Tag Archives: family

This weekend my husband and I took our kids to west Texas for a family reunion.  Each year, my dad’s extended family has a weekend long family reunion at a local church camp. The camp has a large dining hall with a commercial kitchen, cabins and RV hookups, swimming pool and playground. It is a wonderful place for a large group to meet up for several days.

The dining hall was the hub for the weekend’s family fun. Family members congregated before meals and lingered long after meals were eaten. Many conversations were had and games played around those tables.

There were approximately 50 people there over the course of the weekend and I probably knew less than half of them. I can’t actually remember the last time I went to one of the family reunions.  It’s got to be at least over ten years!

It took Kora all of five seconds to make friends with the other kid cousins. She is two years younger than the youngest of the cousins. Most of the other kids were in the 8-11 year old range. Luckily, the age difference didn’t stop all the kids from playing together.

On Saturday morning, Kora and my mom found a baseball bat and a small wiffle ball and started to play a game of baseball.  It didn’t take long before the big kids jumped in and started to play too.  The big kids were very patient with Kora as she tried to hit the ball and then encouraged her as she ‘ran the bases’.

During the baseball game, Kora did something that completely baffled me.  When it was her turn, she picked up the bat, that was nearly as long as she is, and tapped the ground like baseball players tap home plate. I couldn’t imagine where she had learned that behavior.  We’re not big baseball fans, so we don’t go to games or watch baseball on TV.  I asked her how she learned to do that and she simply replied, “George.”

Curious George! Of course she learned it from Curious George! Kora is a little sponge and she absorbs and remembers everything she sees and hears.  It amazes me when she starts talking about something that happened months ago. One day I was talking to her about planets and I was trying to use the cartoon Ready Jet Go to help her make a connection to what I was explaining.  She then starts talking about how “My dentist has Jet Propulsion.” Why does she remember that her dentist’s office had that cartoon on the TV during her appointment four months ago? That’s such a random thing to remember, but she recalled it as if it happened yesterday.

The other day as I was driving the girls to a playdate, Kora was playing with her toys in the backseat.  I hear her talking about steam. She tells her toys that steam is just water.  I ask her who taught her about steam.  Her response? “Timon.”  As in Timon, the meerkat, from Lion King. (Technically, Kora has never seen The Lion King.  She watches The Lion King 1 & 1/2)

Seeing how much she absorbs makes me want to constantly surround her with new information and new experiences. It also makes me want to shield her from any and all inappropriate content that we might run across.  I cringe when I hear something on a commercial that I feel a 3 year old doesn’t need to hear, hoping she doesn’t start repeating it. With Kora, she might not repeat it today; she might start repeating it in a couple of weeks.

I know it’s starting to sound like Kora spends all her time watching television, but that’s simply not true.  She does love to watch cartoons, but we do limit her screen time.  And we try to make sure that if she is going to watch cartoons, at least they have good teachers like George and Timon.

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Think about your parents for a minute. Are there some phrases or things they said to you or your siblings repeatedly? When I think about my mom and dad, here are a few of the things that stand out to me:

“Dang, Tina!” – A cross between “Dang, Gina” from the sitcom Martin and Tina the llama from Napoleon Dynamite.

“You’re killing me, James” – my mom mistakenly quoting Sandlot

“I love a challenge” – my mom anytime my siblings or I said we weren’t doing something she told us to do.

Well, now thanks to my mom, Kora loves a challenge too.  It all started a couple of weeks ago when we went to visit the grandparents.  Kora and two of her cousins were playing in the yard with my mom.  She started giving them challenges that they needed to complete:

  • Run and touch three trees and come back
  • Run and touch something red and come back
  • Sit in two different chairs and come back

I was completely surprised by how much the kids enjoyed these challenges – they were begging for more.  It’s always the simplest things that the kids seem to love most. (My mom always joked that as kids we would always compliment her more on her dinners of macaroni and cheese with BBQ hot dogs than on meals where she would slave away in the kitchen.)

The next day, while playing inside, Kora and her cousins asked for some more challenges. I will admit that some of the challenges were legitimate and some of the challenges were used to help clean up the toy area a little – ‘I challenge you to find three blue toys and put them on the shelf’.  I did challenge the five year old to find a toy shaped like a triangle.  He searched for a little while and then he found a toy fence that he shaped into a triangle – clever little guy!

Since our visit, Kora has continued to ask me for challenges.  Anywhere we go, she wants a challenge. We went to a splash pad with some friends one day, and I think she got one of her friends hooked on challenges. They had so much fun filling a bucket and dumping it on their heads and getting splashed by three different sprayers.

We’ve done challenges at the park and challenges at the mall.  Here’s Kora trying to make a tower of checkers:

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Completing challenges is one of those activities that I absolutely love.  It can be done anywhere, you just adapt the challenge to your environment.  It can also be played with any number of people and any age range can be challenged.  The challenges can also be used as a learning tool.  The challenges can ask kids to find a certain number of items (counting) or to find certain shapes, colors, letters, etc.  Outdoor challenges are a great way for kids to get exercise as well as improve coordination and balance.

I challenge you to use Challenges with your kid this week. But fair warning: they might get addicted!  I’d love to hear how you used challenges with your family.

 

 

 


It seems like everywhere I look I see people spending lots of money on fancy gadgets and toys for their children, and sometimes I end up feeling guilty for not shelling out big bucks for my kids to have the latest and greatest.  But then I remember that kids are really easy to please and that it doesn’t take the latest and greatest thing to make them happy.  Sometimes all it takes is a stroll through your old alma matter.

Today we loaded up the girls and their stroller, and we headed out for Aggieland.  I’ve been taking Kora and Lila to Aggieland once a month for Lila to participate in the Infant Cognitive Lab, so I had to clarify to Kora that we weren’t going for that reason.  I didn’t want her to get her hopes up that she was going to get to play with her Aggie friends.  We told her that we were going to Aggieland for a walk through the campus.

Our walk got off to a slow start – about 5 minutes in, Kora was ready for a snack.  Once Lila heard the word snack, she needed one too. In order to keep walking, Thomas filled Kora’s pockets (she had the pockets in her shorts as well as one on her shirt) with animal crackers! Kora thought this was just awesome. As we were walking Kora dropped one of her crackers, but quickly bent down to pick it up.  It seems that as soon as the cracker hit the ground, two squirrels appeared out of nowhere.  They sensed that we had food! These squirrels were not bashful either; they kept walking closer and closer to us.  I started to get a little concerned because these little guys were not afraid at all.  Thomas tried to scare them away, but they weren’t easy to scare. As we walked away, one of the squirrels followed us. He kept checking out things on the ground as if we had dropped them.  He followed us for a couple of minutes before giving up.

We made a couple of stops at some of the different fountains on campus.  I really think Kora wanted to jump in, but I wasn’t quite ready for her to start fountain hopping.  She was so happy when I told her she could touch the water – she loved how cold the water was.  Lila really liked watching the water shooting up in the air.

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A trip inside the Memorial Student Center was a must.  Since Kora has been a little obsessed with flags recently, we had to take her to the Flag Room.  After telling her that there might be Aggies inside studying so we needed to be quite, she started tiptoeing around the room.  The student center has lots of areas for sitting and studying and Kora kept finding new places that she wanted to stop and “hangout”.  Kora found one lounge area and she asked if we would hangout with her.  As soon as we sat down, she got up and started scooting over several different ottomans for us to use.

As we exited the MSC, Thomas started to sneeze.  We happened to be standing outside the football field so his sneezes echoed quite loudly.  This entertained Kora for a while – she kept fake sneezing so she could hear her echo. “AAAAAAA-CHOOOOOO”

Kora had fun posing like one of the statues around the football field.  She started out posing, but realized she didn’t have anything like the football to hold.  She remembered that she had a rubber duck in the stroller so she went to get it to complete her pose.


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During our walk, Lila decided that she no longer wanted to ride in the stroller. In fact, she decided that she wanted to push the stroller.  Well, that was getting us nowhere fast. Kora tried to help by standing behind Lila and pushing.  That only resulted in Kora stepping on Lila’s heels.  We ended up getting Lila to stand on the back of the stroller with Kora pushing! These girls are a mess!

There wasn’t really anything super spectacular or special about our walk, but Kora and Lila had a great time. To them, we were out on an adventure. Exploring the world.  To us, it was a way to reminisce a little about out college days while getting a little exercise.


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This summer I’ve been taking advantage of the Kids Bowl Free program at our local bowling alley.  If you don’t know about this program, check it out here.  I was skeptical about signing up my three year old, but she has been having so much fun bowling.  She has a pretty funny celebration dance after she bowls – she usually does her victory dance before the ball even hits the pins!

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Usually, if I take enough snacks with us, my youngest daughter will sit happily at the table stuffing her adorable little face.  This last time however, there weren’t enough snacks in the world to keep this baby happy.  Lila was content for the first half of the game and then she got sleepy and only wanted to be held.  I ended up bowling the rest of the game with a baby on my hip.

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It was weird, but once I started bowling while holding a baby, my game actually started improving. Before having to hold Lila, I didn’t bowl a single strike or spare, but after picking her up, I continued to bowl strikes and/or spares.  I guess the baby corrected my bowling posture.

 

While I was bowling, I had a thought:  Why is there no such thing as the MomOlympics? Why do we not have a contest that features moms and their amazing multitasking ways?

If there were a MomOlympics (and there totally should be) here are a few of the events that should be included:

  1. The Marathon – Moms would line up at the starting line with their child in a jogging stroller.
  2. Rock Climbing – Babies would be snuggled up in the baby carrier as Mom ascends the rock wall.
  3. Bowling – With the baby on one hip, the Moms would bowl one handed.
  4. Swimming – Mom swims while towing a child in a raft behind her.
  5. Baton Twirling – With every toss of the baton, Mom would have to bend down to tend to the baby.
  6. Paddle Boarding – Mom paddles while the child sits on the board at Mom’s feet.
  7. Dodgeball – The Moms play dodgeball while trying to keep their children from being pegged with the ball.
  8. Rhythmic Gymnastics – Mom would use the ribbon to not only entertain the crowd but also to soothe a crying baby.
  9. Curling – Mom would throw the stone while instructed her children to “Sweep! Sweep!”
  10. Yoga – Moms would twist and bend into the most complicated of poses – partially due to the nature of the pose and partially because they are reaching for their child in order to keep them from wondering off.

 

Along with the above already established sports, MomOlympics would also host events like:

  1. Lego Obstacle course – Mom walks through a land mine of Legos while holding a baby on one hip and carrying a load of groceries.
  2. Diaper Changing Challenge – Moms get timed on how fast they can change a diaper.
  3. Laundry Folding Challenge – Moms race to fold as many towels as they can while their children “help” (read: unfold) them.
  4. Grocery Store Challenge – Moms (with children in the shopping cart) would race up and down the aisles trying to get everything on the list before the kids start whining or crying.
  5.  Potty Training Sprint – Moms must locate a potty and sprint to get their potty training child onto the toilet before an accident occurs.

 

I really think I’m on to something amazing here. MomOlympics could be an international success! Who’s up for a little friendly competition!?! I’d love to hear if you have any other ideas for MomOlympic events!

 


For Father’s Day, I like to ask my husband how he wants to celebrate.  It’s his day after all, so I want us to celebrate the way he wants.  Last year we spent the weekend camping.  This year, we spent the weekend looking at boats.  Actually, he spent the weekend looking at boats (and got a mini vacation in the process).

 

He started his weekend with a quick trip to Florida.  I would have been more jealous of his trip, but this wasn’t really a sightseeing trip. He was on a mission.  He had an appointment to look at a sailboat that we are interested in buying.   He spent several hours exploring and familiarizing himself with every inch of the boat.  So much in fact that he taught the broker a thing or two about the boat.

 

Sunday morning Kora gave Thomas the Father’s Day card she picked for him.  She picked the card out herself, so she was super proud of it and excited to give it to her dad.

Later that morning we drove to a boat show to look at more boats! Kora was so excited to see all the boats.  She found one that she really wanted – it had a seat at the bow of the boat that she wanted to sit on!  I asked Kora if she brought her money to buy a boat and she sadly told me know.  She quickly turned to her dad and asked him if he “makes money.” Anytime Kora’s unhappy that her dad has to go to work we always tell her that he has to go to work to make money.  She was quick to remember that her dad makes money and and could buy us a boat! She’s a thinker!

 

After looking at boats for a while, we were famished.  We decided we’d rather head to a restaurant for a late lunch than eat concession food at the show.  Thomas has been wanting to eat at Gringo’s TexMex for a while, so that’s where we headed.  After eating there, I’m now wishing we had a Gringo’s closer to home.  There were so many yummy looking choices on the menu that I had a hard time choosing.  I ended up ordering fish tacos, and I’m glad that I did.  Delicious! While Thomas enjoyed his enchiladas, he regrets not ordering one of the signature dishes.  What he really enjoyed was the salsa and the green sauce before the meal.  In fact, he said that the chip dipped in the green sauce and then dipped in the salsa was one of the best things he’s ever eaten.

 

We then spent the evening talking about boats and watching boat videos on YouTube.  It’s not the most typical way to celebrate Father’s Day, but it was the perfect way for us to celebrate with Thomas.  Happy Father’s Day Thomas! Thank you for being an awesome Dad! We love you!


Is it coincidence that Kora started channeling her inner Lynda Carter with the release of the new Wonder Woman movie or did someone sneak her to see the movie without me knowing?

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Ever since she turned three, she thinks she is sooooooo big.  She likes to stand up tall, puff out her chest, show off her muscles and tell me that she’s “big and brave and strong and tough!”.

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She has recently become adamant that she’s doesn’t need help getting dressed in the morning. If I start to help her she forcefully tells me “No, I’m a girl. I can do it.”  And she’s right.  She is a girl, and she can do it!

 

I’m not sure where she got this “I’m a girl; I can do it” attitude, but I love it.  There are so many times where girls are made to feel like they are incapable of doing certain things just because of their gender.  I want my girls to know that they are capable of anything they set their minds to.

 

Want to be a doctor? I’m a girl. I can do it.

Want to be a chef? I’m a girl. I can do it.

Want to be a firefighter? I’m a girl. I can do it.

Want to be {insert any other profession here}. I’m a girl. I can do it.

Want to get dressed by yourself? I’m a girl. I can do it.

 

(FYI: The three professions above are the three things Kora has told me she wants to be when she grows up.)

 

I will continue to encourage this girl power as Kora and her little sister grow. I will encourage my girls to be strong and independent; confident and courageous.  It’s an everyday challenge trying to raise two Wonder Women, but I’m a girl.  I can do it.

 

 


“Rain rain go away! Come again some other day!”

The last day of our beach vacation just got cut short due to the rain. There was so much rain in fact that I got a flash flood warning alert on my phone. 


Anytime I’ve ever received one of these alerts I’ve usually shrugged it off because I’m somewhere indoors with no plans of getting on the road. Today was different however. 
Within ten minutes of getting the alert, my five year old nephew looks out the window and says to my mom, “Nannie, your car is half way up with water!”  


What!?! We look out the window and found that water was covering the road and rising. The water level had almost reached the bottom of the car doors!
My dad ran outside to move the car and quickly became drenched – the water was higher than the tops of his boots! Of course since this was our last day, all of his other (dry) clothes were already packed and loaded into the car. 
Other than the rain, our beach getaway was a real success. The kids had a blast digging in the sand and hopping over waves. 



We enjoyed watching the animatronic animals and we devoured a yummy Volcano Cake at The Rainforest Cafe. 


We even got to celebrate the graduation of one of the big cousins!  


On the afternoon of the annual sand castle competition, people were being turned away from the beach so we didn’t get to see the sand castles. We planned to go the next day to see them, but then it rained. There’s no way the sand castles survived all that rain. I guess we’ll just have to do this whole beach weekend vacation again next year!