Kids bored this winter break? We have help for you

boredomMy kids are already bored and winter break doesn’t happen until 2:45 this afternoon. We’ve been celebrating Hanukkah at my house. On Tuesday, we plugged in the PlayStation 4. By last night, we had played three games and were bored with them. We were back at GameStop by 6:45 p.m. Seriously?

I intend to use Dale Roe’s guide to things to do over winter break that appeared in today’s Austin360 section. Find it online here.

You also can find things to do in my Family Scene calendars and videos that appear at every week.

One of my goals for the New Year is for our family to put down the electronics more. I’ll be writing about that next Saturday in my Raising Austin column. Stay tuned.



Saying goodbye to Clifford creator

Norman Bridwell, who created “Clifford the Big Red Dog” books, died last week. He was 86.

FILE - In this May 4, 2011 file photo, author and cartoonist Norman Bridwell poses for a portrait at Scholastic headquarters in New York. Bridwell, creator of the popular “Clifford the Big Red Dog” series of children’s books turned into a PBS TV show, died Friday, Dec. 12, 2014, on Martha’s Vinyard in Massachusetts. He was 86. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)
Author and cartoonist Norman Bridwell died  on Dec. 12.  He was 86. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)

“Clifford” is one of those things, like “Sesame Street” and Eric Carle books, that both my kids and I grew up with. As a kid, I loved the idea of owning my own Clifford (who wouldn’t?) As a parent, I loved the idea of my kids getting a lesson in differences. Some of us are bigger than others, some of us are smaller than others, but we’re all people. Clifford might have been big and red, but he was also just a dog who wanted to play, who sometimes got in trouble, who wanted to eat a lot and who had no idea that he’s not a lap dog.

When Clifford became an animated TV show he still didn’t feel commercial. In this world of Disney’s “Frozen,” Clifford remind how to market a character smartly, without shoving it down kids’ throats. He made kids want to go back and read the books as well as watch the show.

In his life, Bridwell wrote more than 40 Clifford books. Do you have a favorite?

You can't help but love Clifford.
You can’t help but love Clifford.

Some days it’s a total love/hate relationship with your children

Yesterday started with me screaming at my daughter to get her @#% out of bed. Yesterday ended with me beaming about what a great kid she is.

That’s what parenting is like, right? It’s completely a ying-yang experience.

The very, very bad: After three days of being sick, Ava was having a great time staying at home and sleeping however late she wanted to. So, Thursday morning rolled around and she’s not moving. My husband tried for a half an hour. I tried. Finally after breaking into crazy mom screaming, she turned to me and in a very adult way said, “Mom, do you think you can calm down now? Because if you can calm down now and stop screaming, I will get out of bed and get dressed.” Oh, crud! I hate it when she’s more mature.

And so, she got out of bed. She got dressed and we made it to the bus with 30 seconds to spare. Why we needed to have so much drama to start the day, I don’t know.

Ava Villalpando drops off felt-covered pillows at Austin Children's Services for her Girl Scout Bronze Award.
Ava Villalpando drops off felt-covered pillows at Austin Children’s Services for her Girl Scout Bronze Award.

The very, very good: After school, I picked her up and we headed to Austin Children’s Services. She had spent three months working on a project for her Girl Scout Bronze Award. She led 60 other Girl Scouts in making no-sew pillows to donate to the shelter. She also collected hair brushes and baby wipes, which they never get enough of, as well as some toys for birthday presents. This kid who hates wearing her Girl Scout vest, proudly donned it and carried loads of goodies up to the shelter’s main office. She had a bounce in her step and a big smile across her face. She had taken on a project and she had done it!

On the way home, she made her plan for her next eight years of volunteering. She wants to volunteer in middle school with children and pets to complete her Silver Award Project as well as her bat mitzvah service hours. And then in high school, watch out; she’s got a Gold Award Project already kicking around in her head.

That’s when you say that the morning of screaming was worth it to have the afternoon of extreme pride.