Join me in my daily walk through the joys and struggles of parenthood. Share a word of encouragement or be encouraged. Cry a little, laugh a lot, but know it is all in divine order.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Kids can beat the back to school blues with Pop Bottle Science

Joshua (center of the action) and friends - end of school June 2012

It seems like it was just yesterday that the kids were excited about the last day of school before summer break. Now there are back to school supplies in the center aisles and on the shelves at stores. Panic is starting to set in that school will start soon and they haven’t done anything fun.
There is no need for panic, there are plenty of hands on activities to excite and inspire even the hard to please child. I came across a class being offered at a local bookstore called, Pop Bottle Science.

Pop Bottle Science Kit

The hands-on science based workshop is being held on Thursday, August 2, 1-3pm at Nicola’s bookstore on Jackson Road in Ann Arbor, MI. The class is for children 9-13 years old (registration required and a $3 material fee). If you’re not in the area, pick up your own Pop Bottle Science Kit (available on amazon) and try the experiments at home.

A favorite experiment that my kids like is the one that uses Mentos candy and a two liter of Diet Coke.

Supplies Needed
  • 1 Two Liter of Diet Coke
  • Mentos Candy – approximately half a pack
  • Geyser tube (optional)

  1. Make sure you are doing this experiment in a place where you won't get in trouble for getting Diet Coke everywhere. Outside on some grass is perfect, please don't try this one in your family lounge!!
  2. Stand the Diet Coke upright and unscrew the lid. Put some sort of funnel or tube on top of it so you can drop the Mentos in at the same time (about half the pack is a good amount). Doing this part can be tricky if you don't have a specially designed geyser tube, I recommend buying one from a local store such as Natures Discoveries (NZ) or online.
  3. Time for the fun part, drop the Mentos into the Diet Coke and run like mad! If you've done it properly a huge geyser of Diet Coke should come flying out of the bottle, it's a very impressive sight. The record is about 9 meters (29 feet) high!
Instructions are directly from the sciencekids website. Visit the site for more details on this experiment at www.sciencekids.co.nz/experiments/dietcokementos.html
What is one of your favorite science experiments for kids?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Feel Good Friday – Reaping the benefits of a little generosity

You have not because you ask not James 4:2
Ms. Mable and her gardening class.

I have the pleasure of overseeing a summer day camp for youth 5-13 years old. We rely heavily on donations, volunteers, and grant funding to keep our programs going. One of my co-workers recently received an unexpected gift while shopping at Home Depot.
Ms. Mable, as the kids call her, wanted to hold a gardening class with the kids. The weather had been too hot to take them to our community garden plot. The alternate plan was to assemble the kids in a classroom and have them pot a plant. However, we didn’t have supplies for this project.
When you have a burning desire and passion for something, you find a way to make it happen.

Remember I said we operate on volunteers and donations. Ms. Mable is a Volunteer and a grad student intern, which means she does a lot with a little. She was so passionate about this project that she went to Home Depot with her own money to purchase supplies.

At some point during her shopping she talked to a manager at the store. As she explained to him what she was doing, he pulled a gift card from his pocket and gave it her. He also added a few dollars of his own money and gave her a discount on a few bags of potting soil. Ms. Mable was so excited that she did a “happy dance” in the aisle of a “praise dance.” 
When she returned to our community center, the first thing Ms. Mable said was, “God is good.” She walked in with a big smile and big bags. The excitement she felt was evident and contagious. This excitement also transferred over to the kids as they worked on their projects.

Ms. Mable’s $20 and the generosity of a store manager touched the hearts of the kids in our program. The kids didn’t know how we obtained the supplies. However, every one of them was excited when they showed their project to their parents at the end of the day.   
It was such a “feel good” moment to see thing fall into place as they did for Ms. Mable and the kids. She was not shy about sharing her idea with the store manager and asking for a little help.

What has been your experience with generosity?


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - What is your spiritual gift?

Photo by ricola_2007

I thought I would try something different this week. Instead of posting an extensive article, I am designating today as Wordless Wednesday. Today’s post will consist of fewer words, but a more thought provoking topic?
What is your spiritual gift?

One website I visited identified a spiritual gift as, “an ability given by God to use for service.” The site also indicated that kids have spiritual gifts as well as adults.

This photo and those above by wwwfaithclipart.com/image/spiritual-gift-of-teaching.

Want to learn more about spiritual gifts? Below are scriptures to get you started:
1 Corinthians 12
Romans 12:6-8
Ephesians 4

 There are also websites where you can answer questions to help identify your spiritual gifts. One such website is www.kodachrome.org/spiritgift/
Photo by kithshaa

Monday, July 23, 2012

What do you remember about your child’s first big event?

12 Oaks Mall, Novi, MI

Kids experience many big events throughout their lives. Sometimes those events are more special to parents than to the child. It could be a first birthday party, first day of school or the first time your child learns to ride his bike.
On a recent trip to a local shopping mall, I was reminded of my son’s first hair cut. We passed by a barber shop called Carnival Cuts. I thought it was a cute concept so I took a picture (shown in this post).

The entire barbershop was designed around a carnival theme. The barber chairs were not  typical barber chairs, instead they were in the shape of a carousel horse or other fun things. I believe the concept behind this is to put the child at ease.  I didn’t notice any shops like this 13 years ago when my son, Donovan got his first hair cut.

Wild hair.

Donovan’s hair cut consisted of tears and shears. He cried as the barber came close to his thick floppy braids with the scissors. He wasn’t crying at the thought of loosing of his hair, he was crying because he thought it would hurt.
Donovan's first hair cut at 2 years old.

My feelings about the hair cut were bitter sweet. I would miss Donovan’s long thick hair, but I would not miss his twisting, turning and crying as I tried to tame his hair. At 15 years old, Donovan still twists, turns and whines, but it’s usually when I ask him to do chores.
There are still many first events or special events to look forward to in our household. There’s still homecoming, prom, graduation on so, and so on. And I will show up at as many events as I can with my camera.

Which one of your child’s first events was most memorable?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Christian Swag – what is it and do you have it?

Photo courtesy of www.zazzle.com/christian+swag+gifts.

It was youth day at my church recently. The guest pastor did a good job of relating his message to the youth in attendance. He spoke about the Amazing Spiderman versus the Amazing Super Christian. He also talked about people having Christian Swag or Godly Swag.
In interpreting the pastor’s sermon, I interpreted Christian Swag as exhibiting a lifestyle that shows others how to live for Christ. The pastor said that a Christian’s speech should match his conduct. In other words walk the walk and talk the talk.

I asked my teen son what was his definition of Swag. He said, “Knowing what you’re doing; looking good.” I said what about Christian Swag? His answer was, “believing in God, knowing He’s the head of your life. Confident about what you believe.”
When I searched the web for something on Christian Swag a couple of interesting sites came up. One site identified SWAG as Saved With A Gift and advertised t-shirts/clothing with various sayings. Another site identified SWAG as Saved With Amazing Grace.

The last sit I found interesting used scriptures to identify why Christians should not say they/we have Swag. This site was someone’s personal blog. You can view the site at shivyj.blogspot.com/2009/06/Christian-swag-read-and-please-leave.html.
One of the commenters on the above blog said that he believed Christian Swag to be style, appearance, and representing Christ.

What is your definition of Christian Swag? Do you believe the term swag to be contrary to the word of God?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Celebrate National Ice Cream Month

Enjoy your favorite ice cream for National Ice Cream Month.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! July is National ice cream month; what a good excuse to run out right now and grab cone, a sundae or make homemade ice cream.
The third Sunday in July is designated as National Ice Cream Day. We missed that day, but have no fear; it’s not too late to celebrate.

The International Dairy Foods Association provided a few interesting facts about ice cream. You can use the information as trivia for the kids or just add it to your list of “how do I know this information?”

Did you know…

  • In 1984 President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month.
  • “In the USA more ice cream is consumed per head than any other country in the world.”
  • In 2010 the U.S. ice cream industry’s revenues totaled $10 billion dollars.
  • “About 9 percent of all milk produced by U.S. dairy farmers is used to produce ice cream.”

Read more about the ice cream day celebration at the International Dairy Foods Association website. Do you have any little known facts about ice cream to add to the list?
How will you celebrate National Ice Cream Month? You could throw an ice cream party, use trivia questions as part of a game and even make homemade ice cream. For ice cream recipes check out www.ice-cream-recipes.com/.

What is your favorite ice cream style…sundae, waffle cone, sprinkles?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tidal wave on the lazy river – a memorable summer outing

Rolling Hills Water Park-Ypsilanti, MI. Photo courtesy of Washtenaw County website.

On a hot summer day, drifting down the lazy river at a water park can be relaxing. You grab an inner tube, glide onto it and just relax. At least that’s how it starts out.
In the July issue of Metro Parent you can share your summer story for a chance to win prizes. The essay contest is open to moms, dads, kids, grandparents, all are welcome. Check out essays from their readers at www.MetroParent.com/MySummerStory.

One of my favorite summer memories was a visit to the water park with my kids. The plan was to enjoy my favorite part of the park…the lazy river. I prepared to get into the single inner tube, until my son came up and said, “Let’s get in the double one together.”
I slid onto the tube only to bounce into the air when my son jumped onto the opposite end of the tube. It was rocky waters from then on. People around us gently kicked their feet in the sun warmed water, as their legs hung over the side of their inner tubes.

When my feet touched the water, it was more like a fight for survival. My son was making waves with his hands and kicking his feet to propel us forward at a faster speed. He got us closer and closer to the swaying buckets that dump water over the heads of people underneath. Woosh.

It was blazing hot outside, so the rush of water felt good. My son had a big grin plastered on his face as he said, “Let’s go again.” Of course we didn’t get out of the water after one lap. With my son in the water, the lazy river was no longer lazy.
We went around the makeshift river, two, maybe three more times… bouncing, swaying, but never just drifting. I think my son missed the sign that indicated, “Lazy River.” I should have asked the lifeguards if they had an inner tube labeled, “active kid on board.”

What is one of your memorable summer experiences? Tell about your experience at MetroParent.com for a chance to win prizes.
Metro Parent Magazine July 2012.
NOTE: I don't receive any compensation for mentioning this contest. I just happen to be a fan of the Metro Parent Magazine. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

4 reasons why you should not workout alone

I am beginning to discover that it is not just my kids who experience an adventure when leaving home. My latest visit to Planet Fitness provided me with more than just a workout, it was an adventure.
I started my warm-up on the elliptical machine. I really don’t like this machine; I’m trying it because the personal trainer suggested it. And it forces me to out of my comfort zone. So I entered my weight, age and workout level. However, I accidentally entered my age as four years younger. I didn’t bother to correct the error, but in my mind it felt like I had to work harder.

The elliptical machine was only the beginning of my adventure. Here are my reasons you shouldn’t workout alone:

  • The machines can be intimidating if you are not familiar with them. Take a friend and you can feel intimidated together.
  • The people around you can make you feel you are not working hard enough. Can we go back to the elliptical machine? The lady next to me had to be at least 70 years old and she was pretty much running on the machine. She had arms pumping, legs moving fast, and hair bouncing with her stride. I just kept moving at a “turtle's” pace and focused on the TV monitor. My mantra for the day became, “I can do this, I can do this.”
  • You sometimes loose focus of what you are doing. If you frequent fitness clubs, you know they require you to wipe down the machines after use. Well, I walked away from my machine to get a wipe. I returned and cleaned the seat, the handles and the back rest…but it was the wrong machine. I could have smacked myself in the forehead like the V8 commercial, but I didn’t. I rolled my shoulders back, sucked in my stomach and walked tall like the rest off the people there.
  • You are tempted to compare yourself to those around you. Only two more machines to complete and my workout would be done. While using the outer thigh machine (don’t know the real name) I glanced next to me. Guess who was there?...the super grandma from the elliptical machine. She was moving 130 or 150 pounds. I made sure she wasn’t looking in my direction as I increased my weights to match hers. I just had to try it. I only did a few reps then lowered it back to my original weight.

Do you prefer to workout with a friend or alone? What has been your workout experience?

Monday, July 9, 2012

7 signs that you need vacation

Grocery shopping can be fun...or wild.

When was the last time you went on a vacation? If it took you longer than 10 seconds to respond, then you are past do for a vacation. If you are not quite sure that you are ready for a getaway, read a little further then make your decision.

The kids and I made a quick stop at the grocery store on our way home the other day. I told them I wanted to grab a few things for a cooking class at work. Their trigger words must be, “buy something for work.” When these words are mentioned, my kids seem to take this to mean, “let’s go wild.”

Once inside the store my baby boy (12 years old) decided he wanted to get inside of the shopping cart. I warned him, “If you get stuck I am not calling the fire department to get you out.”

SIDE Note: I drove to the fire department seeking help to get my son out of his seat belt a few years ago. He was playing around and somehow twisted himself into a position he could not get out of. The seatbelt had to be cut off.
It would appear that all of my outings with the boys are some type of adventure gone wild. We made it out of the grocery store without much drama. After waving to a few people as though they were in a parade, the boys soon tied of playing in the shopping cart. However, I assured them that their adventure would appear on my blog.

If this story doesn’t convince you that one of us needs a vacation, see if you identify with anything from the checklist below - reasons why you may need a vacation, a staycation, or just a half day trip somewhere.

·         Summer is just getting into full swing and the kids are bored, so they spend all of their free time begging you to take them somewhere.

·         You let your kids do the laundry, after completing two loads of clothes the detergent container is almost empty. You just purchased the detergent a week ago.

·         Bill collectors call you by your first name. They’re in contact with you so much that they feel they know you.

·         You wake up tired…just thinking about how much you need to accomplish.

·         Back to school supplies are already being displayed in the stores.

·         A child comes up to you and says, “My grandma has a shirt like that.”…and you’re 40ish.

·         You tell your kids to clean a room and when you return it looks worse than it did when you gave the assignment.

What would you add to the list of signs that you need a vacation?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Light a fire under your dreams - quotes to inspire you to move forward

Realizing part of my dream at a week long writer's conference summer 2011.

Have you ever dreamed of doing something, but you kept putting it off until a better time? Now may be the time to light a fire under your dreams. Your dream could be something big or small, but you can't get there unless you take the first step.

I came across a book on my bookshelf that I hadn't looked through in awhile. The title is Don't Wait for Your Ship to Come In...Swim Out to Meet it! by John Mason. The following are some quotes from the book that you might find useful.

  • Your struggle may be lasting, but it is not everlasting.
  • Remember: It's not what you have, it's what you do with what you have that makes all the difference.
  • Gain control of your time and you will gain control of your life.
  • It is always better to fail in doing something than to excel in doing nothing.
  • The person who really wants to do something finds a way, the other finds an excuse.
  • A person is never what he ought to be until he is doing what he ought to be doing.
  • When we do what we can, God will do what we can't.

What will you do to ignite a fire under your dreams?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day chronicles

Happy Independence Day! What comes to mind when you think of the July 4th Holiday…freedom, fireworks, family barbecues, parades or something else? In our city, there is always a parade to attend or friends and family to visit.
This year we skipped the parade and decided to grill at my mother’s house. My uncle, “the grill master” was in charge of the food. However, mom and I decided to venture out to the store during the wee hours morning to pick up a few more things.
Of course we didn’t only purchase the things we went for, we got fun stuff too. Somehow we ended up in the toy section. Aaaah the flashback of childhood memories. I tested out the hula hoop in the middle of a vacant aisle.
A customer passed by and smiled, then a store worker smiled. I put the hula hoop in our cart and said, “I think it’s time to move on now.”
Once we got home and enlisted the help of the kids to unload the car, we played a little. The boys tested their skill with the hula hoop. They soon discovered that they’re better off sticking with basketball and football.
As the temperature increased outside and other family members arrived, the water balloons were brought out. And the festivities began… the fireworks are yet to come.

How have you spent your Fourth of July holiday?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Journey to parenthood

Did you play pretend as a child? My friends and I played  “dress up” and “school” where someone was the teacher and the other kids were the students. We also played a game where we indicated how old we would be when we got married, had kids and who we would marry. We also guessed at what type of car we would drive. Boy, were we dumb.
I remember saying I would get married at 23 or 25 years old and I would have three kids. Well, none of that happened. At age 23, I was just graduating from college and didn’t get married until I was 30.

At one point I thought I wanted twins, one boy and one girl. After having one continuously crying baby boy, I was glad he was not a twin. I have two bouncing boys (big boys now). So what was the point of my childhood game? Nothing…it was just something fun to do.

Although life doesn’t always go as we plan, we have to learn to enjoy the journey. Along the journey to parenthood there is a lot to learn. Once you become a parent you begin a new chapter in your book.
I am glad I was blessed with the kids I have, imperfections and all. Challenges come and go, then they are just a memory. I am practicing not sweating the small stuff.

Below is my journey to parenthood through pictures (there are photos missing along the journey, but the general idea is here).
Me- maybe first grade?


High school graduation.
My boys.

Tired mom.

What are your memories about your journey to parenthood?

Last week I gave the challenge to capture your child doing something silly or funny and report back. Tell how it made you feel…did you laugh, scream, join them? This is all about enjoying your journey through parenthood.