That’s Not Candy

Blue, yellow and pink sweethearts candy for Valentine's

“That’s not candy, yuck!”

This is what my son decided after trying the Sweethearts candy that he came home with today. I had to agree.

I also had to agree with the blue heart when I saw the printing job on these things. LOL indeed.

I remember these candies tasting just as bad when I was a kid, but I don’t remember such a high ratio of printing errors in a package. But then again, maybe nothing ever is quite as we remember.

I hope you had a happy Valentine’s day!


Basketball Practice: Variations on a Theme

During basketball practice, I spend most of the time looking down at my phone rather than watch my kid’s every move. I feel bad about this, but I try to watch the important parts.

Black and White kids playing basketball in

Glancing up, I see the kids running, dribbling, shooting, passing, traveling, shouting, laughing, and looking up farther I see the old windows of the community center, a former elementary school. The gym was renovated over the summer, so the peeling paint and holes in the ceiling and walls are gone.

Elsewhere in the old building you’ll still see missing floor tiles, sinks and fountains with no water, fraying carpet, holes and stains. Outside you’ll still see the seperate entrances marked Girls and Boys, as well as rusted gutters and fallen drainpipes. Rumors are always going around that the place will be shut down because at this point it’s too badly neglected to be repaired.

Old wooden stage of a former elementary school

Looking down, past my phone, I see the old floor of the stage on which I sit each week. I am a part of the scenery, along with other parents, coats, and water bottles, as little sisters and brothers tread the boards.

Sometimes I think of my old elementary school, which had a similar multi-purpose room—our gym, cafeteria, and stage, was the same space used for dismissal where we lined up for the buses each day. In first grade I was in a play about the seasons and I got to walk across the stage with my slicker and umbrella while I spoke about the rain in spring.

Once we had an assembly about Earth Science and the performers told us all about global warming and the shrinking ozone layer and acid rain. “It will be up to your generation to fix it,” they said.

Fix it? I don’t think we’re doing a good job.

I read the news on my phone and feel bad about it, and I try to pay attention to the important parts. Rumors are always going around that the place will shut down once its too badly neglected to be repaired.

I hope we find a way to fix it and save what must be saved.

Variations on a theme

T is for Terraria Pajamas #AtoZChallenge

Terraria PajamasWhat an​ exciting find! I didn’t know Terraria clothes existed. I remember seeing toys a couple years ago, but they haven’t been on shelves for a while. It was such a small selection of items that I figured the merchandising efforts had dried up. I never thought to look for clothes, let alone matching pajamas for the kiddos!

P is for Pokémon #AtoZChallenge

Pokemon toys on the floorGotta catch ’em all! Or in my case, gotta step on ’em all. Each Pokémon creates its signature imprint into the bottom of your foot. They are all truly unique! (For the record, these were a gift from a relative. I did not bring all these tiny toys into my home.)

I do like the Pokémon games, but I’m a few generations behind (haven’t bought one since Sinnoh). We recently gave my daughter a copy of Diamond to play on our old DS, and I enjoy watching her experience the world of Pokémon for the first time. It’s fun to trade, battle, dig underground, and exchange trainer tips with her. Playing is also helping her get better at reading, although sometimes I catch her skipping through the game’s dialogue and later complaining that she’s stuck and doesn’t know what to do next. She’s determined to be a Pokémon master, so I know she’ll figure out a way 🙂


L is for Lice #AtoZChallenge

Metal lice comb and small flashlightYup, we had lice for the first time recently. One Saturday morning, I was snuggling with my daughter on the couch and thought I saw a brown crumb in her hair. I leaned over to take it out, and well, made the discovery the sent my stress levels soaring to new heights and made panic my new best friend.

I soon realized that it’s not such a terrible affliction. It’s pretty manageable (gross, yes, but definitely manageable). The combing and laundry take some time, but it’s not as scary as I had first thought.

The problem, I think, was that I found it during the weekend. I couldn’t get through to the pediatrician, and I couldn’t talk to anyone at school to find out more about their lice policy. Searching for information online was helpful but frustrating because so many sources contradicted each other.

Once Monday rolled around, I was feeling like things were much easier. Talking to others who had dealt with it before made all the difference. The school nurse, teachers, and friends who had dealt with it with their kids were supportive. I suppose a lot of my stress came from the fear of being ostracized. Once I found acceptance, for my kids and myself, I felt much more calm.

Happy Belated Pi Day

Turkey pot pie and pumpkin pieYes, Pi Day was Monday, or 3.14. It’s a wonderful excuse to bake pie and it’s good motivation to teach the kids that math is fun. This post is late because I’ve been sick this week.

Carrots, celery, mushrooms, onion in a pan for pot pie filling

But I’ve been sick for a while now. Just feeling like I’m fighting off a cold, it comes and goes. Then I started feeling really bad, realized that I’ve been “fighting it off” for more than a month now, and finally went to the doctor.

Pot pie filling with gravy

He said I have bronchitis, and I left with a prescription for cough syrup and an inhaler. I feel like I’m 12, haha. But I’m happy that he didn’t give me antibiotics because he couldn’t be sure that I needed them.

Pate brisee dough ready to roll out

So here’s the turkey pot pie that I made for dinner on Monday and the pumpkin pie for dessert. All in the name of math education 😉

Flaky pate brisee pie crust
I’m getting better at working with the pâte brisée pastry to make it flaky

This photo below is from last year’s Pi Day, but we used these again to talk about circles.

circles, fractions, geometry for kids

Photo Challenge: Time O’Clock

Clock showing 5:00

I told my kids that they could watch TV at 5:00 when I started cooking dinner.

“But we don’t have 5:00 on our clock,” my daughter said with disappointment, looking up at the wall.

I realized that while it was a cool design, the only clock hanging up in my home wasn’t going to help teach my kids how to tell time.

In response to this week’s photo challenge, Time.

Photo Challenge: Alphabet

Alphabet necklaces hanging, vintage filter

Necklaces hanging on a doorknob.

There was a time, not too long ago, where every doorknob in my home was adorned with necklaces. Mostly necklaces, but sometimes toys, too. Anything that could be draped over a doorknob would eventually find itself there. My kids’ idea of decorating.

This used to irritate me. A lot. But then it stopped happening, I suppose, because none of the doors rattle, clink, or get stuck when I try to close them anymore. At some point, the kids moved on to something else.

Kids are in a constant state of moving on. “This, too, shall pass,” is good advice, and usually something we tell ourselves in times of stress or annoyance.

But it also applies to the good times, and I try to remember that every day. As cute or as irritating their behavior may be, there will come a day when they don’t do it anymore. That’s both a relief and heartbreaking to think about, but, from what I’ve learned as a parent, that’s life.

There are no more necklaces on the doorknobs, but there are always exciting and terrible new things to come.

In response to the photo challenge: Alphabet.

A Note Left on the Door

Stuffed toy international

Driving by, I saw the obviously intriguing building on the corner. An old toy store, called Stuffed Toy International, abandoned for some time.

Stuffed toy international

A wholesale outlet that was open to the public.

Stuffed toy international sign

It looks like an apartment or house was attached.

Dormers on old building

No one lives there now.

Abandoned apartment or house

Looking closer, I could make out some writing on the door. A note, scratched into the paint that covered the windows, describes a sad scene indeed. A parent or caregiver reaches out to two “kids” looking for the love that he or she is missing.

The door was shut and the words were backward. I flipped the image for better readability.

Note scratched into the paint on an old door

This is what I can make out of the note, starting from the top left window.

Why can’t I get the same love and concern that I have always felt for you kids?

[I’m tired?] of loving and caring for two kids who can’t return my feelings.

I want to see […?]

What’s your hang up? Teresa I love you.

[Kenny you?] really let me down. It’s time to prove [you care?]

I [hate/have?] to leave you

Why is it scratched into the paint? Didn’t the author have a pen and paper? This makes things seem that much more desperate. Or maybe it was a spur of the moment decision. There were two bars within walking distance, which made me think that maybe the writer had knocked back a few before telling those kids what was on his or her mind.

Why were the windows painted over? And why is the note backward when the door is closed? Was the writer inside the house while writing the note, or perhaps the door was open?

And why is the note still there?

I’m getting hung up on these details, I think, to distract myself from the sadness I feel when I imagine a mother writing this to her (in her mind) ungrateful children. I think every parent feels unappreciated at times, taken for granted, but to feel so bad as to write a note like this? Wow.

This person seems to have hit a breaking point. Did the message get through? Did they reconcile?

This also got me wondering would I ever feel so pushed as to leave a note like this for my kids? What kind of relationship will we have when they get older? I always hope it’s going to be a good one. How do I prevent a situation arising where I feel I need to scratch a note to my kids in the paint that covers the windows of the door to the house?

I think this touches on my deepest, darkest parenting fear and mantra, which is: try not to fuck this up. I hope to have a close relationship with my kids as we get older. I’m afraid of losing them somehow along the way, of them becoming the kind of people who say, “I’m not really close with my family.” Who don’t call or come home for holidays. Who don’t want to share their lives with me.

Everyone makes mistakes, and we hope that those mistakes can be fixed. It takes work, and all parties have to be willing to do the hard work of communication and forgiveness.

But sometimes mistakes and bad feelings pile up, time goes by, and one day there’s a note on the door.