Science 101

My 5 year old son, Bency, changes his mind about his future professional career as often as I change my shirt (that’s not always a daily occurrence).

Since I want to encourage his passions I try to find and do things that will keep him enthusiastic.

When he was 3 years old he wanted to be a pirate when he grew up so I bought him a pirate costume.

When he was 4 he wanted to be a paleontologist so we studied dinosaurs.

Right now he is fluctuating between an artist and a scientist. No problem with the art. I can handle the art. The science is a bit trickier for me. So instead of winging it, I bought Bency a science kit for Christmas.

Let me tell you; we have had so much fun doing science experiments the last few months. We completed the last of the science experiments this past weekend that came with the kit. Bency is normally very serious and it takes a lot to make him smile but as I went through my pictures from the last few months I found so many “smile” photos of him doing his experiments.

If anyone has any “kid-friendly” science experiments please let me know so I can keep this kid busy! (And as you can see from the photos…the messier the better!)

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Getting My Report Card as a Parent

As parents, we don’t get quarterly report cards and annual reviews to analyze our parenting skills. The closest thing we have is when we bring our kids for their doctor checkups and dentist appointments.

During these visits I always hold my breath anticipating the “grade” the doctor is going to give me.

When my kids haven’t shrunk and the doctor asks them what they eat for breakfast and my kids don’t respond with “lollipops;” I consider that a solid “A” in my book.

There was however the time that I brought my middle son in for his 3 year old check- up and I told the doctor about some discipline problems I was having with him. She suggested reading a certain parenting book. A few minutes later, I had to excuse myself from the room briefly while I took my older daughter to the bathroom and left my son alone with the doctor. When I came back she told me that book probably wasn’t going to work for me. She had never seen a child with such a mind of his own. I left there feeling like I was teetering on the edges of a “D.” He had grown a few inches so it wasn’t quite an “F.”

I always leave the dentist office with about a “C.” My kids brush their teeth every morning and I help them floss. However, most nights I forget to have them brush. Every night I cook dinner, wash the dishes, give the kids baths, read bedtime stories and then do bedtime tuck-ins with each of the three kids. Then I get really busy patting myself on the back for making it through another day and everyone has survived. This is always when it hits me that I forgot to have them brush their teeth and there is no way I am hauling them out of bed to complete this task.

Apparently, this oversight shows at the dentist office because the doctor always tells me they have some plaque build-up but no one has completely rotten teeth yet. I’m sure if I got a report card from her, the comments would read, “This area has room for improvement.”

My middle son recently studied “Tooth Care” in his Kindergarten class. He was telling me all about it yesterday in the bathroom while I was flossing his teeth. He was throwing the words “plaque,” “hollows” and “cavities,” out there with great knowledge that led me to believe I needed to start setting money aside to so I could send him through dentistry school.

While I was still under my delusional state that my son was going to be a tooth care extraordinaire he made this statement:

“The teacher showed us pictures of cavities that had fillings in them. They get filled up with silver. They look really awesome and give your teeth a really nice look. Then they aren’t just the boring white anymore. I’ve been doing some thinking and I’ve decided that I’m not going to brush my teeth anymore so I can get some silver teeth.”

Crazy enough, this isn’t my first go around with this kind of thinking. When my older daughter went through the “Tooth Care” segment in Kindergarten she made a similar statement:

“You know, if you don’t brush your teeth, they get rotten and fall out. Since I want the Tooth Fairy to start coming, I’m going to quit brushing my teeth so they all fall out and she can come all of the time.”

Thankfully, I talked my daughter out of doing this and we have managed to preserve her teeth from becoming rotten.

However, remember my son is the one with “a mind of his own” that no parenting book has any suggestions for.

I’m sure my next dentist appointment will be a solid “F.”

Eating Lollipops

Music to My Ears

I’ll never forget this moment 7 years ago. My daughter Iris, was 8 months old sitting on the floor playing blocks when Cyndi Lauper came on the morning show I was watching. Cyndi began performing the song True Colors off her new CD at the time called The Body Acoustic. Iris immediately stopped playing and rolled (she was a roller not a crawler) herself closer to the television. She sat fixated on Cyndi’s performance and then began wiggling her chubby little body and babbling along with the song. Being that I grew up as a huge Cyndi Lauper fan I went out the next day and purchased this CD. Iris and I listened to it all of the time.

I videotaped this when Iris was 4 years old:

It’s amazing what can happen in 3 years. Cyndi Lauper’s been dumped and is currently being replaced by songs like this. Oh well, at least Iris and I are having fun singing karaoke together even though she makes fun of me because I don’t know any of the songs!

Just Buy Them the Cotton Candy

I’ve never been to the circus. My Mom swears I was. She thinks I was about 1 years old when we went as a family. My brother told me he hasn’t been to the circus since he was 5 years old and my sister was 9. Since they are 8 and 12 years older than me that confirms the fact that I have never been there. There’s been a lot of things that I said I never did and my Mom assures me that I did do them because I was in her belly or I was a baby. Good try Mom!

So when I heard the circus was coming to town this past weekend my husband and I gathered up the kids and announced we were headed to the “Greatest Show on Earth.” I was equally as excited as the kids to see what all the hype was about that I have only ever read in story books.

Before we left, I gave the kids strict rules not to ask for anything because would not be purchasing any of the overpriced food at the circus, but not to fear because I had stocked my purse full of Raisinets, Goobers and applesauce packets. Besides, I had a little surprise up my sleeve.

When we arrived they had all kinds of things set up for the kids to do. I knew about this ahead of time and had heard there would be elephant rides. I excitedly told the kids that the surprise I had in store was that we were going to pay for them to ride the elephants! They looked at me like I had completely lost my mind. They had no interest in riding an elephant. What?? Who wouldn’t want to ride an elephant?

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Seeing as my kids were party poopers and saved us $30 and I kept seeing them staring longingly at the cotton candy carts, I had my husband sneak over and buy them some of the fluffy pink and blue clouds of sugar. Now that was a surprise for them!

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Iris eating her cotton candy

Iris eating her cotton candy

Bency eating his cotton candy

Bency eating his cotton candy

 

The circus was pretty great and it was nice to see the look of excitement on the kid’s faces.

When it was all over and done with I asked the kids what their favorite parts were.

Iris (7 years old): When they played the song “Who Let the Dogs Out.” I asked if she meant when all the dogs came out and performed their cute little tricks. No, she just really likes that song.

Bency (5 years old): Cotton Candy

Cesar (2 years old): Elephants. He may have said elephants but clearly watching him rock his chair and try to get himself collapsed in the fold up chair looked like that was his most enjoyment during the show.

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My favorite part was when Cesar started puking later that night from clearly eating too much candy.

All in all it was a fun time. I don’t know if we’ll ever go back. I’ve experienced it now. My kids have experienced it. And if my 2 year old grows up and says he doesn’t remember ever going to the circus well…..I have pictures to prove it!

See Cesar...You were at the circus!!!

See Cesar…You were at the circus!!!

Bring It On, I Will Defeat You

I’ve never had to use my mind and creativity so much until I became a mother.

As a kid, the biggest creativity hurdles I had to overcome were ways to get my kittens to sit still so I could dress them up in my doll clothes.

As a teenager it was constantly trying to come up with new excuses for getting out of Advanced Biology.

As a career woman it was all about finding ways to perfect my selling skills so I could sell 30 cars a month at the dealership I worked for.

But nothing tops this Mom thing.

This past week my mind has been stretched and stretched and stretched. Admittedly, some of it is partly my fault but mainly it’s all due to the fact that there are kids in my life now.

My daughter is in Girl Scouts and with that comes a sash that you apply iron-on badges to. Simple right? No, not for me. I’m notorious for overlooking small details. In the beginning of the school year, when she received her sash and a few badges I simply laid that sash on the ironing board and began ironing on those little patches. Unbeknownst to me, the sash has a top and bottom to it. Of course, I had to go and make it so her sash is upside down. It doesn’t fit right this way, looks really weird and falls off her shoulder.

I’ve been putting off the task of rectifying this because I really wasn’t sure how I was going to go about it. This week, it finally hit me that if I applied the patches with an iron, maybe I could get the patches off by reapplying heat to them. This worked! So the patches were off but there were gluey patches left all over the sash. I googled this dilemma and it said to apply lighter fluid to the glue. The problem is, I don’t own lighter fluid and I’m sure it’s not cheap. At this point I should have just thrown in the towel and went and bought a new sash but that is just not my style.

I got the patches all off but it left a big gluey mess

I got the patches all off but it left a big gluey mess

Instead, I lost sleep over this particular conundrum. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I became obsessed with how I could once again fix another one of my mistakes! Then in a moment of clarity, it hit me! I could lay the sash facing down on a brown paper bag and iron out the glue! This worked fairly well and now we are back in business!

Now I can just use my fabric glue to reapply them all

Now I can just use my fabric glue to reapply them all

Now comes into play my second mind boggling dilemma of the week. While cleaning my stove last week I came upon a huge charred cylindrical object adhered to the stove top. I sprayed the bejesus out of that blob with my super strength cleaner. Amazingly, it didn’t touch it. After flicking at it with my fingernail I discovered it was a melted blue crayon that had obviously been put through the cooking process several times. How in the heavens did a crayon come to be resting on my stove top? I didn’t even bother questioning the kids as I’m quite positive the 2 year old is behind this heinous act. So after a week of trying to chisel it off with a knife and not getting anywhere, the simple solution of turning on the burners finally occurred to me. After a few minutes, the wax had melted enough that a quick swipe of a paper towel cleaned it all up lickety split!

So I sit here today with a clear head. All of our problems have been solved! Go ahead Motherhood… Bring It On! I am ready to defeat you and all the twist and turns you bring my way!

This Grand Adventure

When I became pregnant with my first child, my husband and I fully intended to submerse our children into our world and our lifestyle. Before I had children I loved to travel, hike, go to concerts, attend estate sales and create art.

I imagined a life of going to a Jack Johnson concert with a baby strapped to my chest as my husband and I sang along to Bubble Toes. I pictured us traveling around the world stopping in at cafes to give the babies biscuits and croissants. I knew there would be long hikes with a kid strapped to my husband’s back as we crossed streams and climbed over rocks. And there was no doubt in my mind that the kids and I would spend long Saturdays going from estate sale to estate sale buying used furniture that we could go home and sit together and refurbish.

Me hiking through the mesa in Albuquerque, NM

Me hiking through the mesa in Albuquerque, NM

Me hiking the Jemez Mountain...notice my shirt is wet in really great places...I had just got done swimming in hot springs

Me hiking the Jemez Mountains…notice my shirt is wet in really great places…I had just got done swimming in hot springs

Our dreams were quickly dashed when our new darling arrived and immediately hated car rides. Instead of being a soothing experience that put her into a calm trance she screamed like a banshee. As soon as you strapped her into that car seat she acted like a holy terror and there was nothing you could do to get her to stop. A drive across town with her felt like an eternity so our plans of going to a music festival 3 hours away were certainly not in the cards.

An Eric Clapton concert my husband and I went to before kids

An Eric Clapton concert my husband and I went to before kids

We had front row seats at a Keb' Mo concert

We had front row seats at a Keb’ Mo concert

My husband and I at a Dave Matthews concert

My husband and I at a Dave Matthews concert

I however did tote my new baby along to estate sales. She rested comfortably strapped to the front of my chest. In recent years she has become somewhat of a minor celebrity at these gigs because she has been coming with me for so long. However, these were never all day endeavors. We could only go to one and then be home for nap time. The people at these things don’t even know I have three kids because there is no way I would bring 2 rambunctious boys to a house filled with expensive breakables. They are too much of a liability.

I did take my kids hiking once by myself. My daughter was 4 years old and my middle son was 2 years old. There is a great wooded area with paths not too far from our house. I loaded them up and gave them each a plastic bag to collect treasures and told them we were going on a grand adventure. It seemed to be going very well and then about an hour into our hike with no other people in sight my son fell. No, he didn’t trip and skin his knee. He fell down an embankment. A four and a half foot drop covered by plant growth. My daughter and I couldn’t even see him but we sure could hear his screams. My daughter immediately began screaming at the top of her lungs, “My brother’s dead! My brother’s dead!” I jumped down to save my son and got him hoisted back up to safety. He was fine besides a few scratches. The true problem came in when I needed to get out. Since I am only 5 feet tall I couldn’t just lift myself out of this ditch. It was a straight shot down and there was nothing to hold onto or dig my feet into. I struggled and struggled to get out. Both kids were trying to pull me by my hands which of course were no help. I’m still not quite sure how I got out of there but somehow I manage to get my leg swung over and kind of launched myself out. Needless to say we immediately headed back to the car and have not been back there since.

The kids all ready to start their grand hiking adventure

The kids all ready to start their grand hiking adventure

The embankment my son fell down

The embankment my son fell down

In the past 7 ½ years of being a parent we have not traveled internationally, we have hiked once, the only concerts we have been to are the ones my children perform in at school, we do not go to estate sales as a family and most of the art we create includes paper and glitter.

I have been submersed into the life of my children. The life of playgrounds, naps, goldfish crackers, play-doh and crayons is really not that bad and it is incredibly safer.  The only embankments I have had to try to climb out of are the stacks of dirty laundry and dishes and clearly that that is just a metaphor. A metaphor never hurt anybody.  Plus this life with kids is a grand adventure!

Please Pass the Dirt Flavored Broccoli

Manufacturers have come up with ways to artificially flavor medicine so that children will gladly consume it. Yet, in this 21st century we are still struggling to get our kids to eat their vegetables. Therefore, I have compiled a few ideas that if manufacturers were to use to artificially flavor vegetables, I know that kids would gobble them right up:

Dirt Flavored Broccoli

Dirt Flavored Broccoli

Cat Food Flavored Spinach

Cat Food Flavored Spinach

Bug Flavored Beets

Bug Flavored Beets

Booger Flavored Cauliflower

Booger Flavored Cauliflower

2 Month Old Cheerio Stuck in Couch Cushion Flavored Carrots

2 Month Old Cheerio Stuck in Couch Cushion Flavored Carrots

Pre-chewed Gum Stuck to Underside of Restaurant Table Flavored Brussel Sprouts

Pre-chewed Gum Stuck to Underside of Restaurant Table Flavored Brussel Sprouts

With these exciting new flavors available, your children will soon be saying, “More vegetables please!”

 

 

 

 

 

Eyes and Mind Wide Open

Children see the world in a different light. Their eyes and mind are more open than adults.

Yet, even though I am aware of this, my 5 year old son, Bency never ceases to amaze me with his observations.

It all started when he was a toddler and able to communicate. He would point out simple things like the canisters on the kitchen cupboard were slightly askew. He has always been enamored with color and by the time he was 2 years old he knew the difference between purple and indigo. His speed at doing jigsaw puzzles has always astounded me. He barely glances at a piece and immediately knows where it goes. As he has grown older the number and depth of his observations has grown.

Bency loves doing science experiments

Bency loves doing science experiments

Bency does not have a huge interest in reading books and yet night after night I sit down with him and we work on his reading skills. He will be reading out loud and then come to an abrupt stop. I will be sitting there thinking he is stumped on a word and waiting for him to figure it out. Instead, out of his mouth comes, “Mom, did you ever notice how the little “i” looks like a lit candle? Look at the page Mom; it looks like hundreds of candles shining in the story.” He often studies the pictures and sometimes disagrees with the illustrators. He feels that the right smile wasn’t captured, “Mom, don’t you think Betsy’s smile should be bigger since she just received an ice cream cone?”

It was no surprise to me when the neighbor lady came over this Fall after Bency had just been to her house for a visit and said, “I painted my living room 2 weeks ago. It was Off-White before and I painted it Eggshell White. Bency marched in, put his hands on his hips, looked around and said “I like what you’ve done with the place. The new color looks great.” I nodded my head and said, “Yes, that’s how Bency is.”

This past Valentine’s Day, my Mom brought Bency a card she made herself. She hid words all over the card for him to find. As I was reading off the hidden words to him, he said, “I see the Letter “I.” I looked around the card and didn’t see it. He pointed it out to me. I had to hold the card 2 inches from my face and look at it for a long time until I finally saw it. My Mom had to bring it over to the lamp and hold it under the bright light until she finally found it. It was merely how the brush stroke of the marker was colored on the paper. She did not intentionally make the letter “I.”

Can you see the I?

Can you see the I?

It comes as no shock that Bency received the comment “Great little observer!” on his report card or 4 different comments about “Too much talking.” This is how Bency is made up. There is so much in this world that he sees and he wants to share it with everyone!

Report Card

How wonderful it would be to be a kid again and really see the world with your eyes and mind wide open.

You’re Not Fat; You’re Comfy

Last Thursday I received this Valentine card from my 5 year son:

Front of Valentine

Front of Valentine

Inside of Valentine

Inside of Valentine

It’s hard to read because he wrote with pencil on red construction paper so I will tell you what it says:

Der Mom and Dad

Yu are swet and comphe

I Lov Yue

Translation:

Dear Mom and Dad

You are sweet and comfy

I Love You

There are 3 reasons why I adore this card so much:

1. Our 2 year old made it into the family picture on the front read here to see why that is a huge accomplishment

2. He spelled comfy as “comphe.” The other night when we were reading together, he pronounced the word phone as “pee-honey.” I explained that the “ph” makes the “f” sound. While I was explaining this, he was looking the other way and twirling a string hanging off of the blanket around his finger trying to make his finger turn purple. I clearly thought this lesson was lost on him… but apparently cutting off the circulation to his finger makes him a better listener.

3. When I questioned him about his use of the word comfy. He explained that it’s so nice to snuggle up next to me because I am so comfy. In other words, this is a nice way of saying “You’re overweight.” Instead of feeling bad for not having a toned stomach and thighs, I’m going to look at it in a whole new light. All that extra fat gives my kids a warm landing place to snuggle into!

 

Thick As Thieves

A few weeks ago, I saw my 7 year old daughter, Iris, and my 5 year old son, Bency walking up the driveway from their walk home from school. Iris was slightly bent over carrying something about the size of a newborn baby. After further inspection I realized it was a huge chunk of ice.

As they entered the house I inquired about the 15 lb. block that Iris deposited in our backyard. She said Bency found it on the sidewalk 2 blocks away and really wanted it, but he wasn’t strong enough to carry it home so she did it for him. She stated this with a bit of exasperation and an eye roll.

This little tidbit of information made my heart sing. I know that sounds crazy. Why would anyone be excited about a block of ice?

You see there was a time when I wasn’t sure how the relationship between Iris and Bency was going to play out. Iris could be very bossy and controlling. Take for example this conversation I overheard in 2009:

Iris: “Bency, what headband do you want to wear?”

Bency: “No, headband Iris.”

 Iris: (in an irritated, louder voice): “I SAID, WHAT HEADBAND DO YOU WANT TO WEAR?”

 Bency (in a forlorn voice): “The pink one Iris.”

Iris making Bency dress up in 2009

Iris making Bency dress up in 2009

Iris dressed Bency up for an adventure...she even made him wear her shoes

Iris dressed Bency up for an adventure…she even made him wear her shoes

Iris made Bency dress up like the Tooth Fairy

Iris made Bency dress up like the Tooth Fairy

I took this as a sign that Bency would forever bow down to his big sister and forever be sentenced to a life of playing tea party and dress up. Over time they have found their balance and it has been a relationship of give and take between the two. Bency no longer is submitted to dressing up like a girl and Iris indulges him by playing Super Heroes and dinosaurs. They are partners in crime and thick as thieves.

Iris & Bency summer 2012

Iris & Bency summer 2012

Last winter, Iris and Bency had the bathroom occupied for a long time applying temporary tattoos. Bency abruptly ran out and started heading upstairs. I asked where he was going and he said he was suddenly very tired and needed a nap (unheard of). Later I discovered a lower of three shelves holding towels in the bathroom was knocked down. I questioned both children and no one knew what happened but kept giving each other sideways glances. I then told them I would be reviewing the video footage from my secret spyware. Bency caved at this point, throwing his hands to his forehead shouting, “I confess, I confess. It was me.”

Why didn’t Iris give him up when she had the chance? Maybe she knew this was in her future:

A few months ago, the children had been playing in Bency’s room. A few days later I noticed the black wrought iron curtain rod bent down on one side that I’m sure could have only been caused by someone swinging or pulling on Bency’s cowboy printed curtain. When I asked Iris and Bency about this they tried to mask their guilt with a halfhearted attempt of disbelief and shock. I got nowhere with my continued questioning or little white lie of reviewing my secret spyware.

Later that night, my husband called the kids into the living room to ask them about the bent curtain rod. Both kids stood in front of him with their arms behind their backs and again claimed their innocence and tried their best to act appalled that anyone would possibly think it was one of them. As they stood there fumbling with their words and sweat starting to pop out on their brow; Bency put his arm down to his side and nudged Iris. Iris then grasped Bency’s hand and I saw Bency give her hand a squeeze and give her a look out of the corner of his eye.

My husband and I both witnessed this and we looked at each other with an amusing smile. I had to leave the room before I exploded with laughter and my husband dismissed them from the room.

Later than night, Iris came to us and admitted it had been her and that she was sorry she had pulled on the curtain.

We weren’t mad. In fact we were happy (we didn’t let her know that). It was amazing to see that show of support from Bency; that little squeeze of her hand to signal that he had her back and he wasn’t about to give her up for nothing.

Everyone needs someone in their life to give their hand a squeeze during hard times and to carry the load when things get too heavy. We all need someone to have our back. We all need a partner in crime.

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