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How to Be a DiNozzo

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Chapter 3 – Crayons – September 2025

"Tali, are you sure we can do this?" Anthony asked his older sister as he and the others broke the old crayons into small pieces.

Tali nodded, "Ima said that we can use the microwave. We're going to melt the crayon pieces in the microwave to make new crayons." She dropped several of the varying shades of blue pieces into one of the paper liners for the mini-muffins. "Besides, she keeps threatening to throw all these old crayons in the trash."

"If you say so," he still wasn't sure they wouldn't get into trouble for melting the crayons in Ima's microwave. "Does it tell how to make the swirl crayons on that website?"

"Yeah, but you can't mix too many colors or it'll just turn out brown instead of multi-colors," she plucked some of the green pieces out of the cup filled by her sister Rivka. "Only red and yellow, Riv; the green will make it turn brown in color."

"'But I want to make a Christmas crayon," the younger girl protested. "Red and green stripes or swirls."

Anthony thought about his sister's request, "How about if we put it like stripes, a row of red, then a row of green, and repeat? If we watch it when it's melting, we can keep the colors from blending together, I think." Riv grinned at her big brother and nodded; she liked his idea. The two started filling a paper muffin cup liner using the strategy they'd devised.

LJ looked at the pile of crayon pieces, "I want orange and yellow and brown, like a lion!" He grabbed one of the paper coffee filters and began placing the crayon pieces to make a lion's face. "See, brown and orange for the mane and yellow for the face. I need some black for the eyes, nose, and mouth," he reached for the pile of black pieces. His other hand slipped on the table and crayon pieces flew everywhere.

"LJ! You made a mess," Beth scolded her little brother. "You gotta pick it up now."

He made a face at her and retorted, "You're not the boss; you don't tell me what to do."

"The rule is if you make the mess, you clean it up," she shot back. The little boy sat back in his chair and pouted with an angry glare at his sister. "Tali, LJ isn't cleaning up his mess," she stuck her tongue out at her younger brother.

"Beth stuck her tongue out at me, and she is not in charge. Ima and Abba said that you are in charge, Tali," he lashed out angrily. "HEY! Meanie-head!" he yelled as the younger twin deliberately put her hand in his lion face crayon bits and stirred it with her finger.

Rivka smirked as she and Anthony worked on their striped Christmas crayons. "Now they are both gonna get in trouble," she spoke softly to her older brother. The two continued to place the crayon bits into alternating stripes as they silently watched and listened to how their big sister would handle the conflict between the two youngest siblings.

Tali carefully put the paper cup of crayon bits that she had been carrying into the microwave and closed the door. She set the timer for two minutes, as suggested on the website. She turned to her siblings and quickly crossed the kitchen to the breakfast nook table.

She stood between LJ and Beth and crossed her arms; Anthony glanced at his sister's face. He would later swear that she was channeling Ima at that moment just from the glaring eyes alone. "If you two insist on making trouble, Ima and Abba won't let us stay by ourselves again," she spoke quietly but purposefully. The other four looked at her as she continued, "They trusted us to behave and get along while they went to get Abba's truck from the service center. Ninety minutes to two hours is what Abba said. So, do you want to be able to stay by ourselves again, or do you want to have to get dragged along for something boring like getting a vehicle from the service center?" The microwave beeped at just that second as if to emphasize her point.

Anthony thought about his sister's words before adding his two cents' worth, "Tali's right, guys. If we can't get along when Ima and Abba are out, we won't earn their trust." He turned to his little brother, "I'll help you clean up the mess, LJ." The two boys started picking up crayon pieces from the floor and unused chairs. Beth helped her brothers and Rivka fixed the lion face picture that her little brother made with the crayon pieces.

Tali smiled to herself as she turned to check the melted crayon piece; she opened the microwave door. The blue crayon pieces had melted into a patty-shaped solid in the paper cup. She slid the paper onto a hot pad to cool. So far, so good; it appeared that the first attempt to make a new crayon was successful.

"Next one to melt?" she called to her siblings. Anthony and Rivka carried over their two Christmas striped creations. Tali checked the instructions on her tablet for the larger sized muffin cup papers that they'd used; three minutes each. She placed one in the microwave and started the heating. The other was placed on the counter to wait its turn.

LJ's lion face in the coffee filter paper was almost ready as well. He and Beth carried it over to the counter by the microwave. The instructions suggested five minutes for the larger shape. She decided to do the large one last and get all of the smaller pieces melted one at a time.

Just as she pressed start for a three minute crayon, her cell phone rang. She glanced at the caller ID, "Ima." She swiped the screen and answered the call, "Hi, Ima." She listened for a few seconds and then replied, "Everyone is being good; yes, that is the microwave." She listened some more and then said, "Okay, Ima," ending the call.

Four pairs of questioning eyes looked at their big sister. She grinned, "Ima and Abba are getting some groceries, so they'll be a little later than they planned. Ima said they should be home in about forty minutes."

Rivka looked at the remaining crayon pieces, "Let's all make a picture for Ima and Abba with a coffee filter paper. That way they can see that we were good and earned their trust." The others nodded in agreement and soon all five were placing crayon bits in a design.

Tali took the last of the small pieces from the microwave and put LJ's lion face on the glass turntable. She set the timer for five minutes and went back to help her siblings finish up the design for their parents. Anthony carried it to the counter while Tali watched the seconds counting down on the lion face. LJ pulled the stepstool over to the counter so that he could see his lion face.

The timer beeped and Tali opened the door of the microwave; she carefully slid the paper filter to a hot pad and placed it on the counter to cool. LJ was excited to see his design and he tugged at the edge of the hot pad while Tali put the design for their parents in the microwave and started the five minute heating.

"OW!" LJ's fingers touched the hot melted crayon in his eagerness to see his lion face. Tears started to form in the little boy's eyes; his fingers hurt. Tali reacted quickly, pushing her brother towards the sink so she could run cool water over his fingers. The other three were at the table trying the new crayons they'd made on some plain paper from Abba's printer.

"Is he okay?" Anthony walked over to his younger brother at the sink.

Tali nodded, "Just scared him, I think. There's no redness or blistering, so I think he's going to be okay." As she was checking LJ's fingers a second time, the children heard the garage door open. Tali moved LJ's lion face to the table and made sure the countertop was clear; she knew that both Ima and Abba used that space to unbag groceries and sort what went where.

She was drying LJ's hand when the door from the garage to the kitchen opened. Ima had four bags of groceries and Abba had seven.

"We're home," Abba announced to everyone. "Were you good?"

"Yes, Abba," all five said together.

Ziva glanced at Tony; the children had responded rather quickly and together. He shrugged at her and looked around the kitchen. "I need two helpers to put away pantry goods," Ziva started pulling items from the bags. Rivka and Beth appeared at her side and began carrying the items to be put away in the pantry.

Anthony helped his father put the refrigerated items up and Tali and LJ cleared the breakfast nook table, putting their creations to one side. Ima started getting dinner ready as the others went to the family room, their own rooms, or the play room. Tali was setting the dining room table when her Ima called out.


Uh-oh… Tali walked in to the kitchen to see Ima looking at something in the microwave; she remembered the melted crayon image they'd created for their parents. She'd forgotten all about it when LJ burned his fingers and then her parents arrived home.

"We made that for you," she explained to her mother's glare. "All of us worked on it." Ima said nothing as Tali gulped. "You said that we could use the microwave."

"I did; for food," Ziva looked at the multicolored blob in her microwave. She picked up the coffee filter paper and placed it on the counter. The design was a heart shape surrounded by flowers; she had to admit it was pretty. But she was not too pleased that the children had melted crayons in her microwave.

"We made a bunch of new crayons from the old ones you were going to throw out; plus some designs. LJ's lion face came out pretty cool, and…" Tali trailed off wondering if she was making things better or worse with her continued talking.

Ziva smiled at her eldest, "Next time, please ask first. Crayons are non-toxic, so there should be no harm. And thank you for the beautiful design." She reached over and pulled her eleven-year-old into a hug.

"You're welcome, Ima."