Puff Puff, the Bear from Hell

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Me Strangling Puff Puff

Last Saturday we bought Sissy a “Build Your Own Build-a-Bear” at Big Lots. It was a bear skin in a box that your child (or you) can sew up and stuff. A fun project for our aspiring seamstress and lover of “stuffies” (her term, not ours). She pestered us all evening on Saturday to make the bear but it wasn’t the time. We should have known then to just throw the damn thing in the trash, especially after the epic meltdown that followed when we told her she would have to wait until Sunday to start. But we didn’t, and Sunday came and Sissy sewed and stuffed the bear. And when it was done she was proud of her accomplishment, poured out all of her love on her new baby bear, and christened it “Puff Puff.”

I HATE Puff Puff.

It has become Sissy’s obsession. She carries it everywhere, talks to it, calls Wifey and I its grandparents, brings it to the table for dinner, puts it down for naps, and sleeps with it. She insists that we snuggle with it, kiss it, hug it, say that we love it. Sometimes kids with imagination can be so annoying.

Just to clarify the timeline:

Saturday: Puff Puff is purchased.

Sunday: Puff Puff is made and christened.

Monday: Puff Puff loses an eye.

Oh happy dagger! This is thy sheath; there rust and let me die! Wailing. Gnashing of teeth. Oh the tragedy! Jesus wept for Puff Puff’s eye!!!

For fear of accidentally ripping through Puff Puff’s entire head, Sissy carefully placed her beloved bear on Wifey’s sewing table to be mended. And there it lay forgotten. Until 9:00 that night when Sissy walked into our bedroom.

Sissy(wailing): “I ca-an’t sleep without Pu-u-uff Pu-u-uff!”

Me (having missed the eye incident): “Then take it to bed with you.”

Sissy(sobbing): “She lo-ost her eye and I don’t wa-ant to rip her head in my slee-ee-eep!”

Me: “Well then, you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow after Mommy has fixed it.”

Sissy(gnashing teeth): “BUT I ALWAYS SLEEP WITH HER! I CAN’T SLEEP WITHOUT HER!”

Me (to Wifey, whispering): “Didn’t she get that yesterday?”

Wifey: slight nod while rolling eyes

Me: “Sweetie, I don’t think she’ll rip if you sleep with her. Just go ahead and take her and ask Mommy to fix her tomorrow BEFORE bedtime.”

Sissy: “O-oka-ay.”

But of course she didn’t ask Mommy to fix her. Until 9:00 the next evening when the whole scene replayed itself again. More wailing, more drama, more eye rolling (by me, not her).

Fast-forward to Friday. I am home from work because Wifey has been struck with the flu and can’t get out of bed, let alone tend to our horde. While playing in the floor with The Baby, Sissy hands me a piece of paper. It is an invite to Puff Puff’s Baby Party. She has spent the last hour “decorating” (aka trashing) her room and requests my presence at what is sure to be the shin-dig of the century. And, because I’m a sucker, I accept the invitation. At the appointed time I walk back to her room to join in the festivities, which include a variation of hot-potato designed to make me lose (she hands me the dinosaur so she can turn off the music), some sort of “game” where I have to be Squidward trying to get SpongeBob (her) and Patrick (Bubba) to stop singing so loudly by shouting over them, and ending with Freeze Dance, which involves dancing until the music stops and then freezing in whatever position you are in (that one was actually kind of fun). Apparently, this is all for the benefit of Puff Puff, who is overseeing the festivities from atop Sissy’s cabinet. Wait a sec…she is overseeing with…TWO EYES! The eyes are sewn into the fabric, not buttons like I assumed they were. And they were both very much still present on the damn bear’s stupid head. I grab the bear and shove it in Sissy’s face:

Me: “What part of these eyes is broken? It seems pretty whole to me.”

Sissy: “Look…the dot in the middle of the eye has come off.”

You have got to be kidding me. A small dot of tan thread in middle of the right eye unraveled and came out. There wasn’t even a hole where the thread had once been. And I had to put up with a week’s worth of drama for THAT! I couldn’t even tell that anything was missing! I wanted to rip the bear’s head off and throw it at her while shouting “NOW THIS IS SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT!”

But I didn’t. I sat down in the floor and proceeded to play a game in which we passed the bear back and forth having to answer any question that Sissy asked while holding her. And while passing Puff Puff back and forth telling Sissy about my favorite colors, places, books, and dreams, I started to soften. This little bear, for all of its BS, was creating a wonderful memory with my daughter, so I guess I should be thankful.

Wait, no…scratch that. I still hate that stupid bear and will continue to pray for her to fall victim to some sort of horrible accident. But I love my daughter, so I’ll put up with Puff Puff…

For now.

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My Mouth Can’t Resist Those Beautiful Globes

As I draw you close your aroma makes me dizzy with desire.  I feel your warmth as my lips brush against your flesh.  My tongue travels over you, exploring your hidden recesses and folds and experiencing your taste, sometimes bitter, sometimes smooth and rich.  I savor your sweet juices as they spread throughout my mouth, making me crave you more.  I slowly bring my teeth together and feel you give yourself up to the experience.  Though many will never understand my passion, I can not bring myself to let you go.  And so I write this letter to you my tantalizing friend, my taboo love…

  My dearest Brussels Sprout

Brussels sprouts before roasting

Image by johnsu01 via Flickr

It’s true.  I can not hide it anymore.  I LOVE BRUSSELS SPROUTS!  Ah, it feels so good to finally speak aloud what I’ve been feeling for these many years.  I love their slightly bitter yet buttery taste, that they are perfectly bite-sized, their soft yet firm texture, and their pleasing color.  Plus, they look like tiny cabbages which is super cute.

Growing up I only ever heard horror stories about brussels sprouts.  My grandmother tells a yarn about how my grandfather always begged to have brussels sprouts, a vegetable that she despised.  After years of whining she finally gave in and made them, but instead of eating them he hid them behind some of the other food on his plate.  On both the big and small screens, children (and adults) bemoan the horrible torture of being served the dreaded sprouts.  The very mention of brussels sprouts is enough to send dinner guest fleeing for the hills.  So, naturally, I HATED brussels sprouts for many a year, despite never having eaten one.

But a few years ago, the wise and beautiful Wifey made them and insisted that I try them.  As I eyed the plate I could feel my stomach turn at the very thought of the supposed taste.  Why would she have prepared these little balls of evil?  Didn’t she know that they were the WORST food in the entire world?  Everyone despises them.  E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E.  I didn’t want to offend her after she worked hard preparing a meal for our family but I was also terrified that the result of putting that stinky green ball into my mouth would be immediate projectile vomiting.

I decided I had to risk it.  I speared the brussels sprout on my fork, brought it to my mouth, forced my jaws apart, and popped it in.

It was love at first taste.  I ate another.  And another.  I may have stuck my face into the serving bowl to lick the remains.  And from that time on, they have become a staple on our dinner table.

Bubba Can't Resist the Tempting Sprout

Peanut LOVES Her Brussels Sprouts!

What may be even more unbelievable than my love for these little bulbous miracles is the fact that my CHILDREN love them.  They actually cheer when we have them and we end up fighting for seconds.  Peanut will completely ignore any other food on her plate, demanding more and more and more.  The kids are silly for sprouts!

 
So, judge if you must.  But my passion for brussels sprouts will not be contained.

What Am I Thinking?

"That other bald one looks like she’s plotting my demise. I need a good defense strategy"

Since we haven’t invested in that Your Baby Can Read program, I think you can safely assume that The Baby has yet to develop the skill to articulate her thoughts. So, here is your chance to weigh-in. What is the thought running through The Baby’s head in this photo? The best response wins a shout-out and the photo’s caption!

Update: Congrats Jill on the best (and only) caption suggestion!!!!

Three Little Bears Sitting on Chairs

When Sissy was a toddler and Bubba was The Baby, we began a bedtime ritual that lasted for several years. Every night I would gather the kids into my lap, and we would read Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon. I don’t remember reading this story as a child, but in adulthood it has become one of my favorite books…and not just to read to my kids.  I’m mean it ranks up there with The Grapes of Wrath and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay for me.  I love the rhythm of the text, Clement Hurd’s beautiful illustrations, and the way the two combine to engage the reader.

We read the story so many times that my children at 2 and 3 could recite the book in its entirety.  There was nothing more moving than listening to their tiny voices speaking the story along with me as I read it from the book.  On several occasions, we even just spoke the story without even opening the book!  I’m not entirely certain when we stopped reading it every night, but I believe we just started supplementing other stories once my children were old enough to start showing preferences of their own.  Eventually, our tattered copy got mixed in with the host of other books that my children own and the routine just faded from our lives.

Until Peanut stumbled across the book just the other day.

She is in a wonderful phase right now where she wants to read the same books over and over and over again until you begin to doubt everything that you know to be true about the world.  We’ve actually started hiding some of her favorites, lest we suddenly snap and rip them apart, throwing them into the air with maniacal glee.  So when she dropped yet another book in my lap shouting “boo, daddy, boo!” my initial response was to toss it across the room.  But as my wrist was just about to spring, my eye caught sight of the cover and I stopped mid-throw.

“BOO, DADDY, BOO!!”

“Alright, Peanut, I would love to read you this book.”

So we sat down, and we read the book.  She listened intently, laughing at the pictures and pointing out the animals that she knows and repeating her favorite words.

“Cah-oo, mooooo”

“Kee-ee!  Mah-oo mah-oo!”

“Nigh nigh.”

As she experienced this book for the first time, I relived all the times that I had read it before.  All the sleepy nights we sat together, reciting it as a family.  All the snuggles and hugs.  All the times we whispered “hush.”  Midway through, I realized that I wasn’t even reading the words on the page, but was reciting it as it resurfaced from the recesses of my memory.  I looked over at my wife, and we shared a heartfelt smile of remembrance.

So we’ve reestablished the Goodnight Moon bedtime routine with Peanut.  For the last several nights we have sat together in the chair in her room and read the story while snuggling close and rocking back and forth.  I am so excited to be able to share this experience with the next pair of my children.

Do/did you have a bedtime ritual with your kids that you treasure?  Do recall with fondness a routine from your own childhood?  Did you have a favorite book that you liked to read as a child or with your children that you still remember?  I’d love to hear about your own experiences!

“Goodnight stars.  Goodnight air.  Goodnight noises everywhere.”

Who Needs the Toys When You’ve Got the Packaging!

Sissy, Bubba and Peanut playing with The Box

Last week, my wife brought home a large TV box from church.  You see, we realized about a year ago that our kids really didn’t like playing with conventional toys all that much.  Sissy enjoys playing with Barbies, and Bubba is amassing quite a collection of Legos, but other than that their toys sit largely unused.  What our children really enjoy doing is being creative and imaginative.  They are constantly drawing pictures on blank paper, they beg us to paint with watercolors, they dress up in costumes and old clothes, they write screenplays (seriously), make cards, pen letters…the list could go on and on.  For Christmas this year, they received construction paper, sewing supplies, a weaving kit, a terrarium, a paint-your-own-mug set, and cooking utensils.  The few regular toys that they received are now collecting dust with the Zhu Zhu Pets, Spider-man action figures, and Go Diego Go playsets.

Honestly, what could be better than having basic supplies on-hand that allow them to create any toys that they could want to play with?  For the most part, these items are cheap, easy to clean-up, and take up very little space.  Plus, they have the added benefit of inspiring imagination and creative thinking.

As parents, we need to scale back on buying our kids so much stuff.  Simple objects like shoe boxes and empty spools can entertain for hours.  A book I once read said that a Millenium Falcon toy will only ever be a Millenium Falcon, but a block can be a spaceship, a house, a car, a person, and anything else a child cares to dream up.  While it may seem awesome to buy our kids the lastest and “greatest” gadgets and fads, we are actually doing them a disservice by limiting their opportunities to imagine and create.  If we went back to the basics (blocks, craft supplies, basic household castoffs) we might find that our kids could find a lot more to do besides sitting in front of the TV or playing video games.

So, needless to say, when the box entered our home, it was like Christmas all over again.  Thus far the box had been used as:

  • a television (they get inside and act out little stories)
  • a coloring book
  • a car
  • a fort
  • a house
  • a monster

I’m sure it will continue to be used until it loses all shape, at which point it will be ripped and shredded into the most fun toy of all: a mess.  But until that time comes, it is great fun and a source of pride to watch my children transform such a simple piece of trash into so many wonderful and amazing things.