Kathy Petersen’s Blog


Posted in children, politics, Uncategorized by Kathy on January 9, 2009

This was too funny — a woman took photographs of some artwork her 22 month old daughter did (finger-painting or something like that), and showed them to an art director (without telling him who had done it. The art director was entranced, and put them in his show or gallery or whatever, as abstract art. Kinda reminds me of the time somebody framed (as an accident or for a joke) either the blueprints of the building, or the schematic of the building’s plumbing system, and put it up in the art gallery, where it was hailed as a great work of art. And some people wonder why people like me want to cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.

I gotta do something about this

Posted in children by Kathy on December 9, 2008

I know it’s probably normal, but I don’t remember it happening with any of the kids I’ve baby-sat, nor with my nieces and nephews.

My son is just now four years old, and has recently taken to acting out everything he sees while watching videos. I’m pretty particular about what he watches, but I’m going to have to change my criteria, I think. When watching the Dr. Seuss video “The Sneetches”, for example, at one point the Sneetches are going around in a figure 8 pattern going in and out of two different machines (getting stars on and off of their bellies — just go find the YouTube video, or better yet, read the book), and at that point, my son gets up and starts running around in circles for the whole scene. Yesterday, he and my younger son were watching Charlie Brown Christmas while I was in the kitchen, and all of a sudden my younger son started crying like he’d been hurt. Now, I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and watched Charlie Brown Christmas, but I know it’s pretty innocuous, and may even have a good moral to it (and I do know that Linus quotes from the Bible, telling the story of the birth of Christ, which makes it even better), but I’m going to have to contemplate whether I should let the kids watch it again because of what happened. Knowing how my son had been acting out whatever he saw on the screen (previously, he was Tigger “bouncing” Pooh [my poor younger son who is not stuffed with fluff, and who does hurt when he is all of a sudden thrown off balance and banged onto the floor]; or Rabbit climbing on top of Eeyore’s shoulders [also played by my much-maligned younger son, against his very vocal wishes]), I asked him what happened, and he said something about “cracking” my younger son on the head. I can only assume that Lucy whacks Linus or something on the head for being a “blockhead”.

Previously, I never had a problem with them watching things that I might have watched when I was younger, like Charlie Brown, or Bugs Bunny or anything like that. Now, I’m not so sure. I’m scared that he might see Granny’s bulldog grab Sylvester the cat [of course it would be my younger son!] by the throat, and punch him in the face! It’s funny to see Sylvester knocked out of his fur, but would most definitely not be funny to have Seth get a full-fledged smack in the face!

I’ve kinda always poked fun (in my own mind, of course, never out loud) at those people who object to cartoon violence, and would not let their children watch good ol’ Bugs Bunny and what-not. I still don’t think those things are bad in and of themselves. But to protect my younger son, until my older son has more impulse control, or until he realizes that he simply cannot act out everything he sees on the screen, or until he realizes that his brother actually gets hurt when he is hit, kicked, pushed down, slapped, smacked, or otherwise manhandled, I think I’m going to have to join the anti-cartoon violence people. But for different reasons, I think. If I understand correctly, they usually object to it because they think it produces more violent children, and they think that if they can just protect their little perfect angels from ever seeing violence, that they will never be violent. That’s bull, of course — kids don’t have to be taught to be bad — they have to be taught to be good! I don’t have a philosophical reason for keeping my kids from seeing Bugs Bunny — it’s purely practical — I want my younger son not to be a punching bag!

I can only imagine what would happen if I let my kids watch The Three Stooges! Seth would probably be blind from Keith poking him in the eyes, saying, “Why, you…!” Yikes.

My kids, the snakes

Posted in children by Kathy on December 4, 2008

No, I don’t really have snakes at all, especially as pets, and most especially would I not call them “my kids”! This is how my kids are like snakes:

When I make food, I expect my children to eat it, because I am not going to make something different for them to eat — that’s a bad habit to get into! So, when I make something for lunch or supper that they don’t particularly care for, they eat what’s on their plate (barely!) and no more. A lot of times I offer them seconds (and sometimes I’ll offer them something like a PB&J which they love, or a piece of fruit or something), but of course they don’t want it. Every so often, I’ll make them something that they absolutely love. Last night was one of those occasions.

I make my mom’s recipe for soft taco shells (which are made from a batter, not stiff like store-bought flour or corn tortillas; my older son calls them “squishy tacos”). They are about the diameter of pancakes, but thin. My older son ate 6-8 of them, while my younger son probably ate 5-6. I didn’t count, but it seemed like I was making them all the time!  [I take a taco, put a little seasoned meat on it, some cheese, homemade taco sauce, and lettuce. My husband doesn’t like the sauce, and puts our homemade salsa on it and usually some sour cream. Of course, you could put whatever you want on it, but we don’t particularly care for olives, bell peppers, etc. on it.]

Anyway, all our family likes it, and my sons are like snakes — they gorge themselves on tacos and then don’t want to eat for days. [exaggeration!]

I live in an echo chamber

Posted in children by Kathy on November 3, 2008

I’m sure my experiences are not unique to me. Maybe some (or all) of you can sympathize.

I have a four-year-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old. My younger son frequently comes up to me saying things, and I always have to repeat them back to him. Which means that if I can’t understand what he’s saying, he keeps saying it over and over and over until I echo it back to him. He also echos what I say a lot. And he echoes what his brother says, too. And my older son echoes what my younger son says. And he makes me echo him, too — I’m assuming to prove that I did actually understand him.

So, all day, every day, I hear the same words and phrases over and over and over and over and over. And I also have to participate in the saying of those words and phrases over and over and over.

And if that’s not enough, most of the time when I say something — ask a question, or give a command, or whatever… well, let me just see if I can authentically relate to you what is so frequently my life…

Me: Ok, boys, let’s eat some breakfast.

Keith: What’d you say?

Seth: What say?

Me (more slowly and distinctly): Let’s…eat…break.fast.

Seth: Ee breh-fes.

Keith: What’s for breakfast?

Seth: What breakfast?

Me: Toast.

Seth: Toe!

Keith: What’s toast?

Seth? What toast?

Me (very patiently): Toast is bread that is… toasted… cooked again. Then I put butter on it.

Seth: Bread… butter onit.

Keith: What’s butter?

Seth: What butter?

Me: Just eat your toast.

Seth: Ee toe!

Keith: What’s toast?

Seth: What toast?

Me: Just be quiet and eat your toast.

Keith: What’s toast?!

Seth: What toast?!

Me: That is toast.

Keith: Is this toast?

Seth: This toast?

Me: [silence — trying ignoring them]

Keith: Is this toast?

Seth: This toast?

Me (giving in, said with gritted teeth): Yes, this is toast.

Keith: This is toast.

Seth: This toast!

Keith: What is this? (talking about the toast he is holding)

Seth: What this?

Me: It’stoastjusteatit!!

And some people wonder what I do all day! 🙂 And this is just the first half-hour of my day! You should see all 14 hours they’re awake.

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I know why people believe in reincarnation

Posted in children by Kathy on October 28, 2008

Although I personally think it’s a bunch of poppycock, I see why some people believe it. My older son looks so much like his father, that it’s incredible — his mom says that looking at Keith running around and playing is like seeing Chuck as a little boy again. While he does have some of my facial features (a very few), his overall look is basically Chuck. And my younger son looks a whole lot like my dad’s baby pictures. I have some snapshots of my son, and I’ve seen similar photos of my dad (who died nearly ten years ago), and the resemblance is striking.

Just for what it’s worth, the phrase “spittin’ image” is a bastardization of the phrase “spirit and image” — meaning, of course, that one person (usually a child or grandchild) is exactly like another in both his face and personality.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Posted in children by Kathy on October 27, 2008

I watched this movie for the first time recently, and must say I was very pleasantly surprised. Having grown up on Gene Wilder’s version (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), I was tentative to say the least at messing with a good movie. When I was little, I assumed that Willy Wonka was true to the book, but I’ve never read the book; I have, however, read the sequel — Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator — and enjoyed it. Since that time, I’ve heard that the original movie was not that close to the book, and I remember hearing that the author, Roald Dahl, did not like the movie, or regretted that he’d sold the copyright, or whatever. Still, I wasn’t sure that the new movie — even if it were taken directly from the book — could be better than the old. I was wrong.

When I was at the library a couple of weeks ago, I saw the movie available for borrowing — and you can’t get better than seeing the movie for free! — so I got it, knowing that my mother-in-law was going to be coming in late the next night, and I expected to wait up alone for her (my husband has to get up early in the morning, and doesn’t sleep well, so typically goes to bed around 8-8:30), and decided that watching a movie would be just the ticket to pass the time. I figured I’d screen the movie first, and if I liked it, recommend it to my husband, or recommend that he stay away from it — he was more fond of the original than I was, and I rather suspected that his reaction to the movie would be similar to someone suggesting that we need to alter the Bible somehow. In other words, that the old movie was near-sacred! 🙂 (Exaggerating for clarity, here.)

Well, it didn’t work out that way — my husband came home and took a nap, and we stayed up together to wait for his mom. I tentatively suggested watching the movie, and he agreed — and loved it!! I was so surprised!

At first, I was a little unsure (Johnny Depp’s “Willy Wonka” reminds me of Michael Jackson after all his plastic surgeries), but it was a very good flick. Being 30+ years newer than the old one, it had a lot more technology at its disposal (computer animation techniques and I don’t know what else), so the special effects were very believable. My only problem with the movie is that some of the parts scared or concerned my son — which is totally acceptable, because he’s not quite 4, and the movie is rated PG. If you’ve seen the original movie or read the book, you know that all of the children except Charlie are disposed of as they go through the chocolate factory — Augustus Gloop falls into a river and is sucked up a pipe; Mike Teavee is shrunk in a TV; Violet Beauregarde turns violet from chewing gun; and Veruca Salt and her dad fall into a garbage chute. While all of these things are basically benign, my 4-year-old didn’t have the background to understand what was happening, and he was really concerned about what happened to all of the children. (When Mike goes into the TV, the Oompa-Loompah is sitting there changing channels, and most of the channels have a little something scary to a 4-year-old on it — a scene I think from Psycho, where you see a hand stabbing into a tub — which is where Mike is, and he dodges the huge knife — no blood, of course — and adults “get” it, but Keith doesn’t have a clue; plus several things that look like MTV videos, with the Oompah-Loompah [in all the roles], as Kiss, Van Halen, Whitesnake, or other various hard-rock or heavy-metal groups, which are funny to adults, but can be scary to kids who have no clue why the people have weird or scary face-paint on, or are jumping around with raucous music in the background — that sort of thing.)

But I could recommend the movie, which doesn’t happen very often! 🙂


Some days it’s just not worth chewing through the leather restraints

Posted in frugal by Kathy on October 25, 2008

(I don’t know why, but this phrase just appeals to me on some level.)

Today was one of those days, in one respect. I like to go to yard sales, and get stuff that way rather than buying stuff new from the store. My mom gets the local paper (it’s published twice a week — oh, yeah, big local paper) 🙂 and there were several ads for yard sales. I was excited, because many times there are only two or three listed, and I knew that for so many that were listed, there are usually several more. But two of them were too far away for me to go jaunting out there just to see what they had (nothing in the descriptions sounded like it was really anything I was looking for). Still, I went to the rest, plus stopped at several other yard sales that I happened to see along the way. (And had a couple of wild-goose chases when I followed signs that must have been for last week. Sigh…) And I only got something at one of them (probably 10+ yard sales in all). I was looking for boys’ toys, and the only yard sales that had toys were either all girl toys or were baby toys. All the rest had predominantly clothes (looked like sizes I didn’t wear) and household items (which I don’t need).

I ended up buying a pair of matching lamps for my bedroom (I’ve wanted a lamp for my side of the bed for a while, and we can move the other lamp to the spare room), and a purse. Now that my kids are so close to being fully potty-trained, I am going to use my current diaper bag as only a reserve bag for in the car, and actually have a real purse for the first time in about four years! Now that I don’t need half a dozen diapers “just in case”, I can just stick one or two in my purse and leave the diaper bag in the car or at home. I won’t know what to do with myself! 🙂

Invisible (or “what do you do all day?”)

Posted in children by Kathy on October 10, 2008

The other day, my husband made a comment about me “having all day” to do this, that, or the other, since I was “home all day with the kids.” While he did have a point, and I do waste some time (such as now, for instance), there is an awful lot that I do that is invisible at the end of the day. For instance, laundry.

I wash a load of clothes, hang it up to dry, fold it, put it away. At the end of the day, the house looks the same. While those particular clothes are clean, the dirty clothes basket has more dirty clothes in it (especially since my younger son is potty-training!); and unless you notice that the clothes in the basket are different, you’d never know I’d done laundry. I guess you’d just have to assume that the clothes clean themselves? and fold themselves up and march themselves into the drawers neatly? It’s not noticeable that I do laundry… but it is noticeable when I don’t — the pile of dirty clothes reaches higher and wider, and the drawers and closets are emptier.

I read to the children a lot, but when the book is put back on the shelf, you can’t tell that it has been read yet another time (or three) today.

I play with the children, but when the toys are put back, you can’t tell that they’ve been played with today.

I put together a puzzle with the children, and when it’s put away, you can’t tell that it was ever put together (a dozen times) today.

I go buy groceries and household supplies during the day while my husband is gone. He doesn’t see those trips, but he’d sure miss it if I didn’t buy food and toilet paper!

I make home-made bread and freeze it; and I make from scratch most of the food we eat. Much of the thought and preparation is done when he is not here. He doesn’t see it, but he’d notice if I didn’t do it.

I also do a lot of constant cleaning up after the boys — sweeping up crumbs, wiping dirty faces, washing hands, mopping up spills from cups (or bladders), etc. We also have a cat, so occasionally I get to clean up hair-balls or dead critters.

There are a lot of intangible things I do that are equally invisible — try to civilize my two young boys, teach them to share, potty-train my younger son, get them to take a nap, etc. And it’s paying off.

My kids (almost 4 and 2&1/2) know most of the letters, all of the digits and colors; my older son is potty-trained and my younger son is nearly so; my older son can put together a map puzzle of the United States that says “ages 7 and up” all by himself, and my younger son knows where at least 10 of the states go all by himself, and both of them know several of the states’ names. Many people compliment me on my kids’ manners (although sometimes I wonder why — are other kids really that bad that my kids look mannerly by comparison?).

It’s rather like children growing up and gaining in height — at the end of any given day, the child is not going to be noticeably taller. Perhaps not even if you wait a week or a month between measuring. Yet by the end of the year, the child will definitely be bigger. My kids may not be noticeably better-behaved by the end of today than they were yesterday, but (I hope!) by the end of the year they will have improved. And that takes work on my part — work which like growth is essentially invisible, yet necessary.

Why do kids put things up their noses?

Posted in children by Kathy on September 20, 2008

Seriously. I put chalk up my nose once when I was a kid and too young to remember it. My mom took me to our local small-town doctor who was an old woman (very odd to have an old female doctor in those days, because when she was in med school, she was probably the only woman in the class). Anyway, I guess the chalk was visible, because she blew water up one nostril to push the chalk out of the other.

Well, the other night, my son followed in my footsteps. My kids aren’t bad about putting things in their mouths, so I let them play with my button collection, and of course, keep finding buttons about every other day that missed the initial clean-up. So I was reading them a story, and out of the corner of my eye, I see Keith (who is nearly 4) examining a button very closely. Or so I think. A couple of seconds later, he says, “Oh, no! The button!” Since he’s not usually melodramatic like that about dropping things, I asked him, “What happened?” And he said, “The button is in my nose!” Lovely.

Of course, I immediately start looking on the internet about how to get objects out of the nose, and end up coming across all sorts of blogs and articles and stories about boogers and nose-rings and nose-studs — absolutely no help at all. So, I look up things like “nasopharynx” and “nasal cavity” — trying to figure out how to encourage the button to come back out (I couldn’t see it — I looked). I called my mom to find out how Dr. Mauney had gotten the chalk out of my nose, and then spent some time trying to figure out a different way of doing it, because holding down my son and shooting water up his nose was not going to be fun. Especially considering that I didn’t know if we even had a straw. I started looking for the nasal aspirator (a.k.a., a snot-sucker), and couldn’t find it (it ended up being under the toy box, where I happened to find it the next day). While I was looking around the boys’ incredibly messy room for it, Keith came up to me very excited with the button in his hand! Woo-hoo! No trip to the ER at 8 o’clock at night!

I wasn’t too worried about the button as such, except for the thought that somehow it might fall out of his nasal cavity and into the back of his throat where he might inhale it and choke on it in the middle of the night. Not exactly a restful thought, eh? At least I’m reasonably certain he’ll never do it again. It didn’t traumatize him as such, but he was a bit distressed when it happened, and very relieved when it came out.

*Not* Seth’s day!

Posted in children by Kathy on August 27, 2008

Yesterday, Seth was climbing on a little kiddie musical table and fell, and scraped his chest and got “road rash” (for lack of a better term) from it. Then a few hours later, he was playing on our back deck and somehow got a huge (but very thin and flat) shard of wood under his big toenail — I think it went all the way to the base. Looking at it and thinking about it, my toes curl up and clench, it was so bad. I also wanted to vomit because it just looked so awful! I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get it out — it looked like a giant splinter, and sometimes those are difficult to remove, but it actually came out pretty easily — the hardest part was getting him to hold still so I could grab it. Obviously, he didn’t want me touching his toes, but I had to do it. Within a few minutes, he was fine; but later that afternoon, he stubbed his toe or Keith ran over or into his toes with one of his cars and made it hurt again (as well as producing a tiny drop of blood, which proved my supposition that that’s what was hurting). Since last week Seth rolled himself off my mom’s bed and hit his head on the rocker of the rocking chair (you should have seen the huge goose egg that popped up!), I’m hoping that the next few days are uneventful that way. 🙂

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