Morning Walk
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

This morning before lunch, the kids and I took a walk around the block. I push Lauryn in the stroller, and the boys run ahead to the edge of the next driveway....stop and wait for ahead to the next driveway....stop and wait for's a well established routine and we make our way around the block this way. It occurred to me while we were walking that in six short months, Ryan will be in Kindergarten, and he won't be able to join us on our Wednesday mid-morning walks. I'm excited for him to start school because he's really excited about it, but I will miss him. I can't believe how time flies.

I didn't take many pictures on our walk, but this one of Dylan cracked me up. He's smelling the "flowers" (or weeds) he picked, and he's sniffing so hard I thought he might suck one up his nostril...

Cognitive Overload

Yesterday, Ryan was sitting on the couch with a troubled expression on his face.

"What's wrong Ryan?"

"Oh....nothing really. I've just been thinking too much. I've been thinking, and thinking, and thinking, and thinking! Everyday I think! At nap time, I'll have to ask Jesus to help me stop thinking."

Narcissistic Young People
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

There is an interesting article in the Dallas Morning News today titled: Study: Young People Increasingly Self-Absorbed.

The article is about how high school and college age young adults are becoming increasingly narcissistic and selfish.
(Obviously, there are some young people who stand in contrast to this description, as evidenced by my awesome 17 year old brother-in-law.)

The most telling paragraph in the article reads:

"We need to stop endlessly repeating 'You're special' and having children repeat that back," said the study's lead author, San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge. "Kids are self-centered enough already."....Some of the rise in narcissism was probably caused by self-esteem programs that many elementary schools adopted in the 1980s, the study suggested. It noted that preschools began to have children sing a song to the tune of "Frère Jacques" that proclaims: "I am special, I am special. Look at me."

Oh, what tangled webs we weave when we abandon God's wisdom in favor of our own ideas. Who decided it was a good idea to teach children that the whole world revolves around them? My prayer is that parents and educators will return to teaching children about serving in humility, and considering the needs of others. God's word gives us all we need for life, including child-rearing guidelines!

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves."

Philippians 2:3

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."
Ephesians 4:2

"Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor."

I think the vast majority of us, if not subjected to horrible verbal or physical abuse, already think fairly highly of ourselves! It is concern for others that must be demonstrated to children, and instilled in them purposefully. Concern for themselves comes quite naturally! (As seen in my 18 month old almost daily when she refuses to share her toys, consider the feelings of her brothers, etc.) My hope is that my children will be blessed to understand that sometimes our family makes sacrifices to meet the needs of others, because that is what brings glory to God.

Of course it should be mentioned that there are many people who think that having a personal blog such as this one is the ultimate expression of narcissism.....but we'll leave that discussion for another day! Ha!

Laundry Thoughts
Monday, February 26, 2007

Today it hit me, I mean really hit me, that I really need to get a handle on this laundry situation. It's only going to get WORSE as my kids get older, because their clothes keep getting bigger and bigger! Which will make the piles of laundry around my home truly all consuming. It's already close to being a fire hazard some days.

I was a little depressed at this thought....then moments later, I had a wonderful revelation! While the kids are getting bigger, and their clothes are getting bigger, this means that they are getting closer and closer to that magical time when they can do their OWN stinkin' laundry! Hooray!

So...whaddya think? Five years old is old enough to learn to run a washing machine, right? (Just teasing. Sorta.)

It's a phonological process called consonant cluster reduction.

But just knowing what it's called hasn't helped me so far in trying to eliminate it from Dylan's speech.

Yesterday we were sitting on the front porch when a spider crawled by, and Dylan said:

"Mommy, it's a 'pider!"

"No Dylan, it's not a 'pider, it's a spider. Say 'ssssss'".

[laughing and slowly shaking his head] "Moooommmmmy, 'piders don't say 'sssss'...... 'nakes do!"

Well, he's right...snakes do say 'ssss' least he knows his animals sounds! Love that little stinker (or 'tinker, as Dylan would say) so much....


So True
Sunday, February 25, 2007

"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. "

~Elizabeth Stone

"While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about."
~Angela Schwindt

"There's nothing that can help you understand your beliefs more than trying to explain them to an inquisitive child."
~Frank A. Clark

"A Sunday well-spent brings a week of content."

The kids had a well-spent afternoon playing outside. It was a little chilly when the wind blew, but they enjoyed themselves.

You might be asking yourself, "Why is she taking a picture? Why doesn't she put the camera down and take that stick away before someone gets hurt?" That would be a very reasonable question; one that I asked myself mere seconds after I took this picture when the stick was propelled from Dylan's hands and went flying in Lauryn's direction. Luckily, it missed her by a hair and no one was injured.

Dylan points out all aircraft that pass over our neighborhood. Future aviator?

Dylan requested that I take their picture on the swing. He really wanted to put his arms around his big brother and little sister, but they weren't exactly cooperating.

This made for a cute picture, but unfortunately it didn't end well. All you need to know is that shortly after this was taken, Ryan said, "Ooops! I think I pushed them." Oops? Yeah right. I wasn't born yesterday kid.

Simple Fun
Friday, February 23, 2007

My boys are so easy to entertain. Jonathan is at a hockey game with some friends tonight, so it's just me and the wee ones. I took the kids to Blockbuster to let them choose a movie to rent, and OH MY goodness you would have thought we were at Six Flags. With some nudging from me (Oh wow! Look at this totally awesome one!), they finally selected The Lady and the Tramp. This was after they had picked up what had to have been every movie in the family section and "discussed" it with each other:

Ryan: Oh...I remember this one. We watched it once at Papaw's house. Remember?

Dylan: Yeah.

Ryan: And this one over here looks too....babyish.

Dylan. Yeah. It's for babies.

Ryan: [picking up another movie] Hmmmmm....this one looks like it might be too scary for us. What do you think?

Dylan: Uh-huh [picking up a Barbie movie]

Ryan: DYLAN!!! Put that back! That is for girls!

Dylan: EWWW! [throwing it down dramatically, because it's obviously covered in girl cooties]

After Blockbuster we went to Brookshire's grocery store, and I let them each pick out a frozen "
Kid Cuisine" for dinner. It was such a study in their individual natures: Dylan reached in and picked out the first one he saw; the chocolate pudding side dish caught his eye and captured his heart. Ryan, on the other hand, stood with the freezer door open studying each frozen dinner box for so long I feared hypothermia might set in.

A Morning with Dylan and Lauryn
Thursday, February 22, 2007

While Ryan was at preschool today, Dylan and Lauryn and I made an impromptu visit to the mall. I left the house thinking I would drop Ryan off at school and maybe go to the neighborhood park, but then I decided we needed a real day out. Our local mall has a fun playland that is just the right size for toddlers and preschoolers.

Forgive Lauryn's circa 1970 Farrah Fawcett feathered hairstyle. This is the look she sports upon waking up. It's okay for the park, but kinda embarrassing for anywhere else in public. (Oh well - my own hair was just as fashionable today!)

It was a fun morning, with Dylan playing the big brother role (
short video here; likely boring to anyone but grandparents). Usually he defers to Ryan on everything, but he had a great time today being large and in charge.

Dylan's allergies have really been kickin' his tail the past few days (red, watery eyes, etc), but he pleaded and begged to go in the pet store after we left the playland. Against my better judgment I agreed, and by the time we had been in there 10 minutes he looked like he had been repeatedly punched in both eyes. He saw two ferrets fighting with each other, so I guess for Dylan it may have been worth it.

On the way out of the mall, Dylan told me he wanted to go to a "grown up restaurant." There's an El Chico at our local mall where kids eat for $.99 cents on Thursday's...what more of an excuse do I need? All throughout lunch, Lauryn was staring quite condescendingly at a little boy about 11 months old who was fighting and loudly protesting about being in his high chair.

"Whatever Lauryn. Quit looking at him like you disapprove. You acted the same way earlier this week."

Oh, the DRAMA!
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My mind is consumed today with a splinter. A moderately sized splinter that has absolutely embedded itself into Ryan's hand. I can't even tell which end of the splinter to try and go at with tweezers (or, horror of horrors a needle).

Ryan screams in dramatic pain when I try and look at it, let alone touch it. I've been online looking up "splinter removal", and there are some pretty crazy suggestions.
(Can you imagine Ryan's reaction if I went after his hand with an Exacto Knife?)

So far I've let him take a long, long bath and let his hands get nice and pruny and soft, thinking it would come out easier. I've also been soaking his hand in warm water with baking soda (another internet suggestion). No luck so far, but the website said to try the soaking method a few times a day and the splinter may work itself out. I also read to cover the splinter with a paste made out of water and baking soda, then cover with a band-aid. We may try that at nap time today.

Let's all hope for the best. I don't have a steady enough hand to come at a screaming, writhing four year old with an Exacto Knife. It's bugging me to no end to know it's there, and I haven't been able to get it out, or even make a valiant effort because of Ryan's dramatic (although possibly justified) reaction....

Click on the picture if you would like to examine the object of our frustration more closely.

Update: We conquered the splinter! In the end, it was good ol' bribery that did the trick. I put the boys down for nap, and when Dylan fell asleep I went back in and got Ryan. I told him he could skip nap, stay up and watch SpongeBob Squarepants, and eat some of his Valentine's Day candy if he would sit quietly and let me get out the splinter. That pretty much did the trick! SpongeBob and FunDip proved to be enough incentive for him to withstand the dreaded needle with just a few little whimpers.

Must be a girl thing
Tuesday, February 20, 2007

My grandmother bought a little playhouse for the kids when we moved into this house three years ago. The boys have enjoyed it and got a lot of use out of it, but neither of them ever quite got into the spirit of it like Lauryn does. That playhouse is her domain.

And this last picture I just had to throw in because it cracks me up. The annoyed look on her face is familiar....I think I've seen it from both of the boys when they are similarly tired of me taking pictures of them.

Yawn...Stretch...Yawn again

The feeling of sleepiness when you are not in bed, and can't get there, is the meanest feeling in the world. ~Edgar Watson Howe

People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one. ~Leo J. Burke

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book. ~Irish Proverb

Ryan and Dylan, please stop waking up three times a night and coming to my bedroom. But if you must come, sneak around to your dad's side of the bed and try not to wake me up. ~Starr Cliff

Sunday Drive Adventure
Sunday, February 18, 2007

It was a pretty day today, and we decided to take the kids on a Sunday drive through the country. While we were strapping the kids in their car seats, Jonathan teasingly told Ryan, "Be sure and tell me all the animals you see....Cows, donkeys, horses, goats......Elephants, giraffes...." Of course Ryan, Mr. pragmatic, corrected Jonathan patiently explaining to him that elephants and giraffes ONLY live in the zoo. (Mental note: Introduce four year old son to the concept of jungles and exotic wildlife.)

So we are driving around in Kaufman County, TX, and what do we see? TWO ELEPHANTS and about FOUR CAMELS wandering around in a large fenced in area in some farmer's front yard. It was so crazy that Jonathan had teased Ryan about looking for elephants...and then we actually spot two of them.

Date Night!
Saturday, February 17, 2007

Our sweet friend, the nursery director at our church, has offered to come over and babysit the kids tonight so Jonathan and I can go out to dinner. What an offer! People don't propose ideas like that to me unless they really mean it, because my response is always immediately "Okay? When ya coming over?"

Praise God for good friends!

Dinner is so much more fun...
Friday, February 16, 2007

...when Daddy is doing the cooking.

I overheard Ryan bragging to Dylan, "Cool...I can't wait to eat the eyeballs!" We offered to let him live up to his big talk when the fish came off the grill. He politely declined.

Say What?

Ryan enjoys using his burgeoning vocabulary, and it makes for some interesting conversation:

"Mom, those were some delicious brownies we made. We were very
courageous to make those." (I thought I was courageous to let a 3 and 4 year old help make brownies from scratch too, but somehow I don't think that's what he meant.)

"I love to run. It makes my energy feel so clean!" (Huh?)

Mom, can you make Dylan get out of our room for a little while? I need some loneliness time."

Validation in the Grocery Aisle
Thursday, February 15, 2007

I think we all crave validation. We want to hear from others that we are smart enough....pretty enough...talented enough...funny enough. I personally look for validation that I am a good mother. Luckily, I have a great husband who praises my efforts on a regular basis. But that doesn't mean I won't look for validation wherever I can get it - even if it's in the form of a catchy advertising campaign. That's right. "Choosy mom's choose Jif!" I hear this refrain each time I stand in front of the peanut butter selections at my local super Wal-Mart, and feel somewhat proud as I put that jumbo mega size jar of Jif in my basket. "Darn right I'm a choosy mom! Only the best for my kids!" Nevermind that everything else is my basket is the store brand. Maybe a few more national food brands should start stroking my ego and I'll cough up the extra $.75 cents I save by getting generic.

Turns out my slight neurosis has paid off, as this week jars of Peter Pan and Great Value brand peanut butter have been
recalled. Any jars that have a code imprinted on the lid beginning with "2111" should be returned to the store for a refund as there is a slight chance it's contaminated with salmonella.

Science lesson for the day: Here is what salmonella looks like as it invades human cells. Eww.

Having a little girl is fun because... get to dress her in pink heart Valentine's Day nighties!

"A little girl can be sweeter (and badder) oftener than anyone else in the world. She can jitter around, and stomp, and make funny noises that frazzle your nerves, yet just when you open your mouth she stands there demure with that special look in her eyes. A girl is Innocence playing in the mud, Beauty standing on its head, and Motherhood dragging a doll by the foot."

-Alan Marshall Beck

Cooking with the Cliff Kids
Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Before Jonathan left for work, he said to Dylan, "Make me something while I'm at work today, okay?" I had in mind that Jonathan meant a drawing or painting or something along that lines, but when I asked Dylan later what we should make for Daddy, he resolutely said, "Brownies." Awesome. A child after my own heart.

Maybe a live action shot wasn't the best idea. Can you hear my voice now? "Watch what you're doing with the eggs Ryan!" He's had the camera in his face for so much of his short little life that he's compelled to look at it.

This is serious business to Dylan.

Their cute little aprons stayed mostly clean...but somehow I know if I would have left them in just their shirts it would be a completely different story.

Valentine's Day: What NOT to Buy

Here is a listing of terribly BAD GIFT IDEAS for Valentine's Day.

The ball and chain T-shirt is kinda funny.

Monday, February 12, 2007

"Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness." Psalm 107:8-9

I'm thankful:

I've realized I've been a bit of a grump, being cooped up in the house with sick kiddos, so I'm trying to make a decision to change my attitude today! It probably helps that I get to go have nice lunch [child-free] with a friend today....but nonetheless, I'm thankful!


Traffic Jam
Sunday, February 11, 2007

I was impressed with my two little engineers for figuring out how to make the cars go up and over the pillow. It took them a few tries because one of them would inevitably bump a car or bump the pillow and they would all come crashing down. Ryan would get frustrated and accusingly yell out "DYLAN!!!", even if Ryan himself was the one that bumped the pillow and Dylan was nowhere near him. Brotherly love!

Heart Matters
Saturday, February 10, 2007

We have learned this week that Ryan has a little crush on a girl at preschool. Her name is Madalyn (this the same Madelaine I have mentioned in a previous post, I just didn't know the correct spelling).

Yesterday Ryan mentioned
(yet again) that she was pretty, so I thought it was a good time to talk about how "Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7). I proceeded to talk for just a few seconds about how it's important that we put value in what the heart of a person looks like; things like being nice to their friends, obeying their teacher, loving Jesus, and being kind.

I then asked Ryan,
"Do you know what I mean?" He replies, "Yeah. Madalyn is nice to all of us... She is also pretty and wears dresses. Today her dress was orange."

Oh my.

Madness! It's madness! (Wild rant to follow.)
Friday, February 9, 2007

Well...Life is not altogether well at the Cliff house. I will spare the details, but Ryan and Dylan have started in with the same symptoms Lauryn started with earlier this week, and Lauryn is still sick as well. I have a call in to my Doctor's office and I'm waiting for a nurse to return my call to determine if I need to schedule appointments.

Does anyone else just
detest the whole experience of going to the pediatrician? Here is how it inevitably goes:

I find a sitter to watch the kids who are healthy, or Jonathan takes time off work, so that I can take the sick kid to the doctor. We wait in the waiting room with kids who are sneezing and snotting all over the place, and I start to think that we will definitely leave with worse germs than we came in with. We finally get our name called, only to wait an insane amount of time in the exam room, while I listen to the nurse and Doctor right outside my door discussing their favorite TV show, a horrible restaurant experience, their great new pair of shoes, the cute thing their nephew did, or some other random topic that seems worthy of waiting until lunch to discuss. The doctor finally comes in and quickly examines the child, who by this time is wild with frustration at being cooped up in a tiny, gray, cold, and boring room for so long. Balloons made out of latex exam gloves can only entertain them for so long. After the poking and prodding is complete, nine times out of ten the Dr. sighs and announces: "Well, it looks like a virus. There's no medicine we can give them for a virus. It will just need to run it's course. Pay your ridiculously high co-pay at the desk on your way out. " Then I scream violently as we run from the building.

I'm going to do laundry. Or hide in the laundry room. Whatever.

Update: Just off the phone with the nurse. She told me a really nasty stomach virus is going around that can last upwards of seven days. They don't want me to bring the kids in for an appointment at this time, just to treat them at home with plenty of liquids. She said to call back if the illness lasts over a week and a half. Hated to have to tell her this, but if it lasts longer than about 2 more days I'm shipping the kids to Oklahoma and letting their grandparents deal with them.

Thankfully, she's too little to be offended
Thursday, February 8, 2007

Dylan was standing on the front porch, scrunching up his nose like a little rabbit and sniffing the air.

"Whatcha doin' Dylan?"

"It stinks out here."

"What's it smell like?"

[sniff, sniff] "Lauryn."

Distorted Perception

I wish I could impress this video upon the brain of every teenage girl or woman I know who is trying to "measure up."

Cute Lil' Critters
Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Ryan and Dylan were due some attention today, so while Lauryn was occupied we made these little guys. Dylan made the Monkey, which he named "Chip". Ryan made the giraffe, which he named "Alice Cliff." I'm glad he told me the name, because I had been working under the assumption it was a boy giraffe.


Ryan: Mom, I don't want to take a nap today!

Me: Ryan, you and Dylan both really need a nap today. We all woke up really early with Lauryn. Your
body is tired.

Dylan: [placing both hands on his rear end] My
booty isn't tired!!!

Have I mentioned how much I love that kid?
I needed a good laugh.

Warning: Not for the Faint of Heart

Lauryn has been a sick little girl today. Fever, vomiting, diarrhea...the whole ugly mess. It's almost midnight and we just put her back to bed after giving her a bath. Here are some things I have learned today:

Hairbows gone Haywire
Monday, February 5, 2007

While I was at work this afternoon, Jonathan took the kids outside to play. He didn't want to deal with Lauryn's hair blowing in her face, so he put three hair bows in her hair. Then when they came in the house, she went to her room and brought him one more bow. So he stuck it in too.

So this is how Lauryn greeted me when I came home today.

High Comedy

"Ryan, tell me something funny."

"A joke?"

"Okay, yeah. Tell me a joke."

"Knock, knock."

"Who's there?"


"Banana who?"

"Banana! Get it? BANANA!!! " [insert laughter from Ryan]

"Ryan...that's not how you tell a knock, knock joke -"
[Ryan interrupts]

"Okay, okay. Here's another one....Knock, knock"

"Who's there?"


"Potato who?"

"POTATO CLIFF!!!" [insert hysterical, falling on the floor laughter from Ryan]

Super Bowl = Super Food
Sunday, February 4, 2007

The best part of Super Bowl Sunday is the snack food. After that comes the parties, and after that comes the funny commercials. And after that, I guess watching the actual football game is okay too.

I summoned my inner Susan Cliff (my wonderfully creative mother-in-law) and made these "Football Brownies". I can't actually claim any creativity...I got the idea off the internet, and the brownies are made from a box mix. But I still get some credit for initiative.

Happy Football Watching!

Getting A Little Peace and Harmony...
Saturday, February 3, 2007 sometimes as easy as turning on a half hour TV show.

The kids have a new favorite show, Pahappahooey Island. It's a show where the main characters are all puppets. The cheesiness factor is a pretty high, so Jonathan and I have to struggle through it, but the kids love it!

Eating Humble Pie
Thursday, February 1, 2007

I have been working as a clinically certified Speech-Language Pathologist for over five years now. For the two years prior to that, I was earning my Master's degree in Communication Disorders. I think I'm good at my job. The families I work with and my supervisors tell me I'm good at my job. I do pediatric home health care, and I generally see very quick progress with all my patients.

With my own kids however....My daughter is 16 months old and pretty much only says "Hi", "Mommy", and some variation of "Dada." My three year old son talks ALL the time and has a large vocabulary and age-appropriate grammar skills....the problem is that the untrained ear (
anyone not in our family) can only understand about 25% of what he says.

It reminds me of the saying "The barber's kid always needs a haircut." I have great success with other people's kids, but with my own...not so much.

It's keeping me humble. Any day now I expect someone to hear Dylan talk and say, "
I've heard of a wonderful Speech Pathologist in this area that could probably help you with his speech!" The problem is, I thought I was the wonderful Speech Pathologist in this area! [Sigh.]


Crime and Punishment

"Dylan, why is Lauryn crying?"

"She was trying to go in the office. So I had to spank her."

Cliff Familyt

I'm Starr Cliff. A domestically-challenged mom, climbing over mountains of laundry to bring you my stray observations and amusing stories about my kids. (more)



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