August 31, 2011

Vacation Bible School and Hurricane Irene

As soon as my birthday weekend was over we jumped right into VBS. The theme this year was Treasure Quest. I did crafts each night and Eric was a pirate who sneaked into the opening service each evening and "stole" something from the pastor. Only the children were supposed to see him, and there were some other pirates running around during the remainder of each evening, visible only to the kids, and the kids LOVED it. On the final day Eric appeared to the pastor and confessed his wrong-doing and promised not to do it anymore. I wish I had a picture of him -- he wore a bandana around his head, and a patch (the location of which he changed up every night, so sometimes over an eye, or maybe on his chin, or up on his forehead), and wore a snazzy mustache that I cut out of black foam, and carried around a stuffed parrot.

We anticipated the Boogie being afraid of the puppets during the puppet show each night. What we did not anticipate was that at her first glimpse of the scary pirate-daddy, she would burst into tears and cling to the nearest adult. For the rest of the first night she cried off and on, especially when she was around me for craft time, pleading to stay with me instead of go back to the classroom or to have me go with her. I think what made it worse was that all of the adults participating had been instructed to ignore the pirates and act like we didn't see them, so to her 4-year-old mind we were denying the existence of the very thing that was terrifying her. Eric and I were unsure of how to help her deal with it -- obviously neither of us could follow her around each evening, and she couldn't stay with us. I tried telling her that she could choose whether or not to be scared. Her answer to that was, "I can't choose." On the third day while we were discussing it once again she said something about "Daddy being the pirate." Aha! So she knew it was just him. That evening she happened to see him in costume before the opening service, so he came over and talked to her and snuggled her for a minute, and then she was fine! Of course then we had to reiterate over and over that she was NOT to tell any of the other children that the pirate was really only Daddy. She did really well keeping the secret; so well, in fact, that when we were writing an email to Lela I encouraged her to tell about Daddy being a pirate, to which she replied with a concerned look, "No, I can't, I'm not supposed to tell anyone!"

The upside to pirate fear was that she wasn't afraid of the puppets this year!

For my own record-keeping, the crafts I put together were:
-Binoculars -- paper cups with the bottoms cut out, stapled together, and decorated with foam letters and stickers
-Hot-air balloon -- paper plates stapled together with scraps of brightly-colored tissue paper glued on, and a dixie cup "basket" attached with yarn
-Treasure map -- I brewed some strong tea and put it in a spray bottle, then spread out legal-sized paper all over the floor of the garage and sprayed each sheet liberally with tea. When it dried it was splotchy and discolored, like old paper! The kids tore the edges, drew a map on it, crumpled it up then smoothed it out, then rolled it up and slid it into a paper towel tube that we covered with construction paper
-Treasure chest -- I copied the template from this website onto brightly-colored cardstock. I cut out and assembled the chests for the youngest group, and cut out the chests for the middle group but had them glue their own, and had the oldest group do the cutting and gluing themselves. Then they decorated them with stick-on jewels. The craft turned out super-cute but was soooooo time-consuming for me! I spent hours cutting out and gluing together ...
-Necklaces -- craft time on the final day was abbreviated so I just had the kids string beads to make a necklace as "treasure" to put in their paper chests. I printed out Matthew 6:19-21 onto cardstock and cut it out and punched a hole so it could hang like a pendant from their necklaces

We changed things up a little this year and did VBS Tuesday-Friday evenings, and then finished up with a fun day on Saturday. After lunch on Saturday the kids played games and I tried some face-painting. I do not have an artistic hand. I can draw a decent stick person but that's about as far as that goes. But after a little practice I was able to paint 5 or 6 little images that somewhat resembled what they were supposed to be, and it was actually really fun! I did all the little kids first. I was stationed outside of the room they were playing games in, and as I finished up with each one and sent them back I would hear the Boogie say, "I don't want to have my face painted." EK was the last one and she requested a ladybug; when she went back in the room the Boogie exclaimed, "I want a ladybug!" So the Boogie FINALLY agreed to have her face painted! What's more, she told us that the next time we go to the zoo she will have her face painted there. We shall see ...

Meanwhile as the week progressed we started hearing more and more about Hurricane Irene working her way up the coast toward us. Between work and VBS we hardly had any time to prepare. By the time the kids left church on Saturday it was starting to rain and get windy. Eric brought the girls home and put all of our outside stuff into the garage and managed to get his car in as well. I helped clean up at church then came home and we did laundry and washed dishes and vacuumed and scrubbed the tub to fill with water and tried to do all we could to prepare for losing power.

The storm was really crazy Saturday night. I have never seen rain like that, and the wind was pretty strong as well. We didn't lose power at all so we were able to watch the news. The scariest part was the tornado warnings for our area. But we made it through the night just fine and by Sunday morning the rain had stopped although the wind seemed worse. By the afternoon it seemed to be settling down some and we thought, wow! We made it through without losing electricity! And then the power went out. It was out from Sunday afternoon through Monday afternoon. We were very thankful that it wasn't any longer than that. We lost some refrigerated stuff, although FIL took our freezer food over to the church. However we made out a whole lot better than a lot of people who weathered that storm.

Once the storm passed the weather has been beautiful, warm sunny days and cool nights. It is more comfortable than the humidity of summer ... but it means fall is coming. I'm not ready for fall! I would happily take another month of heat, including humidity! if it meant that fall's arrival would be pushed back just a bit.

And so I don't forget these recent Boogie gems:

While in the car eating french fries she explained the process to make them: "First you take a tomato and you cut it up, and then you put french fry salt on it, then you put it in the box, then you give it to the people in the car, and then they eat it!" It took me a few minutes to realize that she meant a potato, not a tomato.

Yesterday at the store I let her choose some body wash for herself and Peabody. She picked out this Suave berry-scented one (which, not surprisingly, is the exact same kind that H-man and Koto use.)

But I never actually said anything about it being berry-scented, and of course she can't read yet. So I don't know why it surprised me when last night, while being bathed, she asked excitedly, "Do you think it will make me smell like a penguin?"

August 22, 2011

Birthday Weekend

Friday was my birthday. It was a regular day. I had to go to work and all that. I picked up take-out and a movie on my way home. It was crazily windy and stormy and dark and cool out and it felt like fall which I hate. By the time I opened my gifts and we ate dinner and got the girls in bed Eric was falling asleep on the couch, so no movie.

But Saturday was pretty! We went to the zoo (along with 13,529 other people who had the same idea.) We've been planning to go all summer. We bought a membership so we can keep going all year and take friends with us. It was pretty nice all day. It didn't get too warm until close to the time that we were going to leave. The girls were getting all sweaty and the Pheebs had a faux-hawk which I unfortunately did NOT get a picture of.

We asked the Boogie repeatedly if she wanted to have her face painted but she refused. She did, however, ask to brush the goats so that was something.

On our way there we saw some signs for a puppet show they are doing, Xtinkshun (or something like that.)
As you know, the Boogie does NOT like puppets. She'd seen commercials for these and when she realized we were going to the zoo she wavered between excitement and fear. I assured her that the puppets were part of a show in one place -- "It will be just like a movie!" -- and that they would not be everywhere.

Guess what? The puppets were everywhere. There were small stages set up throughout the zoo and we would walk around a corner and there would be a stage with a little puppet show going on! Oops. She actually did pretty well. We only stopped and watched one show and while she clung to my leg the whole time she didn't cry or insist that we leave, and when we talked about it afterward she said she wasn't scared.

(This week is VBS and there will be a puppet show every night. We haven't told her yet. Ack.)

Anyway! Saturday was a nice day and I think we all had an enjoyable time. I'm sure Peabody would have enjoyed herself more if we would have let her out of the stroller more but overall she did really well. We even went to the bird "moobie." It was very pleasant to sit quietly in air conditioning for fifteen minutes.

When we got home there was a package in the mailbox. I thought maybe Eric had another surprise gift for me, but he didn't know what it was. It was from a seller on and was a beautiful handmade bag! There was no message indicating the giver. It took me a couple of hours of pondering to realize that it was just the sort of thing Mrs. Cowboy would pick out for me ... and sure enough, it was from her! It is so lovely. Thank you, Mrs. Cowboy. You know me well. :)

After the Sunday morning service we all went to 52 for pizza and birthday cake. Eric had another mysterious gift with a card. I had no idea what it could be and honestly didn't even try to figure it out. He had me open it with everyone gathered around ... and it was a NOOKcolor!
I was completely and totally surprised! What a cool electronic toy. I can read books, surf the web, send email, listen to music, play games, watch movies, and who knows what else. All of our siblings went in on it. What really fun and awesome gift -- I'm already half-way through my first book! The first thing we downloaded was a Bible (so I could use it at church last night, of course) and a couple of children's books. I know it will bring me many hours of enjoyment. THANK YOU to everyone who chipped in!

So, overall, it was a great birthday. Even though I didn't want to turn thirty, I can't complain about the way I turned thirty. Eric did a great job of making it a special weekend. He put a lot of thought into it and that means so much to me. What a wonderful husband God has given me. :) What a wonderful family I have, too! Sweet girlies and -- on both sides -- fantastic parents and brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews ... I am so blessed.

August 19, 2011


Isn't it funny how you can dread something coming, but then when it arrives it isn't really quite as bad as you were afraid it would be?

That's how I've been feeling about this new age.

I don't like it. But I'm in it now and there's nothing I can do about that.

Well, except lie.

But mostly I feel sort of ... resigned to it, I guess.

I wasn't sure how I would handle today. Like, I seriously wondered if I might cry all day. But it was just a normal day, with birthday wishes from family and friends and cyber-friends. I'll confess that I welled up a little, here and there. But no outright weeping for my lost youth. Ha!

Mrs. Chief walked over with a card and a little gift, and she visited with me for a while. I got some phone calls, and I went to work, and when I got home Eric and I ate sushi and he and the girls gave me cards and flowers and my gift (a sewing machine!) and the gift and funny card from my parents, and after the girls went to bed we ate some very rich and quite delectable little cakes.Tomorrow we'll go do something fun. I'm not sure yet what we'll do but I get to pick because it's my birthday.

So far thirty isn't all that bad.

But ... I think ... I still might say that I'm 24. I still feel like I'm right in the middle of being 24, you know? Or maybe I'll quote Gracie Allen from that movie (what was that movie, Pops?): "Oh, I'm waaay past twenty. Goodness, yes, weeks and weeks!"

August 17, 2011

August Here Already ... and Halfway Over!

How can August be halfway over already? A flock of geese just flew over the house. I'm so not ready for fall. Not not not ready. Next week is vacation Bible school, and the week after that real school begins for HJ and EK and HE. The beginning of school always feels like the end of summer to me, even though I haven't been in school myself for *ahem* years.

This is our last year of NO school as the Boogie will be in kindergarten next fall. This year I will do some workbooks with her on a regular basis, to get her used to sitting and working for periods of time. I will also be doing some research into Christian homeschool curriculum. You homeschooling moms who read this, I will be hitting you up soon for recommendations!

My birthday is in two days and I'm going to be ... I'm going to be ... oh, I can't even type it. As much as I'm not ready for summer to be over, I am one hundred times more not ready to be ... that age.

The R family has come and gone and we really enjoyed their visit. The kids got along pretty well for the most part. After a few days I figured out why: the Boogie wants H-man to play with her. She likes to play "house" and would tell him, "I'll be the mom and you be the dad." Most of the time H-man couldn't care less about playing with her and mostly does his own thing, but if he is in the same room she thinks that he is doing what she wants, and everyone is happy ... as long as she doesn't refer to him with terms of endearment, like this conversation I overheard one day:
Boogie: "Honey! Hon, I ate that whole turtle." [I have no idea why she was eating a turtle.]
H-man: "I'm not your honey."
Boogie: "Well, I'm just pretending you are my hon."
H-man: "I'm not your hon!"
Boogie: "Well, I just like to pretend you are."
H-man: "I'm not."

I worked my regular hours while they were here, and the girls went to 52 while I worked, which I think turned out very nicely. HR had the house to herself for a few afternoons, and all the kids got a little break from each other. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or so they say. In any case I believe we had the minimum of expected meltdowns and sharing traumas.

One afternoon MIL came over during nap time and she and HR and I did some creating with beads which was really fun! I've hardly done any beading at all over the past year or so and I've missed it. 

Yesterday afternoon the parents went to pick up their rental car and do some final shopping, and the boys stayed here. Peabody and H-man's little brother Koto napped. H-man and the Boogie played nicely together ALL afternoon. Like, literally, for hours. I think that was the longest stretch ever of nicely playing together. And when I say ever, I mean EVER, even considering when they lived here in Jersey.

They left early this morning and will be back in about 3 weeks. I think they'll stay with us for a few days while they try to catch a flight back to Germany. They were here for almost 2 weeks and I took no pictures whatsoever. That's terrible! I'll have to make sure to get some when they come back. I think Peabody was just a bit overwhelmed with all the maleness in the house. She did, however, learn one prime new word from 2-year-old Koto: "Mine!" And repeated it with much vehemence. 

One Sunday after her nap the Boogie climbed onto the couch next to her daddy and told him, "I taked a nap: check." She held up one finger.
"Then I goed potty: check." Another finger
"Then I eated a snack: check." A third finger.
"Then H-man woke up from his nap: check." A fourth finger.
"Then H-man goed potty: check." The last finger. "And that's all the checks!" She held up the other hand. "But, these aren't any checks."

Last week we went with  my office to our annual Camden Riversharks game. We didn't tell the Boogie where we were going. She was very excited to be going anywhere, until we arrived at the stadium and she realized where we were. She is terrified of anyone in costume and she knew that the mascot would be there. She was very apprehensive as we went in. Of course we stopped first for a picture.
Once we got inside she clung to Eric's hand and searched everywhere for the shark. We found our seats and when she was safely sitting between Eric and her Uncle B she relaxed and chatted Uncle B's ear off the whole evening. At one point the doctor took all of the kids into the team store so they could pick out a toy. While they were in there we saw the shark go in! Uh-oh. I was sure there would be tears or hysteria (since the last time she saw the Chick-fil-a cow she had to be held by Eric's brother and cried so hard she fell asleep. And this was recently, too.) But when they came back to our seats there were no signs of tears. The doctor told me that when she saw the shark she glued herself to the doctor's leg, and asked to leave right away "out that door" pointing to the one as far away from the shark as possible. But no tears! Maybe we are making progress with our repetition of "it's only a person in a costume."

Peabody thoroughly enjoyed herself at the game. Whenever there was applause she shrieked loudly and clapped her hands. She wandered up and down in front of everyone's seats, and stuffed her face with popcorn. Right before we left she caught a cameraman's attention and was on the "big" screen in the outfield!

Before we left Eric took the Boogie for a ride on the "mega-ro-round." The Pheebs and I just watched. It's hard to get a picture of that with a cell phone! She had a blast.
It was a fun evening and the weather was beautiful, a perfect night for a ball game.

Next week is vacation Bible school and once again Eric is sort of involved with skits, while I am craft lady this year. The theme is Treasure Quest so we will be making things like treasure maps, etc. I have all but one craft figured out. Now I need to gather supplies and make prototypes. It's a little last minute, but I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do -- hopefully it will come together smoothly.

And, next month we will have more company when the Specktacular family comes to visit! This will be their third trip to see us. We are looking forward to that -- it's always nice to spend time with friends.

August 3, 2011


Eric has been calling the Pheebs Peabody. While we were in Washington my parents picked up on it and we all started calling her that. That child surely does have a lot of nicknames: Phebis, Pheeboo, Phoobee, Wo Phat, Pheebs, Peabody. For a while the Boogie called her Phahbis (it doesn't look right when I write it -- say it out loud.) But I love Peabody the most lately.

Tonight at bedtime Eric asked her, "Are you ready to go sleepies?" and she immediately collapsed onto the bed and started SNORING.

Man, I love that kid. She is hilarious.