My friend Lisa recommend the Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD a couple years ago, when Ryan was about Dylan's age. It's a great learning tool; Ryan learned all his letters and the sounds they make within a few viewings. (As did Claire, Lisa's daughter.)
Now we've pulled it back out for Dylan to watch, and he's learning quickly as well. (Even though he has to tolerate Ryan protesting that it's a "baby" movie. Now that Ryan is a big five year old he thinks he's too cool to watch it!)
Just wanted to recommend it to my friends with small children! Although, be prepared for the songs to get stuck in your brain for all eternity....
Well, it was fun for about an hour, while they colored the box with crayons...decorated it with stickers...and, under the rule of King Ryan, pretended to be a King, a Prince, and a Princess in their castle.
After about an hour, Ryan and Dylan were both inside the box when they got into an argument about something. It looked and sounded like I had an angry lion trapped inside. I thought about just taping the box shut until they could resolve their differences.
Thanks to my friend Kelly who provided the box decorating inspiration! (Although, she let her kids use washable paint. I wasn't feeling that lively today!)
Ryan turned five on Saturday. I would write about the ache I feel in my heart about my baby turning five years old, but I'm not quite articulate enough to express it. For some reason, five seems so much older than four....
His grandparents and uncle were in town to help us celebrate. We had a grand time at Lubbock's very own Chuck E. Cheese. Here are some pictures of the festivities.
A 14 year old girl won the National Geographic Geography Bee. (Yes, we watched the exciting drama unfold on television; it was that or golf. Crazy hard questions by the way!)
She is only the second girl to win in the bee's history.
The best part was hearing moderator Alex Trebek say "You go girl!" when she won.
"I never realized you had a such a tiny head."
The clothing I buy my kids comes from Wal-Mart, Kmart, occasional consignment stores or thrift stores, and the rare "really nice" outfit from Target. So, needless to say, I don't spend a lot of money on their attire.
There is one area however where I have admittedly been a bit of a snob: their shoes. It's not that I buy expensive brands or even shop at upscale stores. Their shoes still come from Target or Payless, it's just that I have always insisted that they be at least a little bit stylish and trendy. I know it's downright mean of me, but no matter how much Ryan begs and pleads, or admires the shoes of his peers, I've never bought him a pair of shoes that light up...or, heaven forbid, that have some gaudy cartoon character plastered on the side. Well, this week that all changed.
He told his Granny that he wanted a pair of "light up shoes" for his birthday. So, horror of horrors, she left me with some money and with the mission of buying Ryan the shoes of his dreams.
The shoes he found are exactly what I feared they would be: white plastic, velcro, lights on the back, and huge Mr. Incredible on the side. He is in heaven. I even broke down and bought a matching pair for Dylan. Does that redeem my years of shoe snobbery?
A funny thing though....watching Ryan stomp around the house, making his shoes light up, has been a real joy. He turns five years old tomorrow, and Jonathan and I asked ourselves tonight, "How many more years do we have before he stops being so unabashedly proud of new tennis shoes?"
Lauryn got her first haircut yesterday! It's not all that dramatic, just a little trim, but it looks better.
Jonathan and I (mostly Jonathan) had been hesitant to get it cut. It's funny how with our "baby" we are so reluctant for her to grow up!
For several days, the kids toilet kept getting clogged. The plumber came out three times, and today he finally removed the toilet completely and discovered the problem. The plumber showed me what he found, then tossed it in the front yard.
Being stuck in that toilet was possibly the most harrowing experience Batman has ever endured. And now, he is on his way to the city dump, because no amount of sanitizing would be enough to let him back in my house.
As I put on my sunglasses (another big pair my mom bought me) to go for a walk, Jonathan says with a smile:
"Oh, great. Wouldn't wanna forget your bug shields."
My sister-in-law says that her husband (Jonathan's brother) makes fun of her stylishly big frames too. We decided the Cliff boys just aren't all that fashionable. Either that, or they just can't bear for us to cover up too much of our beautiful faces.
My sister-in-law sent me some pictures of Zack at his new home:
The boys still miss Zack, but they are glad he's living with Aunt Joy and Uncle Brian and Cousin Connor!
My Mom, aka Granny, arrived for a visit last Thursday. This had been a long awaited visit, being the first of our family to make a trip to Lubbock.
Everything started out great! First off, Mom treated us all to a steak dinner at Texas Roadhouse on Thursday night. (Steaks for the grown-ups, mac-n-cheese for the wee ones.) Texas Roadhouse is fun for the boys - they get to eat peanuts and throw the shells on the floor. Good times.
Ryan turns five years old next weekend (how is that even possible?) so we told our waiter we were celebrating his birthday while his Granny was in town. Here he is sitting on a saddle while the waiter announces that "Brian is turning four years old!" Slightly wrong information, but Ryan didn't seem to care.
Friday morning Mom and I took the kids to Lubbock's very own Krispy Kreme Donuts. Mom had never been to a Krispy Kreme, so the kids had fun showing her how the donuts are made.
Unfortunately, it was raining and yucky weather all weekend, so since the park wasn't an option after donuts we went to the playland at the mall.
Jonathan watched the kids Friday afternoon while Mom and I did some clothes shopping. Friday evening, Mom offered to watch the kids while Jonathan and I went to dinner and a movie. We obviously jumped all over that offer. So we had a nice dinner and went to watch Spiderman 3.
On the way home we called Mom to see how everything was going and if the kids were asleep yet. That's pretty much when everything went downhill. Quickly.
While Jonathan and I were out enjoying a nice evening, Mom was back home taking care of a very sick Dylan, cleaning up projectile vomit. (He hadn't shown any symptoms earlier in the day! Really!) We spent all night up with him, and over the next 24 hours me, mom, and Jonathan got sick to varying degrees as well. Unfortunately, mom got the worst of it. I hope she doesn't forever have negative associations of Lubbock!
Even though she was still running a fever on Sunday morning before flying back to Arkansas that afternoon, she bravely visited Prairie Dog Town for the sake of Ryan, who had been very excited to take her there.
What a crazy weekend. Luckily, we had fun on Thursday evening and Friday before everything fell apart late Friday night!
And, since we didn't get to do even half of the things on our agenda, there will be lots to do and see next time she's here. (If we can convince her to come back that is.)
I couldn't resist buying some sunglasses I saw yesterday. They are (much) bigger frames than I normally wear, but they had tiny little silver stars on the side which made me want them. It's not often I find something with stars on it that I actually want to wear; but given that Starr is my name and all I think I need a few "star items" in my wardrobe. Jonathan saw them and said:
"Those things are enormous. You look like you should be welding."
Then today when I went to put them in the built-in sunglasses holder in the mini-van, they were too large to fit! So maybe he's right and they are too big. Or maybe mini-van drivers aren't supposed to wear trendy sunglasses.
update: Just for Margo!
After Ryan refused, Dylan agreed to model the shades for me so I could get a picture of the oh-so-cool silver stars adorning the sides. Something his Dad is sure to disapprove of, and Dylan is sure to regret in his later years when I show this cute picture to his friends.
Wanna know what happens if you remove a cake from a Bundt pan, without first running a knife around the edges?
Luckily, I wasn't making it for any particular reason, just something for me and the kids to do together today. Ryan saw the cake after I had forgotten the apparently crucial knife-around-the-edges-step and said, "Oh, Mommy! It's so....cute!" I think he was pitying me. It's still edible, which is really all the kids care about.
When I was growing up my mom had a little plaque in our kitchen that read:
"The only thing domestic about me is that I live in a house."
I never knew what it meant when I was little, but I understand it fully as an adult. [sigh]
In the spirit of political correctness, the mascot of my college alma mater (Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK) has changed from the NSU Redmen to the NSU RiverHawks. I like it. I think it's an appropriate name, given that most of our free time in college was spent on the river - cooking out, camping, hiking, rafting, rappelling (Jonathan, not me), listening to someone play guitar around a fire, and all those other fun free-spirited type things you do before you take on the demands of real life.
The boys played for over an hour in the backyard today, in a little inflatable swimming pool. Before they went out I sprayed them with an aerosol sunscreen. I thought I was being diligent, but apparently I sprayed rather haphazardly, and now Ryan has zebra stripes across his back. Two big sunburned patches - I feel really bad. Really bad. (I think Ryan knows I feel guilty, because he's milking it for all it's worth.)
Our local supermarket was letting kids decorate a small cake for Mother's Day, so Jonathan took the boys today. They were so proud and excited that they had to give it to me a day early. They each gave me a lovely ring as well.
I was told the huge mound of sprinkles in the middle is in the shape of a heart. The boys were happy to let me have one small piece, while they devoured the rest. What cuties. For a great new picture of the boys check out my husband's blog.
A good read:
Being a Mom That Matters
Being a Mom That Matters (part 2)
"Train children how to live right, and when they are old, they will not change." (Prov. 22:6 NCV)....The original root word for "train" is the term for "the palate, the roof of the mouth, the gums." In the days of Solomon, a midwife would deliver the baby, dip her finger into the juice of crushed dates, reach into the mouth of the baby and massage the gums and palate to create a sense of taste and thirst. She would then give the child to the mother so the baby could nurse. Our job as mothers is to develop a thirst in our children for the right things. And that takes time.
I have been feeling a bit guilty that my kids generally get nowhere near the recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Most days they get at least one, if you count apple juice as a serving. If you count the strawberry jelly that goes on their PBJ's, then they get two. We are a "meat and potato" kinda family. (Hey! I just realized a potato is a vegetable! That makes three!)
So I decided to shop differently this week. Let's compare my old shopping habits with my new more health conscious grocery list:
Off brand bag of cookies: $1.00
Fresh Strawberries: $3.50
Box of Fruit Snacks (with negligible real "fruit"): $1.50
Bag of Sugar Snap Peas: $2.99
Box of Little Debbies: $1.25
Box of Granola Bars: $3.50
Can of Pringles: $1.00
Can of Mixed Nuts: $3.99
And on and on it goes. [Sigh.] All I can say is that the kids better scarf up those Snap Peas like they are the greatest thing they ever tasted.
A couple years ago when Jonathan and I watched Super Size Me we swore off McDonalds and Happy Meals for at least six months...maybe it's time for another viewing.
Dylan is usually a man of very few words, so I was surprised today when I asked him a simple question and received a monologue in response:
me: "Dylan, what do you want to do today after nap?"
ryan: "I want to play --"
dylan: "RYAN! Mommy asked ME what I want to do! I want to go to the pet store. A big pet store. Where they have dogs. I want to buy a dog. Like Zack. Who can live and play and eat at our house. He can play in the back yard with me. But instead of just one dog I want to get three dogs. And I will give them all different names."
Geesh...ask a simple question, get a loaded answer. He'll have plenty of time to ponder what he might like to name a new dog (singular, not plural) because we won't be getting one for a while! Maybe it's time to investigate the purchase of a goldfish.
You might notice that I've been posting more than normal the last couple of days. It's not that things really worthy of writing about are happening all that often...I'm just getting a touch of cabin fever and have a bit more time on my hands. Rainy weather is keeping us stuck indoors. I don't have any responsibilities at the new church yet, and I haven't yet started back to work part-time seeing speech patients. Miracle of miracles, the laundry is even clean!
"Daddy, what's that?"
"Oh, I just put it here for Mommy because it's so pretty."
This conversation of course draws me to the backyard to see what they're talking about, and this is what my husband has brought me from the alley to adorn the patio table:
Maybe a giant tumbleweed is the West Texas version of a bouquet of wildflowers.
I feel like a spoiled American complaining, because I know there are people all over the world who truly do not have access to safe drinking water. But wow - the water in Lubbock is really, really bad tasting. The kids protest if we try to make them drink it. It even changes the flavor of other drinks, like coffee and tea.
I asked around, thinking maybe something was up with the pipes in our house, but apparently it's just that the water here tastes bad. Everyone we've talked to uses bottled water. Culligan may be getting a new customer soon.
As promised, we visited Prairie Dog Town. Named #5 top tourist attraction in Lubbock. (Which has me wondering, are there really all that many more than five tourist attractions here?)
The amount of minutes a prairie dog can hold a child's attention seems to equal that child's age in years. Lauryn lasted about one minute...Dylan three minutes...Ryan maybe four minutes. It was impressive enough, however, that Ryan wants to take his Granny back to visit the Prairie Dogs when she visits next week. We'll see if it stays interesting enough that he also wants to go a third time to take his Papaw and Mo when they visit the week after that.
We did get some pictures of a mama Prairie Dog and her wee ones. (Click to enlarge. That is, click to enlarge if prairie dog families are of interest to you.)