Collectors and treasure finders

Kids are collectors.  They just are.  They find treasure everywhere and bring it home.

It’s a kind of awesome to look and find beauty where it is over looked.

I found treasures when I was a kid.  The only good thing about uniform skirts were their deep pockets to hold pretty rocks, found pennies, lost erasers.  Once I found a diamond glittering in the dirt.

But as a mom.  As a parent.  As the adult that has to clean the floors and dust the dressers and supervise the pick up.  Found things are a pain in the @ss.  One of my friends grits her teeth as she watches her daughter search the ground for treasure.

I was on the verge of that same annoyance, until I remembered that awesome in beauty.  How I still randomly pick up pretty rocks, search for shells on the beach, and have random pictures of flowers growing between cracks in the road and signs that I find funny.

Then I had an idea.  A rock garden.  A special found-things hideaway.

And they stopped collecting treasures.

They started collecting sticks.  Lots of sticks.  Always sticks.  Tornado E’s school has giant eucalyptus trees that drop the best sticks.  Sticks for swords.  Sticks for walking.  Sticks for wands.  Sticks for I-don’t-kn0w-it’s-cool.  And I was a wood-gatherer.  My car was filled with sticks.  Every Saturday I would take out 10 to 20 sticks out of the car.  I threw them in the back yard, where they laid in the dirt to be used as weapons or be forgotten.

Then I had a brilliant.  A fire pit.  A use for all those unneeded sticks.  And look they created s’mores.

They’re going to stop collecting sticks, aren’t they?


Sleep Wars

We finally bought Tornado A a bed a few weeks ago.  He needed it.  I’m not sure how he didn’t figure out how to climb out, but the end was coming.  He was about to figure out.

And we argued over where the bed should come from.  Their father wanted one off of Craig’s List.  While that was a good idea, except I had no time to check out beds at different house to make sure they were well crafted, I wanted a new bed for Tornado A.  Tornado A is the youngest of three.  His crib, dresser, bookcase, changing table, and rocking chair were all hand-me-downs.  Most of his books, clothes, and toys are hand-me-down.  All hand-me-downs are once or twice or, in the case of the changing table, fourths.  For now and forever, the majority of what is his will be cast-offs from others.  So for the love of God, this kid needs something new and utterly his beyond a toy or t-shirt here and there.  We got him a bed at a children’s furniture store.  Dark walnut, simple, and well-made.

My father and I took down the crib and built up the bed.  My mom gave me a bed rail, and I placed a set of sheets from the cupboard on the bed; while, I wait and search for the perfect set for his room.  Mismatched furniture and a bed.  It was a boy’s room.  A child’s room.  My baby was growing up.  I refused to put the crib on Craig’s List.

That night I remembered the advice handed down from mother to daughter.  “It only takes three times.  Three spankings.  Three nights.”  Hold the line for three times, and the line is scratched in stone.  I remembered it took three nights with Tornado E  and then with Tornado S.  The first night it took two hours of putting a boy back to bed over and over and over.  The next night it was only an hour.  The final night it took only 30 minutes.  The fourth night and on was fine with the occasional rebellion to check that scratched in line.

I was prepared for the first night.  Two hours of putting Tornado A in bed over and over and over.  As I texted Kat.  As I read up on Facebook.  As I read articles.  It was a bitch, but it was done.

And then the next night happened.  It took an hour and forty-five minutes.  Are you kidding me?

The next night took an hour and a half.  What the hell?

The next night took an hour.  At least it’s decreasing.

The next night it took an hour and forty-five minutes.  Well, f- me.

At this point, I started to wonder was this epic battle because he was older than his two brothers when he got his bed.  They were only 22 months.  He was nearly 2 and half years.  Or was this youngest of mine much more stubborn than his brothers?  God, I hope not.  Those boys are stubborn.  And I have proof.  Their teachers tell me so.

The next day he didn’t fall asleep in the car on the way home from picking up Tornado E  from his half day.  (Remember the week I didn’t write at all?)  That took an hour.  That night the battle raged for an hour and half.

That night Tornado A had his first bout of insomnia in his bed.  I was praying that it would wait until he had settled into his bed and that he realized his mother was much more stubborn than a two-year-old.  As poor luck would have it, Tornado E had come to my room to sleep with me.  For two and half hours, I sent Tornado A to bed or put him in bed or cuddled with him or do everything possible to get him to sleep.  For those two and half hours, poor Tornado E was awake too because Tornado A adores Tornado E and must have him up.  It was f-ing hell.

Oh and the next night, it took an hour and 45 minutes to put Tornado A down.

It took ten days.  Sort of.  The naps are going well.  But I still stand in the hall outside his door.  At night, the battles are fought for 30 to 45 minutes.  Now that I think of it, we are not out of the woods.

He’s had two more attacks of insomnia.  I think.  They come once a week.  He had one last night, which lasted three hours, which may be why I can’t remember more of the Sleep War.  I’m still fighting it.

When Tornado A has insomnia, he’s awake.  He doesn’t want to cuddle.  He wants to play and roam around.  He wants to hang out with his brothers.  And I’ll admit if I’m woken up, I’m not a problem solver.  Even as I type this, I’m thinking of solutions, which will be forgotten under the hazy of sleep deprivation at 3am.  I know I can’t stand at his door for three hours putting him back in his bed.  I don’t have the stamina.  He doesn’t cuddle and fall asleep.  But what if I read to him or pile books for him.  I could get a baby gate for the boys’ big room.  I could give him milk.

I don’t know.  I should have a check list of solutions.  I should do research.   I should go take a nap.

He says; he doesn’t say

He says Mommy and Daddy and Tornado S.

But Tornado A won’t say Tornado E.

He says Nana and Papi and Bobby, the name of his giant bear.

But Tornado A won’t say Tornado E.

He says bu’erfly and ‘nack and milk and juice and baby.

But Tornado A won’t say Tornado E.

He says truck and car and Mama’s truck and Papi’s truck and Nana’s car and Daddy’s car.

But Tornado A won’t say Tornado E.

He says pease and no and way for yes.

But Tornado A won’t say Tornado E.

He says Mickey Mou’ and Phin’us and Ferb.

But Tornado A won’t say Tornado E.

He says ghost and bisquit and all done and down and up and ball and moat and bug and EWWWWW!

But Tornado A won’t say Tornado E.

He says bite and puppy and ‘ish and meow and mine and shoes and bed and ‘illow fight and see and what’s this.

But Tornado A won’t say Tornado E.

He says ye’ow and pink and red and blue and tortilla and bread and cake for every sweet thing he sees.

But Tornado A won’t say Tornado E.

He says hi and p’ay and remote and this and that and circ’e and app’e and and bird and di’per and poop and potty and nee-nees for candy.

But Tornado A won’t say Tornado E.

He says bye and see you soon and see you ‘morrow.

But Tornado A won’t say Tornado E.

No matter how hard Tornado E tries to teach him.

Just part of the junk collection

I'm sure there are more somewhere....

Some people collect coins, stamps, unicorns, antiques, or condoms. I collect these.


Once my mom was looking in a drawer in the boys’ bathroom.  She grabbed a handful of those medicine dispensers and asked, “How many of these do you need, Fae?”

“As many as I can get!”

I’ve always considered those things a valuable asset.  When you need one, you need one NOW.  Like paper towels, flashlights, lip balms, condoms.  All things that are needed right at your fingertips when you need them.

Last night I was digging around in the boys’ bathroom drawer for a thermometer (oh right, they all went out the same time because I got all three at Tornado E’s baby shower.  I got to put that on the list.), I ran into a few medicine dispensers.  And then I realized.

I didn’t need them any more.  Tornado A was big enough for a little tiny cup.  Or one of those medicine spoons.  No more grabbing a child by his chin and squirting medicine in the back of the throat.  Sure, cups are a little harder to deal with, but I could get rid of these.  A happy dance for little babies growing up.

So I dug these out of the drawer.  I’m sure there are more somewhere.  But at least I can get rid of these and free up some space in the drawer.

Now to work on my collection of medicine cups.

urine collect cup and medicine cup


Ewww!  Mommy  Ewww!

Tornado A doesn’t like bugs.

Mommy!  Ewwww!  Mommy!  Ewwww!

It’s the weirdest thing.  Seriously weird.

Ewww!  Mommy!

Disgust laced with fear.  What happened to this kid?

Mommy!  Ewww!

Tornado A has to come get me to deal with the bug.  He takes my hand and leads me to the bug.

Ewww!  Mommy!

So I swat it away or carry it away or blow it away, or in the unfortunate case that it’s a roach and inside my house, then I stomp on it and flush it away.

Mommy!  Ewww!

Ant.  Fly.  Roach.  Beetle.  Mosquito.  Bee.   All of them upset Tornado A.

Except butterflies.

Mommy!  Pretty!

I just worry about this aversion.  The kid has two older brothers after all.  Weaknesses will be exploited.

I guess we can always call The Friendly Giant over to chase Tornado E and Tornado S with a frog.

God, I’m raising wusses.

A toddler and a mom

I need to take the time to dig out the finger paints and read my old craft posts.

I have a toddler all to myself, and I have no idea what to do with him.  We play cars and roll balls.  We watch Mickey Mouse, but damnit, I’m sure I did more with Tornado E when he. was. oh.

Um.  Hold on a moment.  Tornado E was born in July.  Tornado S in May.  Tornado E was born in 2005. Tornado  S in 2007.  (How much did I screw myself?  Tornado E is 07-05, and Tornado S is 05-07.  I have to think real hard not to mess that one up.)  Tornado E was 22 months when Tornado S was born.

Tornado A is (He was born in April.  It’s September.) is nearly 29 months.

Tornado S was born by the time Tornado E was 29 months.  Heck, he was big enough to make himself known by that time.  When Tornado S was 29 months, Tornado E was in school three afternoons a week, during Tornado S’s nap time.

This situation is a first.

So what does one do with a toddler?

Especially one that is enjoying being alone with all the toys and yells “GO AWAY, MOMMY!” and points towards the door.

Dude.  I only wanted to play with the blue car, not your red one.  Geeze.

It’s either coincidence or this kid is really bright.

So it’s possible that Tornado A might be my smartest kid yet.  On more than one occasion friends and family have whispered, “Um, that kid, he’s going to be your smartest one.”

Which is weird because a study came out a few years ago, in which researchers found that the eldest child had the highest IQ, and the IQ went down with each sibling.  I remember this study well because as soon as I read it, I was on the phone with The Face.  Ha!  To which he replied, “well, you are the smart one.”  Um, what?  For years, The Face outshined me in academics.  We’re talking about a boy who could recite multiplication tables in first grade, a boy who excelled in math, science, and spelling, a boy who didn’t have to study until some time in high school.  Of course, his statement took the wind right out of my sails.  A few weeks later, I met one of his friends.  “Oh, you’re Fae, the smart one.”  Yeah, that’s me.  Can you call my mom and tell her?

Back to Tornado A.  He’s cunning.  He’s bright.  He does things that his brothers didn’t do until they were older.  But his brothers are bright and cunning and shining examples of how to push boundaries.

But then Tornado A does things like yesterday.

We were at Walmart for a few cheap supplies.  I have recently learned they have some cool shirts.  I found one for Hunger Games.  I like to wear understated fan-ware.  This shirt had the 12 district seals and nothing else.  Cool.  I held it up to take a closer look.

Tornado A: ‘unger games!

Me: What?

Tornado A: ‘unger games!

Me: Good job, Tornado A.  Hunger Games.

Now I have told the boys about Hunger Games.  Tornado E is intensely interested and wants me to read the books to him, and he wants to go see the movie after that.  I have compromised and told him a Cliff Note version of the story.  I also own two Hunger Games shirts.  One, from back when Hunger Games was a novel and not even a film in project, has an outline of Katniss drawing back her bow with the saying, “Girl on Fire.”  The second shirt is the District 12 seal with the words “Hunger Games” written above it.

So for Tornado A to deduce that I held a Hunger Games shirt, he had to remember I had one with a giant District 12 seal.  He then had to see and identify the seal among 12.  Quickly.

Or it could be coincidence.

Or there’s today.

It’s Grandparents’ Day at Tornado S’s school, and my parents went, meeting us at Tornado S’s classroom.  Naturally Tornado A spent some time with his grandparents before we left.  I gathered Tornado A up and walked out into the parking lot.  He pointed to a gray truck parked a few spaces away from mine.

Tornado A: Papi truck!

Me: What?

Tornado A: Papi truck!

Me: Yes, that’s Papi’s truck.  Good eyes, Tornado A.

My dad drives a gray Ford full-cap, full bed, pick up truck.  There are tons of those.  Yes, I know.  He saw his grandparents, so he knew they were there.  But he didn’t point to a blue Mustang and say “Nana car.”  My parents do take turns driving the vehicles.  I was surprised they took the truck.

Or it could be coincidence.

It all started with . . .

It all started with a little Mickey Mouse.  It was a perfect idea.  Tornado A ate a late breakfast, enjoyed spending time with his best buddy, and learned a few words and to problem solve; while, I caught up on work or studying or Facebook or- I forgot to write a list last night, so what do I need to do?

After too much Mickey for me and too little for Tornado A, I pulled the plug.  We stared at each other.  Crap.  It’s been a while since I was alone with a toddler without some errand to run.  What did I use to do in these situations?  There was a blog with crafts . . . . Oh, wait that was my blog.  Note to self: reread arts and crafts part of your blog.

Then it all started with playing with trucks.  But Tornado A doesn’t like sharing, especially creative control.  Like his mama.  The sharing creative control part, not the sharing.  I could (and still can) share basically anything, except creative control.

It all started out with Tornado A playing trucks while I read to him. Which led him to drive around the house.  It was then he noticed the half-gallon container of bubbles sitting on the counter.

It all started with some bubbles.  (Ah, I remember this!  Tornado E and I did this a lot when he was a toddler.)  So we decided to blow bubbles, and I gave Tornado A his own tiny container to knock over.  I decided to read my notes to Tornado A as I blew bubbles.

It all started with Tornado A deciding he needed a snack.  He wanted chocolate chip cookie bars, and I gave him a choice of Goldfish, graham crackers, fruit leathers, or dried cranberries.  After much arguing, crying, and reverse psychology, we had a snack of graham crackers.  Which we had outside.  Which Tornado A learned how cool it was to kick over a half-gallon of bubble mix.  I swooped in and set the container right with a scolding for Tornado A.

It all started with this puddle of bubble mix on the outdoor carpet.  Which led Tornado A to investigate by tapping his barefoot into the puddle.  Then he started to jump up and down in it, which looked rather fun.  Then he decided to pour the rest of the bubble mixture on the floor to make an even bigger puddle!   Oh dear God, no!

It all started out with trying to hose off the carpet.  Which looked like a lot fun to Tornado A, so he tried to help.  Then he tried to take over.  I compromised and gave him some control.  Which turned out to give him the whole thing.

It all started when I gave Tornado A a hose near the sandbox.  Which is just too tempting to combine.  After Tornado A ignored my warning, I shut off the water.

It all started when Tornado A decided to get into the muddy sandbox to play with his cars better.  Which led to getting sand in his diaper.  He doesn’t like that.

That is why Tornado A went to bed with just a shirt and diapers.

Tomorrow I’ve got to find something better to do with him.

This is going to be more difficult than I thought

We have a pacifier problem.  It’s my fault.  I’ve been lazy.

When Tornado E was a babe in arms, I read an article that insisted the breaking the pacifier habit should be the last milestone in a toddlers life.  It was more important to wean the child, to teach the child to eat, to potty train the child.  As long as the pacifier was used only at bedtime.  Because after a few minutes the pacifier drops out of the sleeping child’s mouth, and it’s done.

It is great advice.  I followed it with Tornado E and Tornado S.  I’m sort of following it with Tornado A.  But I don’t insist enough that he takes it out during the day.  He wanders around with it.  I take it away, and he finds a new one and wanders around with it.  I see it and wait for the right moment to snag it, like during a juice break.  But then I forget until I see Tornado A wandering around with it.  I don’t want a temper tantrum, so I vow to do it next time.

But today I remembered what I did with Tornado E and Tornado S when they found a pacifier during the day.  I pretended not to understand them and ask them to take out the binky.  I would hold it for them as they talked and then answer their question or give them what they are asking for, and then the binky would slip into my pocket.  The boys would run off to play.

I got Tornado A out of his crib from his nap and sat down to watch him move around the stuff animals.

Tornado A: (mumbles) This way!

Me: I can’t understand you.  ( I mimed taking out a pacifier out of my mouth.)  Take out your binky.

Tornado A: (mumbles) This way!

Me: ( I shook my head.) I can’t understand you.  (I mimed again.) Take out your binky.

Tornado A: (gives me the look and dramatically points to the door and mumbles) THIS WAY!

Me: ( I shook my head.)  I can’t understand you.  (I mimed again.) Take out your binky.

A beat.

Tornado A walked over to me and grabbed my arm to lift me up.  I stood.  He took my hand and lead me out of his room.

Check and mate.

Kitchen disasters

When we talk of our young homemaker lives, my grandma recounts her time living on a Florida base in old barracks converted into family homes.  They were flooded with cockroaches.  My grandma kept all the food, bread, flour, dried noodles included in the fridge.  She kept every dish they owned crammed in the oven.  My grandpa would spray every night right before bed, and still those damn roaches were everywhere.  She would turn on a light or open a cupboard, and roaches would scatter everywhere.  “It got to the point that I would rather squash one with my bare hand than to let it run off and breed.”  I thought I appreciated the story and the hard work that went in to keeping a house functional.  But I’m finding I’m wrong.

I’m slightly anal over my kitchen.  I didn’t start out that way.  We had a series of plagues that forced me to get better at keeping a kitchen.  The first plague was ants.  All summer they filed into the kitchen to gather food.  Any spare crumb was an invitation.  Dishes had to be rinsed, if not washed.  All food had to be put away.  One day I came home from work to find the counters covered in streams of ants because my male roommates left out a half eaten pizza.  Disgusting.  The next summer it was a plague of mice, which taught me to put food in containers.  I needed a refresher course because the next summer came flour moths that got into crackers, noodles, cake mixes, chocolate, anything carbohydrate based.  It took a year of tossing food, putting everything in containers, figuring out the store they came from, and killing them by hand to get rid of the little buggers.  I thought I understood my grandma’s story.

I had one messy hold out.  I used to routinely leave out the food from meals for a few hours until I could get around to putting it away.  Then one night after a messy meal of fried rice, I got food poisoning.  I was four months pregnant with Tornado S, still in the grip of morning sickness, when, after I put Tornado E to bed, I couldn’t stop vomiting.  I finally admitted defeat and went to the emergency room in the middle of the night.  When I came home to crash, I looked over at the partial roasted chicken, the vegetables, the dishes, everything that I had used to make dinner sitting on the counter where I left them.  The milk was the only thing I put away.  (After telling my OB/GYN the story, he insisted that the place where we got the rotisserie chicken from was to blame for the food poisoning, not me.)  I vowed to clean the kitchen right after dinner, and DVD time was born.  Nearly a year later, I learned to pick up lunch stuff when a few neighbors stopped by to stock my pantry with food and cleaning supplies.  With a baby and a toddler, I chose to nap first, clean later.  I was so embarrassed.  But now I truly appreciate my grandma’s story.

Starting with breakfast, throughout the day, I leave things on the counters and the islands.  Like the breakfast cereal.  Or the sugar canister.  And the juice and the juice cups.  The dishes sit in the sink, waiting to be loaded.  The paper towel roll migrates around the kitchen.  I let the candy Tornado A was playing with stay where he left it on the counter.  It’s a cozy mess.  A live-n mess.  A I’m-busy-raising-children-to-have-a-picture-perfect-kitchen mess.  It becomes a little annoying if I’m late getting dinner on and dinner is complex requiring some space, but it’s not too bad, just enough to make my mom roll her eyes when she stops by.  Every evening, I sweep, mop, scour, and make the kitchen sparkle because it is where I cook.

Have I mentioned Tornado A’s obsession with the kitchen?  How he loves to pretend to cook?  How he sees all the kitchen dishes and utensils and his play toys?  How he ignores his own toy kitchen in favor of mine?  Remember when I told you how he used to get on top of the island and wreck havoc, destroying my dessert trays and spilling sugar and oatmeal everywhere?  Have I mentioned his habit of emptying out cupboards and drawers?  Have I told you how he stuffs things in the toaster oven?  All things annoying and cute and picture worthy.

Until yesterday.

While I was helping the older boys with their workbooks, Tornado A snuck into the kitchen.  He moved a chair over to the oven.  He got up and looked at the coffee cake sitting there, waiting to be covered.  Then he mangled it as he played.  I didn’t even realize it had happened until the boys were through with their workbooks and I started on lunch.

While Tornado E and I read together for a half hour upstairs on my bed and Tornado S and Tornado A played, Tornado A returned to the kitchen.  He moved a chair next to the sink.  He found Tornado E’s soggy bowl of cereal, waiting to be dumped and cleaned.  He found the cinnamon shaker.  He noticed the sugar canister open and the juice pitcher sitting next to the sink.  He decided to cook.  He poured cinnamon into the juice.  He dumped the mushy cereal into the full sugar canister.  He dumped the sugar-cereal mixture into my water glass, pouring cinnamon into the mix.  I was horrified by the mess.  I ended up dumping everything and vowed to keep a better eye on my youngest tornado.

Until this morning.

After I was dressed and ready for the day, I went downstairs to crush the boys hopes that I forgot about workbooks.  Because the last few days we’ve been practicing  getting ready quickly in anticipation for school, the boys were ready for the day before me and were playing with their toys.  I got the boys started on their workbooks and went in the kitchen for a drink.  I noticed the floor around the sink was sticky.  I noticed the counters were wet.  I finally noticed the overturned juice picture which was nearly full of juice earlier that day.  I wanted to scream.  I stacked the dishwasher.  I threw out the paper towel roll (and if I think about it, that roll saved me from a bigger mess).  I wiped down the canisters, the blender, and the mixer.  I wiped up the juice from the counter and floors.  I mopped the floor and scoured the counter.  I think I have a new appreciation for my grandma’s hard work.

I think I’m going to have to clean as I go.

Because I have a tornado who loves the kitchen.