Monday, August 29, 2011


The other day, I stopped a very angry Julio from pinching Ruben by asking him to draw a picture of what he was feeling.  He looked at the paper and crayons and then asked me to draw it for him.  Before I could answer, Ruben eagerly offered to help, and the two of them sat down on the floor to make this:

Of course, I love this drawing.  Isn't it expressive?  Julio drew the little dark cloud on the left, and Ruben made all of the faces.  That is Julio on the left with his arm out trying to pinch.  Ruben is at the top, and Diego on the lower right.  Julio sure looks mad, and it was a pleasure watching Ruben draw him, as Ruben kept looking up at Julio's face to get the details right.  It's on an 18"x 24" paper, and was done with those wonderful beeswax block crayons.

I love the actual fighting a bit less.  Over the past few months, they've had a lot of time to practice getting along with each other (including learning some shockingly colorful insults and hand gestures).  I think they resolve their frequent conflicts more quickly now than they did in the beginning of the summer, and they don't always need my help to work things out, but my boys are LOUD and physical and expressive, and right now I'm ready for some quiet

Summer vacation is almost over, and very soon we will not be spending all day together.  In spite of the fighting, I think I'll miss it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Locks and Keys and Canada

Many years ago, I gave a presentation about a children's book to a class of second graders in northern California.  At the end of my talk, I asked the kids, "Do you have any questions?"  Half a dozen eager hands shot up, and the girl that I called on breathlessly asked, "Have you ever been to CANADA?"

I had asked a bunch of seven-year-olds if they had any questions.  Of course, they had questions!  As clever as those kids were, they hardly knew anything.  It didn't matter that Canada had absolutely nothing to do with my book and that I had only spent two hours once upon a time in the airport in Calgary, they were amazed.  We talked about Canada for twenty minutes!

I'm telling you this story because sometimes I need to remind myself that the most mundane things are often completely new to kids.  If your house is like ours, you probably even have lots of boring things in your closet or garage that would be fascinating and special to kids.

These locks were perfect for Ruben.  How on earth did we have so many kinds of locks in our hall closet?  There was a combination, a u-lock, padlocks in many sizes, and an old deadbolt with two cylinders.

I will look around for more accidental collections like this in our house.  Maybe we'll clean out the tool box or take apart some obsolete gadgets.  I'd love to give them an old typewriter or sewing machine to dismantle.

What else can you think of that is probably lying around the house and might be fun to examine?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Playing with Magnets

My kids almost never say, "I'm bored."  I think the reason may be that if they do, I always look at them like they just said the coolest thing ever and tell them, "Great!  That probably means you're about to have a good idea.  People often think of interesting things to do when they are bored!"

This doesn't mean that my kids don't get bored.  Sometimes I see it coming, and then I try to quickly bring out something new for them to explore.

Lately, the magnets on our refrigerator have been seeing a lot of action, so yesterday I put out some trays on the dining table with as many magnets as I could round up.  We had lots.  I put out several kinds of metal objects like cans and containers, cookie cutters, and whatever I could grab in a few minutes.  I even brought out a box of pins (but only left them out when I was standing by).

They were occupied with these for over an hour, testing them, building things, trying to make them stick to different things, and gathering more magnets from their toy collection.  Before long, they came up with some fun games to play using little rubber guys that had magnets in their hands and feet, controlling them with other strong magnets under the tray.

Sometimes they called it "Little Guy Dance Party" and sometimes, "Little Guy Fight!"

Speaking of little guys fighting, did you see that scratch on Diego's cheek?  Little guys fighting seems like one of the "interesting things to do" that my boys come up with when they are bored.  That is why I scurry around trying to conjure up something else for them to do if I happen to see it coming!

Monday, August 1, 2011

I do it MYSELF.

This particular toddler phase is a lot easier for me the third time around.  I'm a little better at knowing when to help and when to wait, and a lot better at budgeting some extra minutes for getting dressed.  Pretty soon he will be able to do it all by himself, right?  Didn't we all suffer this pain when we were two, this wanting to take care of ourselves without needing help?  Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I still make these same faces when I look at our laundry pile.