Exercising my mental powers. And failing.
Friday, October 31, 2008

I work on Monday and Friday. Usually my lunch consists of grabbing a $.99 cent burger at a drive-thru on my way to the next patient.

Today, however, I found myself with the unheard of 40 free minutes for lunch.

I decided I would have myself a Schlotzsky's original sandwich meal deal. Goodness on a plate. With extra black olives.

Since I had some time to kill, I went inside the restaurant and sat at a table by myself.

No charts to read or paperwork to complete. Just me and my original sandwich goodness.

Wow. It took every ounce of mental prowess I had, trying not to totally eavesdrop on every conversation going on around me.

And honestly, I failed.

Middle-age couple to my right: Fighting about money. They were using hushed tones, but seriously....this just made me more interested. I'm pretty sure the woman won the argument.

College guys at table to my left: Ewwww. Can't repeat their conversation on this family friendly blog. I tried to focus on other conversations as to escape hearing any more of theirs.

Business men across from me: Managed to talk about Texas Tech football over their entire lunch. They have very high hopes for the big game tomorrow.

Medical students wearing scrubs sitting catty-corner to me: Talking graphically about a medical procedure that can be done to the bones in the hand. Each trying to sound smarter than the other.

Next time I dine alone, I'll take in a book. Or else my eavesdropping tendencies will take over!

Birthday Muffins for a new five year old
Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Dylan! My big five year old.

("A whole hand!")

I agree with your dad, you are an absolute delight to share life with!


Family Fall Festival

For our Family Night this week, we had a "Fall Festival." (Jonathan's idea. The pirate theme last week was his idea too. I told him I like this system; if he keeps delivering on the big idea I'll keep delivering on the specifics. We're a pretty good team that way.)

Jonathan and the kids cut out 'tickets', while Ryan made posters advertising all the Festival Activities.

For dinner, Frito Pie costs the kids 6 tickets each.

Then they handed over more tickets for Face Painting, The Bean Bag Toss, Arm Wrestling, and Bobbing for Apples.

Lastly we made caramel apples sprinkled with mini-chocolate chips and peanuts. Messy, gooey, fun, and yummy.

I'm really enjoying Tuesday Family nights! It's nice to be deliberate about enjoying each other.

Be sure to check out WhittakerWoman for lots of Family Night ideas.


Product Loyalty
Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I wonder....Am I the only one with strange reasons for product loyalty?

I buy Griffin's Original Syrup for one reason.

It's made in Muskogee, OK.

I feel like I'm being loyal to my home state when I buy it.

Yep. Every time I make pancakes, I'm sure to take note of that little "made in Muskogee" label on the syrup bottle.

Come to think of it, I've been known to purchase Shawnee Mills products (made in Shawnee, OK!) for the same reason. Hmm....I could have some issues.

Looking forward to making a trip 'home' at Thanksgiving. Looking forward to obnoxiously singing the Oklahoma state song when we cross the border.

"O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A! Oklahoma! OK!"

Disclaimer: I may be feeling a bit of home state loyalty right now because Ryan is studying the State of Texas in first grade social studies. You know how most Texans firmly believe they live in the very best state in the Union? A completely different, set apart, specially blessed by God, kind of state? Yeah. I guess they start that indoctrination really young around here. :-)

So cute, I could almost give up bacon.
Saturday, October 25, 2008

(I said almost.)

Squealing, oinking, pink little bundles of cuteness! Dylan loved this little guy! Adorable.

It might be time to go shopping...

It might be time to go shopping...when you have nightmares that Clinton and Stacy are verbally attacking you, saying mean, yet deserved, things about your wardrobe.

Or maybe I should stop watching What Not to Wear right before bed.

Dylan. Master Party Planner.
Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dylan is turning five next week.

He's been making big plans for his birthday party for over a month now.

He's come up with his own guest list, and today at Wal-Mart he picked out his own invitations.

"I want these, 'cause I can make that monkey face!" Who knew? Indeed he can.

This marks the first time he's had an opinion about who he wants to invite ("Boys only!"), instead of me just inviting all my girlfriends who have kids near his age. It's a milestone.

Some of the boys he wants to invite from church he only knows by first name...so I'll have to do some investigative work this week. Apparently it's all important that "Zach" gets invited. There are approximately 14,238 boys named Zach in the preschool program at church. (Possibly a slight exaggeration.)


"Some of you have an idolatrous relationship with your own opinion."
-Tim Redmond

That's something I heard at the conference Jonathan and I attended last week.

I've been pondering that statement ever since.

My pondering has brought me to this conclusion: OUCH.

I'd like to have confidence to know that it's okay if some of my opinions are challenged or maybe even (gasp!) changed.

But I really, really like my opinions. And sometimes I think I fear honest discourse with people who disagree with me. What's the fear? That I might have to change my mind? Let go of some of those opinions I've had such a warm cozy relationship with?

I'm talking here strictly about things that the Bible doesn't directly address. The fact that my hope is in Jesus and salvation comes through Him alone is established firmly in my mind and heart as truth; as more than mere opinion.

But what about things the Bible doesn't directly speak to? There is a looooong list of things that mom's can get pretty riled up and opinionated about.

Natural birth or epidural?
Breastfeed or use formula?
To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?
Schedule feed or demand feed?
Co-sleep or put the baby in the crib?
Organic foods only, or is processed okay?
To spank or use timeout?
Homeschool or public school?
Moderate TV or no TV?
Put your toddler in the nursery or take him with you to church?

That is a mere sampling of the things that most moms I know have very strong opinions about. Passionate, get on their soap-box type of opinions. Me included at times.

And honestly I'm tired of just immediately discounting people who think and feel differently than I do. I think it's human nature, but I don't want to be that way. I don't want to be the kind of person who automatically thinks less of someone, or questions their intelligence (harsh words - just keepin' it real here folks!) if they have an opinion that is highly divergent from mine.

Not sure what this desire to stop worshipping my own opinion will look like in real life.

Maybe I need to swing by the alternative medicine and herb store (I'd have to learn where it is first), and try and make some new friends. Sort of kidding...but you get my point. ;-)

Ye Olde Family Night
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Arrr ye Matey!

Papaw and Mo made a visit to Lubbock this weekend. They came bearing gifts that served as the inspiration for family night:

First we created a treasure map. I attempted to draw something resembling the floor plan of our house, and Ryan took it from there:

Dylan and Lauryn decorated the treasure chest:

The highlight of the evening for the boys was watching me burn the edges of the map. I told the boys we were burning it to make it look old and authentic...but mostly I just did it because the boys think fire is cool.

When Jonathan got home from work, the pirates caught themselves a land lubber prisoner to help them decode the map (Dylan kept his blade in the prisoners back while Ryan yelled "Faster you scurvy dog!" - cracked me up) :

The map led to several riddles the prisoner had to answer correctly, lest he walk the plank:

And then finally led to the treasure chest. X marks the spot!

The pirates (who made nice with their prisoner after they discovered their treasure - no animosity can continue in the warm light of glow bracelets), showing off their bounty:

We finished up by watching our new movie, and coloring pages from a new pirate coloring book.

Shiver me timbers, it be a great night! (Probably not a correct use of 'shiver me timbers'. But I really wanted to use more pirate talk.)


Check out WhittakerWoman for lots of creative family night ideas.


Maybe it's an unfair assumption.
Monday, October 20, 2008

I was up around the Texas Tech campus today at lunch time.

I noticed more than a couple college girls driving around in their luxury SUV's.

On the back windshield alongside Greek sorority letters, were "Vote for Obama" bumper stickers.

I thought, "I wonder how many of those girls have staunchly Republican fathers making their car payment and paying their sorority dues? Do they rip the bumper sticker off their Lexus SUV before heading home for a visit?"

You may think that means I have stereotypical assumptions about Republicans and Democrats and their respective socio-economic status (I can assure you I don't; I had pictures of Ronald Reagan hanging on my playhouse walls at a very early age, and were were middle class at best)...

....but instead, I'm pretty sure it means I make unfair assumptions about blond-haired sorority girls. I'll work on that.

Mountains! Trees! Rivers! Lakes!
Saturday, October 18, 2008

You may have guessed from the title that Jonathan and I got out of Lubbock for a few days.

Before we moved to West Texas, I had never even heard of Ruidoso, NM. But it's a major getaway destination for people in this region.

Our church leadership takes an annual trip to Ruidoso. It's hard to believe how time has flown since we went last year.

It's 4 hours west of here, and it's amazing how drastically the landscape can change traveling a mere 240 miles. So pretty.

Hitchin' a Ride
Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Today, a city bus driver brought his bus and visited Dylan's preschool. They're in the middle of a unit about people who work in our community.

So all the kids took a short ride around the school parking lot, and they were each given a bus token.

"What are you going to do with your bus token Dylan?"

"Save it. And next time I see a city bus, I'm going to climb on and tell the driver to take me to Chuck E. Cheese."

Roughing It
Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tonight we had the first of what I hope will be a tradition of "Tuesday Family Night."

Tonight's theme: CAMPING!

(Inside the house. Not the same as beside a roaring river or serene lake, but still fun.)

We started off with hot dogs for dinner. Unfortunately, there was no way to jab them onto a stick and cook them over an open fire, but the kids have never cooked them that way and didn't know what they were missing.

Then it was time to go "fishing." Beside a beautiful "tree" (yes, as a matter of fact they did make a short tree out of my brown pants), Ryan and Dylan created a "stream", complete with gen-u-ine Arkansas River Rocks. Our stream was stocked with fish adorned with paperclips, and we went fishing with a magnet fishing pole. Frogs croaked loudly over the sound of rushing water. Courtesy of the nature sounds setting on my alarm clock.

Each fish had directions written on them. Jonathan's fish said "spin around 10 times", and it took the old man nearly 5 minutes to complete his task. My directions were "jump as high as you can," and I nearly threw my hip out. Little too much ooomph.

Then it was tent time! Ryan read us a book, while Dylan tried to get everyone to wrestle. Lauryn helped me tell the story of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears".

I know I look a little tired, but it's understandable given that I spent all day setting up a tent, gathering the wood for the fire, trekking through the woods to find the fishing stream....camping is hard work.

After tent time came S'mores! They were made in the microwave, and not by my preferred method of burning the marshmallow to a smoldering black crisp over a fire. Maybe next time.

Tonight was a squeal-inducing fun fest for a 6, 4, and 2 year old. I know I'll look back longingly on nights like this when they're 16, 14, and 12. Maybe by then we'll finally get around to taking them camping outdoors.

Thanks to WhittakerWoman for the inspiration to start a Family Night. Our theme for next week...will likely be whichever idea I decide to steal from her.


Little Women
Sunday, October 12, 2008

Last night a friend and I went to see "Little Women The Musical" at Lubbock Christian University.

So fun.

I love going to any kind of live production, and this is the first one I've attended since we moved to Lubbock.

And I've decided... "once a drama nerd, always a drama nerd."

My only experience with "the theater" is my three years in High School. Which was well over 10 years ago. But I've convinced myself that my limited experience makes me an expert on all things theatrical.

I totally analyze everything happening onstage and think about all the stuff going on backstage as well. All the costume changes, lighting cues, prop placement, and set design.....I love that stuff!!! Truly I'm far from an expert. But I like pretending I am in my own mind.

And I remembered how much I love the book Little Women. A re-read is in order.

I guess I could have just bought a new pair of shoestrings.
Thursday, October 9, 2008

When I picked Ryan up from school today, he came running over, shoes untied, with a fuzzy growth trailing behind him.

See it? The fraying shoelace?

I was highly irritated. Ryan knows how to tie his shoes. He's quite skilled at it. I've tried and tried to get him to care if his shoes are untied, but he happily lives his life with shoestrings flying in the breeze.

We "double-knot" them in the mornings, but these particular strings just will NOT stay tied. Any knot we tie slips free within the hour. Oh goodness. My blood pressure is rising just thinking about it.

I had noticed that in addition to always coming untied, the tips of the strings were starting to fray. So just this morning I had thrilled and delighted the kids by catching the tips on fire, trying to ward off fraying. That's high drama at breakfast time.

So this afternoon, we left the school parking lot and drove immediately to Payless and bought new tennis shoes. With velcro. I'm done with the shoe strings. We've made it through the right of passage of learning to tie them; but now that skill is mastered and we're running back to velcro with arms wide open.

(By the way - Payless is having their "buy one get one half off" sale, plus lots of shoes already discounted. I found this pair of tennis shoes on sale for $10 bucks...and the pair of brown dress shoes on sale for $5 bucks...so with the BOGO sale my total for both was only $13.52. Pretty great deal I think. Better check it out moms! The brown pair does have shoestrings...I'm hoping they don't posess the same come-untied-from-any-knot-magic the last pair had. Surely they can stay tied for two hours at church? Right? Right?)

Her Turn
Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The boys have long dominated the Cliff Family Weekly-Calendar-of-Events, what with twice weekly soccer practices and games every Saturday. Lauryn has been at the mercy of what everyone else has to do, tagging along for the ride.

But not anymore! It's finally her turn. Lauryn's name is now on the calendar each week - every Wednesday at 11:00am. One hour. Reserved just for her. Ballet practice!

I gotta tell ya, a room full of three year old ballerinas is a different planet from a soccer field full of sweaty five year old boys. So much fun.

Here's hoping she can overcome her mom's genetic influence to somehow acquire natural poise and grace.

Directly behind the community center is a cute white chapel surrounded by a rose garden.

She looks adorable, doesn't she? A sweet little ballerina in a rose garden.

But you really had to be here at our house this morning to get the full experience.

I helped her into her dance outfit, and proceeded to ooh and aah over her, "You're such a beautiful ballerina!"

She promptly let rip a loud and stinky fart that shook the very foundations of our home. Then she laughed hysterically. Poise and grace could be a long way off.

She may indeed be a beautiful ballerina, but there's no changing the fact that she's heavily influenced by two stinky soccer playing big brothers!

Beware the Flare Ups
Monday, October 6, 2008

When I went outside to fire up the grill, Lauryn admonished me,

"Mommy....that is only for Daddy to use. ONLY. DADDY."

But I proceeded to throw the hamburger patties on the grill.

And they turned out just fine.

No one else ate their burger, but I ate every bit of mine. Everyone should enjoy a crispy, blackened burger every now and then.

(It's possible I only ate mine to prove some kind of point...that the grill is not only for Daddy. But any statement I might of been trying make was overshadowed by the crunching of my delicious, well-done burger.)

I Heart West Texas
Saturday, October 4, 2008

This year is Lubbock's Centennial celebration.

Could there be a better way to celebrate than with a huge image plowed into a corn maze?

West Texas never disappoints! I'm seriously loving living here. (This in spite of suffering what I think is 'wind burn' from my day spend at the soccer field.)


This little display of affection is completely posed and not at all spontaneous....but still cute.

And worth posting, simply because when I asked her to give her brother a kiss she actually did it. And he actually let her.

Fun Event Of the Day
Friday, October 3, 2008

Lauryn decorated Dylan's black soccer cleats with her glitter lip gloss.

How nice of her.

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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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