Friday, July 30, 2010

20 Questions plus a Million!

Disclosure: This post is more for documentation purposes and will be more  of a grandparent read since the grandparents share in our excitement over the moderately funny things that our kids say, agreeing with us that they are really funny..   While I know deep down in my heart that I'm missing an opportunity to write a super funny post, I'm not sure my exhausted brain can recall the facts much less write them down all snazzy for you.

It  has been fun and totally exhausting to have the girls together ALL DAY, ALL SUMMER... If  it wasn't exhausting enough, with Chloe being the energizer bunny on crack, the questions  are enough to drive anyone insane.  And every day, I start the day determined to answer the questions and usually break down around question number 343.

We were on our way home from the store a while ago and I watched the clock for five minutes and I kid you not, I stopped counting at 50 questions. The car conversations are the best since we all are confined to one spot and I can't get away from them.

Today's Car Conversation:

Emma inspired by her daddy's influence tries to ask questions of an intellectual nature:

Emma: (as we're passing a cemetery) "Mom, what is an synonym for cemetery"?
Me:   Well, Emma I guess that would be a graveyard.
Emma: Well, what is an antonym for a cemetery?
Me:  I don't know Emma, that's not exactly a good question.
Emma: Mrs. insert well meaning teacher's  name here says that the only bad question is the one that is not asked.
Me: Well obviously, Mrs. insert well meaning teacher's  name here does not have a 3 year old and a 7 old.

Chloe, also taking a cue from her daddy, asks random questions.

Chloe: Mom, where is Nonna?
Me: Nonna is in Alabama
Chloe: Where is Pawpaw?
Me: Pawpaw is in Alabama..
Chloe: Where is Nana?  (and we go through the whole list until:)
Chloe: (with more attitude than a three year old should have) Well, where's daddy?

Emma: Why do you think those people are in the cemetery?  
Me: I don't know Emma, various reasons I assume.
Emma: But why do you THINK they are there?

Chloe: Mom, are you my mom?
Me: No Chloe, I'm not your mom but every time I call your mom to tell her to come get you, she hangs up on me.
Chloe: Oh, well what is that store behind your sunglasses?
Me: What?
Me: (with a tone of realization) That's a reflection, Chloe.

Emma: Mom, what is an antonym for reflection?  
Me: I think we should listen to the radio..

And another recent car conversation
(On the way home from small groups)

Emma:  I'm bored.
Me: Well we're almost home and you know what cures boredom?  
Emma: What?
Me:  Sleep
Emma: Sleep is boring too.
Me: Not if you have a good imagination.
Emma: I don't have a good imagination anymore.  You have a better imagination when you're young.  
(Adam and I laugh histerically)
Me: I'm putting that on facebook.
Chloe: (fake belly laugh) I'm putting that on facebook.
Chloe:  WELL I DO NOW!

And the conversation at breakfast this morning
(as the Today Show is posting all the Smuckers people older than 100 having birthdays".

Emma: (astonished that people can live to be that old).  Did you see all those people that were over 100!?
Chloe: Yeah, and they were UGH-I-LEE.  
Me: (after turning head to laugh) Chloe, it's not nice to call people ugly.
Chloe: But they really were ugly.
Me: Well it's still not nice.  Besides, you're going to be an old person one day too..
Chloe: (laughing and pointing at Emma and Adam)  and so will Emma and so will daddy!  

We need something stronger than coffee at breakfast these days.. 


Happy Birthday Wynn

Today's my niece's second birthday!
Here's her Birthday Party Invite that I made to match the birthday outfit Jan made her.  I think we made a pretty good team on this one. Except it looks better when you can see where the edges of the card are.   Anyway, Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!  We love you!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Made My Kids Eat Their Sunscreen

I've been surprised to have actually had people e-mailing me asking me about me mentioning our use of sunscreen or lack thereof and I certainly don't want to disappoint anyone that might be following my adventures.. So, I must respond to the masses.  Or, the all two of you that were interested..

You did read the title right... Sort of.. I made my children eat their sunscreen...

Please read full post before reporting me to well, whatever agency one reports naughty parents to these days.

I am not talking about the stuff that comes in a bottle.. I'm talking about eating a diet that is chalked full of nutrients that protect your skin... I am also not advocating unlimited sun exposure.. However, I have come to believe that we have been misinformed about sun exposure and for those of you that expressed interest in my experiments with this, I thought I'd share... 

In 2008, when my oldest daughter broke her leg, jumping in a bounce round at a birthday party, I started evaluating her calcium intake, questioning whether she was getting enough to keep her bones strong... After counting grams, some blood test and some conversations with the pediatrician and a nutritionist, we determined that it wasn't calcium that she was deficient in but Vitamin D.

* Vitamin D plays a vital role in the bodies ability to process calcium

* Lack of Vitamin D can trigger infections (influenza and tuberculosis), autoimmune diseases (multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease), cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

* Many epidemiological, cohort, and case control studies prove, at least on a more likely than not basis, that vitamin D supplements and adequate exposure to sunlight play an important role in cancer prevention (Am J Public Health 2006;96:252–261).

* The amount of Vitamin D absorbed from the sun varies by person. A darker skinned person needs more sun exposure to receive the adequate amount of vitamin D.

I feel the need to say once more, that the information included in the above cited articles support the idea of moderate sun exposure. Not unlimited sun exposure. Please do not go to the beach, get fried and then sue me. Almost everything that I've read says that when you've reached the point that your skin starts to turn pink, your body has absorbed as much Vitamin D as it can at one time.

During my Vitamin D research, I started reading articles with information about eating foods high in antioxidants that protect your skin from the damaging effects that can be caused from excessive skin exposure..

Here, you will find some great information about eating to reverse the signs of aging

and here, you will find a great information about eating to develop an internal sunscreen.

And so of course, I put the theory to the test. Pre-Chloe, my brown eyed, olive skinned husband, my brown eyed, olive skinned, daughter and myself (green eyed, light hair, honey complexion) headed to the beach.. Before our trip, I had stuffed my daughter and myself full of antioxidant rich foods while my husband seemed to be laughing under his breath.. When we got to the beach, I coated myself and my daughter with a sunscreen of SPF 8 and my husband used SPF 30.. Based on our skin tones, though I can develop a tan, I should burn more easily then my husband (and I had in the past).. My daughter and I went home with a nice golden tan, my husband, fried...

After hearing all the bad press on the damaging chemicals in sunscreen, I decided to test my theory further.. This year, before our beach trip, my husband remarkably, was much more willing to join me in my quest for nutritional sun protection. And we headed off to the beach prepared with months of eating Salmon, flax seed, leafy green vegetables and the brightest fruits I could find.. We limited our beach time to mornings and afternoons, returning to our hotel room for a nice nap during the peak sun hours of the day. I finally applied sunscreen the last two hours of our third and last day because I thought I saw a hint of pink on someone's shoulders. And we returned home with nice golden tans with very little use of sunscreen... Every one of us..

I would never recommend someone ditching sunscreen all together and my children are dark complected and need much less than a fair skinned child would. Like with most things, I try to find a balance. And, it can never hurt to eat more fruits and vegetables. Right?

For those of you that asked what chemicals to avoid in sunscreen... That's something I'm still learning about. If anyone reading has more information on that, I'd love hear it! If you are interested in learning more about chemicals in sunscreen, I think this article at "Healthy Tidbits for Kids" is a good place to start. I try to stick with California Baby because it is an organic brand. It's worked well for us because my children don't require much. But, it's expensive. But, if you've ever suffered a sunburn, you know that's never fun. So, at times when I don't have the organic sunscreen on hand, I try to see what poses the biggest threat, the sun or the sunscreen and make the best judgment I can.. A lot of times, that means using whatever sunscreen is available but more often, simply limiting our time in the sun.

And so you have, Operation Eat our Sunscreen..

For my family that means:

*A diet that stuffs us full of antioxidants
 (I mean change your poop the color of whatever fruit you're eating kind of stuff)
* Avoiding peak sun hours
* limited, organic, sunscreen use

How about you? What are your thoughts on sun protection?

I'm apart of the Green Mom Blog Hop!  Who Would have known?
Thanks for the Invite Gals!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Book Chat and Six Great Giveaways Tonight at The Mom-tage!

Join us Tonight at The Mom-tage!
Book Chat with

Beth Murphy, Zondervan Representative, will be choosing at random throughout the chat, the SIX winners for the following GREAT books: 

2 sets of The Goat of Many Colors and Get Me to the Ark on Time, by Cyler Black
1 copy of Take Four, by Karen Kingsbury
1 copy of Bittersweet, by Shauna Niequist
1 copy of Good Girls Don’t Have to Dress Bad, by Shari Braendel   
1 copy of The Busy Mom’s Bible
Even if you didn't have a chance to read Picking Dandelions, we would still love to have you join us. And yes, even if you didn't have a chance to read the book, you are still eligible for a door prize! 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Illusion- Disillusionment-- Faith?.. What your Preacher's Wife may not have told you..

I remember the first time the church fell off the pedestal for me.... I was 21 and newly married.. And as if being 21 and newly married wasn't difficult enough, I had married a youth minister and had suddenly become responsible for twenty to thirty kids. I was starry eyed and determined to be the most perfect "help-mate" for my husband as I loved a group of teenage girls into avoiding the same mistakes that I made as a teenager..

My husband, growing up inside the proverbial glass box as a preacher's kid, was much more realistic than I. But I had spent my life peering in the glass box from the outside. My preacher and his wife somehow had found following God, completely, at least tolerable. Life inside the glass box didn't at all seem enjoyable. Who has ever enjoyed swimming in blue jeans? And the list of words that couldn't be said was entirely too long. Did you know that saying "gosh" is actually a precursor to saying "God" and taking the Lord's name in vain and is no doubt a slippery slope to having the mouth of a sailor? But still, at the time, as stale and un-admirable as their lives were, their devotion to the life that they thought they should live was at least respectable. So, the times when I would run into the preacher and his wife out in town, I would eagerly pull at my skimpy, three-inches-above-my-knee-shorts in attempt to gain every inch of church-girl-modesty possible (out of respect for them of course). Who would have ever imagined then that I would one day be the proud owner of my own glass box?

I had tried everything I could think of to break things off with my then, fiancée.. Mainly because I couldn't imagine a life in pantyhose even though I would be wearing skirts that reached my ankles. But as love often does, it had it's way and I found myself becoming a minister's wife, determined to bring the church into the 20th century with a nice pair of capri pants and a stylish and nicely pressed, capped sleeve shirt. It wasn't long before I realized that pantyhose were the least of my problems.

Only two weeks married and in my new role, we were invited to the preacher's house for dinner. I was well versed in the expectations of a preacher's wife in throwing dinner parties, though using the word party in conjunction with preacher's wife, in this case, is irony in it's purest form. Regardless, the invitation was no surprise at all.

I was flabbergasted to find that our meeting wasn't a full evening of singing Kum-ba-ya, head bowed, no clapping of course. There was of course, plenty of time sat aside for reverent formalities. And I knew I had dishonored my husband when everyone quieted and stared at me as I stole a croûton from my salad before we said the prayer. But, only momentarily before moving as quickly as possible to the prayer as if to preserve my soul as much as possible after my great sin. And, I proceeded to learn a truth my heart was not yet ready to learn. Though eating before a prayer was a cause for confession on Sunday morning, nonchalantly discussing "church politics" with the assumption that God dis-liked the same people in the church that we did, was clearly acceptable.

I remember my husband's surprise as I cried the whole way home that night. One, because my pride was hurt because I was clearly, unaware of minister's wife etiquette.  But,  more so, because the secret behind the illusion that I had believed had been revealed. I was newly walking in reality within my own glass box, with full knowledge that there was nowhere on earth to go to catch a glimpse of Heaven, or so I believed that night. I remember, even more clearly, my surprise at my husband's surprise and the realization from his reaction that what I had just experienced was far within the norm of the happenings of the church. I clearly had bitten off way more than I could chew.

I would like to say that this was the only isolated incident in our time of ministry and that other than it, it has been all rainbows and butterflies. But this particular incident is actually mild compared to some that we've experienced. There were many times that I would have walked away totally, could I have gotten away with it.  This is not to say that in our time in ministry, we haven't met wonderful followers of Jesus. Or, that the people in that house that night weren't those followers. And, there have been wonderful glorious moments when we have gathered as a church to lovingly care for someone in need that I have, no doubt, felt as if I was catching a glimpse of Heaven. The truth is, the church is made up of humans.. Humans, even those who proclaim to follow Jesus, are fallable.  In our fallen state, we often mis-represent Jesus. So this disillusionment that I've experienced with the church often leads me to a crossroad; crossroad where I once again choose to either walk away because of a broken people, or to press along toward, as my husband says, "making God's dream for the world a reality" as He uses us and molds us and one day makes us whole. As I'm faced with the choice, again and again, I know that there is only one way that provides any hope at all. Today, I choose to leave my smudges of fingerprints on my glass box and ask that God helps me to see others with the grace that He sees me..



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Wonderful Beach Trip -- minus an arm and a leg...

In spite of the seafood buffet that now owns one of Adam's arms and one of my legs,
 we had a wonderful time on our first trip to the east coast.
(See previous post for Chloe's reaction to seeing the ocean the first time)

 I was not anticipating taking this picture or I would have had them remove their shoes. 
 But, usually, I have to take what I can get when I can get it.  

We met Adam's aunt and uncle and cousins at the beach... kind of a spontaneous plan.. 

Adam's cousin Ryan and his wife Nikita
They're so sweet together and expecting a baby in October.

So spontaneous that the place I wanted to stay was booked. But not so spontaneous that I didn't have time to prepare for the trip.. I cooked all of our food before we went.  I like to take our own food on trips for two reasons: One being nutrition.. I hate to go on a trip and come back and feel like we've eaten junk the whole time. And two, the more obvious reason: It's way cheaper.  I made room in the budget for one moderately price meal out (and by moderate I mean your average 12-16.95 sit down meal).  Everything for me is on a budget and I can pinch a penny until it screams.. This being the case, you might  guess how frustrating it was to me that when there was a two and a half hour wait for Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffett is our idol) and having two hungry children, we landed at a Seafood Buffet.. No prices were posted. But, I thought, how much can a buffet cost right? I have now made my one spontaneous purchase for the year (last years was a picture frame).  We were surprised to find that buffets can cost quite a bit.. 28.95 a person to be exact!!! Thank goodness Chloe's was free and I made Emma order off  a kids menu instead of getting the buffet because there is no way she eats 2.95 worth of food much less 28.95.. So she had an $8 hamburger.. Adam and I ended up stuffed way beyond our comfort, trying to eat our money's worth.  And we road home in a hot car because I was trying to make up the difference in the cost of gas.. Okay, I'm not that tight.. Actually, Adam donated plasma.. Okay, kidding there too but I'm sure I'll figure out a way to make up for it somehow.  Anyway, besides that one little hiccup (no pun intended) the trip was just perfect.

Adam showed off his body surfing skills..

 And for all of our college friends with your cute little comments on facebook... He's really good...I mean, I realize that typically, he's an optical illusion, only looking like an athlete.   But the body surfing is the one glaring exception to his lack of athletic coordination.

 He's not a bad teacher either and Emma has mastered the skill as well.

I spent most of my time sitting on the beach enjoying the most delightful "sand pies" served to me by the cutest little waitress I've ever seen..

And I sat back and imagined that I was "nibblin' on sponge cake, watching the sun bake".. 

And, I came home with the accomplishment of succeeding at "Operation Eat our Sunscreen".. I'll do a separate post with specific details on this soon so that I don't bore those of you that don't care.  But, we have spent the last few months stuffing ourselves with "superfoods" that provide internal sunscreen.. I did apply sunscreen the last two hours of the last day because I thought the girls cheeks were getting a little pink.  But, that was the only sunscreen we used the whole trip and we all are sporting nice golden tans without a patch of pink to be found.  

We will definitely be spending more time in the future on the east coast and we are excited to visit Hilton Head Island in a few weeks when we go down for a day or so to see our friends, George and Jay and their kids while they're vacationing there.  

And a few last highlights from the trip...


Monday, July 12, 2010

Home Again, Home Again Jiggity Jig...

We've been at the beach for three wonderful days.. We met Adam's aunt, uncle and cousins here for a little impromptu wedding for Adam's cousin Ryan and a mini vacation.. I have to say that we have been pleasantly surprised that we love Myrtle Beach.. I was a little apprehensive since I had been told multiple times, how unlike the gulf coast beaches, the east coast beaches were with their brown sand and murky waters.. And then those that we know that do vacation on the east coast usually prefer Hilton Head. We still haven't made Hilton Head  so I'll make that comparison later. But, as far as the beaches compared to the gulf coast go, really, I couldn't tell much of a difference. The water wasn't as blue as the water looked at the Gulf Coast at times and maybe the beach wasn't quite as white but there definitely was not a big enough difference to make it worth the drive. Add in the oil spill and we're converted.. Or traders as our gulf coast friends would say..

We stayed in an area of the beach that is a quiet residential area, about six miles from the downtown commotion.. I will admit the down town area is crazy busy.. Think: the busiest part of Panama City Beach and the busiest part of Gatlinburg swished in together...But, we stayed mostly on our end quaint end of the beach and had the most lovely time..

I have a ton of pictures to upload but until then, I'll leave you will Chloe's first experience with the ocean.. In a way, it seemed sad that Chloe was seeing the beach for the first time. Especially since Emma practically spent her first two years on the beach. But, it was also very nice that she was old enough that we were able to catch her amazement by it all.. I think we'll be making our way back to the east coast now that we have had our first taste of it. Parts of it are close enough to be done in a day trip.. I have to get up now and start working on the inevitable, packing up to go home.. Three days is a good length for me.. I'm starting to feel grains of sand everywhere.. It's time to go home.. Until I get the rest of the pictures up, I will leave you with Chloe's first impression of the ocean..



Wednesday, July 07, 2010

June 2010

The first month of summer flew by in a flash..  Most of June was consumed with Emma's birthday.  I had a week with Adam out of town, ending with a sleepover and then some sort of pink eye for myself and to be completely honest, I haven't fully recovered.

I was going to try to go ahead and make my layouts for our digital scrapbook but the summer is slipping away and I don't have time to waste so I put them up in a slide show.

Update on the girls..

*Emma turned seven on June 19th.  She had completed the summer reading program and saw to it that Chloe finished the summer reading program by reading her her books, the first week of summer.  She's getting really good at helping me put away clothes and has played well with Chloe this summer.  She is working hard to win all the awards available with our summer scripture memory work at church.  She has constant invitations for play from friends and I'm a bit selfish about sharing my time with her.   Her birthday party will be talked about for years and it's a good thing because I'll never be putting on something like that again.  Well, maybe when Chloe turns seven for the sake of keeping things even..

* Chloe is the same little fireball she's always been.  It's been a while now since we figured out how she was getting out of our attempts to lock her in her room.  We turned the doorknob around so that it locks in the hallway.  (I do not care to hear arguments about how it is abuse for us to lock our child in her room at night).  Besides, it didn't last very long as she figured out to unplug her nightlight and use the prongs on the night light as a key.  We woke one morning to the sound of the house alarm going off.  Adam and I frantically ran for the doors and found Chloe making her way to the back yard.  The doors now have latches up high and I will be trying to find a way to lock her in her room again.  One might argue abuse.   But, giving her free reign of the house so that she has the opportunity to dance on the counters, holding knives seems neglectful to me. 

She is a mess and we're soaking up every little bit of the flavor she adds to our lives as a little child with a tad bit of fear about the teenage years..  She keeps us laughing non stop.. Potty training? um sort of..   She has me trained well.  If I take her every two hours, we go through the whole day without an accident.  But, she never goes on her own.    I often find her standing in the middle of the coffee table singing the songs from "Annie" at the top of her lungs.. Usually, with Emma right behind her proclaiming the rule: "NO STANDING ON THE FURNITURE".. I then contribute to the delinquency of a minor by overlooking the offense while I make a desperate rush for the video camera, only to be spotted by the little villain who then starts singing in a sweet little whisper.  She will go to preschool in the fall.  If you feel so inclined, start praying for her teacher now..

Speaking of the little mess, she just rounded the corner with a sweet sleepy smile and said with the most delightful southern draw, "Good mauning momma.  I'm ready for some cereal and some Straawwberry Shortcake (sang like the theme song in the video)".  Now she wants some moore (two syllables).  I shall go now and leave you with our pictures from June.. It will be a welcomed surprise if I get a chance to sit down again today before she lays down her sweet little head.. I will entertain all serious offers on renting her as exercise equipment.  She's gotten me down below the weight I was when I got married.  Aren't you tempted?



Saturday, July 03, 2010

Tips for Better Fireworks Photos

 Great Post from Lifehacker

When you snap pictures at the fireworks display on Friday, you'll either wind up with immensely rewarding photos or frustration that makes you wish you'd left your camera at home and just enjoyed the show. The outcome has everything to do with the preparation and knowledge you take to the event. Before you go, arm yourself with a few tips and tricks that will prepare you to capture fireworks in all their brilliant glory. Photo by jonrawlinson.


Stabilize Your Camera

Foremost, when photographing fireworks, stability is key. Like butterflies and lightening strikes, fireworks are fickle subjects. An absolutely stable shooting platform is a must. Whether you use a full fledged tripod or you clamp the camera onto a solid fence with a mount, the camera must be steady. Leaning against a tree or trying to grip the camera on the top of a post just won't cut it. You can further increase the stability of your tripod by hanging weight from the cross brace. Without a stable platform to shoot from you are nearly guaranteed blurry photos. Photo by matter=energy.

Shoot Hands-Free

Right behind stabilizing the camera with a tripod or mount is keeping your hands off the camera while shooting. The most common way to go hands-free is a shutter release cable. Many modern digital cameras have the ability to get triggered by an infrared remote. If you have neither, check the manual of your camera to see if you set a shutter delay. Setting a delay on the shutter will achieve the same vibration-reducing effect as a remote release, but unfortunately it gives you less control over the timing of the exposure since you have to predict the best time to shoot by a few seconds. A cable or remote release is ideal.

Control Your Exposure

The length of the exposure is pivotal to capturing fireworks. Fireworks are large bright distant light sources that "bloom" over the course of several seconds. To capture the the full effect of the firework's burst it is necessary to use a longer exposure. One to four seconds is usually enough to capture the most beautiful moment of the bursts. Shorter than that and you end up with dark partial bursts, longer and you often end up with an over exposed picture without much focal interest. Photo by mandj98.

Location, Location, Location

Firework displays draw large crowds, so it isn't always possible to secure a perfect location to shoot from. Arriving early and scoping out the scene is well worth your time. You want to have as clean and unobstructed a view of the skyline as possible. Make sure to reference the skyline through the viewfinder of the camera to make sure you and the camera are seeing things the same way. Shooting from much higher or lower than the rest of the people watching the show can yield interesting results. If possible select a location that is upwind of the fireworks display. Fireworks generate enormous amounts of smoke and if you're upwind your pictures will have a hazy quality like you were taking them through a fogged up window. The picture at left highlights the effect smoke can have on fireworks photography. Photo by ahisgett.

Don't Flash The Fireworks

2008-07-01_151442.jpg Turn off your flash. If you can't turn off the flash, black it out with electrical tape. If you've ever seen photographs taken from the 78th row at a rock concert with the flash left on, you know exactly how poorly low light long distance flash exposures turn out. If your camera doesn't have a manual mode that allows you to turn off the flash, try out Landscape mode which almost universally turns off the flash to avoid washing out the foreground in landscape photography. The only exception to the no flash rule is when you want to expose the foreground to highlight objects or people. In the photo above, the young women in the corner are properly exposed because of a flash. Without the flash they would have been dark blurs against the background. Photo by Jon Åslund.

Focus On Infinity

Pre-focus the camera. Don't let an overzealous auto-focusing system ruin good shots; the brightness of the fireworks and the haze of the smoke confuses many auto focus systems. Set the focus manually on the infinity setting to guarantee that the fireworks bursting on the skyline will be in focus. The only time the focus-to-infinity trick wouldn't work is if you were close enough to the fireworks explosion to have bigger problems to worry about than blurry pictures! If your camera doesn't allow manual focus, set it to landscape mode which will have the same effect. Photo by Shermeee.