Summer Fun in a Tub

Hi.  My name is Tracy.  I’m a Pinterest addict.

There, I said it.  Admitting you have a problem is half the battle, right?  Maybe I should look on Pinterest for ways to fight addiction.  Oh.  Wait.

So I spend several hours a day nursing sweet Bubba with a laptop balancing on my knees.  He is very easily distracted, so I usually have to sequester myself away from anything noisy (i.e. Chica).  After weeks of poking around on Pinterest during this time, I decided to finally get my own account yesterday.  (Gees….was that only yesterday?)  There were way too many ideas floating around in my head for fun things to do this summer with my little kiddos.   If only there was a way to keep track of all those ingenious blog post ideas.  Ha.  I finally get it.

Temperatures in the ‘Burg are expected to reach triple digits in the next week, so I’ve got my pins all ready for engaging indoor experiments and cool-yourself-off outside water play.  My list of things to pick up from the store to pull off all of these ideas was getting longer and longer, so I decided to make yet another “project” out of the shopping itself.  I made Chica her own shopping list that we would take to the Dollar Tree, complete with words, pictures, and a place to check off the items we found.   I told myself that this idea would be a great way to practice using picture clues to sound out new words.  Truth is that shopping with Chica is usually torture for me.  The last time we ventured out together, I turned around to see her feeling up a mannequin.  No joke.  This shopping list was really my attempt to reign her in a bit so that I wouldn’t jump ship before we found what we needed.

I told Chica ahead of time that we were on a mission to find the items pictured, and we sounded the words out together.  I also explained that after perusing the whole store, we would walk back through and each pick two additional items that might be fun to add to our Summer Fun Tub.  Okay, so I ended up with three, but luckily she didn’t figure it out.

We ended up spending $19 on the following:

  • Two spray bottles and four sponge balls for outdoor water fun
  • Magnetic Numbers for cookie sheet practice
  • Tweezers for fine motor skills
  • A dustpan and handheld broom for cleaning up the messes we will make
  • Butterfly shaped flyswatters for an outdoor painting project
  • Sea creatures for freezing in ice blocks
  • Measuring spoons and cups for experimenting with capacity
  • A calculator for practicing reading digital numbers
  • My three freebies were a 500 piece puzzle for myself, masking tape for creating Hot Wheel-sized roadways on the floor, and mini popsicle molds
  • Below are Chica’s extra two choices.  I have no comment.  Jay’s comment was, “What did you expect when telling a four year old she can pick what she wants at the store?

Jay just returned from Wally World with Round 2 for the tub.  He spent about $16 on these items:

  • Plaster of Paris for a craft I’ve always wanted to try
  • Funnels and a sprinkler for more water play
  • Marbles for making homemade butter and a pool noodle race track
  • Glycerin and straws for making bubbles
  • Markers to replace the ones we’re always losing

Tomorrow I’m hoping to finish my collection with tempra paint, pool noodles, squeeze bottles, and a few more odds and ends.  I have also added a few things from around the house that I already had….food coloring, ice trays, sidewalk chalk, cupcake liners, pipe cleaners, etc. My goal is to create a go-to box that will last us all summer for under $75.

Our first two pin-inspired projects today were successes.  We have a family of sea creatures captured in ice blocks in the freezer waiting to be set free by a squirt bottle tomorrow.  We also experimented with food coloring and pouring while discussing phase change in four year old language.

One final thought….I could fill my tub with tools, my boards with pins, and my calendar with events, but nothing is as inspiring as everyday objects in the hands of a curious and creative child.  Tonight Bubba sat on the edge of a blanket and explored the grass for nearly 20 minutes.  While he played, Chica gathered all the sticks in the yard and built two pretend campfires on which she roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.  No advance planning, materials, or prompting from Mommy needed.  Take that, Pinterest!

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Enough is Enough

Three days of dishes in the sink.  Twelve days of laundry scattered around the house.  Equal amounts of trash toppling from trashcans.  No fun excursions planned today….just repairing our house from the whirlwind week-plus of single mommyhood since Daddy’s been gone.

Though these past nine days haven’t been brought to you by any certain letters of the alphabet, they have been brought to me by a word.  Enough.  This word has been swirling around me, taunting me in some moments and reassuring me in others.

So while I had found a craft project to occupy Chica, I was attempting to fold and sort the laundry that had overtaken the extra bed in Bubba’s room.  I was hoping he’d sit on the floor and be entertained by my stellar folding skills, but he wasn’t impressed.  He obviously had had enough of being ignored and whined his grunty whine until I picked him up.

Oh, I love the way you hold me, by my side you’ll always be
You take each and every day, make it special in some way
I love the way you hold me, in your arms I’ll always be
You take each and every day, make it special in some way

I love you more than the words in my brain can express
I can’t imagine even loving you less

Lord, I love the way you hold me

With these words playing on the radio, Bubba and I momentarily forgot the mountain of laundry and began dancing around his little room to the catchy tune.  Now I know these words are intended to be sung to the One who really holds us every day, but Bubba’s toothy grin made me think that this is what he wants from me.  Hold him, be by his side, and make each day special in some way.  His smile said to me, “Enough.”  No fancy Pinterest inspired sensory bags or baby music classes needed.  A silly dance around my room, arm in arm, that’ll be enough, ma’am.

I am trying so hard to understand what it looks like for Jesus to be enough for me.  His grace is sufficient, immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.  His power is made perfect in my weakness.  I can spout off these truths with ease, but enough is enough….I’m ready for them to make their way from my head to my heart.  Jesus, be my enough.

Summer Day #19: Pool Fingers

Like most preschoolers, Chica is fanatical about band-aids.  She finds one little red mark and begins begging for her mind’s cure-all.  She knows I usually don’t give out band-aids freely, so she has learned to use my buzz words like “blood” and “liquid” when trying to convince me of her dying need.  This morning while I was serving up her Cheerios, she said, “Look Mom, I need a band-aid for all my fingers.”  Before I even turned around to inspect her hands, I began preparing my usual, “You’re not bleeding so you don’t need any band-aids,” speech.  Boy, was I surprised!  Pool fingers!

We spent nearly the entire day at a friend’s pool yesterday…swimming, eating, slathering on sunscreen, and just generally enjoying good company.  After hours of jumping in and pulling herself back out, Chica had rubbed each of her fingertips raw.  I agreed to band-aids for the two worst fingers (Chica was stunned at my sudden generosity), and I quickly decided that a backup plan was needed for the day.  We were planning to spend a few hours at another pool this morning with some of her school friends, but I knew I didn’t have enough band-aids to repair the damage this would cause for tomorrow.

In my end of the school-year day dreaming haze a few weeks ago, I created an A to Z summer list.  I had great visions of each summer day being brought to us by a different letter (think Sesame Street) complete with outings, snacks, crafts, library books, and a photo book to prove it.  HA!  Then the summer actually started, and I realized that 99% of that was out of the question.  When you can’t find time to shower and feed yourself from each of the food groups, there is certainly no time for letter-coordinated crafts and library books.  However, the list is still posted on my refrigerator, and today it served as inspiration instead of just a mocking reminder that I am not SuperMom.

H is for Hike

H is also for horses, hopscotch, hats, haircut, and hula hoops, but hike caught my eye as the most doable activity for the moment.  Chica and I had to hunt our “fast shoes” (this is what she calls tennis shoes) that had long been neglected in favor of flip-flops and water shoes.  I quickly grabbed the few other essentials (like fruit snacks and cereal bars, of course), and we were out the door before 8:30.  I was determined to beat the hot sun to the punch.  Thankfully we live in a city that boasts beautiful urban trails less than 10 minutes from my house, so it was a quick and easy decision about where to go.

Chica wasn’t quite sure what to expect on our hike.  She needed to know if it would be scary and if we might see any lions or bears.  (I knew last night’s bedtime story was a bad idea, but sometimes there’s just no turning back after you’ve started.)  I assured her the most exciting animals we might see would be a squirrel or deer, and this seemed to satisfy her.  Those first few steps into the woods were awfully timid and slow, and I wondered if I had been a little too optimistic with my visions of my little family hiking.  Soon, though, she was bounding along, pointing out treasures and gathering items for her nature “collection.”

The best part of our adventure was the swinging bridge.  In my before-kids days, I flew across this bridge with ease while trail running.  Today I’m not quite so brave (maybe it had to do with the precious cargo on my back…Bubba), but I had to feign bravery to get Chica to cross.  We decided together that the best option would be for her to cross by herself since she would shake the bridge much less than we would shake it together.  She chose to go first, and she kept looking back every few minutes…partly to check that I was still there, but mostly for me to repeatedly remind her how brave she was being.  She’s her mother’s daughter when it comes to needing constant words of affirmation…I’m just a tad bit more subtle in my asking though.  : )

R is for River

After a quick snack of fruit snacks for Chica and a cereal bar for Bubba and me, we headed back the way we came and to our car.  I decided to do the thing that makes summer such a glorious time…let one adventure lead in to another.  Since Chica had asked about hiking to a river but we had really only seen a creek, I asked her if she wanted to drive to a spot where we could stick our feet in the river.  She agreed, and we decided on Percival’s Isle.  This happily led to much conversation about what an island really is…I think we’ll be stuck on this topic of discussion for a while.

We narrowly avoided a group of about 25 preschoolers looking for a place to swim (no joke….one is enough, people!) and found ourselves a spot to sit and play by the river.  Bubba and I sat in the shade, watched birds play above us, and breathed in the cool breeze. Perhaps the most memorable part of our morning is when Chica found a worm that she just wouldn’t let go.   I marveled as my usually prissy, can’t-get-dirty, won’t-touch-bugs-kinda-girl sat down in the mud and dug a hole for her worm with her hands.  She actually asked me to take off her band-aids (apparently pool fingers heal quickly) so she could better feel the worm and water.

My friends lately have been talking about these kairos moments.  My best understanding so far is that there are moments where all things fade away and you are truly experiencing life and love and God without any other distractions.  Watching Chica play while holding Bubba, his sock feet getting dirtier and dirtier by the minute, this was my kairos moment today I think.  This….this is what summer is about….time for unplanned adventures where one thing leads to another effortlessly.  This is who I was called to be for this day, at this moment.  And it was good.

I’ve contemplated starting a blog for a long time.  Today I’m giving it a whirl.  It may turn out like the A to Z list on my refrigerator, but I’ll never know unless I try.  I hope this will be a space where I can reflect on life as a wife, mother of two, teacher, and wisher.  I plan to write about my kairos moments and my not-so-kairos moments.  Come along for the ride.