The Grandest Sandbox of Them All

Spending an entire day with our 2-year-old grandson was awesome and amazing this weekend. His daddy brought him over early with his “visiting bag” (diapers, clothing changes, books and sippy cup). Daddy received a half-hearted ‘bye-bye’ wave; we’re working on improving the wave, but love that he LOVES spending the day with Grandfather and Grammy.

Anyway, Grandfather and I were finishing our coffee while Gabriel played with his stash of thrift-store Hot Wheels cars on the living room carpet. Thinking out loud, making plans for the day, I mentioned that we should go out to the sandbox because it’s not raining, and the little guy springs up and runs to the front door to go outside. There’s no way we’re going to say “no” to that exuberance! It’s PLAYTIME outside NOW, something that has been scarce because of a 2-week cycle of never-ending rain.

This is why Grandfather and Gabriel are playing with his “Mighty Machines” (CAT Construction Toy set) in the sandbox at 9:00 a.m. I love taking photos and videos; capturing special moments and preserving memories for myself and others, but especially for Gabriel. He’ll have his own scrapbook this week with these photos (and more). We uploaded two short videos from Grandfather’s iPhone, Playtime! And another, Playtime – part 2. Enjoy!

It took some negotiating, but playtime in the sandbox ended 2 1/2 hours later. We’ve got some plumbing issues in the house, so Gabriel had to take a shower (perhaps his first?) to clean up after a morning spent in the sandbox. We tried to make the shower quick and easy, using the handheld sprayer so he wasn’t traumatized by water spraying in his face, and washing his hair while he lay on the shower floor on a folded towel. More laundry for me, but there were no tears and he had a fun time doing something different, I think.

Grand Sandbox Fun -- Grandfather & Gabriel

Grand Sandbox Fun — Grandfather & Gabriel


No more rain! It's sandbox time at last!

No more rain! It’s sandbox time at last!


Playing in the sandbox must’ve tuckered him out, because he actually slept during his nap after lunch. When he woke, we visited the Art and Algorithms Festival taking place in downtown Titusville. NASA provided an inflatable planetarium on Saturday. The three of us spent 20+ minutes watching the show (sitting on the ground), pointing at the stars and the sun and the growth of the universe as it rolled across the sphere above our heads.

We enjoyed an early dinner at Caffe Chocolat included a scoop of vanilla ice cream for Gabriel, and he loved every spoonful while Grandfather valiantly kept the little guy clean with a wet wipe and I took a few photos and enjoyed him enjoying his ice cream treat.

A scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream is a Special Treat!

A scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream is a Special Treat!


Gabriel got permission to spend the night with us, so we headed home in plenty of time to meet his 7:00 p.m. bedtime. We had a few minutes to spare because he’d had a shower earlier in the day and wouldn’t need another, so Grandfather wracked his brain for a last hurrah for the day. Grandfather drove to a local construction site and saw some “mighty machines” up close for yet another treat for this special boy who fills our lives with joy. You should have seen his little eyes light up! Oh, I think I have a photo of that moment!
Dump Truck -- Mighty Machine Style!

Dump Truck — Mighty Machine Style!


Gotta touch the hub!

Gotta touch the hub!


I’m learning the names of each “mighty machine” … Excavator, Steam Roller, Grader, and Dump Truck, (and others) because learning real names of people, places and things is important for vocabulary development and effective communication. The mighty machines we enjoy in his world of play, watching “Mighty Machines” on Netflix and seeing/touching in real life are great experiences we’re blessed to have with him and look forward to sharing with Benjamin when he gets a little older.

7QT: SOTG, leftover leftovers, ants, sandbox fun, thrifty finds, letting go and knitting

— 1 —

Amazon.com wirelessly delivered Jennifer Fulwiler’s new book, “Something Other Than God,” to my Kindle Fire on Tuesday. By Thursday morning, I’d finished the book. Then I realized I’d forgotten to take a picture of myself reading it in an amazing place! I’ll be re-reading it SOON, so I have time to plan an fun photo in hopes of winning one of Jennifer’s contests.

It was definitely an unusual experience to read a memoir/conversion story of someone I feel I know through her blog writing. To learn intimate details of her life before blogging, especially before she blogged about ‘scorpion infestations,’ kinda threw me off kilter. Jennifer is an amazing woman. Grab her book (hardback or Kindle edition). It’s a great read!

Here’s me posing with my Kindle Fire and my blog post rough draft late at night. Think it’s goofy enough to win a prize?

Au natural

Au natural

— 2 —

This past week was the worst cooking week of my entire married life, I’m sure. How many times can a person eat leftover leftover chicken? Or leftover leftover Sausage, Sauerkraut and Dumplings? And now, leftover leftover Tacos. How can this be? (That’s right… leftover TWICE. I may instigate a new kitchen rule. After ONE leftover opportunity, the food goes in the trash or I schlep it over to my mom’s house. (She’s been schlepping her leftovers to ME–thank you Mom!–for a decade.) Is anyone else experiencing a cooking slump?

— 3 —

There are only two things guaranteed to make me swear. One is when my knitting goes horribly bad, and the other is ANTS in my kitchen. I haven’t knitted for a month, so this pretty much means that I gear up for war upon entering my kitchen. It’s been a week since the damn little piss-ants have been drunkenly carousing all over my counter, back splash and sink, and I’m sick of it. I half-drained a can of RAID around my windowsill (inside AND outside), even sprayed the countertop, and those damn ants just keep marching on, and on, driving me INSANE. Me, a grown woman, will stand at the counter for five or ten minutes staring at the wall, the counter, the windowsill, trying my damnedest to find their starting point. They just APPEAR! How can ants do that??? I think I saw some come out from behind a receptacle cover. Are they inside my WALLS??? Augh! Now I have to scrub and sterilize my sink and counters or risk poisoning my family in my quest to be rid of this scourge. Does anyone have a remedy for/against these teeny tiny itty bitty ants?

— 4 —

My husband is pretty handy and capable with DIY projects. He built a sandbox for our grandson two weeks ago. (He proudly tells me it’s all notch construction–no screws or nails!) It’s huge by anyone’s “sandbox standards.” Our daughter’s first reaction when she brought her son to us for a day of playtime was “Hey! The sandbox you made for Chris and me wasn’t that big!”

Boys and their Toys

Boys and their Toys


Our response: “He’s our Grandson… he deserves a Grand Sandbox!” It’s so big, we need another load of sand to fill it up. The sand is clean Florida sand from a local nursery named “Growing Crazy.” The sand has no rocks, but it does contain clay. It holds moisture really well and is easy to mold and make tunnels that don’t collapse. Now I need to find a laundry detergent capable of removing stains similar to those incurred when a baseball player slides into 2nd base. Any suggestions?

— 5 —

I had a strong urge to visit thrift stores last week. I found great deals on several good quality, gently used, children’s toys and books. For a fraction of retail, I scored some like-new wooden puzzles and some blocks that look like huge Lego’s (no, not Duplo). So far, G-man has ignored the puzzles, but he went nuts for the blocks. Of course, I’d built a castle and he was all about KNOCKING IT DOWN. (He’s not even two years old yet.)

The mother lode of thrift store gems was discovered at Goodwill … a wooden childrens’ easel (chalkboard on one side, wipe-off board on the other) for only $10. An Aurora Hobby Horse (retails for $34) for only $1.99, but the best of the whole lot was the Little Tikes Vacuum Cleaner for only $1.49. For those not in-the-know, G-man is very enamored of my Simplicity upright vacuum, especially the wand with the floor attachment. I taught him to “push and pull” months ago. He’ll use bats, sticks, wooden spoons, etc. as a vacuum at home, at the park, at friends’ homes… so when I found this child-size play vacuum I KNEW it would be a hit. It was and is, despite his obvious distraction by the song “Let It Go” in the movie, FROZEN. (Note: you may want to click this link… it’s the Disney link with lyrics and a bouncing snowflake to follow along. It’s pretty cool.)

Distracted by "Let It Go" song in FROZEN movie.

Distracted by “Let It Go” song in FROZEN movie.

Okay, I forgot to leave room for this gem I found on GodTube, but it’ll fit (for obvious reasons you’ll realize after watching five grown men act out a Bible story as told (literally) by 5 kids. Enjoy!

On a serious note, I respectfully request Little Tikes or the Dustbuster folks get real about making children’s vacuums REAL. G-man play-vacuumed my entire living room, hallway, his bedroom, and half the kitchen. It really stinks that I have to do it AGAIN with the REAL vacuum this weekend.

— 6 —

There’s only 52 weeks in the year, so I suppose it’s inevitable that the week my daughter’s second baby is due is also the week I’m scheduled to teach ten Jazzercise classes because my associate will be enjoying a well-deserved vacation. I’m not worried about teaching ten classes in six days, but the two 5:45 a.m. classes will be a challenge! I trust in God to get me through difficult times as well as little things in life. A Jazzercise instructor for 20 years, I am blessed to have fun and flexibility built in to my daily life and am enthusiastic to share the joy of dance & fitness with others!

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— 7 —

My Jazzercise associate will teach ten classes when I’m on vacation in Daytona Beach. I’ll enjoy quiet time while sitting poolside (or beachside). It’s only an hour from home, but a great way to get a vacation, ya know? I have BIG plans, one of which may include some swearing, if I’m honest. If you read post #3, you may have guessed that it will involve knitting. I’ve got to fix a knitting mistake before the weather cools down. I was doing GREAT with the new baby blanket for grandson #2 until I started a new skein in the MIDDLE OF A ROW near the end of the blanket. What was I thinking??? It’s best to end and begin skeins at the BEGINNING of a row, and weave in the ends. It’s not like I don’t have plenty of yarn! Let me show you what happened when I had a lapse in judgment… uh, I may have a MAJOR PROBLEM… where the hell did I put the new blanket??? All I wanted to do was take a picture to post, but the blanket is not where I thought it was. I haven’t seen the blanket for weeks! Excuse me while I have a minor panic attack…

Okay. That’s done. Now I’ll just say a prayer to St. Anthony…

Hi Saint Anthony! It’s me again. I’d be ever so grateful if you could point me in the right direction to help me find that darling blue baby blanket I’ve spent the last four or five months knitting. It has an adorable “baby block pattern.” I ask for your intercession with love and gratitude! Your sister in Christ, Monica. Amen.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock. FOUND IT! YEA!

Potentially catastrophic mid-row weaving mistake.

Potentially catastrophic mid-row weaving mistake.

Hi Saint Anthony! Me again. THANK YOU SO MUCH for planting the idea it could be in my bedroom. I also received the suggestion that I clean my room soon. De-cluttering is an excellent strategy for loss prevention. Your intercessions are never taken for granted, and I know and rejoice that all glory and honor belong to Jesus Christ, our Lord!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

5 tips for traveling with a toddler

On the road.Traveling with a baby is a grand adventure, and these tips are for traveling with ONE child. These tips will probably not work with more than one child in the car… of any age.

  1. Place car seat in the back seat facing the rear of the car. An adult should be seated next to the baby. This way, you can see each other and will most likely have the most upper body space for movement by the adult.
  2. Remove toddler’s socks and shoes when the toddler is in the seat. They will get the message that this is a relaxing time, no walking will be involved for awhile.  Plus, they sleep better without socks and shoes. Each time you stop for gas or food, socks and shoes are put on the toddler, and he is allowed to walk and run while holding the adults’ hand.
  3. Have a bag of toys nearby. Give the toddler ONE toy at a time, preferably a toy they haven’t seen in a while, or a new toy. Allow them to become fully bored with one toy before changing to another toy. Switch out with picture books for toddlers. If the toddler isn’t complaining about being bored or restless, leave the toddler alone.
  4. Sleeping while travelingBaby blanket should be nearby at all times. In addition to being a security blanket, an entire hour can be spent playing “peek-a-boo” in a variety of ways. Over the blanket, under the blanket, from each side, or play tent. The adult who plays with the toddler gets special treatment whenever you stop the car. In the evening, a Margarita is a great reward.
  5. Have the toddler’s bottle and/or sippy cup ready before you start the vehicle. Hydration should be encouraged, and be sure to change the diaper when you stop for gas or food.

A blank slate

Remember the Magic Slate that was big in the 70’s? A piece of gray film over a special black-coated cardboard base, a thin plastic stylus, the size of a broken pencil two sizes too small to hold onto comfortably. You wrote messages, then lifted the film and your writing was gone, like magic!  The little stylus was usually lost within a day or two, and so you’d try to write using your fingernail.  You learned pretty quickly not to use a pencil or a pen.  Then they’s stop working. The magic ran out, I suppose. 

Underdog Magic Slate

Underdog Magic Slate

Those little Magic Slate toys were fun and frustrating. Not very practical. But things seldom are when you’re a kid. And now we have computers. The ultimate Magic Slate!  Bet you can’t even see the previous six posts I typed before settling for this one!