New Circus Skills: The Fire Extinguisher

I love a good spinach roll.  Yesterday the veggie CSA arrived with a whole bunch of beautiful plum tomatoes.  I thought of the lovely spinach growing in my garden and mozzerella cheese in my fridge.  I lovingly made bread dough out of an organic whole wheat and oat flour blend.  It was a bit dry, so I kneaded in plenty of extra olive oil to make it soft.  Meanwhile, the children were NOT napping, so my cooking was punctured by frequent trips up the stairs with comments such as “get out from under your bed.”  At any rate, I went out to the garden and carefully plucked the outside leaves of spinach so the plants would keep producing.  I chopped up that lovely produce, rolled out my crust, and seasoned with some basil and paprika.  I spread out the cheese and veggies and rolled them all up, pinched the edges, brushed on some olive oil (I’m out of garlic, or I would have sprinkled it on top).  Turned on that oven and popped those beautiful rolls of spinach-y goodness into the oven.

Ten minutes pass. (“Can we get up yet?!”  “Mommy?  Mommy? Mommy? MMMMOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYYYY?’  “He’s out of bed!  Mommy!  He’s got a toy! Mommy!)  End nap time.

Hm…what is that coming out of the top of the oven?  Smoke.  Its ok, I know I have a dirty oven.  That happens from time to time…..though usually only at high temperatures…huh?  Open oven.  Wow.  That is a lot of smoke.  Close oven.  Well, Mr. Ringmaster reheated those hamburgers in the oven last night and I see some cheese that somehow got on the bottom of the oven, that must be it.

Start setting the table, playing with the kids….open all the windows, can’t believe there’s still smoke.  Open oven ::WHOOSSHH::  Fire.  Close oven.  With surprising calmness, I plop the baby in the excer-saucer and pull it to other side of the kitchen and pull out the fire extinguisher from under sink. I vaguely remember calling for the boys to go outside.

I haven an argument with my brain, “leave the door closed, it will go out,” “then why hasn’t it gone out yet?”  It feels like I’m standing there for an eternity watching it.  I just want it out.  I pick up the fire extinguisher.  A piece of my brain cheers “Mommy will save the day!!”  The rest is going “how do I spray this thing?”

I rip apart the plastic thingy on the top and I’m still not sure how but I got a “PFSHHH” of white fire extinguisher stuff out.  Probably should have opened the oven first.  Open the oven, struggle for a moment to duplicate the “PFSHHH” (man it sprays out fast).  The dust clears and the fire is out. I look outside where I told the boys to go, and they are standing there, still, quiet, just waiting.  Yes!  Score one for school fire drills.  I must remember to tell their teachers about that.  I revel for a moment in the sight of my older boys standing still.  Then I turn back to the kitchen, and this is what my dinner looks like.


Well that’s depressing.  I call Mr. RIngmaster.  He claims responsibility as he reheated those burgers right on the rack instead of on a sheet pan and did not clean out the oven.  The smoke and flame was from the grease left behind.  I may have, at this point, cried.  Mostly because those lovely spinach rolls were now expensive garbage (hey, cheese is expensive).  Also because my kitchen was a mess.  Though I will admit at the same time I was thinking “Woohoo!  Take a picture, this will make a great blog post!”  (Like I ever have a shortage of things to write about.)  Mr. RIngmaster brought home a couple pizzas.  There was a beer left in the fridge.  It worked out.


Circus Gone Flat

I know it won’t come as a surprise to you, my loyal readers (Hi Mom!), that meal time can get a little crazy around here.  That is doubly so for lunch, without Mr. Authoritative Ringmaster around.  I curb the ‘getting to the table crazy’ by fixing their lunches before we leave to pick up the big boys from pre-school.  From that point we’ve got a routine that gets us to the table: park car, hand keys to circus boy #1 who unlocks front door, trailed by circus boy #2.  Both boys take off shoes, hang up backpacks and get lunches and drinks out of the fridge and put them on the table.  Meanwhile I get circus boy #3 into the house, shoes removed and to to the table, along with the little princess (who generally waits patiently in her car seat carrier until the boys are eating lunch.  Princess nurses.  And then, the crazy nuts come out.

Here is a list of things that frequently come out of my mouth during lunch time:

  • Sit down.
  • Stop saying “Nah, nah, nah, nah….”  (insert any repetitive, random noise here)
  • You’re getting crumbs all over the floor
  • You’re sitting on your sandwich
  • No potty words at the table
  • There’s peanut butter on your behind
  • Do NOT stand on your chair
  • Did you really just stand on the table and push that chandelier?
  • Go back to the table
  • Do not show your bottom and shake it at your brother (generally while standing on the chair).

Ok, now, I do not actually say all of those things, every single day.  But between the three boys, I hit a lot of them on a pretty regular basis.  It is, hands down, my least favorite part of the day.  Enter Flat Stanley.

I was flipping through my son’s book order form, and I saw a box set of Flat Stanley books.  I had been thinking about trying to read them some children’s chapter books a chapter or two at time.  And I figured, why not, lets give them a try.  So on the day they arrived via Circus Boy #1’s backpack, I opened up the first book and sat down at the lunch table (instead of running around trying to stay two steps ahead of all the mashed sandwiches and yogurt paintings).

If you’re not familiar with them, Flat Stanley is about a boy, obviously named Stanley, who gets flattened when a bulletin board falls on him.  He becomes a half inch thick, and the story follows his adventures as a flat boy.  The boys have been completely enthralled with the story.  This has resulted in significantly less dancing on chairs and peanut butter on rear ends.  Hands down, win for everyone.  And, they have really surprised me by remembering details from the story as we have read it over several days.  We finished the first book a few days ago and yesterday made this diorama of our favorite scenes.  Flat Stanley slides under doors without opening them, becomes a a kite, and pretends to be a picture of a sheep girl on a wall so that he can help to catch thieves at the art museum.

(Don’t ask me why circus boy #1 kept coloring Flat Stanley blue, I don’t know. )

IMG_5240 IMG_5241

It’s been quite enjoyable.  Today we are on to the second book.  Here’s to less mess and chandelier swinging.  (Ok, they haven’t actually swung on the chandelier….yet.)

If you’d like to take a look at the Flat Stanle books, you can find them on Amazon here:

The Flat Stanley Collection Box Set: Flat Stanley, Invisible Stanley, Stanley in Space, and Stanley, Flat Again!


Circus Errors

Error #1: Saturday morning grocery shopping (me and half the population of the city)

  • crowded aisles
  • long check out lines
  • many, many witnesses

Error#2: Bringing Circus Boy #1

  • “Can we buy blueberries? Can we buy ice cream? Can we some of those? How about that? How about those cookies, we haven’t had those in a really, really long time.  But, but, but…..”
  • Stop touching your brother.  Hands off your brother. Leave your brother alone. No. No. Don’t touch that.  Stop sitting on the food.  Leave my coupons alone.

Error #3: Bringing Circus Boy #2

  • Please don’t touch the jars on the shelves.  Hands to yourself.  Stop touching your brother.  Stop messing with your brother.  Stop hanging on the cart.  No, don’t touch that.  Stop dancing in the aisle, people are trying to get past you. No, stop that.  Put your hand together and keep them there.  STOP TOUCHING THINGS.
  • Insist circus boy #2 holds hand through remainder of store.  Results in screaming “OW! OW!” through remainder of store.  (Where’s my lousy mom, out of control kids t-shirt?)  Many, many stares, glares, and some chuckling from above mentioned witnesses.  None of which I find helpful.  (To the young couple in the wine aisle.  This-will-be-you.  You think it won’t….just you wait.  Promise.)

Error #4: Discussing poor behavior in car.

  • Gentlemen, I am very disappointed in your behavior.  There were many, many bad choices.  You can not touch everything you see, you may break something and people are trying to buy those things.  You have to control yourself and watch around you so you’re not in the way…
  • Circus Boy#2, as Mommy is talking…”I sleeping.”  ::snoring sounds::

Thank you Lord for an extra dose of patience, without which the car would have gone careening into the median when I heard that one.

Notes to self:

  • No grocery shopping on Saturday mornings
  • Leave children home with Daddy
  • Hit the coffee shop first

Fun With Water: A Normal Day at the Circus

M (age nearly 2) loves water color paints.  It took a little while for him to figure out that he needed to use more paint than water.  That’s ok.  It took mommy a little while to figure out to only put a tiny amount of water in the bottom of the cup and that the train table, with its 2 inch lip is the perfect place for watercolor painting as short arms can not accidentally bump anything off the table. 


Yup, we paint swirls, mommy paints shapes and flowers.  Mommy goes to put her cup in the sink and turns around to find out we also paint our face.  (Paint cover check, non-toxic, we’re good.)  We also love to paint just with water, out of the straw on our sippy cup, on the couch, when we’re supposed to be resting.  How special. 

Then, as I’m mentally cheering myself on as I get the roast in the oven for dinner, (Good job Mommy!  Way to use those CSA vegetables), I hear “Uh, OOOOOOO.  Uh, OOOOOOO.”  I turn to find more of M’s artistic beauty.  We have a dry erase board easel and some of Crayola’s neat-o dry erase crayons.  The children really enjoy coloring on the easel….and other things.  (That’s the back of my chair, if you’re wondering.)


Just a normal day…. 

(By the way, if you’ve got little ones and you haven’t checked out the dry erase crayons, do it.  They wipe off EVERYTHING, my chair included, with just a bit of water. )


Circus Beverage of Choice: Coffee

I admit I’m a bit high maintenance when it comes to certain things. I like my pancakes cooked so that they stay soft, and eaten warm enough to melt the butter. I like to go to the bathroom without company. I like to spend a few minutes reading before I go to bed. I like to eat lunch on a regular basis. And most of all, I like my coffee hot. I don’t mean mostly hot, luke warm, or anything else. I like to drink it HOT. No sugar, no cream. Pour it out of that pot into the mug and drink it. I like to drink it while checking e-mail and facebook, preferably with breakfast.

I go to great lengths to enjoy that piping hot cup every morning. First, the big boys must eat breakfast, and get dressed. Then, Mr. Ringmaster and the the two oldest boys must exit the premises for work and pre-school, respectively. As the coffee aroma fills the kitchen, the little princess must finishing nursing and then be deposited under her kick gym for some independent play time. However, such play time will only last about 20 minutes. So to maximize the coffee drinking allotted time, her brother must already be engrossed in the morning’s Blues Clues coffee drinking diversion episode. So prior to, or during, nursing, he must be cleaned of all breakfast food (ever seen Taz eat?), diaper checked, dressed, laundry collected and favorite mickey mouse located. Navigate Amazon prime to desired episode. Pour my bowl of cereal, but not the milk until I’m actually ready to sit down. (You never know, it could be awhile). Set out the computer on the breakfast bar. If all has been done correctly, at this point the baby has finished nursing, is ready for a quick diaper change and some play time. Dart to the coffee pot, pour that piping hot cup of half caffeinated goodness. Add the milk to the waiting cereal and presto, breakfast and hot coffee. Unless of course the baby spits up and needs the clothes she’s worn all of 5 minutes changed. Her brother fills up his diaper as soon as my rear hits the breakfast bar stool or needs his car container opened and lego cars reassembled.  I realize I forgot to take my allergy medicine, need to add item x to the grocery list, or need to write that check and get it out to the mailbox.   By which time Blues Clues is over, and the kick gym has lost its magic.

Alas, my elaborate scheme fails.  I usually drink my coffee in some state of warmness. I could microwave it, but by the time I put it in and hit the 30 second button, there would be some other circus catastrophe to attend.  The 30 seconds would elapse and the microwave would commence it’s helpful beeping.  Reminding me that while I’m busy with that diaper or the thrilling game of 52 card pick-up because someone left the cupboard open (or puzzle pieces, or crayons…its always the small things in great quantity), my coffee remains in the cup, growing colder by the second.  I think it is a mom fact, no matter how long you wait to pour that cup of coffee, its almost always cold before you get to it. (I say “almost” because on the weekends, Mr. Ringmaster takes over and lets me drink at least a half cup hot. 🙂 ) How many times have you heated up the same cup of coffee before you got to drink it?  I think my record is 4.


Ringmaster Woes: The Sweet Potato

For all the moms who frequently bite off a bit more than they can chew….


We belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) through a local, family farm.  Every Monday a member of that wonderful family delivers a box full of fresh, organic vegetables, fruit and eggs.  We love the variety, the convenience, and supporting our local economy.  I love having fresh ingredients to cook with, and I love the mystery of what will be in the box and the challenge of turning those ingredients into meals.

In this week’s box there was a lovely mix of lettuces and greens, some squash, fruit, and 3 beautiful sweet potatoes.  Sweet potatoes!  Quite possibly the simplest side dish to prepare.  Wash them, open the oven door, chuck them in, and turn it on.  It doesn’t even matter what temperature.  Keep them in there for an hour, or two.  Whatever. They just get mushier, the better to mix with a bit of butter and plop on a plate.  No cutting, no stirring, no bowl, pan or spoon!  Far healthier than your average baking potato.  For a busy mom, they are precious dinner gift like few others!

So, this morning I had on my counter these 3 fabulous chunks of easy dinner goodness, and what does my mind say?  You know what would be great?  A sweet potato pie!!  So instead of taking advantage of a lovely easy dinner side, I decided to make a homemade sweet potato pie.  Because, you know, I have all the time in the world for that.  Really.  I even found a crock pot recipe for the filling.  Awesome!  Throw some ingredients in the pot, whip up a pie crust, dump the filling in the crust.  No problem.  Unless you live in a circus.

So I peel and chop up those sweet potatoes, and circus boy #3 drags over the stool and climbs up with a big ol’ grin on his sweet two year-old face.  He “helps” me add all the ingredients by trying to mix them all with the 1/2 cup measuring cup, and scoop and pour the mixture throughout the kitchen.  After multiple acrobatics to keep the bowl on the counter, the child on the stool, and also fetch and return ingredients, the mixture is in the crock pot. (And the child is screaming because I took his dripping measuring cup.)

Fast forward through a violin lesson and the drive to pick up the big boys from pre-school.  Time to make the crust.  You know, while the big boys eat lunch and the baby nurses.  And circus boy #2 demands a grilled cheese sandwich, after he’s already eaten his PBJ, apple sauce, yogurt, and graham crackers.  Apparently that was his friend at school eats.  I decline.  Screaming ensues.  Nap time. Time to get to it.

Or not. Baby is fussing.  Ask nearly 5 year-old circus boy #1 for help playing with the baby so I can finally get to that crust, an hour later.  His response, “Um, I think I’m too tired.  And you always tell me not to get up during rest time.”  You know those cartoons where the characters get furious and turn red from their toes on up until steam erupts from their ears? Insert that image here.  Boy #1 decided it would be in his best interest to help.

And there you have it.  The easiest thing to cook ever.


(No comments about my dirty oven unless yours is cleaner and you also intend to come clean mine.)

Now, what am I going to cook for dinner?  Wait, did I ever eat lunch?  Huh…


Circus Security: The tiny unwanted guest

I wonder. Do circuses have unruly fans? Perhaps the elephant show does not quite live up to expectations, and a few guests take it a bit too hard and have to be escorted out? I guess those clowns can be a little iffy… I don’t know, but we sure have some unwanted guests around these parts of late. Small unwanted guests. The kind that squeak….with big ears and long tails…of the rodent variety. These words are for you, my unwelcome rodent guests.

Dear (shudder)…..Mice,

Over the last several months, two of your companions have entered my home through methods that as of yet remain undiscovered. You seem to enjoy getting underneath my dishwasher. I can only assume you have found some hole in the wall, or perhaps tunneled your way in. Why, I am not exactly sure. There is no food under there. It is a dishWASHER. Soap, water…..clean! I have small children, trust me, there are much better places to find food….like every nook and cranny of the entire downstairs. I clean a lot, but the children are faster. I’ve heard many a mom wish for a third arm. I want mine to be a vacuum hose. But, I digress.

By now you have probably realized both of your companions met their end. The first made the mistake of getting into my pantry, and, well, defecating all over the floor after getting into my chocolate cookies. No one, and I do mean no one, touches my chocolate. Ever. You will find, should you decide to enter my home, a wide array of traps. Particularly under that dishwasher. Unless you have had special training, and I mean like Navy Seal training, it is highly unlikely you will succeed in navigating the obstacle course of traps we have laid out for you. I therefore highly recommend you continue to enjoy the great outdoors. Mr. RIngmaster may not want a cat in the house, but I promise you, if another one of your kind gets in here, there will be one. Our outdoor cat, before she sadly passed, left decapitated mice on our doorstep. Consider yourself warned.

The Ringmaster,
aka: Mommy
aka: Disgusted By Rodents