Worry dolls

My mom had been trying for two years to get me to take the last of my stuff out of her house.  I resist because I’m renting and my rental is tiny.  (Crap. The last and best excuse is going to disappear in less than a month.)  But every so often she unloads something on me, usually without me knowing.  Like handing one of the boys an old toy or three.  Recently she gave Tornado E a small collection of worry dolls.

And Tornado E loved them, sticking them in his backpack and taking them to school.  When school let out, he gathered a large circle of his friends and pulled out the worry dolls with flourish.

Tornado E: HERE THEY ARE!  See these are worry dolls!  You tell them your worries, and they keep them for you!  Wanna try?!

The kids: YEAH!!! ME!!!! ME!!! ME!!!!

Hands stretched out, demanding for a doll.

Tornado E: HOLD ON!  I’ll go first.

The parents leaned in close.  I held my breath.  Finally a look into his little soul to see what I can do to help ease the transition, to help him heal, to make him better.

Tornado E: (took a breath) I worry that a hippo will run me over!


KJ: I worry a buffalo will eat me!

The Nice Girl: I worry we’ll hit a turtle!

Boy Twin: I worry a hippo will run me over!

Girl Twin: I worry an alligator will run me over!

K: I worry a deer will run me over!

RJ: I worry a deer will eat me!

I forgot.  Tornado E’s class is full of budding comedians, trying to one up each other.


Creating a little magic

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today.  Sort of.  I wasn’t grumpy.  Just blah.  Everything had a negative outlook to it.

My head was filled with dark thoughts that I couldn’t shake.  Even after I meditated.  Even after I played my songs for just this kind of an emergency.  Even after a little bit of chocolate.  Just blah.

Then it took forever to get the boys dressed and ready to go.  And I couldn’t find my sunglasses.  And I had to threaten to get them in the car. And I forgot the coupons I needed.  And no, you may not have any juice.  We were done with one of the errands when I realized I didn’t have my receipt to pick up my pictures.  I drove back to the house.  Where is the damn receipt?  F-it.  And sure, there was no line at the bread store.  And sure, I did clean the bathrooms while waiting for the boys.  But I was blah.

Then I learned that I had waited too long to pick up my pictures, and they were gone.  And I wish I had someone to blame, but really I only had myself.  But we only found a shirt for Tornado E at the store, so we needed to go somewhere else for an Easter shirt for Tornado A.  And then the customer at the cash register was difficult with a difficult problem that took forever.  And then I had to take away our lunch plans because the boys weren’t listening.  And the boys were running around like mad.  We stopped at the fountain outside and threw coins to make wishes.  “Please give me one for the win column,” I whispered for I was feeling blah.

So the next store we found a shirt for Tornado A, and the boys sat next to the stroller like I ordered them.  We stood in a long line waiting to pay.  I noticed a tube of touchable bubbles for $2.  What the hell?  I needed something because I was feeling blah.

While we were rung up, the sweet cashier carried on a conversation with the boys.  They stood still and answered her.  She sent us a way with a smile and pocket full of change.

We returned to the fountain, and I divided the change between the boys.  I opened up the bubbles and started blowing.  Because they were the touchable type, they didn’t pop easily.  In just a few minutes the courtyard to the mall entrance was filled with bubbles.

My boys danced around, popping bubbles, laughing, dodging people.  Other children, walking with their families, stopped to pop a bubble or two and laugh.  People, coming from the parking lot, stopped and smiled before entering the mall.  Those coming out of the mall paused with surprise and amazement.  I kept filling the air with bubbles, laughing.  It was like magic.

One woman, arms full with bags, stopped and popped a bubble next to her before returning to her conversation with her friend.

A fast-walking man smiled down at the boys, when he had to dodge them as they chased their bubbles.

Tornado A squealed from his stroller, tiny hands reaching for the bubbles.

And I laughed to watch it all unfold as I kept filling the air with bubbles.

“They’re having lots of fun aren’t they.”

I turned to the voice.  A guy, dressed fashionably in goth, ear-buds hanging around his neck,  holding a smoking cigarette, smiled down at me.

“Yes, I am.  Yes, they are.”

“Would you mind if I gave them some coins for the fountains?”

“Uh, no.  Thank you.”

“Here, little dude.  Open your hand.”

He leaned down and poured coins into Tornado S’s hand.

“What do you say?” I prompted.

“Thank you.”

“Here you go, little dude.  No, open your hand.  There.”

He poured coins into Tornado E’s hand.

“What do you say?”

“Thank you.”

The guy smiled.

“Have a good day!”

“Thank you!  You too!”

He walked into the mall.

I finished off the bottle of bubbles.  Then we left, and the world seemed filled with magic and bubbles.

How many penis rules do we need?

jc: I’m totally surprised they aren’t coloring their penises. I KNOW you have a rule against that somewhere around here, and I’m sure you would have mentioned it.

Have you met jc?  She’s the world’s best commenter.  She’s smart, hilarious, and gives out stickers.  For some reason, I amuse her, which I think is an honor.

Then she wrote that on Friday’s blog.

Apparently jc is clairvoyant as well as smart and hilarious.

First off, I knew there was trouble because Tornado E walked out of the bathroom grinning.  Grinning.  Second, I knew there was trouble because he was holding a marker, coming from the bathroom.   Just reread that last sentence again.  Did you get the chills?  Third, I knew there was trouble because he had already drawn all over himself.

Tornado E: LOOK!  (He pulled down his underwear to expose himself.)  I painted on my penis!

His testes were orange.

So many thoughts entered my head.


Why?  Why, for the love of God, would you color your penis?

You’ll make some frat very proud one day.

I wonder what kind of girl will be amused by this.

Oh, God, he’s going to tattoo his penis.

By the time they learn to  be modest around me, I’ll have written a hundred page manual of The Penis Rules.

A typical Sunday

Where does the day start?

At 12:30 AM when I finally forced myself to bed?

At 1:20 to 3:30 Am when Tornado A was alternating screaming his head off and dozing?

At 6:15 when Tornado A was whining from his bed?

6:15 Get Tornado A out of the crib, feed him pain medication, feed him breakfast of bananas and toast that he will smear all over the high chair instead of eating.

6:25 Tornado S stumbles out.  Put out breakfast for the boys, milk and day old blueberry muffins.  Tell Tornado A to stop whining because you’ll be back.

6:30 Tornado E stumbles out.

6:45 Get Tornado A out of high chair, wipe him off.  Swallow a bowl of cereal.

7:15 Dress Tornado A.  Encourage older children to get dressed.

7:43 Save Tornado A from rocking chair.  Ask boys why they aren’t dressed.

8:00 Shower.  Dress.  Save Tornado A from mountain of stuffed animals.  Ask boys why they aren’t dressed.  Point out they can solve their own problems.

8:10 Try to bribe older boys to get dressed.

8:20 Morning nap for Aida.  Cartoons for boys.  Morning nap for me.

9:30 Tornado A is up.  So am I.  The older boys are still alive and relatively unharmed.

9:45 Make meringue cookies.  Start debating baking dessert for the week.  Ask Tornado S where his underwear is.

10:00 Save Tornado A from the rocks in the back yard.  Make him spit out the rock in his mouth.  Learn the boys have emptied the sand box and that it has water from the rain.

10:03 Strip beds.  Put sheets in the wash.

10:39 Tornado E learns to climb his bed without a ladder.

10:45 Save Tornado S from the top of his dresser.

10:46 Save Tornado A from mountain of stuffed animals.

11:00 Pizza nuked for the boys.  Cheese, raisins, hard-boiled yolks for Tornado A.

11:10 Put sheets in the dryer.  Debate doing my sheets.  Tornado A starts to whine.

11:30 Get Tornado A out of the high chair.

11:33 Remove slice of pizza from Tornado A’s hand.

11:34 Remind older boys that Tornado A will eat what they don’t.

11:45 Learn that the wagon is filled with water, sand, and mud.  And that Tornado A found it.

11:50 Learn that the older boys can survive 50s in only a shirt and underwear.

12:00 Tornado A starts loosing it.  Give Tornado A pain medication.

12:05 Tornado A’s afternoon nap.

12:15 Lunch for me.

12:30 Clean up kitchen.  Encourage boys to get dressed so they can help bake or do crafts.

12:40 Pretend I’m somewhere else.

12:45 Mess around online and look for new dessert recipes.  Older boys have a wet sand fight.

1:00 Find new recipe.

1:10 Start recipe only to hear Tornado A screaming.

1:10 Tornado A  will not be consoled.  Tornado A must be carried.

1:15 Agree to let the boys make a potion.  Obviously I was not thinking.

1:30 Bake while alternating holding Tornado A and placing him on the floor to scream.  Realize the boys are too quiet but don’t care at that moment.

2:03 Learn what making a potion really is.  Demand that boys clean up bathroom.

2:07 Try to make beds.  Hold Tornado A instead.

2:30 Take out cupcakes out of oven.  Console a screaming Tornado A.

2:45 Tornado A is content to play with a ball.  Tell boys that we’re leaving in 15 minutes.  Attempt to make beds, which makes Tornado A scream.

3:00 Tornado S is naked.  Tornado E has clothes on but no shoes.  Tornado A is screaming.

3:05 Pack up Tornado A.  Drag Tornado E to the car without shoes and tie.  Buckle him in.  Tornado S hands over underwear and pants.  Dress those clothes on Tornado S.  Buckle Tornado S in the car.

3:30 Grab rest of the clothes.  Go to parents’.

3:45 Carry Tornado S into parents’ house and hand him over.  Carry Tornado E into parents’ house and hand him over.  Carry Tornado A into parents’ house and hand him over.  Go back to car for stuff.  Debate fleeing to Mexico.

4:00 Feed Tornado A late.  Hand Tornado A back to my dad.

4:30 Read the paper.

5:15 Hand Tornado A to my mom.  Help with dinner.

5:45 Dinner.

6:25 Wonder if parents would realize if I left the boys with them.

6:45 Pack up boys.

7:00 Dress Tornado A.  Feed Tornado A.

7:15 Put Tornado A to bed.

7:20 Draw bath for boys.  Dump them in.

7:40  Bark orders to get the boys dressed for bed.

7:50 Read bedtime story, prayers, and lullaby. kisses.

8:00 Boys are officially in bed.

8:01 Crash on the couch.

9:30 Clean kitchen and great room.

10:30 Write menu, chores list, grocery list, rental list, email and bum around on the internet.

When would you say Monday starts?

Rocket man

Tornado E’s class is learning about space.  Sweet.  The kids were given an assignment to build a rocket.  Double sweet.  I was ecstatic.  I did a little dance.  I, of course, had all sorts of fun materials to build a rocket.

Me: TORNADO E!  We get to build a rocket!

Tornado E: I know!  I’m building it with Legos!

Me: Um, what?  Don’t you want to use other things?  We could find all sorts of neat things to build the rocket with.  (Insert Jedi Mind Trick: You want to build your rocket with stuff other than Legos.)

Tornado E: No, Mommy.  I’m sticking with Legos.  It’ll be neat!

I faked enthusiasm and consoled myself that surely my son would change his mind.

But he didn’t.

Last night he showed me his last revision of his rocket.

Tornado E:  Look, Mommy!  It’s done!  Isn’t it beautiful?  Look at my pattern!  A, B, C, D, A, B, C, B, A, D, C, B, A!

Me: That is one awesome rocket.

Tornado E:  I know!  When my friends see it, it’ll blow their minds!

Well, at least he got his vocabulary from me.

So it begins


March 29, 2011

Tornado E asked for a cell phone.


Explaining God

I overheard this conversation the other day.

Tornado E:  And God is great.   He is real! He lives in Heaven.  And He can control EVERYTHING.  He can control the weather.  He can shoot lightning from his hands.

Tornado S: Count Dooku is real!  He shoots lightning out of his hands!

Tornado E: Count Dooku is not real!  God is real!

Tornado S: God shoots lightning out of His hands!  And Count Dooku shoots lightning out of his hands!  They are both REAL!

Tornado E: No, Tornado S!  That’s not how it works!  (little wheels in the brain spinning, spinning, spinning)

Some mornings are like that

The main reason I began going to parenting class was for the free childcare.  In this third session of classes, there is no childcare.  I go because the teacher and the other parents are hilarious.  And every class I really do learn something like sarcasm doesn’t work with kids or how sponge-like kids are or that no matter how old and mature I get my mom will see me as beneath her and I don’t want to raise children that feel that way.

A couple of weeks back, a mom complained about how her son doesn’t get ready for school in the morning.  Every morning was the same.  Lots of yelling and threats as the child moped, whined, yelled, fought as he was forced to get ready for school.  It was an outright rebellion.  When it was time to go to school, everyone was miserable.

And I thought, “I have the chart!”  Tornado E loves doing the morning routines chart.  I rock.

The teacher told the mom to stop.  She said don’t even fight it.  Just give a warning of time and let the child make the decision.  When it’s time to go and the child isn’t ready, take the child to school any ways.  It was so simple and crazy that it might just work.

The next morning, I had full open rebellion.  No one cared about the chart.  Everyone wanted to play instead.  It was frustrating.

I took the teacher’s advice.  I was skeptical.  Tornado E loved to dress differently.  He had already gone to school several times in his pajamas for fun.  But I did the method, trusting it would work.  I gave warnings of the time and left it at that. The boys continued to play with their toys.  I got Tornado A dressed.  I got dressed and ready for the day.  I gave a five-minute cushion between saying we needed to leave and actually leaving.  When I told the boys it was time to go, Tornado E scampered into his clothes.  Tornado S begged me for help.    Everyone was ready on time.

It was amazing and annoying.  Why couldn’t they just get that life would be so much easier if they got dressed and then played?  But I remember Wally explaining to me about how the shoe story and how half the people put away their shoes right away and half don’t.  The ones who do think it’ll save time later when they look for their shoes.  The ones who don’t think it’ll save time at that moment because they aren’t wasting it putting away their shoes.  Basically, we look at the world differently.

Every day, I did the same trick.  And it worked.  Until today.

Instead of jumping up and getting dressed at the 10-minutes-to-go call, the boys jumped into Tornado S’s bed and hid under the covers.  Crap.  The 5-minute call found them the same way.  Crap.  I packed up clothes and shoes and threw them into the car.  I told them it was time to go, and they stayed giggling under the covers.  Crap.  Crap.  Crap.  I took a deep breath and put Tornado A in the car, strapping him into his seat.  I walked into the boys’ room, pulled off the covers, grabbed their hands, and marched them to the car.

Tornado S: I’m going to school naked!!!!


Tornado S was naked except for a sock.  Tornado E was in his shirt and socks from the day before and a pull up.  Awesome.

I strapped them in and drove to school in silence, wondering if I was too stubborn for my own good, if there was an exit strategy that wouldn’t undermine my authority, if those classes were full of sh*t.   By the time I parked at school, I had no answers.  I got out of the car, shut the door, and sat on the hood of my SUV.  I had made fantastic time, so the other cars were just starting to trickle into the parking lot.  I just thought.

Comedy is how my family deals with situations.  So I messaged an SOS to my adopted parenting sponsor.  I formulated a text to a friend, but before I could type it, one of my favorite moms asked what I was doing.  I explained the situation, giving a brief glance to the windshield.

The Mom: Ah, well, tell Tornado E that KJ wants to play with him.  And she was excited to see his car was already here.

Then she laughed.  And I laughed.  I opened the door to the car.

Tornado E: Mommy!  We need to go home so I can get dressed!

Me: It’s too late, buddy.  We leave now, we’ll be late for school.

Tornado E: But Mommy!

I went to the back of the truck and pulled out Tornado A’s stroller.  I got Tornado A out and strapped him into his stroller with a few toys.  I grabbed the bag of clothes.

Me: Get out, Tornado E.

Tornado E: But MOMMMY!  I’m NOT DRESSED!

Me: Well, that’s the choice you made when you decided to play instead of dressing.  Get out and stand by the stroller.  (Which I had parked on the sidewalk in front of the SUV and by a bench.)

I got Tornado S out of the car and led him to the bench.  I figured I better get Tornado S in underwear before my conservative friend showed up.  Tornado S was giddy.  Note to self: This doesn’t work on Tornado S.  Tornado E was crouched beside the stroller.  I helped the boys into their underwear.  Then I handed them clothes.  They dressed quickly.  Tornado E ran off as soon as he was dressed.

Perhaps, I handled it well after all.  Though, maybe I should have taken them into the bathroom to get dressed, but it was early so not many people were there and they would have seen more people walking to the bathroom than a quick dress on the sidewalk.  And I thought nothing of the whole thing, since I have on occasion dressed in public.  (Not in front of a crowd.  Jesus.  And I had on underwear.)

Hopefully they learned their lesson.  I did.

Crap.  Tornado E, where’s your lunchbox?  Crap.

The empire

Note: I wrote yesterday.  I swear.  But WordPress had some “issues.”  And it didn’t post.  And it didn’t save.  And then I just bit my thumb at the whole thing and thought “Fine.  Be that way.  I’ll post it tomorrow, stupid WordPress.” 

It was cold, windy with the smell of rain in the air.  Tornado E was whining about the cold and the boredom of being stuck in left field.  I ignored him.  I couldn’t ignore a very upset Tornado A, who, like his mama, hated the cold.

We signed Tornado E up for t-ball because he was really excited about it in the fall.  He didn’t like practicing with us, but he loved going to practice with his teammates.  Since Papi and The Friendly Giant knew little boys preferred to hit and run over throwing and catching, Tornado E liked practicing with them.

I only got to see 2/3 of the game because Tornado A demanded to get out of the cold, and before leaving for the car, I was only able to see a fraction of the game.  So Tornado E was excited to tell me all about it.

Tornado E: MOMMY!  Did you see me be the empire?

Me: Excuse me?

Tornado E: I was the empire!  I always wanted to be the empire!

Me: Oh. You want to be the umpire.

Tornado E: Yes, the empire.

Me: Sweetheart, you were the catcher.  Not the umpire.

Tornado E: NO!  I was the empire.  I had a mask and everything.

Rather than argue that point until I was blue in the face, I smiled and moved on.


I have hinted before that my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer last November.  It has really shaken things up here.  Not only did it make a crappy year even crappier (stupid 2010), it has changed how often we see my parents as well as altered my babysitting help. It has darkened my mortality, but it has brought out the optimism and fighting nature of my mom.  Granted, it helped that she realized she needed back on antidepressants.  And yes, my dad and brother are grateful.

But with cancer-fighting comes chemo.  And with chemo comes the dramatic loss of hair.  As my mom struggled with the thought of being bald, my dad made the decision to finally shave his head, something my mom had wanted him to do for years.  It was a huge thing for my dad because he’s been bald for years, and the thought of loosing ALL of his hair nearly killed him.  Since my dad was doing it, my baby brother volunteered.  That was a huge deal because his widow’s peak gets more noticable by the month, and he prefers to hide it.

Since my dad and baby brother were shaving their heads, my mom asked me what I was planning to do.  For five agonizing minutes I thought.  “Mom.  (deep breath)  (another deep breath)  What about the Little Brother?”  Yeah, I couldn’t do it.  (And apparently, neither could he.  Wuss.)

But since my mom, my dad, the most favorite uncle – The Friendly Giant- were shaving their heads, Tornado E decided to do the same.  What could we say?  Sure, he doesn’t know exactly why everyone is doing it.  It’s not the same sacrifice.  But he did in solidarity too.

So we took him to get his head shaved.

After two passes with the razor, Tornado E turned to me and said, “Mommy, I’m done now.”

Um, no.

With just one more pass to go on the razor, Tornado E turned to me, “I like it like this.  Can we stop now?”

Um, hell, no.

When it was all shaved off, Tornado E looked at himself in the mirror, giggled, and whirled around the barber shop like the tornado he is.  He loved it.  We loved it.  My mom cried when she saw it.  Some of the moms at school cried when they saw it.

The next day, Tornado E jumped around the house in the middle of some daydream.  He looked up and called, “HEY, MOMMY!  You need to buy me a wig now that I’m bald!”

Um, no.

I’m thankful that I didn’t allow his head to get flat.