Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fireworks are fun right??

Let me be honest, I don't like fireworks. Ok, I hate them.

To me fireworks are loud, dangerous, messy, and make the animals crazy. It isn't that I don't enjoy watching fireworks, from plenty far away.

I always assumed this was a me thing, something had happened to me as a kid or maybe it was just some oddity. We found out last year it isn't just a me thing, Thing Two is none too in love with them either. This is way out of character for him and it seems like he was trying really hard to like them and be ok with it all and he just couldn't go there.

We found this out last year when a good buddy of his in the neighborhood and their family came over to do fireworks. Initially it was all ok for Thing Two, he enjoyed the sparklers and the smaller fireworks were fine. As more people in the area started setting off their fireworks, of the illegal launching variety, he became noticeably nervous. He jumped into the back of the truck and unless prodded did not really move from the back of the truck bed for most of the rest of the time. I don't want him to fear them, but I am not the right person to convince him of this. Eventually he did enjoy himself and wants to do them again this year and I assume with time he will get better, but I see that deep distrust of them I have and wonder if long term he will enjoy the fourth.

The kids have heard me complain about my general dislike of fireworks and the fourth of July for years. A few years ago when it was really dry and the illegals were flying, sparks got into our yard. As a stupid college kid, I watched a tree catch fire from a bottle rocket. I have a really easy startle reflex which could be part of my issue and the issue Thing Two has, he always seems very taken aback when a firework goes off that he isn't directly looking at. The Things have heard this for years, but Thing One has never been phased by fireworks; big, small, inside the neighborhood, or out, it all seems good to her; it is just me and Thing Two that get a little jumpy a few days before and after.

It isn't that I don't like or am not impressed by fireworks in a display, I really like watching them. The noise can be a bit much if I am really close to a fireworks display, but generally I truly enjoy a large professional display. It is the home idiot I have issue with, and the easy access to said illegal fireworks in Idaho that makes the whole issue worse. In Idaho, you can buy illegal fireworks, but you have to sign a waiver that you won't set them off......REALLY .....REALLY. My concern is that there are a bunch of high schoolers getting their 18 year old friends to buy them and setting them off throughout the neighborhood for DAYS before and after. At 18 I would not have trusted myself with a match, let alone something bigger than an M80. Every year the police say they will crack down on the firework problem and every year there are always bigger fish to fry. I don't think the police should spend the night monitoring firework setting off neighborhoods. If something is illegal it shouldnt' be sold. I don't see pot sold in the grocery store with a waiver the buyer has to sign saying they won't smoke it, why should we do this with fireworks.

Happy fourth, I don't want to be a Debbie Downer, but were playing with water and if fireworks are bought they will be small and legal so that we will all be less likely to blow a finger off.

Monday, June 27, 2011


When Thing One showed up 8 weeks early, and had surgery and all that accompanied that I assumed as I took her out of the NICU that most of the over head of that was behind us when I walked out the door. I was so wrong and though I expected a few things here and there, sometimes it seems like Thing One just got the wrong end of the stick. Do not get me wrong, things could be a lot worse, but sometimes I just wish she could be carefree and not have to constantly be working on this thing or that.

We have been on a journey with Thing One’s mouth for a little over a year now and though it seems to be progressing as it is suppose to we have hit a pretty big milestone. She got braces last week and yes, she is only 8. When she was 4 we were told she had a cross bite and if it didn’t resolve we would need to see an orthodontist, earlier than most, “What the heck does that mean?” I know I have great responses to these things.

At 7 the dentist told us it was time for Thing One to see an orthodontist, things were not resolving and her mouth was small which would start becoming a problem when adult teeth started coming in. This seemed somewhat logical and I figured that checking in with an ortho would be advised, I didn’t expect what happened next. There is an ortho right next to her school and she had been there on a field trip and I figured if we were going to be seeing these folks a lot just as well they are close. One morning early, another thing I love about the ortho 7 am appointments, we toddled off not quite realizing what was in store.

Thing One was ushered in the back for a full mouth x-ray and a physical assessment of her teeth. She was amenable and with her cute little self all went well, after she was done we were ushered into an office. We were told that yes indeed she had a cross bite that needed to be fixed soon as possible; the palate is malleable for only so long. The thing we didn’t expect to hear was that her lower jaw had shrunk due to teeth extraction a few years earlier and her jaw over all was way too small, approximately 3 adult teeth for every one spot. We got all the information, I talked with the Hubs on the phone and a decision was made. We would start the process then and there of fixing her teeth. She got molds for upper and lower expanders and we started talking cost. When they said ‘phase one’, I asked if we would be buying the ortho a boat or just a trailer for the boat. They said they didn’t know overall, but phase one would cost X, the goal would be to put the expanders on get as much space as possible and get the cross bite fixed, put braces on after that to get the adult teeth that came in during the expander phase organized and then pull it all off and see. “See what?” I asked. See how the rest of her teeth come in and where things will need to be fixed. There was no way around it; we would be doing braces twice.

Over the last year we have been using the expanders to resolve the cross bite and fix the lower jaw issue. We quickly saw results and Thing One has a lot of space and not a lot of teeth. I understood about 3 months ago that braces had to be coming soon, there was so much space her teeth were starting to turn in, and she barely needed to floss since she could shove her tooth brush bristles between her teeth. I pushed for braces to go on during summer so we wouldn’t be strained with school at the same time. Now we go to last week where in an hour time frame they slapped on 8 brackets, 4 top and bottom, put a wire through and used the expander rings in the back to attach the wire, and presto braces. Thing Ones teeth hurt when they touch, I had forgotten that sensation, but generally she is doing really well. She was disappointed that the expander on top didn’t come out, but they explained it had to stay in to keep her mouth in position. She quickly decided braces were not cool and no fun, which means getting them back on when she is older will be a treat. Thing One though seems to take it all in stride and has again adjusted to the way her world is for the time being. Thankfully a boy at daycare told her, he thought she looked cute in them, that always takes the sting off a little.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Comic Book Kids

At some point in my childhood I got hooked on comics, I loved them then and I love them now. When I was 7 and 8 I would not consider myself a reader, I struggled. Being able to read wasn’t the only problem, it was understanding what I read, and being able to express it back in some articulate manner that I struggled with also. I didn’t have the problem with comic books though; Snoopy and Archie were my friends. Thing One seems to have the same issue and is dealing with it in much the same way I did, comic books. Thing Two, is Thing Two and he has gravitated toward the juvenile graphic novel section of the library since we first started going.

School has just let out, but in the last weeks I have become pretty flexible about the choices the Things are making in regard to reading. Both are allowed to read in silence, and they don’t have to choose books at their reading level. So what are they reading? In the last three weeks the books have all been of a comic or graphic novel nature. Thing One has read Babymouse, Lunch Lady, Get Fuzzy, and the graphic novel version of Beauty and the Beast. Thing Two has chosen to read Spiderman, Eek and Aak, Gus Beezer, and the X-men. Both kids love comic books, the pictures, the stories, the whole thing; and really who am I to complain, they are reading. Thing One can recall the stories she reads which she can’t always do with 'word only' books and she is also able to say specific lines in the comics, so I know she is actually reading them. Thing Two gets his adventurous side met in a way the Henry and Mudge just aren’t providing right now with the comics he chooses. For right now comic books are what works and whatever works is a go in this house, and I am all about reading comics when I can be.

Due to the fact the Things are 6 and 8 I initially worried about finding comics that appealed to them and at the same time weren’t overly violent or too sexualized. The Things would have tired quickly of Archie and Veronica, but comics have come a long way and have varied interests, reading levels and maturity levels.  Our local library has a great collection of kids graphic novels and comics and a separate section for the teens and adults. There seem to be a lot of options that are kids friendly and are still really fun. The Gus Beezer books will always be a favorite, especially since it introduced 4 year old Thing Two to his heroes X-Men and Spiderman. Thing One thankfully discovered Babymouse and Amelia Rules, totally better options than the Hannah Montana books. Defiantly it is harder to find that book that Thing One really relates too. With news of a new book coming out from Action Lab called Princeless, I am hopefully that yet another book will speak to her.

I read comic books and I eventually transitioned to ‘REAL’ books, but I still read comic books. I like comics, the pictures, the stories; there is something in comic books that I can’t seem to find in other books. I really hope the Things develop the same love, then I can mooch their comics when they buy them.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Xbox, iPad and Video Games..oh my

As I write this Thing Two is playing Angry Birds on the iPad and Thing One is messing about on the computer in the office.

I swore we would never digitally expose our children to the world; no video games and not too much TV for my monkeys. This is one of the many things that I have totally gone back on. The kids play video games on the weekend.  There is still no screen time on week nights Monday thru Thursday, but there are exceptions, when Thing Two has to wait for One at an activity is a classic one.

The Kinect just about saved us this winter.  In the winter on those days that are cold, wet and we don't want to head out of the house, the Kinect lets the kids jump around and get crazy without making me crazy.  Both Things enjoy playing the Kinect games and I really like the requirement of them to move, it burns that restlessness that winter sometimes can bring.  The Kinectimals is the perfect thing for Thing One, she loves interacting with the animals and the activities really help her work on her focus and balance.  The Kinect also lets me work out when I can't get to the gym, Fitness Evo and Zumba always keep me moving, and I can do it in my PJs.

Thing Two is slowly but surely becoming a gamer, he plays Castle Crashers and he and I are both working on learning Portal 2; Thing One is developing her own screen interests.  There are times when I get frustrated because all Thing One wants to do at a particular time is play Angry Birds or Plants and Zombies.  The up side though, we have a like hobby. I enjoy gaming, though nothing that I can't drop and pick back up quickly, Thing One will stick with a game will he owns it. Over half the apps on the iPad are there because the Things asked for them.  Both kids play video games, but at this point not so much that I have an issue with it. Thing One is more particular with what she enjoys playing. She wants a game to very easy and intuitive, no practice really required.  The great thing about some of the games and apps we have though is that they are teaching her something as she goes. Thing One has stopped asking us to read her what the game is saying, she has to read and interpret it and this is good practice for Her. For now I feel like video games are good for us as a whole and worth the time.

Thing One and Two are both developing computer interests and the games are just a entry into the world of technology as a whole, and hopefully we will keep having some gamer family time, mixed in with all the outside rambling adventures we usually have.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


We tell lies every day. That top looks great. Sorry I didn’t hear my phone. These little white lies are sometimes the things that get us through the day. How do we explain and teach our kids though the difference or when it is and isn't ok to lie?

Lying is something people do daily, some are good at it and some aren’t, but how do we explain the subtle differences of lying and how can you teach when someone is lying. Repeatedly, I have told the Things, if someone if trying to get you to do something you don’t want to and you have told them no you can always say my mom won’t let me. That is a lie, we have taught the kids to lie to keep themselves safe, with a lie.

We start when our kids are young by just saying lying is bad don’t do it. Eventually we are caught in our own lies, hopefully not in front of a bunch of other adults, and revise the rules. We explain that sometimes to save someone’s feelings or to keep yourself safe lying may be alright. It seems like, since the moment the rule got revised we have been living in the gray area. The Things tend to learn the same way as most people, they ask is it ok to lie in this situation or that, or more often than not get caught lying themselves. Trying to navigate what is and isn’t acceptable can be tough, and this is a key part to me in social learning that kids must learn. When you are a pretty alert aware kid this is learning that just gets picked up naturally, but when you are not things needs to be a little more spelled out.

How kids learn and react to lying is really varied, even in this house. Thing Two seems to have a pretty innate ability to understand the power of lying. Two weighs his options if he is caught lying; he will admit to a lie when caught, and he is learning to judge when something is big enough not to lie and to just admit it and when to just hold out and deny the lie knowing the punshinment may not be huge.  Two is not easily fooled by people and has been able to start to read inflection or a look and wonder if someone is really telling the whole truth based on tone and body language. Two still struggles with the whole truth vs a half truth, and that is where he is at, learning to follow the principal not just the letter of the law, and what that all means. Lying is one of those areas that Thing One has struggled with forever.  She is a horrible liar, I know the minute she starts to tell me a lie.  She also isn't quite as adept at catching others lying, though she isn't gullible either.  The difference between them is that one is an observer of people and the other is distracted by non-person related things during a conversation. Additionally, the processing required to listen to what a person is saying, read their body language, interpret it all and get a response back out is delayed in One, that also may be why she can't decipher as well the difference between I want to know the truth and I know you are lying and their is serious punishment for trying to get one over on me. 

What is and isn't acceptable varies by social norms I have no concerns Two will manage wherever he is and find that sweet spot, I think One may always require a little extra help in this area. I have told One what her tell is, she won't look you in the eye when she is lying and is obviously is trying too, it looks quite funny.  I have told her this because she is genuine in who she is and when she lies this badly it doesn't seem like she is genuine it seem like she is being manipulative.  She needs to know it so she can either learn not to do it or opt not to lie.  Hopefully this also makes her aware and on the look out for the things other do when they aren't telling the truth.  Two, I won't tell him how I can tell when he is lying, I can barely tell now when he is lying and he is really good at spotting someone elses lies. What are we teaching them though, to deceive, that seems horrid.  Teaching the truth is what we are striving for, but sometimes not the whole truth and that may be the dividing line.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Park Fun Time

Snooping around for a summer family activity that we would all enjoy and somehow also integrate writing can be a difficult task. Both the Things hate to write and it shows in their projects at school.  Thankfully the latest Family Fun magazine showed up at our door and the seed was formed.  The Family Fun talked about making a summer passport of all your adventures, Boise has a pretty amazing Park system and there are playgrounds and public art structures throughout the park system. A quick Internet search brought up the Boise Park and Rec website, this site has a great filter that gives just a list of the parks with what you want, playgrounds and public art was our search criteria. One draw back when you go back to the list after open up the link to a specific park your filter is gone.  After a little searching we came up with a list of parks with their locations for our first adventure, that had both public art and a playground.  At a garage sale we picked up a little beanie baby hedgehog, this was declared the family stuffie by Thing Two and he became the ambassador to our summer park passport program.  Lastly I picked up some decorate your own notebooks at a craft store and let the kids go nuts decorating them. 

The first time we went out the goal was 4 parks in one day, we packed up a lunch and headed out not really knowing how this all would go. In an attempting to encourage writing skills I made up some guidelines.  They were as basic, at each park we will take a picture of the park sign, and the things we were there to visit, the first parks were playgrounds and the public art.  The Things would write the name of the park in their journal on one side of the paper and on the next piece write a few sentences about what they liked and didn't like about the park.  The blank piece of paper with the park name would eventually get a picture of them at the park.  The writing part didn't go over great, but visiting a ton of parks was too tempting to pass up.

We learned a lot that first day out and this will impact how we continue this going forward. We are early risers and we know now if we can avoid it; don't hit the sub division based parks early. Go to the larger parks where a 'outside' voiced Thing Two can't wake all the neighbors within a mile.  Another tip, when the playground equipment looks crappy it usually is, don't waste too much time the kids just get frustrated.  If there are very young kids playing on the older kid playground equipment, don't stay long someone if bound to get injured and it is better to just not be
there when it happens.  Always be ready to stay at the really cool parks a little longer, we found an amazing playground at Borah Park, a three story playground structure, and hung out there for about an hour.  Bring a ball, Thing Two really wanted to throw around a football and at every park with a basketball Thing One asked if we could we play.  Be ready for anything, we ran across a great farmers market/local artist market at Bond Crossing and ended up taking on the traffic to see all the great art.  Take books and do your daily reading during lunch, this gave us a great break and the Things loved reading outside.  Our first foray out was really successful and everyone came home tired and happy.

We visited all four parks on the first visit and hit another three this weekend. We are running out of parks with public art and playgrounds so are going to start mixing it up with playgrounds at some parks and art or open space at others.  Boise has a few really cookie parks, like a round about on a busy street that we want to hit too.  There are over a 100 facilities listed on the Boise Park website, so we figure we can keep this up most of the summer.  I am going to have to think of something really cool if we end up hitting all the parks. 

Next on my agenda, making the PVC sprinkler kid car wash, in this month's Family Fun magazine, and finding more parks.

What are your summer family fun activities?
This is the Public Art at Helen B Lowder Park, it is suppose to encourage people to create their own game.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Far Away Friendships

 We have started a bit of a tradition on Memorial Day. Some friends who live in Washington come to town and we have a BBQ, have all the friends over and usually end up at the Zoo or the Discovery Center, depending on the weather. This was the first year that when I mentioned our friends arrival coming The Things got excited. Both remembered their friends from the year before and remembered their love of Star Wars and started talking about their visit last year. This is also happening with a few other sets of friends who don’t live so close, and we have all been too busy to catch up with more than about once a year. Having The Things remember their friends makes the experiences of their visits all the better.

These friendships that are being developed will hopefully continue in years to come, but Thing One seems to be at a bit of a disadvantage being the only girl in this group. Of the three groups of friends who come and go with some type of yearly visit there is only a single girl near Thing Ones age. So far the girl thing hasn’t been too bad, but defiantly there is a point when Thing Two takes over the boy play and Thing One wanders off. Thing One has always been independent and a bit of a loner, so I think it has as much to do with her needing a break as the whole boy thing. I always say she is going to end up being the last minute date for all these boys when their girlfriends dump them right before the big dance. Honestly though, Thing One seems to truly enjoy the relationships she has with these far away friends. When we meet up again with these friends, she has gotten over the shyness that can sometimes plague her and immediately saunters over to these far away friends and falls in with them starting up a chat.

Thing Two has what I consider a classic boy relationship with most of these friends. These boys are almost all older and Thing Two looks up to them, wants to be friends with them and is always anxious to play. He immediately grabs a friend in the house and either leads them to the video games or takes them outside to whoop around like crazies. These friendships he sees as not separated by miles or distance, just the ability to be in the same proximity. There is no catching up needed for Thing Two, just a body willing to play. He is flexible to try most activities any of these kids are up too, as long as he gets to participate and not be treated as a baby or the little brother.

These people that flit in and out of our lives are really always with us and we always enjoy their company so much. I am thrilled that the kids all get along and hope this continues for years to come. I hope that these children thrown together by their parents’ enjoyment of each other keeps these kids trying to find common ground with each other, whether it is yearly or bi-yearly. At the age most of these guys are at they are flexible in their play and interests and don’t always need too much in common, but I know this will not always be the case. At some point these kids will have to work to find commonality, and I hope with every part of me they do. I hope they stay connected, not just as a parent who wants to hang out with another parent I love, but because all these kids bring diversity and uniqueness to the Things lives.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Water Safety Time

I am the mom that makes my kids wear their life jackets in the river, even though it is like a foot deep. As The Things have gotten older and become better swimmers I have loosened this rule a little, if they are just catching frogs on the bank no life jackets are required, but otherwise WEAR THEM.....
I grew up playing in the ocean, did swim team, was a lifeguard, a swim coach, and a swim instructor and I have had three near drownings.  The first time I don't even remember, I was in a shallow tide pool and the tide came in, thankfully I had some swimming and rolled on my back until the adults all showed, I have heard the story a million times.  When I was twelve we were rafting and I was on a tube behind the boat, when the boat went to get another boat out of trouble the current caught me and I wrapped the tube with the rope around a tree and was trapped by the rope with most of my face in the water, my uncle quickly got me.  At 20 while life guarding and teaching swimming at a camp I got between two people in a heated argument and was hit accidentally, it was just enough and I went under.  I can remember the feeling of my fingers sliding off the dock and knowing it was bad.  Thankfully, another lifeguard on duty saw what was happening and pulled me out. Drownings can happen at any time and not necessarily with the shouts of help me and flailing arms we always see.  Even if you are a strong swimmer it doesn't mean you are always going to be able to swim your way out of it, be cautious and be aware.
When you play on the river or out on a lake a life jacket may be a pain, but kids need to wear them, they keep them safe.  Much like bike helmets I feel that an adult can make the decision for themselves depending on the situation, but kids should always wear them when playing in rivers or lakes.  The first time we ever got the things in the water and they were comfortable we practiced slipping on rocks and what the Things should do. What they should do is point their feet down river, cross their arms over their chests and yell for help.  What they did do as roll on their stomachs and try to swim back to us.  Kids need support in water crisis situations and a life jacket gives them that, swim lessons help but they will not make your children invisible.
Just like talking about what to do in a fire, talking to your child about what they should do in and around water is important.  Kids should know and have drilled into them to never go into the water to save someone else. THROW SOMETHING, CALL 911, GET AN ADULT; but no matter what DO NOT GO IN.  Every year in the Treasure Valley where we live there is a heart breaking story about someone falling into a raging canal and someone else going in after them, usually these situations end horribly with both parties drowning.  Without talking about the fact that you should 'REACH OR THROW, BUT NEVER GO'; kids will go in and get into just as much trouble as the person who was in trouble in the first place.
A few more key basics and then I will get off my soap box. Swim lessons are not a bad idea for any child, but particular one who has water fears. I taught at Flow Aquatics, and both Things attended classes there; if you are looking for a place in Boise that is year round and offers summer intensives this is the place.  Always teach your kids to ASK BEFORE THEY GET IN, this is a great reminder to the adults they ask to pay attention to their swimmers. As a lifeguard I can tell you, sometimes it is tough to keep your eyes on everyone and the extra set of eyes you the parent have are important. As a parent I try to keep and eye on the things and remind them to always ask before they get in if they forget, and when they go with daycare to a pool to only go where they are comfortable.  Another tip, just because your child has on floaters doesn't mean they are safe, floaters and water toys are not life jackets and will not save a child who gets in trouble. Teach young children to stay away from the edges of open water unless they are playing in it and ask to get in, often kids don't intend to fall in they just get too close and tip over.  Wear sun screen, no one can have fun in the sun with a burned back; I have not always worn it and now know my dermatologist better than I should. 
I will now climb off my soap box, thank you for listening and have a great summer.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Homemade Bulletin Boards

 I have been experimenting with making a bulletin boards for the Things off and on for some time. The first ones I made were out of canvas picture frames. They were ok, but a number of the accents fell off quickly.  This latest incarnation involves plywood and a staple gun. Thankfully there were no trips to the hospital, most people know I am a bit of a klutz.

Supplies needed
2' by 4' by 1" plywood
1 1/2 yards of fabric
2 yards of battening
Spool (?) of ribbon
2 squares of cork board
1' by 6" metal sheet (not aluminium)
2 D rings
Cut tacks
4 screws
a staple gun
Glue Gun

Take the plywood and lay the battening out on it leaving about 1/2" all the way around, double up the battening on one side. Staple gun everything down well.  Don't worry about the back we clean that up later.  After the battening lay the fabric flat, good side on the floor and lay the plywood down on top battened side down. Staple gun the fabric on to the back, the most even way to staple the fabric is to staple the fabric in the middle of each side first and then staple the corners.  I did the corners like a package to make sure that no extra fabric showed on the corners.  Then you can staple all the in between places.

I then drilled holes in the metal, I made the mistake of getting sheet metal, bad idea it was aluminum and hence not magnetic.  We are trying to decide now if we are just going to paint the metal with magnetic paint or actually get metal that is magnetic.  I would recommend if you're an idiot like me to take a magnet to the home improvement store. 

Back to the work at hand, screw the metal to the board through the fabric. After this step you start getting to play with the tacks.  These were great, black and sharp and looked nice. Use the tacks to attach the cork at the corners.  I laid our the ribbon the way I wanted it to look and wove it together in any area that they overlapped.  I used the tacks on all the ribbons ends, hanging the ribbon over the ends, or ending it in on the cork edges when I could.  Tack the ends of the ribbon and where it overlaps or every 3 or 4 inches put another tack.  The tacks when hammered in well will allow papers to stay up pretty easily. On the back of the board there was quite a bit of clean up.  A lot of the tacks went through the back and there was fabric hanging out. I used a glue gun to hold down the fabric in places and used it to cover the tacks that went through.

These were not terribly cheap to make and I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the cost. Thing Ones was a lot cheaper since her fabric was a lot cheaper. I also ended up buying more supply wise than you would really need since I wasn't sure what it would take.  I only made on trip to the fabric store, but 4 to Lowe's and ended up buying A LOT of different nails and screws that I wasn't sure what would work. 

I love these and I think they turned out fabulous so decided to share. I would LOVE to see if anyone else makes one what they might look like.