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Category Archives: Play

May 10 on 10

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Ten pictures on the 10th:

10am:  Airbending–Norah’s current pastime


11am:  First school day wearing her glasses.  Turns out Norah is far-sighted!  That explains why she has no difficulty reading billboards but all sorts of trouble reading books.  “Mom, the words are all blurry and my eyes are so tired.”  Doh.


12pm:  Boo-boo.  It’s incredible how much blood results when a 3 yr old tries to sharpen her finger in a pencil sharperner.


1pm:  Lunch


2pm:  Strawberries, strawberries everywhere!


3pm:  Bird study


4pm:  Calling in the creepy door-to-door guys claiming to be ADT.  I took pictures of the three guys, too.  I wouldn’t let them walk up my driveway.


5pm:  Waiting for her Daddy/Daughter Date

2013-04-25 11.15.25

6pm:  Story of my life.  Also, I need to dust.


7pm:  Norah and her friend, Veda, at the musical production, “Oliver.”  Last show is tonight…GO SEE IT!


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Uncommon Thanks

1)  The physical act of pressing the French Press.  Such joy it brings.

2)  That Norah deals with her own loose teeth.  Loose teeth gross me out.  She lost one this morning and it was such a non-issue.  Note to self:  DO NOT forget the tooth fairy tonight.

3)  The ways my husband wakes me up.  I’m not a morning person.  Scott is.  This week, he parodied local radio personalities to wake me.  “I’m Cathy Bradberry and this is Earthsense” or “I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension.”  In October, he put a giant Halloween Snoopy inflatable in bed with me.

4)  That the girls haven’t noticed I sold their play kitchen.

5)  Popping the top on the popcorn.  It doesn’t happen often.  When I was growing up, I watched my dad pop stovetop popcorn and sometimes the lid would start to rise.  It still gives me shivers of excitement.

6)  Letters Norah leaves around the house (this one is for the house gnome.  She thinks he took her barbie.  In reality, Goodwill took it.)

I think I’ll blame the house gnome for the play kitchen, too.

My first 10 on 10

Inspired by Rachel and Victoria, I want to do a 10 on 10.  One picture for ten hours on the tenth.  Who knows?  Maybe it will become a regular to-do.

Or maybe it will be incredibly uninteresting.

7am:  To keep my sanity during election madness, re-reading Jesus for President.

8am:  On my commute downtown, I spy someone’s pants waiting for the dry cleaner’s to open.

9am:  Toddler potty emergency led to an unplanned stop in Starbuck’s.

10am:  Visiting with Natalie as she beautifies Natural Baby.

11am:  Storytime

12pm:  Lunch.  Don’t judge.  I was craving that mean looking green pepper.

1pm:  Helped a newly pregnant woman pick out some beach reading. (No, not Orgasmic Birth)

2pm:  Evaluating the mess.  The mess this girl-child makes.

3pm:  Picked up Norah from school

4pm:  scuppernong snack


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It was fun.  It was exhausting.  I think we’ll stick with vacations away from home in the future.  Here is a summary (pic heavy):

  • Cider doughnuts
  • Lazy mornings
  • Paddling

  • Mimosas
  • Bounce House
  • Fort Building

  • Pancakes
  • Apple picking

  • Thrift stores
  • Slushies
  • Roller skating

  • Brie and baguettes
  • Sleeping until 11am one morn (thank you, Scott!)
  • Aquarium

  • Candy shop
  • Swimming

  • Mexican food
  • Keeping Cedar from falling into the sea urchins

  • Toy stores
  • Skating rink pizza
  • Soda shop

  • Strong coffee
  • Camping

  • Playground
  • Art

  • River tubing
  • Campfire popcorn
  • Dolphin show

  • Miles and miles of driving
  • Poprocks
  • Yoga with penguins

  • Not charging my phone (pretty sure I lost a voicemail from a person who needs a doula.  If I haven’t called you, call me back!)
  • Daddy lovin’

  • Not charging my iPad
  • Silliness

  • Strolling
  • Fiction, in teeny increments

  • Mountains
  • Marshmallows

  • Margaritas
  • French press (thanks Noelle and Zach!)

  • Bicycles
  • Learning here or there

And a tremendous, tremendous mess

Play, Pauses, and Tropical what?

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I’m sorry I’ve been absent.

Life, you know.  Busy, but also lazy at times.  Beautiful and messy.  A July filled with birthday parties, sleepovers, camps, backyard snakes black and green, learning, meetups, birthy moments, teaching, a few meltdowns (me) and tantrums (kids).

Norah received her first kayak so we’ve spent some days paddling as a family.

School continues.   We do year-round to allow for slumps when we escape to beaches or mountains or simply spend days eating popcorn and watching movies.

There was a giant pause during the last two weeks when it was possible that I would go to Bangkok, Phnom Penh, or Singapore.  My brother-in-law‘s health was dicey and Noelle needed help.  Her sweet soon-to-be two year old was nursing like a newborn round the clock.  In the end, my mom was chosen to go to Singapore.  Her layover in Hong Kong coincided with Typhoon Vicente and after some delay, she arrived.

I have a bad feeling she’s going to inadvertently break a rule like spit out her gum and she will be  fined or caned.

Right now, it looks like my brother-in-law might have Tropical Sprue.  Have you ever heard of this?  Me neither.  I’m fairly certain it is something Ernest Hemingway coined.   Along the lines of malaise or consumption.  It is old-fashioned and tres missionary-esque.  Thankfully, it is treatable.

In the meantime, I attended a birth at which I was entirely superfluous.  While I want that to be the case, it is still hard to admit when I’m not at all necessary.  You know a birth is amazing when the doula isn’t needed.

Speaking of doulas, there is a local doula who needs to attend a birth in August to complete her certification.  Do you know someone who cannot afford a doula or would be willing to invite a doula to serve?

What else?  I have two spaces remaining for my Aug/Sept Hypnobabies class.

Come see me Saturday at the Blessingway!

Sharing life with the Slagels

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This trip to Cambodia, we didn’t do any touristy things. I didn’t want to take the girls to the Killing Fields or Tuol Sleng. And I really didn’t fancy hopping another flight to visit Siem Reap and watch my littles climb all over crumbling temples. What I wanted to do was share day-to-day life with Noelle.  I have one or two more posts about these experiences and then I’ll be back to my usual blog chatter.

Century Plaza

There is a sprawling park/playground near the riverfront.  We went during the day to play.  There I learned Cambodia has real “playground police.”  We had a whistle blown at us multiple times for climbing on play equipment as adults — even to rescue Asher!

We went once at night for a picnic.  It was vibrant and so much fun!  There was a giant Zumba class at one end of the plaza.  At least 100 people dancing.  Exercise must be a government focus.  Along side-walks, it was not unusual to see exercise equipment free for use. 

A giant fountain was lit up and the water show was entertaining. 

But the real fun for our kids was spontaneous dancing.  A guy was doing karaoke on one side of the plaza.  We never did understand why.  Regardless, Norah, Cedar, and Asher danced for over an hour; weaving through the passing people.

At one point, the kids had a crowd of people gathered around them and a few other kids joined the fun.  You can’t see them well in this clip but you’ll get the idea. 

Russian Market

By far, my favorite part of Phnom Penh is the Russian Market.  Hot, crowded, dark, smelly, dirty.  Stalls packed tightly together.  Bodies squeezing past each other.  Haggling.  Lots of haggling.  Sounds like fun, yes?  Oh my.  The last time I went, I was newly pregnant and the fish stalls/heat/smells almost undid me.  But the fruit, oh the fruit!

Jewelry, scarves, fabric, household goods, fruit, chickens, fish, clothes, DVDs, shoes, bags.  None of it priced.  Here is how it goes:  I pause to admire a dress.  The seller (a girl of maybe 20 yrs) immediately “you like?”  “How much?” I ask.  “For you, special price.  7.00.”  At this point, I have a choice to move on or stay.  Let’s say I stay.  She draws me into her little stall and begins pulling out dresses from thin air and handing them to me.  “Oh you look pretty in this one.”  “you are so pretty.”  “this one for you.”  “I give you good price for this.”  “2 dress for 10.00.”  And at that point, this super saleswoman has done her work:  complimented me, made me feel I have to buy something since she unfolded so many items, and given me a bulk discount.  But there is still haggling to be done.  It really is fun because the prices are low anyway and the sellers are so sweet, smart, and sassy.  And if I didn’t like something or it didn’t fit, I could bring it back (no receipt!) for a refund.  Here is my dad buying a tool to fix something at Noelle’s apartment.  I don’t know how he found the right things!

Now Cedar hated the market.  Because everyone touched her.  Her hair, her cheeks, her body.  They wanted to pick her up.  They laughed when she screamed at them “Don’t touch me!”  And Norah hated the market because it was hot and everyone noticed Cedar. 


One of the BEST parts of my trip was the last day.  I had a rough morning.  I got a facial at an NGO that employs women who have been pulled from the trafficking industry.  I cried a little knowing what this beautiful girl placing hot towels on my face had been through.  Norah was grumpy the whole time I was trying to relax.  We went downstairs for sweets and she threw a tantrum (!), kicked the plastic table with our coffee and smoothies.  I had to remove her and walk down a side-street until she calmed.  When I came back, Cedar had a tantrum and threw her large chocolate smoothie into the wall.  I cried.  So my parents took the girls and gave Noelle and I some time to shop.  But you know what we also did?  We sneaked in a quiet lunch at Cafe Yejj.  And I cried there, too.  Because I realized that emotional life in Cambodia is hard.  Evil is so visible there.  The heat is stifling.  Transportation is frustrating.  Communication is difficult even for someone who has learned Khmer.  Did I mention the evil so visible there?  And it brings out all your stuff.  All your issues bubble up and spill out.  My kids behaved very differently in Cambodia than in Thailand.  They were easily angered.  I was easily angered.  That is what I wanted — to share life with my sister.  I couldn’t understand this before.  She had tried to explain it to me.  Now I know, or at least I had a taste of it.  A bitter taste.  And I know precisely how to pray for Zach and her.   

The last quiet moment with Noelle before we left that night.  A sweet prayer, conversation, and tears shared over yummy food.

Dolphin Bay

In Thailand, we stayed at The Juniper Tree which is about 3 hours south of Bangkok.  It is located on a quiet stretch of the Gulf of Thailand.  It caters to missionaries and their families; accepting only donations for room/board.  

We stayed in a 3 bedroom cottage.  Outside our front door was a grassy playground and a pool.  The pool was somewhat scary since there was no gate.  But we didn’t lose any kids. 







Beyond the pool was an exercise room, a kids activity/video room, dining hall, and then the ocean.  We were served a yummy breakfast with french press coffee, fresh fruit, eggs, and assorted goodies.  Lunch was a Thai meal.  Dinner was western style food.  Ice cream, coffee, and tea was available all day!

Norah made friends within hours of our arrival.  Here she is with her twin from Sweden.  I bet you can’t even tell them apart.


Sunday school on the beach:

I loved that it was ok for kids to be kids.  The missionary kids were free-range indeed!  More free-range than I’ve ever witnessed in America.  When they finished eating, they left the table to play while the adults talked.  I wasn’t quite ready to send Norah to the beach by herself but I probably would have gotten there with a little more time around these families. 

We traveled by song tau to Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park.  A song tau is a pick-up truck with benches in the back and a metal covering.  Super cheap and fun transportation.  The girls adored the lack of carseats or seatbelts.  And I witnessed Noelle nurse on a song tau, fishing boat, tuk-tuk, plane, elephant.  Ok, I’m just kidding about the elephant.  We didn’t ride any this trip.

The national park was lovely.  The name translates “mountains of 300 peaks.”  We climbed and climbed, saw monkeys, played in the sea, took a boat ride, got really dirty and sweaty.  Asher and I napped on the beach while Noelle and Zach went caving for an hour.  At least that is what they said they were up to.  We ate food that I thought was a little sketchy.  Oh, and I threw a stick at a dog that was looking at me funny.  Then I had to search around for another stick because he was still looking at me funny.  Lesson:  don’t throw your weapon.  Especially if you’re going to miss. 

In our leisurely moments (which was all the time!), we played.  Scott kayaked in a crappy, beat-up rental.  It cost like a dollar to rent the thing. 


And we rented a moped to scoot about when we could escape the kids.  See, if I’d fully vested in that free-range thing, we’d have just left them to their own devices!  We also fell in love with Blue Beach, an outdoor restaurant down the road.  They served the best Thai food with mostly organic ingredients.  And they served alcohol, had wi-fi, and toys/bikes/rabbits/koi pool for the kids.  So we opted out of a few meals at Juniper Tree to splurge on Blue Beach. 

There was one disaster.  Asher got a zhu zhu pet stuck in his hair.  After many tense moments and screaming, he was left with a bald spot.

Thailand Summary:  we lazed around (as much as parents of little ones can), ate lots of food and ice cream, drank gallons of strong coffee, explored a few places, talked and talked and talked.  Norah made lots of friends.  Cedar and Asher played.  We were so spoiled.  The Juniper Tree even did our laundry.  Scott wanted his shirts sent to the laundry just so they would be pressed “for once in my life.” 

I don’t iron.  I don’t.  Don’t judge me.

Next up, either the Thai tooth fairy, or cloth diapering away from home, or traveling with kids.  Not sure which I want to tackle next.   


Portrait of this stay-at-home-mom

6:45:  Wake to sounds of husband in the shower

Cedar crawls in bed with me.  I feel mauled by a grizzly bear by the time she’s finished wallowing on me.

Make coffee.  Kiss husband.  Wave good-bye from the window with naked 2-year old by my side.  Norah wanders in.  Grumpy.  Much like me in the mornings, this one.

Cancel my 10am playdate.  Bummed about it but I have some sniffles starting and I don’t want to spread them.  We were supposed to make homemade hair conditioner.

Breakfasts consumed by two small children over the next three hours (4 boiled eggs, two blueberry pancakes, 1 orange, 2 peaches, 4 spoons of peanut butter, 1 piece of toast, 1 chunk of cheese, 1 yogurt).  Yes, really.

3 cups of coffee and a secret cupcake consumed by me.

Sounds of Elizabeth Mitchell on Pandora.

Save Cedar from a puppy attack.  Clean up puppy mess.  Find a library book shredded by puppy.  Put puppy in crate.

Shower.  It is a good day.  And I have new soap.

While in shower, Cedar brings me her diaper.  She has removed it.  It contains poop.  I try to lure her to the shower so I can clean her butt.

Learning with Norah:  She reads to me.  I read to her.  We read about amazing heroines of the American War.  Turns out that while Paul Revere rode 16 miles, a sixteen year old girl rode 40 miles at night.  In the rain.  Where is her poem?  Ahem.  (Oh wait!  I found one!)

Back to learning.  I drink coffee while she does addition with coffee beans.  She reviews her timeline cards and we giggle over pronunciation of “Hammurabi,” “Amenhotep” and “Tutankhamun.”

We break so Norah can play with My Little Ponies.

I clean up potty messes made by both Cedar and puppy.  Answer work emails.  A friend wants to know about natural birth of twins.  A woman tries to decide between VBAC at the hospital or at home.  A lactation question.  A contract confirmed.  A private class arranged.

Norah and I worked on memorizing “The Bones Song.”  It is so much fun to sing.  Our motivation is to sing it for Aunt Noelle in December.  The skeleton Dr. Stafford loaned us has been a fantastic visual aid.

Lunch.  A triumph and a fail.  Triumph:  I finally convinced one of my children to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Thank you Cedar for branching out.  Fail:  Norah wanted a lettuce and plain wheat bread sandwich.  Which she didn’t eat.  She ended up with celery and peanut butter.

Cedar napped.  Norah worked/played on her computer.  I ate lunch and read a book.  (I will be happy to finish this book 5 from Game of Thrones.  Madness.  Should have never started the hefty series.  But I must finish.  How many thousands of pages have I read?)

Phone call from a client with maternity leave ending.  Daycare looming Monday.  Anxieties.  I push the girls on the backyard swings so I can talk without fighting in the background.

The 5 year old yells “stupid phone call.  I hate your phone.”  Um, it was the only phone call all day.  Time for physical play!  With much dread, I dress them in old underwear and we walk to the neighbors’ backyard renovation project.  I unleash them with cookie cutters and buckets in a giant mudbath.  My neighbor and I (and baby Elisha) talk about slings and wool diapers while my children make mud angels.


 ****Pictures deleted because creepy people keep searching “children playing in the mud naked.”  Um, gross!****

Hose children.  Bathe children.  Fill and empty tub three times to get rid of mud.  The girls use all my new soap.

Pack children and drive to my parent’s house.  Time it perfectly for uninvited dinner.  While eating, Cedar has an allergic reaction to either red pepper or tilapia.  Swollen lips, red bumpy cheek (“it hurts, mama!”), sneezing, coughing.  For a couple of hours.  Norah entertains with a magic show involving a hat and the requirement that we all close our eyes each time she needs to make something disappear.

We look at constellations using an iPad app.

On the way back home, we listen to the unabridged Anne of Green Gables on CD.  Norah asks “what is the depths of despair?”  Oh child.  My mind races to events that will take her there someday.  I hold back tears as we continue to listen to Marilla Cuthbert and Anne Shirley with an “e” talk of what tomorrow might hold.

I feed bedtime snacks of yogurt.  I risk giving Cedar some Benadryl.  She’s still reacting to the pesky food.  Benadryl usually causes her to go hyper-wild.  Do I risk it?  She seems pretty tired.  I risk it.  Put Cedar to bed.  Norah to bed.  Craving salt, I sit down with bean sprouts and tamari sauce.  Bam!  Cedar fell out of bed.  Put child back in bed.

Talk briefly with my husband before he puts a kayak into the ocean at night.  Turn on his Pandora station, “GruzFrahBah”.

Search for the perfect poem for a friend’s blessingway tomorrow.  Settle on this one.

Play on Pinterest.

I fret over my poor neglected blog and decide to blog something.  But what?

It is 1am as I finish this post.  And I gasp as I remember that Norah still has red mud in her scalp and we have to leave at 8:30 in the morning for her science lab.  Shoot.

Run my mind over all the events and expectations of tomorrow.  It is going to be a doozy.


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Do you remember imaginative play?  I do.  I remember it with such envy.  I remember getting lost for hours playing with my button collection.  I still remember how I played and the names of certain families buttons.  And I sometimes bring my buttons down from the attic and hold them in my hands. 

I suppose that is why I can’t take enough pictures of imaginative play.  I might have more pictures of abandoned toy set-ups than pics of my children! 


“The adult has various means at his disposal of coming to terms with the whole range of his environment…but the path of children is and remains that of play.  Simply by a staircase of games, children have reached the world of adults from time immemorial.  Each step is made up of the games of a particular age-group.”  –Children at Play (Heidi Britz-Crecelius)

I struggle some days with Norah’s “schooling.”  She’s a December baby so she would not begin kindergarten until this fall.  We homeschool.  Which, at this point, mostly means she has unrestricted free play.  That is the bulk of her school.  I remember the year I went to kindergarten.  It was half-day then.  And I remember playing.  It seemed like that is all we did.  Sometimes we made peanut butter on saltine crackers.  I don’t think kindergarten is like that anymore.   

Re-centering involves reassuring yourself that you have made a good choice, that you have recognized that the true center of childhood is play, not work.  After all, play is the primary way children were designed to learn…research shows that a child’s intellectual awakening takes place during the normal adult-child interactions that occur in everyday, purposeful activities…playful environments and spontaneous learning opportunities hold the keys for a happy, emotionally healthy, and intelligent child–and for a fulfilled parent.  –Einstein Never Used Flashcards (Hirsh-Pasek and Golinkoff)

I hope I can stay relaxed and trust she is climbing the staircase.  I need to find ways to play more, too.

The Great Invention (Norah’s booby trap)

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Sometimes they play so sweetly.  Like when Norah reads to Cedar. 

But the rivalry began early.  About 2 weeks after Cedar was born, Norah calmly suggested we throw her to the lions.  Or take her outside and leave her in the grass. 

More recently, Norah announced the completion of her “Great Invention.”  In case you haven’t heard, Norah is an excellent engineer.  She ties amazing knots (often tying my skirt strings to a kitchen drawer handle while I’m cooking…yes, disaster).  Her goal is to become an architect and she designs and builds fun projects:  a birdhouse, a leprauchan trap, etc.

And then, The Great Invention. 

I was confused when I first saw it.  She eagerly explained it to me.

“Cedar will follow the trail of money.”  See the pennies lined up on the floor?  They were carefully lined up through several rooms.

“Then she’ll want the paper money, the sucker, and the sweet potato.”  I’m not sure Norah knows the term yet but she’s describing “bait.”

“After she gets the money and potato, she’ll sit in the camping chair.  The dragon will scare her and she’ll fall out of the chair, land on the broom, and fly through the air.”  What is the blue napkin for?  “Oh, that is to catch the blood when she lands.  Her nose will be ‘blooding.'”  I’m not sure what the dustpan is for.

Good stuff.

Sadly (for Norah) it didn’t work.  Back to the drawing board.