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Larry-In-The-Box

We went to a yard sale this morning. An acquaintance of mine was having a big clean out, and I  was excited to go. I told my husband that there were tools and storage solutions that I wanted to look at; however, let’s face it, I went for the toys (sorry, honey).

I can’t resist picking up new toys here and there for the boys (which is probably why we have a playroom brimming with them), especially at yard sale prices. Also this friend promised plenty of vintage and wooden toys, and oh did she deliver.

So my sweet husband woke me up at 6 this morning to get ready to go to this sale, even though (due to my track record) he knew I wouldn’t be doing much looking at tools or storage solutions. I fed the baby, woke up the big boys, got us all dressed and out the door. When we arrived, they were still setting up the sale (I promise I wasn’t an annoying early bird, they just had a lot of stuff to put out, and 4 small children to delay them while doing it). I headed straight for the toys and began to collect more than I could hold. Once I had a decent sized grocery bag full of them, I figured I better stop before I had so much that my husband was bound to notice the extra clutter treasures in the play room.

Liam (the 2 and 1/2 year old) was reluctant to leave, as he thought that the whole excursion was a strange version of a play date. However, the boys were both excited to pick a toy from the bag to hold in the car. Liam chose a big wooden school bus and Logan choose the Jack-In-The-Box. I showed him how the Jack-In-The-Box worked before we started driving, and he was enamored with it.

A couple of miles down the road he asked me a simple question. “Mama, why is this called Jack-In-The-Box?”

I responded, “That little man is named Jack, and he lives in the box; so it’s called a Jack-In-The-Box.”

“Does his name have to be Jack?”

“No, he’s your’s now. His name can be whatever you want it to be.”

The boys began tossing out names. Bob was a strong contender for a while, but Liam suggested Larry. (If you’ve ever seen VeggieTales you probably get the correlation.) They boys settled on the name Larry for the little man living in the box. Logan piped up, “His name is Larry. Now it’s called a Larry-In-The-Box.”

I suppose it is.

I feel like Larry-In-The-Box is our greatest treasure from the yard sale, just because of his awesome name. When Liam had his turn, he was struggling to turn the crank, and he turned to his brother. “Brudder, help wiff Larry-In-Da-Box pwease. Larry’s stuck in da box.”

Oh, Larry-In-The-Box, you’ve got a certain ring to you.

Doesn't he just look like a Larry to you?

Doesn’t he just look like a Larry to you?

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Posted by on June 14, 2013 in kids, Stuff My Kids Say

 

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You’ve Got Your Hands Full

Once a year the neighboring town has a huge community yard sale. I wanted to go, but alas, it was the one Saturday that my lovely husband was scheduled to work. However, today I woke up and the sky was bright, and all 3 kids were in a good mood, so off we went.

The yard sales are wildly popular, so the whole town turns into gridlock. So after weeding through traffic, we turned down a side street, found a parking spot, and unloaded. I strapped the little one to my chest, and plopped the big boys in the double umbrella stroller. Normally I would let the big boys walk, but the traffic was so thick, I felt that they would be a lot safer seated in a stroller. As I walked around the neighborhood perusing different yard sales (that were very picked over due to the fact that we weren’t early birds) people kept staring, and pointing, and gaping their mouths open a little. I wasn’t getting it, but then someone actually spoke to me. “Wow! You sure have your hands full!” I replied back happily, “Yes, full of blessings!” And it continued. Within one block three different people stopped to tell me how full my hands were. And each time, I took it as a compliment, smiled, and offered a kind word back.

I’m now quite used to navigating life with three kids that are 4 years old and under, and today everyone was well-behaved. It was easy, and I was excited to be “that” mom to these strangers. You know, the mom with a pile of small kids, who still manages to be put together and happy. Her kids are well-behaved, no one is crying, whining, fighting, spitting, or yelling “POO POO” the top of their lungs, and then giggling wildly. She remembered the sunscreen, her sweet little baby is giving everyone smiles, and she isn’t wearing clothes drenched in baby vomit. People thought I was that mom, and I was loving it. With three small kids, I rarely get to be that mom. It was awesome. For about 5 blocks. Then we came to the hill.

The path we took led us up a steep hill with no sidewalks. I was doing okay at 1st, but then the baby started to cry. I (of course) hadn’t brought a pacifier and the pre-nap meltdown was in full swing. I did a goofy bounce-bounce-jiggle-shimmy walk up the hill to try to calm him to sleep. “You’ve got your hands full!” I replied with a smile and a quick nod.

And then the hill got steeper. And I was feeling the full weight of the 80 or so pounds of toddler and preschooler I was pushing up the hill in the full heat 90 degree day. “You’ve got your hands full!” Bounce-bounce-jiggle-shimmy. A forced smile and a bright “Yep!” Bounce-bounce-jiggle-shimmy.

And the top of the hill was no where in sight. The baby spit up all down the front of me. I started to sweat. I forged on. Bounce-bounce-jiggle-shimmy. “Mommy! I gotta go potty! I gotta go NOW!” I double my speed. “Hold on buddy. We’ll be to a bathroom soon! Please try your hardest not to potty in your pants.” Bounce-bounce-jiggle-shimmy. Sprint.Sprint. Sprint. Bounce-bounce-jiggle-shimmy. Sprint. Sprint. Sprint. “You’ve got your hands full!” A half-smile and a half nod.

Yeah, I’m no longer “that” mom. I’m sweaty and hot. I’ve got a crying baby and a preschooler trying not to pee his pants. I’m so different from “that” mom, I can’t believe that I (or any one else) mistook myself for her. I’m a mess, just trying to keep up with caring for my three small boys. Then we arrive at the top of the hill.

The baby is suddenly quiet. He has succumbed to the many rounds of the bounce-bounce-jiggle-shimmy and is asleep against my chest. The big boys are chatting with each other about all the surroundings. I ask my oldest how he’s doing holding his potty in, and he replies “Oh, I’m fine mama. I’ll go potty when we eat lunch.”

I’m back to me. I’m by no means “that” mom, no matter how much I like wearing her perfectly coordinated shoes. I sometimes get to pretend to be her, but life is usually quick in snapping me back into reality. Sometimes I’m the sweaty exhausted mom, dancing her grumpy kids up a never-ending hill, but usually I’m just me. In clothes that rarely match and flip-flops carting my three awesome boys around, soaked in spit-up, making occasional emergency potty runs, breaking up fights over matchbox cars, watching my big boys delight in the big, exciting world around them, and feeling the rise and fall of my tiniest boy’s chest as he naps against me.

I don’t need to be “that” mom to know that my hands are indeed, full of blessings.

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Posted by on June 8, 2013 in kids, Parenting

 

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Aside

So it all started with Pinterest. Actually, back that up, it all started with the thrift store by my house that sells great condition board books for 50 cents or less. Due to the boys’ love of books, the books began to slowly take over the playroom, then the living room, then the kitchen, and the bathroom. I was constantly tripping over books.

This is how our book collection was organized before the shelves. Piled up on the train table (without the gutter or measuring tape of course).

Enter Pinterest. After searching for kids bookshelves I came to the conclusion that there are only two general types of kids bookshelves featured on Pinterest that would actually be reasonable in my tiny home: ikea spice rack bookshelves and rain gutter bookshelves. While I’m the first to admit that the ikea bookshelves with their “no assembly required” definitely catered more to my skill set, I hit one roadblock there: we don’t have an ikea locally, and they don’t sell them online. After consulting Google Maps and determining that it was a bit silly to drive 256 miles from my house to the nearest ikea, I started looking up tutorials for rain gutter bookshelves. The general consensus seemed to be the following: buy rain gutters, cut them to size, mount them to wall. Voila! Bookshelves. Okay, simple enough. I can do that. So I offer to you my very own tutorial: How to make super awesome rain gutter bookshelves without losing your mind (or a finger).

Materials:

Rain Gutters: (duh!) Gutters come in 10 foot lengths. We wanted wall to wall shelves, so we measured that wall. You can pick an arbitrary length or measure a wall of your own.

Brackets: All of the other tutorials skimmed over this part so I was confused. Buy a bracket for every 2 feet of shelf that you want. If you don’t know what brackets are, it’s okay. They will be by the gutters, and neatly labeled.

End Caps for the Gutters: In my opinion, if you are going to have your shelves run flush from wall to wall, these are optional because you wont have any sharp, rough edges exposed. However if you want shorter shelves, a more polished look, or if the guy at Lowe’s who helps you saw your gutters down to size wields the hacksaw like a drunken murderer, you’ll probably want to opt for the end caps.

Dry Wall Anchors and Screws: Dry wall anchors are those plastic things that you shove into the wall before you put the screw in so that you don’t have to be bothered by doing things like finding studs. Make sure you don’t buy pegboard drywall anchors even if the package is a pretty yellow color and has the exact number of screws you need. They are not the same thing, which you will eventually discover and you may cry.

A Drill: Remember to charge it before hand if it’s cordless.

Sun Chips: We recommend Jalapeno Jack, but any flavor will do.

1. Head to the hardware store to pick up your items. Put on your pretty smile that makes people want to do things for you and ask someone to help you cut the gutters down to size so that they fit in your car. (Optional: if they cut the rain gutters more crookedly than you could have imagined, hustle back over to the gutters and grab some of those end caps that you didn’t plan on needing.)

2. Pay for you items. (Optional: While paying for you items, answer 20 questions from the cashier about what you’re doing with the rain gutters, how that will work, where you got that idea, what kind of books you’re going to put on it, why don’t you just buy actual bookshelves, etc.)

3. Load you car with the items. (Optional: Slice your finger open trying to fold you backseat down to make room for the gutters. Pout a little)

4. Arrive home and instruct your husband to unload the car.

5. Show your husband where the employee cut the gutter for you, and find out that even an end cap wont cover that crooked of a cut. Send your husband out to find the hacksaw. (Optional: Have your husband return from the garage empty-handed, remembering that the hacksaw broke the last time he used it. Brainstorm what to use to cut through gutter.)

6. Use a sharp implement of your choice to even up the cut on the gutter (Ginsu knives, anyone?)

I feel like this should be an advertisement for these knives.

7. Slide the brackets onto the gutter from the ends. (Optional: Try to clip them on without sliding them on from the ends, and when they don’t clip on all the way, ignore your husband telling you that you’re doing it wrong. When he proves his point by sliding them on correctly, pretend the whole thing never happened.)

8. Use some sort of plastic on plastic glue to adhere the end caps to the gutters. We are Gorilla Glue kind of people around here.

9. Get out the drywall anchors. (Optional: Realize that they are peg board anchors and are not at all the right thing. Return to the store and exchange them for actual drywall anchors.)

10. Take the gutter to the wall you want to install it on. (Optional: Realize that you cut the gutter a 1/2 inch too long and try as you might, it doesn’t fit on the wall. Pry of Gorilla Glued end cap, and use the Ginsu knife to trim an additional 1/2 inch off of the end. Find out that if the gutter ends are perfectly straight the end caps don’t need gorilla glue, but can just be snapped on. Also realize that your husband can cut a better line with a Ginsu knife that you won 5 years ago at the county fair than an employee at a home improvement store with an actual saw.)

11. Position the brackets where you want them (we did about 22 inches apart) and hold the gutter up to the wall where you want it. Use a level (really, do this, because what feels level is usually not, and you want a bookshelf, not a slide) and mark where you want the screws in the brackets to go on the wall. (Optional: Forget to grab a pen a silently curse your husband for taking the longest time to go get one while you hold the gutter, trying not to let it budge a millimeter before you mark it.

12. Optional: Eat some sun chips.

13. Use a giant drill bit (5/16) to drill on your marks, and then pop the drywall anchors in. (Optional: Make your husband do all this, due to your previous thumb-related injury.)

14. Hold the gutter in place while your husband uses the drill to screw the brackets into the drywall anchors. Load with books and admire.

15. Repeat with additional shelves as necessary. (Optional: When installing the second shelf right above the first one, with the brackets in the exact same place, hit 2 studs that you didn’t hit the first time. After expressing concern that there are studs in the top part of our wall, but apparently not the bottom part, move on and drill those screws straight into the stud.)

And that’s it. Bookshelves from rain gutters. Who would have thought? More of a pain than ikea spice racks, probably. However, I just love the way they look.

Pretty, pretty bookshelves.

Make Your Own Rain Gutter Bookshelves

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in homeschooling, How To, kids

 

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Seeking Mom Canidates

You must be available to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We will allow you to have a second job, or go to school, or perhaps have a hobby, but you must be willing to drop these other thing immediately if we need you.

You must be willing to work from 6:30am to 8:30pm, and you will be on call all night, every night.

You must be able to multitask. This does not just mean that you can throw a load of clothes in the wash while making breakfast. You must multitask on a higher level. You have to be able to read the ingredient labels of food in the grocery store while holding a wiggling, screaming 25lb toddler, while managing to stop the preschooler from knocking over an entire display of wine bottles. Olympic gymnasts who have experience in law enforcement will be considered.

You must be able to run fast, with cat-like reflexes. Wether the child decides to wander into the street or hug a feral cat, you must always be prepared to spring into action. *On a related note, for your own safety, you should be fully vaccinated. Your job interview will include a 20 yard dash.

You must be okay with cleaning. No, not “light cleaning duties.” You must change diapers, wipe bottoms, and inevitably clean barf off of the long-haired dog. Additional duties include cleaning jam off of the couch, applesauce off of the floor, and perhaps even poop off of the walls. A haz-mat suit will not be supplied.

On a related note: You must be comfortable with being barfed, peed, and pooped on. Yes, it will happen at some point, no you are not allowed to cry, and you may not be allowed to shower right away.

You must be organized. You need to be able to wrestle both kids into their clothes, pack the diaper bag, let the dog out one last time, and still be able to find your phone and keys. You will also need to keep track of dentist appointments, doctor appointments, vet appointments, play dates, and birthday parties. You will need to be able to do this all in your head because the one year old already ate your calendar.

On a related note: You will need to have an excellent memory. You need to be able to remember what you need from the grocery store even though you left your list on the counter at home. You will also need to be able to remember where the toddler put his blanket, and where the baby left his shoes. You will also need to remember when you left your keys in the fridge.

You must be creative. As this job doesn’t always go according to plan, you must be able to roll with the punches. For example, if you run out of diapers, you must have the foresight to try this.

Duct tape. Not just for ducts.

You must have no need for privacy. If you would like to be in the bathroom alone, arrange to do it while they are napping. You must be comfortable with at least one (but usually more) person in the bathroom with you at all times. If you lock the door, you must be prepared to hear them bang on it the whole time you are peeing.

You must be a first aid expert. You will need to be able to kiss boo-boos and put unnecessary band-aids on places that aren’t even cut because it makes them feel better. You also need to be able to remain calm enough to call the doctor’s office when the child falls out of the shopping cart or starts peeing blood. We prefer an M.D. for this position, but nurses will also be considered.

You must be a master chef. You must be able to cook a wonderful nutritious meal that adults will enjoy, that kids will also be willing to eat. You must do this even though one of the children currently refuses to eat anything that is not orange. Culinary school graduates will be considered.

Work attire is casual. Sweatpants are common, and pajamas are acceptable. We ask that you are willing to both shower and wear jeans on dress-up days.

Because of the demanding nature of this job we have determined that $16/hour would be fair. Since this job is 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, that works out to be a yearly salary of about $140,000.

You will not be getting that. We will pay you with the love of these adorable people instead.

What do you mean, you'd rather have the money

 

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in kids, Parenting

 

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This Cat May Need Fresh Batteries

A conversation with Logan tonight:

(Logan has just begun to discover that certain toys need batteries, and if they don’t have them, they don’t work.)

Logan: Buttons doesn’t need batteries. (Important to note: Buttons is the cat)

Me: Why not?

Logan: Cause he doesn’t need them. (Typical toddler logic.)

Me: Does he have batteries?

Logan: No, Mama.

Me: How does he run then? (I’m trying to get him to understand that food is fuel, and that we eat to get energy. Toys run on batteries, people and pets run on food. Admittedly it’s a bit of an advanced concept for a toddler.)

Logan: Uh, Mama, Buttons doesn’t run.

Oozes yes. Runs, not so much.

Perhaps I should have been more clear with my “how things work” lesson. However, it’s true. Our incredibly lazy, fully indoor cat, indeed does not run (in the “gets places quickly” sense of the word).

It’s awesome how preschoolers can be both wrong and spot on at the exact same time.

 

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in kids, Parenting, Pets, Stuff My Kids Say

 

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Baby Book Failure

So, I am a baby book failure. My oldest sons baby mementos (birth announcement, hospital bracelet, teeny tiny hospital issue hat, ect) are safely stored in a shoe box that I have apparently lost. His little brothers stuff is shoved into the bottom drawer of out filing cabinet, so at least I know that I can find it. Don’t think that this means that I love the baby more. Just to prove that that’s not the case, I’ll let you in on a little secret: Liam’s (the baby) name isn’t even on his keepsake birth certificate (the one they give you at the hospital along with an address to mail $35 to if you want the real deal). Nope, it never got filled out. They were in such a hurry to get us out of there they just handed us a blank one. It looks official though, and I’m thinking that maybe I’ll save it until he is a teenager, and use it to play a really good practical joke on him. Maybe I’ll fill it in to convince him his name isn’t Liam, rather it’s something with more character like, “Belthazar” or “Penguin Pants.” I like to keep my options open.

So, since I do not keep baby books, I don’t have an awesome place to write down the hilarious stuff that comes out of these little people’s mouths. So without further ado, stuff my awesome kids say:

We’ll start with Liam, because he is little and doesn’t say much. He says both Mama and Dada, and though he does say Dada more, I’m not offended. I just take it to mean “Dada come change my poopy diaper!” He does a lot of indiscriminate screaming to try to get his point across (Liam, not Dada), but he is starting to add a few words to his vocabulary. Most recently, he has taken to flinging things on the floor and squealing “Unh-Ahhh,” his version of “Uh-Oh.” Since he is most often flinging food, the dog is his best friend right now. The polite boy that he is, he has started saying “akew” when you give him food. This is baby for “thank-you.”

Logan says piles of funny stuff because he is three and in addition to having a strange little brain, he is also repeating everything he hears. And as you may know, the husband and I are pretty funny. When Logan was a baby, he said all of the usuals, such as “Mama, Dada, up, doggy,” etc. One of my personal favorites was “key-key” (kitty), which was always screamed while in pursuit of the cat. I don’t think that his little 1-year-old brain understood that he was giving the key-key ample time to escape with his warning screech. However, now that he is three, he says tons of awesome things. It’s amazing listening to this tiny little brain that has a shaky grasp on language as it is, saying everything he thinks with no filter. Some of my recent favorites:

When asking for batteries to be replaced in a toy, Logan mentioned that his brother Liam did not run on batteries. When further probed, he revealed that “Leelee runs on cerals and puppies!” No wonder he can crawl so fast.

“I gotta get my bunkles out!” Bunkles = Tangles

Upon asking to describe what he happened when he fell down: “I hurt my pants!”

“I need a napkin!” After vomiting everywhere. You may need a napkin buddy, but I need a haz-mat team.

“Don’t poke my hair!”

Come on though, who wouldn't want to poke awesome hair like this?

 

So, because I am a baby book failure, I have decided that I will blog about all of the things that normal people put in baby books (normal being a relative term I suppose, unless of course normal people write love songs to the pediatric urologist in their baby books).

On that note, I suppose I should mention that Liam started walking this week. Of course I can’t remember which day. If I could I might not be a baby book failure.

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in kids, Parenting, Stuff My Kids Say

 

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Smokey the Bear Would Be Disappointed In Me

I remember Smokey the Bear from grade school. “Only YOU can prevent forest fires!” I have never played with matches, I am cautious with campfires, I make sure that the BBQ is turned off and the fire is extinguished. I’m a pretty fire safe lady. But as I write this my house reeks of smoke, to the point I’m afraid that it is going to set of the smoke alarms, again. So apparently Smokey the Bear was limited in his scope. Yes, I can prevent forest fires, but house fires are clearly a whole other story. I suppose that Smokey only cares if a fire takes out his home, not mine. Selfish bear.

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Let’s rewind back to the Christmas Eve service at our church this year. We were having a small family style service in our church’s living room, cozy and complete with cookies, cocoa, and pretty little tea-lite candles on the table. All was well until the middle of the service when Liam had crawled over and was attempting to eat my husband’s sheet music. He was defenseless against the attack, as he was using both of his hands to play the guitar. I moved the stack of sheet music further toward the center of the table. Problem solved. Until about 30 seconds later when the song took an interesting turn. “O come, o come Emman-Uh! Nicole, FIRE!” Yep I had set the stack of music directly on top of the candle which shockingly resulted in a fire. I grabbed the stack of paper and blew on it. When that didn’t prove effective, I ran the papers to the bathroom and extinguished them in the sink. Christmas service continued with a sense of excitement in the air. The only drawback was my husband trying to play the songs with a large chunk burned away. Everyone was quite understanding. I chalked it up to a fluke. It had been a long day, and I was exhausted. Tired people set the occasional accidental fire. Whatever.

Moving forward, we had friends over for dinner this weekend. I made mini pizzas and some of them had olive oil for a sauce. I opened the oven to check on the pizzas, and moments later the smoke detectors were going off. Some of the olive oil had gotten on the burner of the stove and created a nice smoke cloud. The smoke detectors in our house are really quite awesome. 1st of all, our 750 square foot house that would be totally covered with one smoke detector, has 3. They followed code, and placed one in each bedroom and in the living room. The bedrooms are right off of the living room, meaning that we have 3 smoke detectors all within about 6 square feet. When one goes off, they all go off. On top of that, the smoke detectors are hardwired, and I don’t really know what that entails except for the fact that they don’t need batteries, and you can’t turn them off in the case of a false alarm. You just have to stand there and fan them repeatedly until they decide that the threat has passed and calm down. So we fanned them, they calmed down, and we all had some laughs about my cooking.

Fast forward to this afternoon. I was on the couch dinking around on Facebookdoing homework, and suddenly with no warning, the smoke detectors were at it again. I glanced into the kitchen to make sure that I had indeed turned the oven off after lunch. I had, so I assumed that perhaps it was the cool mist humidifier that I was running for the baby in the playroom while he napped. I went into the playroom, and other than the smoke detector making the baby scream, all was well. Just as I was silently cursing the stupid crazy smoke detectors, I walked into the boys’ room. It was pungent with smoke. I went straight to the electric baseboard heater to examine it while Logan pointed at the smoke detector and informed me, “Mama, I think it be makin noises.” Really buddy, ya think? The curtains were still hanging clear of it, so I crouched down to see if anything had fallen behind the dresser. I found three sippy cups of water neatly lined up against the heater, but they were barely even warm, so I peeked inside the actual vent part and saw an obstruction. I fished around in the vent and found this:

Mmmm... warm and toasty

Yep, that is a singed sock and a very burned part of what used to be a Target receipt. Being the genius that I am, I pulled these out of the very hot heater with my bare hands. Please note, that my finger is now blistered. I then aired out the room the best I could opening all of the doors and windows, even though it was freezing out. Once the room was sufficiently aired out, I put the kiddos back down to nap, but not before I had a little talk with the three year-old about not putting stuff in the heater. He listened very carefully and nodded yes, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he is not the actual culprit. I happen to know someone who has just learned the skill of putting things into other thing (like blocks into a cup, or perhaps socks into a heater vent), and has a particular disdain for socks. I cannot actually prove my theory, but I’m pretty certain that the perp is 2 foot 7, blue eyes, blond hair (but mostly bald), and looks a little something like this:

I thought his crimes would stop at texting and driving; who knew arson would be next

I am actually so grateful for my annoying smoke detectors because I was seriously sitting 5 feet away from his room and I didn’t smell anything until I opened the door. Yikes! Just to be on the safe side, I piled blankets on him and turned the heater off for the rest of his nap (either that or I turned it all the way up- half of our heater knobs are installed upside down, so it’s hard to remember in which room to do what).

So Smokey the Bear was right. I can prevent forest fires. However, my fire prevention skills apparently stop there, as I clearly cannot prevent indoor fires. I’m not sure what his advice to me would be, but I feel like even though a have yet to set a forest fire, he’d probably be disappointed in me.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in Cooking, kids, Parenting

 

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