play, it's a blast. I hope they (and you) continue to enjoy it. It does get rough if they are on a team in which the parents are obnoxious, but that's when you just move far down the sidelines and ignore their shouts. :)

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Oh, what a great idea! Thank you for suggesting that.

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5 things I'm loving about being a soccer mom


For the past couple years I’ve resisted enrolling our boys in organized sports. I didn’t want to sacrifice our already limited family time. But at 5 and 7, they both wanted to play this season, so I’m becoming one of those mothers on the sidelines. I might even figure out a few rules of the game before the season ends.



To be completely honest, I’m not enjoying every aspect of this whole sports thing yet. I just don’t seem to be able to find my groove. The boys' practices ended up on two different, consecutive nights, which is a little chaotic. But here is what I’m loving so far.

1. Our sons are so happy to be on the field. I know we will have some down moments, but right now they are sprinting onto the field for practice and smiling through the experience. They talk about it when they get home. They may not be the stars of their teams. They don’t seem to care. I’m proud of them for showing up, learning a few things, and having a good time. And the brother whose team isn't practicing always seems to be able to find something to do.



2. After practices and games, they are exhausted. Add this to the start of school, and the tiring nature of kindergarten, and we are enjoying some quiet evenings around here. I’ve actually been able to have phone conversations without the usual pop-ins for water and stuffed animal updates and questions about God and life and which day it is tomorrow.



3. Children look so cute in uniforms. We haven’t even received our younger son’s, but our older son loves his uniform. How much fun is it to trade your Catholic school uniform for your soccer uniform? Why do we even buy other clothes?

4. I get two nights off from cooking. I’m listing this as something I like even though it’s also a challenge, but so far, so good. We have Chick-fil-A, which is always popular, but we can’t eat that all the time. So the other night I stopped at the grocery store and picked out some things I thought would work—chicken strips and deviled eggs and Lunchables. I think it's good that soccer is good exercise since the nutrition of these meals is questionable. Because it was Brothers Day (the anniversary of the day we returned from China with our younger son and our boys met) I put together a bag of food (and Pez) for each of them to enjoy in the car. They were so excited.


5. The younger kids are just so much fun to watch. I had been feeling a little disgruntled after some long practices and scrimmages with our older son. He’s loving it, but I was sitting in the prickly grass, dreaming of a chair which my husband has since purchased for me. But the older children are competitive and recognize who’s playing well. The coaches actually care whether you score in the wrong goal.

But the little kids? They just run toward the ball—or sometimes away from it. They laugh and kick and sprint joyfully off the field for water breaks every two minutes. The ball sails over the goal and they try to throw it back over from the other side. They kick the ball and it goes the wrong way. Parents don’t yell advice from the sidelines because no one cares. Everyone is having a great time and nothing gets accomplished.

The other night at practice I couldn’t stop watching and smiling. Seeing those tiny little 4- and 5-year-olds play, following the ball around the field as if it were a magnet, I fell in love with soccer all over again. Or I would have if I had ever fallen in love with it before. But it was wonderful.

I still have quite a bit to learn, but I think I might figure it out before Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, if you can’t find me, you know where I’ll be, wandering around wondering where field number six is...or is it field number five? Either way, I'm the one with the chair.

Joining Jenna at Call Her Happy for Five Favorites.

September 02, 2015 11:35
By Rita Buettner


Because it’s not my homework


The other day I spilled something in the kitchen and I said out loud, “What is wrong with me?”

And our older son said matter-of-factly and without a note of criticism, “There’s just one thing wrong with you, Mama. You forget things sometimes.”

Well, that’s for sure (though I certainly have other flaws, too). Maybe that’s part of the reason why when it comes to homework, I let our second grader take the lead. I take a very hands-off approach. And the more I read about parents’ involvement in their children’s lives, I get the sense that’s not the norm. 



Now I enjoy doing things for our children. I love teaching them whatever I can about the world, packing their lunches, and even triple-knotting their soccer cleats. And I don’t mind helping with homework—which is good since we have a kindergartener, too, and he can’t do all his work alone.

But second grade is a different story. Our second grader can read and he’s quite capable. I will cheer him on, be a resource for the difficult questions, and support him. But he knows it is his homework, not mine.

So I don’t read the assignment. I don’t watch him write his words or stand nearby as he completes his math. Sure, my husband and I take turns quizzing him on spelling words. But I don’t check the teacher’s website to see what the assignment is for the day. He has it in his student planner.

I ask him whether his homework is done. He says yes. I usually look it over so he can show me his work, because he’s proud of it.

If the next day he finds that it’s not complete or he made a mistake, maybe tomorrow’s lesson will be better than one I would teach—about responsibility, about attention to detail, about reading more closely.

His teacher is kind. She isn’t going to make him feel bad. Even people who aren’t second graders make mistakes, and the safety net is bigger now than it will ever be.

If he is going to learn responsibility, this is the ideal time. In fact, as I look ahead to the upper grades, it seems to be the only time.

We started this approach last year. I realized that homework had become a nuisance, but it didn’t have to be. If I treated it as his homework and not my assignment to give him, there were fewer battles. Life was simpler. And we fell into this rhythm.

Is his homework always done perfectly? Maybe not. But when it isn’t, it is his lesson to learn.

And, when it is well-done, the cheerful words written in the margins are not for a hovering mother who worries about whether we interpreted the assignment correctly. That praise belongs to our son, and only to him, just as it should.

September 01, 2015 11:44
By Rita Buettner


7 Quick Takes Friday: Meet my new great-nephews, cotton candy grapes, the school year so far, flaming Greek cheese, and my idea for a new reality show

~1~

We gained two new great-nephews this week. Before you start doing the math to see how old I might be, I should tell you that they are rats.

I’ve shared here before that our 12-year-old niece has an affinity for rats. Two of her three rats died over the summer, and poor Cinnamon was left all alone. So her parents agreed to let her add two more rats to the family to keep Cinnamon company (though I’m fairly sure the new rats are more for Cinnamon’s human mother).

Enter Algernon (below) and Reepicheep.



You want to know more about them, don’t you? Well, a number of rats were abandoned along a highway earlier this summer. Some were rescued, and these two babies were born to one of those rescued rats. They are five weeks old.

I should probably send a gift. Or two.

~2~

Have you tried cotton candy grapes? I had never even heard of them until my friend and fellow blogger Robyn mentioned them. So when we saw them at the store, we brought some home.



Daniel loves both cotton candy and grapes, so I was sure he would love them, but he didn’t.

I am not much of a cotton candy fan, so I wasn’t surprised I didn’t like them that much—though I find it absolutely intriguing that—texture aside—they do taste like cotton candy.

~3~

Because our boys attend the same school now, we have only one drop-off and pick-up every day.

My life has been transformed.



The other morning John dropped them off, so I drove straight from our house to the office. It turns out that if I’m not stopping at one or two schools on the way, it’s a matter of a few minutes to get to work. I could practically walk.

~4~

The first week of school is ending, and everyone seems content.

The night before Daniel started kindergarten, he opened a little booklet his teacher had given him and we read a poem about preparing for school. Then he took out the confetti and put it on top of his pillow.



He was nervous, but I knew once he was there he would love it. And he does.

“I can’t wait for tomorrow,” Daniel said after day one.

Leo gave as positive a review as I could have hoped for—brief though it was.

They are both happy that I have been sending our new cute little Bento picks in their lunches.



But determining what is going on at school is sort of like reading the leaves in the bottom of a teacup—and then realizing that you don’t know why it matters. I mean, so far I’ve learned that Daniel liked play with Play-doh and that the girl sitting next to him brings cheese curls for snack just as he does. Maybe next week I’ll learn something else.

~5~

With four days under our belts, we haven’t been late for school yet this year. Yet somehow Daniel and I managed to be late for kindergarten orientation. Daniel was sharpening pencils while I filled out health forms and we—all right, I—lost track of time.

I’m sure the teachers were impressed when we arrived five minutes late to an event when other families must have been 20 minutes early. You could almost see the “He’s our second child” sign I was wearing on my forehead.

After orientation Daniel and I went uniform shopping and I marveled again how wonderful uniforms are. They make our lives so easy. And we never ever debate what to wear.



As we were coming out of the uniform store, I turned to Daniel and asked, "Where do you want to go for lunch?"

"McDonald's!" he said.

Of course that was the answer. Why did I even ask the question? Still, I had hope.

"How about Chinese food?" I asked.

He thought for a moment before he said, "No."

I went for the gold. "Flaming Greek cheese?"

"YES!" he yelled.



So he and I went to our favorite Greek restaurant and watched as the waitress set a slab of cheese on fire and extinguished it with lemon. If you haven’t tried saganaki—which our sons call “flaming Greek cheese”—you might be surprised to hear that at the end of the meal Daniel turned to the waitress and said, “That was better than McDonald’s!”



Just what I was thinking.

~6~

My new idea for a reality TV show is to trail parents as they grocery shop with their children.

I thought we might call it, “Apple Juice Spill in Aisle 3.”

Doesn’t sound action-packed to you? On one trip to the store last weekend this is what happened:

  • A package burst in the freezer aisle and pelted us with rock-hard tater tots.
  • While reaching for a box of mac and cheese, we knocked over a cardboard s'mores display.
  • There was a girl popping up in the aisles in a creepy Halloween mask, so our sons giggled and emitted fake screams whenever they saw her.
  • Our super-cool car cart was too wide to fit past the register.
  • After I got to the car, I realized I had been wearing a nametag the whole trip, but naturally the name on it wasn’t mine.
Of course, the real reality show might be taking your children to Mass. Now that would have drama. But I’m not sure that would be as much fun to watch.

~7~

For couples who are in the Washington, D.C./Maryland/Virginia area, there will be a Mass for couples struggling with infertility and/or pregnancy loss on Saturday, Sept. 5, at noon, at St. Andrew’s parish at 11600 Kemp Mill Rd. in Silver Spring, Md. More information is here. 

Have a wonderful weekend and you can find more quick takes at Kelly’s blog.


August 28, 2015 07:21
By Rita Buettner


Kindergarten homework—it’s in the bag


When our kindergartener brought home his first homework tonight, he was proud to have an assignment—and it was a good one.



He had to fill a plastic freezer bag with five or six things that would help him introduce himself to his teacher and his classmates.

Now, I’m guessing that our nonstop talker has already talked plenty in that classroom, but just in case they don’t know everything about him, this should do the trick.




He selected (and these are his choices, not mine):

1. A crucifix. Origins: Free in the mail from a Catholic organization, if my memory is correct.

2. A stuffed caterpillar. Origins: The boardwalk at the beach. It is an on-and-off favorite and it’s small enough to fit in the bag. Victory.

3. His recorder. His Aunt Treasa, Uncle George, and their baby daughter gave it to him for his birthday last December. To be honest, I picked it out, bought it, and told them what they owed me. He loves it and played it quite a bit this evening before we put it in the bag.

4. A toy Army truck. It belonged to his father, but John passed it along to our younger son when he moved into his military phase—a phase he shows no sign of leaving anytime soon. In fact, his current plan is to join the Air Force.

5. A Chinese rattle drum. It has an ox on it for his birth year, and we bought it on our adoption trip in China. As I look at this list, I realize his presentation might be more like a concert!

6. A small album of photos he selected tonight. There’s a family photo in there, but only because we didn’t have enough pictures from our trip on the light rail to fill the whole thing. It’s a fun mix of photos and I’m sure his teacher will be able to tell that he picked them himself. I hope so.


I wish I could be there tomorrow when he tells the class about everything he brought. He will have so much to tell them.



Meanwhile, his big brother’s assignments have involved putting contact paper on paperback textbooks. And everyone is so happy to go to school in the morning. How long can this blissful first week of school last?

So let’s say it’s your turn. You have to fill a bag with 5-6 items to help me understand who you are. What would you put in your bag?

You might also enjoy:

A Kindergarten Homework Excuse


August 26, 2015 10:37
By Rita Buettner


Why I'm crying as our child starts kindergarten


As our little boy walks into school to start kindergarten today, I’ll have tears in my eyes.

It’s not just that I want to hold onto our baby a little longer.

I’m crying because I worry that I should have prepared him better for the challenges and questions that come with starting this new chapter of his life.

I’m crying because even though his big brother will be nearby, our little boy has to stand on his own.



I’m crying because I know he has to make his own friends, which he’ll do so easily, but he’ll also have to figure out that children aren’t always kind.

I’m crying because I’m so very proud of who our little boy is—and how far he has come since we met him four years ago.

I’m crying because there were years when I wasn’t sure I’d ever be a mother—and because I know so many people who still yearn for motherhood or miss a child who’s in heaven.

I’m crying because I’m overjoyed and honored to be the mother of a child who is so packed with personality, compassion, and joy he brings to every single day.

I’m crying because I know there are people on the other side of the world who would love to watch our little boy beginning his first year of elementary school. They would be so proud of him.

And, all right, all right, I might as well admit that I’m crying because just a minute ago he was a toddler racing his big brother through our house, and I can’t believe he’s already in kindergarten.

We went through this two years ago, and I thought it would be easier the second time. In some ways, though, it’s more difficult. You see, I know how fast it’s going to go. And one day I’ll be packing lunches and realize the year is ending, and we’re on to the next.

I feel so blessed to be here with him right now, to be celebrating this moment in our family. And I know that as nervous as he might be to start kindergarten, tomorrow he will jump out of the car and run to the door without even looking back.

And that’s good because then he won’t notice that I might have tears in my eyes again.

Have fun in kindergarten, little one. Let your little light shine.


August 23, 2015 11:21
By Rita Buettner


Next stop: Gotcha Day celebration on the light rail


Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of the day we met our younger son, so we told him he could plan his day. He took that role seriously.

Daniel had announced we were taking the light rail to Gettysburg, but the light rail doesn’t run to Gettysburg, and he didn’t want to drive.

Next he decided we would take the light rail to Glen Burnie, Md. Now John grew up in Glen Burnie, and we often drive through it on our way to other places. But I couldn’t figure out what exactly we would do in Glen Burnie once we got there.

So I suggested that we go to BWI Airport instead. I made a pretty decent sales pitch for it, explaining that at the airport we could see airplanes.




“OK,” Daniel said. “We will ride the light rail all the way to the airport and then we will fly on an airplane.”



Well...maybe he didn't get to plan the whole day.



But we did board the light rail in Hunt Valley and make the long and fascinating ride to the end of the line at BWI airport.


We walked into the airport and almost immediately came across a recreation of an ancient vase from China.



We rode escalators and a glass elevator, visited the observation gallery, and watched airplanes take off and land.



Daniel wanted a hot dog, which sounded simple enough, but all we saw was a Dunkin Donuts and a Subway—both fine options, but not for our boys who don’t really eat sandwiches (and don’t eat donuts for lunch, even on Gotcha Days).



We found our way to a small-plates place in the observation gallery. It wasn’t child-friendly, so it seemed somehow appropriate that we would be there—especially since on our adoption trips we often ate in upscale restaurants in China that weren’t designed for children.


There is a small play area in the observation gallery, so we enjoyed that and learned that at the peak time during the day there are 19,000 planes in the air over the United States. I can’t begin to get my mind around that.



There are not 19,000 light rail rides, though, so we kept an eye on the schedule and caught one home just in time.



I thought the round-trip light rail ride was a little long for our boys, but Daniel didn’t think so. Of course, he rested for part of the trip.



Back at home we played and relaxed and watched Mighty Machines until dinnertime—Chinese food with candles stuck in dumplings and a round of “Happy Gotcha Day to You.”



More than a few times during the day we heard, “Well, it is my Gotcha Day...” as our honoree enjoyed the day he had planned for our family and tried to persuade me to order even more won ton soup for him. It wasn’t the day I would have organized myself, but it was absolutely perfect for him—and for us.


August 23, 2015 10:08
By Rita Buettner


7 Quick Takes Friday: Goodbye to preschool, hello to kindergarten, school paperwork, celebrating four years as a family of four, and becoming an aunt (again!)


I'd love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter!

~1~


Maybe because I always imagined I would be a stay-at-home mother, I never even considered the fact that one day we would be using daycare. But after we adopted our younger son, we started looking for a program.

As I searched, I realized quickly that there were some that just wouldn’t work for us. Some were too impersonal. Some were overly concerned with academics. Some just rubbed me the wrong way.

When I walked into the small preschool we ended up choosing, the atmosphere was low-key and friendly. The teachers and children were smiling. And they had a wooden train to climb on.

I was sold.

I was still nervous, of course. You hear people talk about how they could never have “strangers” raise their children. But our sons’ teachers are not strangers. They are our very dear friends.

And the friends our son has made are a special group, some of whom have been with him since he started as a tiny 2-year-old more than three years ago.


This photo is more than 3 years old, taken on our little guy's first day there. In my mind they are still that small.


Yesterday Daniel and I said goodbye to his teachers and classmates, and we made it through without tears—well, very few tears, anyway.

Off to kindergarten, big boy.

~2~

On Saturday we gathered at a playground with other new kindergarteners and their families. We have one very social incoming kindergartener in our household, but I knew he would feel better to connect with his new friends ahead of time.

He ran in circles with one little girl, pretended to be shy with another, and did some rock throwing with one boy, who is clearly a kindred spirit.



On the way home, he said, “I have a new best friend, Mama.” And he talked all about the rock-throwing boy. Then each of our boys listed their top five best friends—lists that do not include their brothers. Where did they find all these friends?

I don’t know why I don’t rank my best friend list more often—or ever. If you’re reading this, though, you can assume you’re in the top five.

~3~

This morning Daniel and I are off to kindergarten orientation! He will meet his teacher, see his new best friend and his other new friends, take a look inside his classroom, and I will hope the carpool pick-up situation hasn’t changed much since I finally have it figured out.


If I have to pack lunches, I might as well make it fun (for me).


We’re excited about school, but I would like another two weeks of summer, please.


~4~

Families decide to homeschool for many excellent, legitimate reasons, but at the top of my list would be: To avoid all the paperwork for school. There’s the form for the dentist, the form for the doctor, the form for emergency contacts, forms for the afterschool program, the milk program form, and probably 15 others I’m forgetting.

It’s funny that it bothers me so much because I thoroughly enjoyed filling out adoption paperwork.

~5~

Four years ago today John and I were admiring scenes like this.




Four years ago tomorrow John and I met Daniel for the first time. I remember so many details of those first minutes, and then hours, together. Tomorrow the day is his. He asked to take the light rail to Gettysburg, but the light rail doesn’t go that far. So he is trying to decide how he wants to spend the day. Whatever he chooses, we will be together as a family of four.

I’ve written many times about adopting. Here are a few posts that might be interesting to you:





There’s much more where that came from, but these are supposed to be “quick” takes.



~6~

I’m an aunt again! My younger brother and his wife welcomed their fourth child and first girl over the weekend, and she is beautiful! They live out of town, so I don’t know when I will meet her, but a new baby is always so exciting. Her three big brothers are so proud.

One of my friends recently gave birth to a little boy she named Leo. When I wrote to congratulate her, she replied that she had given him our son’s “blog name.” It made me laugh. I love the name Leo, though it’s not Leo’s real name. The other day he asked me to change his blog name to “Odie,” but I find it confusing enough to use alternate names. We won’t be alternating the alternate names here anytime soon.

~7~

Twelve years ago on Sunday John and I met for the first time in person. We won’t celebrate it in any special way. You can only celebrate so much in one weekend, and our 5-year-old’s Gotcha Day will overshadow everything else. But you can read about that first meeting here

Read more quick takes at Kelly’s blog!


August 20, 2015 11:44
By Rita Buettner


When Mama’s away on a work trip...


Since adopting Daniel four years ago, I have traveled three times for work: once when our university's men’s basketball team was competing in the NCAA Tournament in Pittsburgh, once for a staff retreat in Western Maryland, and once this week for a meeting in Richmond, Va.



I did all I could to prepare for being away. I packed an extra lunch for Daniel to take to preschool on the morning I would be gone, asked my mother to invite John and the boys over for dinner, and explained to our sons when I would leave and when I would return. John promised our boys a chance to sleep on the floor of our room—the best thing ever—and I knew they would have fun.

Then I threw a few clothes into a bag and I was off.

As I waited for my train with my colleagues, I thought about how exactly four years earlier John and I had been boarding a plane for China to adopt our younger son. That day it felt strange to board a plane without Leo, who stayed home with my parents while we made the two-week trip to welcome his baby brother into our family.



This time it felt a little strange to travel without my family. But I wasn’t a tourist on this trip. I barely saw Richmond at all. And I knew I would be only a few hours away from my family.



We stayed in an amazing, historic hotel, The Jefferson, which was opulent and yet tasteful and very Southern. I’m not sure even the hotels we enjoyed in China were as lovely—though it’s hard to compare.


When I checked into my room, I imagined our sons running in circles across the carpet, throwing themselves onto the bed, and begging to take a bath in the Jacuzzi tub.



Then I saw the TV in the bathroom mirror. That, I knew, would have been the highlight of the trip for them—except I could almost hear them saying, “Why doesn’t it get Netflix, Mama?”



No one pounded on my bathroom door or asked to play on the iPad.



I fell asleep in a quiet room and set an alarm for the first time in I don’t know how many years.



In the morning I woke up in the silence and only needed to dress myself.



At breakfast I read a newspaper while a waitress filled and refilled my coffee cup. In fact, I didn't cook at all.



It was all lovely and the meetings were interesting. I was so happy to be able to be a part of the conversations. Then I boarded a train and rode back to Baltimore. Home sweet home.

There will be no freshly brewed coffee in the morning. And there’s certainly no TV in a bathroom mirror. But I know I don’t need to set an alarm tonight. Soon enough someone will be sneaking into our bed to curl up next to me.


I'm not complaining.


August 19, 2015 10:42
By Rita Buettner


Benefits of toddler adoption: Why I'm so happy we adopted our children as toddlers

 
On Aug. 22, 2011, my husband and I stood in an office in Guangzhou, China, as our younger son was placed in our arms. He was hot, tired, absolutely precious, and 20 months old.

When we adopted his big brother two years earlier, he had just turned 2.

I often hear couples say that they want to adopt a newborn so they can have that experience. Even though that wasn't important to us, I can understand that. But even though toddler adoption brings its challenges, we loved adopting our children as toddlers. (And no, we didn’t miss out on toilet training or sleepless nights.)



Here, purely from a parent's perspective and not from a child's perspective because I can't speak for our children, are five reasons I’m so glad we adopted our children as toddlers: 

1.       Toddlers are so much fun. In those first days together our children grieved, but they also laughed and played. We loved watching them walk and run and climb and play with other children. Every day was exciting as their personalities emerged a little more. And when we were home, our days were full of playing and reading and library visits and train rides. When we told our older son he would be able to play with his little brother, we didn’t mean a few years down the road. We meant the day our plane lands in the U.S.

2.       Toddlers know what they want—and they can tell you. For us it didn’t matter that they were speaking in Mandarin and Cantonese. We never had trouble figuring out what our boys wanted to eat or play or do. That didn’t mean they didn’t get upset when the answer was no. But I loved not having to guess what was going on.

3.       They were able to choose what they called us. I always thought we would be Mommy and Daddy. But our older son started calling us “Mama” and “Baba”—the Chinese equivalents, and we were thrilled. I love being Mama and my husband is so much of a “Baba.” Even our nieces and nephews call him “Baba”—at least when they aren’t calling him “Uncle Baba John, Sir.”



4.       They have memories that precede us. Do I wish we had met our children as newborns? Not really. I love that they both spent the first parts of their lives in China. I love that they had the chance to experience some aspects of Chinese culture before we met them. I love that when we pray for all the people who love them all over the world, that’s such a wonderful group of people who cared for them before we met them.

5.       Toddlers still have many “firsts” to experience. The baptism. The first lost tooth. The first (American?) ice cream cone. The first day of school. The first day of kindergarten. The first ER visit. The first birthday as a member of your family.



We may have missed those first couple years, but I don’t feel I’ve missed out on anything. Instead, I feel we climbed onto a train for the adventure of a lifetime. And we’re certainly enjoying the ride.

Joining Jenna at Call Her Happy for Five Favorites this week.



August 17, 2015 11:14
By Rita Buettner


7 Quick Takes Friday: A missing egg, the end of summer, an aquarium trip, a light rail ride, fudge, and other treats


~1~

When buying a carton of eggs,

You should check that you don’t have the dregs.

I did not and boo-hoo,

Back at home found one few.

We were cheated—or the twelfth sprouted legs.



~2~

We have our school supplies, and we went for haircuts this week, so in practical ways we are almost ready for the school year to start on Aug. 24. But I’m not ready to see this summer end.



Even though summer is when I most wish I could be off more to be with our boys, this summer has been a good one. I want to hold onto it for as long as we can.

~3~

Our sons earned tickets to the National Aquarium through the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s summer reading program and the event was held last night.


We don’t often go to the Aquarium, so we especially enjoyed visiting the sharks, the jellyfish, and even a dolphin.



How cool are jellyfish?


You really have to marvel that God could create such a diverse array of sea creatures.

~4~

Because Daniel and I had so much fun on Baltimore’s light rail, his big brother wanted to go on a ride with me this past weekend. So we went. I love spending time as a family, but I also really love our one-on-one time.



Leo brought along our travel Scrabble game to play and we sat building words together without keeping score. We actually really like keeping score—we’re both more than a little competitive. But it was a bit much to manage on the train.



It was a very different ride with Leo than it was with Daniel, and I was surprised that we spotted completely different things along the way. Next up? A ride with both of them. I'll let you know how it goes.

~5~

We’ve been hearing a bit of what we call “potty language” in our household, so I set up a jar and started charging offenders money for using potty words. That system has definitely helped, at least with the member of the family who cares about his savings. And I am richer every day.

The other day, though, our boys told me they were about to have a performance. They had built “The Death Star 6000” in the living room, and I was invited to take a seat on the piano bench.



“There’s some mild language in this, Mama, but no potty words,” Leo said.

Mild language? I started getting nervous.

Then the play began, and I heard the Emperor character say, “People who are stupid are stupid forever.”

Ah, that sort of mild language. I decided not to storm out of the theater.

~6~

Several years ago when our nephew “David” was 3 or 4, John and I visited him and his family at the beach. He wanted some fudge, and my sister said to him, “What’s the magic word?” Quite simply and with confidence, he said, “Fudge.” And it worked.

I was thinking of that because of our 7th take today....

~7~

In May when I went to a conference for Catholic women bloggers, I had the opportunity to meet Emily Borman, editor-in-chief of Conversation With Women. The site offers a place where women share their thoughts anonymously about faith, sexuality, marriage, and society. If you haven't visited, you should. You will find such wonderful, thoughtful discussion happening there.

Emily also makes amazing, amazing fudge. And she generously offered to share her recipe with us. Enjoy!



Fudge

4.5 cups sugar

1 large can evaporated milk

2 Tablespoons butter

1 pinch of salt

16 ounces of miniature marshmallows

24 ounces chocolate chips

In a large pot mix together the sugar, milk, butter, and salt. Heat and stir occasionally over medium heat.  When you stir be sure to scrape all of the surfaces so that nothing burns.  When the mixtures boils, boil for 6 minutes now stirring constantly. After 6 minutes, turn off the heat and add the marshmallows and chocolate chips. Stir vigorously. This is hard work!  When it looks well blended and most of the lumps are gone (I can never seem to get rid of all of the lumps) pour mixture into a greased 9x13 glass pan.

Let cool. The fudge does not need to be refrigerated but you can cool it quicker by putting it in the fridge.  When it is cool I usually cut it into 8 bricks and wrap them each in saran wrap.

Notes: it is best to have fresh marshmallows. If they are all stuck together or stiff they will not melt well.

Read more quick takes at Kelly's blog, This Ain't the Lyceum.


August 13, 2015 11:41
By Rita Buettner

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