His Reputation Precedes Him

A couple of weeks ago, we were in the Friendly Giant’s neighborhood. And I thought why not visit my baby brother? I hadn’t been to his place since he moved in. So I texted him, and he was home and awake. The boys and I swung by and offered doughnuts for coming at the early hour of 10am.

As you can imagine, the boys had a great time. It’s their favorite uncle. And he owns an electric fireplace that changes color!

While the Friendly Giant was wrestling with all three tornadoes, his roommate came home. The wrestling game was put on hold (or “paused” as Tornado S likes to say), so my brother could introduce us.

The roommate: So which one likes Darth Vader and Hitler?

We all looked at Tornado S. He smiled.

To be fair, he only wanted to play a Nazi to play Indiana Jones. He’s not allowed to like real bad guys.

Meanest Grandma in the Whole World

People, I’m the meanest mom in the whole world. Just ask my tornadoes.

It’s true.

Well, sometimes. Sometimes I’m the coolest mom in the whole world.

Sometimes my mom is the meanest grandma in the whole world. You know, because she makes my tornadoes do their homework in their nicest handwriting, makes them pick up every toy, and makes them ask to turn on the TV or the Wii every time. So mean. Seriously, I don’t know if I could compete. Some days I only make them pick up most of the toys. But I totally am harder on how they speak to each other and having a taste of each food on their plate. And I don’t let them play video games or watch TV any time they want or how long they want.  I am so mean.

Naturally after one of these you’re-the-meanest-grandma-in-the-world, I had to ask.

Me: Who’s meaner? Mommy or Grandma?

Tornado E: Grandma!

Tornado S: Grandma!

Tornado A: Nana!

I gave her my oh-that’s-right-you-heard-it-here-first-I-rock face. She just gave a they’re-angry-right-now-but-just-wait-I’m-the-grandma-you’re-the-mom. And she’s right. She can trump my mom card any day. I have to be mean. She can spoil them if she chooses.

But I will not be brought down in my victory by mere facts and accurate guesses.

I’m cooler than my mom. I’m a cooler mom than their grandma.

So I had to brag to my dad and tell him the whole story when he got home. As it happens, I told him in front of the boys.

Papi: Who would be Darth Vader? Grandma, your mommy, or me?

Tornado E: Grandma!

Tornado S: Grandma!

Tornado A: Nana!

My dad and I exchanged smug looks. My mom rolled her eyes.

Papi: Ok. Who would be Luke Skywalker? Your mommy or me?

Tornado E: Mommy!

Tornado S: Papi!

Tornado A: Mommy!

My dad and I exchanged looks.

Papi: Ok. Who would be Han Solo? Your mommy or me?

Tornado E: Papi!

Tornado S: Mommy!

Tornado A: Papi!

Me: (to my dad) I really don’t know what to make of that. But at least I’m not a Sith Lord.

A little vacation

I took the boys on a little vacation last week.  Just 5 days up to Phoenix.  Two nights with one friend in a two-bedroom apartment.  Two nights with another friend and her husband and son in a two-bedroom apartment.  I was worried about imposing and being the poor relation but . . .


My first friend is my Favorite Freshman from my senior year in high school.


She bought the boys toys and several outfits, including bright yellow shirts for them to wear to the children’s museum.

She insisted on taking us out for pizza and video games and paying for the children’s museum (“because that’s what sisters do.”)

She stocked her kitchen with tons of kid-friendly food.

She played with us at the children’s museum and at splash pads and watched movies with us.

Aidan: can we stay here?

Me: For how long?

Aidan: For lots of days!


And then

We spent the next few days with my close friend and her son.

Before her husband left for a friend’s house, he downloaded Plants vs Zombies for my boys to play.

She got us into the zoo for free.

She insisted on taking us out for pizza and video games and splitting meals we had out.

She has the cutest boy, and my boys love him.

And splash pads!

Aidan: When can we go to Cat’s house?

Me: Soon.

Aidan: YEA!!!!


Seriously, one of the best vacations ever.

And I’m seriously one of the luckiest people to have such awesome friends.

A Mother’s Son

While staying at a friend’s place this weekend, I fell asleep with Tornado A and Tornado S, who was suppose to be reading us a story.  My friend tried to keep Tornado E occupied, instead of letting him wake us up.  So she asked him questions.  He told her about the book he was reading and his favorite animals and all about dragons.  A lot about dragons.  For an hour, he talked all about dragons like they were a real, scientific species.

She shook her head and whispered, “You are your mother’s son.”

When I woke up and joined them, she told me the whole story.

My friend: He is your son.

I smiled.

Tornado E: Of course, I am.  Why wouldn’t I be?

I love that kid.

Missing them

My house is quiet.  And empty.  And quiet.  Of course, it’s 11pm, so even if my boys were here, it would be relatively quiet.  Except Tornado S snores.  And someone is always turning over.  And someone gets out of bed once, twice, three times a night.  Even though it’s night and quiet, if they were here, the house would feel . . . full.

I’ve had the boys five nights in a row, and I hate when I have to turn them over.  My house, my life seems so empty and quiet and dull.  When I signed up for this parenting gig, I knew for next ten years or more my life would be wrapped around their lives.  Not in a complete, my-kids-are-my-life way, but in a dinner-has-to-have-one-child-friendly-part way or weekdays-are-for-homework-and-child-activities way or a-sitter-needs-to-be-hired-a-week-in-advanced-for-a-few-hours-a-couple-of-times-a-month way, a vacations-will-mainly-be-about-the-kids way, a money-goes-to-kids’-needs-and-most-wants-before-my-wants way.  Let’s just face it.  I will never be one of those moms who is excited the ex is taking the kids for the weekend.

Every time I think about the ex having 50% custody or that the judge added her opinion of calling me “restrictive and unreasonable” over custody for those nearly 3 years of separation in the ruling, I get angry.  It’s not my fault that the ex decided he preferred to visit the kids on his time when he wanted to at my house, but that’s how his lawyer made it look.  Like I was keeping the kids away from their father.  The ex lied and said that I knew he was  living with his girlfriend (instead of the alcoholic roommate that he told me he was living with, which I didn’t want exposed to my kids) and that I refused to let my kids over to their place.

So it sucks.  Because I don’t always get to talk to them every night, even when I call every night.  Because I can tell they’re not getting enough sleep.  Because we don’t get to do all the crafts, activities, and science experiments I want to do with them.  Because they are adjusting.  Because this is hard on them.  Because I don’t get to cook and bake for them every day.  Because they are pushing at the boundaries and exhibiting unhealthy coping strategies.  Because I don’t have the money to take them to counseling anymore.  Because part of my heart resides somewhere else and I feel helpless to protect them when they aren’t here.

With any luck, I’ll have them tomorrow because the ex works and it’s summer and I’m a teacher.  We’ll fight over doing workbooks, and I’ll send someone to time out for hitting his brother.  We’ll go grocery shopping and maybe to the craft store for supplies for Papi’s birthday present.  We’ll argue over video game playing and candy.  I’ll listen to Tornado S read, and I’ll continue to teach Tornado A to swim, and I’ll have interesting conversations with Tornado E about superheroes or Skylanders or dragons or animals.  Tomorrow is going to be a great day.

Clever Boy

We were watching Tornado E’s karate class, when Tornado A noticed the woman in front of him was playing some sort of Bejeweled game with a Frozen theme.

Tornado A: That’s a cool game, Mommy.

Me: Yes.

Tornado A: Can we get it?

Me: I don’t know.  We’ll see.

Tornado A: I can get it.  I’ll sneak and get it tonight.

Me: What?

Tornado A: Tonight I will sneak out.  You will be reading, so I will sneak out to the car.  And I will get it then.

Me: What will you do at the car?

Tornado A: I can drive it.

Me: Oh.  How will you get the game?

Tornado A: I will sneak out and get it.

Me: Oh.

Tornado A: Do you have a tablet?

Me: (Dear Lord.) No.  I don’t.

Tornado A: Then I will get it on your phone.  It will have to be smaller.

Me: I love you, kid.

Tornado A: I love you too, Mommy.

Note to self: Hide the credit cards and block the app store on the phone.

Not my Mom

Me: What’s wrong?

I had just picked them up from their dad’s house.  Tornado E looked unhappy.  He sighed.

Me: What’s wrong?

Yeah, like I’m going to let you close down on me, kid.  Good luck with that.

Tornado E: Sometimes I get so mad at the L & R.

The boys that lived next door to their dad’s house.  One is a year older than Tornado E.  One is in between Tornado E and Tornado S.  It’s been really neat for my boys to have neighborhood kids to play with.  It’s been since Orange since the last time we lived next to neighbors with kids.

Me: Why do you get so mad at them?

Tornado E: Because they call The Girlfriend my mom.  No matter how many times I tell them she is not my mom, they still call her that.  I don’t like it.  You’re my mom.  The Girlfriend is not.

There’s still a lot of anger and hate in me.  But my son isn’t complaining about The Girlfriend.  He’s upset with his friends not listening to him.

Me: Baby, I don’t think they mean to make you mad or hurt you.  They’ve known The Girlfriend longer than you, and she is the mother of The Daughter who is their sister’s playmate.  They just don’t remember that you have a mom.  They only see her with you, not me.  It’s a slip of the tongue.  It’s easier to say “mom” than “your dad’s girlfriend.”

Tornado E made a noise of not being convinced.

Me: Besides they don’t understand.  Their parents live in the same house.  They may not understand that it makes you mad because you have another house and a mom who doesn’t live with your dad.  They probably don’t understand that sometimes that’s really hard.  So I want you to tell them nicely, “She’s not my mom.”  Can we practice?

Tornado E made a noise of yes.

Me: Tornado E, your mom wants you.

Tornado E: That’s not my mom.

Me: Ok.  Be nice.  They’re not being mean.  Try again.  Tornado E, your mom just called you.

Tornado E: That’s The Girlfriend, not my mom.

Me: Ok.  Much better.  You could also say, “Please call her The Girlfriend.”  Remember they’re your friends and aren’t trying to make you mad.

Tornado E: Ok, Mommy.

Me: And, baby, you can always talk to me.  I’m always here to help you find solutions to your problems.

Tornado E: Ok.  I love you.  Hey, what are we going to do now?

We’re going on adventure.


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