Category Archives: Kids

YA Problems

I enjoy reading Young Adult fiction. I know, I know, I’m a grown woman. It’s not for me. But it feeds into my two greatest pleasures: quick, easy reads and complaining about stuff. Oh, man, do I love complaining about stuff.

The biggest problem with YA is of course that all the characters are teenagers. And teenagers are stupid. They’re hormonal, self-absorbed and completely unable to see the bigger picture. Not unwilling, mind you, unable. They seriously don’t get it because the only way you can understand certain things is by experiencing it. Gaining wisdom from it.

A prime example is the series I’m currently reading, Maze Runner by James Dashner. There are going to be slight spoilers in this example but I will be as vague as possible. It’s not an amazing series but it’s definitely not bad, so I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. The main character had his memories taken away by a group of people and then subsequently had a bunch a terrible things done to him by the same people. Now those people want to give him his memories back so he can understand why they did what they did.

A smart adult might think, I’ll get my memories back and make my own decision with both sets of memories. He thinks, I don’t want those memories back because I think I used to agree with these people like I used to. I have these new memories and these ones must be right. Refuses the memories of his entire life because he’s 16 years old and he can’t possibly be wrong about anything ever. So. Very. Frustrating.

Percy Jackson is much the same way. Katniss Everdeen. Harry Potter. Oh, man, the 5th Harry Potter book is the very bane of my existence. I love so many parts in it but I can’t ever read it because of the dozens of short-sighted teenage things that young Mr. Potter does. Just open the package Sirius gave you! It would fix everything! DAMN IT!

Moving on.

My love of YA fiction is coming in handy as my little reading buddy gets older. I can pre-read books to recommend to her (or tell her to never read ever, in the case of Divergent). I’ve already compiled a list of books I’m going to insist she read when she gets into high school. Hunger Games and Beautiful Creatures and possibly Maze Runner. So, at least, out of my complaining comes something nice. Let’s all pretend it evens out.


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Filed under Kids, Reading, Writing

Goodness Gracious, More Sword Fighting!

First, a little shield blocking with a handy boogie board. Actually, first is getting a hold of the boogie board. That was tough stuff.

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It went a bit better with John behind the shield.

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During a lesson about how to fight from one’s knees, Lily had a bit of trouble holding on to her weapon. John really needs to reconsider how he builds his grips.

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Back on their feet, they practiced form. Lily is very anti-form. Her style is more swing like crazy, try not to get hit. Methodical she is not.

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She tries really hard and she’s very enthusiastic though. Plus, you can’t deny she’s insanely adorable.



John decided it was time for Lily to pick on someone her own size. We had to roust Aidan from his bedroom to that end. As I’ve mentioned, these lessons weren’t meant for him originally. He seems pretty interested, though, and it’s really handy to have someone who is about the same build for Lily to spar with.


Sometimes they even look they’re enjoying each other’s company and that’s beautiful. Other times Lily gets her can-you-believe-I-have-to-hang-out-with-my-little-brother look on her face.


Usually that’s when she’s tired of chasing him all over the yard. The kid hates to swing. He loves to retreat.


He looks uncomfortable standing his ground, I can only hope that that’ll change with practice.


Maybe Lily will learn to temper her strikes and in three years she can fight for real. If, you know, she wants to.


And I don’t know about Dan. Maybe he’ll get into it, too. Except, he’s got nearly 5 years to wait. Lots of practice time.


In the mean time, lots of adorable pictures.




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Filed under Kids, Stick Jocks

First Sword Fighting Lesson (The Lily & Dan Show)

Lily has been reading the Percy Jackson books and is completely obsessed with them. As well as all activities contained within them. She expressed to me an interest in learning to sword fight and I told her John would teach her. After all, he sword fights on the regular and even so happens to have weapons small enough for her to handle. She was super excited to get started. This past weekend John and I were planning to be over at my sister’s house anyway so John brought his weapons. Just in case.

I expected that Lily would start out nervous and awkward. No. She picked up a sword and came out like a whirlwind on fire.

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Though the lesson was meant for Lily, Dan decided to join in, too.  After John explained the rules and Aidan watched for a while, it became a free for all.

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At some point in this, it occurred to John that he might want to teach the children how they were actually supposed to hold and swing their weapons. I think he took it for granted that they would pick it up naturally. Or else he forgot. There was a brief instruction phase and then it was brother versus sister.

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Lily was beyond confident but I think Aidan has more of the temperament for an assassin. He was very meek face to face but he never hesitated to stab someone once they turned their back. Sneaky little thing. (I think he gets it from me.)

Watching John teaching the kids was great fun for me. He’s so good with them and they seem to like him. When they referred to him as Uncle John I had to stop for a minute to make sure my heart hadn’t burst. So, so much happiness. It was a lovely day.


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Filed under Kids, Stick Jocks

Easter Shenanigans



Not that I think anyone was waiting breathlessly for my Easter post, but sorry for taking so long with it, anyway. I’m a horribly lazy person. And addicted to Skyrim. So I could pretend I’m a busy adult with lots of important things to do except really I’m just lame.

Easter started off on the right foot, with the introduction of Milo, shown in the picture above. My brother and his girlfriend just got the little guy a couple months ago. They thought he would be a great Easter bunny. He wasn’t all that great at hiding eggs, but his adorableness made that easy to forgive.



Lily and Dan were being very hammy while the eggs were being hidden, so, I obliged them by taking these silly pictures.


Lily preferred to flip the exercise on its head, swapping her bucket and ears. Not to be outdone, Aidan put on everything he could find.


The littlest member of the family, my brother’s daughter, Kiera, is a bit young to participate in this particular pre-Easter ritual. But I’m sure next year she’ll be hamming it up for the camera just like her cousins.


By the time they got their heads de-bucketed, it was time to actually hunt.

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Fortunately, they’re not cutthroat egg hunters. They both filled their buckets and no one got knocked down or anything. Kiera hunted, too, insofar as a one year old can. She didn’t really get the concept but she was pretty cute the whole time while she was stumbling around with her parents.

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John was involved with his own egg hunt, while the kids weren’t looking. I was looking, though, and I caught him snatching an egg out of the tree (silly that it was there to begin with, since none of the kids could reach it). He proceeded to take the candy out of the egg and put it back where he found it.

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Shameful. But there was no shortage of candy and other treats for the kids, anyway. They barely missed that one. I mean, look at this haul!


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Filed under Kids, Pets

Reading With Lily

I started reading with my niece, Lily, when she was nine. I don’t remember the exact date, which bugs me now. I wish I had made some note of it. All I know is we’ve been reading together every weekend for quite a while now. It started, I think, mostly because I was looking to spend more time with her. Reading is my favorite activity and I wanted her to enjoy it, too.

It helped that I’ve been itching to share Harry Potter with her since she was still in diapers. So that’s where we started. We read the first and she seemed at least mildly impressed. Not what I would have hoped but I didn’t let it discourage me. We read the second and she was still sort of interested but I could tell her interest was flagging. A couple chapters into the 3rd one, I gave up. I figured she wasn’t old enough yet and I would find something more age appropriate.

Enter A Series of Unfortunate Events. I was a bit older than her when I discovered them but they claim to be for her age group so I took a shot. She enjoyed them more than HP (more sadness on my part) but she was still not as engaged as I wanted her to be.

We took a break from the series to read a book that had just come out by Jerry Spinelli called Jake and Lily. Jerry Spinelli was my favorite author growing up and I just knew Lily would love this book. It was a good way for me to introduce the idea of her reading to me sometimes. I knew just reading to her wasn’t as good as her reading herself but I wanted to ease into it slowly. Jake and Lily was perfect for that. The book is alternating chapters from the perspective of twins, Jake and Lily. Each chapter reads like a diary. I was reading for Jake while Lily read for Lily. Obviously. She loved that one and it let me realize that funny things were really the way to go.

So I brought over  my Wayside School books by Louis Sachar. If you had a fun childhood, you probably know about these books. Oh man, Lily loved these books like crazy. We even ended up rereading some of them. Success!

Now we are back on Series of Unfortunate Events (number 11!) because she said she wanted to finish the series since some of her friends already had. Of course, Lily knows way more about the end than I would like since her friends have told her. Kids, man, they’re walking spoilers.

She wants to read The Hunger Games after this. I am so, so, against this. She’s only eleven years old. And a young eleven, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned. I don’t want to discourage her interest. And her mom lets her watch the movies. Maybe I’m just being overprotective. It’s understandable though, she’s my favorite!

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Filed under Kids, Reading

An Afternoon With Lily (Rainbow Loom)


It’s been a while since I went and hung out with Lily on Saturday. I used to do it all the time but after babysitting her and Aidan for so long I was a bit over-saturated. But I finally got to missing her again so we made plans to hang out today. I wanted to read (her mother informed me she hasn’t read at all by herself this summer and I was more than disappointed) and she wanted to craft. So we compromised. She taught me how to do the craft and read aloud while I was working on it.

The craft in question is Rainbow Loom!



Apparently all the rage back east (she has a friend who recently moved to Pennsylvania who turned her on to this) but not available in stores yet around here. But through the magic of the internet (Rainbow Loom) we on the west coast can enjoy it, too.

She showed me how to do it.


Then again.


And again.


But I didn’t quite get the hang of it until I tried it for myself. It’s not overly complicated, really, it’s just something you have to do to learn properly. My first bracelet turned out just great. Lily was so proud.



I made a bracelet with the original bands and the bands my sister bought at the dollar store to properly show the difference. There isn’t much of one, honestly, and it’s the cheaper alternative. The bands will only cost you 17 cents online for 600 but they get you with the shipping, an extra 5 dollars. Probably it’ll even out if they end up in stores around here. But for now you can get 500 similar bands for a buck at the dollar store.


It was lots of fun and really engaging. I could’ve done it all day. I made two bracelets and even a choker because I wanted to keep Lily reading. All in all, a good craft and a wonderful afternoon with my favorite niece/photographer.


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Filed under Crafts, Kids

Crafting Part 6: I Have no Idea What to do With You, Here’s Some Popsicle Sticks

By the end of my month of babysitting I was not yet out of ideas. I was, however, completely out of steam. And supplies. I had a package of popsicle sticks left over and then the random supplies from the previous weeks’ activities. So I had Lily gather all the supplies on the table and I told her we were making party houses. Why? It was all I could think to make.


The problem with all crafts is my sweet Lily is an insufferable copy cat. She second guesses all of her ideas but thinks all of mine are the bee’s knees. Therefore, whatever I decide to make is what she wants to make. And if I’m not doing anything, she won’t either. I had to pick something I could make with popsicle sticks so I could be working and thereby keep her working. I’ve only ever made a picture frame and a house with popsicle sticks and houses take more time.


There was a bit of trouble with the pipe-cleaner roofs, involving some glue that wouldn’t hold and a major fit thrown over having fingers full of fuzz (me). And a minor argument over whether the large puffs were beach balls or bushes. But ultimately, Lily insisted this was the best craft ever. Plus, they really do look like awesome party houses.


She was extra proud of her palm tree made of clay and feathers. Honestly, I am too. She’s really a very creative kid, I just wish she thought so.


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Filed under Crafts, Kids