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?

It’s good to have plans for the future

I was making breakfast, and Tornado S was standing on the kid table to lean on the island to talk to me.

Tornado S: When I’m a dad, I’m going to have a big house with lots of toys for my kids and I to play with!

Not a bad goal.

Tornado S: I’ll name all the babies!  My wife will not name any!

Do I abuse him of this notion?  Not one told me I couldn’t name my girls Cindy and Samantha and Amethyst.

Tornado S: I will name one girl Phoebe because we have a friend who has a baby named Phoebe!

I wasn’t aware you noticed Phoebe at all, since her brother is in the other class.

Tornado S: I will name my other girl Beans!


Tornado S: Because I will feed my children lots of beans so that they will grow big.  Lots of beans and milk!

At least he’s thinking of feeding his kids a healthy diet.

Tornado S: I will drink lots of milk too because I’m going to be a tall daddy when I grow up!

Maybe he’ll start drinking his milk without threats of staying at the table until he does.

Tornado S: I will call my youngest son Darth Sediuous!

Of course, you will.

Me: How many children are you going to have.

Tornado S: FOUR!  My other son I will name Spyro from the Skylander game!

I think that covers it.

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:….

The Other Foot

Six years ago.

I was invited to be on a panel discussion, talking about religion and marriage.  One main discussion point was if it was ok to marry someone outside your own religion.  I represented the Roman Catholic view point.  Only half the panel was married.  I was the only one, who not only dated men outside my religion but married someone outside my religion.  I shocked most of the panel, and I was shocked by them since I was raised in a two religion household.  Nothing shocking.  Just two different versions of Christianity.

I felt my best moment was when I kept an interested, unskeptical look on my face when one panelist declared that she didn’t need to date since God has already made her soul mate and He will bring that man into her life when it was time.  I was sure she was confusing the Bible with some fairy tale.  I could see how that would bring confusion.  She, on the other hand, could not wrap around the idea of marrying someone who was not of my faith.  “But how can you grow closer to God without your husband sharing that relationship?”  “How can you grow stronger in your faith if your husband doesn’t help you?”  “But what of the children?  Won’t they be confused?  How will you raise them?”

Good question.  And I answered that one too, pointing to my first-born son in the arms of his father in the back of the room.

As I listened to another panelist, one that didn’t think I was insane and going to hell, the ex held Tornado E up a little and pointed to the door.  I nodded.  I understood, even when he tried to text me a moment later.  He was taking Tornado E home; it was past the poor little guy’s bedtime.  It was really sweet of the ex to come and bring Tornado E.

I finished up the panel, answered questions from the audience, gave an interview to the university’s newspaper reporter, and caught a ride with a friend home.

When I got home, I listened to the ex’s tale of woe of dealing with a baby, trying to keep him content and quiet, understanding it all since I too had been there.

The ex: So then I realized he had a dirty diaper.  So I took him to the bathroom.  There were no changing tables!  I started looking for a place.  I couldn’t find one anywhere!  I ended up rolling the stroller outside and changing him there.  It was an explosion!  It was a four-wipe mess!  Poop everywhere!  I finally got him cleaned up and decided to put him in his jams.  He moved and struggled and yelled, and finally I was able to get him zipped up.  I picked him up and realized something was wrong.  I held him.  I patted him.  And then it dawned on me, I forgot to put on his diaper!  I then unzipped him, fought with him, and finally got his diaper on and zipped him up.  It was hell!

Me: Wait.  You forgot his diaper?

And then I laughed.  And laughed.  What idiot forgets to put on a diaper on a baby?  And I laughed.  It was a great story to tell to other moms while the men were grilling and drinking beers.  And we laughed.

Until yesterday.

It was the morning crunch time.  I was almost ready for the day.  Tornado E and Tornado S were at various stages of ready.  My God, I hated nagging, yelling, stressing.  I grabbed Tornado A who was running around and laughing, trying to play “Catch me if you can.”  I tossed him on the changing table and pulled out a few clothes out of the drawer. I took out his feet out of the pajamas and took off the diaper.

Me: Diaper rash.  Hold on, kid.

I ran to grab the Aquaphor out of the boys’ room.  That stuff is great for mouth sores and dry hands as well.

Me: Tornado S!  Get. Your. Pants. On.  NOW!  TORNADO E!  What are you doing?!

I walked back into the nursery.  I pulled Tornado A off the light switches, laid him back down, dressed him quickly, and put him on the floor to toddle after his brothers.  I looked at the time.  Actually, not bad.  Considering.

For some reason, they jammed through the last of the routine as Tornado E realized that if he hurried he could play a video game for a few moments.  Which I shouldn’t allow.  Because when it was time to leave, everyone dragged their feet to get their backpacks, lunches, and shoes.  We were back behind schedule.

I grabbed Tornado A.

Me: You’re wet.  Very wet.

I ran my hands down his very wet pants.  That made no sense.  I patted his butt.  Crap!  Crap, crap, crap!  What idiot forgets to put a diaper on a toddler?

Christmas ornaments for kids, preschoolers, and toddlers to make

Christmas is coming.  The goose is getting fat.  I love prepping for Christmas. Tornado E and I are brain storming for this year’s ornaments and crafts.  I’m not sure what to do for the families.  Here are some ornaments we made last year.  We had a blast making them.  Depending on the age and the ability of the child will depend on how much work you do.

Mini Christmas Trees

(I remember doing something similar when I was a Brownie in Girl Scouts. It’s an easy, fun, and messy project.  Tornado E (5) and Tornado S (3) really enjoyed making them.)

What you need:

Pine cones

Green spray paint



Paper plates


Spray paint pine cones green.  Once the pine cones are dry, pour glue in one paper plate and glitter in another.  Have the child roll the pine cone in the glue and then in the glitter.  Let the pine cone dry.  Glue ribbon to the pine cone to make a loop.  Allow to dry.

Glitter Shells

(I saw this in a Martha Stewart magazine.  The hard part is putting a whole in the shell; you’ll need a drill, preferably a dremel drill.  It was easy to adopt for children.  I’m thinking I want to try other shells this year.  The boys loved making these.  I loved playing with my dad’s dremel drill.  If only I had a real reason to get one.)

Things you need:

Shells (We used clam shells)

Dremel Drill



Paper plates

Tooth pick

Ribbon or string

Drill a hole in the top of the shell.  Have the child dip the shell into the glue.  Have the child cover the shell in glitter.  (We did most shells in one color as well as mixing two colors together to get a neat effect.)  Clear the hole of glue and glitter.  Allow to dry.  Thread the whole with ribbon or string.  Tie the ribbon to make a loop.

Clay Ornaments

(These are so easy, simple, and fun.  Toddlers can even do it.  Now that I think about it, I might have the boys make more this year and work on decorating them in different ways.  The boys had lots of fun.  Keep on eye on these.  They can burn quickly.  Tornado E prefered the burnt ones.  I was less than thrilled.)

What you need:

Polymer Clay

Something to cut clay in a circle (I used a plastic Easter egg.)

Rubber stamps


Cookie sheet

Tooth pick



Have the child knead the clay for at least two minutes.  (For younger children, you may have to work with it too.)  Roll the clay flat to about 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick.  Cut out circles.  Use the straw to cut out a hole in the top.  Have the child press a rubber stamp in to the clay.  On the back of the clay, write the child’s name or initials with the year.  Cover a cookie sheet with foil, and place the ornaments on it.  Bake in an oven or toaster oven as it says on the directions. (275°F for 15 mins.  I think mine baked in 10 mins.)  Let the ornaments cool.  String ornaments with ribbon.

More craft and ornament ideas

Christmas crafts for kids, preschoolers and toddlers part 2

Winter and Christmas Crafts for Toddlers and Children

More Christmas Crafts for Children, Toddlers, and Babies

Christmas Crafts for Kids, Toddlers, and Babies


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.

The beginning of beautiful friendships

Parenting classes have started again.  For those keeping count, this is the third session of six-week classes.  Most of us have been together from the beginning, with one exception (and they were at the last session).  It is nice to be surrounded with smart, funny people being driven slowly insane by parenting.  While I’m sure the class has great value, I go for the entertainment.

Such as:

Dad A: So when do you suggest we start corporal punishment?


Dad B (in response to what would make your child feel treasured): Long dresses.  That’s all she wants.


Dad B (giving me helpful advice on how to get Tornado E to leave the school without a battle): Get in the car and drive around the block.  I guarantee he would never do it again.


Mom A: I learned to speak softly

Me: And carry a big stick.


Mom C: We have four children, ages 6, 4, 2, and 2 months

Dad B: And no TV.

The teacher: What?

Me: You know, because they have four kids.  (turning to the mom) They have some really great TVs for reasonable prices and DVDs too.


Me: I have three kids.  5, 3, and 10 months next week.

Mom E: So you haven’t slept in years, either.

Me: Oh, I have long ago decided I didn’t need sleep.


Mom B: I get it.  No sarcasm on the children.  But we can still use it on our husbands?


Next week I’m going to count how many times our teacher raises her eyes to the heavens and says, “They don’t pay me enough to do this.”  We are going to do what countless of parents sent by the state have failed to do . . . send this woman to early retirement.