Monday, April 30, 2012

Zebras: The Animal Kingdom’s Authority on Women’s Undergarments

Credit: Gary M. Stolz/US Fish and Wildlife Service (Public Domain)
Have you ever played the Telephone Game?  For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, let me explain the game.  Basically, you line a bunch of people up in a row.  The first person whispers a message into the ear of the next person.  Then that person whispers the message into the next person’s ear and so on down the line.  Finally, the last person repeats the message out loud for everyone to hear.  Suffice it to say, the message is never the same, slowly condensing in length and becoming twisted in often hilarious fashions.

Often, whenever I am communicating with my two young children I feel it is no more productive than this silly party game!  I am reminded time and time again how easy it is for children to misunderstand the simplest of things.  An excellent example of this profound truth happened nearly 2 years ago.

Two summers ago, my children and I were pretending we were animals.  My daughter, then 3, decided it would be a wonderful idea for all of us to dress up as an animal and continue to play.  We all ran off to create our own costumes.

My son (5 at the time) returned to the living room first hopping around in footed pajamas and bunny ears.  He made quite an adorable bunny rabbit!  I followed right behind all in black with a tail and cat ears.  My son laughed as I purred and meowed.  We were having quite a wonderful time!

Fifteen minutes later, we were still waiting for my daughter to return.  Finally, I yelled up the stairs for her to come join the fun and she called back, “Coming, Mommy!”

About 5 minutes later, my little princess came running back into the living room.  She had on a black dress.  Over top of it was the pink training bra she had begged me to get her for her birthday (since she wanted to be just like Mommy).  Underneath her dress, she had her black and white striped leggings.  Confused, I asked her what animal she was supposed to be.

She giggled and grinned from ear to ear.  “A zebra, Mommy, a zee-BRA!  I have my stripes and my bra.  See?”

I started laughing, thinking she had been creative and used a play on words . . . quite ingenious for a 3 year old.  However, she immediately dashed that conclusion when she further explained: “Too bad my bra is pink and not stripped like a real zebra’s bra . . .!”

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Yo-Yos Are No-No’s!

My son's yo-yo mess
As a child I collected all sorts of yo-yos.  I had big ones, small ones, and various sizes in between.  There were plastic ones, wooden ones, and even a couple metal ones.  They were tons of different colors, with some that were tied dyed and others that could glow in the dark.  The jewel of my collection was a giant orange yo-yo that had lights and sound effects that would go off with motion.  Oh, how I was proud of my yo-yo collection!

When I was a little girl my parents taught me how to yo-yo and to do various tricks (i.e., walk the dog and around the world).  I could spend hours practicing with my yo-yo.  The tricks were so exciting, while the basic down and up movement was so relaxing.  In fact, I did a lot of great thinking and imagining as I watched my yo-yos fly.

Long ago, my childhood collection disappeared.  But recently, I bought a few new yo-yos.  I wanted to show my own kids the wondrous world of yo-yoing and maybe teach them an old trick or two.  Immediately, my son (6) and daughter (almost 5) were mesmerized and eager to learn.  They watched in awe as my yo-yo zipped up and down and then to and fro.  They even laughed with me as I tried to remember the tricks from my childhood.

However, as soon as I handed them their shiny new yo-yos, disaster erupted!  On the first try, my daughter whipped herself in the back of the head.  She was more than frustrated that her yo-yo simply fell limp and wouldn’t come back up the string.  And while I was helping to wind my daughter’s yo-yo back up, my son managed to ruin his yo-yo.  He got his brand new yo-yo so entangled with his paratrooper and a couple other toys that we still have not been able to unknot it!

That afternoon did not go as planned.  In fact, I’m still shaking my head in disbelief at how quickly it went sour!  How did my plan go so wrong?  Am I that bad of a yo-yo teacher or are my kids just not coordinated enough yet?  Either way, in the words of my daughter, “yo-yos are no-no’s” for those two--at least until I can come up with a better plan!

Friday, April 27, 2012

X Marks the Spot!

Rascally pirates, old creaky ships, gleaming swords, and buried treasure . . . these are the things adventures are made of!  I remember when I was young I was fascinated with stories of pirates and their many adventures.  During the summer, my little brother and I would have sword fights with sticks across the back yard.  We would dig in our sandbox searching for buried treasures left by those pirates who came before us.  And we would bury our own little treasures, leaving only an ‘X’ behind to mark our secret hiding places.  Those were some of the best summers of my life!

Now that I am an adult and a mother of two, I love to sit back and watch my son and daughter have pirate adventures of their own.  Since I dressed up as a pirate maiden to hand out candy two Halloweens ago, my kids have been in full pirate mode.  For the past couple years, I have endured plenty of pirate dialogue:

Son: “ARGH!  Let’s go find us some buried treasure.”
Daughter:  “Yes, ARGH!”
Son:  “Do you have your sword, matey?”
Daughter:  “ARGH, yes, I do!”
Son:  “Off we go!  AAAAAAAARGH!”
Daughter:  “ARGH, let’s go eat with our knives!”

I have also had to contend with more X’s than a teenage girl’s notebook!  X’s drawn on paper.  X’s constructed with blocks.  X’s made of string.  X’s scribbled on everything.  It’s enough to make anyone go batty!

Most of the time, though, I just smile and remember my own pirate antics.  I miss the days when summer clouds became ships sailing off to distance lands.  I long for the time when I only needed a stick and a handful of pebbles to be happy and carefree, off on the adventure of a lifetime.  The world and its endless possibilities were within my grasp right in my own backyard.  Those were the best days to be alive!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wishing Well . . . Well, Not Quite

Wishing wells and fountains are enchanting things.  The thought of throwing a coin into the water and magically getting your heart’s deepest dreams and wishes is irresistible, even as an adult.  Although my mature, logical brain insists that such magical objects are total nonsense, there is a hidden hopeful and whimsical part of my heart that has to toss in a coin and make a secret wish each and every time.

Perhaps I unwittingly passed on this love of wishing wells to my own children.  Or perhaps it is a hereditary trait.  Either way, my son and daughter are just as eager to toss a coin or two as soon as we encounter a well or a fountain.

Unfortunately, though, this shared love of ours inadvertently caused some terrible mischief a year and a half ago.  One morning, I woke up and went to the bathroom to start my normal morning routine.  However, as soon as I started using the bathroom sink, I noticed something was amiss!  Rather than going down the drain, the water was rising in the basin, higher and higher.

Turning off the water, I thought maybe my children had accidentally knocked part of a bar of soap down the drain or even gotten some toilet paper stuck.  I plunged and plunged that drain until my arms ached, but I still hadn’t made any progress.  Finally, frustrated beyond expression, I bailed out the water and called my uncle so he could bring over a pipe wrench to take the pipe apart.

That afternoon he showed up and set to work on the sink.  An hour and a half later, he came back downstairs holding a fistful of wet coins!  Immediately, I sat my children down and insisted on an explanation.  I told them that this was a serious thing--that a lot of damage could’ve been done and we don’t even own this house.  They both started sobbing, their bottom lips quivering.

My son cried, “But Mommy, we were only wishing for a new house for us.  We know you’d be so happy!”

I reached over and gave them both a big hug.  Even though they did something that was wrong, they still had the best of intentions.  I told them from now on the sink was only for water and nothing else.  If they kept everything else away from the drain, I promised I would take them regularly to the park to throw coins and make wishes in the fountain.  Without hesitation, they eagerly agreed . . . a swell ending to a story about a wishing well that was well, not quite a well!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vacuum Cleaners: Sleep-Aid of the Baby World

My poor son suffered from colic for months as a baby.  He would cry and cry all night long, no matter how much I rocked or bounced him.  I was at my wit’s end!  I had followed every suggestion that his doctors had given me, but nothing seemed to help much.  I kept him in a baby sling or carrier close to me at all times, hoping that my presence would soothe him.  However, that did little to stop his constant bawling at night.

Finally, one night, all alone with no way for a break from my poor baby’s crying, I decided to vacuum while I carried him in his baby carrier on my chest.  If I couldn’t make his crying stop, perhaps I could escape by drowning it out for a while with an even louder noise.  My sanity depended on at least a small reprieve!

As soon as I turned the vacuum cleaner on, however, something miraculous happened: my son fell asleep!  Thinking I had finally made it through the worst that night, I turned the vacuum cleaner off, but my baby boy started screaming the moment it was off.  I turned it back on, he sniffled a bit and then fell back to sleep once again.  And once again, I turned off the machine, only to have him startle awake immediately.

It was the strangest thing I had ever seen!  It was as if his off switch was connected to the vacuum cleaner’s on switch.  From that night on, I vacuumed until he was soothed and able to stay asleep.  It was rough on my back and my arms constantly felt like they were going to fall off my body.  My vacuum cleaner, new at the time, didn’t even last 3 years because of the extended use during those difficult months.  Yet, I count myself lucky to have helped my son through such a difficult situation and with my sanity intact!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Uno . . . Dos . . . Tres . . . Waffle!

Shows like “Dora the Explorer” and “Go, Diego, Go!” are a wonderful way for preschool children to learn and to be introduced to the Spanish language.  However, there is one key component that is missing: true interaction with the child.

In both of these TV programs, the characters talk directly to the viewer, often times asking questions for the preschooler to answer.  This is a great way to get small children thinking.  However, on numerous occasions, I’ve heard this from the living room: “Mommy, Dora isn’t answering me!” or “I don’t know, Diego; I DON’T know!!!”

Yet, the worst consequence of this lack of true interaction is the fact that my children don’t always absorb the information correctly.  A couple weeks ago, I was practicing counting to 20 with my son and daughter.  They do fine on their own up until 12, and then the number order gets all mixed up and hazy for them.

As we were stringing counting beads, my daughter (almost 5) declared beaming, “I know how to count to 4 in Spanish now, Mommy!”

Thrilled, I told her to show me.  More than a little excited, she began counting the next strand of beads in Spanish: “Uno . . . dos . . . tres . . . waffle!”

I’m no expert on the Spanish language, but even after only 2 years of Spanish in high school, I know that the number 4 in Spanish is cuatro, not waffle.  I gently tried to correct her, but my daughter refused to accept it.

In my household, Dora and Diego are the highest authority on anything Spanish related, at least in my children’s eyes.  Consequently, if Dora says ‘waffle’ is the way you say 4 in Spanish, then that is that!  There is no convincing them otherwise.

Hopefully, some day soon, I will be able to make them see that they simply misheard Dora.  But until then, I must endure “uno . . . dos . . . tres . . . waffle” each and every time there is something to be counted!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Teeter Totters and Tater Tots

Children and words can make a volatile mix!  Mispronunciations, misunderstandings, and parroting of colorful language can cause quite a stir at the most inopportune times.  They can also cause the most hilarious of circumstances as well.

One summer day, about 2 years ago, my grandma and I took my son and daughter to a large park near her home.  We took a picnic dinner and plenty of drinks so we could make a day of it.  All lathered up with sunscreen and armed with bug spray, we had a wonderful day in the sun, full of laughter and fun.  We went through the many tubes and down every slide at least a hundred times.  We swung on the swings until we were dizzy.  And then we decided to take a walk to explore more of the park.

There was a baseball field, tennis courts, pavilions, basketball hoops, and even a swimming pool.  Then we came to another part that had even older playground equipment.  In the middle of this playground area was a cross piece on four giant springs.  On each end of the cross piece, there was a metal saddle attached.  The kids and I were fascinated because we had never seen anything quite like it before.

My grandma suggested, “Let’s go on this teeter totter thing.  It looks like fun!”

Since there were four seats, we all got on board and wobbled around for a while.  It was actually a lot of fun, although with metal seats, it was certainly lacking in comfort.  As the sun started sinking, we packed all of our gear and set off for home.

That night, as I was getting my kids ready for bed, my mom called.  We talked a little and I told her about the fun time we all had at the park.  My son asked to talk, too, so I put him on the phone.  He immediately squealed, “Guess what, Grandma?  We road on tater tots ALL day.  They were so springy!”

He immediately handed the phone back to me as he ran off to find his teddy bear, leaving me to deal with the images of giant bouncing tater tots springing through my mother’s mind!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Is Sand a Simple or Complex Carbohydrate?

Who doesn’t like sand?  Soft and cool between your toes.  Dry and smooth falling through your fingers.  With a little water and talent, it can be sculpted into nearly anything.  It is summer’s super fun version of snow, and no tropical paradise is complete without it!

As a parent, though, sand isn’t always fun.  The kids track it into the house so much you swear you’ll have plenty to vacuum through Christmas.  It gets stuck in hair, noses, and ears.  Diapers and training pants become sand havens.  Bathtub drains get clogged with all the sand the kids wear after a day of play.

Worst of all, though, is when young children decide that sand looks appetizing and develop a fascination with eating sand!  My son took one taste of sand, shuddered, and never attempted to eat it again.  My daughter, on the other hand, thought it was hilarious to eat the gritty stuff and never failed to sneak a taste every time we were near the sandbox . . . that is until one fateful afternoon 3 years ago.

It was a sunny summer day.  My mom was babysitting my little ones.  While I was at work, my toddler daughter had full access to the sandbox since I forgot to warn my mother about her new snacking habit.  My little girl was sly, making sure she didn’t sneak a mouthful of sand unless my mom was distracted with my son.

Finally, my mom caught her, took her inside, and washed her off, keeping her away from the sandbox for the rest of the afternoon.  She must have eaten quite a bit of sand by that time, though, because that night my princess had quite a belly ache and eventually regurgitated sand all over me!  With the sand out of her belly, she felt much better, but she learned her lesson.  Thankfully, she has never once tried to eat sand again . . . but sadly, I haven’t been able to look at sand in quite the same way since that infamous day.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Rubber Snakes May Be Perishable

As parents (and grandparents) we learn something new every day.  The children in our lives provide a never-ending well of new experiences and concepts.  Some of what we learn is life changing and sobering.  Other times, the results are heart warming and make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  However, there are some lessons that are shocking and keep us on our toes!

Having a younger brother who is a perpetual prankster, I don’t startle easily.  I’ve had all sorts of ‘creatures’ jump out of closets, lie waiting for me in my bed, and find their way into my food.  Over the years, I have developed nerves of steel and learned to expect the unexpected.

Still, my children have managed to scare my socks off on a handful of occasions.  Perhaps the most memorable of these instances happened about 2 years ago.  A single mother at the time, I was constantly busy late into the night.  One night, as I was working on a writing assignment for a client, I remembered I had forgotten to take chicken out for dinner the next day.

Not wanting to disturb my sleeping children, I crept downstairs in the dark with only night lights as my guide.  I quickly grabbed a package of chicken legs from the freezer, eager to get back to my writing before my train of thought derailed.  I hurriedly popped the refrigerator door open to place the chicken inside to thaw when suddenly, something long, dark, and wiggly flew out and landed on my feet!

I was so startled that I jump instinctively backwards and inadvertently, flung the wriggling object back up in the air.  In horror and shock, I shrieked!  It was a snake!  I dropped the chicken as I ran to turn on the light.  My mind was racing with a million questions.  How on earth did a snake get in the fridge?  Was it poisonous?  And how was I going to get it out of the house?

I flicked the light switch and did a 360 in less than a second, searching wildly for the disgusting creature.  All I saw, however, was the large rubber snake that I had given to my kids from my box of childhood toys . . . the same snake I used to torment my own mother with years ago.  I felt like a total moron!

The next morning as we ate breakfast, I asked my kids how the rubber snake had gotten in the fridge.  My son (4 at time) looked at me and answered like it was obvious, “Because it needs to stay cold, kinda like milk!”  Who knew rubber snakes were perishable?  I know it had never crossed my mind.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Question of the Day--er, of Every Second: WHY?!

If you are a parent and have yet to hear “Why?  Why?  Why?!” a thousand times a day, chances are your child has yet to reach this critical but exasperating stage.  My son hit the ‘why’ stage around 3 years old.  My daughter, wanting to be just like her big brother, decided to follow suit during the throes of the terrible twos.  With my children only 16 months apart, you can believe that during the thick of it, my days were jammed full of why’s!

From morning to night, my life consisted of a multitude of questions, all starting or consisting entirely of why:

  • Why, why, why?!
  • Why do birds fly?
  • Why do dogs bark?
  • Why can’t cats bark?
  • Why do we eat?
  • Why do we sleep?
  • Why is it dark?
  • Why are there people?
  • Why do we wear clothes?

Not wanting to be like my parents, I hoped to never resort to the age old frustrated parent answer, ‘Because I said SO!’  However, after hours and hours of questioning from the ‘why’ squad and quite a number of consequential but-why’s, I found myself guilty of this answer on many occasions.  (Although, for those of you who haven’t reached this stage yet, be forewarned this answer rarely works!  It’s usually followed immediately by a thousand more but-why’s.)

I have always been glad that my children are curious and inquisitive by nature.  It has allowed them to learn things easily and to expand their minds quickly.  Nonetheless, I can’t lie.  I am more than relieved that they are through the worst of the ‘why’ stage and now choose their questions more carefully and thoughtfully.  I much rather deal with the off-the-wall questions (e.g., 'can belly buttons fall off?' or 'if broccoli is alive, why doesn’t it scream when we bite it?').  As crazy as they are, at least these questions don’t come with a legion of but-why’s as back up!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

PLAY-DOH . . . Sometimes More Like Play-Don't!

In 1956, a wonderful creation was born: PLAY-DOH!  You can twist it, smash it, cut it, and roll it.  You can mold it into anything your imagination can fathom.  Yet, you can ball it back up and start all over again.  As long as you make sure to reseal the container, the fun never ends!

As a child, I could sit for hours experimenting with my PLAY-DOH.  My mom gave my younger brother and I a bag full of cookie cutters and other utensils to use to cut, slice, and texture our little projects.  Out of all of my childhood toys, I think this was my favorite.  In fact, I still enjoy PLAY-DOH today and have passed my love down to my own children.

Unfortunately, though, my children have caused a lot of mischief over the years with this wonderful modeling compound!  They have gotten it stuck in our family dog’s fur.  They have shoved it in their noses and ears.  I have found it hardened in the carpeting and inside of toys.  They have even eaten it a time or two.  (My daughter, almost 5, still insists that blue PLAY-DOH tastes the best!)

I have walked into PLAY-DOH “food” fights. I have found it stuffed into the floppy disk drive of my old computer.  I have found PLAY-DOH “CD's” inside the CD player of my stereo.  I even have had to plunge dried PLAY-DOH out of the bathtub drain.  Yes, it has been one wild adventure with my son and daughter!

I often wonder if perhaps I was guilty of some of the same PLAY-DOH disasters when I was young.  For the life of me, though, all I see in my mind’s eye is a sweet girl, tranquilly playing at the table.  Knowing the curious and rambunctious child I was, I know better!  I can almost guarantee that I, too, left lots of PLAY-DOH “surprises” for my own parents.

Now that my children are a little older and I a lot wiser, PLAY-DOH time has become a wonderful family activity.  All of the compound stays well out of reach until it is time to play.  I have also learned to watch for the warning signs (i.e., when my daughter starts licking it, it means trouble!).  Now, I can sit back and enjoy watching my children’s creativity take shape, as well as join in the fun myself.  Ultimately, I have to conclude that life wouldn’t be nearly as fun or as interesting without this ingenious invention!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Oboes and Elbows

I remember when I was about my children’s age I was convinced that the song “This Old Man” was really “Thistle Man.”  Images of a man covered from head to toe with needle-like thorns would immediately pop into my head each and every time I sang this song.  In my little mind, thistle people were real and alive just as you and I are.  If there was a song about them, thistle people had to exist!  It never occurred to me that my mind and ears were playing a little trick on me.

I’ve noticed this happen many times with my son and daughter over the years.  Recently, I had to hold a discussion on the difference between oboes and elbows with my daughter, who will soon be 5.  For months, she’s been coming to me about itchy and boo-booed “oboes,” and I have gently corrected her time and time again that we have elbows, not oboes, on our bodies.  Yet, it never sank in.

Finally, last month, she came asking for a Band-aid on another imaginary “oboe” boo-boo, and I no longer could resist having a little informative lecture on oboes vs. elbows with my kids.  Luckily, my son and daughter still absolutely enjoy my little lectures and will sit mesmerized for however long I decide to talk, which can be a long, LONG time on subjects that interest me or that I feel strongly about.  In fact, since I was a little girl myself, my parents have always teased me that I was born to be a teacher or lawyer.

Apparently, our oboe/elbow discussion worked because now my daughter goes around pointing to her elbow and telling people, “This is my el-bow, not my o-boe.  Oboes are instruments, not body parts!”

Every time my daughter explains the difference between oboes and elbows, she gets this serious little look on her face.  It is the exact same look I used to get when I was her age, defending my belief that thistle people truly existed, simply because there was a song.  The years have flown by so quickly and I was worried that perhaps that stubborn and opinionated little girl was gone forever.  Little did I know, though, that I had passed her on to my own little princess, and she’s alive and well today!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Who Could Be Not-Me?

There has been an unsolved mystery in my house for years.  Who could be Not-Me?  Evidently, there is a secretive suspect spreading chaos throughout my home, and only my children have seen him in action.  He is known only as ‘Not-Me,’ and not much else is known about this rascally character.  His crimes are many, and he shows no sign of slowing down!

A thunderous crash upstairs?  I run to find my children standing around a broken object with claims that “it’s Not-Me!”  Drawings of jellyfish up and down the upstairs hallway walls?  It seems Not-Me is also a graffiti artist.  The disappearance of all my favorite chocolates?  Again, it was Not-Me and his devilish sweet tooth.

Furthermore, Not-Me’s many hobbies and interests include the following:

  • Attempting to flush entire double rolls of toilet paper down the toilet
  • Unfolding all of my children’s clean laundry and throwing it around their bedrooms
  • Scattering kibble throughout the entire house
  • Using up whole rolls of Scotch tape daily
  • Cutting up pieces of paper into confetti and spreading it into every nook and cranny

Not-Me is also wanted for questioning in a number of recent suspicious circumstances, which match this suspect’s M.O. but for which there were no witnesses:

  • String mysteriously appeared out of nowhere in my son’s room, connecting all of his furniture like a giant spider web.
  • Someone sneaked into the refrigerator for a midnight snack and spilled juice everywhere.
  • The couch cushions keep creeping off of the couch so they can hang out on the floor.

If you have any information about Not-Me’s whereabouts or about the true identity of this sneaky individual, please let me know immediately.  Do not attempt to confront or apprehend this suspect because he is exceptionally cunning and capable of anything.  Most importantly, though, please take care to watch your own homes closely.  You never know where Not-Me will decide to strike next!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Moon Stalker Madness!

As my children’s knowledge of the world around them grows every day, I sometimes forget that they are only young children and as young children, they don’t always realize that we are not the center of the universe.  Recently, my daughter (almost 5) has been acting strangely every time we are in the car at night.  She stares up at the night sky and gets the weirdest expressions on her face.

At first, I merely assumed it was because it was late and she was tired.  Last week, though, I noticed that she was having frequent nightmares and finally asked her why she had been acting strangely and having bad dreams.  As I sat on the edge of her bed trying to comfort her, she looked cautiously out her bedroom window and whispered, “The moon is being mean!”

Immediately, I whispered back, “What do you mean the moon is being mean?!”

She blinked her big brown eyes at me and clutched her stuffed animals to her chest.  “It is everywhere and it won’t stop following me!  When we’re in the car it’s there.  When I look out my window it’s there.  And even when Daddy goes super fast it’s always there.  It’s creepy!  Why won’t it just stay where it’s s’ppose to?”

I gave her a big hug and then sat her in my lap.  I explained to her that the moon isn’t alive.  It’s just a hunk of rock going around our world in outer space.  It is always where it is supposed to be.  Since it is so big, it is very hard to get away from it.  There is nothing to worry about at all when it comes to the moon.

My sweet girl let out a sigh of relief and said, “Okay!”

I tucked her back in, gave her one last goodnight kiss, and reminded her that the next time something was scaring her, she should tell me right away.  She smiled and then drifted off to sleep, dreaming peaceful, happy dreams at last.

As I watched over her for a while, I smiled to myself remembering my own moon misconceptions as a child.  At one time I, too, thought the moon was stalking me.  Later, though, I was convinced that a silly old man lived on the moon and watched me as I tried to see him, eating moon cheese all night long.  (That was also my theory as to why the moon changes shape.  The man keeps eating and eating until he has to stop and make more moon cheese!)

I also wondered what other silly misconceptions lie hidden in the minds of my own children--and someday, my grandchildren.  What crazy times might lie in store for all of us!  In the end, though I couldn’t help but laugh because if my kids and grandkids turn out to be anything like me, they will have a zillion!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Loony Like a Llama's Mama

As parents, we are so eager to see our babies grow and learn new skills.  We support them so they can sit up and later can walk.  We show them the world around them and help them explore.  We are ecstatic when our little bundles of joy start to coo and babble, eager to hear what their first words might be.  We even repeat words over and over again hoping that our little ones will catch on and say them back to us.

Although this is good and what every parent should be doing, our efforts do come back to haunt us down the road!  My son (6) and my daughter (almost 5) are at that stage when they can’t get enough of rhyming words.  I know this fascination is wonderful as they continue to learn how to read, but it is enough to drive the sanest person loony!

Currently, I am known as ‘Llama Mama’ by my dear children.  It has nothing to do with the fact that llamas and I both have curly hair.  Nor thankfully, is it because they feel I have hideous teeth or bad hygiene like a llama.  It is simply because ‘mama’ rhymes with ‘llama’--oh, lucky me!

Yet, the rhyming doesn’t stop there.  A normal day these days goes something like this:

My kids: “Llama Mama, we're hungry!”
Me:  “Okay, what would you like?”
My son:  “I want an egg, leg, beg, peg.”
My daughter:  “No, I don’t want an egg, teg, weg, leg!  I want a pear, care, stair.”
Me:  “Well, how about an egg, toast, AND a pear?”
My daughter:  “Why, tie, eye?!”
Me:  “Because that would make a balanced meal.”
My son:  “Okie, dokie, pokie!”

It’s as though I’m stuck in a Dr. Seuss universe, having to find the meaning through a thousand rhymes.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore Dr. Seuss and have since I was a little girl.  However, living it and reading it are two entirely different things!  I know someday I will look back and laugh about this crazy phase my children are going through.  Nonetheless, right now this llama mama is a bit loony toony and can’t wait for them to lay off the rhyming just a little!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kooky, Fun Dances

What is a wedding, dance, or any other deejayed event without some crazy, goofy dances thrown in for fun?  I don’t know how to dance a step, but I still can do the Macarena, the YMCA, the Hokey Pokey, the Twist, and (embarrassingly) the Bunny Hop.  I learned all but the later at such events, and I have to admit it was fun!  However, I grudgingly gained the Bunny Hop experience in 3rd grade when my teacher made the class do this horrifying dance all through the entire school for Easter.

Here is a video for those of you who might be unsure what this frightening dance looks like . . . and sounds like:


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Just Jammin', Mommy!

As an avid music lover, I have surrounded my children with a vast array of music since before birth.  Country, swing, jazz, soul, classical, rock n roll, folk, Latin, Celtic, and gospel, my kids have embraced them all--and then some--enjoying them all without little regard to what is popular or where the boundaries lie.

Now that my son and daughter are getting older and realizing the endless possibilities of the future, they have been taking about starting a band with some of their cousins and friends.  My daughter (nearly 5) is set on becoming a singer and learning to play the guitar.  My son (6) is also determined to play the guitar but recently decided he should master the keyboard and drums, too.

One day, last February, both of my kids were gathered in my daughter’s bedroom, discussing their band plans.  They gathered all of their toy instruments: 2 guitars, 2 keyboards, a drum pad set, and a vast assortment of flutes, slide whistles, and percussion instruments.  They were so eager to get their band started.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Search for 'Inner Petes'

My children are diehard animal lovers.  Toys, games, clothing, books, and movies are ALL enjoyed 10 times more if they feature animals.  In fact, since my kids first found out that we need to move this year, I have gotten a thousand requests for us to buy a farm.

Back in February, we finally rented the film “Kung Fu Panda 2.”  My kids absolutely LOVED the first movie with all its fun animal characters, so they were dying to watch the sequel.  Throughout the movie, they laughed happily and got extremely excited during each and every action sequence.  Overall, they had an awesome time!

After it was over, I asked my son (6) and daughter (almost 5) what they had thought of “Kung Fu Panda 2.”  My son immediately exclaimed, “It was so cool!”

My daughter piped in, “I’m gonna love pandas forever and ever now!”

Any more discussion had to wait, however, because they were so stoked from the film that they ran off to play 'pandas' upstairs.

Monday, April 9, 2012

HELP! There's a Tree Growing in Me . . .

Seedlings for our garden (2009)
One of the earliest memories I have is the first time my brother and I got to eat watermelon from the rind.  We were sitting outside on my great aunt’s porch with our dad, and he was teaching us how to shoot the seeds out of our mouths.  We were having a wonderful time until I accidentally swallowed one of the seeds.  My dad, always the mischievous jokester, decided it would be funny to pass on some age old ‘wisdom’ that his father had passed down to him.  He frowned at me and sighed, “Well, it looks like you’ll be growing leaves out of your ears and nose soon!”

Immediately, my brother thought that would be cool, but as for me, I can tell you, I was a lot less enthused!  Not wanting to seem like a crybaby in front of my little brother, though, I just laughed.

However, as the days and weeks passed, I constantly checked my nose, ears, and mouth in the mirror to see if I could glimpse anything green starting to poke out of anywhere.  The more time passed, the more I was convinced that one morning I’d wake up with tree limbs poking out of me in every direction.  I even started having awful dreams about it.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Girl & Her Tutus

Being a tomboy most of my childhood, I don’t remember ever wanting to be a ballerina or ever owning a dress-up tutu. My daughter, however, has had dreams of dancing since she could walk and has a ton of frilly, lacy tutus in her closet. As soon as she puts one on, she is transformed, attempting a zillion different ballet moves with increasing grace--moves which I still have no clue where she picked up.

What is it about this flimsy, translucent material that can turn my clumsy little girl into an agile swan? On a normal day, I have to kiss several boo-boos, sustained as she blindly trips over obstacles in her excitement or as she races to and fro at full speed. Yet, once she slips into one of her tutus, she twirls, jumps, and kicks her little legs with almost never an accident. It’s one of those great mysteries in life.

One time, about a year ago, I asked her why she felt she didn’t get as many little bumps and bruises when wearing a tutu. She just smiled and replied, “Because it makes me fly!”

Although I’m not an expert on aerodynamics, I’m pretty certain that tutus can‘t fly. Still, it makes me wonder if in a metaphorical sense, her statement might be accurate. When she is wearing a tutu her joy and excitement are all over her face. As she dances to the music in her mind, her heart soars to heights unknown. In that moment, she is fearless and free, and only her dancing matters. In my mind, that is as close as a little can get to flying among the clouds!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fairy Dust Fever

"Fairy Dust," a.k.a. glitter
As a little girl, I absolutely loved glitter. Seeing glitter automatically brought to mind images of fairies, magic, and pretty princesses of faraway lands. It could take the dullest of art projects and turn them into beautiful masterpieces (in my young mind). Nevertheless, now that I’m an adult, I have learned the unpleasant--almost evil--side of this art supply.

My daughter has been a fairy and princess fanatic since she was a tiny toddler. Anything pink, purple, and sparkly quickly catches her eye and captures her fancy. In her world, these are the things that spread happiness to one and all . . . but when her world and mine collided two summers ago, there were some very unhappy campers!

One dreary, rainy weekend, I was busy as ever, trying to get my household chores finished before another hectic week started. My son and daughter (then 4 and 3) were moping around the house, disappointed that the rain was interrupting our plans to go to the playground. I tried to cheer them up, but not even their favorite ice cream with sprinkles improved their moods any.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Easter Bunny/Santa Alliance

A Glimpse of the Easter Bunny
With Easter coming up, talk of the Easter Bunny has become a daily occurrence in my home. I overheard my son (6) and daughter (soon to be 5) discussing how it is possible for the Easter Bunny to deliver so many baskets full of goodies on a single night. After much debate, my panel of little theorists have decided that there can be only one explanation: Santa helps the Easter Bunny deliver Easter goodies every year!

When I asked them to explain exactly why they felt this was the truth they gave me the following arguments (with a little rewording and summarizing):

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

If I Don't Drink, Maybe I'll Shrink

It was a cold and snowy morning this past winter. I was busy in the kitchen making pancakes when I heard a strange squeal behind me. Startled, I jumped around to find my poor 6-year-old son tangled up in a sweatshirt--his head nowhere to be found! Panicking he cried, “Help me, Mommy . . . I’m stuck!!!”

Try as I may, I just could not get his head through the shirt. Finally, I helped him out of it, and told him had to find another shirt. This one was simply too small and didn’t fit anymore.

His big blue eyes glistened with tears, and he frowned. “But this is my most favorite shirt in the whole world. It has to still fit!”

Feeling sad for the little guy, I tried to cheer him up with the prospect of new clothes since he was having another growth spurt. Yet, this only made the situation worse. He wanted that shirt and that shirt alone.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Cheese-less Cheeseburger

One of the most valuable--but most difficult--lessons you must learn as a parent is sometimes it just isn’t worth arguing with your young children. Sometimes you have to pick your fights, and let the other ones slide. Ultimately, some children can be stubborn to a fault. You could correct them up, down, and all-around until you are blue in the face. You could present evidence that could win over an entire hostile jury. Yet, they wouldn’t budge a millimeter!

My son has always been more easygoing and my buddy. We think a lot a like, and he has always loved to copy me. My daughter, on the other hand, has a stubborn streak a mile wide (also one of my traits I was so wonderful to pass on). Since that little girl learned to talk, she has loved the word ‘no’ and being contrary.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s usually a sweet and loving child, but when she decides she knows better--look out!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Baby Sisters: Buy 1, Get 1 Free

I remember when I was a little girl my parents were too embarrassed to explain where babies come from, so they told me the ol’ stork story.  Believe me, that brought a lot of confusion and shock when I started school and learned from my little classmates that this wasn't so!

Although I am nowhere near ready for sex education with my own children yet, I decided that a more accurate but delicate approach would be better.  From when they were toddlers, I’ve told my children stories of all the kicking and somersaulting they did inside my belly.  I’ve shown them photos of my protruding stomach from both of my pregnancies.  I’ve even told them about the special time we spent at the hospital after they were born.

I thought for sure both of my kids understood the basic concept that babies come from mommies’ bellies.  Apparently, though, after all this time, my 4-year-old daughter still doesn’t quite get it.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Ancient Twenties

In your twenties, you are supposed to be at your prime and living life to the fullest.  You are full of energy, optimism, and most of all youth.  Yes, for the most part, the twenties feel great . . . but becoming a parent can change that feeling in an instant!

Recently, I was showing my children photos of myself during different stages in my life.  It’s so much fun to see them smile and laugh about the goofy clothes I used to wear or the crazy hairdos I was once convinced were awesome!  Plus, it is a wonderful time to relive great memories and pass them down to the next generation.

However, that day, the moment I had thought would never happen occurred.  After looking through my high school photos, my 4-year-old daughter gave me this curious look and asked, “How old are you now, Mommy?”

I told her that my birthday is coming up, so soon I would be 28.  With my answer, her expression got even more strange.  We have been practicing counting up to 30, so both of my children are starting to get a feel of just how much the numbers toward 30 really are.

She began trying to count to 28, missing a couple numbers here and there, but doing a good job nonetheless.  Finally, she reached 28 and immediately exclaimed, “Mommy, you’re old!!!”

Suddenly, I didn’t feel as young anymore, and I was catapulted back to the days when I was 4 and thought my parents were ancient.  It’s amazing how nearly 24 years can completely change your perspective, doesn’t it?