Weekend wrap-up

Just in case you don’t live your life on Facebook, here are a few fun things I shared there recently:


This made us laugh, even after we watched it 10 times.  Maybe because our dog does the very same thing, and now we know what he’s saying.  Our dog also talks, but he only says Mom.  Now there’s one more ankle-biter following me around the house pleading, “Mom, mom, moooom, mom…”


Epic Highlights from the National Beard and Mustache Championships was awesome, but not in a I-wish-my-husband-had-facial-hair-like-this way.  More in a trainwreck-can’t-stop-looking way.  Awesome, nonetheless.  Click the pic to see much more awesomeness.

national beard and mustache championships 2013 new orleands by greg anderson (8)


And this, this is awesome too.

I’m already plotting to acquire it for Calvin’s upcoming birthday.  I have a Plan A and Plan B.  Unless Perry vetoes it, you’ll hear about Plan A soon.  I’m just going to say one thing right now: Lydia put me up to it.

Oh, and I have to ask: Did you enter my giveaway?  No?  Do it!  Yes?  How many different ways?  Do more!

worship Giveaway: The Worship of God conference (free registration AND lodging!)

Caption wanted!

This was a lot of fun on Facebook, and I bet it will be just as much fun here.

Can you help me caption this?


Some of my favorites so far:

 I specifically asked for the milk to be poured before the cereal.

Breathe…calm…Maybe she won’t find out…

No, for the last time, no you can not play with my barbies Mom.


Baby mugging!

It sounds terrible but I hear that babies don’t mind being mugged at all.  They tend to find it amusing, if they notice at all.  See?


Have you ever mugged a baby?  Have you mugged anyone at all?  Leave a link to your own pics in the comments, or send me your pics and I’ll try to share them for you in a future post!

Share your quiet play ideas for a pack of kids

Scroll down for an update on Caine

Maybe quiet is asking too much, but I would love your suggestions on how to keep 6 kids aged 4-10 gainfully employed.  Caine’s mom, grandma and 3 brothers are staying with us while he is in the hospital, but his mom spends most of her time with Caine for understandable reasons.  We don’t know how long they will be with us and I don’t want to plant everyone in front of the TV or video game console, so I would love to hear your ideas on what they can do indoors.  Yes, indoors.  The weather has been nasty.  Yes, we’re spoiled and we call 40’s and 50’s in January “nasty weather.”

Here are my requirements:

  1. Easy.  Must not require a lot of hand-on assistance.  Remember, I also have a 2yo and a very demanding baby.
  2. Cheap.  Must not require expensive or extensive supplies.  We have lots of free paper, and I can spend a little on materials but not too much.
  3. Clean.  Must not be too messy.  I’m hesitant to try anything that involves glue or glitter.
  4. Entertaining.  Must take longer than 30 seconds.  🙂  An hour would be great.  Even better if it holds their attention longer, but it can’t be too complicated or tedious.
  5. Quiet.  Well, a girl can hope…

Here is what we’ve done so far:

  1. Paint!  The kids got washable paints for Christmas and I already had a set of watercolors and lots of cheap brushes.  They spent well over an hour producing various works of art, borrowing ideas from each other.  I cut a large trash bag in half and taped it to the table, so cleanup was easy.  I also made them all agree beforehand that they would do the cleanup themselves to my satisfaction or we would never paint again in my house.  🙂
  2. Paper airplanes!  I didn’t think of this myself, but it was great!  The paper was free, and the airplanes are relatively safe projectiles for indoor use.  If they’re going to throw things in my house, I’m glad it’s paper.  There is lots of room for creativity and extended play with minimal mess.
  3. Play store.  I think that’s what they were doing, because I found handwritten “checks” and “money” on the makeshift desks when they were done.  At any rate, they were quiet and occupied for quite a while.  Our little ones also love to play school, although that might not hold the same charm for my nephews who attend private school.

Ideas I’d like to try:

  1. Breadmaking.  I could give each child his/her own lump of dough to shape and bake.
  2. Paper plate masks.  They could follow up by actually wearing the masks in their games.
  3. Hide & seek.  Our kids have discovered some fun and fabulous hiding places in our new house, and the fun could start all over again with a few new players.
  4. Origami lessons.  Kaitlyn feels confident she could keep them all engaged long enough to finish one or more simple shapes.  Boats or hats would be a good start, or the Big Mouth Puppet that Becca demo’ed in a video tutorial so many years ago.
  5. Pop-ups.  This is Kaitlyn’s idea, too.  I think she wants to cut a very basic pop-up design (1 for each child) that the kids could then color in and play with.
  6. Play dough.  We could try an edible recipe, or just do the traditional salt dough.  Cooked recipes make an especially soft, pliant dough that is fun to work with.  Messy, but it should clean up easily if we keep it away from the living room rugs.

What else would you suggest?


Update on Caine:

His oxygen was decreased from 12 liters/minute down to 6 liters yesterday, but his breathing became labored so he’s holding steady now at 7 liters.  He will need to get down to 2 liters before they move him out of the PICU into the regular pediatric ward, but he’s well on his way.

Last night and today he became much more active and alert, and is very smiley for his mom.

He also enjoyed Grandma’s visit today.

We think he was getting very tired from working so hard to breathe, and is finally feeling better because he’s not expending so much energy just to stay alive.  He is also receiving 2 ounces of mom’s milk every 2 hours via a tube, so he’s a much happier little man.

The next step is to decrease his oxygen enough to allow him to move to the pediatric ward and begin nursing again.  Thanks again to all who are continuing to pray for this precious little boy.

Free online pre-reading games

This one’s a little weird, but my little ones are loving it and maybe yours will too:

When I say weird, I mean the 13yo thinks the cute lil monster-characters are creepy, but everyone younger than her thinks they are adorable, and 7yo Rachael is hooked on the fact that she can make her own avatar.

In spite of the term reading games, Kabongo games don’t actually teach reading.  Instead, they focus on the skills necessary for learning to read later: following fun instructions, sorting and categorizing objects by size, performing sequential operations, noticing details, etc.

The kids really enjoy the quirky colorful characters and settings, and I love that there are no dating ads for them to accidentally click like on so many other free game sites.

If you try it, let us know what you think!

We’ll receive a small compensation if you or your kids play Kabongo.



Amphibious tanks for sale: 2/$45 shipped

Remember the Remote Control Amphibious Airsoft Tank?  Vision Forum no longer sells them, but our family has some to clear out.

I know I said I wasn’t going to blog in December, but there’s a whole stack of these blocking the aisle in our little library, and I would love to send them to new homes.

These tanks were the coolest toy in the 2010 Vision Forum catalog!  They sold for the bargain price of $50, though they have a sticker price of $79.  Here’s the deal: get 2 tanks, 2 controllers, and one charger for $30 plus $15 shipping.

These are huge fun!  They go forward and back, left and right; they have lights; they shoot airsoft pellets from a gun turret with just enough force to sting a bit but not to do damage.  They can also go in water as the name suggests, though I’ll warn you now that it does tend to cause problems if the tank turns over in the water.

They come in 3 different frequencies, so if you want more than 3 be aware that they will interfere with each other.  This can be fun too, if you manage to turn your opponent’s tank on him.  🙂

An enterprising mom could use one of these to carry a note to a child in another room.  That note could request a soda, because these tanks have 4 drink holders.  Nifty, huh?

Caveat: these tanks were returned for various reasons, but we have checked each one thoroughly, discarding and replacing bad controllers, battery packs, etc.  Boy, was it fun! Please check your tank on arrival as we will only offer a 7 day warranty.

We have several lots of these.  Just use the contact form at the bottom to let us know how many lots of 2 you want.
Click through to Vision Forum to check out many of this year’s cool toys which are now 20-50% off, including but not limited to the newest Jonathan Park album, Airsoft handgun with laser, and AK-47 Combat Rifle Rubberband Gun.  Want to justify all the money you’ll spend?  Check this out: Building a Winning Curriculum with Vision Forum Products.

Vision Forum vs. College Plus, 2010

Remember last year’s football game between the guys from Vision Forum and College Plus? They did it again!  It was a great game with plenty of exciting action and fewer injuries than last year.  This year the broken nose was owned by the College Plus team instead of my own husband.

[click through to see larger images]

Vision Forum started off the game with 2 touchdowns, one missed kick, and a safety.  14-0!  They were psyched!

Several players had the shirts ripped right off their backs.

Then College Plus made 2 touchdowns of their own and the game was tied.  Uh-oh.  Vision Forum had 4 guys in their late 30’s/40’s.  Could these old guys hold their own with a team full of 20-somethings?

Old guy #1 was a mountain of a man.  I’m pretty sure they were scared when they saw him coming.

Old guy #2 was team captain.  He saw plenty of action on the field.

Old guy #3 gave the speedy youngsters a run for their money.

Old guy #4 was mine.  He stayed in for almost every play, and whipped up the crowd during his few minutes on the sidelines.

My hunney played both offense and defense and most of the time found himself lined up with not one, but two heavily muscled young men well over 6 feet tall.  In spite of this, he held the line consistently and broke through quite a bit.  He even sacked the quarterback once!

Of course he wasn’t the only star on the field.  Andrew  made 2 touchdowns.

And Luke may have been College Plus’s MVP.

Both teams played hard and gave it their all.  The game began and ended with prayer, and fans freely fraternized with the enemy – er, I mean mingled and visited.  We all had friends on both sides.

The kids had fun getting their t-shirts signed by team members and spectators,

getting dirty,

and just watching the game.

They even had the players sign the game balls.

But did I forget to mention something important?

Vision Forum Won!

Final score: 30-22

Beach trip 2010

We made our second annual beach trip on Thursday.  It’s a tradition that we love already and plan to continue: in early September, after all the “normal”  children have gone back to school, Perry takes a day off in the middle of the week and we drive down to the Gulf of Mexico.  For two years in a row, we have found the beaches all but deserted.  It’s Homeschool Day at the beach!

This year we left the house at 9 AM, hoping to hit the sand just after noon.  Instead, we decided to take a slight detour and ride the ferry across the channel this time.  The descriptions on the internet said it was a free 10 minute ride with a minimal wait and a good chance of seeing dolphins.

Well, it was free with no wait at all.  We can’t exactly ask for our money back.  But we were so underwhelmed it was comical.  The posted signs said to remain in our vehicle until the ferry started moving, but the trip across took less than 3 minutes.  If we had gotten out to look for dolphins, it would have been a chinese fire drill: “Everyone out! Run to the rail!  Get back in!  Quick!  Quick!  We landed 4 seconds ago and the car in front of us is already leaving the boat!”

Live and learn.  The ferry only added a few minutes and a few miles to our trip and now the kids can say they’ve ridden one.  Next time, we go straight for the sand.

Last year we went to Mustang Island State Park.  This year we decided to drive another 15 miles south and try out Padre Island National Seashore.

As expected, there was lots of water.

It was amazing.  There was a huge school of fish just past the first sandbar for much of the afternoon.  We could see their silvery six-inch bodies flashing the in the sunlight, riding the crest of every wave, nearly covering the surface.

The water was warm enough not to traumatize our cold-hating baby who goes into hysterics whenever a draft from the van’s a/c reaches him.

When he did get fussy, we took turns with our 50 cent No Sew Mei Tai and the umbrella stroller.

We had stopped at a gas station to buy a kite, which proved to be a very good investment.  The kids took turns – once their dad was done with it.

We also bought a frisbee.  No pics, because we were all busy playing!  It was the first year we’ve had a big family game like that, and it was a blast!  There were 8 of us big enough to throw and catch reasonably well.  I only wish we had 3 or 4 frisbees to use at the same time.  [scribbling notes for next year]

We saw a surprising variety of living creatures: tiny ghost crabs that looked and moved like spiders, diving in and out of sand burrows around our table; living sand dollars that moved about and slid under the sand; jellyfish, both living and dead.  Three of us were stung in water.  After that, we took to calling them jelly-bees.

The little ghost crabs were fun and cute, but the big crab was the most exciting.

He allowed himself to be herded, but every now and then he made feints at us, just to let us know he wasn’t really scared of us.

Kaitlyn was the only one who got the nerve up to actually hold it.  Deanna used her Brown Pelican feather to herd him, but he grabbed it and wouldn’t let go.

Here’s why Deanna wanted her feather: it was her stylus.  She used it to to draw a Precious Moments style picture of Bethany.  Isn’t it adorable?

Of course there were gulls everywhere, begging for scraps just like lapdogs.  The girls tossed bits of tortilla in the air over their head and drew in great crowds of huge hovering birds.

crazy bird ladies

Sunset was surprisingly beautiful, considering that the sun does not set over the water like on the Pacific coast.  The water turned a deeper shade of blue, the white crests of the waves nearly glowed, and the smooth shallow waterline took on a pink hue that exactly matched the sky above.  Of course we failed to capture it with the camera, so you’ll just have to visit the gulf coast yourself.

So this means that staying until sunset was a good idea, right?


That’s when the vampires came out.

to be continued

Games to play with an iron

Homemakers know how to have fun too.  Who said there was only one use for a hot iron?

  1. Telephone – A game to test your reflexes.
  2. Dodge-iron – It seemed like a good idea at the time.
  3. Limbo – How low can you go?
  4. Iron tag –  Of course “base” should be as far from an outlet as possible.
  5. Home tatoo parlor – Highly efficient, but the choices are a little limited.
  6. Tether-iron – Remember tether ball from grade school?
  7. Iron skating – safer than roller skates because they go slower.
  8. Soccer – You might want steel-toed boots for this variation on the traditional game.
  9. Create unique floor art – Not technically a game, but it bears mentioning because we’ve done this.
  10. Duck, Duck, IRON! – Just like the game you played when you were a kid, except not!

all images by 12yo Megan

Part of the Homemaking Link-Up

Beach Trip, part 2: the photos

My first beach post was sadly lacking in photos because the camera and computer were giving each other the cold shoulder. Now they have kissed and made up, so we can move ahead.

Bethany loved every minute of the day.  She was equally content on somebody’s hip or on her own two feet.  She was in the water, out of the water, watching us contentedly from her shady towel-tent, and napping while the rest of us played some more.  She helped herself to an endless supply of animal crackers and sand-encrusted watermelon.

As you might have expected, The Boy was a crazy man.  He ran endlessly up and down the beach, playing in the water, chasing the birds, taking care of Bethany, and smearing wet sand onto anybody who didn’t see him coming. 

Rachael was as sweet as ever, floating and bobbing happily on the waves all day long.

The rest of the kids were a blur.  They chased wildlife and waves, built sandpeople, buried each other, wrinkled their noses at the pit toilets.

Quote of the day: “Whaddya mean the bathrooms are too far?  You can pee in this pool!”

I thought that was pretty clear, but maybe not.  The Boy still came to me when he had to go.  I told him he could go in the ocean, so he stood on the sand, dropped his pants, and went.  That boy.