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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chase is Growing Up Fast, but He’s Still Only Three

As I noted in my last entry, Chase scaled new heights at Wonder Lab recently. He made it to the top of the Grapevine Climber all by himself. He’s growing up so fast. I can hardly believe it. Every now and then, though, I’m reminded that my boy is still only three. Here’s a rather memorable example…

We traveled to Elizabethtown, Kentucky for Thanksgiving this year. Kristin is from Elizabethtown, and she still has family there. A post-meal gathering around the fireplace is a tradition at her Mom’s house.

This year, because I’ve started the process of making the high-def TV plunge, I looked through the Black Friday flyers in search of an offer I couldn’t possibly refuse as we sat around the fire. I found a few intriguing possibilities and, so, planned to set out early in the morning in search of a deal. It was Chase’s turn for some one-on-one time with me, so he went along.

We went to Sears first, followed by Best Buy and, finally, HH Gregg. While at HH Gregg, we looked at what seemed like 1,000 plasma, LCD and DLP high-def televisions; talked to a sales rep and grabbed some info to review. On the way to the exit, I remembered that I needed some rechargeable batteries for our digital camera.

I asked the manager where I could find the batteries, and he pointed me in the right direction. As I was reviewing my options, I glanced back to make sure Chase was still there. He was there all right. To my surprise (that’s at least somewhat understated), there he was, in the middle of the store, with his pants – including his underwear – around his ankles.

Without thinking, I dropped the batteries, picked him up and pulled up his drawers in one motion and made a beeline to the door. As we jogged to the van, without looking back I might add, I asked him, “Why did you pull down your pants?!?!” To which, he replied in no uncertain terms, “My underwear didn’t feel good.”

Brian Signature copy

All the Arnold's

It's a bit of trick to get a picture of the five of us.  Besides the fact that some of us don't enjoy the output, there are also those (and I won't mention any names) who have a hard time standing still....all at the same time...and let go of their cookie...and stop staring at the person behind the camera long enough to smile....and....well, you get the idea.

A friend snapped this at Jingle Jam a couple of weeks ago at church.  Jingle Jam is our church's version of a children's Christmas pageant, only TONS more fun! If you didn't know there was a godzilla angel in the story, check out our family minister's version of the Christmas story here.  

Enjoy this pic...who knows how long it will be before there's another one!




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Monday, December 29, 2008

Born December 29, 1913

1913!  Nineteen hundred and thirteen!  Every time I give Grandaddy's birth date at the pharmacy or doctor's office, it still sort of surprises me.  Lord have mercy, will I live to be 95?!

He, like my husband, would rather skip right over birthdays and really any holiday, but I have a hard time letting them pass without a little hoopla.  

He received several calls from his youngest fans (great-grandkids AJ and Marie) and his old friends as far away as Oklahoma and lots of cousins in Arkansas.  We fixed one of his favorites, chicken and dumplings, for dinner and had a deep dish apple pie for his birthday dessert.

One of the gifts of having him here is to remind me not to get so worked up about little things, even if they seem big to me today. Do you think he remembers what troubles he was having when he was 36? Almost sixty years ago, for heaven's sake?!



After he moved home with us when Grandmother died, I remember him asking why on earth he was still living.  I told him I didn't know the answer, but seems like I read somewhere that as long as you're drawing breath, God still has a purpose for your life. To know our purpose in life -- a never-ending quest, I suppose. 

Every time he says he has a question for me, I just take a deep breath and hope I have a clue. He's asked me why Jesus sent the disciples first to the Jewish people and told them not to go to the Samaritans.  He's asked me if being baptized is a must to get into heaven. And, last week, he asked me if I thought Jesus Christ had a sense of humor.  My answer was that if He put the two of us together, He must!

He's had lots of spiritual questions, particularly in the last six months, and he even checked out a large print Bible from the library not long ago.  He complained that the print was still too small and had trouble "understandin' that King James fella."  So, we got him a giant print NIV Bible to celebrate his 95 precious years.

Maybe if I keep my nose in that Book, I can help answer some of my grandaughter's questions, instead of the other way around.

What are you worked up about today?  Is it worth it?  Do you know your purpose in life?  God's purpose for you?  What questions do you have about God and the Bible?  Ask me...I can try to answer.  Ask God and He'll let you know for sure!  

Whether you're 5 or 95, God loves you!  We love you, too, Grandaddy.  Happy Birthday!


Honest, I tried to get a serious picture.  But the ONE picture where they had permission to be silly turned out the best!

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

We Wish You a Greasy Christmas

I was just making some peanut butter balls with the kids today. I suggested they might become Sammie's Christmas specialty when I saw she had quite a gift for the chocolate candy coating.  She agreed, "I think we should make these EVERY year."  Christmas traditions at six.  I love it!

I'd never made them before today.  Christmas holds so many special memories for me, but home made goodies isn't one of them.  My sweet Aunt Betty used to come with lots of home made treats for us and we couldn't wait for her to get there!

Many of my fondest memories growing up have my dad in the foreground. For a lot of years, he was the Sheriff in our hometown and the office was open Christmas Eve.  He gave everyone else the day off so they could be with their families and he worked until it was time to close.  

In the meantime, Mom and I were busy "assembling" goodies.  If there was baking, mixing or candy coatings, I don't remember.  I remember fancy cheese and wine baskets for some friends. And, very practical, yet still yummy things for other friends.

For several years in a row, Daddy wanted me to meet him downtown at closing time.  He'd lock up and we take a walk around the courthouse square.  He'd tell stories (yes, the ones I'd already heard several times) and stop and look at a doorway as if he could see an old friend standing there.  He'd remind me what each building used to be and what memories they held for him.  

After that, we'd go by the house and pick up all the things Mom and I had been preparing.  We were the delivery team.  It was so fun. From the grand houses of doctors to old friends in the projects, we delivered Christmas cheer.  

One time, Mom did go with us. (Honor, do you remember this? -- catty corner from the funeral home?) This time it wasn't just a gift basket, but several gift packages, beautifully wrapped, plus a basket of goodies.  This time, Daddy didn't send me to the door.  He said, "Come on.  I want you to see this." This time we parked.  This time we all got out and went to the front door. I'd never noticed this run-down house before and didn't know the middle-aged man who answered the door in his t-shirt, or the elderly lady standing behind his shoulder.

Daddy said, in his best, merry, Santa voice, "Ho, ho, ho!  Merry Christmas!"  Gosh he had such a way about him that made people feel special.  Anyway, this lady, with slightly gray (and a little greasy) hair invited us in.  You could kind of smell what you were getting into even on the front porch.  Daddy introduced us to her and to her grown and I'm pretty sure mentally handicapped son, who also had greasy hair.  There I was, a 14-year old girl, in my plaid skirt from Talbot's, feeling more than a little uncomfortable.

Mom and Daddy handed them their gifts which they wanted to open immediately.  The man opened a package of brand new boxer shorts and t-shirts.  I was mor-ti-fied.  He grinned from ear to ear and tried to say something.  I couldn't understand him, but Daddy put his arm on his shoulder and just said, "Merry Christmas" again. 

The lady opened her big box and I saw a winter coat.  I don't know how to describe it.  It wasn't ugly really, just not so pretty to me.  Not in style.  Again, I was embarrassed. 

She reacted as if she'd opened a full-length mink coat. She came over and hugged my dad and just cried and cried about how thankful she was and how she didn't know how she was going to get through the winter without a coat.  I didn't think she was going to let go.  Daddy was teary, too and so was Mom.  

We didn't stay long and nobody said anything when we got in the car.  I guess that's why he wanted us to see it.  Some things can't be explained.  Like overwhelming gratitude for an out-dated coat and underwear.

What are you grateful for this Christmas?  
 

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Men Say the Darndest Things

So, we've been having this conversation about maybe getting a flat screen TV.  LCD...HD...blue something...I don't know all the technical jargon.  What I know is that my man wants one.  

He really likes to think through things and talk about all the pros and cons, so we can make a wise choice.  It doesn't matter to me what kind, when or how much.  I'd be happy with the one we have until it explodes and I'd be happy with a new one.  (Not that I'm naturally a content or agreeable person, I just don't happen to care about TV stuff.)  But, I was game for the analysis.

One of my points was, I don't know that it makes sense to get such a fancy TV for me to watch my two TV shows a week.  (Grey's Anatomy and Dancing With the Stars, if you must know.)

So, Brian, in all seriousness, asked me, "Well, what shows do you watch during the day?"


LOOOOOOOONG pause......




Does anyone else think that is HILARIOUS!?!?!  Because, surely, he was joking.

Right?

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

What Do You Call a Baby Card Shark?

This past summer one of the fun memories was watching Grandaddy's renewed love of solitaire as he played on the deck. He's quite terrible at it, actually. In his defense, I think it's because he keeps trying to play when he knows the kids have some of his cards.

Sammie wanted to do what he was doing, so he tried to teach her.  It was a little complicated to pick up, so she taught him to play Go Fish instead, which he called "Goldfish" until I wrote it on a piece of paper for him.  (Then the little pond in the middle started to make sense.) 

When we went to Arkansas this Fall, one of the things he insisted on bringing back was a red lapboard he'd made for Grandmother, so she didn't have to leave the couch to play. I can't even picture her without this red board on her lap.  
It's not red anymore, because when he brought it home he tried to trim it (with a hacksaw) to fit his chair.  Between the Elmer's, Gorilla glue and clamps, he still couldn't keep the red felt on it, so that part's been crumpled up beside his chair for a couple of weeks now.

He's started to teach Chase and Ava the face cards.  It's funny to hear this kind of conversation from the other room:

Granddady:  You comin' up, baby?
Ava:  Yes.  (With a little lisp.)
Grandaddy:  Well, then, come on.  (Which sounds a little more like "own" than "on.")
Ava:  Play cards? (Said as she's nodding her head up and down and sounding a little more like "ca-oods.")
Grandaddy:  You wanna play cards?  Well, ok, we'll play cards.  What's this one? (He always starts with a queen.)
Ava: QUEEEEN!
Grandaddy:  Right!

And off they go, practicing the face cards.  Her favorite is always the queen, but she's picking up on the others. Chase loves to play, too and will bring all kinds of weird cards....Noah's ark match game or his deck of amphibious animals.  Still, he plays for as long as they want to and always hates when they move on to the next thing.


So what do you think is sweeter, the gold tooth, the big belly or how content they both seem with a handful of cards?


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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Great Red Hair Mystery

This little red-head was seen only days ago with these beautiful locks.
Exhibit A

On Monday, many suspicious hair clumps on Ava's clothing left a trail leading to these suspicious hair samples found on the bathroom sink.
Exhibit B

Due to budget cuts in the crime lab, the following photographs from the crummy camera fail to show the giant hunk of hair missing in the detail warranted to demonstrate the immense frustration of said victim's mother!
Still, see Exhibits C & D


If you have any information leading to the capture of the culprit, or even an educated guess you'd like to throw out, please leave a comment below. 

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Father-Daughter Date

Samantha (A.K.A., Sam, Sammie, Gracie, et al) and I go on father-daughter dates occasionally. It’s customary for me to ask her what she wants to do beforehand. She suggested Wonder Lab for our last date – a pretty cool local, hands-on science museum. 

I had the whole should-we-pay-the-day-rate-or-get-a-membership debate with Kristin on the phone right after Sam and I arrived. In a moment chock full of pressure, between Kristin’s, “You decide” and Sammie’s, “Come on, Dad”, I decided to get an annual membership. So far, based on my initial experience with Sammie and a second visit with Chase a few weeks later, I feel good about the investment.

I think the highlight of the kids’ visit was the Grapevine Climber. They both went all the way to the top on their own!  Click this link to see it and other cool exhibits.  www.wonderlab.org/visit/exhibits.shtml.

I promise I'll get better at remembering to take photos of our adventures.

Brian Signature copy

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Party Time

We had a Christmas Party!  I'm sorry I couldn't invite everyone.  I'm not like my buddy who doesn't want to leave anyone out.  I think she invited over 70 people and told them to tell everyone who wanted to come, to come!  Of course, my own little invitation plan backfired just a bit.

A Christmas party is not something we do every year.  In fact, we hosted one for our neighborhood the first year we lived here and only a handful of families showed up.  So, we thought we'd expand the guest list a little.  Turns out we had 80 people in our humble abode and over 30 of those were kids!

We enjoyed having everyone and wishing a "Merry Christmas" face to face.

Friends brought yummy treats like homemade Christmas cookies, the famous and always-devoured artichoke dip and even an adventurous and  strangely-devoured cheese fudge.

But to me, one of the best parts of hosting a party is serving my favorite foods.  Here was the menu:

Peppermint Punch
Marinated Shrimp
Olive Tapenade with Fresh Baguettes
Homemade Peanut Brittle
Fresh Fruit 
English Wassail
Candied Fruit Slices

Read on for some of the recipes.

Olive Tapenade: pulse to desired consistency 4 cups, drained, pitted Kalamata olives with 3 garlic cloves and 5 sundried tomatoes in olive oil

Peanut Brittle: (Yes, in the microwave!)
• 1 1/2 cups dry roasted peanuts
• 1 cup white sugar
• 1/2 cup light corn syrup
• 1 pinch salt
• 1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Grease a baking sheet, and set aside.
2. In a glass bowl or large glass measuring cup, combine peanuts, sugar, corn syrup, and salt.
3. Cook in microwave for 6 to 7 minutes on High. Mixture should be bubbly and peanuts browned.
4. Stir in butter and vanilla; cook 2 to 3 minutes longer.
5. Quickly stir in baking soda, just until mixture is foamy.
6. Pour immediately onto greased baking sheet.
7. Let cool 15 minutes, or until set.
8. Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container.

Marinated Shrimp: Combine the following ingredients and pour over 4 pounds cooked, peeled shrimp.  Marinate overnight. 
1 cup oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 bottle capers
1 bottle chili sauce
1 T garlic salt
1 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp blk pepper
1 sliced red onion

Peppermint Punch
1/2 gal peppermint ice cream
2 qts eggnog
2 qts hilled ginger ale
1. Place ice cream in a punch bowl, and allow to soften slightly
2. Blend in eggnog and ginger ale; stir until frothy
3. Serve at once, or keep chilled until ready to serve

How's that for merry eating! 

Ava's little belly was so stuffed by the end of the night.  We couldn't watch her every second, but I'm pretty sure she ate the entire bowl of candied fruit slices all by herself!  Every time I looked up, she was reaching up over the table to grab one. (I was just glad she never accidently reached into the meatball dish.)

Let me know if you try any of the recipes or if you were here and especially liked one of them.  

What are you having at your Christmas party?


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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Yes, Jesus Loves Them

Every Fall, our church organizes a service event called "Carefest."  Many churches have something similar.  It's where lots of people sign up and sort of swarm on the town -- helping schools, parks, missions, and other not-for-profits accomplish projects that they never could on their own.

Brian started taking Samantha when she was just 3.  This year, they ended up at the Hannah House together.  Hannah House is a comprehensive residential program for pregnant women and teenagers.  There was work to do inside and out.

Our friend Mark found us at church a couple of Sundays ago and told this story:

Somehow I ended up outside with a handful of little people. (They do tend to flock to him.) The kids, including Sam, were spreading out mulch and working in the flower beds. At one point, one of the little girls asked, "Why are we doing all this anyway?"

There was no one around to impress or to prompt a good response.

Sammie replied, "We are showing people that Jesus loves them."


Amen and Amen.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Who Loves Ya, Baby?

Reading. Writing. Arithmetic. Those will come with time. I think it's important to teach the basics first. 

I hope she never forgets it. 



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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Baby Deposits With Compound Interest

For the first time in six years, there's no crib in the house.
 
I took it down yesterday. We had two for a while.  We took the second one down about a year ago, when Chase moved to his big boy bed. 

No more diapers, either. I put the changing pad we've always used in the tippy top of the closet. The sweet little, handcrafted diaper stacker my folks used when I was a baby went into the storage room downstairs. Even the "learn to walk" toys have been relegated to the attic.

Sound a little sad, don't I.  I guess I am a little.  I enjoyed the baby part of motherhood way more than I thought I would.  Of course, I'm not talking about the middle of the night feedings or the ten gazillion diapers or the crying for no apparent reason for hours.  (That was me, not the babies.)

Ever heard of an emotional love bank?

I'm talking about the hundred smiles a day that only I was privy to. (Ching, ching.) I'm talking about being there for the firsts of EVERYthing for each of my kids.  Crawling, walking, talking, praying. (Clink, ching.) I'm talking about being the only one who could soothe their hurts and make them feel safe.  (Clink, clink.) I'm talking about the nights Brian and I would sneak in and watch them sleep. (Ching again -- just for sleeping!) I'm talking about the emotional investment, not only that I made in them, but that each made in me. Snuggles, cuddles, playtime, rocking. All those things go a long way to fill the Mommy Love Bank. (I hear they withdraw a LOT in their teen years.) 

No diapers or crib.  No changing pad or bumper pad.  No bottles or pumpkin seats.  *Sigh.*

When I tucked Ava into her toddler bed tonight with her big girl panties on and no sippy cup for comfort, I headed to my usual place of respite....the bathroom.  In just a minute or two, I heard her sneak around the corner.   With her big brown eyes looking up and me and nodding the whole time, she asked, "Rock a minute?"  



Cha-ching.

Maybe the coins just keep getting bigger?


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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sometimes Getting Started is the Hardest Part

I think Kristin and I actually began thinking about blogging at the same time. A few months and 87 or so entries later I was still thinking about blogging while she had become a seasoned pro.

Initially, I was thinking I’d create my own blog complete with a niche and unique look. But, then I reconsidered. There are only 24 hours in a day the last time I checked, and I don’t have much high-energy time left over after I’m done with all my commitments each day. So, I’ve decided to work together with Kristin on something that started out as a simple blog, but will become our life story for future generations of our family.

Time for me to get off the dime and start making some contributions. This is my starting point.

As an aside, I seem to have lots of ideas these days. However, I’ve found that simply getting started, for a number of different reasons, is a real challenge for me. One reason is that I tend to psyche myself out by thinking that something has to be just right on day one. I can write more on that subject later.

For now, it’s good to say, “Hello, Blogosphere.”

Brian Signature copy

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

We're Going to Applaud Whether You Like it or Not

Today is Veteran's Day.

On Sunday, our pastor asked all current and past service men and women to stand.  Brian stood with about 75 others while our congregation applauded.  I commented after church about how for as long as he lives, at least two holidays a year, he would be asked to stand while everyone showed their appreciation.  

I said, "How do you feel about that?"  He just shrugged.

He hates it really.  Well, he would say "hate" is a strong word, but he doesn't love it.  I asked him if it made him feel honored and he said, "I guess so."  Then followed with some murmuring about not being or feeling worthy of the honor.  

You can read back on my Memorial Day post for details, but essentially Brian joined the Army Reserves at 16 thinking it was a good idea at the time and feeling sure he wouldn't have to go to war.  

It's not that he feels bad about his service or regrets it even.  It has more to do with feeling like there are men who joined for nobler reasons and served with great courage and sacrifice. (Correct me if I'm wrong here, honey.)  There are those who got more blood on their hands, and in their minds, than he did.  (As an aside, I've talked to some of them, too and they don't like being applauded either.)

I say Brian, and others like him, deserve our gratitude and honor, too.  I'm grateful that when he was called to the first Gulf War, he didn't flee the country or do something to earn a dis-honorable discharge.  He could have shirked his duty either with flippancy, rebellion or cowardice.  But he didn't.  

He did what he said he would do. He did what he was called to do.  That's who I want serving our country.

I'm grateful to have a husband like that.  To have a father like that for my children.  And proud to applaud him, and any like him, whether they like it or not.  Aren't you?

Maybe if we keep applauding, if only twice a year, it'll finally sink in that they all deserve it.


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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Christmas Gift Dilemma

About this time of year, yes, even before Thanksgiving, I have family members asking what the kids would like for Christmas.  Actually, I had an email in September about it this year!

Truthfully, because they're still pretty little, anything wrapped in paper with their name on it, is a gift they'd love.  From a 25 cent rubber ball out of a vending machine to the $300 tree house Sammie saw in the American Girl catalog.

So, I started to take an assessment of what they have now.  Ready?

Rocking Horse (2)
Preschool games: Kanga-Banga Roo, First Alphabet Game, Chutes and Ladders, Slide n Ride, Alphabet Board Book, Memory Card/Match Games (4 sets), Candyland, Leapfrog Bingo, Dr. Suess ABC game, Scrabble Jr., Jenga, Dominoes, Uno, Go Fish
Building Things: Bright Builders, Legos (lg. box), Duplos (xl box), Zoob (250 pc. set) wooden and plastic baby blocks (3 sets), 
Tool/workbench w/ tools
Doctor kit (4 sets, plus crash cart)
Baby Cradle
Baby Carrying Bassinet
Baby dolls (5)
Baby Doll Stroller
Fire Engines (2 lg, w/ sound)
Dump Truck (1 lg. w/ sound and motion)
Bulldozer
Caterpillar and Frog Pull-Behind Toys
Elmo Dolls (hokey pokey, tickle me and chicken dance)
Toddler Bowling (one plush, one plastic)
Mr. Potato Head (basic, plus Spiderman, Tinkerbell and Minnie/Mickey set)
Diego Adventure Play Set
Learning Play Telephone (3)
Care Bears (3, including two that sing solo or in harmony w/ each other)
Stacking Ring Set (one plush, one w/ stars, one that rattles and one with sound)
Stacking Toys (buckets, boxes and cups)
Pounding Peg Board (3)
See-n-Say Animal Sounds
Puzzles (animal w/ actual sounds, plastic ones for toddlers, counting and letter ones for preschoolers, wooden Noah's ark, United States map and nativity, Strawberry Shortcake, Pocahontas, David and Goliath)
Jasmine miniature doll w/ miniature clothes
Play money (about a million dollars' worth)
Stuffed Animals (16 in Ava's room, 30 in Chase and Sam's room including two Build-a-Bears and ones that snore, talk, giggle and even have heartbeats)
Tea Set (one singing plastic, one princess and two miniature porcelain)
Princess Tea Cart
Play Kitchen (one sink w/ cupboard, one pantry w/ working clock and one Little Tikes kitchen, all with full cookware, dinnerware and play food...in fact, I think she has more pots and pans than I do)
Nightlight (one cow, one elephant, one doll, one princess)
Barbies (4)
Barbie Kitchen 
Magnetic Dress Up Dolls (princess, cowgirl and ballerina)
Just Like You American Girl Doll, plus sectional sofa
Salon Chair Set for American Girl Doll
V-tech Fly and Learn Globe
Princess Design-A-Dress
Crayola Paint Sprayer Set
Fisher Price Learn to Tell Time Clock
SpiderMan Doll (speaks, slings web and snores)
Spiderman Action Figure (one w/ moving 4-wheeler, one w/ moving motorcycle)
Pirate Set (telescope, dagger, patch)
A to Z Sesame Street Letter Book Set (w/ floor puzzle mat)
My Little Pony Barn (w/ 4 ponies)
Cinderella Princess Foam Chair
Create-Your-Own Jewelry Box
Train Table
Brio Train set (basic and safari set, plus a few extra engines)
Puppet Theater 
Puppets (6)
Ride On Toy 
Walk Behind/Ride On Toy for beginning walkers
Small Electric Keyboard
Sit On Toddler Keyboard/Music Toy
Sit-n-Spin
Dress Up Clothes (over 40, plus acessories; see here for great detail)
Crawl Through Expandable Gym (like this)
Fisher Price Barn (w/ animals)
Magnadoodle (1 lg, 2 sm.)
Giant Floor Puzzles (6 or so including Dora, pirate, castle, firetruck, dinosaur, plane, trucks)
Art Easel w/ 4 smocks
Sesame Street Pirate Ship
Princess Play Castle
Ariel Vanity (child-sized w/ mirror and stool)
Toddler Pinball Toy
Buzz Lightyear Bubble Machine
Rubbermaid container of infant toys (like rattles, crib toys, floor mats)
Aqua Doodle Floor Mat
Talking Parrot
Tambourine and Bongo Drum
Bin full of action/animal figures 
Playdough (Octopus set, zoo animal set and floor mats)
Bin full of all sized balls
Big Wheels (2)
Tricycles (2)
Red Flyer Wagons (2)
Jeep (battery-powered to ride in)
Elmo Guitar
Little Tikes Car (foot-powered like the Flinstones)
Two-Wheeled Princess Bicycle
Barbie 3-Wheeled Scooter
Little Tikes Ride-On Bike
Sandbox Toys
Light Sabers and Swords
Roller Skates (Barbie slip-on and pink over-the-shoes kind)
Movies (70 VHS tapes and 45 dvds)

I am NOT exaggerating and I'm sure I've forgotten many things.  Not to mention that many of the things listed above come with a dozen or more pieces with each set. And, each year we have the kids pick several toys to give to Goodwill before the Christmas season, so they can think, if only for a few moments, about children who have nothing.

How do I say "This is ridiculous!" without sounding ungrateful? We have a large family who are "gifters" and many friends who bless us with hand-me-downs when their children outgrow toys.  We are grateful for what we have, but truthfully, if our children never received another toy or game, they would be happy, well-rounded and (dare I say?) spoiled kids, having much more than many children will ever have.

So, if you feel you MUST give gifts for birthdays or the upcoming Christmas season, may we make some suggestions?

Consumable gifts are welcomed!  Like giant floor coloring books, craft kits, paint sets, markers and crayons, more face paints, poster board and construction paper.  We go through those like crazy and have so much fun doing it.  Non-craft consumable ideas: bubble bath or even bath paints.

Add to what they have. Like puppets for the puppet theater, American Girl Doll accessories for Sam's doll or more Brio train pieces for Chase's train set.

My favorite idea is anything that helps to make memories.  Passes to the Indianapolis Children's Museum or to our local Wonderlab.  A trip to the zoo with grandparents. Is there anything more fun?  Or a gift certificate to the local pottery-paint shop, The Latest Glaze. Having fun, making memories and a built-in keepsake.  (And nothing for mommy to clean up!)

If you have any other non-thousand-piece-toy idea, leave a comment.  Or, let me know what YOU'RE asking for for Christmas.  I've heard it's never too early...

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Birthday Ideas?

Those of you that know my husband may have some ideas about a birthday gift.  He doesn't really celebrate birthdays and probably would be happy without a gift at all, but I wondered if you've seen anything that just screams his name.  His birthday isn't until the 17th, so if you see anything between  now and then, please tell me!

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

"Great Minds" on Elections

I'd been brewing up a post about the election.  What I thought before, during and after.  Then I read my buddy's post.  What is it they say about great minds thinking alike?

I think I'll just send you her way and you can have a little piece of my own mind about it.

Click here and then read her regularly.  


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Monday, November 3, 2008

The Apple Works

We picked the coldest day so far to take the kids from co-op to The Apple Works. 
We took a tractor ride into the orchard of 7,000 trees and we each got to pick an apple.  There were farm animals, a pond, picnic area, an electric train, a playground built into a barn and a mound of hay to play on.   







The kids learned about pollination and toured the cider press and apple washer. See how interested Ava was?  (For about five seconds.)  Then she decided to check out "dat square cwoe."

Everyone got to try their apple cider and have an applesauce cookie.  They didn't seem to mind taking off their gloves for that!

And, even though I'm not a germophobe like some people I know, I do NOT like porta-potties, so we used our own!  


Next year, we'll go on a warmer day.  Want to come with us?


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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Trick or Treat '08 -- Final Cut

Well, the face paint was a hit. I only did half mask this time for Spiderman, so he could eat without messing it up. And, the Ariel wig has been retired. Even though I think the spray was the exact same color as the wig, this seemed to suit her better.



Grandaddy dressed up as a "Bar Room Brawler", though you can't see the black eye so well in this pic. He loved handing treats out to the kids!


Mom and Dad got a little lazy and pulled out the tractor and wagon.  It was helpful after Ava got a few treats, all she wanted to do was ride in the wagon and eat, eat, eat!  I didn't think to get pics of our whole group...the Newland girls were in our party.  You can see a pirate getting out of the wagon here. Maybe Cindy will show you how creative her girls were!


You know how celebrities have "after parties" when their movies premiere? Well, here are a couple of shots of our after party!




Even Spiderman relaxes after a hard night...



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