Monthly Archives: May 2011

I want to get bigger so I can go on the Shamu swings

We started the three-day Memorial Day weekend by attending our town’s street fair on Saturday. This is the third year the town has held the event and it gets bigger and better every year. The fair takes place so close to our house, we put the kids in the double stroller and walked to it, enjoying the just-right sunny breezy weather.

While at the street fair we browsed a few hundreds of local vendor booths, went bankrupt buying rides for the kids, and enjoyed scrumptious artificially colored and flavored snow cones while listening to live bands. I actually don’t think you could find more shaved ice vendors anywhere else in the world than on this half-mile stretch! We managed to go through the whole Memorial Day weekend without eating anything off a BBQ grill but we couldn’t pass on the refreshing snow cones.

Carnival spinning swing ride

Carnival spinning swing ride

I walked around the fair with our oldest while my husband took our youngest to the kiddy rides he couldn’t wait to get on. When we got back together, my youngest spilled the beans. “Mama, I want to get bigger so I can go on the Shamu swings.” He was talking about a spinning swing ride decorated with dolphins and orcas. Apparently my daredevil barely-three-year-old son was dying to go on the ride, but since the swings were single-seated, he had to meet the height requirement. 42 inches, making my son about two inches too short. How disappointing. So his father told him he could go on the ride when he’s a little bigger.

That’s when it hit me. Wait, I’ve read this in a book before! Specifically Lauren Child’s Charlie and Lola: I Want to Be Much More Bigger Like You:

Lauren Child's Charlie and Lola: I want to be much more bigger like you

Lauren Child's Charlie and Lola: I want to be much more bigger like you

In this story Lola wants to go on the “Super Duper Loop-the-Looper” roller coaster ride but she’s been too small. So she tries a number of things to make herself grow bigger. Of course, the book ends with a funny twist so I won’t give the story away. Just like Lola, my youngest is suffering from “my body is too little but my mind thinks big” syndrome. Even his brother, who’s a year and a half older, was a little unsure of the spinning swing ride and skipped it. I hope they both feel big enough next year to try it out together.

On Sunday we had a funny encounter with the same swings, this time on the road. While we were driving around town, we saw a truck pulling the ride on a trailer and getting on the freeway. My youngest spotted it right away and exclaimed, “Why are they stealing the Shamu swings?” Haha, kids really do say the darndest things! (more darndest things here and here)

I hope you enjoyed a great long weekend, at least if you’re in the US. What’s the best thing about a three-day weekend? A four-day week right after it!

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Child, why won’t you go to sleep?

Last week my husband asked me if I had heard an NPR segment about a soon-to-be released book called “Go the F**k to Sleep”. My jaw dropped. What did you say??? There’s a children’s book called that? It turns out it’s not as much a children’s book (phew!) as one for adults of young children who need humor and support when they’re just about to lose their minds.

Go the f**k to sleep by Adam Mansbach

Go the f**k to sleep by Adam Mansbach

My own kids seem to alternate the phases of who will be the one fighting bedtime with tooth and nails. Apparently they don’t want me to completely lose my sanity, so they trade roles every few weeks. You know the bedtime-dragging routine: I want one more book, one more drink, one more rub, one more hug, one more kiss, one more pee. One more kiss, again… It’s flattering to think they want to spend that much time with us every day, but that’s really not their intention.

All parenting books will tell you the same: kids like to test their boundaries and make sure they’re still where you set them the first time. Night after night some kids will test you just to see if you’ve shifted your stand. Ugh, honey, still not. Most nights, this conversation may take place at my house when one of my kids gets out of bed:

“I want one more hug.”
“It’s bedtime, go to sleep, please.”
5 minutes later:
“I don’t want to go to sleep.”
“Go to bed.”
5 more minutes later:
“Are we going to school tomorrow? I don’t want to go to school”.
“Go. To. Bed. Now.”
5 more minutes…
“I lost my <insert favorite cuddly toy>”.
“Argh, enough already!!!”

After three interruptions, I usually threaten my kids to sit in time out in the dark. I’m not sure why they don’t like it, because it’s not any different from laying down in their bed in the dark, but it usually does the trick. Still, the nightly testing is emotionally draining. I don’t want to be mean and rude, but what’s the point of running around the playground and burning calories the whole day if you’re not even tired at night?

Somehow young kids think their parents save all exciting activities for after bedtime. Do they imagine us partying with music and cake, playing with their toys and watching hours of movies? Funny, because most evenings at our house involve putting the dishes away, folding laundry, preparing the next day’s breakfasts and lunches, and keeping up with Facebook and blog updates. I’d trade most of those for sleep myself…

I know this is just a phase and it too will pass. I’m just glad another parent got the nerve to write about this frustrating side of parenthood. Pirate copies of Adam Mansbach’s “Go the F**k to Sleep” have apparently leaked over the internet (YouTube is a good place to look, if you’re curious) and parents are having a hoot reading it. Mansbach warns parents not to read the book to their kids even if they’re frustrated. No kidding. A much better idea would be to save kids a copy for when they’ll become parents themselves. They’ll need all the laughing relief they can get, while we grandparents enjoy a peaceful night at our own home!

If you’ve found a miracle to solving bedtime struggles, please share it here! I could use it.

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Boys and their destructive personality

I’m the mother of two little boys and I don’t have girls of my own, but I’ve watched enough girls act and interact to know the two genders behave quite differently. Even though girls often prefer playing with dolls and other “pink toys”, they don’t mind playing with cars and trucks if  there’s no other choice. Boys will play with dolls at an early age, but past the two-year-old mark, they won’t be caught alive playing with one. My oldest son’s favorite color used to be purple, then pick. Today his favorite colors are red and black, because pink is a “girl color”. I should have taken a picture of him the day I saw him wear a pink tutu at preschool. It could have come handy some day…

Another difference between boys and girls is their destructive and nurturing natures, respectively. We all know men have gone to wars for all or any reason, while women tend to rely on mediation and communication to solve conflict. When I watch my boys play, I witness a lot of crashing, pushing, shoving, smashing, banging. Fortunately that’s mostly with toys rather than each other. The other day, my three-year-old son created mayhem throughout the new Playmobil Farm set we just bought. I’m thinking All State Insurance should hire him to play the “Mayhem” character in their TV commercials – he’d be perfect.

The first thing I noticed were the cows in distress:

Mayhem at the Playmobil farm - cows in distress

Mayhem at the Playmobil farm - cows in distress

Oh my gosh, I gasped, what happened to the cows? My youngest proudly announced an earthquake had just hit the farm. I surveyed the surroundings and noticed the rest of the farm didn’t look much better. The garden had been hit, resulting in an uprooted tree and flowers blown everywhere (guess who had to pick them all up?):

Playmobil farm hit by an earthquake - uprooted tree and damaged flowers

Playmobil farm hit by an earthquake - uprooted tree and damaged flowers

The farmhouse is probably the one that suffered the most:

Playmobil farmhouse hit by an earthquake

Playmobil farmhouse hit by an earthquake

My oldest, who’s planning to become an expert in natural catastrophies, observed the farm didn’t get hit by an earthquake, but rather by a tornado. He’s right, tornadoes do create a lot of clean-up.

Fortunately for me, Playmobil toys are super sturdy and hard to break. I can’t say the same for our other toys including:
– Buzz Lightyear, whose wings don’t pop up anymore. One of them doesn’t flash because the wire has been severed.
– Motorcycles without steering wheels, cars without tires, car remote controls rendered useless without antennas
– Smashed down boxes, books with torn pages or ripped guts
– Mini fans without fan blades, stuffed animals without stuffing…

And then there’s the rest of the house, such as:
– Scratches on the couch, roken wall frames
– Holes in the wall and baseboard
– Dug up garden

I used to repair broken toys until I got tired of my labor going unappreciated. So I announced that all broken toys would end up in the trash and not be replaced, unless the boys wanted to use their piggy bank money to do so. They clearly don’t think it’s a good use of their money.

Then my oldest came up with a brilliant idea. Let’s make paper toys! They would cost no money and couldn’t break like the cheap plastic toys. Unfortunately he didn’t take in account his little brother’s destructive personality. We quickly found out paper is very easy to rip…

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission urges consumers to stop using phil&teds metoo clip-on chairs

Stop using dangerous phil&teds metoo clip-on chairs

Stop using dangerous phil&teds metoo clip-on chairs

If you own a phil&teds metoo clip-on chair or know someone who does, please read this news carefully. What’s terrifying about this announcement is that it’s not an “official” recall. Why? Because phil&teds USA, the baby gear company, hasn’t agreed to a recall with terms acceptable to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Instead of simply recalling the defective and dangerous chairs, phil&teds decided to provide parents a repair kit. Unfortunately the US CPSC doesn’t find this kit acceptable at avoiding accidents. So the US CPSC is doing its best to protect consumers by urging parents to stop using the chairs all together.

What’s wrong with the phil&teds metoo clip-on chairs?  The best way to understand the dangers this product can cause to a child is to watch the US CPSC’s video about the phil&teds metoo clip-on chairs. Babies/children can get injured for a number of reasons:

  • The confusing installation instructions, which may cause the problems below
  • The chair can detach from the table, causing the baby/child to fall down on the floor
  • If one side of the chair detaches, the seat can tilt and trap the baby/child’s fingers in the hinge, crushing or possibly amputating those fingers

With so many parents using baby gear and relying on baby gear manufacturers to keep their children safe, it’s hard to believe a company would avoid a costly (but safe) recall. Phil&teds doesn’t seem to mind. Maybe it’s because they’ve already spent enough money on the phil&teds stroller recall a few months ago and they can’t afford to lose more money. The phil&teds stroller recall involved amputated fingers also – go figure.

I’m glad my kids are growing out of the little baby gear but this makes me wonder whose best interest is at heart – ours and our kids, or a company’s bottom line. This is putting a lot of pressure on parents to keep their babies and children safe. Who needs the additional burden of unsafe baby gear?

Please spread the word and let your friends know about this announcement.The US CSPC’s safety notice about the phil&teds metoo clip-on chairs, including which models are affected, is available on the agency’s website.

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