I love that teenage boys think parents have no idea on how to beat the system.

T.Puzzle was in a world of hurt.  He did not like what was served for dinner (trust us, no one in our house found this shocking) and he tried to slyly dump its remainders from his bowl.  Mad Dog called him out but Lil’ T.P. took it even further.  He lied about it.  Said he had finished everything.

Um. No.

He was almost sent straight to bed.  Instead, Mad Dog determined the best course of action was to let him stay up but he would allow T.Puzzle zero snacks.  While zero snacks does not seem that extreme, to a growing boy who barely touched his dinner, this felt rather catastrophic (which is kind of the point if we are being honest).

The boys went back to their game room.  It is set in the furthest reach of our home, tucked away but still a few steps from the kitchen.

Always the kitchen with these guys!  In and out, snacks upon snacks.  I sometimes marvel they both haven’t turned into potato chips by the sheer volume of snack foods they consume.

So, when Full Speed comes meandering into the kitchen, he decides for the first time in ages he is going to have Oatmeal Squares.  While this seems like a normal, teenagery snack, and it is, it also happens to be one of T.Puzzle’s regular favorites.

“You’re planning to give your brother some aren’t you?” said Mad Dog.

“Maybe.” said Full Speed.

Boy, you can’t beat the system when your Mom and Dad invented the system.

I dedicate this post to all the siblings out there fighting parental oppression.  It is real and causes so many problems like learning, growing and developing into normal, human adults.

Fight on, my friends.

Fight on!

T.Puzzle doing his best to ‘tower’ over me.  Nice try!


humor, motherhood

Picture This

Unbelievably I was asked to submit a baby photo of Full Speed to commemorate his upcoming graduation.  It is hard to fathom that he is on the cusp of being in high school but, here we are.  There were so many great photos to choose from, I sent in several.  The parent committee chose to display this one:

Full Speed’s obsession with Elmo is evident by the joy of his smile.  Love this photo!

T.Puzzle would like a different angle when it comes to his future 8th grade photo selection.  He wants something that feels authentic to him.  After his coaching, I found a couple of gems.

When my boys were small and T.Puzzle would wake from a nap, I would plop Full Speed in his crib and they would wrestle and play.  More often than not, as it seemed to be the natural tendency of their interactions, their play would quickly turn violent.

Things would start out happy:



This is the photo T.Puzzle wants me to send in once things went south.

At least his smile is genuine:



Full Speed is Home!

Go ahead.  Ask me if it freaks me out that Full Speed looks like a college freshman in this photo.  I dare you.

He’s actually been home since last week.  I just haven’t had time to write about it.

We officially survived our three weeks of separation and Full Speed enjoyed his experience away so much, he wants to do it again next summer.

However, we all agree, having him home and being together has been awesome.

There’s one particular guy that is extra happy his big brother is home.  He had grown mighty tired of doing all of his chores (which are pretty nominal in the grand scheme) and Full Speed’s, too.

It got to a point when I asked him to do something, he wouldn’t exactly say ‘no’, but would feign being hard of hearing.  Unfortunately for him, his dimples gave him away.




For instance:

“T.Puzzle, please take the trash out.”

Total silence.

Then, slowly, his dimples would cave-in the corners of his cheeks and mischief would dance across his eyes.

He had to take the trash out anyway.

This pic says it all.

Welcome Home, Full Speed!

Now, go take the trash out.

Love, Mom







children, family, humor, motherhood, parenting

1, 2, 3 Strikes You’re Out

I want to give you fair warning.  This post is going to be pretty emotional.  You are going to get a sense of how deeply connected T.Puzzle is to me, his overarching love of school and lastly, Full Speed’s brotherly commitment to look out for T.Puzzle.  It’s all there…enjoy.

In recent months we have been noticing a theme in T.Puzzle’s life.  And that theme is…video games.  He is rather obsessed and talks about gaming constantly.  Even when we have a round of ‘family questions’ at the dinner table, rather miraculously he can loop it back to video games.

Here are some examples:

If you could be anyone in the world for a day, who would you be?

“Someone allowed to play video games all day and night long.”

If you saw your friend steal something, would you turn them in?

“That depends on what it is.  If it’s a cool video game, probably not.  I’d want to play it with him.”

You get the idea.

A couple years back, T.Puzzle was given the task at school to make me a Mother’s Day card.  Here’s the final result, and get those tissues ready… the tears are going to fall…


I told you it was emotional.  I’ll give you a minute while you collect yourself.

Better?  Good.

Since it’s clear that T.Puzzle loves video games above all else, what’s a mom to do with this sort of intel?  About two weeks ago I put T.Puzzle on an incentive program.  His manners and attitude still often leave much to be desired.  If he happens to forget his manners, roll his eyes at me or give me lip when asked to do a chore, he gets a strike.  If he gets three strikes in a seven day period, he loses gaming privileges for the weekend (the only time he is allowed to play them during the school year).  Naturally, it’s working pretty well.  Except for this past week, he was feeling particularly ornery with his brother and had already used two strikes.  We were on the edge of our seats…would he make it the final stretch without a strike?  He did ok on the last night, but he still had to make it through the morning (the seven day strike period runs Friday after school through Friday morning the following week).   As he trounced into the kitchen this morning I asked, “Do you think you can make it until you go to school without getting another strike?”

“Sure!  But I better leave now!  Gotta go.  Can’t wait to get there!”  This all coming from a kid who is currently appalled that he has perfect attendance.

Of course, this made me laugh.  He is self-aware enough to know that his inabilty to control impulses could land him in third strike territory.

We managed to get through breakfast and the rest of our morning without incident.

T.Puzzle was first out of the garage with his bike as usual.  I turned to Full Speed and said, “Can you believe he actually made it without a third strike?”

“Mom!  He didn’t say goodbye to you!  That’s an automatic strike!”

“Nice try, kid.”

“I’m serious, Mom!  He rode his bike DANGEROUSLY FAST down the driveway.  He’s gotta get a strike for that.”

“Full Speed, it just warms my heart how much you look out for your brother.”

Wonder if he loves him as much as video games?


Two Steps forward, One Bike Ride Back

I know as a mom, there is an unwritten rule that you shouldn’t compare your kids.  It’s like apples to oranges, right?  Yes and no.  If all you have known in your parenting history are the actions and behaviors of your firstborn, how can you not apply this knowledge to your second kid?

If you’ve ever read any of my early posts about raising my boys, you know that they both were incredibly stubborn and highly active children.  The good news is that while they remain stubborn at their core, they are thankfully a lot more compliant and much more pleasant to live with.  These behavior changes came over a period of several years and after lots of hard, consistent disciplinary work from my part.  At around the second grade, Full Speed completely transformed.  He became a delight to be around.  He developed manners and empathy.  While he still has spurts of insane, high-energy, they are much easier to handle.  Naturally, I thought that once T.Puzzle hit second grade the same would ring true for him.  I waited and waited, and then I waited some more.  Manners?  Nope.  Being compliant?  Not so much.  Having a filter?  Not on your life.


His behavior baffled me.  I did all the same things I did with Full Speed, so why wasn’t it sinking if for T.Puzzle?  After a while I began to realize that, wait a minute, they actually are quite different kids.  While Full Speed remained vocal and independent at school, T.Puzzle kept to himself.  Full Speed’s confidence certainly won the respect of his teachers, but T.Puzzle’s quiet nature won them over completely.  Where Full Speed sometimes didn’t get ‘outstandings’ in conduct, T.Puzzle was bringing them home left and right like nobody’s business.  Yet, when he return home from school again, he would be that flip little loose cannon who does not like to be told what to do.  At home, this is where Full Speed shined.

Okay, I get it, these guys are opposites in some regards.  They have to mix it up to keep me on my toes.  I let it go and focused on being grateful that most of the time, away from me, T.Puzzle was a pretty well-behaved kid.  Then, it happened. There was this shift in him.  He has started to remember his manners more, he does things the first time he’s told with less commentary and he actually offers to share things with others on occasion.  I noticed something subtle the other day, too.  I snuggled up to him on the couch and instead of me putting my arm around him, he put his arm around me.  He even began to absently pat me on the back.  Exactly like Full Speed does when he is ‘taking care’ of mom.

To help encourage this new-found growth and maturity, I sent T.Puzzle to his friend’s house by bike.  He did so good.  He called me when he got there and called me to let me know he was on his way home.  When I greeted him by the garage I was so proud of him.

“Mom, my helmet feels weird.”

“Uh, that’s because you are wearing it backwards.”

It’s not a perfect system, folks.  Not by a long shot.