Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Sandbox Is Back!

We've had a sandbox as a backyard staple off and on for years.  After the last one got yucky mucky we never got around to replacing it.

I thought about it a lot this spring when the weather was so nice, but Tyler was in the middle of a huge put-everything-in-reach-into-mouth phase and I just didn't feel like feeding him a diet of sand.

Or standing watch over him so he wouldn't eat the sand.

All that to say, as of this week... we are back in the sand!

As expected, Tyler loves it!  And - yay! - as far as I know, he hasn't eaten a lick!

Handy sandbox tip: In case you haven't noticed, sand sticks to hot sweaty bodies.  Instead of your kids hosing each other off when they are done playing in the sand (my big boys' preferred method) you can meet them at the door with a sprinkling of baby powder. Sprinkle on, rub in, and the sand falls away easily!  And stays outside instead of in!
Do you have a backyard sandbox?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Life is a (country) highway?

Although I don't consider us big movie watchers as a family, our big boys have been Cars fans for years.

Every so often for a birthday or Christmas another "Cars-car" shows up, so that by now, they almost own the whole cast.

And while specific movie or character toys may sometimes limit creative play, I have loved the numerous hours I have listened in on my boys making up their own elaborate plots with their favorite characters.

So one would think we would be jumping at the chance to take our gang to the theater for the big debut of Cars 2, but it looks like we may be missing that one.  We were originally thinking we'd go, a pretty big deal for us - we only go to the movies once every 3-5 years!  But we have since read a couple of reviews (Christian perspective from Focus on the Family's Plugged In, and even this secular review) that have us re-thinking a trip to the big screen.  Why?  Too much deviation from the original story, too much violence, and too much high-energy, hectic stimulation.  So, looks like Cars 2 is going to be a no-go in the theater for us. :(  We'll revisit and see what it is like when it comes out on DVD.

In the meantime, we are still enjoying the original in several forms, including listening to some of the soundtrack on a pixar movie mix cd we checked out from the library.

It was after listening to that cd that I learned how much of a country girl I must be.

One of the most well-known songs in Cars is Rascal Flatts' 'Life is a Highway', which includes the line "we won't hesitate to break down the guarding gate".

But that's not what I've been hearing all this time.

After seeing the movie many (many) times, I've always heard " break down the garden gate."  It never occurred to me it could be anything else!

Yeah, country much?

Or maybe that's just me.

(So, I've had this blog post in my head all day, and after writing most of it, I did some searching to double check the lyrics.  It turns out I'm not the only one that hears "garden gate".  Still... I think, given the context, "guarding" makes a little more sense.  What do you hear?)

What was the last movie you watched as a family?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Health & wellness in the buffalo herd

I'm glad I mentioned in my last post that we were entering VBS week.

At least when you came and found the blog stale all week you had a pretty good guess why, yes?

We survived the week pretty well.  VBS itself went great; a fun time was had by all.  I came out the other end with my second summer cold this month.  It's been a doozy, too.  Not sure what my deal is.  Too much going and not enough rest?  Pregnant immune system?  Too many extra kids?  All of the above?
VBS craft time!

At any rate, we are glad to be entering into this week with things going a little slower.  

"A little" being relative.  We all 5 left the house early this morning for a couple of kid checkups.  I love when the 5 of us go out together.  We enjoy each other's company.  A lot. :)

I brought absolutely no entertainment with us today.  Usually we all provide enough for each other.

At one point though, in an attempt to get Dale to sit in one place for a while, I grabbed a brochure off the wall and handed it to him to read.  I did look before I grabbed... didn't think it appropriate for him to read the ins and outs and whys of an HPV vaccine, ya know?

After barely getting started on my selected material Dale protested a little with "I don't think I should be reading this."  I argued with him - told him to read it and see what he found out.  But again, just a moment later he looked at me, this time with tears in his eyes, and said, "I don't think I should be reading this."  

Apparently the signs, symptoms, and prevention measures of lead poisoning is disturbing to 7 year olds.  Who knew?

I then gave him the information sheet on parenting a 16-24 month old instead, and he was much happier.  And hey, it never hurts to have a big brother in-the-know on choking hazards and potty training tips!

Do you bring along stuff to do on waiting-trips?  What kinds of toys and diversions are lurking in your purse or diaper bag?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Kiwi Banana Popsicles (And a blogging milestone)

Before I get to yummy popsicly things, I must announce: 

This is my 800th post!!  Can you believe it!?  800!!!

Ok, so a few of those are drafts forever lost in draft land and never to be published but I am declaring 800 the official number. 

I started this blog in May of 2007.  Dale was almost 4.  Alan was 6 months old and waiting on a liver transplant. Tyler?  Tyler who? And baby number four? Get outta here!  

So, in celebration, or really, just because we start Bible school tomorrow and I am tired and this is easy, I share with you... 

Kiwi Banana Popsicles

4-6 kiwi, peeled
1 banana, peeled
1-3 teaspoons lemon juice
1-3 tablespoons sugar (or honey)
approx 1/4 cup water

Plop the fruit into a blender, add lemon juice and blend until smooth.  No banana chunks allowed!  Add water until the mixture is a good pouring consistency, but still nice and thick.  I don't think there is one right answer here.

Pour into paper cups or popsicle molds.  Mine were firm enough to support a popsicle stick after 15-20 minutes.  We didn't try peeling away the cup and eating them until the next day, but several hours ought to do it.

Tyler loves them!  The back-yard hose down afterward, however .... not so much. ;)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Speaking of making baby things....

... look what my sister has done gone and made for her new niece!

Won't somebody's little head look even sweeter with that soft prettiness perched on top?

Can you tell we're just a wee bit excited?

(I don't know where to categorize this post!!!  Baby needs a name so she can have a blog category of her own!)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Making Baby Things

A sweet friend of mine recently had a baby girl.  Seeing as how she already had a big sister, I knew their house would be full of all the basics, and that I must take this opportunity to make a little girly sump'm sump'm.  I need the practice, anyway, right?  

Today I got to meet this bundle of preciousness for the first time.  And hold her.  And kiss her little head.  And pet her pretty feet.  And... well... you get the idea.

One of my own favorite baby items has been a light-weight sheet blanket.  They are great for all seasons and well into baby's second year!

So.... I took a humongous piece of fabric and hemmed it up.

To step it up a girly notch, I made and attached 3 crushed fabric flowers.

And because every girl needs matching accessories, I made one more flower and attached it to a hair clip.

I also just so happen to have another humongo piece of fabric waiting to be hemmed up for my own baby girl.  Complete with fabric flowers, of course.  Really... I just couldn't help myself. :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Thoughts

Our sermon at church today was on the Great Commission from Matthew 28:

16Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
 17And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
 18And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
 19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

As our pastor began to emphasize the fact that it is the job of every church member to "Go", and not just that of pastors, deacons, etc, my antenna went up.  For a moment I wondered if this could be a Biblical argument against homeschooling.

I have heard many parents say they send their children into public schools to be "salt" and "light".  I tabled the thought for the time being and tuned back in to the rest of the sermon (which was very good, by the way).

Since Greg had the older two boys for the drive home, I had my own quiet drive to think back on the question of the command to "Go" and our choice to homeschool.

I realized pretty quickly that, no, sending them in to school and expecting them, unaided, to do something they haven't been clearly shown would be absurd.

But to keep them home and say we were teaching them to be able to "Go ye therefore" later, and then not model and instruct that command would be equally absurd.

For my children to be able to go into their world and teach the gospel to all people, they have to see that behavior in me.  

It is no secret that our children grow up to do what they have seen modeled in us.  Sons grow up opening doors or always pumping the gas because that's what Daddy always did for Mama.  Girls grow up buying a certain brand of cleaner, or making potato salad just so because that's the way Mama always did it.  

Sure, not all of our habits rub off on our children (thankfully!) but many do, especially those that are enforced through teaching.  Enter the familiar passage from Deuteronomy 6:6-7 

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

When we are consistently teaching our children God's word, and his commands, and then consistently modeling them ourselves, they will be prepared to do so themselves as they grow.  At first with our guidance, and later on their own.

I think it would be safe to guess that the 15 year old that has observed mom and dad "going" and "teaching", at the same time being taught the principles behind these commands will be much better prepared and more likely to speak up, sharing the gospel with boldness and love than his counterpart who was taught on Sundays and Wednesdays and sent off without a model, and without a guide.

Likewise, I think our first example will be even better prepared than the homeschooled 15 year old who was diligently taught Bible history and how to study God's word, but never saw mom and dad say a word to anyone about what Christ has done and can do.

All of this rationalizing led me feeling very excited about the great opportunity we have with keeping our children with us day after day, year after year.

It also led me back to exactly what our pastor had been teaching just a few minutes before: I've got to be speaking up.  Sharing the Truth with the other mom at the park, the checker at the grocery store, the lady in the waiting room... all those people I see when I "go".  

Do I like this idea?  Um, no, not particularly.  I am an introvert of introverts.  

Is that an excuse? Um, no.

I've got to speak up.  Why?
#1 - Jesus commanded it.
#2 - Someone's eternity could depend on it.
#3 - My children are watching.  

If they learn from me, their impact as they grow into adulthood could reach much further than I could ever imagine.  More people saved, more people serving Christ, and my children hopefully more prepared to serve their Lord, and obey his commands.

Looks like it's time for me to get busy.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hide and Seek

Alan darted into the kitchen where the adults lingered, visiting over the remains of a meal shared.  He slipped between the refrigerator and the wall, popping his pixie face back out long enough to say with a grin, "Count, Mama! We're playing hide and seek!"
He had come from the next room where he and Dale had gone to play, so I fully expected to soon see Dale tromping through looking for his hiding brother.  It would take me a few minutes to understand that Alan had other plans.

Again the grin appeared from behind the fridge.  "Count, Mama!"

Obediently I began to count from my seat at the table.  "1.... 2... 3..."  The visiting continued as we waited for Dale to come find Alan.

"Mama!  Count!"

"4.... 5.... 6....7........Alan?  Is Dale hiding too?"

The small voice behind the refrigerator answered, "No."

"What is Dale doing?"


It finally dawned on all of us at the table that "we're playing hide and seek" meant "me & Mama", not "me and Dale".

I resumed counting, this time all the way to 12, ending with a promising, "Ready or not, here I come!", getting up and rather noisily searching about the kitchen.

Lo and behold, what did I find next to the fridge but a precious, wee boy, squoonched up into the tiniest ball he can make himself, way back against the wall, with his eyes squeezed tightly shut.

I reached in for the tickle and the expected "boo!", and was rewarded with giggles and the joy of being found.

I laughed, we all did, at the hilarity, the cuteness, and the innocence of the game.  On the inside my heart swelled yet again with deep, deep love, the kind that almost hurts.  Love for childhood, for simple joys, and for this boy, this precious gift of a boy.

His grinning face disappeared behind another corner, and the game began anew.

"Ok! Count again!"

And we do.  We count, we seek, we laugh, we love.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A whole new appreciation for "non-toxic"

Around here we like to buy our drinking water from a dispenser 5 to 15 gallons at a time.

Occasionally that becomes inconvenient and Greg picks up a couple of gallon jugs from the store when he's there getting other things.

Such was the case earlier this week.  So instead of our usual methods, we've been pouring out of a gallon jug on the counter.

This morning I noticed there were two jugs open and poured from but didn't think much of it.  

Until Greg got home and looked down into the jug before pouring from it.

"There is a crayon in here," he announced.

Realization immediately dawns.  "Is it yellow?" I ask.

When Greg confirms that yes, the crayon at the bottom of our 'drinking' water is, indeed, yellow, I settle the quick question once and for all:

"That's the iron water."


Ok, for anyone that lives outside this house that makes no sense.

See, the iron water lives in my room, with the iron and ironing board, handily enough.  Several weeks ago, Tyler managed to remove the lid and drop in 1 yellow crayon.  Where it has remained ever since.

This week, the water jugs Greg brought home happen to be identical to the iron water jug.  

Why the iron water ended up in the kitchen, and this week of all weeks, I have no idea.

All I know is I drank two or three glasses of yellow-crayon-infused iron water today.

And I feel great.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Old School Blogging

Way back in 2007 when I started this blog, almost every day I posted a journal entry of what we had done that day.  

And then I learned the "right" way to blog and didn't do that so much anymore.  

Yeah, yeah... whatever.  Here's what we did today:

Alan was my early riser today.  It's somebody different every day.  We spent some cuddle time reading books.  Alan chose two different versions of The Three Little Pigs.  Whatever floats your boat, buddy.  On a related note, here were my observations from reading these two books this morning:

  • Having a cold lends itself to a nice deep gravelly big bad wolf voice.
  • My big bad wolf voice has a slightly cajun flair to it
  • I always thought the song lyrics "jump in bed and cover your head" explained my Christmas Eve fear of Santa breaking & entering visiting, but now I am wondering if it was knowing the story of the wolf's entrance through the chimney.  That chimney visitor wasn't there to bring gifts, ya know?

Our weekly Garden Club at the Library has been moved to mornings (on a new day) due to the heat.  97 degrees ain't cool - in more ways than one - know what I'm sayin'?  So after breakfast and a quick around-the-house cleanup we headed to the library for a lesson on insects and some time spent weeding in the sun.
Due to my having a cold, and being pregnant, and it being HOT I came home and collapsed in my chair in front of the computer for a while to regroup for lunch.

Apparently I was still feeling wiped out from the above conditions, because after lunch i found myself back in my chair.  Again.  From there I could watch Dale and Alan riding their bicycles in the driveway, but Tyler was stuck inside with me.  A new and novel (and possibly redneck) idea struck me, and I dragged (drug?) my rocking chair out the front door onto the porch.  Why have I never thought of this before!!?  Win, win, win!
Back inside for Tyler's nap, and I played Alan in the game of Candyland I owed him.  He won. 
Then I played a few innings of Bible Baseball with Dale.  It's a board game find from garage-saling this weekend and we both love it!  He won.  But in my defense, it isn't all knowledge.  There is some luck and card drawing and dice-rolling involved, ok?  Really!  But still.  I lost in Bible trivia to my 7 year old.
So far that puts us 1-1.  I feel a rematch coming on tomorrow!

Daddy had to work late tonight, so we had leftovers for supper.  By this time Dale and Alan were climbing the walls and driving me nuts so I finally sent them out to play in the water hose. Once again, poor Tyler was feeling left out, so I scooped him up and went to man the hose myself.  
There is something very satisfying about spraying your kids with a fast stream of water and hearing them squeal.  We ended up spending an hour outside!  At the end of which all boys and garden plants were thoroughly watered.

Just in time to get into pjs before welcoming Daddy home. :)

Happy Tuesday, everybody!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Happiest place on earth, or just good company?

The blog's been kind of quiet, hasn't it?  My excuse?  I've been camera-less.  And single-parenting.

You see, 6 days ago my husband and our oldest loaded themselves onto a charter bus...
...rode for 20-something hours...

...and got off at DisneyWorld!

They met up with old friends:

... and made some new ones:

They visited super fun places:

...and saw some pretty big stuff:

Best of all was 5 whole days of just Dale & Daddy time!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Potty Talk

For the first time in 8 years of parenting we are preparing ourselves for having 2 in diapers at the same time.  Tyler will be 21 months old when Little Miss arrives at the end of September.  If memory serves me right, neither Dale or Alan were trained by that age.

However... while I am not getting my hopes up, I am keeping in mind that every kid is different and Tyler is his own self.  He has pushed himself to be like and with his brothers in every possible way.  Could I be so lucky as to have potty training fit that pattern also?

Just to hedge my bets, I have been letting him observe his brothers (especially Alan) at business time.  This has actually served two purposes.  I have found myself in a dilemma for months as Tyler has been drawn to the potty as a play thing.  We have resorted to keeping the bathroom door shut most of the time, but I admit there has been a time or two (ahem) we have caught him elbow deep in (clean) potty water, or emerging from the bathroom with toilet cleaning implements.  Ew.  While he has received firm no's and swats for this, I haven't wanted to make the potty a strictly off limits thing.  The logical thing was to teach what it is for.  (And it is not for playing, Mr.)  The easiest way to teach its purpose was to allow demonstrations!

I love seeing how quickly a toddler mind learns and this potty exposure has been no exception.  Recently Tyler stood up in his bath.  Before I could tell him to sit, a look passed over his face like he was about to say something, and both of our attention was diverted by a little stream of ... not water.  As I enthusiastically told him what he had made he grinned and pointed to the toilet saying, "potty!"

I'm not putting up diapers and getting out undies just yet, but it feels good to at least be moving in that direction at 17 months.  And who knows?  Maybe we will get lucky and make it before baby comes!  I'd even settle for Tyler's 2nd birthday. :)

At what age(s) have your little ones mastered all things potty?  Come on now... give me some low numbers!