Brothers.
Monday, March 30, 2009

Ya never really know if they're hugging or trying to choke each other.









It was a total zoo.
Saturday, March 28, 2009

Yeah, it was a literal zoo. With animals and amphibians and all the accompanying sounds and smells.

But also as in, "Holy Cow it's a total ZOO IN HERE!"

Ninety-nine percent of the families in the greater DFW area went to the Ft. Worth zoo the Friday of Spring Break. (Possibly a slight exaggeration. But only by a few percentage points.)

The kids had a good time walking around the zoo. When they could wrangle and push and squeeze their way through the masses and get up close enough to the exhibits to actually see the animals it was even better.

Walking the 17.4 miles to the zoo entrance.
I gotta stop all this exaggerating. But seriously, it was a long stinkin' walk.



After that long walk, I tried to get him to carry me.
He said no. Lauryn was all he could manage.


There's more green in this one picture than in the entirety of West Texas.
(Apparently I'm a one trick pony. Exaggeration is all I got. And all you people keep coming back for more.)


That gorgeous child on the left is in the process of growing his hair out.
He wants it, I quote, "over his ears", end quote.
In the mean time it's getting a bit shabby looking.
Stay tuned for conclusion to the hair drama.

Wow. Maybe those sunglasses are ridiculously big.
Or my head is ridiculously small.

"Hello. I'm Lauryn. As you can see plainly from
the look on my face,
I'm capable of much orneriness."

After we left the zoo, we headed back to our hotel.

We walked outside to check out the pool, and Jonathan asked "Did you pack more than one pair of shoes for Ryan?

"Yeah. Why?"

He didn't answer me. But I found out pretty quick why he asked.



He dropped Ryan in over the side, shoes and all. (Dylan quickly sat down and removed his shoes before joining him.)

Ryan was shocked. He also thought it was completely awesome and it was possibly the highlight of his trip.

Boys! - Lauryn and I just sit back and shake our heads at them.










That is one seriously funny hamster.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Family Night this week revolved around watching the DVD of Bolt!

The hamster character in that movie is stinkin' hysterical. Love it when a kids movie has plenty-0-one-liners for the Moms and Dads. (All while avoiding crass innuendo - all too rare!)

For refreshment during our movie, we stuck with the dog theme and made puppy chow. Human variety.

Lousy camera on my phone. Ugh.

I had planned to let the kids make some treats for Raider, our real life dog. This "recipe" looked simple enough. But I decided I didn't feel up to it. I'm just not ready to be the person who makes treats for the dog. He's cute and everything, but making homemade treats just crosses a line I'm not quite ready to cross.

Plus, we just spend a small fortune getting the dog fixed and vaccinated. That's one expensive racket those vets are running. After that crazy expense, I wasn't willing to shell out any more cash to make gourmet dog treats. He'll survive just fine with his Milkbones. (I think they might be generic Milkbones. But he doesn't know that.)

Sometimes my kids dress weird like that for no reason at all.
But when this picture was taken they happened to really be
getting into St. Patrick's Day.

Check out WhittakerWoman for more family night ideas!

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Wind Blown
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tee-Ball is rough on me and Lauryn.

Yeah, yeah....Jonathan is coaching and both boys are playing. I understand. They're the ones standing in the wind for upwards of an hour and a half. Hitting balls. Catching balls. Running the bases. I guess they're doing a little bit of work.

But I'm convinced me and Lauryn exert more energy than they do, trying to keep our hair out of our faces.

It's been especially windy in Lubbock lately (even more so than ususal!) and stray hair whipping into your face for an hour and half is a mental beat down.


We've finally learned to wear baseball caps.

(I'm such a baby. I could never be expected to actually play a sport in these windy conditions. If it were up to me, games and practices would be canceled due to wind!)








Reason #247 why I love my mini-van
Monday, March 23, 2009


You all know I am a proud mini-van driver. No SUV for this girl. Love those sliding doors!

Scoff if you must. But my mini-van and I plan on having many more happy years together.

Tonight, "Windy" (Get it? Get it? Cause she's a Ford Windstar? We're so clever.) came through for me yet again. I was able to pack in nearly 900 hot dogs and hot dog buns, 250 capri sun pouches, and about 8 giant bottles of mustard and ketchup.

As I was driving all that stuff home from Sams Club..just me and all the above mentioned food, crammed into my mini-van at 9:00pm...I had one of those "Is this really my life?" moments.

How did I arrive at the place where I'm driving around Lubbock, TX with 900 hot dogs? Ahh...the life of a Children Pastor's wife. Yep. This is indeed my life. Good thing I love it!













Family Night: St. Patrick's Day
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

(No, she's not. Except in the general sense that "Everyone is Irish" today.)

This week Family Night fell on St. Patrick's Day!

Our lovely centerpiece:



There's a local park that the kids have labeled "The Green Park." So it only seemed right that we visit The Green Park for a picnic dinner on St. Patrick's Day. On the drive to the park, we talked with the kids briefly about how St. Patrick brought the gospel of Jesus to Ireland. (We talked only briefly because my knowledge is limited to what I was able to Google today in the two spare minutes I had to do my "research.")


I had the bright idea to make some green applesauce. I used way too much green food coloring; the kids may have a green tongue for days. Not long after the picture below was taken, Lauryn dumped her applesauce all over the quilt and all over her brand new tennis shoes.
Self-talk: Keep smilin' mom - stained green tennis shoes aren't the worst thing in the world.



Back at home the kids made leprechaun puppets. They were a little freaky looking. But I suppose leprechaun's are a little freaky. So it's all good.


While the kids waited for their turn to take a bath and get ready for bed, they played with green play-doh. I promise you that Ryan's play-doh creations are better than mine. I can make a snake and.....well, just a snake really. Here's Ryan's alligator:


Right before bed we ate green sherbet, that the kids decorated with a skittles rainbow.


This was cute in theory, but in reality a terrible idea. The skittles immediately froze rock hard in the sherbet - I'm relieved no one broke a tooth.

Lastly, we played "Hot Potato!" with a real potato. I was totally winging it trying to give the kids a short history of the Irish Potato Famine. Amazing how those history facts just keep sailin' right on out of my brain. Making room for t-ball practice schedules and storytime finger plays I suppose.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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You may think it's funny but it's snot.


Lauryn has suddenly forgotten how to blow her nose. She JUST.WON'T.DO.IT.

I go through all the same routines we've always done, which basically consists of holding a tissue to her nose and instructing her to blow. Nope. She sniffs instead.

No nose-blowing is happening.

So all day and all night she is either drippy or sniffy. Ugh.

She won't blow her nose, and she won't cough up/spit out the junky drainage that rattles around in her throat at night. Which leads to unending hacking and coughing.

My world is in a state of upheaval and sleep deprivation because my three year old doesn't know how to properly deal with her snot.

I'm open to suggestions.








Oink, oink. Snort.
Saturday, March 14, 2009

Everyone in Ryan's class had to dress as a pig for the 1st grade musical; parents were tasked with creating a homemade costume.

Ryan wanted his pig to be muddy, so I let him take his shirt outside and use it to clean off my dusty patio table.

I realized when we got to the musical that most of the other moms of "muddy" little pigs utilized brown paint instead of actual dirt. Oh well. Nothing wrong with a little authenticity, right?


I thought Ryan might be a little embarrassed to wear a pink shirt, a snout, and a headband with pig ears attached.

Nope.
He was good with it. The fact that every other boy in his class was dressed basically the same way helped. First grade boy solidarity!








Giving Grandma Equal Time
Friday, March 13, 2009

I had a post yesterday about my Grandpa, so today I thought I would give some equal play to Grandma. Because truthfully, they're pretty much a package deal.

My grandma makes beautiful hand-sewn quilts, and is very generous in giving them to my family. My quilts really deserve a separate blog post at some point.

I've tried to photograph them before, and I just never feel like the pictures do them justice. I have visions of a beautiful portrait of all my quilts hanging on clotheslines above lush green grass, with huge beautiful trees in the background. I have no clotheslines...no green grass...no trees...and no camera to capture such a portrait. So that image will just have to live in our imaginations for now.

My limited efforts at picking up her skills at hand-quilting have been in vain. I tense up so much I break needles, and I have a terrible neck-ache when I finish. Then I compare my stitches to my grandmother's teeny-tiny machine-like stitches, and mine suddenly look like they were done by a 2nd grader.

However...I have managed to sorta-kinda pick up one of her other talents - embroidery. My stitches still look pitiful in comparison to hers, but I enjoy it and can complete a project without giving myself a tension headache.

I recently mentioned to Grandma "I was kind of thinking of trying to embroider some burp cloths for a friend..." and in about three days a package of soft white fabric and an embroidery iron-on transfer pencil arrived at my doorstep. Thanks grandma! Love ya!

Here are the burp cloths I sent to my friend Lisa for Baby Number Four, Samuel Hudson Cash, due to make his arrival March 16th. (I'M SO EXCITED TO SEE HIM!!!)




And now we have learned that I can't photograph quilts or burp cloths very well. Just imagine them a bit more colorful and altogether cuter in real life.









Scent and Memory and Mouthwash
Thursday, March 12, 2009

This week I was at a brief in-service regarding Sensory Impairment.

A lot of the kiddos I work with have Sensory Integration issues, and an Occupational Therapist was giving a review of when to make a referral for a sensory evaluation.

It had little to do with the rest of the training, but she briefly mentioned that the same part of the brain that processes scents also deals with memories, explaining in part why smells can trigger such strong memories and emotions.

As she said, "I'm sure most of you have at least one distinct smell that you associate with a person or place", my brain immediately went to:


LISTERINE.



This stuff is the smell of my childhood hero, my Grandpa.

(You know how the Father in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding thinks that Windex can solve any ailment? That's just a slight exaggeration of how I think my Grandpa might feel about Listerine. As a kid I knew better than to complain of a cough or sore throat around my grandparents, because no sooner than I opened my mouth, Listerine was being dumped in. That's how I remember it anyway....but I've been known for hyperbole.)

Most people are doing good to gargle with this oh-so-stout mouthwash for the recommended one minute. I can make it about 30 seconds before my eyes are watering and I'm nearly crying out from the pain of my mouth exploding into flame. Jonathan can hang in there for well over a minute, which earns my total respect.

My grandpa, however, is a champion Listerine-swisher. The man can mow the grass, water the lawn, and plant a tree while simultaneously swishing Listerine. He never even grimaces. None of that citrus or vanilla mint stuff either....the original formula with it's notoriously strong flavor is the preferred variety.

My grandpa ALWAYS had Listerine; either somewhere on his person, or tucked in the car door cushioned by the extra napkins that we pulled out of the holders at fast-food restaurants and ended up not using.

As a little girl I knew a couple of things with absolute certainty:

1.) My Grandpa loved me unconditionally.

2.) Up close for a hug or kiss, my Grandpa would always, always have a slight scent of Listerine.

I guess that's why I love the smell of that nasty, potent stuff even now. Somehow, the two things I knew for sure have become forever entwined. I'll be 83 years old, the age he is now, still smiling, feeling warm and cozy when I smell Listerine.

Maybe someday I'll even regularly use the stuff, just to make him proud.....or maybe not.








My brain just isn't wired for it.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Video games will never, ever be one of my strong suits.

Back in elementary school, when Nintendo first became so popular, I never even managed to rescue the princess. And this was after hours upon hours of playing time. (Mostly trying to impress boys.)

My husband just stared at me in sad disbelief when I admitted that I had never once conquered all the levels of Super Mario Brothers.

Anway...We're having a ton of fun with the Wii Jonathan purchased a few weeks ago; but I'm pretty pitiful to watch.

My six year olds skills pretty much match mine, and my 5 year old will probably surpass me shortly.

The boys have figured out that if they just hand Lauryn an inactive controller she thinks she's playing. They even shout encouraging things to her occasionally, just to keep up the ruse. Perhaps I should discourage this trickery, but it keeps the peace so I'm letting it go for now!








Foliage!
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Exciting development: My once barren backyard now has a tree that is producing LEAVES.




"Hello, you pretty little green things. Thanks for coming!"








"Wait for me!"
Monday, March 9, 2009

That's pretty much the chorus of Lauryn's young life.

"Hey boys! Wait for me!"


"BOYS!!! HEY!!!"


Then, just as they start to get so far out of range they can't even hear her pleas, she pulls out the reverse psychology and yells,

"Hey boys! You can't catch me!"

"You can't get me" is a challenge that must not be ignored.


[squeals of laughter from Lauryn]


They turn around, come running, and get her every time. She knows this of course, which is precisely why she issues the challenge. Sneaky little thing.

Italic








Guess he showed me.
Saturday, March 7, 2009

Dylan has been trying to "curl his tongue" for a month now. He saw some friends at preschool demonstrating this trick and was determined to acquire the skill.

But at some point in my life, I was told that "curling your tongue" is genetic. I've always thought it was one of those things you could either do right away, or not do at all. For some reason I had it in my mind that you couldn't "teach" yourself to curl your tongue.

Dylan didn't believe that and kept trying. After a month of trial and error:


Tongue-curling SUCCESS! Who knew?


In other Dylan news....Imagine any quaint, stereotypical idea you've ever heard about "a boy and his dog", multiply it times 10, and that's how happy Dylan is to have Raider.



He's growing on me too.








President(s) Cliff
Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Ryan requested a "Presidential Night" for family night this week. (His bookish, academic tendencies make my heart swell with pride.)

He decided the agenda for the evening:

First up: all our faces needed to be put on Mt. Rushmore. We had to squeeze Lauryn onto the end there, but I think she fits rather nicely.

We gave Daddy a little history test by printing off this picture of past Presidents and seeing how many he could name. Since I could only name about 10 (SHAMEFUL!), I was way impressed with Jonathan's substantially higher percentage.


Ryan quizzed Jonathan and I by reading some "presidential fun facts" I printed from this site and seeing if we could guess which President he was talking about. Dylan had fun calling out random guesses too; he rotated between, "The first guy!", and "Obama!", and "Abraham Lincoln!"

Jonathan brought home a current US Presidents puzzle. (Children's Ministers are an endless source of surprising family night resources.)



Lastly, we looked at all the US coins with the President's faces.

It was a pretty fun night. But it was totally overshadowed by another much more exciting endeavor.

Meet Raider.






Yep. We got a dog.

We were told he's a 7 month old "carkie"; half yorkie/half cairn terrier.

I think "carkie" is basically just a cute name for "mutt"...but he's a mutt with little to no shedding, which means he met my most important requirement.

I'm sure Raider will get a post all of his own in a few days. I need time to determine exactly what I have to say about him.....I will admit he's been pretty fun so far.

Check out WhittakerWoman for more family night ideas.

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Attention Lubbock Readers
Tuesday, March 3, 2009



Do you know of a mom, dad, grandma, aunt, or ANYONE who would be free to come spend a fun morning one Thursday a month with their child? Please tell them about Trinity Church StoryTime!

More information can by found by visiting the Trinity KidsPlace blog at www.trinitykidsplace.com, or by clicking here.

Pass along this link and tell your friends and family about StoryTime.

We have a great time each month and we want more new friends to join us.

If you are a mom of a preschooler, I hope to see you there!








Unpleasant imagery for so early in the morning.

There is a particular breakfast cereal Ryan loves.

I only let him get it once every few months.

It's a fine cereal....

...but I really don't like greeting the day being forced to think about one of my potential "problem areas."

It's just not a good start to my morning.





I can't see this cereal without thinking about my own, non-cereal variety, OKAY!!??!!!???

Geesh malt-o-meal...GIVE A GIRL A BREAK!!!








Yes. Yes I do.
Monday, March 2, 2009

My three year daughter grabbed my face and asked me,

"Mommy, do you love me everyday?"

"Yes, I love you everyday!"

"Everyday your WHOLE LIFE?!?"

"Everyday of my whole life."

I'm going to try and remember that she might need to hear those exact words when she's 12 or 15 or 17; when she's not 3 anymore, grabbing my face and asking me directly.

"I love you Lauryn. Everyday. My whole life."










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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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