Mr. Potato Head Got Cool

Mr. Potato Head


This is one of the first pieces of work my 5 year old, Bency brought home from Kindergarten. I immediately told him “Great coloring job Bency!” I then told him I liked Mr. Potato Head’s multi-colored teeth. Bency replied, “I wanted to give him some gold teeth to make him look cool.

I found this odd as I don’t think Bency knows ANYONE with gold teeth let alone someone “cool.”

After further examination I also noticed Mr. Potato Head has black rotten teeth intermingled among the gold, blood-shot eyes and a whiskey nose.

For fear of what his answers might be to the inquiries of these observations I simply was thankful that Mr. Potato Head didn’t have any tattoos and a big gold necklace hanging from his neck.

P.S. Bency was able to recite back to me the Kindergarten Rules!



I’m Kind of Rubbing Off On the Kid

For a little over a week now, it’s just been my almost two year old, Cesar and I together all day for the first time ever since his older brother and sister started school.

I am enjoying our one on one time immensely. Aside from his afternoon nap the house is still noisy filled with all his chatter and I’m still very busy catering to all of his requests.

This past week, Cesar has picked up a new sentence. He is constantly saying, “Oh, that’s funny!”

After a little reflection I realized he has picked this up from me. I am continually using this phrase whenever I see or hear something….well…funny! I use it when the kids tell me a laughable story, see something on television or read something. I guess I feel laughing is just not good enough. I have to also state the obvious.

However, I have found that Cesar’s and my sense of humor is NOT aligned.

The other day he discovered one of the older kids brown markers. He proceeded to color all over his legs and throughout several books. He brought the evidence to me smiling and saying, “Oh, that’s funny!”

NOT FUNNY! Especially since one of those books was his brother’s favorite Seek and Find and now I don’t know how he’ll ever find the fire truck hidden amongst the basket of apples because there is brown marker colored directly over it!

This morning I exited the shower to hear wailing. Wrapped only in a towel I peeked around the corner and found Cesar had tipped the wooden computer chair backwards while he was obviously standing on it and the head of the chair was now resting on the couch which, thankfully, is a foot behind it but left Cesar in quite a predicament. Due to a large picture window in our living room, and only having a towel wrapped around me, I had to crouch down like a duck and waddle over to him. This immediately brought him from cries of distress to obnoxious laughter and repeatedly saying, “Oh, that’s funny!”


The other daily ritual of Cesar is to put on his sister’s shiny flats and walk around the house. He does this with a smirk and a, “Oh, that’s funny!” thrown in there.

Okay, this is kind of funny until he goes and hides them in a cupboard or somewhere else equally unlikely to put a pair of shoes. Then, it’s NOT FUNNY when I have to help my daughter for an hour try to find his new hiding spot.

I had visions of teaching Cesar his ABC’s, numbers, colors and lovely little songs like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” next week.

Instead we will put that on hold for a few days and I will have him watch reruns of Seinfeld with me because this kid needs to learn what FUNNY is!

Cesar wearing Iris’s shiny flats because he thinks it’s funny

The Cranky Lady Got Lubbed

Yesterday my shopping list included: milk, kid shampoo, Rit dye, band aids, carrots, diapers and fabric softener.

This kind of list screamed for Wal-mart. I avoid Wal-mart as much as possible due to their lackluster customer service but with a list like this and only wanting to make one stop…. off to Wal-mart my almost two-year old and I went.

My son, Cesar and I made our purchases and approached the check-out. The light indicating that the check-out lane was open was on but no one was standing there. As we pulled into the lane the middle-aged cashier woman came around the corner huffing with her head down and immediately began swiping our items. There was no customary, “Did you find everything today?” She did not smile or say a word. I instantly knew this lady was NOT having a good day.

My son is the happiest and most social child out of all my children. He is the one I will be most worried about when it comes to white vans and offers of candy. He views all people as potential friends and likes everyone!

My son said “Hi” to the cashier. She said nothing back. He kept saying it over and over. He was trying desperately to make eye contact with her. His eyes were shiny with glee. He was wearing his biggest smile. Still the lady would not reply to him. My son is also persistent and I wanted to tell her just to say “hi” to him because I knew he would not stop until he got a response.

When the lady finished bagging our items and ringing up our total she said, “I’m sorry I didn’t say hello to your child. I’m NOT a kid person. I think it’s because I’ve never been a mom that I don’t like kids. I also think I’m cranky because I’m hungry. I don’t mean to be cranky with you but I think I just need to get some food. I got yelled at earlier today by a mom because I didn’t say “hi” to her kid either. I told her I was sorry, I’m just not a kid person.”

I just sat there listening, smiling and shaking my head. I was caught off guard. I didn’t know what to say. I thought about saying something rude but sympathy was more what I felt for her rather than anger. There was more than hunger coursing through her veins. So I just nodded and put my bags in my cart.

I started to walk away and Cesar looked at the lady and said, “Bye!! See Ya!!! I Lub you!!!

The lady’s face froze. She stammered out a “Bye.” Then she wrangled out a “Did he just say he loved me?”

I looked at the lady and I said, “Yes, he just said he loved you!”

She smiled with tears in her eyes and said, “You have a real cute kid there.”

I thanked her and walked away.

My not quite two year old served a very important purpose yesterday. I think he made that lady a “kid person” for at least a minute and he let her know she was loved.

I Lub You!!!

Tomato Popsicles

This year we were lucky to have an abundance of tomatoes thanks to my parents and neighbors. The past couple of weeks our meals have included chili, stews, homemade spaghetti sauce and sides of just plain sliced tomatoes and cherry tomatoes.

Yesterday I was juicing the rest of our tomatoes to freeze because even though my husband and daughter eat them like candy there was even too many for them to go through before they went bad. I will use the juice for future stews, soups and chili.

While I was juicing an idea popped into my head!

Tomato Popsicles!!

One of my first blog posts was Rhubarb Popsicles so I am not a stranger to obscure popsicle flavors.

So into my popsicle mold went some of my freshly juiced tomatoes.

When the kids got home from school I presented them with this new and amazing snack. I told them it was a surprise flavor and they had to figure it out on their own.

Bency, my five year old thought it was watermelon and thought it was REALLY good (he hates fresh tomatoes).

Iris thought it tasted like a vegetable and really healthy and thought it was pretty good.

When I finally told them what it was Bency wouldn’t eat anymore while Iris started devouring it even faster saying it was the best popsicle ever!

Kids are weird. If you find yourself with an abundance of tomatoes try Tomato Popsicles!!

Bency eating a tomato popsicle

It’s Kind of My Thing

Last year I volunteered at my children’s school to present an author kit to each of the first grade classes once a month. This basically just entailed being supplied an author that you had to give the class a brief presentation about and then read one of the author’s books of your choice to the kids.

This year I am not volunteering.

I may have mentioned before that I absolutely LOVE reading children’s books. It’s kind of my thing! I love doing the different voices, making large swooping motions with my hands to make a point and I love putting the mystery in mystery books!!

I thought this volunteer job had my name written ALL over it. It didn’t.

I kind of swept the whole “presentation” part under the rug. I’m not great at talking in front of large groups of people but these were 1st graders. I had nothing to fear…. Right?!

My first clue that I was making a huge mistake came at the meeting and handout of our author kits. I was given the author Audrey Wood. I wasn’t familiar with Mrs. Wood but I didn’t care; the big tote of books they gave me was filled with brightly covered front pages and amazing titles. I knew I was going to love Audrey! However, as we made introductions with our fellow volunteer counterparts I realized everyone else who was volunteering was a retired school teacher. I gulped. I have NO experience with kids besides my own. I have never been to college. I certainly do NOT have a degree in child psychology or have any idea what makes a kid’s mind tick. And then the lady in charge of the volunteer program asked if there were any questions. I raised my hand. WHY DID I RAISE MY HAND??? It makes me want to kick myself all over again today just thinking about it. I asked, “How do you hold a book when you’re reading to a group of children?” You see, when I read at home my kids sit next to me on the couch so while I’m reading they can see the pictures at the same time. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do this with a large group so I wanted to know if I held the book in my lap and then showed the pictures after each page or if I held it up the whole time and tried to read at an angle. The head of the volunteer group was very nice and said she preferred to hold it up the whole time but I was almost certain I saw a look of panic in her eyes. How had they let someone like me slip through the cracks. I clearly wasn’t qualified to be reading to small children. She probably wanted to give me a reading test to see if I could in fact actually READ. I saw her kind of eyeing up my tote box full of books and I think she was mentally trying to figure out how she grab it away from me and run. I actually thought about just handing it back over but knew I was made to do this volunteer job….I LOVE TO READ CHILDREN’S BOOKS!

My first reading assignment was to be in two weeks so I began to feverishly pour over all of Audrey’s books. I read every article I could find about Mrs. Wood, perused her website and even went to the library to check out the rest of her books that were not included in the author kit. Night and day I read about Audrey and read her books from flap to flap. I KNEW Audrey Wood backward and forward. My children had to endure long sessions of me explaining about Audrey and sitting on the floor while I held my books up and practiced reading from an angle.

I owned this assignment, took it super serious and when I was done EVERY 1st grader was going to know who Audrey Wood was, fall in love with her as much as had and WANT TO BECOME AUTHORS THEMSELVES!!


I began with my daughter’s class. All 18 children looked so innocent and sweet. They sat nicely with their hands in their laps and stared silently at me, ready for me to begin. Or were they scrutinizing me? I couldn’t tell. I started to talk about Mrs. Audrey Wood and suddenly everything disappeared from my head. I couldn’t remember anything. I started stumbling with my words. The more I stumbled the more I thought the kids were judging me. Behind their sweet faces there was probably raucous laughter waiting to burst out. The more I began to wonder what they were thinking the more lost my words got and the hives started to break out all over my neck and face. I quickly moved on to the book. I picked Tickleoctopus. This book is about cave people who discover an animal called the Tickleoctopus. This book is amazing. It gives kids a glimpse into prehistoric life plus has a huge opportunity to do CAVEMAN VOICES!!! I was in my element reading the book and the horror that had happened a few minutes prior melted away as I gave the performance of my life! After I was done the kids clapped, cheered and asked me to read it again!

I went home and told my husband about my utter disaster. My husband does this sort of thing for a living. He gets up in front of people and talks and teaches them almost every day. He told me just to talk from my heart and not to worry about it so much. These were 1st graders after all. They clearly are NOT judging me.

The next time I went to school to a different classroom, the words flowed out of my mouth with ease. I gave the kids a lot of information about Audrey. I put it in terms I thought they could understand. I gave them reasons to want to become authors themselves. I shared with them the fact that when Audrey was in elementary school she wanted to be an author so bad that she actually scribbled out the name of her favorite author, Dr. Suess, on a book and wrote her own name over it (immediately after I told them this, I regretted it. What if I had just caused a rash of book graffiti artists because they all wanted to be like Audrey). I told them that Audrey met Don Wood in college; they fell in love, got married and began working on children’s books together. (A child asked what Audrey’s maiden name was because if Don’s last name was Wood, Audrey’s last name couldn’t have always been Wood. I had no idea what the answer was. I felt like a complete Audrey Wood fraud.). I told them that Audrey began writing books when she was a new mom and was now in her mid-60’s…probably the same age as some of their grandparents. (A child raised their hand and said that was the same age as their dad. I felt horrible. Of course there are older parents. Why did I make this statement? What if I gave that child a complex for the rest of their life?) Again, I moved onto the book and got another round of applause and pleas for me to read it again.

I did this for the rest of the year, each time causing hives and creating questions in my head wondering if I had just scarred these poor 1st graders for life. The only thing I nailed was reading the book. Every time I was at the school for some reason or another a child would approach me and say, “Hey, you’re the lady that came and read us Tickleoctopus! I LOVED THAT BOOK!!!”

I loved that book too and I love a million more children’s books but I will leave the teaching to the experts. Hopefully someone new will volunteer this year and be able to portray Audrey Wood the way she deserves to be portrayed and I will stick to reading to my kids, the neighbor kids and any friends that pop on over because it’s kind of my thing!

A picture of me reading to my kids last year!



For more information about Audrey Wood please click here for her site!

If you have a child who is struggling with reading please click here for Dr. Connie Hebert’s blog. She is a literary specialist who has a lot of ideas on how to guide those children who need a little extra help. She has a published book and another due out soon. Check it out!!!

The Magical Forest Wonderland

I would like to share a little beauty from my corner of the world with everyone that I experienced this weekend. My family and I went to our local Botanical Gardens. This name does not do it justice. It is indeed botanical and a garden but if I was given the honor of naming it, I would have called it The Magical Forest Wonderland or something equally as fascinating as it really is!

This was the perfect place for kids. They could run, explore and not have to worry about breaking anything. The only minor incident that occurred was when our 5 year old Bency stepped into the koi pond. I told him he could stand on the edge and look in and apparently he heard, “step into the pond and become one with the koi.” He was slightly disturbed with his wet socks and shoes and a bit flabbergasted that I didn’t have an extra set on me but he soon got over it and began running and playing in all the beautiful glory!

The kids were disappointed to leave on Saturday so with Sunday being Grandparent’s Day I invited my Mom who has never been there to join us in one more day of nature’s beautiful splendor all encapsulated in one wonderful place!

Enjoy and have a wonderful and beautiful week!

Iris, Bency and Cesar excited to start their adventure!

Having fun running around


morning dew on the ground cover





The kids climbing a huge hill

The kids getting water from the rain barrels to water the animal topiaries

Bency water the bunny topiary

The dragonfly bridge

Cesar and Dad

Bency disgruntled with his wet shoes and socks after going into the pond

Iris on butterfly bench

The kids love the stars on the walking path

Beautiful garden art everywhere

Mr. McGregor’s garden from The Tales of Peter Rabbit

A huge maze for the kids!

a beautiful view from the tower in the children’s garden

The rainbow garden


Iris posing in the stone structure


The kids crossing a stream

The kids having so much fun running around

This is the bathroom!


another beautiful view from a different tower

The roof of one of the towers

The fairy garden

The kids waiting for the fairies to move

Nature’s artwork

Grandma spending the day with me and the kids

A door knocker on the English cottage











Sometimes I Look At Her and I Still See a Baby

Painting I did yesterday taken from a photograph of Iris at 6 months

My daughter Iris is 6 months old in this picture. This year she turned 7 years old.

Sometimes I look at her and I still see a baby. She has not changed a bit.

Then I pull out the old photo albums and pictures like this pop out and it takes my breath away. When did my daughter get a jawline? She clearly did not have one at 6 months. When did her nose become long and slender? She had such a small button nose at 6 months. When did she get arms that revealed both her elbow and forearm? She had roly-poly sausages with five fingers sticking out of them at 6 months.

At 7 years old, my daughter is still very innocent. Yet, she knows words to pop songs. She talks on the phone to her best friend and they GIGGLE! I now fully understand the reference when someone says, “she giggled like a little school girl.” She talks about the presidential election. She asks me to do her hair a certain way.

But sometimes I just look at  her and I still see a baby.

Personalized Kid’s Plates

My brother recently told me about a fun project he had seen using Sharpie markers. Basically, you can write on porcelain using a Sharpie marker and then put it in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Of course I was intrigued and just had to give it a whirl!

I bought 3 plain white plates at the Dollar Store.

Plain white plates from the Dollar Store

We had a basket full of Sharpies already but if you don’t have a basket full you need to buy some of these too! (You do not need a basket full…I have no idea why we have this many!)

That’s it!!

My kids and I sat down and drew away on our blank plates to personalize them and make them beautiful!

Iris drew herself and a unicorn on her plate, Bency drew himself and a zebra and I made a plate for my youngest son!

Afterwards we put them in the oven and fired them and we were done!

A few notes on this project:

  • Sharpies say they are non-toxic but I’m not sure you can actually eat off of them. I am only going to use these plates to serve cookies on or something like that.
  • I put these in the dishwasher to see how they held up. Everything was fine except for the red. It turned orange. Also the silver Sharpie came off on some places. The green, blue and black were perfect.
  • My kids absolutely LOVED this project!

The kids are proud of the plates they made all by themselves!

Can I Call You Back

There is a strange phenomenon that happens every time I get on the phone. My children can be playing on another level of the house, outside or down the block like perfect, sweet angels but the moment I make a phone call or receive one they receive what can only be described as a supernatural alert signal that they must obey to.

They automatically NEED SOMETHING NOW!! They also turn into monsters that begin doing things that would never occur had I been sitting idly, twiddling my thumbs with nothing to do.

First comes the requests for water and food to stave off the dehydration and hunger that comes from hearing the phone ring. Next comes the racing through the house and games of tag follow filling the air with shrieks and loud laughing. Toys start getting thrown at one another and then the toys get thrown into the air like confetti. Complete mayhem breaks out.

I begin by trying to simply mouth the words, “STOP!”

This never works and I don’t know why I even try to use this tactic anymore.

Next, I bring out “CRAZY EYES.” I’ve explained “crazy eyes” to my kids. It’s the concept that if you see mommy’s eyes bug out of her head , eyebrows raise to the top of her forehead and her mouth pierce into a small “o” it’s time to stop whatever you are doing. This could be the point where mommy loses all touch with reality and begins screaming like a crazy lunatic and banging her head against the wall. This has not happened to date, but like I explained to my kids it is the next logical step after “crazy eyes” so do not test it.

Crazy Eyesusually works when we are in public. “Crazy Eyes” makes them slightly pause but continue on their way when I am on the phone. They know I am at the mercy of this thing attached to my head and am trying dearly to hear every word from the nurse on how to treat a rash and would never go completely lunatic at this point.

Depending on who is on the other end of the line I let them listen for a few minutes. Perhaps the dentist receptionist calling to confirm our appointment will take pity on me. Give me some sympathy. Perhaps she has grown children and is really missing those younger years. Perhaps she will offer to come over and pick up these kids and take them to the park for a few hours so I can get some much needed peace and quiet. This has never happened.

I usually just resort to the hiding. I make a break when the kids aren’t looking and go find a closet to hide in or go outside. A long conversation usually requires me seeking several different hiding spots during the course of the chatting either because a neighbor begins mowing outside or I have been found by one of the children during their stake out to find the source to end their dehydration and hunger.

During the hiding, in order to focus on the person who is talking I have to block out the fear and nervousness in my stomach knowing that there is a great likelihood I could be calling a home improvement specialist as soon as I hang up with my current call.

Thankfully for their sakes this has never happened and another strange phenomenon happens the moment I hang up the phone. Things go back to a somewhat serene tranquility. There are no more shrieks, no more blocks flying through the house, everyone is calmly walking and no one is thirsty or hungry.

Was the circus I just experienced just my imagination or do the children realize I’m no longer bonded to the anchor on my ear unable to expel real wrath. Perhaps a little of both; everything seems louder when you’re on the phone and perhaps the requests are always there but I’m not usually inconvenienced by them. Toys usually do fly through the air at our house on a regular basis but it gets stopped immediately.

Needless to say, the kids get a talking to and they solemnly swear it will never happen again….until their super sensory radar goes off again, alerting them to a phone call requesting them to obey the law of all children to drive their moms completely crazy while talking on the phone.

This is a reenactment of how a typical phone conversation is in our house. Obviously no one has ever thought to take a picture when this is actually happening! I told the kids to act how they normally do when I’m on the phone…they played their roles well!