A Memo To My Kids From The Department of Fairness

A Memo To My Kids From the Department of FairnessDear Children,

It has come to our attention that you two siblings have been engaged in consistent disagreements concerning the fairness of treatment in the household with respect to each other. Such arguments have increased in frequency to the point it becomes necessary for our department to step in and act as arbitrator.

We have reviewed your recent claims and deliver the following decisions:

Claim #288: In the case of “Who Got More Time On the iPad”, your parents made a judgment call based on who got dragged to the other sibling’s extra-curricular activities more often during the week, and have tried to find the proper balance between making the non-participating sibling perform homework, and keeping them occupied enough not to drive the other parents in the cramped waiting room at the dance studio crazy.

It is our decision that all iPad use will not be tallied and accounted for in equal amounts between the two of you as per your request, as your mother does not have the mental capacity to keep track of that kind of data. Your mother has asked that you cease and desist with all further complaints on this matter until you have children of your own that you need to shuttle around town.

Claim #7191: We find that there is no point in arguing over who received more Cheetos, as it has come to our attention that neither of you completed eating your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and apple slices in the first place.

Henceforth, all crunchy side dishes will remain off the table until said “growing food” portion of the lunch is completely consumed.  Once this task has been completed, you will then receive a serving of Cheetos deemed appropriate by the Preparer of the Lunches.

Furthermore, the Preparer has rejected notions of counting out equal portions of desired processed cheese snacks and requires you to just get over it already.

Claim #553095: In response to the disagreement over which party was more injured in your recent physical altercation, and thus, deserved more attention, we offer this simple piece of advice: Keep your hands to yourselves.

Claim #1469370: All decisions regarding which television show you will watch on Saturday mornings will be made at the discretion of whichever parent has had more coffee.

You will be permitted a total of two shows, with one show choice per child. Should you begin to watch Woody Woodpecker, but decide midway to agree with your sibling and watch Phinneas and Ferb, you are thereby forfeiting selection and will not be allowed to choose the next program.

Our recommendation to you? Pick a show and stick with it.

Claim # 918882947750123:  With regards to accusations of devotion equality and child preference, make no mistake. Your parents love you both equally and fiercely. You are stuck with them loving you unconditionally and thinking you are the best thing since sliced bread.

To settle future issues of this nature, please submit claims to The Department of Hugs and Kisses.



Our Fairy Garden Obsession

It all started in Frankenmuth.

No, I’m not talking about the extra five pounds I packed on while snarfing down delicious salt-water taffy. I’m talking about my daughter’s fairy garden obsession.

In Frankenmuth, Michigan, right underneath the clock tower, there lies the most adorable fairy garden I’ve ever seen. My daughter laid eyes on it an immediately became enchanted.

And how could one not? Lined throughout the perfectly manicured flower bed is a village of fairy houses, miniature furniture, minuscule playgrounds and habits fit for the wee.

Just a glimpse of the fairy village in Frankenmuth

Ever since she gazed upon that fairy village, my daughter has wanted to create a fairy garden of her own. And since I’m a sucker for all things miniature, I joined in on her obsession.

My daughter found a spot perfect in our backyard for the fairies to live, tucked away under a bush by the corner of the house that is secluded enough to avoid being trampled on by deer, but still accessible for her to keep an eye out for mystical creatures.

I spent hours and hours on Pinterest and the Internet, scouring over pages of existing gardens to get some ideas for us to create our own fairy habitat.

Then, the task of actually acquiring all the fairy equipment began.

Sure, I could have bought a shit ton of crafting supplies and wielded our own cottage out of rocks, sticks, glue and fake moss, but let’s face it, I ain’t that crafty. I have yet to use a hot glue gun and not walk away with my fingers so blistered from burns that I can’t type for a week.

So, instead of hand crafting a house, we found a great little store near our home that sells all types of fairy cottages, along with every imaginable type of fairy furniture you could hope for.

And that’s when I discovered, to the detriment of my wallet and the ceiling of my crafting abilities, how addictive this hobby could be. It’s like Pringles. Once you start, you can’t stop.

First, we decided on an abode – a cute little farmhouse with windows. Windows that light up at night, for added effect, because we couldn’t resist the solar one. C’mon. It LIGHTS. UP.

Our fairy cottage during the day

Our fairy cottage at night

But then my daughter felt like we needed a welcome sign.

Then an outhouse.

Then a table.

And of course, chairs.

Then a bridge.

And a stream.

Then a tire swing.

Then a walkway.

Then a fence.

Then a more fancy fence.

While it would have been easy to blow my daughter’s college savings on a plethora of pixie paraphernalia, we decided on only a handful of items to get us started and bought the cheapest things in the store we could find.

The car had barely come to a halt in our garage from the garden center before my daughter was out and racing towards the backyard, ready to break ground. I have to say, I’m not sure who had more fun placing our fairy things in the garden, my daughter or me.

When my son came home and my daughter dragged him to the backyard to look at our creation, I thought he would take one look at it, shrug, and, in his best 8 year-old boy way, mutter “Meh,” and walk away.

But he didn’t.

Instead, he came up with other ideas to make the fairy garden more inhabitable. The property needed a fire pit. And a flagpole. And a tire swing. And more walkways. And a driveway. And a tool shed.

So, we gathered some stones, some twine, a LEGO tire, and our imagination and literally went to town.  Fairy town.  Seeing my two kids spend hours scavenging for objects to enhance the fairy garden made the $30 bucks I shelled out at the garden center worth it.

The same day, a dead tree was pulled from our front yard, and mere minutes before the landscaping company hauled it away, the kids and I picked it clean like a Thanksgiving turkey, snapping a barrel full of dead twigs and branches to use for future projects.

Five days later, and the kids are still enchanted by our fairy garden. They’re proud of it and show it off to anyone who will give my children the time.  My daughter checks on it morning and night, making sure it’s still intact and thriving. And we brainstorm every day about what other projects we’d like to add to the garden. Next up? A mailbox.

Our fairy garden is still a work in progress, and the kids and I are having fun learning by trial and error.  If you’re interested in starting your own fairy garden, here are some things I found helpful.

First, the obvious. There are hoards of boards on Pinterest to follow. If you’d like to see my Pinterest board on Fairy Gardens, which I’m still adding to, you can find here:  Have a fairy board on Pinterest of your own? Go ahead and share the link with me in the comments and I’ll follow along!

And here are some gardens that got my creative juices flowing:

The Magic Onion

Flea Market Gardening

Creative Inspirations

The Fairy Garden

If you’re a MacGuyver or DIY’er and want to make your own fairy houses and accessories, here are a couple of pages to visit:

Use Twigs to Make Rustic Furniture for Fairy Gardens

Twig Chair Tutorial

Miniature Accessories

Household Items For Fairy Gardens

Make a Fairy Garden

But if you’re like me and you want to just straight up by your fairy stuff, I’d recommend either visiting your local garden center (the Mom and Pop stores are a better bet than the Big Box stores), Etsy sites, or heading online. Here are a few places to start:

Miniature Gardens


Fly By Night Fairy Gardens 

Fairy Woodland

Do you have your own fairy garden you want to share? I’ve love to hear all about it! Also, you can enter your fairy garden in The Magic Onion’s Fairy Garden Contest until August 1st by clicking HERE.


How to navigate existential preschooler conversations…

Somewhere in the mix of discussions I have with my kids, wedged in between the debate about what show is better to watch (SpongeBob or Woody Woodpecker?) and the rebuttals to dessert choices, my kids pull some existential questions out of thin air that make me feel inadequate as a parent.

existential convos

The most difficult one occurred with my daughter, about where, EXACTLY she was before she was in my tummy.

My first answer was that she wasn’t anywhere, yet.  She hadn’t been created.  She didn’t exist.  In general, this is a pretty hard concept to understand.

If you’ve had this discussion, you KNOW this answer isn’t satisfactory.  She had to be SOMEWHERE, right? So WHERE?

She kept on asking.  Pleading.  Almost to tears.  For, if she wasn’t in me, then obviously, she was being left out.

I stammered.  I looked to my husband for help.  I tried skirting the issue and pushing more watermelon.  Yet, my daughter wouldn’t relent until she knew an exact location of her whereabouts before I carried her around in my abdomen.

To tell her she was just a glimmer of hope, a thought, etc, didn’t suffice.  Those were too vague.  Not specific enough.  She wanted an address, preferably in my body cavity..

So, I caved and gave her some cheap answer like “you were in my heart.”

And wouldn’t you know it, that worked.

Sometimes these complicated conversations can be frustrating, having no firm answer to provide my kids when they ask something I don’t know the answer to.  But sometimes we can mull that complicated question over and over together.  Answering questions with questions, we can create solutions that work for everyone.

The key is giving just enough information to get them thinking for themselves, without imposing your own opinion or bias.

Tricky territory, believe me.  Sometimes that age-old “Well, what to you think?” just doesn’t work.  Because, sometimes, my kids just want an answer that will make them feel loved and secure.

I’m being hit with them a lot lately.  My son has been asking me about what heaven is and what it looks like.  Do they have snacks there?  A pool?  Comfy beds?

Yes, I realize my son had just described heaven as a Westin.  Or some fancy, all-inclusive four-start hotel.

And who knows, perhaps it is?  I don’t have a concrete answer to this one, but it is fun to lie in bed and ponder the accommodations and amenities of the afterlife.  Usually, once my son hears that Mommy and Daddy will be there with him, he’s content.

What’s phenomenal about these conversations is that I get a little glimpse in to how my kids’ brains are working.  What they’re thinking.  How they’re processing their world.

It’s a nice change of pace from some of our other, less pensive conversations: rehashing scenes from the last movie we watched, flushing out who needs to clean up various piles of toys, or rating farts based on longevity and volume.

While I usually feel inept at answering some of these harder questions, it’s in these conversations that I feel like I’m parenting at my hardest, and hopefully my best.  In the midst of these discussions, I try to provide enough guidance so that my kids can come up with their own solutions, but also help steer them towards something that seems like truth.  Or at least, to what I know to be true.

All the while, keeping my fingers crossed that I’m at least half right.

The other day, several months after we’d had the “where was I before I was in your belly” chat, my daughter chirped her “Mommy?” from the backseat.  The one that usually indicates her desire for a snack or a Macklemore song.

Instead I got hit with a statement so adorable I almost had to pull over, weakened by its cuteness.

“Mommy, it was fun to be in your heart before I was in your tummy.”

At least there’s ONE answer I nailed.

How To Live Like a Preschooler…

live like a preschooler

I often forget how young my daughter is.  She’s not even 4 yet, but somehow I demand more of her.  Not fair, I know.  I get frustrated when she takes her own sweet time getting her clothes on, or puts her shoes on the wrong feet, then quickly check myself.  She’s only been on this planet for a short time.

While there’s not a bribe around that would make me want to return to my youth and have to experience the pain and torture of high school again, I sometimes wish I could life my live more like a preschooler than a 40-year old.

Here’s how I’d do it:

•  I’d shun walking as a main mode of locomotion.  I’d run or skip. Everywhere.  Spontaneously.  To the mailbox, to turn on the kitchen lights, to wipe someone’s butt.  Preferably with a loping, Phoebe-esque gait.

•  I’d take great effort to perform the simplest tasks. There is no greater travesty than not being able to put your own shoes on or buckle your seat belt around a sea of Winter Wear. I’d let everyone around me know how hard my struggle is.  With a whimper if I have to.

•  My face wouldn’t be afraid to contort in the most exaggerated expressions whenever I’m: A) Surprised, B) Happy! C) Angry D) Eating something that isn’t a white starch.

•  Forget wardrobe variety!  How freeing would it be to pick out my favorite outfit and wear it at least four times a week?  Oh wait, I already do that.  Scratch this one…

•  I’d jump around.  A lot.  While on the surface this looks similar to the exuberant energy of running or skipping (see above), it’s a different animal.  This one involves no transportation, just pure expulsion of energy.  Jumping while someone is talking to me is required.  But bounding on the bed a thousand times before bedtime?  Even better.

•  I would ignore the invisible boundaries of personal space because I want you to see this thing on my neck.  See?  See it?  SEE IT?

•  I would consist (and insist) on a steady diet of pasta, pancakes and pixie sticks.  Who needs food groups?

•  Foods other than those listed above would serve merely as a vessel for ketchup, syrup or Nutella.

•  I’d put my emotions all out there.  Sadness and frustration would be unleashed like a tantrum of the Tasmanian Devil.  My husband might argue that I currently behave this way.  However, he ain’t seen nothin’ yet.  But the flip side?  My happiness and good mood would prevail and be contagious in their enthusiasm.

•  I wouldn’t underestimate the power of a band-aid to cure what hurts me.

Walking tall…

Ok, I’ll admit it.  I look up to my four-year old son.  Not during the moments of complete tantrum, or when he’s on a mean streak and furrowing his brow as if to say a big giant “I hate you!” (thankfully, of which, he hasn’t learned yet how to say).  But for the most part, he is a happy guy.  And not only just happy about things he has or does.  Just happy being HIMSELF.  He hasn’t developed an insecurity to new things, new people or new situations.  He hasn’t learned that not everyone will like him or want to talk to him, or even how to take all of that personally.  He hasn’t figured out how to censor himself yet, whether it’s blowing up at the first moment of frustration or anger, or in his non-stop singing and humming.  He is completely and utterly at home with himself wherever he is, and he’s not afraid to just be.  I love that about him.  And so wish that I could find that in myself.  How I hope that it takes a long, long time for the world to show him its bitter and hurtful side, so that he can maintain this awesomeness for a while.  I need him to keep this up for a while, so I can see exactly just how he does it.