I’m bored!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written due to teaching and parenting and whatever other chaos has come my way. But after the last several days of giving suggestions to my colleagues and friends with younger children, I realized that I can help a lot of parents out there. Sure, I have the craft section of this blog, but I figured that I can just post quick ideas, and if you want the pictures, you can move over to the craft section.

So day 1 of craft and activity ideas for bored children and adults.

1. Baking soda in a pie tin. Give your kid a glass of colored vinegar and an eye dropper. This will amuse a kid (or an adult) until the baking soda is slop.
2. Bread painting. New (or really clean) paint brush. Color some milk. Let the kid paint the bread with milk. Toast the bread and butter it. Snack!
3. Stickers. Fish stickers on blue is an ocean scene. Have the child draw some seaweed, glue on some sand at the bottom edge, put on some fish stickers. Then cover it with plastic wrap. An aquarium. Animal stickers on green paper could be a jungle or forest. Have the kid make a zoo.

4. Pet rocks! First go rock hunting. You can stretch this out for a while. Is that the perfect rock? You can paint rocks. You can use markers on rocks. You can make monsters, pets, fun designs. Warm up the rock (or wait until “summer”), and you can use crayon, and it melts on the rock.

5. If you can wait, order shrink-a-dink paper. My kids loved shrink-a-dinks. Don’t let anyone tell you to use styrofoam meat trays. First it doesn’t work. Second no matter how clean a used one is, it’s not clean enough and will smell like cooked meat.


Good luck! Stay safe. Stay sane. We are all in this together.

The Birds and the Bees Part 3

So Tornado S eventually came out of his blanket caccoon yet still refused to name the boys who told him. I warned the teacher, who asked if I could investigate without pushing. Life went on as usual.

Then one day we were returning home from running a few errands, and as I jammed to music, I listened to the conversation in the back seat.

Tornado S: Tornado A, where do you think babies come from?

Me: Tornado S.

Tornado A: (Pause) Well, they come from mommies’ wombs…. And God makes us…. So God makes the baby and gives it to Jesus, who kisses the baby and puts it into the mommy’s womb.

You could here the pride in his voice as he figured out the solution to Tornado S’s question.

Tornado S: Not even close.

Me: Tornado S!

Tornado A: Tell me!

Tornado S: I can’t. You’re too young. It’s a secret.

Me: Tornado S.

Tornado A: Tell me! I’m not too young!

Thankfully, we had just pulled into the driver.

Me: It’s not Tornado’s responsibility to tell you. That’s my job. Tornado S, out of the car and into my room. Now.

So I marched Tornado S back to my room and started the part of the lecture series in “So Help Me God, Child.”

Me: You do realize that Tornado E was explained sexual reproduction at your age. Did he ever tell you? (No.) That’s right because he was mature enough to know that this is a conversation between a child and a mother, not brother to brother. It is my job to talk to Tornado A about this, not yours. I will tell him when he’s ready, not when you want to show off your knowledge. Do you understand? (Nod.) You will not talk to your brother about this. (Pause) You will not tell your friends about this (Pause) until you’re in high school. And you will only talk about the facts as you have learned them from me. And if you do tell your little brother, the consequences will be severe. Video games disappearing severe.

Sure, that’ll work.

At least, Tornado A still doesn’t know where babies come from.

The Arsenal

When I was pregnant with Evan, I had many beliefs, theories, and rules for when I was finally a mother.  One of the those rules was that my children would be four before they even saw a weapon like squirt gun or a plastic sword.  I’ll pause for you to recollect yourself.  Pause.  Ok.  It wasn’t that funny.  I’ll give you another moment to recollect yourself.  Was that a tear?

Evan turns for in a couple months, and Sean turns two in a few days.  As I was helping them pick up the toys, I decided to take stalk of our little arsenal.


5 hand-held squirt guns

1 squirt gun rifle they don’t know about yet

4 light sabers

1 wooden dagger

1 wooden shield

1 wooden sword

2 Master Monkey fighting sticks (probably not my smartest purchase)

1 foam sword

2 plastic daggers

4 plastic daggers meant for an adult Halloween costume, which are the perfect sword size for a two year old

1 bow with no arrows as they were broken and then confiscated


This does not include the kitchen utensils that can be made into weapons, like the wooden spoon I took away yesterday, or the balls, cars, action figures that can also be used as creative weapons.  We are completely armed for an imaginary bad guy attack or to give me laryngitis.  Now my brother wants to give Evan cap guns.


After reading Ink’s and Insider53’s comments, I would like to assure you that our arsenal expands and shrinks every day as they bring home sticks for sword fighting, use pens for swordfighting, use chopsticks for swordfighting, straws for swordfighting and make guns out of legos, cars, cheese, bread, pretzel sticks, pens, and various other toys in  the vague shape of a gun.

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The Walking Playground

We had just finished washing up and destroying the bathroom, when the garage door rumbled and in came my baby brother, the beloved uncle, the walking playground, the giant teddy bear.  Daddy was ignored.  Mommy was ignored.  Toys were forgotten.  Screeches filled the air.


My baby brother is in town for a few days as my husband invited him to the San Diego Chargers playoff game and my brother happened to have a few days off from work.  He flew in today, and my husband picked him up at the airport.  But none of that mattered when my brother walked in the door; it was time to play!


For twenty minutes, my six-foot-five baby brother became UNCLE.  He wrestled with the boys.  He chased them.  He tossed them in the air.  He swung Sean around and around until Sean couldn’t walk straight.  My brother tickled Evan until Evan couldn’t breathe.  Every time my brother would stop, the boys would say “please!”  My brother looked over at me, sweating, and I smiled they-love-you smile.


Evan and Sean looked so small next to their Uncle.  Sean looks like a baby.  It’s nice to watch them play as I sat on the stairs, ignored by all, smiling.  My baby brother is a walking playground.  My other brother is a daddy tiger playing with cubs.  It’s nice to have such good brothers.  It’s nice to be their friend.  I hope one day when my boys are older that they will be friends too.



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Dear people who think it’s funny to watch toddlers fight,


If you’re a parent or guardian, you need serious help.  You need parenting classes and some serious time on a couch with a professional treating you.  You are selfish jerks that don’t deserve to have children.  You are hurting these kids because you are letting them hurt each other, and then you go off and post it on the internet.  What the hell is wrong with you?  It’s your job as a parent to protect your kids from harm, not push them into it.  It’s your job to teach them right from wrong.  It’s your job to give them the guidelines to go through life.  If you think your making your kid tough, you’re not; you’re making your child weaker because he/she is only going to solve problems with his/her fists, and we all know how that works out in real life.  And if your kid becomes some mean little bully, you better hope you don’t run into me because I’ll take you to task for what you did.  Don’t worry about my kids.  I’ll teach them to fight the proper way . . . when they are old enough to go to marital arts classes and teach them to take down a bully in a punch or two right away.  Because bullies are mean.


As for the rest of you who think it’s funny to watch these fights on the internet or are a person who eggs this all on, you’re pretty sick too.  It’s not funny.  It’s mean.  It’s wrong.  How would you like someone to come over and kick the shit out of you? (oh and that also goes for the parents too.)  These kids have feelings, and they are really crying in these videos.  Those are real tears.  You need serious help too to understand why you like to watch innocent children get hurt.  And pray that we never meet each other because I will make you regret the chuckles you had at some child’s pain.


As for us decent people who are pissed off about this, let us raise up a huge ruckus.  Let us rage against this like people do over dog fighting.  Sure, these kids aren’t doing this to the death, but they are getting hurt; they are being used; they are being abused.  Let us let every internet site that hosts this kind of footage know how we feel about this.  Let us join together and try to protect these kids.


-One really pissed off Mom



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Becoming a Reader

Before I start a “Books I Absolutely Love and Don’t Give a Crap if Anyone Else Does” list, I just want to let every one know what kind of reader I am and to give hope to parents that don’t have readers.


As a kid, I hated reading.  HAT-ED it!  It was a constant struggle for my mom to motivate my brothers and me.  During the summer, we had to read a half an hour a day along with a couple of workbook pages.  My mom would go to the library with us, pulling books off the shelves, trying to sell us on the back cover summary or the picture on the front.  “This is about princesses.  Faemom, you like princesses.  Brother, you’ll like this one; it’s about bears” And so on. 


One of the reasons I hated reading was I didn’t read very fast.  I read slowly and still do compared to my friends and old classmates.  It took me forever to read a book when I was young.  My mom finally admitted that she believed I had some sort of learning disorder as a kid, but she felt she could handle it and help me along.  Which might be why we had a love-hate relationship throughout most of my school years, cumulating to a head during the night before the weekly spelling test.  My mom turned out to be right; she found a way to make me a better reader and student.  Luckily I was blessed with a crazy retention rate, so once I slowly read something; it was pretty much lodged in my brain.


My sixth grade year I discovered reading.  I read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.  I followed that up with The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatly Snyder.  I was hooked.  Why didn’t anyone tell me that books could be good?  I read Little Women in the branches of an apple tree.  I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare about half a dozen times.  I gobbled up Greek mythology, reading both The Iliad and The Odyssey, before high school.  I read scores of Madeleine L’Engle’s books.  I learned about fantasy and science fiction books.   When I learned I didn’t have to rely on the boring school library devoid of any books for preteen girls other than The Babysitter’s Club for book reports, I nearly shouted for glee.


I read constantly, abandoning my cousins and brothers to tackle football at my Grandma’s house to read in the living room.  My reading got so bad that in high school my mom actually punished me by taking away my reading privileges for a semester, due to my sliding grades.  One of my best family vacation memories was reading every day in the back of the camper all the way from Arizona to Virginia, but my mom has always believed that I did it out of teenage angst for not wanting to be with the family.  The worst thing about college, aside from the home sickness and stalking, was that I had to put away my books to do all the reading for classes.  But on breaks I would race to the library the very day I got off the plane.


I believe reading is for everyone; they just have to find the right book.  My baby brother doesn’t read, but as soon as he told me about a book he was interested in, I dragged him to the nearest book store and bought it for me.  He still says that it’s the only book he’s finished reading since high school.  (So any one has any suggestions for a guy who loves sports but hates biographies?)  My mom is a reader and reads those trashy romance novels.  Did I say trashy?  I meant HISTORICAL romance novels.  Hell, she found my birth name in one.  But she did test out of freshman English when she went back to college, and she knows a surprising amount of period history and customs.  I can’t make fun because I love fantasy books and a good vampire books.  Nothing of real value for a serious English student.  Oh, well.  So when the next post comes up, you can read what I absolutely love, and I’ll try to keep it fewer than fifty.  I know I’m not that interesting.


And as for my boys, right now they love reading.  I buy them books all the time, hoping to keep them engaged in books.  I figure we have a fighting chance because both my husband and I love to read.  Here’s hoping.

A Night of Wonders

Last night was a night of words and wonders, starting with my two little bears. 


While I was submersed in a book with my ears open, the boys were watching a show that featured the cartoon boys pretending to be bears.  Sean came up to me, smiled, and growled at me, throwing his arms out as claws.  I mocked a scream and yelled, oh, no, a baby bear!  And Sean found this funny and did it again and again and again.  When Evan noticed the attention Sean was getting, he jumped up and became a bear too as I screamed and crawled away from my two baby bears, who gave chase.  They chased me around the room, growling, until I gave up.  I turned and tickled them.


Later after bath time, I shouted at Evan to make sure he was still alive and upstairs.  I didn’t hear a reply from the other room, so I shouted again and again.  Who should help me shout?  Sean looked up at me as I put on his diaper and yelled Evan.  This time Evan answered as I congratulated Sean, who yelled Evan as soon as he saw his brother enter the room.  I was so excited which didn’t prepare me for the next thing Evan said.


Evan: I’m Evan M.M. (or mother’s maiden name.)


Me: What did you say?


Evan: I’m Evan M.M.


Me: M.M?


Evan: Yes, I’m Evan M.M.


Me: No, you’re not your Evan L.N. (or last name)


Evan: No, I’m Evan M.M.


Me: No, you’re Evan L.N.


Evan: Ok, ok.  I’m Evan L.N. M.M.


(Now, I’m actually laughing, wondering where he heard my maiden name.  Though I kept it, I can’t imagine how he heard it, and we don’t call his grandparents that.  So where?  And of course, my husband isn’t going to like it.)


Me: Fine, you can be Evan M.M. for the night.


Evan: (thinking) Hmm, maybe I can be Evan M.M. always.


Whatever.  Let’s get your pajamas on.


Finally, Evan always gets out of bed once in the beginning, usually to complain that he’s bed’s too hot.  Tonight he said he smelled candy.  It dawned on me that I sprayed some lavender scent on his bed, hoping that it will keep him asleep all night.  I answered yes, it was to make sure he had sweet dreams.  Evan smiled and said that was all right.

Laundry and the Blankie

So yesterday I finally decided I’d trick Sean from his blankie.  Sean has fallen in love with this ultra-soft baby blanket with the words “Thank God for Little Boys” embroidered in the cornor, which used to be Evan’s (I bought it for plane trips, dressing Evan in as much identifying blue and mommy’s boy stuff; I was paranoid).  Sean has been sleeping with his blankie for several months and recently has been carrying it around the house.  Now it had started having black and grey poke-a-dots.  When he dropped the blanket to grab the remote (I am obviously raising men), I grabbed the blanket, realizing it’s been a while since I washed his sheets.


As I examined his sheets, it dawned on me that I didn’t remember when the last time I washed his sheets.  The set that was being used had a busy print of white stars on a blue back ground, perfect for a new baby because it hid all stains.  I’m sure you remember how the light colored sheets were dirty in a blink of an eye.  I’m really horrible about remembering to wash sheets for some reason.  In my single girl stage, I washed them every two weeks with the rest of my laundry; now I have to write “wash sheets” on the calendar or I’d forget.


As Sean flipped through the channels, I heavily doused the blankie and the other laundry with stain remover and threw them into the washing machine on the maximum heavy-soiled, delicate cycle.  By this time, Sean knew something was up and came to investigate.




What?  Did he actually say blankie?  No, baby, Mommy’s washing it.  Let’s go play with trucks.  Hoping he’d follow, I left the laundry room, heading for the toys.  I turned around to show Sean a truck when I saw him leaving the laundry room, holding a large dust bunny from the dryer trap that I had thrown away the night before.  Gross.  Sean rubbed it on his face.  Double gross.  I quickly grabbed is soft teddy bear and showed it to Sean.  He immediately dropped the dust bunny and grabbed the bear.  I swooped in, grabbed the dust bunny, and disposed of it.


As I emptied the clothes from the washer to the dryer, Evan came up behind me, carrying the basket I throw the dirty kitchen towels.


“Excuse me, Mommy, I have to do laundry now!”


He nudged me out of the way and began putting the towels into the washing machine, and Sean appeared to help his brother.  I was a little surprised and a bit amused.  I do most of the laundry at night because I tend to forget to get wet, clean clothes out of the dryer if I don’t do it right away.  As you can imagine, California heat and damp clothes in an air tight container is not the best circumstance; hence, I wash the clothes at night and drop them into the dryer the next morning.


Evan looked up and smiled.  “All done, Mommy.  Seanny, shut the door.”  Sean shut the washing machine door, and the boys went off the play.  I shrugged, threw in more dirty towels, set the machine, and followed them to play.  If you can’t beat them, join them.


And yes, as soon as the dryer was done, I pulled out Sean’s blankie and handed it to him.  He hugged it like he hadn’t seen it in months; then he gave me a suspicious look and kept it near him the rest of the day.  I promise, kid, I won’t take it away again until it turns grey. 

Toyota and Toy Yoda

Setting: With two toddlers strapped in the back seat and the mother in front, they are driving in the car to the store, listening to the radio with a Toyota dealership commercial.  After the commercial ends.


Evan: I think he was talking about Toyota.


Me: You’re right!


Evan: I want a Toyota.


Me: Well, you’re in luck; we’re driving in one.


Evan: I want a Toyota from McDonald’s.


Me: Oh!  A toy (pause) Yoda.  The commercial was about a To-yo-TA, not a toy Yo-DA.  We drive a To-yo-TA (I pat the dash board.)  We have toy Yo-DAs at home.


Evan: I think I want to go to McDonald’s and get a toy Yoda.


Me: I’m sorry, baby.  They don’t have toy Yodas there anymore.  I know we promised you (Stupid Daddy for promising something you just can’t deliver), but they had Darth Vader instead and Princess Leia.


Evan: I think I want to get a toy Yoda at McDonald’s.  That would be good.  I’m hungry, and my tummy is saying, “feed me, feed me.”


Me: (roll of eyes) It’s too early to go to McDonald’s; we’re going to have a hot dog for lunch later.


See I told you my family was Star Wars crazy.  I guess I should dig out Yoda from the toys.





A Sad Torando S Day with a Question

It’s a sick day today, so I’m writing early and quick.  Tornado S hasn’t been himself all day, crying with his eyes shut most of the time.  I’m not sure what it is.  No fever, no tightness in the belly.  But it looks like he’s teething on his last two teeth, and he has a nasty diaper rash, and he seems ultra tired.  So I’m hoping it’s just the combination of the three creating a perfect storm of crying fits.  It doesn’t help that Tornado E feels that he needs the attention.  Seeing that the cute, funny Tornado E isn’t getting the attention, the negative side has taken over, and I have tried to plead with his more mature instincts.  Barring that, it just might be a cartoon and DVD day all day.  A poor mother’s last resort.


Tornado E’s is very demanding today, probably because Tornado S needs me.  Tornado E was so upset that I took my “me” time.  I was ready to say –Listen, kid, your Mommy needs 15 minutes a day, just 15 minutes, to get ready.  That’s way less than most women, and if I didn’t stink like a football player at the end of a hot summer training practice, I would only take 10.  Trust me, you want me to take a shower and brush my teeth; it’ll make all of us happy.  I can smell pretty and take 15 minutes to meditate and center myself with some patience that you killed yesterday, and you get to watch Mickey and have a clean smelling Mommy who won’t keep kissing you with morning breath.  And if you force me, I will lock you and your brother out of the room, and you can whine all you want because your Mommy has a high tolerance for annoying noises.  Go ask Papi; he broke down and fixed the annoying beep that went off every two minutes, which had been going off for six months.  Papi was here less than 24 hours and broke down.  It’s a gift, really.  Now, go watch Mickey and report back to me when it’s done.  And so help me God, if you make your brother cry, I will package you up and send you in a box to your uncle for buying you those damn Hulk boxing gloves.  Then he’ll have to deal with a Kung Fu Master in boxing gloves at 6 in the morning.


But instead I stepped into the warm shower and let it drown out that tiny whiny voice.


A question: Do your children know when you’ve stayed up late and decide to get up earlier than usual?


I swear my boys have a knack for getting up early the morning after I’ve stayed up too long.  It kills me.  Which reminds me, I need some caffeine.