Staying Sane: Eat Chocolate

Nuf said.
Happy Easter!







– Mama K

Staying Sane: The holiday card that was never sent, and some M&Ms

I was struggling a bit for a topic for this Sunday’s Staying Sane piece. Not that there isn’t something to write about… just the contrary. The end of 2011… a year of new beginnings with 2012, goals, commitments we are all making to make ourselves and our families happier…. yes, there is a lot going through my mind and I have a lot to write about. But in due course.

What I decided to do is focus on some fun and folly. And also me dropping the ball on cards this year.  For friends who receive cards from us faithfully year after year, you will notice, or maybe you have not noticed, that our card this year did not make it out.  We tried.  Honestly we did.   We were lucky to have a calendar put together this year.  In fact, I still have some gifts I need to get together.   So, don’t take it personally.  It’s not you, or your family, we love all of you and we did receive your card, and my how the kids are growing and everyone looks so happy.

OK.   Now that that is done, let’s get back to our card that was never sent out.  Well, we like to put a photo of the kids in it.  And that involves a photo-shoot and stiff garments.   So we need to bribe the kids.   It started with bribery of some animal house crackers before the photo shoot and the promise for more after the shoot. Now, just imagine trying to wrestle FOUR kids under 5.5 yrs old into itchy clothes, some of which make them look like guido mobsters.  And THEN ask them to look happy, look forward, get together, Big Bro you’re doing great, no don’t walk off Twin Husky, come on guys, Red please smile — why are you pouting, try to get together guys, look happy, OK everyone look over here, over HERE, OVER HERE GUYS, I promise we’ll get cookies, why don’t I just go behind the photo drop and you can sit on my lap, etc. And this is what you get:

After about 10 minutes of this, we called off the photo shoot and just hoped that we got something reasonable – didn’t have to be great, just reasonable. I took them all downstairs for their animal crackers. That’s when I came across the M&Ms…. and it hit me. I started to hand them out. The kids started to look energized. Their dark, sullen, tired eyes started to brighten up and they started to look like sweet little picture-book kids with leaps and bounds of energy — even the guidos…..

We turned around and I instructed all kids to get upstairs for Photo Shoot #2, pronto!!!  Now just see if you can envision the sight…. four kids in a parade back up the stairs with me following them with our jug of left-over Halloween candy, searching for more of those little M&M packets as I’m running up the stairs behind them.

And then we saw happy kids. Really. All four of them. And they were interacting. And smiling. And giggling. And acting goofy. And feeding off of each other’s energy. And glowing. And this is what we got:

And during this craziness, we got so many great pictures, with ALL of them looking forward, with ALL of them reasonably close to each other, with ALL of them smiling from ear to ear.   And in the stream of pictures we took, we captured IT:

So, I am going to keep this M&M thing in my back-pocket in the future. For big occasions. For times when I need cooperation with all four of them. And I think I’m going to keep a jar of them for me, out of sight for little hands to grab as their own.

Happy new year everyone – I hope you take 2012 by storm!

– Mama K

Recipe: Carmella’s Ice-Box “Cake”

This is an oldie but goodie. My grandmother, Carmella Pellulo (recently passed away in 2010) created this and it is now going on 4 generations!!!!    This dessert is so unbelievably easy it is a crime not to share! It sometimes looks like slop when you put it on the plate but trust me your kids will love it and it is a good option for a dessert.   This is also something that the kids can help with — mixing pudding, making the layers, placing the cherries.   So, I suppose this recipe was created by “Mama C” (thanks Nana) from Philadelphia, PA and submitted by Mama L from Bensalem, PA.

Carmella’s Ice-Box “Cake”


  • graham crackers
  • vanilla and chocolate pudding (instant or cooked; I like cooked better but either is fine) Note: for a 13X9 pan, you will likely need two boxes of each flavor
  • maraschino cherries (optional)


Cook/mix pudding (keep the flavors separate). Line a casserole dish with graham crackers, and then make layers with pudding (alternating the flavors) until the top layer is pudding. Crush graham crackers and dust the top layer, then dot with maraschino cherries. Keep refrigerated – it gets better the longer it is stored in advance of serving.

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time and assemble time: 10 – 20 minutes

August 2: Chocolate mustaches

OK so I think I had my first technical glitch with my iPad.   I lost my entry from this morning.   So I’m typing this now from memory….

We had a terrible night last night.    Red kept waking up.   I slept through the first one – she was scared about something.   The second one was at 4 AM — she was in the hallway with the lights on, just sitting there upset.   She had a fever.   After some medicine I scooped her up in our bed (I know I shouldn’t, but I couldn’t help it).   So we woke up very groggy and were running late from the start.

Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • Twin Husky and Twin Crazy were going bonkers with yogurt.   It was in their hair, up their noses, all over the place.
Twin Crazy is crazy over yogurt

Twin Crazy is crazy over yogurt

  • Big Bro and Red ate quickly because of Chocolate Tuesday.   We give them Nutella spread on bread/bagel on one day of the week and they picked Tuesday.   Their faces are covered in chocolate and I want to kiss it all off.   Red looks like she has a handlebar mustache of chocolate and she looks very happy.
The mustaches of "Chocolate Tuesday"

The mustaches of "Chocolate Tuesday"

  • Twin Husky is really talking now, clearly.  “Down”.   Uhhhhhhh  ohhhhhhhhhhwwwww”   How cute.   I love this stage.
  • Red does not want to get changed so I pack up her clothes in the daycare bag, along with Twins’ shoes, jackets.
  • We are running extremely late so we whisk everyone off.
  • I at least had time for some coffee but will need to deal with breakfast later.

They sky is looking ok but I’m trying to get energized for the day.    I think I’m in a better state of mind to be more productive today.   Today I will need to:

  • discuss sales status of big meeting in October
  • Review and complete our whitepaper deliverable for our client
  • finally get to the go-to-market materials for our other firm initiative
  • have a business development call with a potential client to qualify the opportunity and also get a sense of his budget.
Highlights of My Working Day:
Things moved a bit better today. I got ready for the day with a positive attitude. Today I:
  • Reviewed the white paper draft in the early AM, and then reviewed again in late afternoon and provided my last feedback. The analyst will send the paper to the client directly tonight. I think it turned out well and hope that we have established a good working relationship with the client. I hope we over-delivered so that we position ourselves for more work.
  • Accompanied two Directors to look at office space. We will likely be moving locations and this was our 5th space to view. I liked the space and think it will work for our team. Plus, it will be much cheaper. Our group needs a change and I think this will be a better site and give us an infusion of energy. I love new beginnings.
  • Discussed sales efforts of business development initiative for October meeting. We’re making great progress.
  • Had a conference call with a potential client (that I fielded on Friday). We qualified his need and I will begin the proposal tomorrow.

Some things I planned to do I never got to – but will carve out time for those things tomorrow. I love the flexibility that this job offers when it works in my favor!

The sky is light. The weather looks nice. I am on my own tonight with kids. Red is sick; I just received a phone call from daycare. 103 degree fever. She will give her Tylenol but I will be dealing with a clingy child tonight, on my own. Hopefully this illness will not spread to the rest…..

Dinner and Bedtime:

  • Picked everyone up and received stacked hugs from the kids.   It was like dominos.  So cute.
  • Got everyone inside and jumped on dinner.   Thin cut pork chops with peas and leftover pasta.   Big Bro helped me cook.  He seasoned the pork, poured frozen peas into a bowl, added butter when they were done, and also added butter to the pasta.   I think because of these efforts he wound up eating like a champ.   I couldn’t believe it.   He was so well-behaved and easy to deal with.  Very pleasant with me and all the kids.    I’m going to think of more ways he can help in the kitchen and see if this could be a driver of better behavior…
  • Elena served herself peas with a big tablespoon.   I couldn’t believe it.   She then proceeded to drop the spoon on Red’s head so then I had two girls screaming and crying at the same time.
  • I take Twin Crazy, Twin Husky, and Big Bro to get the mail with me.   Twin Husky makes a run for it and hides behind the neighbor’s bushes.   We all said “bye bye” to him but he still wouldn’t budge.   I came out 30 seconds later to see where he was, and he was still standing there, but this time LAUGHING.   Man that completely backfired on me.
  • I think an entire package of Costco grapes were consumed tonight by all kids after dinner.   I don’t want to be the one changing the diapers tomorrow AM.
  • There was lots of playing, kissing, wrestling, flipping the kids around tonight.   All were very fun – Red was subdued so that was sad.
  • Bedtime routine with Twins went great.   I just tell them it’s time to go up and they both run for the stairs.  They enjoy book time, singing, and kissing each other good-night.
  • Bedtime with the older kids went good too.  We’re getter faster at this.
Today was a pretty good day.   Work was not that crazed, and I feel like I had plenty of quality time with the kids.  The only downfall is the iPad glitch so I need to get on that so I don’t lose my work consistently.
Till tomorrow –
– Mama K

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