A Nature Explorer Bedroom For Kids!

A Nature Explorer Bedroom For Kids

For The Little Ones Who Love Nature & Adventure…


We recently moved into a new home and left our son’s bunk bed in Texas.

In the midst of packing and unpacking, we still haven’t had time to go out and find a new one, but after looking around, we figured out that we had everything we needed to give our son a room he’d love!

Our little boy wants to be Paleontologist, loves Indiana Jones, Dinosaurs, Crocodiles, and Nature, so it made sense to turn his room into a Nature Explorer-Adventurer’s Campsite using our family’s camping and outdoor gear.


A Nature Explorer Bedroom For Kids!

Our Nature Explorer’s Bedroom!






First, we set-up the 4-Person Tent in the middle of the room.  We laid down the area rug to help the mattress stay in place, to protect the tent floor, and to give our son something soft to walk around on inside his new bedroom tent.

Once we blew up the mattress and positioned it in the center of the tent, we put on our son’s bedding.

(Mom Confession! I was tempted to purchase new dino-themed bedding, but stopped myself.  The goal was to make use of what we had on hand to make this bedroom!)

Once the bed was set-up, we “sandbagged” the edges of the tent with rolled blankets and quilts to aid stability.  This actually was a help for Mom since I was running out of places to store the extra linen!

We placed a small bedside table next to the mattress with a T-rex nightlite, a flashlight, and his favorite animal stories.

His yellow lawn chair fit the theme perfectly so we positioned outside of the tent for reading, and for holding his safari vest and adventure hat.

We reserved a space in the room (not pictured) for him to display his favorite dinosaurs and crocodiles, and to store his habitat-building kit, books, and a small bin of kinetic sand.


This was a simple and inexpensive kid’s bedroom solution and our children absolutely love it!

The best thing about it is that we can keep the tent up as long as he still loves it, and then pack it away for family camping trips!





Pin It

Problem-Solving: Kids See Potential In Everything

Kids See Potential In Everything.

We’re In The Middle Of A Move and it’s been an adventure, sometimes fun, sometimes funny, sometimes groggy (cross-country driving with the kids), and sometimes even a bit cranky (did I mention we were driving cross-country with the kids?).

Coffee has helped with the groggy-crankiness…and sometimes earplugs.

I have often been amazed at how clever children prove themselves to be, so naturally and innocently, unencumbered by the learned parameters of “expectation”. Kids truly do see potential in everything around them.

(This same ability, can arguably, also be a “CON” when experiencing a child’s developing IMPULSE CONTROL, but that is something to explore in another post….)

Last month, while watching our son transform a large yellow pipe cleaner and plastic pirate chain into a pretty convincing Spinosaurus costume, I was in parental awe at the sheer simplicity of the solution.  You can read about that HERE.

And, I hear the best stories from other mothers who view the ingenuity of their own children with a combination of delight and exasperation.   For instance, my friend, Gretchen, who co-authored the Laredo Splash Park Review, recently told us about a plan her kids were concocting to conduct an experiment in the house.

“This conversation just happened in a New York household…

FOUR YEAR OLD:   “Mom, get out of the kitchen.”

MOTHER:   “Why?” 

FOUR YEAR OLD:   “We are going to do an experiment and the refrigerator might explode.”

BEST reason not to vacate said kitchen. EVER.”

That’s probably A Good Call!  Although, I have to admit I’d be a little interested to know what they were going to try….   

I was reminded, again, of what a child will do to overcome boredom this morning in our sparse hotel room, with few toys and other conventional forms of child entertainment.

We gave our son a tangerine.

And, the play commenced.

Kids See Potential In Everything.


As a mom pursuing her own entrepreneurial pursuits, working to build a new company from the ground up, and trying to do it as practically as possible, these resourceful reminders are fantastic.   I’m not going to build a company on tangerine peels or plastic party chains, but I can remember that simple solutions using available resources might be, literally, right in front of me.

During this business Work-In-Progress, I have found that the solutions that have worked best, were often simple and available at the onset of the task or plan. But, those solutions were not necessarily clear or even part of the brainstorming process. Much work and energy can go into implementing a plan or a model that is more complicated than it needs to be. I want to strive for an elegant solution, and I think making a crocodile out of tangerine peels when there is nothing else to play with, is pretty darn elegant.

I think we can all benefit from re-routing traditional thinking when it comes to problem-solving to find the potential in the things, opportunities, and people around us….and, let’s not forget about the potential within ourselves!

SO….The Next Time A Challenge Presents Itself, 







Pin It

Trying New Flavors With Kids: Dragon Fruit

We recently watched the movie, How To Train Your Dragon 2, and have a little boy how says he wants to grow up to become an archaeologist to find dinosaur bones, OR a Dragon Scientist.

SO, when we walked past this cool looking fruit today in HEB Plus, we had to pick it up and put it into our cart!

It was named “DRAGON FRUIT” and we had no idea what to expect!


How To Cut A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons

Trying New Flavors With Kids: Dragon Fruit


When we got home, we looked up a few facts about it, and learned that a Dragon Fruit is actually a member of the Cactus Family!

They are found in Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and Israel. We found ours at HEB Plus in Laredo, Texas!

The most  interesting thing that we learned tonight is that the cool multi-purpose tool we use to help us in our Guacamole preparation to slice and pit avocados, The Avocado Shark, actually is the PERFECT Dragonfruit Slicing And Scooping Tool!  




You can see the process we used to slice and eat the dragon fruit below.


How To Cut A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-1

Step 1: Try New Flavors….Buy The Dragonfruit When You Find It!


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-2

Step 2: Slice The Dragonfruit Down The Center Lengthwise.


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-4

Step 3: Open The Dragonfruit To Reveal The White & Black Inside!


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-6

Step 4: Prepare To Scoop Out The Dragon Fruit. A Multi-Purpose Avocado Slicing/Pitting Tool Like The Avocado Shark Is Awesome For This Step!


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-8

Step 5: Scoop Out The Dragon Fruit After Cutting Around The Edges Of The Peel!


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-9

Step 6: Slice The Fruit Like You Would Slice An Apple


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-10

Step 7: Cut The Dragon Fruit Into Bite-Sized Pieces.


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-12

Step 8: Eat The Dragon Fruit!


I’ll admit, the inside of the dragon fruit took everyone in the family by surprise!

It was entirely new and unexpected, and so was the flavor!

The Flavor, by the way, was very much like a mild kiwi!


We’re going to keep trying new flavors, particularly for exotic fruits and vegetables we find at markets.

Our Family Night Dragon Fruit Adventure Was A Hit With The Kids!


It’s Got The Kindergartener’s Seal Of Approval….

And That Is A Hefty Endorsement!


Pin It

A Child Will Build What His Mind Sees

Like a lot of kids, our son is fascinated by wild animals and ancient dinosaurs.

He loves to dress-up and build habitats, watch documentaries, and read books about dinosaurs and crocodiles.

And, our son had been running around with an attached leopard tail that belonged to his sister’s halloween costume because it was the only tail he could find to pretend he was a full-fledged Spinosaurus when he’d create makeshift costumes.


I told him that we’d figure out a way to make a better tail.  I considered cutting out scute-like ridges from cardboard, painting them green, or maybe cutting pieces of scaly felt and gluing them together to trail behind him.

I went to do some chore and forgot about the whole missing-dino-tail-and-I-promise-to-make-one predicament.

When I went back upstairs, I was reminded that I had forgotten that task when I saw our son, again.

But then, I was also reminded that it didn’t matter that I had forgotten, after all.


Our 5 year old son had figured out a perfectly workable and realistic solution, himself.

And, I must say….It is absolutely Brilliantastic.


A Child Will Build What His Mind Sees


It’s True.

Kids won’t allow a seeming lack of available resources to inhibit their goals.

It is refreshing to watch a mind work in creative ways

because it hasn’t learned to place boundaries on solutions.


A Child Will Build What His Mind Sees.

A Child Will Make Her Thoughts Come To Life.


I mean, I can almost not even see our son in this photo….He becomes a Spinosaurus down to those perfectly curled therapod claws and that realistic hissing roar that sounds like the ancient reptile actually needs to clear his throat.


Can You Just Hear It?


It’s A Good Lesson For Us All, To Remember, Really.


Don’t Just Love The Spinosaurus, Become The Spinosaurus.


Learn Everything You Can About That Spinosaurus.


Use Whatever You Find Available To Make Spinosaurus Happen.


Don’t Wait For Mom To Go To The Craft Store To Cut Green Scutes Out Of Tag Board.


There’s No Need For That Kind Of Unnecessary Delay!

(She’ll Probably Just Forget, Anyway!)


WHAT YOU NEED TO DO IS PUT ON That Cheap Dollar Store Hat That You Begged Your Very-Resistant Mom To Buy (Because It Might Be A Buck, But, Seriously, How Long Is It Going To Last?   Over A Year, Surprisingly),


TWIST That Over-Sized Pipe Cleaner Into The Neck Of Your T-Shirt Until The Head Hole Stretches To Fit A Beach Ball Through It When You Finally Take It Off To Make A Spiny Sail,


TUCK That Handy Plastic Pirate Chain Into Your Belt Loop (Which, Interestingly, Also Doubles As The Leash You Fasten Around Your 2nd Grade Sister’s Waist When You Pretend To Use Her As Bait To Catch Crocodiles) And Make A Long And Fearsome Tail,


CURL Your Fingers Into Terrible Three-Fingered Claws That Look Like Perfect Garden Rakes,


ROAR A Throaty Roar That Would Inflict Laryngitis On Lesser Humans, I Mean, Ancient Reptilian Crocodylomorphs…


AND STRIKE Fear Into The Hearts Of ALL The Other Dinosaurs In Your Imagination As They Tremble In The Sharp-Toothy Face Of Your Boundless Cleverness.


PROVE Just Why YOU Are The Apex Predator In This Food Web Of AWESOME…AGAIN.



When I see children solve problems by seeing the potential in

the simplest things that lay in front of them,

I am reminded that we, parents, might not be missing

as many spinosaurus tails as we thought we were.


The solutions to our everyday conundrums might just require

an adjusted approach,

a less conventional perspective,

or, at the very least,

one really awesome plastic party pirate chain.  


Everyone should have one of those.





Pin It

Why Would Anyone Live By A Volcano? { Kid Conversations }

critters and crayons, Photo Of Volcanic Rock From "Why Would Anyone Go On Vacation Near a Volcano?"









My children are not unique in the way that they can turn DNA-infused maternal worry into comforting hope that THEY/WE/THE PLANET will be okay.
In the elfin voices of children, we hear the barebones logic of kindness.
I was reminded by our nearly seven year old daughter of this in a bedtime conversation as we read another chapter from The Magic Tree House Series , this time from Book #13, Vacation Under The Volcano.
By Chapter 3, the kids were introduced to the concept of The Gladiators, a strong, soldierly-looking group of men, who were fighters bound by ankle-chains.
Our daughter asked,

“WHY?  Why would such strong men have chains?  Did they do something wrong?”

I explained they had not.  I tried to break it down for them as succinctly as I could so they could understand the concept.

  • These days, if we see people in physical chains, it would normally be for prisoners in jail.
  • The chains would be there to protect others, and to keep them from escaping.
  • But, we are lucky to live in a time where most people in the world understand that people should not be treated like prisoners in chains if they have done nothing wrong.
  • The word for those people is “SLAVE”.
  • And, all around the world, and throughout history, many people had slaves.
  • Slaves were owned by other people.
  • In the case of the gladiators in Roman times, they were slaves who were owned by people who made them fight.
  • But, other slaves had to do other types of work, and it was a hard life.
  • People were not free.
  • And, if your parents were slaves owned by someone, the children were often born as slaves.

Our kids, 5 and 7 years old, seemed genuinely horrified.
Our daughter shouted,


And, this made me a very happy Mom.  But, she kept on.
She said,




Our son gave his ardent support by adding that it was true!




{You’d have to have been following this blog for some time to understand why that crocodilian reference makes complete sense.….}

The conversation morphed from discussion of why it was not right to own humans into another very salient topic:



This question arose because Chapter 2 of the book indicated that Pompei, Italy was a place where ancient Romans would visit on vacation.


The kids were serious when they asked the question of why anyone would visit a place for fun knowing that a volcano was right in the middle of it.


Our daughter said,


“It just seems….UNSAFE.”

I’ve never lived near a volcano but know a lot of folks who have lived in Hawaii.
Perhaps, one of them might be better equipped at explaining their reasons for choosing to do that to our daughter.
I was thinking that there must be some science on our side now-  seismological Doo-Hick-A-Ma-Bobs that gave enough forewarning to make millions of people feel safe, but I thought using “Doo-Hick-A-Ma-Bobs” in a sentence might harm my credibility, even in the eyes of these kids.
So, I thought about how to explain why millions of people live in, around, and on active volcanoes, by choice.
All I could recall about living near volcanoes in my youth was the observation of the panicked dispersal of former Subic Bay High School students to other high schools throughout the Fareast after Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991 in the Philippines.
Some of the students came to our high school in Seoul, Korea and they brought with them, the awesome footage of the aftermath.
The images showed a thorough destruction that laid deceptively beautiful sheets of chalky basalt in its cooled-magma wake.
(The other short-sighted downer for my then-high-school-self was that the volcanic eruption seemed to send some of the best Subic Bay athletes on the Girls’ basketball team to rival Fareast Tournament schools in Okinawa, Japan, and Guam.)
I chose not to relay that example to the kids to explain why it’s safe to live, or even better, to emplace an entire military base and billions of dollars in sensitive military assets, near an active volcano, which totally exploded.  
Maybe, folks just needed one of those seismological Doo-Hick-A-Ma-Bobs, so a more geothermally-stagnant location could have been chosen…
Oh, wait! I remembered, there might be another story to tell.  Her Papa, my dad, actually gave the kids a rock this past Christmas that he picked up on his own visit to Pompei.  It’s a piece of pumice from one of Mt. Vesuvius’ many eruptions.
The very reason their Papa visited the city was to see the recovered ruins that had been unearthed after having been completely covered in volcanic ash in 79 A.D., that were only discovered in 1748 B.C by a survey engineer.  
This didn’t seem to support an answer about why anyone should go on vacation or live in a place with a volcano considering the mass death and destruction that has cyclically ensued over Mt. Vesuvius’ lifetime. But, it appeared that Papa was lucky that he made it home, especially since he had no special early warning Doo-Hick-A-Ma-Bobs.
So, I just agreed with her.  She appeared to be right on, again.
We finished the chapter, gave Goodnight Kisses, and as I prepared to flip out the light, I asked the kids one last question.

“You know, guys….We’re leaving Laredo soon.  
  What place, here, are you going to miss the most?”

I figured I’d hear “The Imaginarium!” or “The Science Center!” or the name of some park.   But, instead, I heard something even more special and profound.

  What I’m gonna miss the most is not really a place…..
  Actually….It’s actually the people here.  

I’m gonna miss my friends the most.”


And, for another moment, I had to stop and think about our conversation, again.


When you spend a lot of time moving in your life, “Friendship” BECOMES A Place.

It turns into a proper noun, entitled to capitalization,
with all the grammatical rights of any fixed city on a map.

So, I answered….

“Me, Too, Kiddo.  

My Friends Are The Place I’m Gonna Miss The Most, Too.”


The Simplest Things Can Make Us Happy And Hopeful.


There WILL Always Be Something That Makes Us Gasp.


BUT, There WILL Always Be Something That Makes Us Laugh.


There WILL Always Be Something That Makes Us Sad.


BUT, There WILL Always Be Something That Leaves Us In Awe.




And, If The Brilliance Fails To Inspire You, Just Follow The Unbridled Laughter….



Pin It

Dandelion Seed Bottles & Haiku Gift ~ Teacher Appreciation Week


This year we wanted to do something fun and nature-oriented for Teacher Appreciation Week!

You might remember the kids’ School Supply Cake last year?   That was a fun project, too!


To Make The Dandelion Seed Bottles & Haiku Gifts You See Here, You Will Need:

  • 1 Small glass bottle with cork
  • Dandelion(s), preferably with seeds still attached to wispy parts
  • 3 Feet of thin leather cording, ribbon, or other cording for each glass jar
  • Scissors
  • Scrapbook Paper or Card For Haiku
  • Pen or Marker


We found some pretty little glass bottles at a craft store and our daughter wanted to place dandelion wisps inside for her teachers.

The children picked the last dandelion we could find in our backyard for this project!

Surprisingly, one dandelion was plenty to fill 9 little glass jars!


Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC


The kids placed one to two dandelion seeds into each glass jar.

Handling the seeds and getting them into the small openings was a fantastic fine motor skills activity!

We tried to keep the wispy parts of the flower attached to the seed because we just love the way they look inside the bottles!


Some Quick Tips:

  • If you have a knitting needle, or something similar like a rubber band loom needle, you can use it to help move the dandelion seeds into position inside the bottles.
  • I recommend placing your dandelion in a small container to protect the wisps from flying off!
  • I don’t recommend gluing the cork onto the bottle so the recipient can change contents later if he/she would like to.


Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC


We had more seeds and wisps to add, but we loved the simple, beautiful look  of each bottle with one to two seeds.


Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC


The remaining seeds DO look quite pretty in the extra bottles…


Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC


Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC


I helped the kids with the last part of the gift by cutting 36″ lengths of thin, tan leather cord for each of the bottles the kids had prepared.

I tied the knots around the neck of each bottle and then knotted the very ends of the cord so that the teachers could use the bottles as a necklace or lanyard.


The very last thing we did to complete the gift was to develop a short poem called a Haiku to give with the gift.



  • Haiku refers to a traditional Japanese Poem consisting of 17 syllables broken into three lines following  a rhythm of 5-7-5 for on/off syllables.
  • That may sound very technical but it was easiest to explain to our kids by clapping as we practiced saying possible stanzas as we built the poem.
  • Haiku also usually contains a “nature” element, and a clear break between two ideas.
  • Haiku are often witty.


I realized after we settled on our finished poem for the teachers, that we had mixed up the number of syllables.

Instead of 5-7-5, our poem was set to a  7-5-7 rhythm.


Apparently, English-Contemporary Haiku has been breaking the rules for some time now, so I’m going with “It’s an English-Contemporary Haiku Pattern”.

Haha!  :)

Here is our English-Contemporary Haiku the kids helped to develop for their teachers!

   “You taught me to ride the wind.

I landed safely

by MYSELF.  Thank You.”

                                                                   ~Tricia,  Critters And Crayons

Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC











Pin It

When Our Kids Reach Milestones, We Remember What Is BIG.


Look Mom No Training Wheels Critters And Crayons-1.jpg


When Parents Are Lucky Enough To Be Present When Our Kids Reach Milestones,
It Puts A Lot Into Perspective.


Some Things Are Just More Important Than Other Things.


Some Moments Are Worth Lots Of Exploding Fist Bumps,


Celebratory Dances,


Goofy Shouting On Videos,


And Happy-Proud Tears.


In Those Moments,

We Remember What Is BIG,


And What Is Not.


The dishes in the sink,


The laundry in the basket,


The dust on the bookshelf,


That e-mail, that text, that post…


They’ll all be waiting.


They’ll all be back.


The Rarest,

Most Special Moments 

Zoom By Like A Joy-Filled Boy

Pedaling A Bike

Without Training Wheels

For The Very First Time.


Look Mom No Training Wheels Critters And Crayons 2-1


This is the Big Stuff…..The Biggest.


Pin It

Fortune Cookie Messages For Outnumbered Parents At Kite Festivals

These Are The Days We'll Remember...At The Laredo Kite Festival.  By Critters And Crayons.

At The Laredo Kite Festival


One of the festivals we absolutely love to attend each year in Laredo is the Kite Festival in March.

Today, we attended our fourth.

This means that we have attended since our children were in diapers, nursing, learning to crawl, learning to walk, learning to talk….all the way up to this year.

This year is the first year both children are past all of those milestones, but they can also both hold their own kites, fly their own kites, and be genuinely interested in holding and flying their own kites.  

They can do these things after getting just a little bit of help by Mom or Dad to catch the wind, of course.

I have to say, though, there is one truth that appears to be self-evident and inviolable.

If I had a fortune cookie message to foretell my future or offer sage advice about taking more than one child to any Kite Festival alone, it would read:


“Winds Favor The Wise Parent Who Is Not Outnumbered By Children Or Kites.”


Another possible fortune cookie message might bring a different perspective while delivering the same message:


“One Foolish Parent With Two Children At Kite Festival
 Will Be Entangled In The Strings Of Crashed Kites.”


Each year, we pile into the mini-van on a beautiful, but very hot day, with our newly selected kites.  We walk to the festival from our distant parking spots.  
We find a plot of land that is not completely marshy and that is not so packed with people that we might get one of our kites airborne.


But, the unspoken and unfair Law Of Wind Dynamics For Parents ALWAYS kicks in.


That law, in case you have not experienced it firsthand is:


“Your Child’s Kite Will Only Fly When Your Other Child’s Kite Crashes Into Some Unassuming Picnickers.”


And this Law is also supported by a couple of Theorums:


“The Vertical Height Of One Child’s Kite Is Directly Proportional To The Vertical Drop Of Your Other Child’s Kite.”


“If You Rescue One Child’s Kite By Gaining Wind Resistance By Running,

You Will Surely Run Through A Mudhole Where You Sink 3 Inches Before Kite Still Crashes Into Some Unassuming Picnickers.”


(Seriously, I cannot believe they didn’t move the first time.)


But, do you know what?


I’m certain we’ll be back, again, next year.


We may have muddy shoes and ankles, and some tangled kite string, and maybe even some occasionally frustrated children who haven’t completely grasped how to keep their kites in the air for longer than a few minutes, but, overall, we’re making some serious improvement.


Next year, we may be able to break that Law Of Wind Dynamics For Parents and its supporting Theorums.


Maybe, our Fortune Cookie Message, if we had a fortune cookie with a message about the Kite Festival, might read:


“Outnumbered Parent At Kite Festival Will See Two Kites In Air Simultaneously.”


or, maybe:


“You Will Not Trip On Tangled Kite Strings This Year.”


That would be cool.


But, maybe next year this fortune could really happen:


“You Will Remember To Wear Crappy Shoes To Places Where You Know You Will Run Through Mud.”


And, maybe, just maybe, some folks will get this fortune cookie message:


“Picnicker Who Moves After Kite Crashes Into Face Finishes Rest Of PB&J In Peace.”


But, I want to wish “Cheers” to all of the families out during the pretty Spring Days doing these kinds of activities.


There is humor in them, and sometimes, a little frustration.  
Yes.  Sometimes, you cave to the frustration after that Law Of Wind Dynamics For Parents kicks you in the teeth and ruins your shoes, again…when those imaginary fortune cookies foretold the future you should have predicted yourself.


For instance, I FINALLY cut the streamers completely off of one kite, and even sliced clean through the strings from the kite handle to regain the circulation to my legs after a near tourniquet had been formed by an errant kite with a very strong and determined child yanking on the other end.


I DID offer to pay the screaming child for the damage but she ran off to find her parents before I could give her any money.


(Um…..Really Sorry About That If It Belonged To Your Kid And You’re Reading This Now After Wondering Why Your Wailing Kid Brought Back A Kite Frame, But I Couldn’t Feel Anything Below My Ankle…..)


Seriously, though.


Days Like Today Are Never Boring. The Never-Boring Days Are The Real Memory-Makers.






Pin It

Being A Practical Consumer Looks Like This

Being A Practical Consumer Looks Like This.  A Post By Critters And Crayons.


I haven’t been able to write as much as I’d like, recently.

In the last month, we have endured Strep Throat, Allergies, Asthma, Pink-Eye, and Houseguests.

Back in August, I wrote about how we were now committing ourselves to “Buying Only The Essential”.


I think teaching our kids to be “Practical Consumers” is a great life skill that will truly benefit them into their adult years.


Every year, we go through a “Stuff Audit” to donate or sell.

*  Clear out the clothes and shoes that don’t fit the kids anymore.

* Cull our closets for the stuff we haven’t worn in a year.

*  Edit the play area for toys the kids have outgrown, that are junky, redundant, dangerous or annoying.


SO, doesn’t it make sense that since writing that post where we bought the amazingly essential Alligator Toilet Paper Holder, that we have brought these things into The Household Fold?

My husband’s favorite, favorite, favorite Christmas Movie is “A Christmas Story”.

So, this was the perfect gift for him from us.


Being Practical Consumers Critters And Crayons-4

The Crooked Leg Lamp From A Christmas Story.


And, we all use Salt & Pepper, right?

What could be more PRACTICAL than buying a Salt & Pepper Shaker?

Salt & Pepper Shakers pretty much DEFINE “Practical”.


Being Practical Consumers Critters And Crayons-1

Our Alligator Salt & Pepper Shaker…


And, just this weekend, my husband took our visiting Sister-In-Law to some local pottery and metal-work venues to shop for unique items.

He came home with THIS.


Knight In Armor Statue Critters And Crayons-1



I saw a segment on a morning talk show that discussed how to  “Test Compatibility” of married couples as part of The Valentines Day-themed topics.

There were marriage experts, book authors, digital quiz recommendations….but I think I’ve got the answer.




a)  With Horror.  He better have kept the receipt!



b)  With Relief.  NOW, I don’t have to feel guilty about buying those shoes, after all.  







Knight In Armor Statue Critters And Crayons-2

My Answer To The Marriage Compatibility Quiz?


And, to show that we are committed to this “Practical Purchasing” resolution, let me show you how useful and versatile that Alligator Toilet Paper Holder has proven to be!

Sadly, he fell over one day and one of his arms shattered.

He could no longer stylishly hold the toilet paper roll for which he’d been purchased!


BUT, the kids figured out a solution before we could grab the Super Glue!


Being Practical Consumers Critters And Crayons-3

Versatile. Innovative. Above All, A Very Practical Purchase.

Just as we were feeling good about that crocodilian TP-holder back in August, I definitely feel like our kids are being imbued with a real appreciation for “Practical Material Consumption”.


The Leg Lamp?  
It provides light.


The Gator Salt & Pepper Shakers?  
They provide seasoning.


The 7-Foot Tall Knight In Our Living Room?    
He is an excellent conversation starter.


The Alligator Toilet Paper Holder?  Did you LOOK at the photos?  
Totally pragmatic.






Pin It

Parenting Is Like Sledding. Sled Optional.

My kids often surprise us with the unspeakably comical things that they say.

They also make us pause when their questions require an honest and thoughtful answer.

We’re coming off of a holiday trip that bore some of the typical challenges of traveling during an already busy season.

Sometimes, reality didn’t match the idyllic scenes in a Hallmark Movie for the various tugs and pulls of life, and family, and obligations.

Essentially, it was a normal holiday season- one that many might relate to, and one that might lead a child to ask a simple, but very thought-provoking question of her parents like our six-year old daughter did tonight on the way back from a drugstore where we bought vitamins for immunity support to stave off any more festive seasonal illness-on-the-go.


“Mom?  Is It Easy Having Kids?”


I could have answered her quickly with a fleeting and dishonest, “YES! It’s Super Easy!”, but I’ve got a sort of rule about not lying about that kind of stuff. 

I don’t want to be the Army Recruiter who promises someone a job in a highly marketable computer field who then lands him in a basement working with dot matrix printers circa 1985.  That’s just bad Mommy PR.  So, I told her the truth.


“No.  Having Kids Is Not Easy.”


Our First Grader looked concerned so I elaborated,


“But….It IS Awesome!”


Our daughter was confused.


“How can something be hard and awesome at the same time, Mommy?”


I didn’t have any concrete examples to give in that second.


But, I told her that most things that are completely awesome

in our lives are usually not that easy.  



I may have blanked on examples but our daughter threw one out.  She said,


“You mean like if we’re sledding

and we have to walk all the way up

to the top of the hill in the freezing cold

so that we can sled down super fast

and have all that fun

spinning all the way down?”


I didn’t think I could put it any better myself so I told her that was pretty much exactly right.

Really, that is about the best metaphor I could think of that I didn’t think of at all.

Maybe, to complete the parallel, I could have added a few crash-and-burns at the bottom of the hill, some broken sleds, or a dud slope or two to round out the analogy, but I felt pretty good she now understood that something can be TOTALLY NOT EASY while still being simultaneously TOTALLY AWESOME.

That’s Us.

We Parents.


We’re all trudging up a slope,

looking for a safe route,

eyes on the peak,

moving forward when it hurts,

striving upward when we fall,

willing onward when we’re cold,

and getting to the end

as honestly and happily as we can

so that the long and arduous trip

might all be worth it

for one magnificent launch,

followed by a brief 

and validating

soar to the bottom,

on a cheap, round sled

that spins you like a top

until you crash,

or fall,

or coast to a stop,

Hoping For The Coast,

Always Hoping For The Coast,

so that we might trudge back up

to do it all over,



That’s Us.

That’s Parenting.

It’s Not Easy Having Kids.  But, It IS Freaking Awesome.


It’s Like That.




Parenting.  We Got This. From Critters And Crayons.


Trusting Clutches, Giant Smiles, And Closed Eyes


 Astride Quiet Screams And Immense Hopes


 That You Will Coast,


Coast Without Crashing,


 Still Smiling, Still Laughing,


Without Breaking Anything,


After That Fervent And Amazing Ride


Hoping You Didn’t Lose Your Sled On The Way…


But Even If You Had,


It Would Have Been Worth








So, to wrap it all up in a nice, pithy little phrase:


Parenting Is Like Sledding.  Sled Optional.

 It’s  Easy  AWESOME!

Pin It