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.

 

THESE REALLY ARE THE DAYS WE ALL WILL REMEMBER.

 

HAVE YOU BEEN TO A KITE FESTIVAL?
 
STORIES!

 

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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

HUSBAND INCLUDED FOR SCALE.

 

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.

 

IF YOUR HUSBAND UNEXPECTEDLY BRINGS HOME A GIANT COPPER-COLORED KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR AS LIVING ROOM DECOR, YOU REACT:

 

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

 {PROBABLY INCOMPATIBLE}

 

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

 {PROBABLY COMPATIBLE}

 

c)   With Approval And Admiration.  THAT IS FREAKING AWESOME!  HOW’D YOU FIT THAT IN THE MINI-VAN?  DO THEY HAVE MORE?

 {INDISPUTABLY MADE FOR EACH OTHER}   DING! DING! DING!

 

 

Knight In Armor Statue Critters And Crayons-2

My Answer To The Marriage Compatibility Quiz?
C.
I LOVE THIS THING!
I KNEW WE WERE MEANT TO BE TOGETHER!

 

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.

 

SO…..

HAVE YOU MADE ANY PRACTICAL INTERESTING PURCHASES LATELY THAT YOU JUST LOVE?

 

WHAT’S YOUR ANSWER TO THE COMPATIBILITY QUIZ ABOVE?

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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.  

BUT, THEY ARE USUALLY WORTH IT.

 

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,

Again.

 

That’s Us.

That’s Parenting.

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

 

It’s Like That.

 

 IT’S ALSO LIKE THIS.

 

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

 

Every

 

Terrifying

 

 Moment. 

 

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

 

Parenting Is Like Sledding.  Sled Optional.

 It’s  Easy  AWESOME!

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Teaching Kids About Culture With The Elf On A Shelf

We have a very Curious Elf On A Shelf.

 

Teaching Kids About Culture With The Elf On A Shelf

 

Time is scarce so our elf, is very thankfully, not too into mischief and messes.

He IS a very curious Elf, though.

Each morning, the kids find him on top of something that came from a different place in the world.

And, each evening, we sit down at the computer together and they excited ask questions about whatever it is that they found the Elf sitting on or in or under that morning.

We simply Google Away together.

And, each image or map or costume they see triggers another question and another search.

An example of what our curious Elf On The Shelf taught the kids this morning when they found him on the Mongolian String Instrument was that it was not simply a “HORSEY BANJO”, which is what they called it when they found Snowflower Flaky Sassypants sitting on top of the traditional horse-handle like a rocking horse.

It’s called a “MATOUQUIN“.

 

It is from MONGOLIA.

 

MONGOLIA is in ASIA.

 

 The MATOUQUIN is shaped like a TRAPEZOID.

 

 

The kids now know that Snowflower The Elf is NOT simply  sitting on a Horsey Banjo.

So far, we’ve explored Mexico, Afghanistan, and Mongolia alongside our very globally curious Elf On A Shelf.

I wonder where she’ll take us tomorrow?

 

HOW DOES THE ELF ON THE SHELF BEHAVE IN YOUR HOME?

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Kids Play In The Same Language

 

 

Kids Play In The Same Language

 

Kids Play In The Same Language.

 

They just a find a way to get over the minor obstacle of competent verbal communication.

One of the best aspects of living on the US/Mexico border is the opportunity for our children to experience a different culture and language.

I was reminded of this today as my children played at an indoor play area.

I posted about it on the Critters And Crayons Facebook Page and realized that such a great thing really warrants its very own blog post.

Our 6 year old daughter ran around playing tag with a new friend.

She ran up to me and said,
 
 

“Mom! I made a new friend!  She doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Spanish!   So we made up a game!”

 

 
 
I asked how they played that game.  And our daughter answered,
 
 

“I teach her English and she teaches me Spanish!
It’s called Speaking Different Languages!”

 
 
I noted how brilliant that was.

It is, isn’t it?
 
 

When you have so much in common,

like the need to be gleeful in the moment

for the sake of loving that moment,

then language is not a worthy foe.

 
 

That’s something children have figured out.

A reader commented on Facebook, “And a child shall lead them.”

Yes.

 

Kids Play In The Same Language

 

And So They Shall.

And So They Do.

 
 

For more posts on bilingualism and culture with kids…..

 

But, She Doesn’t Like Me….

 

Bilingualism, The Border, Dora, And Kids…

 
 

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The Cheer Up Gift

A friend of mine was having a tough time.

She was feeling like the world was just one big toilet bowl.

We knew this from her graphic descriptions of just the kind of stuff her days seemed to be filled with.

She also has a broken toilet paper holder in her bathroom.

I know this because she said so when I ran THIS post about our very essential alligator toilet paper holder.

So, I knew what the most efficient gift would be to fix two problems at the same time.

The Best Cheer Up Gift Ever

She says it was the best Cheer Up Gift Ever.

She laughed.

Mission Accomplished.

HOW DO YOU CHEER FRIENDS AND FAMILY UP?

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Buying Only The Necessary On A Budget…Like THIS Thing.

We returned from our fantastic Summer vacation with a commitment to slash spending.

We are going to buy only the necessary on a budget.

We had a lot of fun visiting bays and beaches, ancient caverns and zoos, aquariums and aquatic parks, children’s museums and aviation museums, and alligator farms…and more alligator farms.

 

Did you miss that our son is now into crocodiles and alligators?

 

crocodilians-2

 

Trips like that are unique and memorable.

They are also expensive.

 

So, we’ve made a commitment to peel back the fat.

 

We’re actually going to cut off our television service to make the move to streaming media.

We’re cutting off Satellite Radio.

We’re going to become “satisficers” who buy exactly what’s needed when that need appears to be imminent.

No more stuff coming into the house without stuff going out of the house.

 

And NO JUNK.

A NO JUNK policy is in effect.

 

We are committed.

 

But, we have one major need right  now.

 

A few months ago, one of the mounts of the toilet paper holder in the kids’ bathroom fell out of the wall.

We’ve been meaning to fix it.

 

alligator tp-1

 

We had a temporary solution-   We put a toilet paper roll on the tank behind them.

 

The problem is that the kids would reach behind them to get that toilet paper roll, and somehow find a way to drop the entire roll INTO the toilet.

Do not ask me how this happens.

Repeatedly.

 

So, I made an ESSENTIAL purchase to fix this recurring dilemma……
Imagine.

Toilet Paper Rolls.

Dropped Into Toilets.

Needing To Be Fished Out.

By Me.

No Question.

We needed THIS thing.

alligator tp-3

 

 

I am feeling good about our problem-solving skills and pragmatism.

 

I think we’ve got this new commitment to practical purchasing licked.

 

DON’T YOU THINK?

 

 

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The Creepiest Easter Bunny Ever

We waited in line playing “I-Spy” for 45 minutes to sit on the Easter Bunny’s lap at our local mall.

We opted to pay the $35 by choosing the cheapest package that gave us a CD.

They take your order BEFORE you get up to sit in his lap.

Smart Strategy.

Our photos were terrible.

So terrible, I won’t even post them here.

But, it could have been worse.

I felt for the hopeful parents whose daughters were in the prettiest pastel pink ruffled dresses, with meticulously twisted, pinned and braided hair, secured with specially matched fabric hair bows.

I felt for the parents because they not only stood in line for more than an hour to find out that their children were terrified of the bunny, but now they weren’t even going to get a good photo after all that ornamental work!

The little faces of their daughters were gruesomely contorted, tears were running down their faces, drool was now blending into all the shiny sequins on the front of those little Easter cardigans.

A little boy did the “wet noodle” and used the Easter Bunny’s face as leverage to kick off in an attempted somersault over his persistent father’s head.

One determined father attempted to preserve this mandatory family photo by restraining his 3 year old daughter in a strait jacket grip using his biceps to hold her still.  She took the photo screaming and looking in horror at the Easter Bunny to her right while her daddy smiled that cheesy smile.

I wonder if they paid the $35 I did.

Ah, well.  It’s a sort of right of passage, I suppose.

Take this photo for instance:

Creepy Easter Bunny

That’s my little sister more than a couple of decades ago.

And is that NOT the creepiest bunny you’ve ever seen?  I mean, really.

REALLY?!!?!!

Really, Dad?!!!

But, then again.

I think, perhaps, my dad is pretty smart.

Ugly, Deranged Zombie Bunny or not.

I’m pretty sure he snapped this shot for free.

And, he didn’t stand in any lines.

And he didn’t force us to smile.

Although, it’s troublesome that my little sis was so willing to stand next to that thing.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?  

WOULD YOU STAND NEXT TO THAT THING?

HAPPY EASTER!

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How To Avoid Being A Piñata Event Failure

One thing I have noticed about living on the U.S./Mexico border is that people take their piñatas seriously around here.

No, really.

This is serious business.  You’ll see what I mean.

Growing up, I’d seen images of piñatas and even whacked a couple, but I remember they seemed much smaller than the ones we’re accustomed to seeing nowadays.   The little rainbow burro piñata I remember swatting was probably the height and width of the bunny ears on the gargantuan piñata you see below.

That photo was taken at a party last year and that’s our daughter getting ready to go to town on the thing.

How To Not Mess Up A Pinata Event 1

To show the scale of these behemoth piñatas,  here’s a Dora The Explorer piñata that towered over another party’s diminutive guests.

 

How To Not Mess Up A Pinata Event 4

 

And, here’s another:  a Cinderella piñata taller than the 6 year old birthday-girl.

 

How To Not Mess Up A Pinata Event 6

Do you see?

People in these parts actually make these things!  With vigor!

But, back to that giant bunny piñata…

I recall a note I received from a friend of mine whose son became distressed because the head of the paper mache giraffe he’d been playing with for weeks leading up to his birthday party had been summarily whacked off with violent zeal during the party.

It was the first party he’d ever had with a piñata.   That giraffe had become his buddy.  And, just like that!  BAM!!!  It was missing a head.  Forever.

My friend wrote to me and said that she now always recommends that young kids receive piñatas in “non-living shapes” to avoid potentially stressing the child out.

This reminded me of some parental banter about the logic and messaging of the piñata event for a young child.

In conversations with another mother, I learned that there are parents and even psychologists, that are uncomfortable with the encouragement-to-violence embodied in a piñata.   You can read about that HERE.

Basically, the idea that a young child would be encouraged to hit something by authority figures, who routinely discourage the hitting of anything in any other circumstance, coupled with expectation that the child should aggressively decimate something made in the image that he or she loves WOULD seem to send a sort of mixed signal to a kid.

That may be true for some.

My friend’s son’s experience with that poor, decapitated paper giraffe DID SEEM to support that theory.

But, again, let’s get back to that giant bunny piñata and our very girl-y, very fashion-y, very dainty 4-year old.

She didn’t seem to struggle too much with hurting that massive crinkly bunny.

How To Not Mess Up A Pinata Event 2

 

She didn’t seem to bear any of those afflictions or psychological aversions to executing something in the image of  living thing.

I don’t know.

Maybe I’m just too subjective in my reading of her body language and facial expressions as her mother.

What do you think?

 

How To Not Mess Up A Pinata Event 3

But, back to the seriousness of the piñata event.

You can see that the sheer size of these things and the creative work that goes into them is big business.

I hear that along the Mexico side of the Rio Grande, one of the reasons that there is not an abundance of the invasive specie of cane that plagues the U.S. side of the Rio, is because the piñata-makers actually use the abundant cane to supply the recurring demand.

But, when you live in a place where piñata events are a sort of party-rite for children, it is not surprising that many venues actually have built-in piñata cages like this one at a local pizza place.

There are even signs on the cage letting patrons know that the party place may provide the cage, the rope, the pulley system and the pizza, BUT you better remember to bring your own piñata stick, Buddy.

 

How To Not Mess Up A Pinata Event 5

 

Piñatas are so prevalent that they are even considered to be a sort of nuisance for many venues whose contracts for use explicitly state what TYPE of piñata can be used.

For instance, contracts for use of HOA-run pavilions (also known as palapas) and city-run parks specify that piñata messes must be cleaned up or that confetti-filled piñatas are not permitted.

But, enough about that.

Let’s get into the real meat of this post- and that is to describe the many, empirically-defined ways that you should (or more importantly, how you should NOT) run a piñata event should you decide to give it a go.

For many people who grew up in a piñata culture, running the event probably doesn’t seem like a logistical or logical nightmare.

If you grow up around piñatas, you probably know what you are doing.

It really IS probably  a no-brainer.  It’s probably like remembering to bring spoons for the ice cream and forks for the cake.

Even if you lack a hook, a stick, or a rope, you’ll probably know how to improvise, adapt and overcome in a way that makes you still emerge a Piñata Hero.

But, I will also show you in photos and pictures, that for those people who do NOT grow up attending piñata events every few months of our lives, that throwing a seamless piñata event is actually a sort of science.

Seriously.  It’s like the mystical-type of science that almost looks like voodoo magic to the ignorant pupil on the first observation.

Let us begin with some of the things you need to watch out for, shall we?

First and foremost, you should be sure that you do not purchase cruddy, little, pull-string piñatas from the local party or grocery store.

How To Not Mess Up A Pinata Event 7

 

Let us please forget what it appears that Batman is doing to Spiderman in the photo.  That is just a snickering aside for the juvenile adult males at the party.

The REASON that there are two piñatas, in the first place, is because we realized that just one would be insufficient for the number of clamoring children who would be there.

Do you see the little ribbons dangling from the bottoms of the piñatas?

Those are NOT decorative accessories like I, and other moms and dads as you will soon see, believed when we purchased them for twenty-five bucks each.

Those are “pull-strings” intended to be yanked so that kids don’t need to beat the crap out of the things.

This goes back to that discussion of the parenting philosophy of non-violence.  If you know you are buying a pull-string piñata and you do so for moral reasons as a piñata-event conscientious objector, then “Rock On, And Good For You For Sticking To Your Figurative And Non-Violent Water Guns!”

But, if you have children older than the age of 3, the odds are not good that you really meant to buy a pull-string piñata.

And the reason I know this is because even a 4-year old will look at one of these things and think, ardently and out loud, that you are a lame parent.

Furthermore, these particular types of pull-string piñatas also come with a handy little opening receptacle in the back that facilitates rapid candy flow with the slightest tap.

This means that when a child DOES hit the pull-string piñata because you didn’t know you bought a pull-string piñata (forget that we bought TWO), that all the candy will start to fall out by the time the second kid in the 30-kid line gets to even step up.

 

How To Not Mess Up A Pinata Event 8

The photo above was actually taken recently at another birthday party.

You should note that the mother of this little boy purchased THE EXACT SAME Batman pull-string piñata that I had a year earlier.

When I saw it sitting on her table, I told her about what we’d learned the year before.

“Oh!  I thought those ribbons on the bottom were for decoration!” she laughed.

I know, right?!!??!

So, the time came to hit it, and they strung it up by the little tab the piñata came attached to from the store to a limbo bar because no one had a rope.  Or a hook.

The birthday boy was first in line.

He hit it once.

 

How To Not Mess Up A Pinata Event 9

Another piñata fail, folks.

The funny thing is that I was standing next to a couple of hispanic women who had lived in Laredo their entire lives.

I told them that we had made a similar mistake the previous year, and we bought the same piñata, and the same thing happened.

They said, “Ha!  We were just talking about that!   We were laughing about the pull-string piñata.  And the limbo bar.  And the missing rope. And…”

I’m going to get to the part where I tell you how to run a successful piñata event.

But, first, I am going to tell you what else has gone wrong at our piñata events, and here goes:

  1. We forgot to buy a piñata stick.  Actually, we didn’t know they made sticks expressly for that purpose, but we see them everywhere now for about 10 bucks.
  2. So, we brought our daughter’s plastic, electronic Snow White broom.  It played “Whistle While You Work” as you made sweeping motions.  Well, it DID play that song until it broke in half on the second swing of the Batman-Spidey piñata event.
  3. Someone’s kid played tee-ball so a friend retrieved a BASEBALL BAT from his car for us to complete the event.
  4. This is not recommended.
  5. Ever.
  6. When the second child in line got up to swing the baseball bat (did I tell you that was a bad idea?), the piñatas crashed down because the HEMP TWINE that I took out of my craft kit BROKE in half. Apparently, you’re supposed to use rope or something.
  7. So, while the kids waited in line for another 5 minutes (with 28 more kids left to get a whack and we were on kid number 2 still) and my husband quadrupled up that craft twine and re-hung the piñatas which continued to shake out candy with every movement.
  8. We got to Kid #3 and one fell swoop later with that baseball bat that, thankfully, did not cause any prolonged concussions, those pull-string piñatas were COMPLETELY OBLITERATED.
  9. One girl started bawling.
  10. I mean, REALLY BAWLING.
  11. When I asked her what was wrong, she wailed, “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING!!!!!!  YOU’RE DOING IT ALL WRONG!!!!!!!”
  12. Wailing.
  13. More Wailing.
  14. Essentially….we sucked at that piñata event.
  15. I mean…A LOT.

If you are a visual person, here’s a picture I drew of what it was like.

Screen shot 2013-03-07 at 11.56.36 PM

 

 

But, no worries.

I recently polled Critters And Crayons readers for suggestions about how to run a successful piñata event.

You can see their excellent suggestions HERE.

In a nutshell, make sure you:

  • Buy a REAL piñata
  • Lay a tarp down for easy clean-up
  • Use a real rope
  • Make sure you have a piñata stick
  • Hand out treat bags before the event
  • Have a person manage the piñata line and safety zone
  • Smallest kids go first
  • Give the kids just 3 strikes
  • Sing the “Dale! Dale! Dale!” song
  • Have extra bags of candy to shake out in case you need more or little ones don’t get enough

Easy right?

But, probably one of the greatest challenges to any piñata event is always going to be where to hang the thing.

There aren’t always trees with sturdy branches, or large hooks and pulley systems for parents to use.

Some people attempt to overcome this challenge by standing on a chair and they actually hold the piñata themselves for a child to indiscriminately swing at it.  The Batman in costume in the photos above ended up trying that.   He was saved because the candy all fell out of that pull-string piñata by Kid #3.

Regardless, The Stand-On-A-Chair-And-Hold-The-Piñata Solution is a bad one.

It’s a bad idea because even a giant by human proportions would not have sufficient arm-reach to ensure a safety zone that could prevent the  sterilization or shattered knee caps of any male victim who agreed to stand on that chair with arms outstretched holding that candy-filled demon.

The bad-idea-ness of this “solution” is further exacerbated if the child is either 1) wearing a blind-fold, or 2) swinging a baseball bat (Um.  Again.  See above image based on true events).

If all of those factors have been brought to bear, then really, a merciful party-goer should just summon the paramedics as soon as the first child starts swinging.

But, let’s get back to where and how to hang a piñata when there really doesn’t appear to be any place to suspend the thing.

We have learned that, around here, there really are NO EXCUSES for messing this tiny detail up when you are a seasoned piñata event do-er.

And, here’s how I know that.

Look at this photo.

How To Not Mess Up A Pinata Event 10

That gigantic cowgirl piñata is hanging from a rope that has been stretched to a rooftop up on the left.

Do you see that?

People, that rope is not secured by a nail, or a knot, or any other inanimate thing.

This photo was taken at a friend’s birthday party and  that gargantuan piñata is suspended from a rope that is stretched between a rooftop and an 8-foot cement wall in my friend’s backyard.

My friend sent PEOPLE (as in Willing Human Beings) up on that roof and on that wall to HOLD THAT ROPE so that they could make that piñata event happen.

Don’t believe me?

 

How To Not Mess Up A Pinata Event 11

 

Seriously, there were dudes yanking on both ends of that rope, one wearing shoes with excellent traction up on a slanted rooftop, so that they could provide a child with a real and successful piñata experience.  They made the thing bob up and down as the kids swung at it WHILE LITERALLY DEFYING DEATH ON BOTH ENDS OF THAT ROPE.

Every once in a while we’d see one of the guys  look like they were going to lose their balance and careen to the ground.  As arms flailed and eyes widened to see how it would end, party-goers cheered when the rope-holders regained their balance to start yanking and pulling that piñata for the next kid to start pounding on it.

Is this not serious stuff?

 Again, for the folks who are better with visuals versus reading verbose blog posts, here’s my artistic rendition of that “really happened and there were witnesses to prove it” event:

 

How To Not Mess Up The Pinata Event 15

 

And do you know what?

Do you know whose party that was?

Remember the little girl who was wailing at our awfully-executed piñata-event?

It was totally her party.

No wonder!

It all made sense!

She must have been, like, “LOOK, MAMA!  THERE ARE LOTS AND LOTS OF PERFECTLY GOOD ROOFS FOR THESE PEOPLE TO POSSIBLY FALL OFF OF  TO STRING THAT THING UP PROPERLY!   WHO USES PULL-STRINGS???  A TOY BROOM?  A BAT?  NO ROPE??   WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?   WAIT A MINUTE……ARE THOSE RAISINS????  BAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!”

I’d have wailed, too, if I had known we were being measured against this rooftop/wall-balancing event standard.

Do you see what I mean about piñata events being serious business around here?

Death-defying.  They are death-defying.

It doesn’t get more serious than that.

But, now, I think we’re ready to try again and maybe, armed with all of this non-intuitive and pain-forged knowledge, we’ll pull off a piñata event without issue.

The good news is that even if you run a bad one, the end state generally is the same.

 

How To Not Mess Up A Pinata Event 14

Unless you or one of your party guests comes from a family where all the uncles are trapeze artists, rope walkers or who are otherwise simply unafraid of dying in order to make the piñata event a booming success.

Then, there may be tears and wailing and you should just wear a badge that says “Yes.  I’m A Piñata LOSER” .

Wear it with pride that you were also the best.

You were the best failure at the piñata event imaginable.

Congratulations.

Congratulations that you sucked so bad that you made a little girl cry.

We’re all supposed to be good at something in this life.

May as well be that.

 

GOOD LUCK TO YOU, PARENTS!

LET US KNOW HOW YOUR ADVENTURES WITH THE GIANT PAPER MACHE BEASTS GO!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kindergarten Homework Doesn’t Lie

 

One of the most intense changes to a family routine comes when a child starts kindergarten and homework begins.

There is an adjustment period for most parents and children to figure out how to balance this new task with the other life demands.

I have actually started to look forward to doing homework with our daughter because it can be a truly funny episode.

I mean, really, really, really funny.

It’s funny if you know how to laugh at yourself and it’s funny because the child’s answers to his or her homework can give us parents another glimpse into a growing mind’s perspective.

One of the first times we experienced humor when reviewing our daughter’s homework answers happened when she was asked to draw a picture of the word “CAP”.

I wrote about that HERE.

Please note the crushed left end of this particular “cap”.

To our child’s knowledge, the thing that goes on a person’s head was only ever called a “hat”.

The thing Mommy always told Daddy to stop losing in the food disposal was called a “cap”.

Our daughter had another telling homework assignment when she was learning about how nouns are persons, places or things.  She was asked to illustrate a few.

Can you tell where Mommy likes to go with the kids?

funny kinder homework critters and crayons

 

But, my favorite piece of homework just came home.

We have been laughing for days over this homework.

I pinned this baby to the refrigerator, even.

Take a look at this assignment which innocuously asks our 5-year old daughter to draw some more persons, places or things.

IMG_9628.

 

Can you spot the funny part?

Don’t worry.

I didn’t, either, at first.

I DID think it was cute that our daughter put “Laredo” as a place and then drew a picture of the Texas flag.

 

IMG_9629.

And, I also noticed she had drawn a stick figure of her brother playing with a truck on the floor which I thought was adorable.

So, I asked her about it….

Oh!  You drew your brother playing with his monster trucks!”

YEAH!” she said.   “He’s always playing with those!”

IMG_9632.

 

But, she went on to explain the rest of the images.

AND YOU, MOM!  YOU ARE ALWAYS COOKING!  SO, I DREW YOU WITH AN APRON!!!

I had totally missed that when I looked at the”Mom” picture she had drawn.

But, I could see it now.

IMG_9630.

And, finally, the “Dad” picture description came….

AND, DAD??!!  DAD LOVES TO REST!!!  HE LOVES TO REST SO I DREW A GIGANTIC PILLOW UNDER HIS HEAD!!!!  SEE????

IMG_9631.

 

Shall we take a closer look at that kinder masterpiece?

If you missed the pictorial details, here is a little photo analysis for you:

Hilarious Kinder Homework About Resting Dad

 

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA!

My husband and I have been collectively guffawing over this picture since she explained it to us.

And, in defense of my hubby, he does work pretty hard in his day job.

When he gets home, it is not odd for him to want to kick back in the recliner and relax for a little bit, which is what I think inspired this hilarious photo.

He really doesn’t rest ALL of the time.

He is actually the primary homework-monitor/helper.

This makes this little homework gem deliciously ironic.

I mean, this picture is simply delicious.

So, that beauty sits on our fridge (and it will do so with bountiful hematite magnets to ensure it never drops between the Bermuda Triangle abyss that exists between the refrigerator and kitchen counter where it could disappear forever.)

When my hubby and I are alone in the kitchen, I point to it.

And, we laugh some more.

But,  for some reason, I’ve noticed a new pattern of behavior.

He feels compelled to fix something.

Even if he already did the dishes, took out the trash, helped our daughter with her homework and gave the kids a bath.

Something’s gonna get some fixing.

And, I’m not complaining.

This would be the “UP” side to kindergarten homework, folks.

So, pay attention to what your kids write and draw.

Seriously, there could be some really good stuff in there.

funny kinder homework 6 critters and crayons

WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST THING YOU’VE SEEN WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR KID’S HOMEWORK?  

 

 

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