Monthly Archives: May 2009

Sleepy Heads

Our three-year-old can fall asleep anywhere.  He gets sleepy, and he just konks out no matter where he is.   

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Wonder where he gets that from?

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Seriously, five minutes.  Five minutes.  The bigger kids and I left the room for five minutes to go put our pj’s on, and these two were comatose when we returned.  Drooling, snoring, REM, out-like-a-light ASLEEP in five minutes or less.  

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But don’t they make a sweet picture?

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Ginkgo Biloba, Anyone?

I like to think I have a good memory, but -clearly- I occasionally have some issues with remembering.  Most notoriously was one major memory gaffe in the early stages of my relationship with my husband.  As long as I live, he will never let me forget the most regrettable memory blunder of all-time.

It was early enough in our relationship that my husband was still trying to put his best foot forward with my parents.  During weekend visits, he’d rise early to make scrambled eggs on a Saturday morning to impress my mom.  He left his Duke t-shirt at home so as not to agitate my dad.  I like to think my senior memory moment was the final ice-breaker, the single event that united my husband and my parents in one moment of shock and awe as they turned to me in disbelief and horror.  

A couple years earlier I had seen the movie Point Break with some girlfriends.  (Those of you who have seen this movie are already laughing.  Stop it.  We’re not to the laughing part yet.)  I remembered surfing and bank robbers who wore masks of the faces of past Presidents.  I also remembered Keanu Reeves.  That’s pretty much all I remembered.  Except, I did remember that I liked the plot of the movie.  

As we stood at the video store (Yes, boys and girls, we used to leave our houses and go to a store to rent the movies.  They did not magically appear in our mailboxes.  We had to walk uphill both ways to get to this video store and back home again.), as we stood at the rack of movies, my husband noticed this movie was rated R and asked if I was sure we’d want to watch this with my parents.  Ignoring this flashing red warning signal, I remembered that my friend Jennifer, who is far more conservative and who had once turned off a period-piece movie because it showed too much cleavage (or at least that is my memory of the situation which, as you’ll soon learn, means absolutely nothing) — Jennifer loved Point Break.  “So,” I reassured my husband, “I’m sure it’s fine.  Just lots of action and bank robbing and surfing.”  

Once home, we popped some popcorn and settled in to watch this movie with my parents.  Mere minutes into the movie, like in the opening scene, somebody busts (pun intended) into a room filled with topless girls.  Naked breasts are everywhere, foul language fills the room – from the movie, not from my husband who was ready to kill me.  Actually, I don’t know that there were many topless girls in the scene.  I only know that we saw naked boobies and we heard bad words.  While watching a movie.  With my parents.  And my husband wanted to die.  

We quickly turned the movie off.  We probably watched Hee Haw instead.  And I learned that night that my memory cannot be trusted.  I needed some ginkgo biloba in a serious way.  I also was not allowed to choose the movies for nearly fifteen years.  Only recently, when I absconded control of the Netflix queue, was this judgment reversed.  

So I tell you all that to say that sometimes we only remember the things we liked about a situation (or movie) and not the embarrassing or uncomfortable or rated R parts.  

I’ve been studying the life of Moses this year, and I have seen that the Israelites had the same memory problems I have.  Shortly after entering the desert, they began to complain about their circumstances and fondly reminisce about Egypt.  Clearly, they forgot the glaring breasts-flashing-on-screen equivalent bit of information that they had been slaves in Egypt.  So while, yes, they had had cucumbers to eat in Egypt, they were so thoroughly exhausted from making bricks all day and meeting unrealistic quotas and having to watch all their firstborn sons be put to death that they couldn’t really enjoy the cucumbers.  

In the heat and discomfort of the wilderness, those Israelites only remembered the good stuff from Egypt, forgetting all the bad stuff.  Like me in my Point Break moment, they were in serious need of ginkgo biloba.  

Do you ever do that?  Look back on the past or to the place you used to be and wish you were there again?  Forgetting all about the parts that really weren’t that great?  

I do.  As I’ve studied the life of Moses, I’ve realized that I am far too much like those Israelites in the desert.  I need some spiritual ginkgo biloba to jog my memory.  I’m learning that I can’t trust myself to remember correctly or think correctly because my heart is deceptively wicked.  But I can trust God.  And if He has me right here, right now, I don’t need to look longingly back to the Egypt I remember.  

Anyone want to watch a movie?  I remember a good one.

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Misc. Monday – 4/18/09

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Merry Christmas in May!  

On Saturday, we had an early birthday party for my oldest child.  She will turn 11 in a couple weeks, but she wanted her party before school lets out for summer.  So, we cranked up the air conditioners and decorated for Christmas.  My daughter wanted a Christmas-themed birthday party, so we put up the three-foot tree, strung up some lights, placed some garland across the piano, and hung a couple of stockings.  Because she’s almost 11, she actually did the decorating.  I made the cupcakes.  

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All the party preparations sparked a fun conversation about which birthday parties throughout the years have been our favorites.  I thought I’d mention some of Lauren’s favorites for today’s Miscellaneous Monday.  

1.  American Girl Party.  Lauren’s 8th birthday.  My mom and I had bought all sorts of American Girl party supplies at 75% off the regular price at the Hallmark store in my hometown.  Every girl was invited to wear a party dress and bring along a doll.  We decorated with AG stuff, streamers, some AG books standing around, and other girly-looking things.  The girls decorated straw hats for their dolls with feathers and ribbons and lots of glue.  We played games from the AG pencil game book.  The whole afternoon was very girly and fun.  Lauren was in the midst of her “I don’t like icing on cake” phase, so I made her cake in rose-shaped silicone pans — one large rose and several smaller rose-shaped cupcakes.  Then I sprinkled them with powdered sugar and served them on a plate covered in doilies.  

2.  The Disney Princess Party.  Lauren’s 5th birthday.  We decorated the basement of our church with pastel balloons, lots of streamers, and a large Disney Princess piñata.  I made a cake that looked like a castle, complete with sugar-cone turrets.  We played games like pass the crown and the dress-up relay.  That was really fun.  The girls were divided into two teams and they raced to put on the boa, the princess shoes, the crown, and the fluffy skirt.  They made Fruit Loop necklaces and decorated their own crowns.  It was a little girl’s dream party.

3.  The Barnyard Bash.  Lauren’s 4th birthday.  This might be our most favorite party yet.  The cake looked like a pig (a Family Fun idea).  Everyone wore overalls.  We covered our Little Tykes playhouse with large pieces of cardboard, painted to look like a barn.  My in-laws even brought bales of hay to decorate our yard.  We gave everyone red bandanas to tie around their necks upon arrival.  Then we served hot dogs in pie tins for lunch.  We played chicken limbo and we did a barnyard cake walk.  I taped farm animal shapes onto paper plates and tied string on them to make masks that the children could color.  Each child sat on the bale of hay in front of our miniature barn for Polaroid pictures they could take home that day.  It was so much fun!  

There have been many other parties — the Virginia Tech Hokie party, the Hello Kitty party, Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, Flowers & Hearts, Sports, Pirates, Barney, and more I am not remembering.  We love parties.  We love Christmas in May.  

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How about you?  What fun birthday party ideas do you have to share?

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Traveling with Children – Miscellaneous Monday – 4-11

It’s that time of year again!  Vacation Season is almost upon us.  For some of you, that means being cooped up in a van with restless children the adventure of traveling with children.  

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We have never lived in the same town as our extended family, so road trips have always been part of our children’s lives.  Now that we live in Florida, long road trips are definitely part of life.  

So for today’s Misc. Monday, I’m sharing some tips for traveling with children.  And I look forward to hearing your ideas in my comment section.  

jenninvan

1.  Pack snacks (and maybe even meals, if you want to save more money).  Snacks at gas stations are expensive.  I like to buy or make fun snacks and take with us.  Packs of crackers, baggies of Goldfish or animal crackers, cereal bars, dried bananas or apricots, homemade granola bars, baggies of homemade snack mix.  I have also taken big baggies of snacks and small Dixie cups or Tupperware cups.  I can fill the cups with snacks and pass them back, then collect the cups to use for the next snack.  This way, I’m not wasting as many small baggies.  

If you already have snacks in the car and you run into a construction zone or slow-moving traffic because of an accident, you don’t have hungry, whiney children begging you to hurry up and get to a McDonald’s.  

We also try to keep bottled water in the van when we travel.  This way, when the children are dying of thirst –or acting as if they are– you have water for them.  It can also come in handy for cleaning up messes.  

The past few times we have traveled, we have eaten packs of nabs (for those not from ’round here, “nabs” are those packs of sandwich snack crackers, like cheese crackers with a peanut butter middle or wheat crackers with cream cheese ‘n chives in the middle) and dried fruit for lunch.  This way, we can take a short potty/stretch/jump around break and then eat in the van.  Saves time and money. 

2.  Plan stops for jumping and stretching and running and getting wiggles out.  If you have small children, they will need this! (Understatement!)  Some rest stops have grassy areas perfect for this.  When we have traveled on rainy days, we have eaten our cheap lunch in the car, then we’ve gone into a restaurant with an indoor playplace and shared desserts and let the kids play for a little while before hopping back into the van.  

Seven years ago, we drove from Virginia to Colorado with three children under the age of four (and I was pregnant!).  We drove for twelve hours two days in a row.  I packed a beach ball.  When we stopped, we blew it up and the kids got to kick and chase it through fields or grassy areas (away from the highway, of course).  When it was time to get back in the van, we deflated it.  It took up almost no room!  

It is best to stop every two to two-and-a-half hours to stretch your legs — even if you stop for just ten minutes.  

3.  Motivate children to get back into car-seats!  When we traveled to Colorado, my absolute favorite idea came from a stranger on an email digest list.  She suggested it, I did it, and it was a highlight of the trip!  I wish I could remember her name to give her credit.

If you have preschoolers, you know how they feel about getting strapped back into car-seats after they have been traveling for three hours and have experienced twenty minutes of freedom.  It’s often not a pretty sight!  

I got my friends to give me the happy meal toys they no longer wanted cluttering up their home.  Then I wrapped those small toys in cast-off, leftover wrapping paper.  After each stop, the children got to unwrap a gift AFTER they were strapped back in.  Kids love to unwrap presents.  This is a huge motivator to get strapped back in those seats.  And then they have a new-to-them toy to occupy them for the next part of the trip.  

Bonus #4.  If you have potty-training or recently potty-trained children, pack a potty and baby wipes and trash bags.  I know somebody who used to have a potty in the back of her van at all times.  Some public restrooms are disgusting, and our three-year-olds are MUCH closer to those nasty, sticky floors than we are.  And we all know that children don’t always cooperate by needing to go when there is a restroom within a twenty-mile radius.  

If you don’t have room for a whole training-potty, maybe you could pack a bucket and a tiny, child-sized potty seat.  The bucket could be used for emergency potty trips, unexpected motion sickness or stomach viruses, or as a trash can in the van.  

Bonus #5.  Make traveling part of the fun of the trip.  If you’re going to be spending five or ten or twelve hours in a car, don’t waste that time.  Make it part of the vacation!  

Play travel games, sing songs, look for letters on signs or license plates from different states.  We have a DVD system in our van, but I don’t want my children to spend twelve straight hours watching Looney Toons.  We listen to music and sing along.  We try to point out when we cross a state line.  Sometimes we play songs to welcome ourselves to a state — Willie Nelson’s “Georgia” when we cross the Georgia state line and -of course- John Denver’s “Country Roads” when we enthusiastically enter West Virginia.  

I also love to read to the children while we drive.  Really, this has always been part of traveling for our family.  Before we had children, I’d read to my husband while he drove.  One summer, we read two John Grisham novels on road trips.  On our last trip, I read parts of a biography of Corrie Ten Boom.  Last summer, I read some children’s books set in a fictional version of my hometown.  

After we bought this long twelve-passenger van, the kids in the very back could not hear me unless I scream-read.  That got old quickly!  So we bought a microphone that plugs into our stereo system.  Now I read into the microphone and the kids hear me over the speakers.  Plus, I feel like a tour-guide.  I often say things like, “If you look to your left, you’ll see swampy land in Georgia.  And if you look to your right, you’ll see more Georgia swampland.”  I can also whisper, “I love you” to the children all the way in the back, and they can hear me.  Actually, that usually goes over better than my lame tour-guide routine.  

How about you?  What creative tips do you have for traveling with children?

patrickinvan

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If it gets too quiet . . .

while I am downloading a couple songs from iTunes, I should know my two little guys are up to no-good. 

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This one, the 5-year-old, colored a big bruise-like mark on his eyelid and some orange lines on his face.  

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Then he colored his own hands.  

But none of that compares with what he did to his little brother, the willing canvas.

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The little booger was very pleased with his new look.

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He proudly showed off his orange knee and orange tummy. 

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And those orange spots and streaks all over his face.  Poor kid looks like he’s got some strange disease.  

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He says his favorite color is orange now.  That’s a good thing, considering some of his skin is still stained that color.  

Guess that’s what I get for my slight obsession with Kris from American Idol and for taking 10 minutes out of my afternoon to download his songs.

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Misc. Monday — May 4, 2009

Today’s Miscellaneous Monday — drum roll please —  Three Guilty Pleasures.  

At the risk of sounding very shallow, I’m sharing with you three of my guilty pleasures.  Don’t judge me.  You know you have your own guilty pleasures.  

1.  Reading the EW.com recaps of TV shows.  I look forward to Dalton Ross’s summary of Survivor on Friday mornings.  Sometimes I laugh until I cry.  And that guy who writes about American Idol  — very funny.  And the girl who writes about The Bachelor pokes fun of the whole premise of the show, which I appreciate because I disagree with the premise of the show, but then she’s clearly watching it and getting sucked in — just like me.  Often the humor is at the expense of a contestant, but -really- you can’t tell me Coach didn’t know people would be making fun of his “I was held captive by Amazonian dwarves” story.  

2.  Hidden candy.  At any given moment, I probably have some form of chocolate candy hidden somewhere in this apartment.  Sometimes it’s behind the rice or oatmeal in a kitchen cabinet.  Sometimes it’s under the packets of taco seasoning and the can of Ovaltine.  Sometimes it’s in my underwear drawer, where I know it definitely won’t be discovered.  Yes, I hide food from my children.  Because, to be honest with you, I need it more than they do.  Some days between 2:45 and 5:30, the only thing that keeps me sane is hiding in my room for 10 minutes and slowly eating a handful of peanut butter M&Ms or two little squares of dark chocolate.  (And, no, I don’t think my son’s compulsion to hide muffins and crackers and granola bars in his swimtrunks drawer has anything to do with this guilty pleasure of mine.  He has no idea I hid peanut butter eggs in my underwear drawer the week before Easter!) 

3.  US Weekly online.  I know.  I know.  Gossip magazines are of the devil.  But on days when I’m in my pajamas at noon and I’ve read three Clifford books and played Don’t Break the Ice and washed three loads of laundry (and piled all of it in the recliner) and I’ve stepped on twenty-four LEGO pieces and tripped over Little People, well, on days like that I find a strange comfort looking at those Just Like Us photo galleries.  You know, those unflattering realistic pictures of people like Kelly Ripa chowing down on a big cheeseburger or Julie Roberts getting caught in a downpour.  And don’t even get me started on how therapeutic the Stars Without Makeup pictures can be for me.  

So, there you have it.  Three of my guilty pleasures.  

What about you?  Feel like confessing your guilty pleasures in my comment box?

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Good Stuff

Here are some good things I’ve read in Blog-World lately.  Most of them are funny.  So if you don’t like to laugh, don’t click on any of the links.

Jon over at StuffChristiansLike wrote this about thinking we’re naked.  It’s not what you think.  Go read it.  

Stuart Delony posted this video of Colbert defending the Bible.  It’s humorous, and I agree with Stuart that we can learn some things from Colbert.  

Paul has some good things to say about Christians “ripping off the latest greatest thing and calling it great evangelism.”  

If you just want a good laugh, Tyler Stanton wrote this really funny piece about the perks of having children. 

Jason Boyett wrote this hilarious example of how some Bible stories don’t translate well to the children’s edition of the Bible.  

What about you?  Have you read anything good lately?  I think my blog set-up will allow you to post one link per comment.  If not, it will be sort of funny for everyone to try to comment and for me to get 400 comments stuck in Spam Pergatory.

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