April 2008 Archives

So last fall Karenna was really into asking me all kinds of questions about mermaids.  She wanted to be a mermaid; she wanted me to take her to see a mermaid.  Finally, this:

Me: Karenna, mermaids aren't real.
Karenna: Yes they are.  Quit teasing me.
Me: I'm not teasing.  Mermaids aren't real.
Karenna: Well, octopuses are real (waiting for me to challenge her).
Me: Yes, they are.
Karenna: Why can't mermaids be real then (as if the existence of something as strange as the octopus justifies mermaids)?

Karenna has a favorite aunt.  She used to ask for Cathie to live at our house.  However, we found that watching Annie has given her ideas, dark ideas.

Karenna: Mommy, can Aunt Cathie be my guardian and I'll go live with her?
Me: What about me?  Won't you miss me?
Karenna: I mean when you and Daddy are dead like Annie's parents.
Me: Karenna, I hope that doesn't happen for a long time.  What would make you say that?
Karenna: What if you both get eaten by a bear?

She has since concocted at least one other scenario where we pass on and Cathie becomes her adoptive parent.  Should I be worried?

Since we've been getting tired of watching Star Wars--and by "we", I can at least vouch for Karenna and myself--Chris decided to check out Netflix Watch Instantly for some other viewing opportunities: the Superman movies, Casper, the Karate Kid movies, etc.

I try not to go right to TV as the babysitter for my kids, so when Jude first woke up and asked, "Can I watch The Karate Kid?" I told him he would have to wait a little while.  Instead, he followed me downstairs to do some laundry.

I brought some clean clothes up, sat on the living room couch and began folding them, when I realized someone was trying to climb on my shoulders.  The next thing I knew, there was a little boy bouncing my head around, playing with my hair to this little chant:

Jude: "Couch-ee Couch-ee Couch! Couch-ee Couch-ee Couch!"
Jude: "I Mr. Miyagi."

Then he jumped from my head and said, "Now can I watch a movie (pronounced 'mooby')?"

Imagine, if you will, a little girl brushing her teeth in the bathroom this morning.  She is tall for her age, but not tall enough to reach the mirror above the sink.  She stretches, and raises her arm, making a little fist.

Looking at the disembodied fist in the mirror, she turns to her father and says playfully, "Look Daddy, it's Mr. Knucklehead!"

Let me say that other than the J.K Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Roald Dahl's Matilda, and Leslie Patricelli's Yummy Yucky, Jude's bedtime routine only had room for books by two other authors: Dr. Seuss and P.D. Eastman.

His favorite Dr. Seuss--or Theodore Geisel or Theo LeSieg--books include (in no particular order):

  • Green Eggs and Ham
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
  • Fox in Socks
  • The Eye Book
  • Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?
His Favorite P.D. Eastman books include (again, in no special order):
  • Go, Dog, Go
  • Big Dog, Little Dog

We each take one child at bedtime, and we try to alternate, so if I go with Karenna and Chris goes with Jude one night, we switch and I go with Jude and Chris goes with Karenna.

So yesterday we did our family routine of getting out to vote.

Karenna, the Little Activist, has loved this ever since she was Jude's age and first discovered the polling location had provided snacks.

During the 2006 mid-terms when she was 3, she could tell you who was running for which office, which party, and which one was the incumbent.  (She liked the pretty signs in people's yards so we started that conversation in the car.)  She could explain that the incumbent "wanted another turn" and the "challenger didn't get a turn yet".  She knew who was getting money from PACs and who wasn't.

When Karenna requests NPR in the mornings to hear more about the elections, Jude argues for Wiggles or They Might be Giants.  Every now and then when we listen, Jude will recognize McCain, Obama or Clinton and his little ears will perk up.  Karenna will listen for names like McCaskill, Specter, Biden, Romney, or Pelosi.

When Karenna realized that it was Primary Election Day, it was a big day for her.  She was excited. It was a holiday.  Complete with food.

Jude brought his Darth Vader action figure to the event.  As we passed the older gentleman with the McCain button at the entrance, Jude greeted him, "Hi.  I got a Darth Vader."  He and the man talked for a minute before we entered.

My husband and I went to our respective electronic voting machines.  Next we each fought off our selected child and his/her grabby hands explaining why he/she didn't get to operate the machine.

Note: If this were my husband's, Jude's and the Darth Vader's blog the following would happen...

Chris: <Insert some rant about our electronic voting machines here.>
Darth Vader: I find your lack of faith disturbing.  (Uses force on Chris.)
Jude: My turn (pronounced toin)! (Uses force on Chris.)

When we finished voting, we were unable to leave without our piteously unfed offspring raiding the snacks. We hadn't had dinner yet, so we made them settle for grapes.  Jude insisted on carrying his own on a plate out to the car, which he dropped and cried over.  Though McCain guy did bid a fond farewell to him and Darth Vader.

In the car, Jude announced, as if we told him Christmas was over but Santa never came, "Hey! We didn't even get to see Barack Obama yet!"

Karenna, of course, was not disappointed by the primary until listening to NPR the next morning.

So I came home from work today still feeling somewhat unwell and went to lie down in my room.  The little people followed.  I heard loud rolling noises.  Dare I look?  No, if I ignore it, maybe it will go away...

Jude and Karenna climbed on the bed.  Eventually they talked me into joining them in the living room.  Just as I got out of bed, I slipped on the source of the rolling noise.

Apparently, Jude and the Darth Vader action figure had stolen Karenna's Barbie car for a bit of a joyride.

This weekend Jude brought home a lovely little flu bug to the rest of us.  The timing on these things never works out right because the kids who bring these things home are always recovered in time to terrorize their parents by the time both parents have caught the bug.

As the kids felt better, and we felt worse, this was my family sick day:

"Don't ride on your little brother like a horse, Karenna."
"We don't eat batteries."  (Guess which one that was. Hint here.)
"Don't walk all over daddy while he's sleeping."
"Don't try to climb up on Mommy's shoulders."
"I don't care if someone did put Spiderman stickers on Mommy's butt.  Mommy needs to go potty in privacy."

There are two types of relatives in every family: those who know that the phone works as a form of two-way communication, and those who don't quite get it.

We actually enjoy those colorful members of the family in the former, including an aunt who can be counted on to leave a singing message on our birthdays, and my dad.

My dad needs no reason or no topic to call. His calls happen a few times a week.  If anything about them at all can be predicted, "Pop Pop", as my kids call him, will call before leaving for a trip and upon his return. From there, the call becomes a bit less predictable and much, much more fun.

This weekend, before we took the kids to the circus, we got one such call from "Pop Pop".  The kids were eating, so my husband had to relay the message...

Me: Who was it?
Chris (who enjoys these Pop Pop calls as much as the kids do): It was Pop Pop.  He says, "The lions and tigers called.  They said, 'Gurr-owl!'"

Tomorrow we are taking the kids to the circus in Altoona, along with their second cousin who is between their ages. Their cousin is staying over so we can get everyone straight to the circus at 10AM.

Both kids want attention from their cousin.  When Jude wants attention, he acts out.  When Karenna wants attention, she mother hens.

Karenna: Jude Matthew Kauffman, stop your bad table manners or no treat!
Jude: Mommy, K'renna called me a Matt-Yew. I not a Matt-Yew!

Art Therapy?

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A few days ago, my daughter and I went shopping leaving my husband and my son in the house for a few hours.  I came home and found my couch turned over.

Apparently, Jude was mad at being left at home and, although potty trained, decided he would pull his pants down to pee behind the couch in spite.  Chris moved the couch out of the way just in time, scolded Jude and sent him to his room.  It left an impression on him.

The next day while doing art, Jude and Karenna were fighting over artwork.  Jude called out, "Daddy, K'renna got my art.  Get your 'Why-Why-Why' words out like you did when you sent me to my room!"

That night he stirred in his sleep.  I went in his room and asked what was wrong.  I'm not sure he was fully awake--he could have been talking in his sleep, "K'renna ripped up my art!"

I'm not sure what upset him more Karenna fighting over his art or Chris punishing him when he tried to pee behind the couch...

I just read Megan Morrone's post today on Jumping Monkeys ("You Are Stupid"), about one of her boys deciding to say "stupid" to irk his mom.

Why do some kids relish in saying "bad words" and others try to avoid them?

I think it's a combination of age birth order and gender. 

Karenna still gets weepy if she accidentally says a bad word when she attempts to make up new words (she is constantly asking me if each word is "good" or "bad"), but her younger brother Jude could care less...

They went through a Harry Potter phase where Jude decided he like to say "bloody hell". 

We tried everything to get him to stop, but that just gave him the attention he wanted.

We tried ignoring it, but then he found a new audience in his 3 year-old cousin Luke:

"We don't say 'bloody hell'!" he said to skirt the rules.  When he got the reaction he wanted he got more daring, "Bloody hell! Bloody hell! Bloody hell!"

Later my sister told me that Luke, also a second-born, told her, "Jude says, 'Bloody Hell' Mommy. Bloody Hell!"
A Barack Obama campaign video came in the mail this afternoon.  If you don't know this already, Karenna is our little activist.  I bet you can quess who the little delinquent in this story is...

Little Activist: Cool! Can we watch it?
Little Delinquent (imitating his older sister at first): Can we watch it? (...then upon reconsideration...) Does it have bad guys in it?
Jude: Daddy, K'renna called me a tattletale!

Karenna and Jude had a playdate with two little friends from school this weekend.  Karenna and the other little girls played with dress-up. 

Jude never quite got to that point.  First he ran around without pants.  Then he took shirt off.  He almost got into a dress up, when he noticed the girls had tired of the game and had decided not to get dressed up again.

Eventually the other mom and I watched as our kids, or three out of the total four, run around my house in their underpants for several minutes.

Later that night, Karenna's grandparents called and asked her if she had a good day.

"Yes," she said.  "My friends came over and we played 'Naked Jude'.  We were naked and Jude was naked and we were hiding and he had to chase us."

She has since tried to invite adults into the game, but we explained to her that adults don't play games where they must run around in underpants.

"But you could be on the dressed team..."

Daughter (at Age Three): What is that?
Me: That's [insert a bucket, lotion, cat treats, lipstick, an Altoid, etc.]
Daughter: Can I wear it?

Son (as He Approaches Three): What is that?
Me: That's [insert a bucket, lotion, cat treats, lipstick, an Altoid, etc.]
Son: Can I eat it?

Normally I like to use my "small parts" space as a place to hold stories of what my kids do so that when I go to scrapbook--I'm about a year behind in each kid's book--I will not have forgotten the cute things they have said to me.

This time I'll be talking about something that could have just as easily been placed on my other blog, "In Clear Text",  because of it's technology and communications subject matter, but since I feel it has made me a better, more connected parent (IMHO), I'll put it here and perhaps trackback from "clear text":

Right now, I'm assuming an audience of close friends that I could probably count on one hand (feel free to drop a comment below to prove me wrong), and most of them are in some Web-related profession. 

That said, you know that in the Web white space is a term that refers to the breaks on a Web page where there is no content.  White space, like commas and periods, serve as a pause or breath to delimit similar content for emphasis.  (If you didn't and you are a PSU employee might I insert a shameless promo for our "What Not to Wear on the Web" fashion show/presentation at Web Conference 2008 here.) 

People assume because of what I do that I must have a lot of new technology around my house. However, what we have done, rather by accident was to create some zones of what I call technological white space

So in the mornings I get up first (at about 5:20) to get first shower.  I do this for a number of reasons:
  1. I don't want the one who's under three  (Jude) wandering the house unsupervised while I'm in the shower; it's better to have him still asleep.
  2. I am still needed to drag the nearly-five-year-old (Karenna) out of bed.  She has had an alarm since she was two, but it doesn't do much good since she has known how to work the snooze for just as long.
  3. I need to make sure they are properly dressed, which means that Jude has not decided to go to school in his underwear or with jeans over his pajama pants and Karenna has been patted down to determine that she is not wearing extra layers of clothing, carrying crumpled tissues, play jewelry, used stickers, dead flowers, or pet worms along with her.  (Someone told her the worm will turn into a butterfly so she dug it up and tried to bring it into our home to "save it's life".)
Now, because I get up so early during the week, I usually like to take a leisurely bath during Jude's nap on the weekend.  One day, a few weeks back, Jude did not take a nap.  I guess this is the time to mention that I need to fix the bathroom door so that it latches again...


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So we had a musical moment in the back of the car yesterday afternoon.  And it got me thinking of the songs my kids hum or sing.


  • Hums "The Imperial March", "Across the Stars" (Love Theme from Episode II), and "Star Wars Main Title Theme" when playing with Lightsabers or action figures.
  • Can identify any of the above Star Wars themes plus music from Hook, Harry Potter, Dr. Who, and Stargate. (Okay so we have a little geek in the making.)
  • Loves "Hey Jude" (for obvious reasons).


  • Sings the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" when Jude throws and "I want..." tantrum.
  • Makes up random songs about what she's doing at any given moment. (This comes from my side of the family.)

Chris Stubbs made an interesting point about the re-release of Bully on his blog.  Thanks for, as you put it, starting the conversation, on this one, Chris.

I have a lot to say on this one considering I am a gamer, former high school teacher, and a parent.

First off, wearing my gamer hat, I can say that too many people make the mistake of assuming that the gaming demographic has been unchanged for the past thirty years. Given how long gaming has been around and that the original child gamers have grown up and taken their games with them, the average gamer is much, much older than most critics assume or most media figures would scare their audiences into believing. Gaming has grown up, and we play games like our grandparents played cards.

Now switching to my parent hat, I'll tell you that part of being a good parent is screening content before your children see it. And, if they're young enough to still let you, consuming it with your children after you've initially screened it.

I don't rely on ratings to determine what is appropriate for my children. Take two movies, Raiders of the Lost Ark (a PG) and Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban (a PG-13). Which one was more appropriate for a child about to enter kindergarten?

The same goes for games in our house. Some games, like the Guitar Hero series, may be rated for older children because of song lyrics, but because we are more concerned with violence, than a few words that go over the kids' heads, we allow them to attempt to play along.

I just got an email that my parent hack will be up next week on the ParentHacks site.  If you haven't been there I recommend it.  Actually, why don't I take this change to plow through the whole list of parenting resources I like:
  • ParentHacks - Useful parenting tips & links blog.  Submit your own as well.
  • Jumping Monkeys - Parenting blog and podcast by Tech TV alum Megan Morrone. (Leo Laporte is on the podcast with her.)  There is some great techie, parenting-in-the-21st-century stuff, but the focus is not entirely on technology.
  • They Might Be Giants Friday Night Family Podcast - Mentioned in this post, a musical podcast featuring educational songs about letters, numbers, etc.  What I like is that they don't talk down to the kids.  For example, there are songs about nonagons, nine bowls of soup on an ichthyosaur's head, and how all words have at least one vowel in them.
We have magnetic letters (Leap Frog Fridge Phonics) on or refrigerator.  Both children love them.  My older child, who is learning to read and write, uses them to make words.  My younger child, who is learning letters, uses them in the Leap Frog toy to hear the song about the letter's name and sound--and to annoy his sister by tearing down her words.

While my husband was coooking in the kitchen my daughter went to the fridge to play with the letters.  First, she showed us A-E-I-O-U.

"I was going to put Y, because it's sometimes a vowel, but my teacher only talked about A, E, I O, and U today," she said.

"How did you know about Y?" I asked. 

She began singing a They Might Be Giants Here Come the ABCs song called "The Vowle Family".  The song had a part about Y being a vowel part of the time.  (For anyone I haven't told yet, the band also has a great Friday Night Family Podcast.)

I felt relieved that she was learned from her entertainment and we weren't just parking her in front of it to "veg out".  I was in the living room with my son watching Nanny McPhee.  Karenna suggested the movie, but moved to the kitchen partway through it.

The next word she wanted my husband and I to see had less of a pleasant reaction.  Well, it was more like holding back laughter to show disapproval: F-A-R-T

After we told her it was not good manners to spell this word on the kitchen fridge, I asked her where she learned to spell that word, expecting an older friend or a friend with an older sibling.

"Simon from Nanny McPhee just spelled it," she said.

Anyone who remembers The Sandlot will like this.

Karenna, who turns five in a few months, was talking to her daddy about events earlier in the day:

Karenna: You scared the heck out of me, daddy.
Daddy: Did I?
Karenna: You're killing me, Smalls.
  1. Don't lick your brother's head.
  2. If you found it under your car seat, it's not a treat.
  3. Please don't make me get the "mean voice" out.
  4. We don't bring worms into the house.
  5. We don't eat spiders to keep our friends from getting them.
  6. We don't bite out friends.  We don't kick our friends.  We don't kick our teachers.
  7. You have to produce blood to get a band-aid.

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