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

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?



Pin It

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.**


Pin It

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.





Pin It

Being Pregnant…Honesty In The Seaweed Aisle

No, I am not pregnant.

But, my littlest sister is.

And, since being around her these past few weeks, I have been able to re-live some of the niceties I had forgotten about being pregnant through her.

My poor sister.

For instance, there was this morning.

My son sat next to her, looking at her belly- but not quite directly at it.  He was looking, a little north of it, actually….

The reason became clear when he asked my baby sister “Why are your boobies on Knox’s head?”

That wasn’t the first odd question he’s asked her about Knox, his future cousin- so she’s getting used to the funny kid-inquiries.

Oh, my poor sister.

But, perhaps, the funniest reminder of one of the most obvious indignities of a third-trimester pregnancy happened at the Korean Market recently.

We all started in the seafood section where our kids became fascinated by a new and odd-looking form of edible ocean-life:  The Sea Squirt.

This has given rise to the new demand for us to follow the kids so they “CAN SHOW US THE SQUIRTS!!!!!”    So, remember this if you’re ever around my kids and they ask if you’ve ever seen “the squirts”.  This is the type to which they refer.

At least, for your sake, I hope it is.

Once we passed the seafood, our entire family including my sisters, my parents, all our husbands and our children- stood in the middle of a crowded aisle separating 10 varieties of coconut milk and about 30 types of seaweed.

A Korean woman running one of those sampler stations stopped us all to chat while she handed out steamed dumplings with chopsticks.

She was very blunt.

Blunt honesty is a sort of lost art form in Western cultures, I think.

 I wrote about my own Asian mother’s penchant for the raw truth once, myself.

This woman, The Dumpling Lady, was making a type of kimchi potsticker and it was quite delicious.

She said to my middle sister “OH!  You are so beautiful! You look like Kim Kardashian!!!”

And my mother said to her, “Almost as beautiful as her mother, right?”

And the lady shook her head, curled her nose and made a motion in the air  with both hands that looked like this:

and said, “Nah.  Old Woman Body.”

Ah…we did laugh at that.  Even my Korean mother.

Then, the woman looked at me and said, “Oh!  YOU are so beautiful!  You look like Demi Moore!  You know?  In Ghost?”

And, I picked up the box of potstickers to see if the list of ingredients included any known hallucinogens that might make a woman ingesting the steam to have any goofy delusions like that.  And, if it did…who else could I feed these things to?

But, of course my mother agreed with her.  “Yes. Yes.  My daughters ARE all beautiful!”

And, then the Korean potsticker lady turned on my pregnant sister.

And she said, “You!  You look like your FATHER!”

My poor, poor sister.

My poor, poor pregnant sister.

She looked at my dad.

It was a look of total un-amusement before bursting into laughter.

And my dad laughed and said, “Look,  Kid.  I’m SORRY!!!!!”

My 8 month-pregnant sister said, “I get it.  SHE looks like Kim Kardashian.  SHE looks like Demi Moore.  But, I look like….I look like…YOU, Dad.  I’m PREGNANT. I’m BLOATED. I’m FAT.  Awesome.  Thank You, Lady.  Thank You Very Much.”

I’m pretty sure my baby sister walked away hoping the Dumpling Lady would choke on one of her own potstickers.

Being pregnant, with all its miracles and glories, can be the real pits, can’t it?

But, look, Little Sister.

It COULD Be Worse.

I mean, she could have said you looked like Gary Busey, right?

And you definitely don’t look like Gary Busey.

And, besides all that….you really ARE one gorgeous pregnant woman.


Pin It

Saint Patrick’s Day Then and Now…

These days, whenever holidays come around, I try to remember what our lives and celebrations were like BEFORE.

BEFORE Before.

BEFORE parenting, sippy cups, spit up, potty training, sleep deprivation, worry, fellow-parent empathy, stepping on legos, band-aids, kisses on boo-boos, and understanding the meaning of what it means to truly love another little thing more than you love your own life.

I happened upon some photos from a visit to Ireland over Saint Patrick’s Day about 10 years ago, when our children were still five years from being in utero glimmers.

I laugh when I look at photos like this from this month.   In honor of Spring and March and St. Patrick’s Day-  A day of Rainbow Crafts and Cooking with the kids…

But,  10 years ago, a much thinner me (and hubby) got off the Ryan Air plane in Killarney, Ireland just before St. Patty’s Day to party like only the Irish know how to.

We got off the plane, and went to rent a car.  The rental company offered us a discount if we would be willing to take the “transit”.  They gave us a key.

We went out to where this “transit” might be picking us up.  And we waited.  And waited and waited.

Then, we went back into the airport.  “The transit never came to get us to take us to our car.”  “Oh, no!” They said in Irish accents.   You get a discount for RENTING the transit.” We walked out to the lot that they pointed us to.

There sat a gigantic van with floor to ceiling windows all around and it could seat the entire Partridge Family.  The gear shift was literally 3 feet long from floor to shoulder while sitting and the steering wheel was on the wrong side of the car (the right).

Uh. No.

We went back in and got a smaller car.  But, the coolest thing ever sat in the back seat of the rental….a small package with a complimentary disposable camera!

How cool and hospitable!

We snapped these pics as we drove down the wrong side of the road throughout Ireland.

Fast forward 10 years.

I spent St. Patrick’s Day making gold thumbprint pots of gold with the kids.  And, it was every bit as fun as dodging cars coming directly at us as we forgot the local driving customs.

But, 10 years ago, my husband and I made our way to Blarney Castle, home of the famous Blarney Stone that you’re supposed to kiss.

My  husband kissed it.

I did not.

I had a theory that there was a reason that the Blarney Stone Dude smiled like this.  All that space on the Blarney Stone and that spritz bottle of sanitizer he never used once while I watched tourist after tourist kiss that same spot that local kids probably pee’ed on at night.

He planted everyone’s kissers right smack on the same exact spot every time.

Back then, I was, like, “Um.  No.”

The irony is that I come in contact with more bodily fluids than that on any post-motherhood day since and don’t even think twice about it.  Nothing some spit or a wet wipe can’t clean up nowadays.  🙂

St. Patrick’s Day now means painting rocks like green-colored animals….

But, BEFORE….it was just looking at miles of man-made boulder fences in pastoral Irish fields.  One day, we would love to take the kids to Ireland so they can see this part of their heritage.

I can see the photos in my mind that we will take of them standing on this natural boulder fence.

At night, we went to Irish pubs and drank delicious Irish beer  (Kilkenny-  the best beer in the world, people- and you can’t find it in America.  Drat.)  We listened to awesome Irish music and sat with fun and boisterous Irish people.

But, we noticed no one wore green on St. Patrick’s Day and there was no green beer to be found.

When we asked the locals why that was, they told us, “Oh, we don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day here.  That’s an American thing.”

We found this a little funny.

During the days we were there, we snapped and snapped photos throughout Ireland using that awesome disposable camera the Irish car rental company had generously supplied us as a tourist gift…..

And when our trip came to a close, we went to turn in our miraculously crash-free car to the rental company.

The lady at the window asked us where the “accident kit” was.


We were the dumb American tourists.


You mean that wasn’t a complimentary tourist camera?

We told them they could have the camera back but it was full of awesome trip pictures.

She rolled her eyes.

Something told me this was not her first rodeo.

I think other Americans had pulled the same shenanigans on her.  Only, we really, really DID think it was a generous tourist gift.

We should have noticed the chalk and warning triangle in the kit, too.  I suppose.

Anyway-  That was St. Patrick’s Day THEN.

But, this is St. Patrick’s Day NOW.

And, to be quite honest.

I think it’s a toss-up.


NOW is definitely more awesome.

Here’s why…..

It’s more awesome because my kids are HERE.  NOW.

And, it’s more awesome because there was a time when I loved my work (and the work was good), but that I didn’t notice the beauty of things like this rainbow that we saw together the other day….

I notice these things because I want my children to notice them.

Having kids has opened us up to slow down and see real beauty in nature and simplicity.

And, St. Patrick’s Days now are full of springtime fun like sloshing in lakes and puddles in wellie boots.

And seeing real-live caterpillars!

The only thing missing these days are those complimentary tourist cameras from that super nice Irish Car Rental company!






For some really beautiful and awesome posts about Ireland from one of my absolutely favorite blogs, check out The Outlaw Mom Blog!

{Live} Ireland:  Things To do And Love

{Live} Ireland:  Castlewood House

{Live} Ireland:  Marlfield House


Pin It

Running A Carnival Kid Craft Booth: Aztec Rain Stick

This year our pre-school ran a carnival fund-raiser.  In Latin American culture, they’re referred to as “Kermesse”.  The origins of the word “Kermesse” are quite interesting if you click on the link-  I didn’t realize the school and church-fund-raising festivals were so widely referred to by this term until I read the article.

I originally signed up for the face painting booth.  Easy-peasy.

But, my best friend is head of the Parents Committee and she knows I blog about crafting so I was involuntarily shifted to the arts and crafts booth.

We had tons of toilet paper and paper towel rolls to use up for crafting so I decided that we could make Aztec Rain Sticks.  Here’s the one hanging in our house.

I had seen Counting Coconuts and The Imagination Tree make DIY rain sticks by hammering nails around the tube.

So, I tried one at home before the carnival using a thicker wrapping paper tube that could support the nails safely.

The only problem is, although I could supervise my own kids with such a craft,  I couldn’t seriously give a bunch of pre-schoolers and toddlers I didn’t know thin toilet paper rolls pierced with nails to take home.

That seemed inherently unwise.  And wrought with potential liability.  🙂

So, I thought for awhile about how to make a no-nail rain stick.

I haven’t bothered to google or pinterest whether my idea is remotely original because it appears that original ideas are becoming harder and harder to come by.

Someone’s always beating us to the punch and I’m relatively new to the kid-craft world.  🙂

I tried putting squiggly straws into the rolls thinking the grains would hit the curves.  But, the straws were too wide and stretched the toilet paper rolls. Fail.

Squiggle Straws, Twisty Straws, Fun StrawsThen, I thought that pipe cleaners might make good channels that the rice and beans could pass through if we coiled them well enough.

So, here’s what we used.

  • Masking Tape
  • Duct Tape
  • Toilet Paper Rolls
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Mixed grains and pasta (rice, popcorn kernels, beans, mini- penne pasta)
  • Foam Stickers

Many of the children at the Kermesse spoke Spanish.  So, I had to work on my own Spanish.

As I closed up the ends of the toilet paper rolls with duct tape and cleaned up the seams with masking tape, I asked each child to take four pipe cleaners and:

“Haz cuatro serpientes” 

Make Four Snakes…

Note:  You’ll want to place a square of tape or paper against the sticky part of the masking tape that the grains will come in contact with.  Otherwise, your grains will end up all sticking to the inside once it’s shaken.

Then, I told the kids to:

“Pon las serpientes adentro”

Put the snakes inside…

Using a small gravy boat I found for a dollar at a local grocery market, the kids poured the grains carefully into the tubes over the coiled “serpiente” pipe cleaners.

This is great practice for fine motor skills.

Once I closed up the tubes with duct tape and sealed them off with masking tape (again, having placed a small square of tape on the sticky side so that the grains wouldn’t stick once shaken), it was time for the kids to decorate their rain sticks with foam stickers.

They really do sound like rain when you place them upside down and the grains and kernels travel through the sinews of the coiled “serpent” pipe cleaners.

Before each of the booth iterations, I showed the kids the Aztec rain stick we have hanging in our home and I showed the parents the rain stick made with nails.  The sounds are definitely more crisp with the nails.

Many of the parents planned to put the nails into their kids’ rainsticks once they got home and could supervise them.

This is a really great activity to do with your kids- especially on a hot day when you want it to rain so you can get out the galoshes and go puddle-stomping with the kids.

My only recommendation if you get suckered into running an arts and crafts booth by your over-achieving best friend who is the President of the Parents Committee, you can save a lot of time by closing up the ends of the paper towel and toilet paper rolls in advance.  🙂

Let Us Know If You Make Them!  

Or If You Have Any Other Nail-Free Rainstick Ideas!


Image Credit:


Pin It

Our RV (Mis)Adventure…


Originally, we planned to take a short trip to Houston where we drove down and used up some free nights at a hotel.

A day before we were supposed to leave, we decided that we’d rather take out the 5th Wheel RV. This would require a little maintenance and cleaning the day before. So, my husband spent the day checking tire pressure, cleaning the outside and the roof, making sure the battery was good to go and that we had enough propane and sundry other RV-related stuff.

We were excited to use the RV again. It’s one of our favorite things to do together but we only get it out once every few months or so if we are lucky- We don’t do it that often and are pretty new at this.

I learned an important lesson on our first trip. One of my aspirations was to cook bacon and brownies in the RV. We learned that dumping piping hot pans into the metal-looking sink only melted the sink. It literally melted the sink. The sink in our RV is made of a very convincingly metal-looking plastic. Ooops. Don’t do that.

Anyway, we got to Houston after getting 10 miles per gallon and we backed that thing into our spot in the RV Park. Just like our Army days when my husband and I met, we got to the “Priorities of Work” to get camp set-up as efficiently as possible.

Once our plumbing, water, electricity and gas were set-up, we started to cozy up the place. We turned on the heater. It sounded like a chainsaw. It was time for bed and there was no way we were going to be able to sleep with that noise. We didn’t know why it was making the noise and it was too late to find out from anyone who might know.

My husband and I considered aloud and agreed with each other that sometimes a chilly environment under lots of blankets and warmth can make one of the nicest sleeping arrangements. Some of the most blissful sleep each of us could remember happened in the sweet confines of a waterproofed sleeping bag laid in an icy body-shaped hole dug in the snow-covered ground during Army training. Why not just go to sleep without the heater on?

The heater was loud. We didn’t know if there was a problem with the propane.  We had a heated blanket for our bed. The kids had brand new sleeping bags from Santa and footed pajamas. No problem. We turned the heater off, tucked the kids into bed and cranked up our heated blanket.

The temperature dropped surprisingly fast.

In about an hour, the thermostat read a cool 35 degrees.

The heated blanket seemed to contribute to a continual tripping of the circuit breaker so we turned it down to low. It was a heated blanket so the dialed heat settings were supposed to compensate for its remarkable thinness. Unable to  raise the settings meant we were under a glorified sheet. We were cold.

My husband checked on the kids. Of course, they had kicked off their sleeping bag covers.  Our son’s skin felt icy.

He was worried about the kids and figured that we could all huddle in the queen-sized bed as a family under the covers.  We could make sure they stayed covered and the extra heat would be good for everyone.  Our 3 year old boy and nearly 5 year old girl groggily climbed into bed between us.  That was pretty basic stuff.

It didn’t take long before our son started to kick the meager covers we had off.  He also began to kick at his father and his sister because he was trying to make more room for himself.  We were packed in pretty tightly and no one was particularly comfortable.  His sister began to kick back.

“Stop kicking the covers, son!” I heard.

“I want my piwwo!!!!” I heard my son wail.

“Stop kicking me, brudder!” I heard our daughter scream right before she cried, “I’m thirstyyyyyyyy!!!!!!”

“Piwwo!” my son wailed again.

“AWWWW!!!! MY NUGGETS!”  I heard my husband scream.  Apparently, our  son had resumed his kicking and had struck my husband in his….well, do I really need to explain that one?

And, our daughter, was wriggling her head back and forth trying to gain a comfortable position, and started crying like a forty year old woman having a nervous breakdown, “I CANNOT DO THIS ANYMORE!”

This was not the vision.

This is not how this was supposed to play out.


At this point, I was shivering on my side of the bed trying to restrain myself from laughing because of the absurdity of it all.

I braced myself for the cold air and strategized how to get the apple juice for my daughter, my son’s pillow out of the kid’s room, and their two sleeping bags in the quickest way possible to minimize exposure.

In the Army fantasy of sleeping in cold environments my husband and I had reminisced about, we had forgotten the pain of emergence out of the warm sleeping bag into the bitter cold.  That part, where your exposed skin felt the chilly bite of what lay beyond the covers was always an exercise in misery.

But, once our daughter took her sip, our son had his favorite pillow and we were now under two more layers of warmth, things were looking up.

Our daughter even said, “Y’know what my favorite part of the RV is?  Cuddling with my family.”  Yes, things were looking up.

But, for some reason I still heard grumbling from my husband.  About 10 minutes later, I heard him get up.  Then, I heard the chainsaw heater, again.

“Why’d you turn that on?  It’s nice and toasty under these sleeping bags!”

I looked over at him and he was glaring and grumbling barely covered by that thin heated blanket.

The spiderman and butterfly sleeping bags didn’t stretch far enough to reach him.  The kids and I were cozy and happy but he had been freezing.

The sound of the propane heater ended up being more bearable than we had expected, kind of like white noise.

About an hour later, we all managed to fall asleep finally as the heat started to wash over us.

Tomorrow would be a good day.

It would be better.

We awoke with the light.

We just couldn’t wait for this bright and warm new day.

We could have been just A’singing that song “Taking Care of Business” as we prepared to take care of essential morning business and then my camper mates heard me:

“OK, WHERE IS THE &*#&@$^&$#@ Toilet Paper????!!!!!!!”


The Kids’ Tree

We started a tradition a couple of years ago:  The Kids’ Tree.

We put the unused ornaments and streamers into a bin and let them sift through it to decorate the tree as they see fit.

There is zero adult input or assistance.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the kids make their own ornaments out of recyclables, play dough, paper and pipe cleaners and add their creations to the tree at will.

Here is our Kids’ Tree.

I think it’s gorgeous.

Merry Christmas!

Vegetable Scrap Stamping For The Holidays

I’m always looking for ways to keep the kids busy doing something fun while I cook so that I don’t have to park them in front of a television.  Vegetable Scrap stamping has become one my go-to activities.  It uses up some of the scraps and makes for a fun activity and some pretty cool artwork to hang up.

For instance, we had some English Cucumber tops one night.

In full disclosure, I must admit that I thought they were zucchini tops.  I actually thought that the long, dark, green vegetable I added to the ground turkey, red onion, garlic and taco seasoning WAS diced zucchini.  But, the translucency in cooking revealed that my hasty shopping trip resulted in my bagging the long, green English Cucumber, instead.

But, seriously-  WHY does the produce aisle-guy put these two next to each other?  They could at least be separated by the unmistakably different acorn squash for goodness sake.

You can do this activity with zucchini tops, too (as long as you can find them next to the English Cucumbers.  Again, WHY do they do that???)  Also, I think carrots and parsnip tops would work great, too!

You just need some paper, some paint and the veggie tops!  I like this activity because the rest of the vegetable is being used and isn’t rendered inedible or unusable in the name of arts and crafts.  🙂

Here, we’re re-using some empty yogurt canisters to hold the paint.

Sometimes, it can be hard to hold our 2 year old boy’s attention when it comes to crafting.  He LOVED doing this!

Our daughter did, too!

Here’s her finished “broad-stroke” English Cucumber painting.  🙂

A few weeks later, we actually had some zucchini tops and some beautiful purple potatoes!

We used one half of a purple potato that seemed to already have a kind of natural notch-handle that it made it perfect for stamping.

Our 4 year old daughter made Christmas cookies with the zucchini and purple potato stampers!

And so did our 2 year old son!

When you’re cooking and generating vegetable scraps-  This is a great activity that keeps the kids busy and doing something worthwhile while you cook!   It beats popping them in front of the television and they have a lot of fun doing it-

For a related and fun post about potato shape stamping, check out the Outlaw Mom’s Blog!

Happy Crafting!