What would you do?

So I’m dragging the boys through Target just to get one or two or four little things.  Who needs a cart?  *Manic laughter* I obviously forgot it was December with all those toys and decorations. 

As I turned down an aisle, I heard, “You should see how much soda I feed her.”

There was a young mother feeding a baby girl less than six months old some cherry soda from a soda bottle.  I think my mouth hit the floor.  I wanted to grab the woman and demand to know what she was thinking.  I wanted to tell her how her baby’s stomach couldn’t handle real foods, much less junk.  I wanted to scream the child obesity rates and the horrors that can be diabetes unchecked.  I wanted to suggest she ask her pediatrician about soda and babies.

But instead I walked out of the aisle to filled with rage to do anything, praying that someone intervene that the mother would trust and listen to.

So what would you do?

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Christmas crafts for kids, preschoolers and toddlers part 2

Here are a few crafts we’re working on at Faemom’s.  All crafts are kid friendly.  Depending on the age and the ability of the child will depend on how much the child can and how much you do.  Stay tune because I’m still working on hot coco mix, dipped cookies, shell ornaments, pine cone ornaments, and decorative candles.

Applesauce Cinnamon Ornaments

I know.  I know.  I published this last year, but I never got around to doing them last year.  I did do them two years ago.  So I did them this year, and I learned a lot more. Tornado E (4) and Tornado S (2) helped mix the clay, roll the clay, and cut the clay with cookie cutters.  This is an easy recipe to multiply or divide.

Things you need:

½ cup applesauce

½ cup and 2tbs of cinnamon (this doesn’t have to be exact.  I just found I needed a little more cinnamon to make it less sticky.)

Bowl

Spoon

Wax paper

Rolling pin

Cookie cutters

Straw

Ribbon

Mix the applesauce and cinnamon.  You want a clay consistency, not too sticky, not too dry.  Roll the clay out in between two sheets of wax paper.  Roll it to a ½ in to 1/3 in thickness.  Too thick and it’ll take forever to dry.  Too thin and you can’t get it off the wax paper.  Cut out shapes with the cookie cutter.  Use the straw to make a hole for the ribbon.  Carefully remove the ornament with a knife and your fingers.  (This is when you realize it’s too thin or sticky.)  Move the ornament to a fresh piece of wax paper to dry.  (Because we’re in cramp quarters I placed mine on a wax papered cookie sheet, so they could be easily moved away from little hands at any time.)  If you need to leave the project, you can save the clay in a plastic container with a lid in the fridge for at least a week.  Let the shapes dry for two to three days.  Thread a ribbon through the hole and tie.

Metal Juice Lid Ornaments

I made these in Girl Scouts years ago.  Then I saw it online last year, and I thought it was a nifty idea.  Of course, you have to have metal juice lids, which can take some time to collect.  This is defiantly an older kid project.

Things you need:

Metal juice lids

A small wood board

A nail

A hammer

Ribbon

Marker (optional)

If you like, you can draw the dots of on the lid before you nail.  You can see the marker after you’re done, but mine looked better than when I free-handed it.  (Of course, that could just be me.)  Put the lid on the board.  Place the nail over the lid near the top.  Hammer the nail through the lid.  Since this is where you’ll run the ribbon, you might want to make this your biggest hole.  Continue to make holes of the design you want.  I made initials.  When finished, thread the ribbon through the top hole and tie.  (I am curious to see if these can be painted or polished, which will be an experiment for another time.)

Chocolate Dipped Spoons  with Marshmallows

I saw this somewhere in an old craft magazine.  Since I couldn’t find the magazine again, I just winged it.  Children can help dipping the spoons.  Because mine kept trying to eat the chocolate, they were forced out of the kitchen.

Things you need:

Plastic spoons

Melting chocolate (you can go with chocolate chips, but I went and bought chocolate made for making candies)

Bowl or jar

Wax paper

Plate or cookie sheet

Mini marshmallows

Different colored chocolate (optional)

Spoon or chocolate bag (optional)

Melt the chocolate according to the directions on the bag.  I prefer the double broiler method because I’ve burnt chocolate before (not good).  Dip the spoon to cover the bowl part of the spoon.  Wipe the back of the spoon against the bowl or jar to get excess chocolate off the back.  Place the spoon on the wax paper covered plate or cookie sheet (depending how much room you have in your freezer).  Place marshmallow into chocolate.  Repeat with other spoons until plate or cookie sheet are covered.  Place in freezer until chocolate is hard (anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes).  Dip spoons in chocolate again.  Place back on the plate and back into the freezer.  If you would like, you can melt more chocolate like white or colored to drizzle on the spoons.  When spoons are hardened, dip them for a third time in the chocolate.  If you want to, drizzle the chocolate over the chocolate spoons.  Put into freezer until hard.

This can be done without the marshmallow as well.  You can also flavor the chocolate too.

Gingerbread Men Ornaments

Every year I like to make an ornament with the boys.  This year we’re doing two.  This is the first one.  Both boys, at 4 and 2, were able to do this and had a lot of fun doing it.  I’m sure an 18 month old would be able to make these too.

Things you need:

Brown craft foam (I bet this would work with felt or brown paper)

Gingerbread man cookie cutter or template

Pen

Scissors

Craft foam stickers, markers, crayons, fabric paint, paint, glue, glitter, whatever you want to decorate with.  All things I have mentioned will work.

Hole puncher

Ribbon

Trace the gingerbread cookie cutter or template on the craft foam.  Cut out the gingerbread man.  You may punch the hole for the ribbon now or after the gingerbread man is decorated.  Have the child decorate the gingerbread man.  (Since my boys wouldn’t put eyes on if I didn’t do it, I did that with craft foam dots.)  Punch hole for the ribbon if you haven’t yet done so.  Thread ribbon through the hole and tie.

 

Pipe Cleaner Candy Canes

This is something we did do last year.  Like three days before Christmas.  I thought if I posted crafts three days before Christmas, someone would shoot me.  But you have to keep young hands busy somehow or else they would be wrecking the tree, getting into the presents, finding the presents, opening up the cookies meant for Christmas. Tornado E was three, and Tornado S was eighteen months.  Tornado E could do both kinds of candy canes.  Tornado S did better with stringing the beads as long as I held the pipe cleaner.

Type 1

Things you need:

Red pipe cleaners

White pipe cleaners (You could use green if you like.)

Take the pipe cleaners and twist them together.  Then take the pipe cleaners and form a hook to make it look like a candy cane.

Type 2

Things you need:

Red or white pipe cleaners

Red or white or green pony beads (whatever color is opposite of your pipe cleaner)

Take the pipe cleaner and thread the pony beads on it, leaving space in between to look like stripes.  Take the pipe cleaner and form a hook to make it look like a candy cane.

Need more ideas?  Check out my other posts on Christmas and winter crafts for kids.

Christmas Crafts for Kids, Toddlers, and Babies

More Christmas Crafts for Children, Toddlers, and Babies

Winter and Christmas Crafts for Toddlers and Children

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Raising boys

Browsing throw the library, I came across Raising Boys without Men: How Maverick Moms are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men by Peggy Drexler, Ph.D.  I was curious, so I checked it out.  I am raising two boys, perhaps three.  The book was fascinating!

I originally assumed the book would be about single mothers raising sons, but it was much, much more.  Drexler began her Ph.D. thesis studying stable lesbian couples who were raising boys.  For the book, she started studying single mothers by choice as well as some divorced and widowed mothers.  Drexler wanted to see exactly what the issues where for boys who were raised without a father figure.  She found that boys without fathers did just as well as those with fathers.  In fact, the boys studied were more well-rounded, more emotional in touch, and better able to articulate themselves than the boys who had fathers.

Drexler found that mothers encouraged their sons to talk, never allowing them to shut their mothers out with one word answers.  These mothers allowed their sons to embrace their own sense of masculinity.  These mothers actively sought out good male role-models for their sons, and these mothers took an active interest in whatever these boys were.  It is good parenting that raises good children, not a good mom or good dad.

The husband was a little worried at first that I was planning a divorce.  Like that’s something I want to do at five months along.  But I got this book because I’m 50% responsible for turning my boys into men, and I need to be active in their lives.

While reading this book, I realized I do let The Husband take the more physically active role with the boys.  I’m making a bigger effort to wrestle and play sports with the boys.  I’ve started dragging us on hikes and to parks.  I’ve got to make a bigger effort in teaching them to ride bikes and play baseballs, soccer, and basketball.  If I want to be a good parent, I have to be the emotional, physical, hands-on, intelligent parent all at once.

Then I read about one mom allowed her son to wear nail polish when he wanted.  He was a soccer player and love to build things.  He was a typical boy, who just wanted to wear nail polish every once in a while.  Then a few days after reading this excerpt, Tornado E asked for his nails to be painted blue.  I asked him what his dad would say (because The Husband was at a college football game).  Tornado E smiled and replied, “He’ll say, ‘That’s awesome, Tornado E!’”  I called The Husband and explained the whole thing after I painted Tornado E’s nails.  Unfortunately when Tornado E did proudly show his blue painted nails, The Husband groaned an oh-no.  We had a little talk about Tornado E’s self-esteem, masculinity, and that no this does not mean your son is gay.   Because I read this book, I was more comfortable with my choice to let the boys explore everything from baking to nail polish to fairy wings.

The biggest lesson I learned was I didn’t have to let my boys grow apart from me.  I’ve worried from the day Tornado E was born that one day he would walk away from me because that’s what boys do.  He would create a wall between us, never calling me when he left home, always spending holidays with his wife’s family, leaving me wondering, calling, begging for his attention.  Then I had another boy and possibly another, and before I read this book, I saw my old age becoming a very lonely place.  But Dexler interviewed adult men who were raised without fathers, and they all talked about the importance of their mothers, calling them for advice, seeing them on weekends, and still playing one on one on the backyard court.  I realized I could have that.  I wanted that.  God willing, I will have that with my boys.

I’m going to buy this book because I’m sure I’ll need the advice every now and then.  I think this is an important book to read for all mothers, with sons or daughters, with husbands or not, because it gives some good advice from women who are doing it right.  It also exonerates mothers from being the villain that ruined the kids life because she was too intense with her love.  It’s nice to have someone tell you that you can’t love your kid enough.

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My Son, The Vampire

Tornado S has learned to bite.  Which I can’t blame him, really.  Tornado E’s favorite game is “How can I annoy my baby brother the greatest.”  So in a lot of ways, Tornado E had it coming.

But rather than let Tornado S get carried away in a Chicago musical number, I some how have to discipline this grievous assault.  The kid leaves bite marks.  It’s only a matter of time before he breaks the skin.

The first time Tornado S did it, my dad was babysitting, and he was at his wit’s end on what to do.  If it had been his kid, it would have been a couple of spankings or a bite back, which worked so well on my middle brother when he went through this phase on me.  (Unlike Tornado E, I was a perfect child.)  But my dad knew how I feel about physical punishment, so he placed Tornado S into time out and cuddled Tornado E.

It happened on my watch last night.  Even though I threw Tornado S into time out for three and a half minutes, I don’t think it really had an effect, since Tornado S started laughing and talking to himself during the middle of it.  Nothing like a punishment that works.

And I wasn’t stupid enough to think this just happened out of the blue because Tornado S was so hungry from missing dinner, he mistook his brother for a hamburger.  As I comforted Tornado E, I interrogated him on what happened right before the teething incident. Tornado E was using Tornado S as a punching bag.  Nice.  Now I have to be in the same room with them at all times like a warden.  Where’s my shot gun?

So what’s a poor, enlightened mother suppose to do?

I’ve seen the whole biting the kid thing work, but I feel it’s a bit barbaric and contradictory.  Nothing like hitting to let some one know hitting is wrong.  I’m not sure that the time out thing is working, since it seems the place for Tornado S to work on his inner comedic monologue.

So any advice out there?

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Personal Style

I’m pretty laid back when it comes to what Tornado E wants to wear.  Blame it on having school uniforms most my school career.  Blame it on the “dress code” my parents enforced while I was in high school.  Blame it on the fact I looked up to Melissa Joan Hart from Clarissa Explains It All.  Blame it on the fact I hung out with drama students my teenage years, including a boy who believed wearing a kilt once in a while was manly.  (Ok, that might also be responsible for me enjoying a good looking guy in a kilt, but moving on.)  Blame it on the fact I felt perfectly fine walking around a college campus with fairy wings.

I was sure I could handle anything Tornado E threw at me.  You want to be a witch for Halloween?  No problem.  You want to wear your cape to Target?  Let me pull it out.  Striped polo shirt paired off with camo shorts with his boots?  Fine.  You want to wear your doctor scrubs?  Okey-dokey.  You’re wearing your Mickey ears with one ear missing because you’re a super hero?  Sure.  Chargers jersey, brown-floral shorts, cowboy hat, and orange crocs?  All right.

I was looking forward to a little girl playing soccer in a princess dress, so of course I’m prepared for Tornado E’s dressing creativity.   I love his creativity.  I took pictures for a week of his outfits before school started because I was worried what socialization would do to his style.  I know when people look at him they know he dressed himself.  Picking out his clothes is the only reason Tornado E gets dressed.  The kid would be a nudist if he could.  But like his Mommy, he loves color, so he loves to wear his own style of clothing.  And I could dig it.

But now he wants to wear his shirt and shorts backwards.

What?!  Are you kidding me?  No.  Absolutely not.  No way.  Do you want to look certifiable?  Do I want to look certifiable?  Some lines just have to be drawn.  Like no sandals in the winter.  Like no jeans in the hot, hot desert summer.  Like all clothes have to be facing the correct way.

A year ago I was wrestling to put clothes on him, and now I’m wrestling to put the clothes right on him.

I tried reverse psychology.  I let him wear it around the house.  I forbade it.  I chose clothes for him as a punishment.  I’m inches from bribery.

So any other suggestions?

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Breaking Penis Rule #2

Yesterday we went swimming as usual when it gets to be 106.  (Ok, usually it’s 101, but it’s still crazy hot.)  After we got out, the boys ran around air-drying themselves.  I took off Tornado S’s swimsuit because he has a habit of peeing right after he gets out of the pool.

Tornado E came over to inspect Tornado S’s penis.  He reached out and messed with it.  This was much more disturbing to my baby brother than for me.

Uncle M: Tornado E!  Stop playing with your brother’s penis!

Thanks, M.  I think the neighborhood heard you.

Tornado E: But Uncle M, I like playing with it!

Just the excuse we needed to hear.  I intervened before my brother could throw his two cents in about this turn of events.  Is that the sound of Papi trying not to laugh?

Me: Tornado E, Penis Rule #2 states we do NOT play with other people’s penises.  Next time you’ll be going into time out.

The Penis Rules

  1. You can only play with your penis when you are alone in your room.
  2. You are not allowed to play with someone else’s penis.
  3. You must have pants on to go out front.
  4. When in public, including the front yard, you may not take your penis out to show any one.

Charts and stars

When my mom sent me to pre-kindergarten, she was shocked at how much the teachers had the four-year-olds do.  It changed her philosophy.  No longer did she pick up our toys.  No longer did she dress us.  No longer did she helps on and off with our coats.  She was a liberated woman.

Since she’s a convert, she’s forever telling me what my boys should be doing.  But I, like so many other moms, find it easier to just do it because it’s faster.  Oh, Tornado E, take off the underwear off your head and give it to me.  Now step in.

Of course, it is high time Tornado E started doing things on his own.  No matter how much longer it takes.  Even if getting dressed is now a whole half an hour affair.  (Thank God, we couldn’t get him into the morning class.)  No, you can’t wear pants today; it’s a 102.  You know very well both legs are in the same whole.

I reorganized his chore chart and decided that it was time to make sure Tornado E did these things on his own instead of reminding me to brush Tornado E’s teeth.  (I know.  I’m a bad mom.)  I also made Tornado S one, so that I would remember to brush his teeth too.  (Yeah, I know.)

Now Tornado E will brush his teeth, wash his face, comb his hair, actually putting on his clothes, and making his bed without any help from me.  Ok, with some minor help.  He’s supposed to do this between breakfast and playing.  Once Mommy has declared it time to get ready for the day, no more playing until it’s done.  No leaving the bedroom until it’s done.  No kung fu fighting on the bed until it is done.  I don’t care if Ti Lung doesn’t wear a shirt you have to.

I started it last week with touch and go success, but they had enough stars for a treat, but I forgot all about it.  So today I showed Tornado E his new chart with the added bed making, since I forgot last week, and I told Tornado E if he completes all his chores and gets all his stars, I would take him out for ice cream.

Not only will my mornings begin to run smoother.  (Stop chuckling; it could happen.)  But now I get to go out for ice cream on Saturday.  Win-win.

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Goodbye, Naptime

“Does he still nap?” asked the doctor about Tornado E.

Yes.

“That’s great!” she said with surprise dripping off her voice.

Great.

Until this week.

I knew the end was coming.

I read other blogs, talked to other moms.  He was missing a nap or two a week.  I could only get him into the afternoon pre-kindergarten, which starts on the 23rd.  I knew the end was coming.

Supposedly he’ll go to bed earlier now that he doesn’t nap.  But that risks a return to the 5am wake up calls.  I will not risk THAT again.

What of my blog time?  I write and read mainly during naptime.  I NEED that time to regroup.  Sure, I read at night too, but I have to share the night with laundry, chores, The Daily Show, True Blood, maybe a book here and there.  Oh, right, and The Husband when he’s in town and not working.  I guess it would be nice to flirt a little bit before I demand he do his husbandly duty.

I should be more prepared.  I should have bought books for this stage.  I should have checked out books.  I thought I could handle everything.  I need that naptime back.  Preferably until he’s in an all day school and then every weekend until he moves away to college.

Ok.  I can handle this.

We need rules.

1)    You have to be quiet.  If you wake up fyour brother, you’re going into time out.

2)    You can’t be cranky.  If you get cranky, you’re taking a nap.

3)    Don’t bother Mommy when she’s working.  She needs this time.  I will lock you in a closet if you bother me.  Or use duct tape like your Papi did on me.

Three simple rules.  That’ll fix it.

Stop laughing.  I need this.

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Mommy’s Time Out

My husband did well.  He bought me a box of Godiva chocolate.  He knows my love of chocolate runs deep. 

I had to put them in the fridge to keep them from melting.  I’m cheaply green, keeping the house at a cool 80.

Yesterday I needed chocolate.

I NEEDED chocolate.

With the temper tantrums, the fighting, the hitting, the refusing to eat the pancakes that were asked for, the dumping of Legos, train tracks, and poles, I needed to run away as far and as fast as I could.

Today the box of chocolates remains unopened, sealed in the plastic wrapping, waiting.

Yesterday I needed my own time out.  A few stolen minutes to center, to be me, to let my guard down.

My husband laughed when I stormed out of the kitchen mumbling, “Kiss you’re eldest goodbye.  This is his last minute on earth.”

I wasn’t kidding.

Before I did something rash, I demanded he pick up the toys.  I grabbed one of the king size Hershey bar with Almonds and raced to my room, slamming the door, throwing myself on the bed.

Godiva is for savoring, enjoying, escaping.  It is an experience.  It begs to be taken slowly, covering your mouth with rich flavors.  Your eyes have to shut as you celebrate the chocolate.  You just can’t wash out the aftertaste right away; you have to relish even that.  It is heaven.

But I needed my first love.  Someone who understands me, who won’t mind a secretive quicky in the back, not needing to cuddle.  Someone who knows just how I like it, so the deed is done pleasantly fast; while I still have time to wash up and leave, entering the world like nothing happened.

I reveled in the cheap chocolaty goodness. 

I centered myself.  I washed my face and hands, disposing of the wrapped in the bathroom garbage with a lid.  I re-entered the world.

Once I was calm and happy.  It was a lot easier to get everyone to clean the mess, eat their lunch and to their naps.

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Things I learned on our Trip

1)   Kids four and under can handle three hours on a plane.  The last half hour makes the mother want to jump out.

2)   Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, you all need to pay for better street paint.  When it’s dark and rainy, it would be super nice to be able to see the street lanes.

3)   You all need to invest in street signs.  Especially Boston.  Not helpful for tourists.

4)   Tolls suck.  Do you know how much money we paid to just do u-turns?

5)   I’m willing to pay twenty dollars more a day to have maid service.

6)   “Take the second exit at Broadway” is not a helpful direction.  Left, right, or straight are directions.

7)   “Continue on Route 1” when you are starting at a parking lot on Route 1 is not a helpful direction.  Again, we need a left or right.

8)   Frustrated, tired husband, who is driving, ranting at tired, frustrated wife, who can’t find where they are on the map, makes the wife wonder about quickly divorces.

9)   Delusional tired husband ranting at freeway system makes delusional tired wife laugh hysterically.

10)   GPS can save you or destroy you.

11)    When lost, GPS sounds like a bitch.

12)    GPS does not know all. 

13)   My mother is an obsessive caller.

14)    The family wit came from my father.

15)   Black shirt or black tux = ring protecting ninja.

16)    Always include all children of a family in an event.  Do not leave any child out of that family.  The child will join event unasked.

17)    Never ask sister-in-law or brother where to eat because they like crowded, trendy places that are not suitable for children or tourists that would like to do something other than sit at a table waiting for breakfast.

18)    Tearing apart lobsters is harder than watching it done.

19)    Newly big-potty-trained child will always need to poop when you don’t have the little seat to use.

20)  It’s easier to hold a pooping child if you are sitting on the floor.

21)    Always buy two of everything when you have two children.

22)   Traveling with children is more tiring than traveling alone.

23)    Security guards in Boston like to start sh*t.

24)   Tired, frustrated mother is more the willing to return sh*t.

25)   Telling your mom on your cell phone as you’re waiting to board the plane that your kids have vomited and diarrheaed all morning does not make fellow passengers easy.

 

More details in the days to come.

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