Wendy Knuth Author of Moore Zombies, blogging about the human experience.

Tag Archives: #kidslit

The Ups & Downs of Being a Stay-At-Home Mombie

EPSON MFP image

As a woman, I can tell you that being a stay-at-home mom is a wonderful and rewarding job.  However, it isn’t without pitfalls.  Cook, clean, and wipe butt?  Sign me up, I’m in.  Men, don’t judge.  There is a reason why I can’t talk about being a stay-at-home dad.  Yet I’m sure the experience is quite similar.  Also, ladies, please don’t judge.  No matter how much you decide to work “outside of the home”, it is complicated.  I would just like to stress the point that being a stay-at-home parent is a full time job, without outside pay.

Decisions, decisions.  Do the math.  Can the family be supported on one income?  Now do the mental.  Can you cope?  My husband (the old, bald guy) and I opted for the scrape by method, and since we were just starting out, we decided he would be the crumb winner.  That allowed me to be a stay-at-home mom for about ten years.  Would I take it back?  Absolutely not.  Were there hardships?  Absolutely yes.

It turns out that raising children is very difficult.  At times you may feel like a sleep deprived zombie with a shrunken brain.  Oh, the ups and downs.  But, who doesn’t love a good roller coaster ride?  I actually learned a few tricks along the way.  Let’s review.

Up:  Home cooked meals and Garanimals!

Down:  Arguing over which color cup you chose to use and how much milk you poured into it.

Fix:  Compromise – change the dang cup to your child’s preference, transfer milk from Cup A to Cup B and tip milk carton as if pouring more milk, but leave the cap on – your child will feel smug, and so will you.

Up:  Being there for every single crucial moment in your child’s life.  First roll onto back, first sit up, first noise/word, first crawl, first steps. . .

Down:  The sheer difficulty of trying to make it to the grocery store in between naps, feedings and diaper changes.  Just when you think you might have an hour, nope, rethink plan, and hope there will be another window of opportunity, maybe today.

Fix:  Wait.  All good things come in time.

Up:  Things to do for free – my favorites were parks and the library.

Down:  Having accidents (of both kinds) at parks and the library.

Fix:  I got nothing here.  Oh wait – don’t take your kids anywhere, ever, and then this will only happen at home.

Up:  The excitement of experiencing everything for the first time all over again from spiders to rainbows.

Down:  The power of an instant lobotomy like headache resulting from an inhumanly and inhumane high screech made from your young child, perhaps after seeing a spider.

Fix:  Ibuprofen.

Up:  Volunteering at school and seeing the gleam in your child’s eye when they see how proud you are of him, and you can tell how proud he is to have special moments be witnessed by you.

Down:  Feeling guilty about missing something exciting at school – a play, a spelling bee, etc.

Fix:  There is none – you will feel guilty about something to do with your child(ren) for the rest of your life.

Up:  Being there to explain everything to your child, especially the why.

Down:  Your most intellectual discussion of the day probably had something to do with Dr. Seuss.

Fix: Encourage your child to read.  Explain this to him or her: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” (Yes, Dr. Seuss).

Up:  Being so happy that hubby is home to relieve you of your duties if only for a little bit, because he realizes that you have been on high alert ALL day as there is no such thing as childproofing, you have dealt with numerous disgusting substances, you haven’t had any adult contact or highly stimulating conversation, you have “worked” all day- we’re talking going to the bathroom with the door open or something terrible could happen to the children no-break kind of day.

Down:  Realizing that hubby is not sympathetic to your cause because he has also worked all day, even though he was able to have some meaningful conversations, feel productive, solve complex problems, make money, and go to the bathroom with the door closed without fear of immediate harm to his young children.

Fix: Don’t worry, that last rant resolves on its own as the children grow older.

To be super fair, if I were to rewrite the last “Up” bullet point from my husband’s point of view, it might read as follows:  Being so happy to come home to a home cooked meal after having worked all day, including plunging clogged toilets, clearing sewage lines, and dealing with difficult customers, knowing all the while that this hard work has allowed for my loving, caring, appreciate wife to be able to stay at home with the children.

In summary, enjoy the ups and cope with the downs.  Just remember you are in charge of each and every wonderful new day in molding the mind of your little human being.  “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” (Dr. Seuss).

Wendy Knuth is the author of Moore Zombies picture books and chapter books for children.  One of her characters is a stay-at-home Mombie zombie named Mombie Moore.

Mombie Moore

art by Brian Allen

One Of The Most Perfect Gifts For A Toddler!

EPSON MFP image

Everyone has heard the adage of buying presents for children only to find out they prefer the box.  Well, from experience, it is true.  So today, my good friends, I am here to tell you about one of the most cherished gifts your child will get from you:  An item to bond with, to sleep with, a source of comfort, homemade with love.  Yes, you will beam with pride when other parents ask you, “Where did you buy that?”

From me to you:  Make a pillowcase!

Back in the day, I made a Teletubbies pillowcase for my son.  He loved it – he treasured it for a couple of years.  My other son was meanwhile enjoying the store bought 101 Dalmations bed set, just so you know he wasn’t neglected.

Go to your local store where materials are sold such as WalMart or JoAnns, and you will find a whole new world of options:  Animals of all types (real and cartoony), holiday themed prints, fairies, princesses, flowers, specific sports teams, and copyrighted Disney characters.  What did I find for my boys?  Dinosaurs and construction equipment galore.  Jackpot!

IMG_20160609_182831891

Worried about your sewing skills?  Don’t be.  I’m not an expert seamstress.  Out of all the things one can sew, a pillowcase is probably one of the easiest, even if you don’t have a sewing machine.  If your work is not up to par, your child probably won’t notice.  But just in case, here is a handy tip from me to you:  Don’t sew ALL the edges together or you will be left with a pillowcase malfunction.  Handy tip #2 – buy a “travel pillow” – it is the perfect size for a toddler, and you’ll need even less material.

A yard of material is dirt cheap compared to your limited selection of pricey bed sets, and you can almost bank on the idea that toddlers don’t know that bedding should match, and really, why should it?  Where is the fun in that?  Live a little!

Alternatively, if you are “one of those people” and just can’t function without the matching set, you can take it a step further.  I actually made (er, um, yeah) dinosaur blankets.  Okay – I didn’t MAKE the blankets.  I bought really cheap blankets and then covered one side with dinosaur material and used a plain blue cheapo material on the other side.  In retrospect the plain blue material was more difficult to deal with since it was very stretchable.  Tip #3:  If sewing is not your thing – don’t buy anything too stretchy.

DSCF0365

My dinosaur blankets each have a large seam running down the middle because often material is sold in smaller widths than can cover an adult sized blanket – did my kids notice?  Nope!  However, after a couple of weeks, one son complained of something pointy in the blanket.  Oops – it turned out I had sewn in one of the pins I had used to keep the edges together.  Tip # 4:  (I think you get the point, yuk, yuk.)

That same young man is now an older teenager.  Out of the numerous pillowcases I made for him, he still has (in his closet) what is now an old, raggedy pillow with the construction print pillowcase.  He is not willing to part with it.  It is a keepsake of his.  Oh my gosh, how worth it is that?

IMG_20160609_182528206

So pick a print, apply your skills and give the gift of a pillowcase!  Tip #5: Don’t forget to include a pillow.

Since you may not always be able to find what you are looking for at your local store, I am including some affiliate links for themed materials that are always available online:

Outer Space Fabric

Unicorns and Such

 
Tell me how it goes. . .

 

Wendy Knuth

Author of Moore Zombies picture books and chapter books

 

Peyton Manning’s Post Superbowl Speech –Thank you family, God, and Budweiser

Peyton Manning’s Post Superbowl Speech

Peyton Manning’s Post Superbowl Speech –Thank you family, God, and Budweiser

So there I am watching Peyton Manning’s speech at the end of Superbowl 50 and I am incredibly surprised and greatly amused to hear him talk about how he will be drinking Budweiser that evening.  First of all, I think –  kaching! (cash register noise here) –  he just made at least a million bucks for saying that, right?  Secondly I think – why haven’t I seen this act before?  It’s brilliant!!

Of course Mr. Manning thanked his teammates, family and God.  That is to be expected.  I can’t quite recall the order, so one might go back over the footage to amuse him or herself to see where his priorities were.   Don’t be fooled, Budweiser as a seemingly priority number one would certainly count in my book as family priority number one bringing home the bacon-wise.

But again, why haven’t I seen this before?  Athletes of all kinds wear baseball caps and t-shirts with slogans and logos.  NASCAR events have autos with advertising all over their bodies.  UFC fighters make a point of quickly putting on a t-shirt and ball cap with company advertising after the fight is over.  By the way, I just love how someone realized that the octagon butt is prime real estate for advertising.  Very clever!

We have all seen athletes in commercials endorsing this and that.  However, there is nothing like a verbal and visual endorsement from a superstar athlete at the peak of his career during a prime time moment.  We all know about the “I’m going to Disneyland” statement made post win that is supposed to seem spontaneous.  So, why haven’t other companies jumped on this band wagon?

Disneyland is more of a proximity thing.  Numerous other items are much more readily available to the average person:  soda, candy, snacks, fast food, under wear, clothes, cars & trucks, and yes, alcohol.  I got to thinking – there is a lot more money that could be made here.

I now have a clear plan for my life.  First, I become a super athlete.  I work and toil for years while making several mil along the way.  Second, after years of hard work, I win a huge athletic event in which I will most certainly be interviewed after the fact.  And now comes the best part.  Third, during what is probably going to end up being my retirement speech, I earn an additional 50 million cool dollars in verbal endorsements over the course of a few sentences.  Wish me luck.  Kaching!

Wendy Knuth, author of Moore Zombies picture books and chapter books

Please visit MooreZombies.com – books, t-shirts, free video games, free coloring pages, fun videos!

 

Enjoy the attached video – you have just read about the inspiration behind it.

I would like to add credits and would encourage readers to please email, tweet, and/or facebook with their comments on this hilarious video:

CBS Sports – Thank you so much for the live stream of the Super Bowl!  

www.cbssports.com

www.twitter.com/cbssports

Peyton Manning Fan Pages:

www.facebook.com/PeytonManningDenverBronco

www.facebook.com/PeytonManninglover/

www.twitter.com/peytonmanninggo

www.twitter.com/theofficial18

Tracy Wolfson, Sportscaster

www.TracyWolfson.net

www.facebook.com/TracyWolfson/

www.twitter.com/tracywolfson

Images used in the video

www.freeimages.com/KennKiser for the classic Ford Truck in the attached video

www.Freeimages.com/kirchli for the hanging under wear in the attached video

www.Freeimages.com/TheD for the picture of the Big Mac in the attached video

www.Freeimages.com/mikaelcronhamn for the picture of the adorable little girl in princess attire in the attached video

Sound used in the video

www.Freesounds.org “Cash Register Purchase” by Zott820

Last, but not least, Sudipta Dasgupta of www.dasguptarts.com for the Moore Zombies images (Gothina, Broheimer, Baby Zom, & Kamper)

Christmas and The Leaning Tower of Tree

Leaning Tower of TreeHand Xmas Tree
I bought a Christmas tree.  I placed it in the holder all by myself, and low and behold I could not get it straight.  More importantly, I couldn’t get it steady.  Perhaps older teenage boy that I purchased the tree from at the local grocery store did not cut the bottom correctly.  I broke out the old camp saw and cut it again myself.  If you want something done right. . .  Long story short, the tree is still leaning, and still loose.  It could fall over at any time.  I may have uttered a few bad words.

So let’s reframe the situation.  Instead of admitting defeat, I will name this year’s tree:  The Leaning Tower of Tree.  It is much easier to cope with the situation, and much more fun.  I have to admit, I did think about strapping the tree to the wall with plumber’s tape.  Have I mentioned that my husband, the old bald guy, is a plumber? The layperson might imagine that plumbers tape actually has a sticky side.  No, it is a thin sheet metal strap with which you use screws to secure things to a wall or stud, such as a water heater in an earthquake prone environment.  No, it is much more fun to deal with said tree in its current condition.  It is what it is.

Thinking back to previous years, I recall the year of two trees.  The kids couldn’t agree on which tree to buy, and of course they each favored a different one.  Luckily I could afford and we bought them both.  Then there was the year of “The tree of poverty.”  I believe it was 2008 or 2009 when the economy took a terrible turn for the worse.  I bought a tiny little table top tree on the cheap, almost Charlie Brown style but not quite as sad.  We had a lot of fun making fun of that tree, and the savings made for more money for presents.  Boy, how I miss the days of the dollar bin for the plastic airplane or car that the kids loved as much as they would love a brand new computer nowadays.

So buy a tree, or don’t.  Draw a tree on cardboard and stand it up against the wall.  Put together cutout hand prints of your children, tape them together, and tape it to the wall.  Don’t be sad about it.  Set the mood and make it fun!  Oh, and don’t forget to name your tree.

Wendy Knuth, Author of Moore Zombies picture books and early chapter books

Moore Zombies Picture Books Are For All Ages!!

Moore Zombies CoverGimme Noodle Front Cover

Why Placing An Age Range On Picture Books Doesn’t Quite Make Sense

Hello all.  And I mean all!  I don’t care what your age is in the human spectrum of life.  If you are reading to and with children, then a specified age range for a book implies limitations that just shouldn’t be.  This is why I HATE placing an age range on my Moore Zombies books.  Plug, plug.

I am a strong believer in early reading.  When my children were young, I read to them early and often.  Yes, you may enjoy the words and the pictures, but don’t forget about cuddling, bonding, learning, teaching, feeling proud, giggling, etc.  This can be between adult and child, between older child and younger child, or even between children of the same age.  Everyone has fun.

You can’t tell me that a toddler doesn’t read.  Maybe they can’t interpret the letters, but they are certainly taking it all in.  In a way, isn’t that reading?  Don’t we read situations?  Don’t we read people’s emotions?  There is no lettering involved there.

My mom has a story about how proud my brother’s babysitter was about teaching him to read a Dr. Seuss book.  After she left, my brother read the whole book out loud, over and over, without the book.  My mom didn’t have the heart to tell the babysitter.  Somewhere, I have footage of my young son reading a book that was upside down.  However, he had all of the words memorized, and I mean correctly for each page.  I’ve seen online footage of other young kids reading an upside down book.  How cute!!  This is definitely a form of early reading.

As an author, I enjoy placing things in my picture books (meaning wording and pictures) for adults and children, because I know they will be read by both.  So how can I classify my picture books as being intended for ages 3-5 or 4-8 when in reality they are for ages baby to senior.  The years pass quickly, so grab a picture book and read to, or with your kids.  I highly recommend Moore Zombies!

Wendy Knuth, Author of Moore Zombies Picture Books & Chapter Books

Spooky Time – A Fun Halloween Game!

Tonight I reminisce.  I would like to tell you about the fun & scary game that somehow just came to be.  It became a favorite Halloween tradition for our family.  Spooky Time.

When my children were very young, I liked to set the mood for whatever holiday was present.  I just happened to be shopping for Christmas items at a craft store when I noticed a 90% off deal for Halloween items.  Lucky me. I bought numerous, numerous candle holders at 10 cents apiece.  Skulls, jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, etc.

So come next Halloween, I put them on display.  I also wanted to play some Halloween music, and all I could find was CD’s with songs such as The Purple People Eater.  I used to light the candles in the spooky looking candle holders, as well as in the jack-o-lanterns we had carved.  I would play the fun music and the kids would run around.

We turned out the lights so we could see how spooky the carved pumpkins and ghosts looked.  Then we decided to play hide-n-seek.  There were numerous candles everywhere so that every room was very well lit.  We even left some of the lights on, but dimmed them.  My boys were so cute.  They would go to their bedroom for one minute to give us time to hide.  Then, they would come out with big eyes, fake swords and plastic armor.

As the kids grew, I had to find scarier music.  So I went online and found some great clips that I downloaded and put on CD’s:  Werewolf howls, theme music from The Exorcist, theme music from the Halloween movies, music with people screaming on occasion, maniacal clown house music, the dreaded string sounds that you usually hear when someone is being attacked in a movie, etc.

The years continued to pass and we had to have less and less light as hiders were more easily found.  By this time, the REALLY scary music was blasting, and the neighbor children came over for this great, fun, scary, Spooky Time.  Sometimes the kids would hide with adults being the seekers, other times vice-versa.  We discovered throwing items at or near a seeker could throw them off, and there was a lot of moving around so that hiders could go to a place where the seeker had already checked, leaving the seeker to believe no one was hiding there.  One thing was very apparent – the jump scare never gets old!

Fast forward a couple of years.  The lights were almost none existent.  The music still blared on.  So, yes, injuries started to occur.  Hiders and seekers would run into each other.  One night, I heard “Wendy, I’m bleeding!”  We turned on the lights and our neighbor had a split in the center of his forehead.  How very Halloween to have blood dripping down all over his face and onto the carpet.  I thought he had crawled into an outside wall corner but it turns out he had just run straight into the flat surface of the wall.  Head wounds bleed, um, a lot.

Boys and men are so funny.  As my husband and I were working on the boy’s wound, my husband told him that someday women would be impressed with his scar, but that he needed a better story.  Apparently, running into a wall doesn’t excite the ladies.  All of the boys got to work.  I was amazed by all of their fantastic stories as to how our neighbor had now suffered this injury.  Great imaginations!

Being the only female present, I found it very interesting that there was no screaming or crying, but almost a proudness, a rite of passage if you will.  I’m sure if some young girl had split her head open things would have been quite different.

I don’t think that was the last year of Spooky Time.   I believe the next year the kids wore their karate gear, including headgear.  We may have even gone one more year.  But it was pretty much the end of an era.  And that is why I reminisce.  It was a lot of fun.  Go ahead and give it a try, just remember to leave some lights on.

Wendy Knuth, Author of Moore Zombies  MooreZombies.comGE DIGITAL CAMERA

What’s wrong with the children of today? Raised by Hypocrites!

I have seen many facebook posts about how different the childhood lives were of us older folks.  We are so proud of our crazy escapades.  We used to run wild with parental consent.  Playing outside was the norm.   At times, we were literally miles away, and far outside the reach of any authority.  We were physically fit, we were using our imaginations, and we got dirty.  We had a great time.

I grew up in a neighborhood full of mostly boys.  There was motorcycle riding, bicycle riding, skateboarding all sans helmet, pick-up games of football and kick ball, horseback riding and other such activities.  There was a creek nearby for swimming, fishing, and crawdad catching.

So, what stands out?  Well, let’s see.  There was the time when I was riding on the back of an ATV, a stick somehow got stuck up my pant leg and so I shook my leg to get rid of it.  My leg was caught under the back tire, which sucked me right off the seat and I was slammed to the ground as the tire rolled over my limb. My driver friend took a serious hit to her ribs against the handlebars.

One day, my neighbor decided he would like to be strung up a tree.  Seriously, it was his idea.  Does anyone remember how much fun you can have with the old rope over the branch trick?  Well, said neighbor boy created a loop and put it around his neck and asked my brother to start pulling on the rope.  He made it a few feet off the ground before he started making very strange noises and the writhing of his body was evidence enough for my brother to let him down.  Brilliant thinking on behalf of both of them.

At one point in time, boyhood frustrations were running high.  There were altercations occurring.  One day, we kids happened across previously mentioned hang him up boy and his military father.  The father thought it would be a great idea to duke it out and settle the tension.  So he asked “Who wants to fight?”  Boys agreed to fighting, and fighting occurred.  As the only girl, I was an observer.  As I recall, the fights ended on their own with mutual consent.  Can you imagine the headlines today?

These are but a few of my many, many stories I could tell you about the youth of past days.

So, parents, if life was so great, why won’t you let your children experience the same?

Let your children run wild with no knowledge of their whereabouts for hours on end.  Let them trick-or-treat unsupervised.  Let them sell cookies door-to-door to complete strangers with no parents watching over them.  Forget the helmets, forget the seatbelts.  Remember how much fun it was without them?  Swimming alone, why not?  There is nothing like living a little dangerously.  It will build character.  As a small test, tell your children to leave their cell phones at home to simulate the lack of contact.  Are you game?  Probably not.

Did we have great fun as youths?  Yes we did.  We didn’t know how stupid we were being, and yet we look back at it with fondness.  Did we let our children do the same?  Heck no!  Are you a hypocrite?  I can’t answer for all of you, but for me, yes, guilty as charged!

Wendy Knuth

Author of Moore Zombies picture books and chapter books

MooreZombies.com