Tornado A is swimming.  With a little help.  He’s still learning to try to breathe.

And he’s trying to dive.  His first attempt he almost had it.  He watched Tornado E dive. Then Tornado A got up, put his hands in a triangle above his head, and jumped out, arms first.  It was nearly a swimmer’s dive.

First we noticed Tornado A was swimming on the second step.  Enough water to swim but shallow enough to touch the bottom.  He would swim back and forth; while, I swam the length of the pool.  Each time there and back is just over 25 yards, so I’ve been working on hitting a couple hundred yards every day.

I love swimming.  I love the feel of the water.  I love the feel of moving through the water.  It’s like flying.  It’s like dancing.  It’s amazing.  It keeps me balanced and whole.  Naturally I’m excited to swim with the boys and share that love with them.

But today, Tornado A decided to swim laps too.  I said hi to him and pushed off the steps to do a lap.  I noticed he pushed off as well.  I stopped, ready to catch him.  Instead Tornado A swam to my dad.  I shrugged and took off again.  I flipped my turn and headed back, just as I reached my dad and Tornado A, he launched off my dad’s leg and started swimming with me.  I got to the step and pulled him up.

Tornado A said, “Let’s go, Mommy!”

He launched off again, and so did I.  He swam to my dad, and I swam to the wall to flip.  As I passed my dad, Tornado A launched himself again.  I made it to the wall first and pulled Tornado A to me.  He placed his feet on the second step.

Tornado A said, “Let’s go, Mommy!”

He launched off again, swimming for my dad as I launched off swimming for the wall.

We did this a dozen times.  On the last few laps, I asked if he wanted to stop.  “NO, MOMMY!  Let’s go!”

I’ve created a swimmer.


Things I learned at Pre-Kindergarten

1. If an animal is kind, sweet, and considerate, it *must* be a girl.  It doesn’t matter if she has a boy’s name.  Just ask any four-year-old girl.

2. We are not allowed to draw guns because they are “inappropriate at school.” (and yes, the four-year-old who used that word)

3. You have ten minutes at a project before they cannot contain the energy bottling up in their little bodies.

4. “Simon Says” is a great game to keep four-year-olds occupied.

5. Never let a four-year-old lead “Simon Says” if you want them to stay in one place, be somewhat quiet, or have the command take less than two minutes.

6. If they run, they race.

7. Some of those shoes those girls have, I want in adult sizes.

8. Nothing is cuter than Tornado S beaming and waving from his spot at circle time when I walk into the room.

It’s just a little surgery


Pro ced ure.

Not surgery.

Surgery means they have to cut you open.

Surgery means there is recovery time.

Surgery is expensive.  And November has been expensive enough, thank you very much.

I got home from my most wonderful trip late at night.  I was debriefed.  And then unlike any smart person, I stayed up later than I should.  (But I had a good reason!  I swear!)  I got everything prepared for a whirlwind of a morning.  We had to be at the hospital at 8am.  Tornado S couldn’t eat.  Tornado E had to be at school at 9am.  We couldn’t bring Tornado A.  Luckily our support system rocked.

After dressing kids and dropping them off, we arrived at the hospital on time.  We were ushered into the registration office to fill out necessary paperwork and to leave our pound of flesh.  (I f-ing hate of health insurance system!)  Then we waited.  I read a Star Wars book to Tornado S.  Finally we were called back to the prepping station.

The nurses were amazing.  They engaged Tornado S.  They told him what was going on in child terms.  “I’m reading the numbers in your head.”  “I’m looking at your heart beat on the TV.”  “This cuff is going to hug your arm tight.”  “You get to wear this really neat outfit.”  “Who are you holding?”  “Yoda is my favorite.”

Um, Parent Fail: I forgot the blankie.  BUT.  I did find Star Wars figures in the car.

In no time, Tornado S was prepped and ready to go.  And we waited some more.  I began reading the Star Wars book again.  Then another little boy and his parents entered the prepping station.  He was about three, and where ever his thing was stuck hurt him.  He was crying, screaming, throwing all manners of fits.  He was uncooperative.  The parents were stressed and distressed.  Any one could see the poor boy was scared and in pain and all was forgiven.  Anyone that didn’t understand was clearly a jerk and needed a black eye.

Tornado S was worried.  He stared at the boy and looked up at me.

Me: (whispering) You can tell him its ok.

Tornado S: (leaning around me, trying to make eye contact) It’s OK! (pause.  No response from the boy.)  Hey!  You’ll be fine!  (Pause)  IT WON’T HURT!

The boy stopped fighting the nurses and crying and looked at Tornado S.  Tornado S smiled.

Tornado S:  It won’t hurt!

The fight went out of the boy.  He submitted to the prepping.

Not too long after that, the anesthesiologist came.  He began with a lecture of laughing gas, aimed for a child much older than Tornado S.

Dr: And everyone wanted to try it.  They would pay to do it.  Do you want to try it?

Tornado S blinked at him.

I sighed.

Me: Tornado S.  They’re going to put a mask on you.  Like Darth Vader.  And then you have to breathe into it.  Like Darth Vader.  Can you show me how you breathe like Darth Vader?  (Tornado S mimics the breathing.)  Great!  Now the nurses and doctors are going to want to hear that too?  Can you do it for them.

Tornado S nodded.  The doctor smiled.

Dr:  I have a little boy who is ten.  And he loves Star Wars.  We should talk.

As a Star Wars conversation started, the ENT checked in on us and reassured us.  The anesthesiologist picked up Tornado S and carried him away.

My baby was having a procedure.

I tried to read as I waited.

Ten minutes later the ENT entered the waiting room.  He handed me a plastic container, holding the pearl bead with a little ear wax on it.

ENT: Done.  They’re bringing him up from being under, and they will call you in soon.

I looked at the bead.  The very expensive plastic bead that Tornado E had put with the pirate treasure.

Stupid bead.

What do I do with you now?

I still think it should go in the baby book.

The damn bead

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

Just another day

Day 2 and we’re back at the grocery store.  Don’t ask me why.  I was a bit . . . upset that we were back and that it had taken the boys over two hours to get ready.  But they were listening and standing next to me as I used self-check-out.  (Lord, I hate that bitch, but that’s from months of running it at Home Depot.)

As I helped Tornado E enter the money, I felt a hand on my shoulder.  I looked over and saw the same older lady from the day before.

Older lady: Don’t you ever stay home?

Me: (smiling) No.  I try not to.

Older lady: (smiling back, patting my arm) God bless you.  (Glancing around at the boys, patting Tornado S on the head) So very cute.

She walked away, and I gathered our purchases.

As I walked away I heard her say to someone, “I see her quite often.  She’s always here with her three boys.  So sweet and well-mannered.  So cute.  She-”

And then I was out of ear-shot and through the doors into the oppressive humid heat that is August in Tucson.

Me: I’m hungry.  Let’s go home for lunch.

Tornado S: I want Goldfish!

Tornado E: I want an Otter Pop!

Me: Not for lunch.

Tornado S: I want an Otter Pop too!

Tornado A: MA!

Me: I was thinking more along the lines of lunch food.

Tornado E: I want a hamburger!

Tornado S: I want McDonald’s!

Tornado A: THIS!

Me: Fireman.  Let’s just go home.

The older boys jumped on the cart like firemen holding on to a side of an engine.


Last week, it was determined the boys could not wait a moment longer for shoes.  Not a moment longer.  And hell, if that’s what we wanted to do for the evening instead of something fun, like tear apart the house, who was I to get in the way.

But I have a condition.  Good shoes.  No crappy shoes.  Tornado E wore through two pairs of Target shoes before he could out grow them.  We didn’t save a dime buying crappy shoes.  Tornado A is learning to walk.  Our first pediatrician was insistent that we get good shoes for a toddling Tornado E.  “He only has one set of feet.”

My plan was to go up to the outlet mall an hour and half a way and make a day of it.  But since we needed to get shoes today.  Off we ran.

Only to find out the buy one get the one half off sale starts “tomorrow.”

Twenty minutes of driving for nothing.

But my boys had found the Star Wars shoes.  Tornado S had fallen in love with the Darth Vadar shoes.  Designed like the helmet that lit up at the eyes and corner of the “mouthpiece.”  They were on clearance.  In certain sizes.

Oh, Lord, please don’t let me have to break his heart.

But he fit in them.  And danced in them.  And stomped in them.  All the world was a happy place.

And the next day, Tornado E stomped, danced, kicked, jumped in his Captain Rex clone shoes.

And Tornado A.

Watching Tornado A was like watching someone rollerskate for the first time.

He never cried when he fell.  He just picked himself up and toddled again as best he could in shoes.

Sorry, buddy.  We should’ve bought you shoes a long time ago.

Reasons why I’m not a very good mother

1. Tornado S was getting out of the SUV and got caught on something.  He hit the garage floor with his whole body.  Splat.  I laughed.  It was funny and reminded me of a cartoon.

2. Tornado A crawled over to the dog’s food dish and decided to help himself to a piece of dog food.  I just watched, wondering if he would spit it out.  He didn’t.  I did stop him from getting seconds.

3. I didn’t stop him soon enough from gnawing on the dog’s bone.  Just another reason not to own a dog for a little while and to watch Tornado A more closely at my parents’ house.

4. I allowed my boys to play outside too long as a thunderstorm approached.  I was outside with them. watching the storm.  Now they believe they can play in thunderstorms.  Sure, I think about saying yes, but I always decide to say no.  And that’s the important part.

Brotherly love

We’re in a bit of a struggle, the boys and I.  It’s about putting away toys. I’ll admit that I’ve been a little too lax about the whole thing.  Some days I let it slide.  Now with the worry of impending classes in the fall and a career on the far horizon, I realized I need help and I wasn’t doing the boys any favors by picking up their toys every other day or so.  Now I remember more often to stop play and get toys picked up.  You want to watch a DVD?  Toys have to be picked up. You want a story time tonight?  You better pick up those toys.  We’re going somewhere.  Pick up the toys.  Since it is my house and one of the little tornadoes isn’t able to pick up after himself quite yet, I pitch in and encourage and help organize the effort.

Last Sunday, getting the boys to pick up was like pulling teeth because we were on an agenda.  A thunderstorm was moving in and I had to get the boys in the pool long before it hit.  I reminded them of swimming and told each boy to collect a certain type of toy to put away.  Swords for Tornado E.  Star Wars figures for Tornado S.

Tornado E scurried around picking up toy after toy.  Tornado S moseyed around the room. Finally all that was left were random toys, and I told Tornado E to pick up five, which he did.  He ran to get ready, and Tornado S finally finished his chore.  I told him to pick up five more toys and then he was done. But instead he just sat on the couch.

Let the waiting begin.  And the encouragement.  And the warning of less swim time.  And the negotiating. Tornado S refused.

Tornado E became distraught.  He found a small pile of toys next to the toy organizer.

Tornado E: LOOK, TORNADO S!  Look!  Here are some here!  You can put them away!

Tornado S refused.  And refused.  And refused.

Then Tornado E picked the toys up and put them away.

Tornado E: Mommy, I picked up Tornado S’s toys for him!  Can we go now?  Please! Tornado S did his work because I did it for him!

Me: Tornado E, you did a great job!  Thank you!  We’ll go, but Tornado S will not be able to swim.  It is not fair for you to pick up Tornado S’s part of the mess.

Tornado E:  It’s ok, Mommy!  I did it for Tornado S!

Me: Thank you, Tornado E. Tornado S, we’re leaving, but you can’t go swimming because you didn’t pick up the last five toys.

Tornado S started to cry.

Tornado E: Don’t cry, Tornado S!  Look!  I found some toys!  Come here and pick them up.  (Tornado E stood by some toy trucks pointing to them.  Then he ran a few feet and pointed to under the train table.)  They go here, Tornado S!  Hurry!  You can do it!

Tornado S ran over to the trucks and then carried five of them and placed them under the table.

Tornado E:  See, Mommy?!  Tornado S did it!  Now he can go swimming with me!

Sometimes these kids are amazing.

Battle cries

It probably won’t surprise any one that my boys run around the house waving swords in the air, shields firmly in place on the left arm, yelling as they chase each other.

The fact that yesterday afternoon they were yelling, “BOBBY!” as their battle cry just might.

But this morning’s battle cry, which woke the baby, was even weirder.  “WAFFLES!!!!!”

Um, what?


The other day I decided to teach the tornadoes moderation and allow Tornado E to pick where we would eat lunch.  Can you guess?  Three tries, and it has golden arches.

After lunch the boys rushed the playground and became friends with three little girls.  My boys were particularly fond of one, dubbing her Princess Leia.  When it was time to go, I told the boys to get their shoes and say goodbye to their friends.

Tornado S gave the little girl a hug.  She squirmed to get away.  Then it dawned on her what Tornado S was doing, so she returned the hug.  Tornado S saw a opportunity and kissed her right on the lips.

Um, huh?  What?

Oh, God, I think I’m in trouble.