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Category Archives: Parenting Choices

How to defeat your enemies

T-Boy (he likes dinosaurs, that’s why I call him that) was watching a TV show yesterday called Ninjago. Since I don’t know what the show is I should do some research to first get to know the show and then do a brief explanation here, but that would take time. Instead, you’re left with my version of the show: it’s about legos, and they are ninjas, and one of them is the master and the others are learning from the master. That’s it. Kind of a teenage mutant ninja turtles but with less turtles and less pizza.

Anyway, I didn’t really sit there to watch the show, but the little bit I heard was about the ninjas trying to answer some riddle from the master. They’d come with a solution and it was always wrong (of course). Instead of watching the show I tried to distract T-Boy. I was not very successful at that, so I agreed to let him watch the last 5 minutes of the show in peace. He was really invested in it.

At the end the master tells his lego-ninjas: “The secret to defeat your enemies is to become their friend.” T-Boy’s expression was priceless, combined with an “Ah” that I’m sure meant what an interesting concept! Maybe I’ll try that next time. And that’s when I was reminded that as much as we may not like the idea of children watching TV shows all the time, if chosen wisely, they can help us teach them valuable lessons. Not that Ninjago is the best show ever (please, I’ve only watched a few minutes of one show) or that I’m advocating that children should watch more TV (I certainly am not saying that), but there is a team of people working behind TV shows and they do (in some cases) try to send good messages to the children.

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Did you watch Dungeons & Dragons? Boy, that was a fun show!

I remember when I was a child and all the TV shows I used to watch. And boy, did I watch TV! The TV was always on. Always. I watched Thundercats, Dungeons & Dragons, Tom & Jerry, Flintstones, Jetsons, Smurfs, Snorks, and so many others. I remember I used to love play-dough as well, and I’d make things from TV shows for my playmobil, like a tiny shell with tiny colored pencils inside. Well, of course it was tiny, have you seen the size of a playmobil’s hand?

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I had this! This exact one!

Oh, boy, what a sweet childhood I had. Maybe it’s time to get the box of play-dough out. Maybe I’ll make something the legos can use…

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Remember the Snorks?

 

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Easter with a touch of childhood memories.

When I was little Easter was a fun time. I remember following the Easter bunny’s paw prints around the house to find the place where he (you can’t call him it) had hidden my basket. The basket would always have a big chocolate egg. And by that I mean one of those:

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Just a few examples of Easter eggs.

You can find them everywhere in Brazil (yes, I grew up there) and you find them hanging from the ceiling (or a support over your head) in grocery stores. All you have to do is pick the one (or ones) you want and grab them as if you were getting fruit from a tree.

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Easter eggs are expensive, but walking into a supermarket and see all the eggs hanging above your head is priceless.

And if you have never seen the inside of one, they look kind of like this:

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This is a homemade one. Yes, you can get homemade ones and they are simply delicious!

Of course the contents of the eggs differ from one egg to the next, but they are all hollow with candies (and sometimes also toys) inside. The chocolate on the outside of the egg also changes, matching the candy they are based on (some have peanuts mixed with the chocolate, some are white chocolate, etc.).

But they were not the only thing in my basket. There were also smaller eggs and a chocolate bunny. I always got a chocolate bunny. Maybe because when I was little someone stole my bunny, a chocolate one, so my mom decided to give me one every year to compensate. Who knows, the point is, it was magical.

But one thing was even more magical. The decorated egg shells. My mom would start collecting eggshells weeks (maybe months) before Easter  It was a tough job to get them ready. She’d break just a little piece at the bottom of the eggshell, just enough to get the egg out. Then she’d wash the eggshells, let them dry, and store them in an egg carton. Later she’d make sugar peanuts (or Easter peanuts, as we’d call them) and put them inside the eggshells. She’d use a tiny cupcake liner to cover the whole and keep the peanuts inside. Then she’d decorate the shells using watercolors and a paintbrush.

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My mom’s ones had cupcake liners under them instead of egg holders, but they looked just like these ones.

Can we just take a moment to admire the artwork on those? I have to say I admire my mom’s dedication in using a tiny paintbrush to make the tiny details on the eggs. Nowadays with sharpies it would be a much easier job. Yay for that, right?

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Here you can see the peanuts inside and the cupcake liners.

And now I’m a bit nostalgic. Gee, I wonder why, right?

How was Easter for you growing up? What things are part of your fondest memories?

Oh, yeah, and HAPPY EASTER, EVERYONE! Hope the Easter bunny leaves you a bunch of good moments to turn into sweet memories one day.

 

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Reading, cooking and playing pranks, that’s what vacations are all about.

Right now I’m enjoying some vacation time, and that means visiting my home country, my family, my friends, and my cats. My days are filled with reading some new stories and re-reading old ones, cooking with mom a few of my favorite dishes, and obeying my cats wishes of when and for how long to pet them.

But that’s another story. Let’s go back to cooking. The other day we were able to verify my grandma’s been senile for a very long time. We were using a handwritten recipe book my grandma wrote for me a few years ago. It’s full of dead people’s recipes. Well, my grandma wouldn’t say it like that, but let’s face it, most of our ancestors are no longer breathing.

Anyway, although I love my grandma’s effort in putting all the recipes together for me, I do have to question her at times. I think she forgets I’m not really that used to being in the kitchen and am not sure how to caramelize a pan with no ingredients listed or steps to follow (I do know now and I have to say it’s easier than it sounds).

But some of her recipes are also missing a few basic steps, probably because they were too obvious for her. She doesn’t tell you to bake things, for instance. How long and at what temperature to bake something? Oh, please, of course she doesn’t tell you that! How dare you ask!

Now, the best part was to throw away a whole batch of cream because it was not thickening, just to realize soon afterwards that we were supposed to add the egg yolks before, not after cooking the cream as specified in my grandma’s recipe.

Another important lesson I learned that day: do not try to be funny when your mother asks you if you know how to do something. She starts getting upset, you can’t stop laughing, then you try to make another joke and end up laughing and crying uncontrollably in front of the freezer.

Good times. Good times indeed.

Do you think that’s why she decided to wake me up from a nap using a spray bottle? Nah, of course not. She wouldn’t be seeking revenge, right? Right?

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Look! A giant guinea pig!

A day at the zoo with a 4-year-old:

Boy – Look! A giant guinea pig!

Me – Where? (Trying to see what was behind the capybara only to realize that that was the giant guinea pig he was referring to.)

The 120 lb animal now to be known as giant guinea pig.

I guess he’s right, capybaras do look like giant guinea pigs.

I’m not a 2 lb capybara, I swear.

And they are related, so…

 

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Happy Father’s Day

Today I want to acknowledge a very important person in my life.

The person who was and still is a source of inspiration to me.

The person who thought me that when you fall, because we all do, you get up, shake it off, and keep going.

The person who gave me the tools to create life the way I wanted and to pursue my dreams.

The person who taught me how to navigate through the roads of life with its unexpected turns and twists.

The person who taught me to dance in supermarkets and enjoy life.

The person who is the kind of parent I want to be to my own children one day.

The person whose love and support make me want to be a better person.

Happy Father’s Day, Mom!

Thank you for always being there.

Thank you for all you did and still do.

Thank you for being the kind of person I want to be when I grow up.

 

 

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Happy Mother’s Day!!

To my Mom (and all other Moms out there):

Thank you. Thank you for teaching me respect, confidence, and proper etiquette. Thank you for the amazing support, and encouragement. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for letting me find our way when all you want to do is to protect me. Thank you for all your love and for all that you do.

And thank you for never ever giving up, no matter what.

I love you! Today and always!

XOXO,

Your Daughter

 

P.S.: Have you hugged your mom today?

 

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Because you don’t have to burn books if the world starts to fill up with nonreaders, nonlearners, nonknowers

I decided to read Fahrenheit 451. I got the 40th anniversary edition with a new foreword by the author, Ray Bradbury. I always liked this little glimpse to the author’s mind. Bradbury, however, gave me more than I would’ve expected. Here’s what he wrote:

(…) a prediction that my Fire Chief, Beatty, made in 1953, halfway through my book. It had to do with books being burned without matches or fire. Because you don’t have to burn books, do you, if the world starts to fill up with nonreaders, nonlearners, nonknowers? If the world wide-screen-basketballs and -footballs itself to drown in MTV, no Beattys are needed to ignite the kerosene or hunt the reader. If the primary grades suffer meltdown and vanish through the cracks and ventilators of the schoolroom, who, after a while, will know or care?

All is not lost, of course. There is still time if we judge teachers, students, and parents, hold them accountable on the same scale, if we truly test teachers, students, and parents, if we make everyone responsible for quality, if we insure that by the end of its sixth year every child in every country can live in libraries to learn almost by osmosis, then our drug, street-gang, rape, and murder scores will suffer themselves near zero. But the Fire Chief, in mid-novel, says it all, predicting the one-minute TV commercial with three images per second and no respite from the bombardment. Listen to him, know what he says, then go sit with your child, open a book, and turn the page.

I couldn’t agree more. What good is it to have books and not read them? I never understood people who say they don’t like to read. It makes no sense at all to me. It’s like saying you don’t like to breathe.

I’ve heard kids saying they don’t like to read. I can understand that. But that’s only because they haven’t found the right books yet. We all go through reading books we don’t like, but for little kids, because reading is a skill they have not yet mastered, they struggle more. They don’t know yet what genre they like, and they are not well equipped to understand all that’s in between the lines. They can only see what’s on the surface. They haven’t learned to look at a book with critical eyes and see what’s not so obvious.

Adults, however, have the skill to analyze a book, to get the hidden meaning of it, to use it as a tool to make them ponder about bigger issues. Adults have the ability to discern what they do or do not like about a book, and they understand the true value of it.

So go, grab a book and read it. Go to your local library or bookstore and get a new book. Set a goal for yourself to read a certain amount of books and do it. A book a month? A book a week? A chapter a day? It doesn’t matter. What really matters is to read something. And if you need recommendations, ask the librarian, ask the internet, ask me. There are millions of books out there just waiting to be discovered, to be devoured.

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” Ray Bradbury (photo courtesy of pcorreia)

 

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