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.





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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.






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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.




 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?



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Mom, What Is College? Do They Let You Go To Recess Every Day?

mom whats college 2


These days, the kids have been on a roll when it comes to verbal communication.

This morning, our 4-year old son informed me that I was “spectacled”.

I don’t wear glasses so he was using that term properly, but in a more unorthodox way.  His knowledge of that term comes from his obsession with crocodilian species, and the spectacled caiman is one that is spotted.

He was referring to my freckled face.

I can’t complain, though.

When my daughter realized I had freckles, she mistakenly called them “pickles”, and explained that they were, “You Know!  The Dots All Over Your Face!” as she poked the air like she was popping balloons with a needle.


Then, there was a HILARIOUS circular conversation between my son, my daughter and me the other day about his puffy coat.

He didn’t want to wear it.  There was a reason for it.     It was an astonishingly funny and unexpected series of accidental insults and miscommunications.  To read that one, go HERE.


Fast forward to tonight.

As I was putting the kids to bed, our 4 year old boy piped up with the statement that he didn’t want to go to college.   He’d been told that college wasn’t fun so he had decided he didn’t want to go.

I explained that he didn’t know what college was just yet, so he asked,


“Well, Mom, What IS College?”


So, I tried to put it in the simplest terms.


“Son, you are in pre-school, and your sister was in kinder last year.  

You’ll start kindergarten next year.  

Then you go to first grade.  

Then second.

Then third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh,

eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh,and twelfth grades!  

Then, you go off to college!  

It is great fun!  

Your daddy and I loved it so much we went to college even after college!”


The kids looked very surprised.

And, then the real questions started.  It was tough to keep a straight face- but I did, because the kids were earnest with their genuine questions about college now.


Our daughter asked,


“Mom?  Do they let you go to recess every day?”


I told her that they normally did.


And, our son asked, “

“Do they let you bring your toys to school?”


I told him that they did, but I never knew anyone who wanted to bring their toys to class.


And, then our daughter asked,


“Can you sit anywhere you want to at lunch? I mean, can you sit with anyone you want to sit with?”


So, I told her that was one of the best parts of college!


I also explained that many kids couldn’t wait to go to college because they could live in a big building with all of their friends!  Everyone has their own room.  So,our daughter’s best friend could live across the hall, or our son’s best friend could have a room next door!


The kids looked horrified.


They both yelled, “NOOOOOOO!!!!    I want to live with you and daddy! “


I told them they might change their minds one day.

Then, as I was turning out the light and tucking them in, our daughter whispered something to me,


“Mom.   I WILL probably get my own apartment when I go to college.  

BUT, you can come and visit me anytime.  

You can bring anything you want if you want to stay with me.  And, you can stay with me anytime.”


I’m not sure how binding that is without credible witnesses.

Her brother doesn’t count as one because he still believes in imaginary creatures and his signature is too shaky to hold up on any affidavits, especially since most of his letters are still backward.


She gave me a big hug and a kiss.


And, I whispered back,


“Thank you, Honey. I will!   And, and if you want, I can also be a recess monitor!”


She beamed.






I’m optimistic that she might still feel this way in 12 years.

It could happen, right?





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It’s All About Winning In First Grade Girls Basketball

One thing I am over the moon about is that our 6 year old girl loves to play basketball.

It is pretty much the only sport I know how to play.

I am nearly 40 years old and truly have no concept of what “fourth down” or “offsides” means. Basketball is IT.

It has been amazing to watch a team of girls go from not knowing how to simply dribble at the try-outs, to watching them practice fast break drills.

The hoops are lower and the rules at this early level of girls basketball can pretty much be boiled down to the following,

“You Are Allowed To Travel All You Want,
Just As Long As You Remember To Double-Dribble In Between!”

They often forget.

It is a real highlight to watch a little ponytailed girl fight for the ball, and with exuberant intent, take off down the court in a full sprint, protecting that ball like it’s the hot Black Friday Toy Of The Year.

One thing that all of our girls can do this year is protect the ball. We have come up with a drill wherein the first one to grab the rebound or the fumbled ball yells, “I’ve got it!” so that team-mates don’t continue to try to wrestle it from her.


One of the funniest things to see in a game is how desperately and self-sacrificially these 6 year olds will throw themselves on a basketball, and how difficult it is to pull it from their grasps. The person who seems to have the most difficult time getting the ball out of a little girl’s hands is the referee.

You can often see the referees attempting to get the ball after repeated pleas for it. When they get ahold of it, they nearly lift the determined girl’s body up as a rigid unit since she has encased the ball in a tight fetal position, sealed with the resilience of Super Glue, eyes closed, and with a clenched will to NOT LET GO.

We may also not have our shots perfected, but they are generally headed in an upward AND forward direction.

This is a vast improvement from where we started 2 months ago.

Getting the ball INTO the basket, or simply NEAR the lowered basket, is on the long-term training agenda. Just you watch. We’ll be swishing soon.

It is helpful to remember that these are skills that are cumulative.

We’re going to get it.

Besides, these young ladies and future UCONN Point Guards and Forwards have already demonstrated a tenacious spirit and drive to WIN.

As you can see, they are a formidable bunch in pink.

Attentive. Driven. Ready To Go!

It's All About Winning In First Grade Basketball Humor-1

The diminutive hoopsters with matching pink hairbows (which will surely result in technical fouls in later years if worn during a game) are pounding the court!

Go Pink!

On those hairbows, the greatest problem with them is not that they are particularly hazardous in the under-the-basket brawls for the ball.

It is that they tend to fall out, and the little girls spend their time searching for the fallen bows on the court rather then focusing on their part of the zone defense.

It’s a little comical to watch. “I Got Her! I Got Her! Wait a minute. Where’s my hairbow? There it is by the boundary line!”

And a nice little hole is made for the fast break straight to the basket.

Often, the little girls end up tossing their hairbows to mom in the sidelines as they run up the court after a basket was made because they were obliviously searching for their lost hair bows.

It's All About Winning In First Grade Basketball Humor-2

Even so, the B Team is waiting with baited breath for the chance to go in and redeem that error!

We’re down by 2! Put Me In, Coach!

Well, Sorta.

It's All About Winning In First Grade Basketball Humor-3

I have absolutely no idea why we lost.

It's All About Winning In First Grade Basketball Humor-4

Killer Instincts.

We’ve got ‘em.

We may have lost the basketball game, but some of these girls were TOP DOG in Rock Paper Scissors.

My daughter can often be overheard after a hard-won Handsie-Game on Sidelines as saying, “ROCK ALWAYS WINS! I LOVE ROCK!”

And, don’t get me wrong, we didn’t just lose because second string likes to play Say Say My Playmate.

Lots of parents want to know what the Red Shirt Policy is.

Some of those opposing team kids look like they’ve already started memorizing multiplication tables.

They probably already know how to tie their shoes and keep their letters facing the right direction. I bet their lower case “b’s” don’t look like “d’s”, anymore.

Just saying.

It can’t possibly be this.

It's All About Winning In First Grade Basketball Humor-4

Just give us a couple of years.


It’s All Cumulative.

We’re working on dribbling without looking, fast break drills, a crippling man-to-man defense, and a very cool double-back-hand-reverse slap for Say Say My Playmate, in the meantime.




** HUMOR DISCLAIMER: I am by no means implying that there is any wrongdoing by any teams in the league we play in. That snippet about the Red Shirt policy was thrown in for comedic effect. I’m sure there are lots of reasons for 5 ft tall 1st graders with uncommon hand and eye coordination to abound on some teams.**


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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?




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.



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.



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

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.





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Why Rollerblades And Training Wheels Do Not Mix

why rollerblades and training wheels don't mix

Tonight, our nighttime book was Fancy Nancy’s The Show Must Go On!

In it, Fancy Nancy and a lion-obsessed boy named Lionel must prepare for a talent show.

This sparked conversation with our pre-schooler and kindergartener about what a talent show actually entails.

So, I asked our daughter what her talent would be if she were in a talent show.

“Well, I really like art.  I would do art,” she said.

“And I’m good at Batman stuff!  I’m gonna be Batman!” our son added.

It had been decades since I thought about the first talent show I’d ever been in, and this seemed like a good time to talk about when mommy was in a talent show once- and the telling went like this:

” So.  I was in the 2nd grade.  Pretty much your age, a little older….

and back then, kids did things like square dance, or play chopsticks on the piano,

and I thought I was a really good roller skater so that’s what I did.

I remember practicing in our garage for weeks leading up to the talent show!

Way back then, we wore roller skates…and there were four wheels on each foot, but they weren’t in a straight line like the rollerblades you see today!

I totally did figure eights to that tape recorded song “It’s A Small World After All!” and roller-skated backward like this!”

The kids watched me as I moonwalked like a mildly suffering epileptic across their bedroom floor.

My husband laughed.  So did the kids.

“BUT things didn’t go like I planned for them to!

On the day of the talent show, the whole auditorium was full of all the students in the school, the teachers and all the parents of the kids performing in the talent show!”

The kids were excited to hear the rest, and our daughter asked me what went wrong.

“Well, there was a part of the routine where I was supposed to skate on one foot with the other foot lifted up behind me as I skated across the stage…”

And, I did that motion (for the kids’ visual benefit) with  my arms outstretched to my sides with my left leg lifted to the back as I looked at the audience of my family.

I was standing in front of them like a ballerina dancer but without the grace or flexibility.

“And, I remember skating across the stage like that, and looking out at the audience, and it was a sea of people!  And, I saw my dad, your papa!

And, then I didn’t see anything anymore.”

The kids asked me why.

“Because I wasn’t paying attention and I skated behind the drawn curtain and unceremoniously crashed into the piano on the other side of the stage.”

I made crashing sounds to replicate the sound.

“What did you do, Momma?” our daughter asked.

“Well, I got up and skated out across the stage on my other leg, smiling like nothing happened.”

We laughed.

My hubby asked what my father did when I did that, and I told him that I remember asking him about it in my twenties and he said he just put his hand up to his face, like, “Oh My Gawd.  That’s MY kid.”

That was second grade.  Now, fast forward nearly 30 years.

About a year ago, I saw a photo in a parenting magazine of a couple of roller-blading parents pushing their kids on bicycles equipped with training wheels.

I can’t find the photo or the article now, but the point of the snippet was to convey that parents and kids should get out together and be active despite varying motor abilities.

And, I remember looking at that picture and thinking, “THAT IS JUST A HORRIBLE IDEA”.

I thought that because about a month before seeing that photo, my hubby and I had the exact same stupid idea, and we actually tried it, to the detriment of many things.

On the day that we thought we were going to be innovative, adventurous and fun-loving parents, at least one of us ended up in the Emergency Room.  (uh- that would be ME), and at least two of us ended up with some cross between PTSD and an irrational fear of anything wheeled  for the next year and a half (and those  would be OUR CHILDREN).

The bottom line is that it all started well.

Our kids were on their little baby-bikes with baby training wheels.

My husband and I were on our roller-blades which we had not strapped on in at least 5 years.

He and I were equipped with the hubris that either one of us remembered how to roller-blade.

And, it turned out the rollerblading was the easy part and our arrogance was warranted because we were proficient at that.

However, I soon found that MY pride was misplaced because I could definitely GO, but I had completely forgotten how to STOP.

This became apparent as our family approached a slope that is mild in appearance from the vantage point of the mini-van driver’s wheel- but that greatly increased the momentum of two training-wheeled bicycles that were angling into each other, each dangling an incompetent roller-blader behind it.

I bit it.


But, not before I took out the entire family in the middle of that residential road.

I remember trying to stop and realizing that it wasn’t working.

Our daughter’s bike was accelerating dangerously down, down, down that slope like a bowling ball.

I tried to steer our daughter away from our son when impact appeared imminent.

Then, my rollerblade caught her rear tire and we were history.

I tripped over our daughter who crashed her bike as I landed a few feet in front of her on my wrists.

Her now rider-less, rogue bike careened into her younger brother who fell over and then skidded a foot or two on the pavement.

My husband, seeing the carnage in front of him and with the quick wits to know that he might flatten our wailing son literally did an airborne Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle forward roll into someone’s lawn.

And, when the bells stopped ringing in my head,  I looked up, and saw all four of us splayed across that sloped road, bicycles upside-down and wheels spinning.

There was a lot of groaning.

I had piercing pains up my forearms.  I was pretty sure my right wrist was broken.  (The ER x-rays showed it was just a bad sprain.)  Our son’s chin was bloody and scraped.  Our daughter’s knees and palms had road rash.  And, my husband jammed his neck doing that commando roll.

Other than that, we were totally fine.

My husband just looked at me in disbelief.

We were a mile from home and the kids refused to get back on their bicycles.

Speechless and limping, our kiddos walked those bicycles home.

Our 3 and 4 year old would not get back on those things for another year.



The brilliant plan my husband and I had to roller-blade with our training-wheeled kids totally back-fired on us.

So, if you come across that article in a parenting magazine I saw, or any future suggestions like it, consider this your Public Safety Announcement and just DON’T.

Just Don’t.

And since I’m giving out handy advice about roller-skating and such, should you ever find yourself balancing on one leg while skating on the other in front of a large audience, and you’re a beat or two ahead of the routine to “It’s A Small World”, do NOT take your eyes off the edge of the stage.

Because, it only takes a second to crash into a piano.

Or a kid.

Or two.

Take it from a woman who knows.

But, remember.  If you DO crash, just get up and act like nothing happened.

There’s a small chance no one noticed.




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You’re Not Lying To Me. ARE YOU?

Today was a normal school day with all of the normal hurdles.

After my son and I engaged in our morning Starbucks ritual (me with a Venti Hot Chai Tea Latte-Nonfat, and him with a Kids Hot Cocoa with one ice cube-no whip), I dropped him off at pre-school and the rest of the day was a blur until bedtime.  The brief beverage time with him in the morning IS a relaxing part of any school day.

The only major change to our routine was that today was the day before the turning in of the science fair project tri-panels.

This involves some last minute taping, setting and question and answer periods which you hope your child will remember in 10 minutes.

When you have two children, and you are myopically engaged with only one of them, interesting things can happen.

As we worked with our daughter on her newest sight word “Hypothesis”, I realized that the house had become very, very quiet.

I stopped for a minute or so to just listen.

I had no idea where our 3 and a half year old son was in the house because there were no audible indicators of his location.

This is very odd.  Very, Very Odd.

So, I called him.


And there was a disturbing quietude.


Then,  I heard the cupboard door in the kitchen being shut carefully culminating in a very gentle, wooden “tap”.

There were Hershey Kisses in that cupboard.

There were many, many Hershey Kisses in that gargantuan, economy-sized bulk warehouse bag of chocolate.

“Son…Come here, please.”

His caped Super Hero silhouette appeared from around the corner.

His mouth was frantically masticating SOMETHING but I couldn’t see just what yet.  Maybe he was really in the healthy DIY snack station we’d set up.  Perhaps, he had been eating those cashews in the breadbox…..

“Son.  I said to Come Here, PLEASE.”

He walked slowly toward me.

I could see a telling brown dribble down his chin and shirt  that reflected a very cocoa-licious sheen.  It was not cashew-ey at all.

“Open Your Mouth.”

“WO,” he said.

His mouth was so full of Kisses that he couldn’t even get his tongue to touch the back of his teeth to make the “N” sound required to defy me for the chocolate abatis he had created across his bottom molars.

“Open Your Mouth, Son.”


“Son?  Are you eating chocolate?”

By this time, his saliva had effectively broken down the massive quantity of candy in his trap.  The only problem was that he had forgotten to swallow the now watery  mixture of liquified sugar, spit and chocolate that oozed out of his mouth with every word, onto his shirt and then onto the floor when he innocently said….

“Wo, Wom. I  WOH eawing awywhing.”

The whole time he spoke, unable to close his lips to form a coherent phonetic sound as his salivary glands worked overtime to deconstruct that candy, that Spit-Kiss cocktail dribbled off his little, fibbing lips.

I’m supposed to be mad….Right?

So, why is it that I had to look down at my lap so he wouldn’t see me trying not to laugh?

We talked about lying and not sneaking and asking for permission (and all of those things we must address as parents) to inculcate a sense of self-policing integrity that we are expected to extol.

But, I really, really can’t think about that drippy-brown conversation without smiling a little or a lot.

I think it’s because I know my son hasn’t reached a major milestone yet- and that milestone would be the one where he can look me in the eye, having concealed or transformed any incriminating evidence, and with conscious manipulation, lie right to my gullible face.

I believe I want to laugh during these moments, because he’s really, really bad at this lying thing.  He hasn’t grasped that ardently-delivered but contradictory words in light of indisputable evidence of abject culpability glare like the shredded Hershey Kiss wrappers at his feet.

Remember  the case of the crossed-eyes and the missing chocolate mini-eggs?


I believe this stuff makes us laugh because it IS  a little cute, and it is such a relief that our kids are still  innocent enough to not understand how to manipulate and lie convincingly just yet.

And, I’m pretty much banking on the idea that things are going to stay at this benign level for….well, for FOREVER.

It could happen.

In the meantime,my hubby and I  will keep perfecting our poker faces while we chuckle internally about this stuff.  I plan to do it for many more years.

Yes, we will do it for many, many more years…. just AFTER we put a sliding bolt on that cupboard door.





Image Credits:

Abatis:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abatis



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How Do You Punish A Kid When You Cannot Stop Laughing?

And the bloggy blessings have been bestowed again upon us….And this episode sparked another opportunity for me to learn how to discipline my kids even though they were cracking me, and everyone else around me, up.

Yesterday, we had to go to a local mail pick-up store that I’ll refer to as RED-X Worldwide Shipping.

After picking both kids up from school, we shot over to get a package containing a large photo canvas (that I’ll be writing about next week).  It had already been routed back to the shipper and re-routed back to us for having missed too many RED-X/Residence link-ups.  I needed to get this thing.


I really didn’t think much of the task.


It was pretty simple really.  I was heartened to see that I was only fourth in line.

This would be microwavable mac & cheesy-easy.


Upon walking in, our son noted that the warehouse had a disproportionately wide floor sensor that triggered the sliding screen door.

So, my son engaged in playful long-jumping that caused the door to nearly convulse for the mixed messages it was receiving.  Open. Shut. Open. Shut.

I can’t really blame the kid-  but it just can’t be allowed.

The people in the store all turned around, of course.  Each opening would let in a whoosh of solar-furnace heat.

To his credit, he stopped once I gave him a sour look.


But, then he noticed those retractable Line-Forminator-Separators (my word for lack of a better term).  You know- the ones they have in movie theaters and red carpet events and at RED-X shipping warehouse worldwide?

(Waiting Line Image from Becoming Madame)


Our son seemed intent to rest his neck against the black nylon strap.   But he was wiggling his neck back and forth against it and I had no idea why.  I figured he had concocted an innovative way to scratch an itch.


But, what followed was not what I expected.  Nope.  Unbelievably, I never saw it coming.

My son was NOT scratching a physical itch-  maybe an adrenaline-inducing and potentially brain-hemmorhaging one-  but his neck was not itchy like I thought.


He backed up about 3 feet with his neck against that black strap until the strap was as taut as it could be creating a V with his little body at the apex.

In the next horrifying moment, he sprinted toward the shiny treaded aluminum wall 6 feet away, jumping up (surely to compensate for the lack of acceleration, velocity and vertical height possible with that lame non-elastic nylon cargo strap).

He went SPLAT against it.

He  slid to the floor with his hands dramatically outstretched above his head.

His left cheek, pressed palms and splayed fingers made squeaky sounds as he slid like a boneless carcass to the floor.


I ran over to him!.

He’s gotta be hurt!  What?  What!  What-Why? How?!!!!

I knew he had to be injured after an impact like that.  Everyone in the warehouse was looking over at my son who just stood up laughing hysterically!   He yelled,  “MOM!  I’M A BLACK ANGRY BIRD!!!!”   He ran to do it again and I grabbed his hand to stop him this time.


I scowled at both my kids face to face and nose to nose,  and parked them against that treaded aluminum wall.

(Treaded Aluminum Image from Lowes.com


At this point, I knew I had to take a visual inventory of any potential attraction-hazards.  There was a dolly to my right and a reachable box cutter on the countertop.

I watched both kids like Hawk-Eye watches Red Skull and thwarted any movements toward those things.


By this time, I was further back in line.   There was a very young and amiable nun standing behind me now.  She had one of those beautiful faces that doesn’t need make-up because her inner sweetness and compassion shades her entire aura with the color of kindness.

She kept smiling at me and back at the kids.  They really seemed like they were on the cusp of explosion for needing to chatter and fidget.

When their impulses could not be self-regulated anymore, they both started to loudly count every raised tread in the  aluminum wall they had been sitting against , “ONE!  TWO!  THREE!  FOUR!  HAHAHAHAHA!  FIVE!!!! LET’S DO IT IN SPANISH!!!!!  UNO!!! DOS!!!!…..”


I was next in line.  I couldn’t go back over there.

I commanded, “Kids!  C’Mere!  Sit Down.  Right by my feet.  On your bums.  Cross your legs.  Hands in front.  I have to get this.  Quickly. Just sit and  SHHHHH……..”


They sat there, knee to knee looking up at me with big eyes.

The sweet nun smiled at me again and shook her head- but not in a bad way.  It was in an “Oh- Your kids are really delightful” kind of way.  All the other customer head-shaking in the room was not of the same sort, I could tell.  This Sister made the package pick-up line a little more pleasant for THIS mom, for sure.


I worked with RED-X to try to sign for my canvas finally and I heard rustling.

I turned around and held my pointer finger to form the number “1” up to my 4 year old son’s face and said loudly “Look, guys!  If you say ONE WORD…” and then I shifted that numeralized finger to my five year old daughter’s face and said, “OR if you get up ONE more time, we are NOT gon….”


But I never finished that sentence.


Even if I had, no one would have heard it over the deliciously loud fart that had emitted from one of my cross-legged children’s reverberating Southern cheeks.  And, I had no idea which one did it!

The sound was so surprisingly loud that the normally discernible focal point was blurred between my two children.


I mean, it was Drunken-Filthy-Fat-Man Loud.

It was impressive not only for the high decibel level achievement that most Soldiers would pretend to own for the sake of bragging rights, but also for the anomalously long duration of the thing.


Every customer in the store, (maybe 10 now?) had either scowled at me at some point for failing to get a grip on my kids, or nodded to me with a supportive  “Been There!” wink, or smiled sweetly at us like the compassionate Woman of Grace in her diaphanous white and gray frock to my rear.


But, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM was doubled over laughing- even the guys holding boxes half their size.  Even the workers behind the counters!


It truly was The Fart of Unification, a vapor that bonded even the most divergent of parenting philosophies (Free-Rangers and Tiger Moms and Whoop-Em-Good-Grandpas alike) amongst the RED-X waiters-in-line.


And, right or wrong, it was a comically SIN-ERADICATING move by my kids.

I turned away from the kids so they wouldn’t see me laughing even though it was clear everyone else was.

When I could look down stone-faced, both kids were still looking up at me like nothing had happened.

Their  eyes were big and their mouths were open.  They had looks of contrition and a their expressions denoted fear that they had, in fact, blown Super Hero Theme Night at the local eatery.

During our laughter, the kids had been silent throughout, quietly pondering their imminent play-fate.

It turns out, that the secret to keeping them quiet was to leave them hanging on a sentence that confirms or denies their dramatic play future and opportunities to commune with mini-Boy Wonders and Captain Americas on indoor play parks.


Through all that, my kids were actually still waiting for me to finish that unfinish-able sentence.   I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do.  I couldn’t really remember what happened before the deafening wind-breaking.  I still wanted to laugh and laugh.  But,  I was about to say something very adult-like and authoritative when I heard my Waiting Line Ally in a white habit say in her honey-smooth voice,

“But, Mom….. You Never Said They Couldn’t Do THAT….”

…and this time, she playfully had her pointer finger swagging back and forth at ME.


She was still laughing, of course. I realized that this time, they hadn’t done anything horribly wrong other than demonstrate some bad manners.

Or was it more than that?   A calculated, noxious rebellion?  A way for my kids to channel their protest and defy authority using their only available biological tools?

We’ll never know.

Anyway, after I finally loaded the canvas and strapped the kids in their seats.  I asked,



And both of them looked at me with confused looks and seriously said,


Bwahahahahahahahaha!  Oh, my kids.  This job of mine is a good one, I think.

All I can say is that Iron Man and Batgirl really enjoyed Super Hero Theme Night munching on their chicken strips.  What can I say?  I’m a real toughie.











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Giant Costumed Characters Are Just Not Natural, Mom!

Our 3 and a half year old son loves to dress-up like a Super Hero.

We are at the point where he has interchangeable Batman, Super Man, Spiderman, and Green Lantern outfits with capes that I attach with little velcro stick-on squares every day.

This is his newest obsession:

The ironic thing is that our son, the fearless and brave Captain America, loves to pretend he is something other-worldly and supra/super-human every second of the day (to include bedtime where he sleeps wearing quick-relase capes), but he is deathly afraid of any unnaturally large figures in real life.

Take, for instance, our recent Chuck E. Cheese visit.

That is our son cowering behind me, on the look-out for the imposing, gigantic rodent.

Whenever Chuck E. Cheese comes out to greet party guests, we know.

The entire facility knows.  All are alerted by the scream that would seem to signal some kind of mortal wound.

If he happens to be slamming gopher heads with that giant hammer when The Mouse emerges, he nearly dislocates his shoulders trying to get away- with instinctual fear-vice grips on the hammer as he tries to simultaneously dart toward us, his parent sanctuary from The Unnatural.

Last year, we attended a Chick fil-A family event.  One of the attractions was the gigantic cow who frolicked with the children as they colored pictures of his trepidatious bovine brethren wearing persuasive sandwich boards beseeching us to eat something, anything, but THEM.

The PR Manager thought it would be a grand surprise for our then 2 and a half year old son to  turn around to find the Chick fil-A Cow standing right behind him while he colored those timid creatures.

Oh, he WAS surprised.

The hysterics that ensued alarmed the entire restaurant.

Some families thought it was funny.

Some families thought paramedics must be on the way.

The PR Manager was horrified and worried we might sue for causing our child some sort of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The Chick fil-A Cow was retired for the remainder of the event for fear of driving away customers because of our son’s unending wails.

And, just this past week, we attended a Christmas On The Potomac Event featuring human-filled characters from Shrek:  Princess Fiona, the Ogre himself, Puss & Boots and the Gingerbread Man as the kids decorated Gingerbread Houses and sat on Santa’s lap while eating peppermint cookies, truffles and cotton candy.

Sounds like fun, right?


Here’s who he was hiding from.

But, then again.

There have been indicators that our son could be forever averse to the Unusually Large & Scary.

A year ago, our son clued us in on just how terrified he was of a large tooth mascot for a local dentistry at the Children’s Museum 4th of July Parade.

I have to admit, that thing was pretty creepy.

I, mean-  cows who walk on two feet, a giant green hippopotamus-eared man with a speech pattern more odd than a toddler’s,  and a sleepy-eyed mouse who wears baseball caps and knee pads really just aren’t NATURAL.

We’re not too worried about it.

It’s a double-edged foam pirate sword.

One day, he won’t be enchanted by Super Hero dress-up and the passing of this phase will likely coincide with the day that he sees those huge costumed creatures for what they truly are:  just normal, everyday people who are probably sweating a lot under those cartoon layers.





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