Let’s Play with Food: Food Crafts

There are so many ways to entertain kids with food. It’s cheap; it’s fun; it gets them to eat. And I am sure that this will not be my only post of food crafts.

When Tornado A was a toddler, he loved playing in the kitchen. He would remove cans out of the pantry and stack them. When he got bigger, he would get in the fridge and pull things out and make rows of food. He “cooked” by taking out my pots and pans out of the cabinets. If I threw in some dried beans, he would stir and cook.

1.  Cook and bake with kids. When they’re little, they love to help. When they’re older, it teaches math and, more importantly, that not following directions leads to disastrous results.

2. Let the kid string Cheerios or Fruit Loops. And then eat them. Sure, use candy. Heck, I was a strange child; I would’ve eaten dried noodles on a string.
3. You can also string Cheerios and such on pipe cleaners. They stay better on little wrists.

4. Frosting on a graham cracker is amazing. Make sandwiches.


5. Frost sugar cones and decorate with sprinkles and chocolate chips. Sure, it’s suppose to be for Christmas, but time means nothing now.


6. Dye cream cheese blue. The child can spread it on crackers, bagels, toast. Add Gold Fish crackers. An aquarium.


7. Dye white frosting blue. They can spread it on graham crackers or cookies. Add graham cracker Gold Fish or the S’more Gold Fish. An aquarium!


More to come! Stay safe! Stay sane!

10 things about my Dad

1. My dad’s a storyteller.  It’s why I want time alone from him.  To hear his stories.  It’s why he was so good at police outreach.  People love his stories.  It’s why the community college wanted him without a degree.  Because he taught so well.  Through stories.

2. My dad’s favorite colors are red, white, and blue.  Which is to say, he doesn’t have one but is willing to pacify his young daughter who was trying to draw something for him.  Some dads lie to please their kids.

3. He’s a lone wolf.  He wishes my baby brother and I didn’t inherit that.  We also inherited his run-towards-trouble, not away from it.  He wishes we didn’t inherit that either.

4. He’s had a mustache since he started college.  My mom has been asking for him to shave it for years.

5. He wanted to be a cop ever since he was a little boy.

6. He never drank.  He never smoked.  He was always a Good Guy.

7. He worked for Pepsi before he was a cop.  He raised us all to be Pepsi fans.

8. I have complete faith he can fix anything.  Even when he grumbles that he doesn’t work on foreign cars.

9. He keeps mints in his pocket so he can give them to my boys.  Just like his grandpa did for him.

10. A few stories:

When my dad was three, his family lived at the top end of a T intersection.  Before work, his father would move my dad’s little sister from her crib to the master bed to sleep with his mother.  My dad woke early and turned on the TV to watch Howdy Doody.  One morning, my grandpa left for work.  My dad raced to watch Howdy Doody.  Someone ran the stop sign and plowed into the family home.  The car landed on my dad’s empty bed.  My dad regrets never sending a letter to Howdy Doody thanking him for saving his life.  Also when my family lived at a T intersection, my dad parked his squad car in front of the house, so if someone ran the stop sign, s/he would plow into a car, not my bedroom.

My dad tells how he and I sat on a bench once, eating ice cream.  “I feel sorry for grown ups,” I said as I swung my legs.  “Why?” my dad asked.  “Because your feet always touch the ground.  You never get to rest.”

The year they rereleased Snow White in the theaters when I was a child, my dad bought a poster.  He hung it up in my room one night when he got off his midnight shift.  The first thing I saw when I woke up was that poster.

When I went to college, I cried the night before I left because who would hug and kiss my dad in the morning before he went off to work and to say goodnight since my brothers were practicing teenage boy jerks.

It’s hard to stop the stories because there are so many.  He has shaped my life.  I turned to him when I questioned my faith because I knew he would be honest with me.  I turned (and still do) to him when I questioned a moral, a philosophy, a law, a political stance.  One of his favorite past times is to play devil’s advocate to me, especially when he can push me to annoyed anger, and then I yell “better a bleeding heart than none at all.”  He enjoys when he can trip me up with a riddle or a joke, miming reeling in a fish when he has me on the hook.  (I’m more fun to sport because I fall for less than my brothers.)  He’s my dad. 

My dad and me.

Note: Not only was I an ugly baby but way too skinny.  What where those people doing to me?

Rules by The Tornadoes

Tornado E: If Daddy was here, he would let us.

Me:  Daddy isn’t here.  I am.  And those are my rules.

Tornado E: If I were a Daddy, I would make my own rules.

Me: When you’re a Daddy, you may.

So I asked them.  What rules would you make when you’re a daddy.

Tornado E: I’d play with my kids toys three days a week.

Tornado S: I’d play with my kids for 50 weeks.

Tornado S: I’d let my kids play all my video games.

Tornado E: Everyone can play four hours of video games.

Tornado E: I would play games on the computer for them.

Tornado S: I would help them do homework.

Tornado E: I would help them do homework.

Tornado S: I’d let them play whatever they want including Monopoly.

Tornado E: I would play one sports game.

Tornado S:….

Q-TIP

Once upon a time, a young, Hispanic, single mother became an EMT.  She worked her ass off to get through school, juggling kids and work.  When she got her first assignment, she was sent to a suburb known for catering to retirees, usually from the Northeast of the country.  Her supervisor gave her a tour of the facility on her first day.  She found it odd that on every computer, on every desk, nearly everywhere she looked she saw a Q-Tip. 

“Uh, why are there Q-Tips taped everywhere?” asked the EMT.

“Oh that.  Good question.  It’s to remind us to Quit Taking It Personal.  Q-TIP.  One day you’ll answer a call, and it’ll be a little old woman.  And you will try to help her, and she will scream, ‘Get away from me; I want a man.’  If you take it personally and back off, she will die.  You have to ignore her and do your job,” said the supervisor.

The teacher at the parenting class told us that true story and then related it back to parenting.  Often our children behave in certain ways or do certain things or say certain things, and we are so very sure they are acting out to get us.  We assign “adult” motive to behaviors that just are.  They are not insolent; they’re kids.  They’re not ignoring you out of spite; they’re ignoring you because they HAVE to finish their projects.  They don’t mean they hate you; they are just so angry they can’t express it.  Once you let go of the assigned “motive,” it’s easier to get to the root of the problem and handle it appropriately. 

When we take it personally, we let our emotions get the better of us.  And when we act in that way, well, we’re killing the souls of our children.  Slowly.  We want our children to question, to lead, to think for themselves, but we want our children to listen and mind us. Parenting is a balancing act of teaching a child morals, values, and social norms and allowing the child autonomy to be who he/she is meant to be. We don’t want to squash them, so we must give them enough rope and realize that we are the adults and need to act like it.

It works with adults too.  We are self-centered people.  We assume every action was done to us for some reason, but often what is done to us is done by someone just as selfish as us and did it for personal reason, not having to do with us at all.

So, Q-TIP.  Quit Taking It Personal.

Surpirse, Surprise.

We were at church when Tornado E noticed something about his tooth.

Tornado E: My tooth is broken.

Me: (whispers) Mouse voice.

The Husband: (whispers) Let me see.

The Husband looked into Tornado E’s mouth.

The Husband: (Whispers) Did you know he broke his tooth?

Me: (Whispers) No.  But he would’ve cried when it happened, right?

The Husband shrugged.

We went out to breakfast for my Dad’s birthday.  My brothers and sister-in-law were there, and I sat on the farthest end from Tornado E, who procured a seat of honor next to my Dad.

Tornado E: Papi!  My tooth is broken!  It’s wably!

Me: What?!

My Mom: Let me see, Tornado E.

My Mom looked into Tornado E’s mouth as my Dad put on his glasses.

My Mom: It’s loose, all right.

Me: What?!

My Dad: Wait. I think he’s already missing a tooth.

Me: WHAT?!

I jumped out of my chair and ran around the table to inspect for myself.  Sure enough, my eldest baby, who won’t be five for another week, had a loose tooth.  WHAT??!!!!!

SIL:  Fae, your face!  It’ll be ok.

Sure, laugh.  You’ll be looking the same way when you have a baby ready to lose a tooth.

My mom: I guess I’ll have to make a tooth pillow soon with my wedding dress.

I sat down in my seat and called The Husband to demand why he failed to mention Tornado E’s tooth was loose.  Failing getting a hold of him, I texted my BFF.

Me: Tornado E’s tooth is loose!

BFF: Omg!  Omg!

Me: Right?

So when we returned home, I confronted The Husband.

Me: Why didn’t you tell me Tornado E had a loose tooth?

The Husband: He has a loose tooth?!

Me: Yeah.  That’s why it was broken.

The Husband: Tornado E!  Come here!  Let me see your tooth!  Isn’t he a little young?

Me: Yeah!  I think so.

This morning as I tried to wake up, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, exiting the bathroom, Tornado E came running up to me.

Tornado E: Mommy!  I lost my tooth!

Me: What?!

Tornado E: See!

There is was a space where a tooth should be.

Me: So where’s the tooth?

Tornado E: I don’t know.  I was jumping on my bed dreaming, and then my tooth fell out.  It went this way and that way.

Me: Um, what about the tooth fairy?  Remember how your uncles were telling you about the tooth fairy?

Tornado E: Well, the binky fairy will find it because she’s made out of light and can find anything.

But what about me?  What about the picture I wanted of you holding up your tooth and smiling with a gap?  What about the tooth I was going to hide until you were an adult and surprise you?  What about the tooth pillow?  What about me who is losing my mind that you are old enough to lose a tooth??

Zacchaeus

I’ve mentioned before that Tornado E is going to a Lutheran school, and because he’s going to a Christian school, he goes to chapel every Wednesday.  This week he learned about Zacchaeus, and as we left the school, I amazed my son by singing the song he had learned that day in chapel.  (I went to Catholic school for 10 years; I know some Bible Songs.)

Tornado E: Mommy, what’s a “wee little man?”

Me: Well, it’s another way to say short.  Zacchaeus was a short man.

Tornado E: Oh.  Short like me?

Me: No.  Probably short like Daddy.  (The Husband is 5 foot 5 inches.  In my family, that’s midget size.)

Tornado E: Oh.  Is Daddy a wee little man?

Me: Um, no.  I wouldn’t suggest calling him that unless you can run faster than him.

The one word you can’t say in front of my dad

My parents are vastly different in their anger.  My mother is a tornado.  You can hear it coming, but she is very precise on where she lays down her path of destruction.  If you battened down the hatches, listened for the warnings, you’ll survive; if you decided to ignore the warnings, you’re a dead man.  My father is a volcano.  It builds and builds until he erupts taking out everything in his path.  I shiver from my mother’s screamings; I sob under my father’s quiet “I’m disappointed in you.”  But they agreed on punishing for language, and that punishment was the good, old fashion soap.

I was home for my first winter break from college.  I was helping decorate the living room for Christmas because with my parents working and I not being there, my brothers had done little but put up their favorite ornaments on the tree.  All ten of them.  As I was picking up a glass ornament older than my mom, I dropped it, shattering it.

Me: Goddamnit!

My dad was in the room.  He looked up.

Dad: Fae.  In the bathroom.  Now.

Me: What?

He got up slowly with purpose, much like a jaguar stalking prey.

Dad: You heard me, Fae.  In the bathroom.  Now.

Of course, this jaguar was as big as a grizzly and walked like a cop and talked like my dad.

Me: Dad.  You got to be kidding.  I’m eighteen.  I’m in college.  I don’t even live here.

Dad: You’re my daughter.  You technically do live here.  I’m not asking again.  Get into the bathroom.

Son of a.  I marched into the bathroom, believing this was all a joke.  I was eighteen, an adult.

Dad: Sit on the hamper.

Yup, just like when I was eleven and stupid enough to say “shit.”  Smart, Fae, smart.

My dad shut the bathroom door, a small mercy to shield my punishment from my brothers who will hear about it soon enough.

Dad: Liquid or bar?

I always felt this was a trick question.  I was so sure the bar was better because the liquid could run down your throat, but maybe that’s what he wanted you to think.

Me: Bar.

Ok, I’m not brave enough for the liquid.  I can’t believe he’s making me do this.  I’m an adult.  I voted.

Dad: Open your mouth.  Stick out your tongue.

Fine.  We’ll see how far you can take a joke.  Ahhhhh.

He rubbed the bar on my tongue in two circles, then scrapped it along the back of my upper front teeth.

Dad: You won’t be using that kind of language in my house, young lady.  Rinse it out any time.

He left the room.  The rinsing out is the worst part.  It turns the solid soap sitting on your tongue to liquid, filling your mouth with that oh-so-wonderful soapy taste.

That was the day I learned I could say “God” and “Damn,” but I could never EVER put the two together.

The day after the F word incident, The Husband and I were having yet another money talk.  We had a lot of those in December because I play CFO to The Husband’s CEO in money issues.  He tells me the money he can give me and questions where the rest went, and I supply him with all the answers and tell him I need more.  Like most CEOs, The Husband has no idea how much money it takes to run things.  Like most CFOs, my solution is get me more money (and cut out those CEO lunches).  If I was a real CFO, you know who liked numbers and money, I would have an ongoing spreadsheet showing every single purchase, but I’m not and would rather eat soap then be that crazy organize.  (Crap that almost sounded like intuition. Ahhhhh!)  You can imagine how heated these conversations can get.

The boys were playing toys in the floor between us as I like to get as far away from the breathing fire as possible (though The Husband does calm down after a few minutes of rational thinking; he’s just quick on the fire breathing).  I finished submitting my report.

The Husband: GODDAMNIT, Fae!

I launched back with more detail logic to his fiery ourtburst.  I hate being broke too.  I hate spending this much on bills.  But that’s how life is, and I cut all I could.

Meanwhile.  There was Tornado S in the background of my monologue.

Tornado S: Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.

Me: (finishing up my speech) Oh, and thanks for teaching our two year old that lovely new word.

Tornado S: Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.

The Husband: You’re welcome.  Oh. Cr-

Me: Don’t say it.

The Husband: Right.  Ok.  Um.  Ok.  I can do this.  I just can’t get over how much we spend.

Me: Trust me.  We’re cheaper than we used to be.

Tornado S:  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.  Goddamnit.

The Husband: Sorry about that.  Should we talk to him?

Me: No.  Hopefully he’ll forget it in a moment.  Hey, Tornado S.  Do you want some popcorn and juice?

Tornado S: Juice!  Corn!  Juice.  Juice.  Juice.  Juice.

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

The New Vocabulary

I was doing dished.  I know, in the day!  Weird.  Cleaning up after breakfast.  I know, before lunch!  Weird.  When I watched Tornado E walk into the family room and accidentally drop his toy.

Tornado E: F-it.

Me: (In the Voice) What?

Tornado E looked around, feigning confusion.  I walked into the family room, kneeled on one knee, and looked him in his eye.

Me: What.  Did you say?

Tornado E: (in a meek voice) F-it.

Me: Why. Did you say that?

Tornado E: Because Daddy does.

I arched one eyebrow, stood up, took Tornado E in one hand, and marched to the closed office door.  I knocked.

The Husband: (muffled and distracted) Yes?

Me: You better come out here and join me in a talk with Tornado E.  He just used the F word and said it came from you.

I might have still been using the voice because I heard The Husband drop his earphone set and roll the chair as soon as I finished talking.  He unlocked and opened the door, staring at us.  His eyes read “I don’t know when he heard me say it.”  But he wisely didn’t say the words because I just glared at him.  Because I knew Tornado E got it from The Husband.

The Husband: Let’s talk.

I sat Tornado E down on the floor and joined him.  The Husband followed suit, trying on his best I’m-an-angry-dad-don’t-push-my-buttons look.

Me: Tornado E.  Do you know what that word means?

Tornado E: No.

Me: If you don’t know what it means, why would you say it?

Tornado E: I don’t know.

Me:  There are some words out there that aren’t good to use.  They don’t work well.  Often they make the person saying them look stupid.  The word you used is one of those.  You’re not allowed to say it.

Tornado E: But Daddy does!

The Husband opened his mouth to say something.

Me: I don’t care if Daddy says it.  I’m not talking about Daddy.  I’m talking about Tornado E.  I only care if Tornado E says it.  If you say it again, you’ll be going to time out.

The Husband: If you hear Daddy say it, you can put me into time out.

Me: Do you understand me?

Tornado E: Yes, Mommy.

Me: Now I want an apology and a kiss and a hug.

Tornado E: I’m sorry, Mommy.

He stood up to give me a kiss and a hug.  He ran off to play with Tornado S.

Me: Do you think it’s time you watched your language?

The Husband: I haven’t said that in a while.  I don’t even watch football games here just in case.

Me: You used it yesterday when you were yelling at one of the employees over the phone.

The Husband: You can hear that?

Me: Babe, back when we lived in the condo I could here you yelling all the way down the stairs, out the garage, and across the street at the trash bin.  You only have a hollow door between you and us.

The Husband: So, I guess it’s time for me to watch my language.

Me: Yes.
Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

My First Black Friday

The day after my first Thanksgiving, my dad had off, which was truly amazing for a cop.  My mom had to work, which was much of the case for my first year.  They were able to fix their schedules so that someone would be home with me, and I didn’t need a sitter until after my first birthday.

Like any good husband, my dad decided to take advantage of the sales and start the Christmas shopping for my mom.  Besides this got him and his baby daughter out of the house.  Plus, plus, right?

Except Black Friday was always a mad house, always is a mad house, and always will be a mad house, for ever and ever.  Amen.

As my dad tried to push his way through the crowds at the mall with a baby stroller, my nearly-five-month-old self waved my fist in front of me trying to clear a path.  Because even then I didn’t like crowds.

Tonight at dinner, my dad will retell the story for everyone, imitating a baby waving her fist in front of her as everyone laughs at the antics.  Which is fine.  Because my dad, mom, grandma did not even think to invite me to their crazy, chaotic shopping trip at 4. In the morning.  And I thank them.  Because if there is one thing I hate more than crowds, it’s mornings.

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

The Weekend

I’ve got some exciting and frightening news. . . .

I’m going on a girls’ weekend!

YEA!

I haven’t been in one since I was first married.  The Husband and I made a pact.  He could go on only two guy trips a year unless I went on two.  Back then I was horrified by the idea of guy trips because I felt that couples should feel want to have fun together.  Six years later, I’m rethinking that philosophy.  Though I’m sure some of you have wonderful spouses that you enjoy spending time with, I just want to kick out The Husband every one and a while.  Ok, I’ll be honest.  A lot.  Moving on . . . .

I’m staying with my BFF, and we and some other friends are going to see New Moon.  I’m going with the same friends I saw Twilight with, and we had a blast laughing at the dumbest things.  So it was only natural that I grab a flight to CA and visit from Saturday to Monday afternoon.  My BFF is crest-fallen, hoping I would come in early Friday morning and leave late Monday night.  But that’s where the frightening part comes in.

I’m leaving the kids with The Husband.  I know.  I know.  I shouldn’t worry.  He is their daddy after all.  He’s been here from day one, but he’s not like your average father.  He’s kind of taken a hands-off approach to this parenting thing.  Sure, he reads to them most nights before bedtime, and he wrestles with them nearly every day.  But that’s it.

This is a man who still hasn’t figured out sleeping in with young children is not really an option.  He thinks my “tight” schedule of eating and naps should be thrown to the wind.  While he criticizes the amount of TV I let the boys watch and the amount of candy they eat (one piece of Halloween candy a day when they remember), he turns on the cartoons for them when he watches them and hands out chocolate milk whenever asked.  The guy didn’t even know that the G-8 in the upper screen of TV meant anything at all.  He doesn’t know where anything in the house is.  He constantly loses his own shoes, cell phone, wallet, keys, belt on a daily basis.

Last weekend he decided to help me get the boys dressed, and he didn’t even know where their shorts were.  I’ve kept the same dresser organization system since Tornado S was born 2 and half years ago.

Yeah, I’m frightened.  I woke the other night in a cold sweat because it dawned on me that they are going to trash my house.  I can bet not a single toy, not a single dish, not a single crumb will be cleaned up or put away.

But I could deal with all this, somewhat, because my parents are just a mile or so away.  We’ve got into the habit of eating with them nearly every night.  The boys love them.  They understand my schedule, my discipline.  Heck, they know where things are in their house and mine.  But somewhere along the way, The Husband believed that he had to prove himself this weekend, hinting at taking care of the boys all by himself without visiting my parents once while I’m gone.

I should calm down.  I mean, really, how much irreversible damage can he do in one weekend?

Of course, I’ve been away from the boys for only one night, and they were staying at their grandparents’ house.  They were fine, asking for me once.  So maybe they’ll be fine.  Maybe this is all in my head.  Unfortunately it’s all in MY head.

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network