July 30, 2008

Vacation Bible School

The theme this year for VBS at many churches in San Diego (maybe everywhere?) is "Power Lab"! It's totally cute. I got to see the material up close and personal because I was in charge of 3 and under. Our church had VBS coincide with a church wide event, so we needed childcare for all ages. I have extremely happy memories of VBS. I went every year as a child, then I was a teen helper (that was very cool starting in 7th grade at my church growing up). And I've done VBS periodically in my 17 years of being an adult, but this was my first time as a mom. I made some observations about my kids this week...
  1. Bubbles are universally loved by children (okay, that observation was about every child).
  2. Samantha LOVES it when I'm her teacher. Dan and I volunteer in her class once a month, which helps because she has definitely had some serious separation anxiety. She was able to relax and enjoy all of VBS knowing I would be there. As we were walking in the second night she asked, "Mommy, are you going to play with me?" Oh, it's so sweet, and the best part is that she doesn't need to me to tend to her at all. It's just enough that I'm in the room.
  3. Samantha is starting to like kids! If you know her, you know that she has about a 4 foot personal space rule. She does not want children near her. She was standing at the top of a slide with another little girl, and instead of screaming she kindly patted the girl's back. I just happened to look over there at that moment, and I'm so glad I got that little snapshot into her development!
  4. VBS has this magically special quality, like what youth camp does for teens. The theme this week has been power, so each day we have emphasized what Jesus gives us power for. The 1st day was to be thankful, the 2nd day was to help others. Because I had the leader's guide for preschool, I was able to tell Timothy what to expect each day. And we would practice yelling "Aha!," which was also part of the curriculum. The last night (we only did 3 days) we were driving to church, and I had forgotten to tell Timothy what the lesson was about. My heart melted when he said, "Mom, what does Jesus give us the power to be tonight?" "...to be brave, my sweet son." Perfect love casts out fear, and it's really good for me to remember because I was also reminded this week that...
  5. My son has Sensory Processing Disorder. You wouldn't think I really have to be reminded, but sometimes it's way more obvious than others. Because this VBS material had a science theme, it was all about doing things with the senses that he doesn't typically have to do. Plus, there were many more transitions than in a normal Sunday School setting. My heart breaks for him sometimes that so many things that can be fun and enjoyable have to be scary and intimidating to him. He starts Kindergarten in 5 weeks, and it's not going to be easy.
Just keepin' it real!

July 25, 2008

New Blog Design!

If you frequent my blog, you know I enjoy getting to change my layouts. I've always wanted to do something fancier, but the one time I tried I lost all my widgets. I'm still working on getting those put back into my sidebar! Well, a blog I read entitled The Sweeney 4, Our Journey has the most adorable new layout. I love it's scrapbook "look", and best of all it's free! Plus, you don't lose your widgets! So if you're wanting to spice up your blog design, go to The Cutest Blog on the Block.

July 24, 2008

Muffin Tin Mondays

I just think this idea is so clever! Visit Sycamore Stirrings and check it out.

July 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

There are squirrels everywhere at a particular playground we go to. This squirrel isn't hurt-we saw him scamper away not long afterwards. He just wanted to get cool, like a dog does! I've just never seen a squirrel do this!!! For more Wordless Wednesday go here or here.

July 21, 2008

Day 7, Part 1: East Texas-Fishing***

***An assortment of things happened on Day 7, so I'll be breaking this up into 3 different posts.

We had a wonderful time in Dallas. On day 7, we drove 2 hours to where my Dad and Step mom live in East Texas. My parents live on a small lake, so we don't miss a chance to do a little fishin'! I have wonderful pictures of Timothy in the past, but this was Samantha's first time. Plus, Timothy got to break in his new Transformer fishing pole! They had so much fun! And even though Sam was very interested in fishing, she showed she's still a girl by not wanting to touch the worms at all!

July 17, 2008

MOPS Beach Playdate

So my wonderful MOPS has 2-3 play dates every week, and one of them is at the beach. I think it may be all kids, but my 2 love the beach. They can last longer there enjoying themselves than anywhere else we go. Plus, they are so exhausted when we leave they have no energy the rest of the day. It's great! As much fun as I am having posting about our TX/KS trip (and I will get to those 9 remaining days!), it is nice to live in a place where I can take pictures like this...

Disclaimer: For any of you worried that the kids are too close to the water, I want to explain that this particular beach is really shallow for a long time. Kids younger than mine were further out.

July 16, 2008

Two Cystic Fibrosis Anecdotes

Until yesterday Samantha lumped all her different medicines together, whether they be liquid, capsule, or inhaled. She simply calls them "medicine". Yesterday, however, she was hungry and said, "I want some 'e-zymes'." I'm so glad she knows that to eat she has to go through enzymes first!

About an hour ago, Timothy asked for yogurt, and I told him he could get it on his own. In the excitement Samantha agreed and followed. They had worked it all out, evidently, because she had climbed up into her chair to eat, and he was getting 2 yogurts and 2 spoons. I was hearing all of this from the living room, and then Timothy ran to me saying, "Mom, I need to put Sam's enzymes in her yogurt! Can you tell me where they are?" I'm crying now thinking about how sweet and loving and protective that is.

WW: Foot Covered In Sand

See, Mommy, I got sand on my foot!

For more Wordless Wednesday go to 5 Minutes for Mom....

July 14, 2008

Day 6: Kung Fu Panda and Dallas World Aquarium

On Day 5 my mom let Dan and I have a "retreat" night, and she kept the kids alone. It was so lovely! We saw Prince Caspian, which was fantastic and the best part was that we got a full night of amazing sleep! By this point in the trip, both Sam and Timothy had terrible coughs at night. I think it was allergies, but we were having to do all kinds of pillow propping and such. It disappeared a couple of days later. All that to say, our Day 6 started off great!

So Day 6 was a "child-focused" day. They got CiCi's Pizza since we don't have it in San Diego.

Next we went to see Kung Fu Panda.

I enjoyed this movie, and the kids made it through great. Samantha has taken to this movie more than Timothy, even. She loves to carry her "Tigress" Happy Meal toy around everywhere. If you want to enter to win a Kung Fu Panda activity cd, go to Adventures of a Breastfeeding Mother. I took a pic of everyone before the movie began (adults are Dan, then my brother, then my mom)...

Then we went to Dallas World Aquarium, which is a neat place. Unfortunately, I didn't get very many good pictures at all this time (I have great pics from another visit). It's like a rain forest inside, and I think because of the Dallas June temps, it was a little like a sauna. I think it made all of us a bit agitated. Timothy was whiny, but Samantha was enthralled.

And I got a couple of good pics of the kids.

Now, strike a pose...

And collapse into bed!

Banana Boat Product Endorsement

I've become a big fan of Banana Boat products, and I always want to pass on good product information to people. We spend a lot of time in the sun all year, either swimming or at the playground, and as you can see Samantha is extremely fair skinned. About 4 years ago, Dan had a sizable piece of skin cancer removed from the top of his head, so we can't take any chances.

We use the UltraMist™ Kids Tear-Free SPF 50. I don't spray it directly on my kids. I put it in my hand and then rub them down like it's lotion. I like that it's lighter than lotion and doesn't make you feel goopy. I bought it around May probably and still have tons. They wear it almost every day and have never burned with it on. Good stuff!

And if you don't have this product, you must buy it! I bought it when I bought the sunscreen thinking I would need to use it more often than I have. I grew up on "Green Stuff" that yucky green aloe gel and had never tried this product out. One day a couple of months ago, the kids and I went to the playground. It was cloudy out and I made that mistake of thinking we couldn't burn. Well, Sam and I both burned on our arms (as you can tell, Timothy only tans). She wasn't complaining, but it was bright red. I put this Aloe on both of us that night in the hopes that it would soothe her before she realized any discomfort.

Well, when we woke up the next morning our burns were GONE. Gone! And mine had tanned. It was crazy, and I thought surely that was a fluke thing. Then I was visiting my friend, Christi, in Wichita, and it was in her bathroom. I commented that it was amazing stuff, and she bursts out, "Yeah, it turns burns to tans in one day." Ha! That was so cool! And it could be that everyone already knows about this must have, but just in case...

What Guidance is Not

I think I'll post some things going on currently! Our pastor finished up a 3 week sermon series on the Holy Spirit yesterday. Our pastor is awesome, and I should post his stuff more often, but one part of his sermon really struck me. Before he discussed what the Holy Spirit's Guidance is, he explained what it is not. So as not to copy his entire sermon, I want to focus on one of his points...

Guidance is Not "Insider Information". How often do I seek God's guidance when I'm NOT facing trouble or a difficult situation? [It hit me that often real "guidance" is used for big decisions: what car to buy, church to attend, job to get, area to live.] He proposed that we ask for guidance for the growth of your soul. That means asking questions like the following...
  1. How do I become a more truthful person?
  2. Whom do I know who can teach me to pray in a way that will nourish my soul?
  3. What practices will enable me to live in joy continually?
It just got me thinking the Holy Spirit has so much more He wants to guide me in than the circumstances of my life!

July 13, 2008

Day 5: Grandma Pearl & Mario Kart Wii

Day 5 was relaxing. It was our first day with no driving over 30 minutes! We spent the morning with Grandma Pearl (my mother's mother) who has had 2 mini-strokes in the last month, but continues to be alert and independent. I LOVE these pictures of my kids with her:

Then we went to visit "Uncle Alex" (my brother). Timothy was chomping at the bit to see him because "Uncle Alex has a Nintendo Wii" and "I want to play Mario Kart". I can't believe I haven't blogged about it yet, but my son is OBSESSED with Mario Kart. About 2 months ago, in an effort to quench his longing, I put http://www.mariokart.com/ in his favorites.

Now, he has been known to over-focus on one thing, but this is like nothing I've seen. Even to this day, he goes to the website, studies the characters (some are above), and memorizes the "tricks" that they do in the video game in order to get power or go faster. But you know none of that could compare to actually playing the game. We ended up having a great time playing. Timothy played some and watched some. He was just happy to be there-in its presence.

It wasn't until we got back that it dawned on him..."Mom, WE need to buy Nintendo Wii." I explained they cost lots of money, so we would have to save our dollars (my main goal is to put off owning a gaming system for as long as we can). He hasn't argued with us and explains to total strangers (anyone who will listen) that "Wii costs lots of money, so we will buy it when we save our dollars." However, just this morning he woke up whimpering from his sleep. Dan asked him what's wrong and Timothy said, "I only have $100 for my Nintendo Wii." Don't ask me how he decided he has $100! We have about $6 of "virtual money" saved, but we think we're going to turn it into real money. It looks like he loves this so much that it's a perfect way to show him the whole long-term savings concept. Any ideas would be welcomed!

July 11, 2008

Day 4: Austin & DFW

Originally we were going to see the State Capitol and the Bob Bullock Museum, but I couldn't help thinking I just wanted to BE with Sheila and Timothy wanted to BE with Zoe and Ben. So back to the swimming pool we went!

You may be asking, why does Timothy have a life jacket on? Well, for one he doesn't swim yet. But the big reason is last year, at this very pool, we had a very scary incident occur, and I decided that until I'm extremely confident about his swimming or he's taking lessons, he's going to wear one when swimming! Ben is so cute...

The good news was that neither of my kids fought me on it. I couldn't believe it! Sam does not like people or things to be near her at all. Just try it-you'll see. But as soon as she saw this (which totally covers up her adorable bathing suit, by the way), she was clamoring to get in it screaming, "I want to go SWIMMING!"

The time came to say good-bye to Zoe and Ben, and Timothy didn't like it. Thankfully, he now recognizes having to say good-bye instead of screaming no through it (that always caused awkward moments!) I think this trip taught Timothy about how much fun it is to see friends and how sad it is to say good-bye. If there's anything I've learned, though, and hope to teach him, it's that the sadness of the good-bye can't make us miss out on the joys. We have to experience life, even when it hurts. It will serve him well because he's turning out to be this crazy people person (who did he get THAT from?)

We headed up towards Ft. Worth to meet Dan's aunt and uncle who are delightful and in the spirit of our "detour traveling" we decided to go the Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glenrose, TX on the way. I grew up going to the Glen Rose Baptist Encampment so I had been to see the dino tracks years before. There are a couple of different spots to see tracks, but the easiest was this fairly wide river who's water level was pretty low. Here we are starting to cross:

This is looking down the length of the river. You can see where the river bends to the right.

Here is Timothy pointing out a couple of the dinosaur tracks.

On the way back both kids were feeling comfortable to climb "by myself". And as you can see it was pretty tame. The only times we really had to hold the kids tight were a few submerged rocks that were quite slick. About 2 feet before we made it back to the bank, Timothy slipped and got muddy/wet from his waist down. He wasn't hurt, but totally disgusted.

And the best thing was the water! Both here and at Josh and Sheila's pool! I think Sheila thought I was crazy because I asked, since we were going swimming around 6pm, if their community's pool was heated. "Um, no, it's 100 degrees here." And sure enough the pool water and river water were nice and cozy. What a different feeling than in San Diego! We consider a hot day 80 degrees, so our water (pool and especially ocean) stay FREEZING. I don't even know how the kids stand it sometimes. But in Texas, even I enjoyed it!

I loved all these "earthy" things we were doing. It was great to really enjoy God's creation. We ended up having a lovely dinner with Uncle James and Aunt Dana. Timothy was pumping himself up to see his grandparents, and in the midst of enjoying James' company called him "Grandpa". We all loved it!

End note: Do not ask me how, but I did not get pics of Sheila and me together or of Dan's aunt and uncle. I'm a bit heartbroken about it.

July 10, 2008

Day 3: Austin, TX

We had such a great "spontaneous" adventure at the McDonald Observatory that on our drive from Van Horn to Austin we basically became "Historical Marker Chasers". No, not NEARLY as exciting as Storm-chasers. Our biggest bust added about 30 minutes to our trip and was so insignificant that there wasn't even a picture to take. We found this view on that detour, which I thought was pretty cool:

Timothy also pottied outside for the first time! This picture was taken right after he did it, and I seriously think he felt a little more grown up! I did take a picture of the actual act (behind that giant cactus right there), but I'll keep that embarrassment off of the world wide web!

On Day 3 we made it to our first stop to see people we love! We had a wonderful time with Josh, Sheila, Zoe, and Ben. Did I mention we had a wonderful time? It was so great! We went swimming that night at the coolest pool ever! The kids loved it so much we went again the next morning. I have pics, but I took those on Day 4...

Day 2: Van Horn, TX and McDonald Observatory

Welcome to TX!!! I was going to put this "Don't Mess with Texas" sticker on our car, and when Dan said, "Oh no you will not", I happily submitted because I am a loving Christian wife. Instead I stuck it to my chest. This picture was taken at Dairy Queen (oh, how we love thee). And while I'm embarrassed at my appearance, I am not in any way embarrassed about the sticker. If you can't understand why, then you're just not a Texan.

So we made really good time on day 2, and got to Van Horn early. We wanted to get a couple more hours down the highway, but we couldn't get a refund on our hotel. I had picked up a Visitor's Guide when we entered TX and found it to be really cool. That's where I read about the McDonald Observatory, which I had heard great things about from my mom but didn't know we were near it. We happened to be there on a night where they have "star parties", and what a great treat! If any of you are ever in Southeast TX or are making a trip to Big Bend, this is a must stop! We sat out in the amphitheatre, and it was like experiencing the planetarium, but all the stars were real!!! Our speaker even had a light-pointer thing, and I don't know how the illusion worked, but it looked like he was actually pointing at every star and constellation that he told us about. So cool!

The observatory is famous for the 3rd most powerful telescope in the world (not pictured), but the 2 telescopes above are quite powerful and were open for the star party. The second picture shows what it looked like inside the dome, and through that telescope we saw Saturn!!! There were even 4 moons of Saturn visible, but I was so excited I forgot to look for them (that doesn't sound like me at all, does it?). Dan saw Titan, Saturn's largest moon.

On our drive to the observatory (50 or so miles), the sun was setting and we saw tons of wildlife, even up close and personal.