10 (really random) Things That I Can't Stand

As I made my way to the kitchen to tidy up after putting the boys to bed and to indulge in a late night snack, I found myself silently complaining about not 1, not 2, but 3 things in the span of 10 minutes. "Wow" I thought "I'm almost one-third of the way through what could be my next 10 Things Tuesday post". So, here you go:

10 (really random) Things I Can't Stand

Walking around the house without socks and feeling crumbs underfoot. Ew.
I am not particularly fond of sweeping, BUT, as soon as I feel a crumb out comes the broom or vacuum.

Retrieving ANYTHING from the garbage disposal. There is nothing more gross than sticking your hand through the rubber ring into the dark unknown of the disposal and swishing it around to see what-the-hell is making that awful metal on metal grinding noise. Worse still is the back and forth - flip switch, still awful noise, turn off, stick hand in, come up empty, flip switch thinking perhaps it'll be remedied, still awful noise, turn off, stick hand in - and so on and so forth. DIS.GUST.ING. Tonight's culprit - get this - a red plastic nose from the boys' miniature Mr. Potato Head. Ugh.

Scooping ice cream.
Seriously, it is the best arm workout I've had all week. Okay, it's the only arm workout I've had all week. But that's beside the point. If ice cream weren't so darn good and if I hadn't of already crushed my 100 calorie pack of mini oreos for a topping, I totally would have skipped this late night nosh.

When my husband eats in bed. More specifically, when I can hear my husband chewing as he is eating in bed. If I'm eating too, then it's fine. But if I've turned in for the night and in he comes with a crinkly wrapper or crunchy snack I go CRAZY. The chewing, the lip smacking, the swallowing. It is the only thing I can hear and it is like nails on a chalk board. I seriously have to either leave the room or hold my head under the pillow. 

People who don't use their turn-signal. I am not one to have road-rage issues. But know this...if on the off chance you ever catch me flipping you the bird, it's because you didn't have your blinker on when you turned. Thankyouverymuch.

When my internet won't work. This is insanely frustrating. Hair-pulling-out, want to stab myself in the eyeballs frustrating. I restart my computer. Nothing. I reset my wireless connection. Nothing. I turn off the router, wait 10 seconds and try again. Nothing. Dear poor AT&T rep who answers my call, I apologize in advance. But I also want YOU to figure out how THIS will never happen again.

Ordering pizza.
Now hold on, don't get ahead of yourself. I LOVE me some home delivery pizza.
I just hate being the one to call in the order. Probably because it goes down like this...

ME (on phone): Hi I'd like to order...
RICKY (interrupting): Ask them what specials they have.
ME: ...do you have any specials?
PIZZA GUY: 1 large with unlimited toppings for $12.99 (which I repeat out loud)
RICKY: How much for a large with just pepperoni? (which I repeat to the pizza guy)
PIZZA GUY: $18.99 (which Ricky overhears)
RICKY: $18.99??? Are you kidding me? So let me get this straight, I can order a large pizza
with unlimited toppings for $12.99 but if I just want pepperoni, it's $6 more?
PIZZA GUY (totally unsympathetic and bored by this conversation): Yeah.
RICKY: That is horse-shit. Do you realize that makes no sense?
ME: Do you want the pizza or not?
RICKY: Order the damn pizza. But tell them I want 6 layers of pepperoni.
ME (embarrassed): I'll take the special. The toppings...6 layers of pepperoni.
PIZZA GUY: That'll be $18.00.
RICKY: Are you effing kidding me? What happened to $12.99?
PIZZA GUY: $3 delivery charge and tax.
RICKY: What a rip off. Forget it Taryn. Hang up.

20 minutes of my life I'll never get back. And the sad thing is, the same exact conversation transpires EACH and EVERY time we attempt to order a pizza. It depends on Ricky's mood whether or not the pizza ordering is actually successful. It is exhaustingly predictable. And just plain exhausting.

When out to eat, being able to see the kitchen from the table. It's really a double-edged sword. Sure, you'd like to think that being able to see the cooks make the food you're about to eat would ensure extra hygiene and careful preparation. But then I spend too much time eyeballing their every move, every cough, every time they push their hair out of their face with their hands. It totally grosses me out. So yes, I'd much prefer to keep that out of my sight so I can pretend none of the yuckiness even exists at all.

When the kids are stuck to me like magnets. While I love me some snuggle time, it's the rest of the time, when I REALLY value my personal space (like at the end of a particularly long day), that they seem to want to cling to me. They climb on me like a jungle gym, push their elbow into my chest to sit up and move around, accidentally grab my hair. It feels as if they have little razor blades for hands and it makes me want to scream. And then...AND THEN...once they are tucked into bed and I head to ours, Ricky makes HIS move. On those days I'd rather pull stuff out of the garbage disposal. Sorry babe.

Bad grammar. Or is it poor grammar? Hmmm...

Want to get some things off your chest? Participate! Here's how:
  1. Write a post on your blog sharing your own 10 Things You Can't Stand.
  2. Copy the link for the 10 Things Tuesday button above and add it to your blog post.
  3. Leave a comment with a direct link to your 10 Things Tuesday post.

All About Aiden and Craniofacial Acceptance

*This is my most recent post on the CCA Kids Blog. Wanted to share with my readers here as well!

I'm having so much fun planning the picnic for Craniofacial Acceptance Month in the Austin area. Our local grocery store, HEB, sounds very interested in sponsoring by providing drinks for the event and my boys' school, Kids R Kids right here in our neighborhood, has offered to step in and be a part of it as well.

After doing a lot of research and stressing about making the right decision in choosing a preschool for Ethan and Aiden, I can honestly say that I am beyond thrilled with where they are. From day one, we were so impressed by the staff. They truly fell in love with both boys and have nurtured them both emotionally and educationally - something that was very important in our decision making.

When I mentioned that September was Craniofacial Acceptance Month, they were happy to help spread the word by hanging a poster in the lobby. But the school owner said she wanted to do more. She offered to enlist the help of each classroom to collect donations of chips for the picnic. They are also going to donate bubbles for the kids to play with that day as well.

In addition, I was asked to come speak with the boys' classes. I looked for an appropriate book to read that had a positive message and spoke at their level, but I just couldn't find one that addressed the unique and special journey that Aiden and our family have been on. So, I took matters into my own hands and created one myself.

Here is a link to "All About Aiden". I made the book using an online tool at bookemon.com. I truly cannot wait to share it with the 3, 4 and 5 year olds at their school. I hope you enjoy!

By the way - if you live in the Austin, TX area, feel free to join us at the Craniofacial Acceptance Month picnic. Contact me at moreskeesplease [at] gmail [dot] com for details!

PS - This post was NOT sponsored by bookemon.com, just wanted to share where I made it in case anyone was inspired to make one themselves :)

Hide And Seek Fail

We are a pretty cool family. We play hide and seek with our kids and stuff like that.

We also apparently have a very lax wardrobe requirement that makes it completely acceptable and really quite normal to wear just underwear, just shorts, one sock, or some other random combination of clothing.

Here is footage from tonight's super cute hide and seek game. Turn up your speakers!

10 Mommy Confessions

If you are a mom, you've experience the phenomenon that is "mommy guilt". The little things you try to slide into your day when your kids don't notice or the small ways you grasp tightly onto the before-you-were-a-mom version of yourself. Or sometimes it is succumbing to being a "lazy mom" when nobody is looking. Allowing yourself to flip through a magazine cover to cover while your kids watch two whole episodes of...oh, who the hell knows, you never even looked up from your reading material.

Tonight, I sit before you and intend to point the finger at myself. I will make myself vulnerable by offering this week's very honest installment of...

10 Mommy Confessions

When my kids were babies, I used to turn off their monitor at the first indication 
of a whine and pretend I didn't hear them. Either that, or I'd turn up the volume really loud 
and put it right next to my husband's pillow. Still pretending to be asleep.

I was that kind of mom that put my kids to bed with their bottle. And a paci. 
And guess what - their teeth didn't fall out.

One time, after a particularly fun night out on the town, I awoke to a crying Ethan, 
stumbled to the kitchen, filled his sippy cup with Diet Coke and gave it to him in bed. 
My husband intercepted my poor attempt at motherhood and never let me live it down. 
Surely that would have made his teeth fall out.

I have underpaid a babysitter. There I said it. 
As a prior babysitter myself, I should be more empathetic of this position. However as an adult, 
I find it soooo hard to pay some pimply, high-schooler the exorbitant "going rate" 
to have her warm the couch, chat on her cell phone, surf the web and watch TV 
uninterrupted while my kids snooze upstairs. Can you imagine...being PAID for that kind of alone time? Instead, I get to have a rushed "night out" that ends up costing an arm and a leg.

I have bought my kids junk food just so I could eat it myself.

I lie to my kids. Like, a lot. 
About why they can't watch another kid show (their brain will turn to mush), 
why they can't get that toy (mommy doesn't have any money), 
why they have to leave the pool (someone peed in it). 
A bit scare-tactic, a bit white-lie. Totally necessary.

I throw out their toys when they are sleeping and pray that they never realize it.

I feed my kids processed foods like Lunchables and Cheez-Its. 
We also eat at fast food restaurants more than I like to admit. 

I secretly hope one of my kids becomes famous and one day buys me a house/boat/car 
to say thank you for being a wonderful mom.

I worry that my kids won't think I was a wonderful mom.

Come on, don't make me look bad. Participate! Here's how:

  1. Fess up. Write a post on your blog sharing your own 10 Mommy Confessions.
  2. Copy the link for the 10 Things Tuesday button above and add it to your blog post.
  3. Leave a comment with a direct link to your 10 Things Tuesday post.

Another surgery for Aiden

It's been almost 3 months since Aiden's last surgery and while his finger healed perfectly, his toe is a different story. Every day (sometimes two or three times/day), we have to "change his wraps" which consists of rolling a piece of saline soaked gauze, placing it deep inside the space between his big toe and wrapping it up with self-stick bandage. This is a process we are not unfamiliar with - we thought it would be a piece of cake compared to having to do it between each and every toe space when he had his initial separations - but we have now been doing these dressing changes for entirely too long. His toe should be healed. And according to Dr. Fearon, it should have been healed several weeks ago.

Unfortunately, it looks like we will be heading back to Dallas this week to address the issue. Dr. Fearon wants to place a new skin graft on the wound to speed the healing process. It's disappointing to have to put Aiden under again. We know this is the best thing for him in order to finally get this taken care of - but after trying to calm him during the many dressing changes by telling him we need to do it so that his toe heals and he  won't have to have surgery for a long time - it just breaks my heart to have to do just that. We've slowly been talking about it with him. He seems to understand that in order to quit doing the wraps, Dr. Fearon needs to fix it again. I'm sure we will meet more resistance when we are actually back at the hospital and he realizes what is going on.

On a different note, we were once again reminded why we love Dr. F so much. He spent 25 minutes on the phone with us discussing Aiden's foot and answering our questions. He told us he felt for us having to do these wraps every day for 3 months and for Aiden having to endure it. He informed us that he wanted to get Aiden's surgery on the schedule soon, and that he would be out of the country for 10 days at the beginning of September, so either August 26th or September 8th would be best. I told him I'd prefer the 26th, not only to get it over with, but also because we had signed Aiden up for soccer for the first time and he couldn't wait to start. We worried his foot wasn't going to be healed in time and hated to think of having to disappoint him yet again by telling him he couldn't play. Dr. Fearon said he would clear his schedule for Friday the 26th saying, "We want it healed and we want Aiden to play soccer."

It is so nice to have a doctor who expresses concern for the way we feel. Someone who acknowledges the pain our child is in and who makes it his priority to do something about it. You see, with doctors you sometimes run the risk of having to choose between the one who has the most experience in the field or the one that has the best bed-side manner and ability to relate to patients /families. It is not often you get the best of both worlds. We feel very blessed to have found that in Dr. Fearon.

Surgery should be scheduled for Friday. We will know more details tomorrow. I'll update soon!

The "itchuation"

In light of the recent PR news with Abercrombie & Fitch asking Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino to stop wearing their clothes, I thought I'd add my own spin on the catchy term to tell you about an issue that has arisen in our household...

Fear of bedbugs.

And it's all my fault.

I don't know what it is, but certain shows just draw me in immediately. I'm terrified of tornadoes, yet I watch every single Storm Chasers on Discovery Channel. A cluttered house makes me feel claustrophobic, yet I am riveted by Hoarders on A&E. And I have no particular interest in loud, drunken, Jersey attitudes, but I get so excited to watch the drama unfold on what else? Jersey Shore.

Yesterday evening, when we are typically unwinding as a family watching America's Funniest Home Videos, I came across "Bedbug Apocalypse" on Animal Planet.

"EEEEWwwwwwww" I screeched. But I didn't change the channel. I couldn't. I HAD to see the disgusting insects in all their glory. I HAD to watch so I knew where they hid in hotels and how to find them at movie theaters. I HAD to.

The boys didn't seem to be paying much attention. Until I finally flipped the channel and announced it was time for bed. And it began.

"But mommyyyyy...what if I feel bugs crawling all over me tonight? What if I see little brown bugs climbing all on my walls and in my sheets?"

With an I-told-you-so glance from my husband (who had urged me several times to change the channel), I quickly began damage control. We assured Ethan that there were absolutely no bugs in his bed. Or on his walls. He started to settle down when, "Well how come you sometimes say 'Goodnight, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite'? Huh, mommy, what does THAT mean?"


My sweet husband rolled his eyes. "You are so the one going up there tonight when he wakes up a million times."

Luckily, the bed bug fear didn't hinder Ethan's sleep. Or ours. But you can bet I will never watch a show about bedbugs again. Well, at least not in front of the kids.

10 Things You May Not Know About Me

I'm excited to announce my inaugural "10 Things Tuesday" post. Each week, I will share a list of ten things - from things I like to interesting facts about me - there is no telling what I will come up with!

For those of you who blog, I'd love to have you participate too! Just grab the code for the button from the right sidebar, write a blog post with your version of the week's "10 things" and comment below sharing the link to your post.

If you don't blog, but you would like to share, feel free to simply leave a comment with your 10 things below!

* I'm new to this kind of blog/link swapping, but I hope to have a few participants. It'll be a fun way to find more interesting blogs to read and to learn more about each other! Have fun!

10 Things...You May Not Know About Me

I was a competitive gymnast for 9 years and earned the title of
KY state champ on the balance beam in 1990.

In college, I got a butterfly tattoo on my lower back (really original, I know) 
that I tried to pass off as a stick-on fake when my mom discovered it when
I was home for the holidays. (She pretended to buy it then, but told me
many years later that she knew immediately it was real).

By the time I was 20, I had 6 foreign countries stamped on my passport:
Japan, Hong Kong, France, England, the Bahamas, and Jamaica

I cannot eat a chocolate chip cookie, spaghetti or
Hamburger Helper without drinking a glass of milk.

I never finish the last sip of milk in the glass.
It doesn't taste the same to me. Strange, I know.

I was kinda-sorta a "child star". I was in over 15 commercials,
had a blink-and-you'll-miss-it part in the feature film "Men Don't Leave"
(starring Jessica Lange and Chris O'Donnell) and I was on the side of a doll box.
That's right, a doll box. Like one that was sold in toy stores across the country!
(However it was later pulled off the shelves as it was considered controversial.)

When I was 4, I was nearly blinded by a high heel shoe.
My friend and I were playing house. We both wanted to be the mom and in
order to be the mom you had to wear the shoes. But I was a guest at her house
so her mom made her hand 'em over. Instead, she threw it, clipping just under
my eye socket. It bled a lot and required stitches and I have a scar to prove it.

Although my husband and I went to the same college in
Kentucky, we actually met in Daytona, FL.

I have a total girl-crush on Reese Witherspoon.

I still sleep with a blankie. My husband still makes fun of me.

Note: This was way more difficult than I thought. It took me forever to come up with this list and seeing as it is barely Tuesday anymore, I'll understand if you want to wait until next week to participate. Just consider this one a practice round for me ;)

A Little Bit of Magic

Thanks to Free Fun in Austin, I've been finding out about some awesome activities for the kids around town. Not only are we able to expose the boys to all kinds of interesting things, we are able to do it for free!

A few weeks ago, we took them to the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum where we got to roam around the exhibits, learning a little about our state history and about the featured exhibit...Texas football. They had crafts, story-time and a screening of "How to Eat Fried Worms", which the boys thoroughly enjoyed (we had to check it out from the library so they could watch it again).

This weekend, we tried a Kindermusik class, had lunch at the classic Monument Cafe in Georgetown (not free unfortunately ;) and then headed to All Things Kids, the cutest little German toy store in the town square. On Saturday, they hosted Merlin the Magician who thrilled the kids with his tricks and tales. Ethan and Aiden were both totally mesmerized. There is something about seeing the joy in my kids' eyes that just makes my heart swell with emotion.

Afterwards, the cast from the local production of The Wizard of Oz made an appearance. Some of you may remember that Ethan went through a phase where he was slightly obsessed with this movie, and even though it has been some time, he was still really excited to see Dorothy and her friends. Before we left home he handmade each of the characters a card.

Of course this was a huge hit (and we knew to bring the Flip to capture the awwww's...see below).

We had never been to this store before, nor had we taken the time to walk through downtown Georgetown, but we will definitely be back! Having the opportunity to participate in free family activities has made our summer extremely enjoyable - even despite the Texas heat!

Dear 30s, don't suck. Love, me.

Jem's 30th Birthday Party
My birthday isn't for another month, but as I see my friends turning the big 3-0, I'm constantly reminded that my turn is rapidly approaching. Even so, I am not overly anxious about exiting my 20s. The past decade has been the most interesting, challenging and rewarding 10 years of my life. I'm proud of what I've accomplished, how I've handled what's been thrown at me and how I've changed as a person.

In my 20s, I...
  • met my soul-mate
  • graduated college
  • spent 6 weeks in LA studying acting
  • got a job (totally unrelated to acting)
  • bought a condo and lived by myself
  • got married
  • realized who my true friends were (and weeded out the ones that weren't)
  • bought a house
  • moved to a new state and bought a different house
  • had 2 kids
  • became a "special needs" mom
  • quit my job
  • endured seeing my child go through 6 surgeries
  • ran a 5k
  • became passionate about nonprofits (particularly craniofacial organizations and Ronald McDonald House Charities)
  • raised over $30,000 in my very first fundraiser
  • left family and friends behind to move across the country to another new house
  • have gotten the hang of this being a mom thing
Whew - that's quite a list. It's hard to imagine that the next 10 years could top that - but I'm pretty sure that it will. To help me focus and mentally prepare, I've drafted a master to-do list for my 30s. Unfortunately, this list includes many wishes and you know what they say - if you tell your wishes, they won't come true - so this shall remain private...sorry!

If I learned anything at all in my 20s, it's this: I am strong enough to handle the tough times, silly enough to enjoy the good times and capable of making a difference. So bring it 30s. I'm ready.

Just don't suck.

Not-So-Extreme Couponing

If you're like me and like to save money, consider yourself pretty organized, but don't have the time and/or patience to take couponing "to the extreme", then keep reading.

Using coupons has become very popular with money saving websites and Facebook pages dedicated to dishing out the latest match-up deals (combining coupons and in-store ads for major savings). There is even an entire tv series following the lives of "extreme couponers" from across the US.

I have to admit, it intrigues me. However it also completely exhausts me. These folks have taken using coupons to the next level - it's literally a full-time job. That, I'm afraid, isn't my calling.

With that said, I am a stay-at-home mom with 2 hungry little boys. I do think it is my job to find ways to use our money as efficiently as possible. So, the couponing buzz has inspired me to organize my thinking and my weekly newspaper to plan meals and save a few bucks here and there. It's free money people! And with a few simple steps, I'll show you how you too can cash in on some savings without giving up your day job :)

Here's what you'll need:
- a good pair of sharp scissors
- a small accordion-style file
- your favorite cook-books
- a long envelope
- a piece of paper and a pen
- your weekly newspaper (and previous weeks coupon inserts)

And here's what I do...

STEP 1 - Gather all the materials above and spread out at a large table. I usually sit at our coffee table in the family room after the kids go to bed on a Sunday evening. That way I can be working as I catch up on my shows on the DVR. (Multi-tasking at it's best!)

STEP 2Start clipping! You don't need to cut out every coupon, just the ones for products you already buy or would consider buying if you could save some money on it.

STEP 3 - Organize your coupons. If you haven't already done so, label the tabs in your accordion file into categories. Below are the ones I use. But feel free to organize in a way that makes the most sense to you. Then, as you clip your coupons, file them!

  • Kid Stuff (pull-ups, toys, games, books, etc.)
  • Household Items (cleaners, storage, office stuff)
  • Freezer (any foods that are found in the freezer section at the grocery)
  • Refrigerator (any foods that are stored in the refrigerator)
  • Pantry (non-perishable food items, soup mixes, spices)
  • Medicine Cabinet (pain relievers, band-aids, sprays)
  • Toiletries (cosmetics, toothpaste, shampoos, beauty products)
  • Restaurants
  • Other (coupons for magazines, haircuts, etc.)
STEP 4 - Plan your menu. I don't really enjoy cooking. Well, it isn't that I don't enjoy cooking, I'm just not very good at coming up with something to make at the last minute. Especially if it means opening the pantry or fridge and trying to concoct a meal with what I've got. But, I've found that if I take some time every few weeks to plan out a menu, then it takes the guess work out of it AND ensures that I have all necessary ingredients on hand. There are dozens of meal-planning websites with free printables to write out your menu. To help you make some choices, thumb through your favorite cookbooks, choosing a few from each one. Make note of the page #s so you can easily find the recipes when you're ready to cook that day's meal. Be sure to give yourself a few nights off for leftovers or dining out. I choose to only plan dinner as our daily schedule (and moods) change too much to plan breakfast and lunch too.

STEP 5 - Write down your list. For me, the easiest way to keep things all together is to write my grocery list on the front of a long white envelope. First, I write down all the ingredients needed for the recipes I've chosen. Then I'll add on any essentials (milk, bread) and things we are out of (aluminum foil, ziplocs, etc.). Finally, I'll sort through the coupons, looking for ones that correspond to the list I've already made. I also add some items to my list based on expiration dates of the coupons (if I definitely want to try or need that item). Once that is complete, I put all the coupons needed inside the envelope and seal it up. 

STEP 6 - Go shopping! Now that I have my list and my coupons all in one place, I tuck the envelope in my purse and head to the store. It's always good to keep the file with you as well just in case one of the store's deals match up with a coupon for an item that wasn't on your list. If you're store offers in-store coupons, and there is one for an item on my list, it's an added bonus! I'll keep the coupon with my envelope so I don't forget to use it. (Sometimes if there are a lot, I'll go ahead and open the envelope and stick it inside). I mark off the items on my list one by one and head to the check out.

STEP 7 - Watch the savings add up! I always feel like a kid at a candy store when I get to the register, rip open my envelope and pull out my stack of coupons. From the rush that I get, I can definitely see how some people get hooked and take it to the next level!

I spend $15/month on our local newspaper subscription, an hour or so planning and clipping and I typically save anywhere from $30-75 per shopping trip. I plan our meals on a bi-weekly basis, which means I end up at the grocery 2 times. That equals almost $60-150 in savings per month!

Have some good coupon websites, tips or menu-planning resources? Leave a comment and share them with me! You never know when I might decide to take my couponing "to the extreme"! :)

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My Super Creative Kids... or, something like that

Maybe it's the stories we read together as a family.

Maybe it's the many trips to the library.

Or how we stimulate their minds with outings (does Chik-fil-a count?)

It could even be the (mostly) educational shows we allow them to watch on tv.

Or maybe it's because they typically find mommy observing the chaos at home from behind my laptop.

Whatever the reason, my boys have shown an interest in writing. And I couldn't be more proud :)

Ethan was an early talker. He was speaking in complete sentences before he turned 2. (It's true, just watch this!) And he is definitely one of those kids that is going to be in trouble all the time once he starts elementary school because of excessive talking. The kid has a lot on his mind and he just feels compelled to share it...24 hours a day. (Seriously, he even talks in his sleep!)

A few weeks ago, he interrupted me as I was working on my laptop and asked if I would type out a story he had in his head. It was an absolutely adorable tale about his current favorite show, Scooby Doo. And since Aiden has to do everything big brother does, he followed with an equally cute story, albeit much shorter and less coherent.

Well folks, the writing bug bit them again today and I'd love to share their work. I'd like to say that the below further proves that my kids are geniuses (or something like that).

So without further ado:

A Scooby Story - by Ethan 
Ethan and Aiden went to the door and Daphne and Velma were there. Ethan went to get Aiden and his mommy and daddy to ask if he could go in the Mystery Machine. His mommy and daddy said no, but he and Aiden went anyway.
Fred had a motorcycle in the back of the Mystery Machine and Aiden just hopped on it, busted the door open and went out.
Then Ethan and Aiden went back to their house. Their mommy and daddy were at the store. Then daddy went to work and got some samples. Mommy went to the library to take her books back. Since they were gone, Ethan and Aiden went into the attic. They got in by lifting Aiden up to pull down the attic stairs.
Aiden said “I don’t think it’s a good idea,” but Ethan said “Sure it is.”
Later, Ethan went to bed and Aiden stayed up. The whole Scooby gang came to the house. They went in and looked around for Ethan and Aiden. They saw Aiden and he said “Ethan’s up in his bed sleeping.” The Scooby gang and Aiden got a pool, put it in their bedroom and then yelled “WAKE UP ETHAN.” Ethan shook his head and woke up.

A few points of critique:

1. You can't say the kid isn't creative.
2. He also demonstrates how well he listens to his mommy and daddy. Or...that he doesn't.
3. He relates to others well and has a very clear understanding of his brother's likes and dislikes (Aiden is obsessed with motorcycles.)
4. Clearly he thinks of me as the intellectual type since he has me visiting the library.
5. He shows a level of maturity in choosing to only do things he's not supposed to when mommy and daddy have left them home alone.
5. Demonstrates problem-solving skills by lifting his brother up to reach the attic string.
6. He definitely has Aiden's cautious personality pegged and highlights his own impulsiveness.
7. As for the pool thing, I haven't the slightest idea.

Now for Aiden's highly-acclaimed work. It's riveting stuff people:

A Silly Story – by Aiden Skees
 Once upon a time, there were two boys, Ben and Ethan. Ben sneaked downstairs and Ethan sneaked down too. They went in the pantry and got some ice cream. They brought it up to their room. 
Then there was Spiderman and he sat down and pooped on the floor. [editor's note: he went on to talk about all the various places Spiderman pooped so we’ll just end it right here). 

And critique for this one:

1. First paragraph - true story, except it wasn't ice cream that Ethan and his cousin Ben sneaked up to their room. It was an entire can of Pringles, a bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms and Goldfish, which I found emptied approximately a week later when I cleaned their room. So while he's not showing the use of his imagination, he does get points for relaying "just the facts, ma'am".
2. Second paragraph - um, age appropriate much? That's all I can say.

Okay, so these probably won't win the Pulitzer Prize any time soon (or ever), but they sure do make me proud. There's a brand new folder on my computer that will store these, and hopefully many many more creative gems from my boys in years to come.