Tag Archives: alex

Garden Potions!


Here’s a sweet way to make a little magic in the back yard this summer.

My Alex had been having fun making “potions” with rain water, grass clippings and such, and he asked me to help him find new ingredients.  I decided to make it a little extra magical and went and got a pitcher of tap water and a can from the recycling.  I secretly dropped a few drops of green food coloring in the bottom of the can, and then made a show of filling the “empty” can with some grass clippings from the yard.

I gave him the pitcher and told him that I’d put magic grass in the can.  Then I had him pour some water into the can and pour the can into a bucket.  Of course, the water in the can instantly turned bright green when it mixed with the food coloring at the bottom, and Alex and Fiona watched in amazement as the magically green water poured into the bucket.  🙂

I also asked the kids to find 8 yellow dandelions for a second can (that I’d already secretly sprinkled with some yellow food coloring), and we used spent lilac blossoms for a third can that had some blue. 

I also gave them a jar of fairy dust (Florida sand from a vacation) to sprinkle in.

Lastly, I had them gather dandelion puffs so they could blow wishes into their concoctions.

I gave them lots of buckets to pour into, so they could also have fun with color mixing.

Alex is old enough that he easily figured the secret out, but he had fun pretending anyway.  Little Fiona just had fun gathering the ingredients and pouring and pouring.

They happily played for an hour with their potions.  It was an easy, nearly free, absolutely magical way to have some back yard fun.  We’ll definitely be doing more of it!

I also picked up an old spice rack with little glass bottles at a thrift store, and I’m going to assemble a whole magic potion rack for them to use sometime soon in their outdoor play kitchen.  I’ll try to post pictures and update how that goes!



Filed under Uncategorized

Big Brother, Little Brother

Of all wild beasts, the most difficult to manage.
– Plato , on Boys

My son Jack has a black eye this week, courtesy of his little brother.

I’d like to say that Alex didn’t mean to do it, but he did.

Alex (3) was mad and threw his new remote control truck at Jack (7) and hit him smack under the eye.

Jack wailed, but didn’t retaliate.  No matter how his little brother torments him, it’s not his way to ever purposely hurt Alex back.

(Although perhaps in a bit of karma, Alex tripped while jumping on our bed today and fell right onto a metal bed rail and got his own shiner of sorts.)

Such is the life with boys.

My girls were active, loud, chaotic and crazy-making, but nothing like these boys.

They hurl themselves through life and through our small house.

They shriek.

They chase.

They make enough noise to raise the dead.

At dinner time, they sit side by side and crack each other up all during dinner.

They are loud, silly, messy and totally unacceptable dinner companions to their older sisters (and often to their parents).

When we separate them, though, they sob as if they’re being sent to opposite sides of the earth.  Please, they beg, let us be together!

Last week, we stayed at a hotel to celebrate my birthday and spent a lot of time in the pool.

The older kids took turns carrying Alex around and holding out their arms for him to leap into.  I loved the sight of how they all took care of him.

But it especially made me smile to see my “baby” Jack carrying Alex around, looking after him so carefully.

These boys make me crazy on an hourly basis.

They break things.

They mess up things.

They jump and shout and leap and swordfight and smash and crash and bash.

But if you ask Alex who his best friend is, he’ll tell you, “My brother Jack.”

At the end of the day, one of the best gifts I could possibly give my boys is that kind of love and connection with each other.

Brotherhood in the best sense.

Of course, one of the best gifts they could give me would be a wee bit less bashing.  😉

A boy is a magical creature–you can lock him out of your workshop, but you can’t lock him out of your heart.
– Allan Beck


Filed under the big stuff

Surviving Alex

Last week, we stopped in front of the town drugstore to peek at a sidewalk sale going on.  I saw a delightfully whimsical watermelon serving dish with a leaf-handled spreading knife and checked the tag — on clearance for $4.99.  I have no use for watermelon serving dishes but I loved the look of it.

Daryl could tell and he bought it for me.

I was in love with it.  So in love with it, as a matter of fact, that I had him drive back home to drop it off before we left for grocery shopping, lest it get broken during the day’s trek.

At the grocery store, I indulged in spreads and cheeses and organic crackers to make a lovely appetizer feast for us to christen the watermelon bowls with.  I picked out a mascarpone cheese to mix with real maple syrup for one bowl, planned dips and spreads for the others.

All week I have protected my dish.  I am not a fan of putting things away to use “someday” and I know the risks I take in using things with four children in the house.  I happily put my colorful treasure out, but watched it like a hawk.

All of the children watched out for it.  They knew how special it was to me and they treated it with extra care.

Except one.  Of course.  Three year-old Alex has no concept of words like breakable, no matter how many times he has real world experience with it — and he has a lot.

And of course, you know what’s coming.  He broke it, tonight, while my girls were helping to decorate for a friend’s wedding reception and the boys were playing playdough at the table.

He didn’t just accidentally knock it off the table or anything innocent like that.  He put his playdough in it and stabbed it repeatedly with its own little leaf-handled spreading knife, while I was in the next room.  The sound registered too late.

So much for whimsical watermelon serving dishes.

He apologized a lot.  I know he’s sorry.  We cleaned it up.

The children were all very upset on my behalf.  They gave me hugs.  They offered to glue it.  They glared at Alex.

I have learned so much from parenting each of my children.  We tend to learn the most from the hardest times.  And there are some times that don’t teach us anything new and we just have to get through.

I usually try to find some lesson in the times that make me craziest.  I look for bright sides and deeper meanings.  I put a spin on it. I come to deep realizations.  Yadda yadda.

Tonight there was no deep message.  This child tires me out.  He is more exhausting than any child I’ve met, and I’ve met a lot of them.  Heck, I’ve had a lot of them!  😉

Sometimes you just have to hang on till bedtime.

Someday I’ll have a quiet house and I can fill it with watermelon serving dishes.  Alex owes me one.

In the meantime, at least I have a leafy spreading knife.


Filed under the little stuff

The Puddle Stomping Personality Test

A couple of weeks ago I found myself in a store full of very breakable objects with a small boy.

Being a sensible sort, I left my friends and older kids to continue browsing and took my small boy outside.

We looked for things to do while the others smelled every scented candle in Lincoln, Nebraska.  This included running games…

thinking games…

and eventually led to…


Now, I knew puddle stomping would not be a particularly good idea on that particular day.

It was COLD out.  They were big puddles.  We didn’t have extra shoes, socks or pants.  Alex would get cold.

And he’d also get happy.

Life is short.

I let him stomp.

And stomp.

And stomp.

While Alex stomped, I noticed the reactions of people passing by.  There were three types:

1.  Those who were delighted at the sight and broke into big grins.

2.  Those who looked horrified, no doubt thinking how cold and wet he was going to be soon or what a mess he was making of himself.

3.  Those who were so busy they didn’t notice at all.

It was very interesting watching their faces!  Many of the second group looked around to spot me, no doubt thinking that I must not have noticed what he was up to.  I swear they wanted to yell at him themselves!

I loved watching the first group, and just felt a little sorry for the last group.  But mostly I just loved watching Alex in his absolute delight.

And I also knew that he was going to be wet and cold when he was finished, and we had a lot left to do in the day and no warm clothes.

Some parents would take this opportunity to teach him about “natural consequences” and let him be wet and cold and miserable for the rest of the day.  I’m not that sort of parent.  I didn’t want his fun to be at a price learned at the tender age of three about the steep price of having fun, mister.

The nice thing about outdoor malls is that there are lots of stores!  And while we get most of our clothes from thrift stores and garage sales, I know my way around a Gap well enough to know that there’s almost always something on clearance.

So when our friends were finished, we made a quick stop for a rather darling, warm pair of striped pants at the unbeatable price of $2.99 and he was nearly good as new.

(Okay, he went bare footed for a while and I carried his shoes.  Shoes were a lot more than 2.99!)

I love those pants now.  They remind me of a joyful afternoon and the sort of mama I strive to be.  And the sort of passer-by.  🙂


Filed under happy stuff

Hey You Guys!

Yesterday, we were driving down the street when I was struck by a feeling of gratefulness and happiness about my crazy family.  I tilted my head towards the back of the van and shouted, “I love you guys!”.

There were some assorted “Love you too, Mom” replies from the back but 3 year-old Alex was silent.  I turned around and saw him scanning the streets outside, looking confused.

He finally piped up and said, “Where are the guys, Mommy?”.

Snort!  🙂

1 Comment

Filed under happy stuff

Three Things About Alex


Alex, at two years old, is still not much of a talker.
He makes a lot of noise but we mostly have no idea what it is he’s saying.
Lately we understand him a little bit better
and one phrase we kept hearing was
"Big day" or something like it.
Whenever anything was especially big, he’d say
"Biiiiig Da-ay"
and we’d smile and nod.

Victoria finally figured out what he was saying.
To Alex, if something is big, it’s "Big like Daddy"
so he calls anything big
Big Daddy.

That’s a big daddy cookie!
That’s a big daddy boat!
Ooh, so big daddy!


Alex refuses to take a good picture.
He delights in taking a really bad picture, in fact.
Behold, at Thanksgiving:



He gives me lots of hugs and kisses,
one after another,
so I don’t care about his pictures.
I love him lots.
Big daddy lots.


Filed under Uncategorized

Screaming with Toddlers

My friend Tiffany thinks I have a very loud family.  When we come visit, she sometimes gives me that "how do you survive the noise?" look and then afterwards she brags about how she can hear the ticking of the clock in her nice quiet house once we’re gone again.

It’s true.  We are LOUD.

We all talk far too much.  We are all rather enthusiastic people.  We are all even prone to doing things like bursting into song (usually made up on the spot and very, very silly).  And yes, sometimes we yell and shriek and argue and holler.  But mostly we talk, sing and laugh.

With the exception of Alex.  Alex is not one of those two year-olds who can recite the pledge of allegiance and name every dinosaur.  He’s one of those two year-olds who mostly grunts and points and chooses purple for everything since it’s the only color he can say.

So Alex likes to hoot.

Alex likes to hoot when he’s angry, bored, interested, happy or just about any other emotion.  It can be very hard to handle when you’re trying to catch the last 5 minutes of your favorite TV show or talking to your mother-in-law on the phone.  Luckily I have the kind of mother-in-law who’ll happily talk to a happy (or unhappy) hooter on the phone when that comes up.

Anyway………  (did I mention I talk a lot?)

Today Alex and I were hooting together and at one point I’m pretty sure we alarmed some passers-by but we had such fun!  It can be rather annoying to have a small child shouting all the time, but when you just abandon any leftover need for peace and quiet and just join in on the mayhem it can be downright delicious.

We shrieked.  We yelped.  We hooted.  We hollered.  We made strange beeping sounds at the top of our lungs.  He smiled so wide he probably strained something.  He even fell over with happiness a few times.  And I’m still grinning.

Peace and quiet is overrated.  🙂


Filed under Uncategorized

Mommy’s Little Helper

Alex (two years old) dearly loves to help me.  Tonight, I was cleaning in the kids’ room and had a pile of dirty clothes I’d tossed to the hallway.  He was clearly bothered by the clutter and started to scoop them up and put them in the basket of clean, folded laundry in the hallway. 

"No Honey," I told him, "Not in there.  Can you put them in the hamper for Mommy?  The hamper?".

He dutifully trotted off to the bathroom with his arms full of clothes.

I was so pleased with him!  What a helpful boy!  I thanked him for doing such a great job and carried on with my cleaning.

A little later, Annalee came into the bedroom.  I had just gotten Alex to sleep and he was sleeping sweetly next to me.

"Mom," she asked, "Why is the toilet stuffed with clothes?".

That’s my boy!

Ah well.  It’s the thought that counts, right?  🙂

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized