Good idea turned bad idea turned good again.
Thursday, April 30, 2009

Good idea: Get some exercise! WALK to the school to pick up Ryan, pulling Dylan and Lauryn in the wagon!

Bad idea: Don't check the temperature. Realize it's 95 degrees outside. Get tired and hot (really hot) halfway to the school. Forget to put sunscreen on the kids. Forget that Ryan had a field trip, and will already be pretty tired and kinda cranky from walking all over the museum all day.

Good idea: Soothe and appease the tired, hot, cranky kids. Make up for the walk gone wrong by getting out the water hose and the kiddie pool.

All's well that ends well, right?

I know it looks like water torture. I assure you he ran into the blast
purposefully and of his own free will.

Yes, he is indeed doing a canon ball into 8 inches of water.
We should probably explore getting a slightly bigger pool.

Lauryn was just excited she finally got to wear her swimsuit.
Warm weather brings with it all kinds of fun wardrobe possibilities.

Here's a 30 second clip of the kids running through the sprinkler, their troubles remembered no more. You could never guess that mere minutes before they were crying and complaining about their mean mama who made them walk a whole half mile home from the school. The horror.

I'm laughing as much as they are. The one holding the water hose, and therefore yielding the power, always has the most fun.

Splish Splash from Starr Cliff on Vimeo.

Tweet, tweet.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A couple months ago, my grandma mailed me a big box with random lengths of fabric in all colors and patterns.

I decided this afternoon I needed a project.

I totally didn't know what I was doing, but with the help of Google I sewed a cute little bird onto one of Lauryn's tee-shirts.

I went to this site and copied the applique pattern I thought looked the most basic and the easiest to sew.

I didn't do a perfect job, but I did end up with one happy customer.


That's a mildly enthusiastic "Ta-da!". This was my first time to use a zig-zag stitch that wasn't just in a straight line and I had a wee bit of trouble. I'm at the low end of the learning curve at this point.

I have yards upon yards of fabric still left to use...and Wal-Mart sells plain tee-shirts for $3... so I have lots of room for improvement.

Any suggestions for what to do with cute fabric that's dark brown with small white polka dots? An owl maybe?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

We spent a lazy Saturday afternoon pulling perch out of a local playa lake.

The perch were biting as fast as we could get the boys lines baited and back in the water, so it was great fun. (That's the only kind of fishing the boys have patience for!)

Lauryn eventually got bored enough that she HELD A FISH. I didn't get a picture. I was too stunned. (And she only held it about 2 seconds.)

She never would touch a worm though. Maybe next time.

Amazingly, Dylan stood out on that little pier of
concrete and didn't get so much as a toe wet.

It was a day chock full of surprises.

Guess he's part of the family.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Some of you have been asking for an update on dog ownership.

We've had Raider a couple of months now. I must hasn't been awful.

We got lucky with the dog. He has a good temperament. It seems he would be fairly easy to train, if we ever get around to actually trying to train him.

I realize it could have gone either way (read about my friend Jessica's travails with their ADHD/Learning-impaired dog), so I'm doubly grateful for a dog that hasn't been much trouble!


No shedding.

No peeing or pooping on the floor.

No biting.

Minimal chewing up things. (The ONE thing he destroyed was the cover of a book that wasn't even mine. Gotta replace it.)

So all in all, it's going well.

He does bark like a crazed beast when people approach the front door, which isn't all bad. I would at least like him to stop barking when I tell him to, but we'll get there.

The one other issue he has is digging. Oh...the digging. He's trying to dig his way through the fence to get to his buddy "Doc", the dachshund next door. They've had a few playdates that mostly consisted of sniffing each other's hind quarters.

He could care less about the yapping Pomeranians at the other house next door. Very discriminating taste, I must say.

He's bright white, so his snout and paws give away his misdeeds when he's been digging. Many days he looks like a white dog with a brownish face and legs.

All in all, he's a good little guy. Occasionally I even let him up on the couch. Sometimes I even pet him. (But don't look for me to touch a cat anytime soon.)

Jonathan gives him baths....the boys pick up the poop....and Lauryn feeds him. So he gets little to no care from me, which is a perfectly wonderful arrangement.

Raider now has full participation in our Family Nights. Poor little guy is really very tolerant of the "love" my children shower down upon him.

Here he is participating in Super Hero night, wearing one of the boys old Batman nighties.

I know that's terribly embarrassing Raider. Sorry. I promise I won't tell Doc.

Family Night: Super Heroes and Princesses
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Once again, Family Night was themed around gifts to the kids. They got fun new nighties from their Great-Grandma. Superman and Batman for the boys, and Disney Princess for Lauryn.

The boys' new PJ's have a cape that attaches with Velcro - how fun is that? Turns out, AMAZINGLY fun.

We decorated the kitchen with all the super hero and princess toys the kids dug out of the recesses of their toy box:

Then when Jonathan got home, he was assigned the role of The Villain. He captured the princess (Lauryn) and hid her away in his evil lair. (Coat closet.) She cried out for help (with giggles) and Batman and Superman took down The Villain with their superhero wrestling moves, then rescued the princess. (Who promptly asked to be captured again.)

Dylan spotted Spider-Man mac-n-cheese at Target earlier today. We just ate mac-n-cheese last night, but how could I say "no" to this on Super Hero family night?

They spent the rest of the night playing in the backyard. Ryan and Dylan running circles with their capes flying high behind them, Lauryn prancing around in her princess nightie and pink dress-up high heels.

When I brought them in to pose for a picture, Batman whacked the Princess in the head attempting to show off his big muscles.

That Batman. He just doesn't know his own strength sometimes.


That's some good thinkin' kid.
Monday, April 20, 2009

On Saturday we walked around Sam's Club for a while.

We made zero purchases, just walked around eating samples and wandering the aisles to see if there was anything we needed to buy.

Also doing some daydreaming/future purchase planning.

I want a new, bigger skillet. Jonathan wants a new knife set and some boring lawn care stuff. The kids want an outdoor playset for the low, low price of $1,299.99 bucks. Dream big guys.

When we were eating our gourmet lunch at Taco Bell afterward (I know - Blech. The kids like it.), I asked Ryan,

"Ryan, if you could have anything from Sam's, what would you want?"

"How much was that playset?"

"It was pretty expensive...over a thousand dollars."

[thoughtful pause] "Then I would want to have the wallet of every person that was inside Sam's."

Not sure why he didn't just answer "The playset."

Maybe he thought if he had all those wallets, he could get the playset and still have a few bucks left over for that huge box of Fruit Snacks.

I just know he wouldn't like Frances Hodgson Burnett
Sunday, April 19, 2009

I need some recommendations.

I know you'll come through for me.

My oldest, Ryan, is almost seven. He really enjoys reading. For a while now he's been reading "chapter books." With a plot! Books that can't be memorized after two readings! Books that don't have a rhyme on every page! Books with NO PICTURES.

The problem is that....well....he's a boy. He likes boy stuff.

I don't know much about classic boy books.

When Lauryn was born, I was so excited to have a girl. Worried about fixing her hair and teaching her to do make-up, since I'm barely adequate at doing my own....but the redeeming thought was, "I have a little girl now! Someday we can read my favorite books together!"

Little House on the Prairie
A Little Princess
Anne of Green Gables
The Secret Garden
Little Women
(I'll spare her The Babysitter's Club. It was just a mis-guided phase I went through. But that Logan was so darn cute. Mary Anne was so lucky.)

All of the above titles are among my favorites, and all of the above titles would bore Ryan to tears.

I know my rambunctious, rowdy boy. Descriptions of beautiful porcelain dolls and long paragraphs about tending to secret gardens are just not going to cut it.

So what books should my seven year old boy and I be enjoying together?

Rhyme Time
Thursday, April 16, 2009

(Image from Chad Geran's Rhyme Book.)

Dylan, my five year old, has recently gotten more interested in rhyming words.

I can assure you, he never misses an opportunity for a rhyme that may get a laugh. (Even if to call it a "ryhme" is stretching a bit.)


Me: "Ryan, hurry up or you're going to be tardy!"

Dylan: "Hey! Tardy! That rhymes with farty! Tardy Farty, Tardy Farty, Tardy Farty!"

Cue the three year old little sister sing-songing TaaaaardyFaaaaaarty! all morning.

Who knew pre-literacy skills could be such fun.


The problem with Easter Candy
Monday, April 13, 2009

The kids' grandparents, uncle, and aunt all channeled their inner Willy Wonka this Easter.

If you include the huge lollipops in the pictures above, they gave the kids candy totaling approximately 19,763 calories. Approximately.

It's great fun for the kids. I put the candy on a high shelf out of their reach (Dylan could probably wipe out half the supply in one sitting if I left him to self-regulate his consumption), and let them pick out one or two pieces a day.

The problem.... that I can't put it on a shelf out of my reach.

And, like my five year old, I could wipe out half the supply in one sitting when left to self-regulate my own consumption.

Lucky for me (or for my hips at least), the kids know of my sweet tooth and keep their eye on me when I approach their candy bounty. Excessive candy thievery is not tolerated.

Happy Easter
Sunday, April 12, 2009

The kids thought Raider might like to celebrate Easter at church with us this morning and smuggled him in the van.

Nice try guys.

Family Night: Springtime
Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My camera battery was dead last night, so I had to resort to using the lousy camera on my phone again. Apologies.

Our family night started in the same way it generally does: At Dollar Tree.

I let the kids each pick out a flower pot and we bought some potting soil as well. Then we headed across the parking lot to Wal-Mart to buy some flowers.

Sidenote: When we left Dollar Tree, Ryan ran smack dab into the exit doors, thinking they would open automatically. Then he laughed at himself and we all joined in and laughed too, and good times were had at the Dollar Tree exit. Those rare times when Ryan does something like that is when I see my DNA gloriously exhibited. Could you imagine Jonathan running into an exit door? No? What about me? No need to answer that.

"Hey - I'm touching dirt. I'm not thrilled about it.
It's dirt and it's dirty! But I'm doing it."

The kids also made a "handprint garden." Which reminds me...does anyone have a good system for displaying kids artwork? The fridge can only hold so much.

The "Springtime" theme was inspired by a gift my mom sent the kids last week.

Never, not once, nay not ever, have I made a cake in the shape of anything other than a circle or rectangle. Was my mom issuing me a challenge?

I didn't make the cake early enough in the day to let it cool completely. So when we frosted it cake crumbs were all throughout our frosting. Someone, I'll let you guess who, (it was Jonathan) said it looked like our bunny had been run-over. Roadkill cake? Nice.

How do you connect with your family? Check out WhittakerWoman for some great ideas.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

If you know me in real life, you would probably agree I'm generally a compliant and passive person.

You might even say a I'm a people-pleaser. (I'm working on it.)

I don't like conflict. At all. I am willing to "compromise" with just about anyone...even if that means I just give you whatever you want so I don't have to argue or feel uncomfortable.


I am finding more and more there is most definitely a Raging Mama Bear inside me.

Funny how I can go through life shrugging off insults, and generally refusing to be bothered or offended by people.


If there is a perceived offense against my husband or kids...that's an altogether different story, now isn't it? I know you other Teddy Bears turned Mama Bears know exactly what I mean.

I generally take what I'm given and make the best of it. But when it comes to my kids, I want them to have the best. I'm willing to stick my neck out and risk embarrassment trying to finagle ways to get them into the best Kindergarten class for crying out loud. I'm not above breaking known rules against requesting specific teachers, or taking cookies to the school administrators in a lame attempt at bribery. Who is this strange person?

If someone doesn't like me, or maybe has a mis-perception about the kind of person I am, I try extra hard to be especially likable around them, spending untold energy trying to get them to be my friend. (It's really a sickness.) But if someone doesn't like my generally just makes me mad. Really mad. There's no trying to be their friend or win them over. It's much easier in that case to just decide they must be jerks and I don't like them. And probably never will. (Hmm..apparently I need to work on both the "complete dismissal" Hyde personality as well as the people-pleasing Jekyll personality.)

I should say that no one has recently transgressed against my husband or kids. But that's the thing....nothing has to even actually directly happen to one of them for that Raging Mama Bear to start to rear her head.

I'm sure you can relate to watching tragic news stories about abuses against children...and suddenly there is that Mama Bear...raging inside you, thinking of what you might be capable of doing to someone who violated your child in that way.

I'm trying to figure out how to best harness this Mama Bear power, that seems to get stronger every year I'm a wife and mom. In no time at all I'll be able to bend steel pipes and tear apart phone books with my bare hands....

Or not.

"Apples" to Oranges
Sunday, April 5, 2009

Last week I sent Jonathan the following email:

"I want this magazine" with a link to the following:

Total Cost: $9. 95

Jonathan's response was to send me a link to this:

Total Cost: $1,099.99

Um...yeah....that's kinda along the same lines. A mere difference of $1,089.05.

Now it's an all out campaign. He has his friends sending me random twitter messages expounding on how owning a MacBook will improve his life, increase his influence, and help him fulfill God's calling.

Poor, poor pitiful man...trudging through life without a Mac.

I'm starting to wonder if the horrid sound our laptop is making is due to subterfuge....

Bright Ideas
Friday, April 3, 2009

Time to share some great tips, advice, and general hilarity:

From Vanessa at Seriously, comes the great idea to use Ice Cube trays to hold earrings. Brilliant! I haven't actually bought trays yet...but they're on my list.

From my sweet friend Lorena at MZ CRUZ comes the inspired idea to use 1 Cor 14:4-8 as a guide for being deliberate about loving your husband. Each week she focuses on a different characteristic of what real love looks like according to that passage of scripture. Challenging!

My friend Kelly at Teach and Tickle is a serious inspiration in the way she loves her kids and raises them to love and honor God. Check out the great list of books she recommends.

From my hysterical friend Tina at Detail Gal, we get a great reminder to laugh at ourselves. This post made me laugh. And laugh....and laugh. Oh my did it make me laugh.

The Best Children's Pastor in the Whole World (I could be biased), was a guest blogger this week for Jabberfrog and wrote a great post about the comparison game. I am a world champion at this game - highly skilled - and I never even intended on becoming a player.

Finally, a tip from my blog-less friend Cheri. Almost two years ago, she passed on the FlyLady tip of the Bathroom Swish and Swipe. Basically, it's keeping a bottle of Windex (or your favorite glass/all-purpose cleaner) and a roll of papertowels under each bathroom sink.


I can spray down the mirrors, counters, sinks, faucets and toilets in both bathrooms quickly and easily without having to go and retrieve the cleaning supplies. This might seem like a small thing, but I can't tell you what a big difference it made. I don't have to leave the room to go get stuff to clean with, and therefore have no way of getting sidetracked. (And getting sidetracked from cleaning is pretty much the story of my life.) Each day I just quickly grab the Windex and papertowels from under the counter, spray everything down, and the bathroom stays relatively clean. Try it!

Okay...."each day" in the above paragraph could be an exaggeration. Sometimes, due to the fact I am prone to laziness, I can fall out of my Swish and Swipe routine. Just didn't want one of you to come over and find toothpaste streaks on my mirrors and call me out as a big-fat-bathroom-cleaning-liar. The end.

Communication FAIL
Thursday, April 2, 2009

This afternoon after the boys had been playing Wii for about half an hour:

"Okay guys, it's time for me to vacuum in here."

"It's okay mom. We don't care about the noise. Just don't stand in front of the TV for too long."

After a withering glance in their direction, I finally got a "Yes ma'am."

You were warned of stray observations.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lauryn has a nightie she has christened her "Dancing Nightie." When she has it on it's all dancing...all the time.


Ryan has somehow learned the phrase "Drinking and Driving." He asked, with concern, about my habit of drinking Diet Coke while behind the wheel.

One of my friends picked Ryan up from school yesterday. When they saw a cop with his flashers on, Ryan announced, "He's probably getting someone for drinking and driving."


Dylan got to play catcher at the tee-ball game last night. He amused the crowd with his antics. He kept pretending like he was going to toss the ball to the ump when the ump wasn't looking. (This routine was a big crowd pleaser, so he just kept at it. Truly his mother's son.)


I accidentally referred to "Aunt Michael and Uncle Stephanie" today, instead of the other way around, and Lauryn got a serious case of the giggles. She's been saying "Aunt Michael!" all morning, then cracking up. (Sorry about that Mike. Hopefully it won't stick.)


We've blocked off a week on our calendar this summer as FAMILY VACATION. Jonathan has already taken off work, and we've going on vacation!

There's just the small issue of deciding where we're going. And what we're going to do once we get there.

Anyone have a favorite TX/NM/CO vacation destination to recommend?


As of March 28th, I am now "in my early thirties." Yeah....I was 30 last year....but now that I've hit 31 I'm INTO my thirties. I bet my mom feels old.


One last bit of randomness: Just saw a Noggin commercial that Jack Black is going to be on "Yo Gabba Gabba!" on April 11th.

That, my friends, is must see TV.

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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