Trip Planning

December 28, 2017

Trip Planning

We have to be at a distant location at a specific window of time on a specific day.  Easy enough, right?  Wrong!  Everything in our house is a sporadic adventure! 

Mom: It’s only an hour and two minute drive.

Christina: Then we leave at 8am.

(We are not supposed to arrive at said location until after 11am.)

Mom: Oh, no.  If we leave by 10, we go right by Grandma’s, pick her up, get lost, make 5 potty stops, and still have enough time to get you there.

Christina: Ahhhh! *facepalm*

(I think my teenager loves me.)

Seriously, I have learned a few things about planning trips with toddlers, teenagers, and husbands:

  • Plan to leave at least a half hour before you need to go (this allows for shoes tossed into the pond, a preteen sleepwalking back to bed four times, finishing any last-minute chore like making the list, and misplacing your keys which are already in the running vehicle)
  • Always pack like you will be gone for a week (diapers, wipes, four spare shirts, at least as many pants as diapers, spare shirts for anyone who may be carrying said baby, carrots and apples so you don’t get trapped by fast-food hunger, and 2 or 3 cases of bottled water should do it)
  • Whatever you do, plan 10 minutes extra to turn around (you forgot something you can’t leave home without – like baby’s special blanket, your toddler’s choice toy, your preteen’s library card, your sanity, or your husband’s totally non-standard phone charger)
  • Remember your wallet! (and make sure some toddler didn’t remove your license because he loves to play with mommy’s picture – that will be the day you will be pulled over for a faulty brake light or an oddly rocking vehicle)
  • Count heads (the children, toddler in carseat, hubby, take the dogs back inside, catch toddler who turned into carseat Houdini, now missing two! Oh yeah, hubby is unlocking the door for one who forgot to go potty)
  • Enjoy your 5 minute shopping trip! (or your entire day of travel)

Bonus fact: Music calms savage beasts and makes your vehicle a noisy dance-while-in-seatbelts rocking machine. Maybe DC Talk, Skillet, and Capital Kings are a bit rocky, but everyone dances to Deadmau5 and Disney.  As long as you have your license, roll down the windows, crank up the music, put on shades, and enjoy the ride!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Finding Perspective

December 20, 2017

Finding Perspective

One of the most important things for me to find when I’m writing is the perspective of my target audience.

Simply: for whom am I writing?

For Web of Deception, I was writing to the adventurous young adult (myself and my brother), for the Brantley Station Saga, my target is young adults, and my target readers for The Devonians are those in first through fifth grade.  The Funny Sisters stories are written to be read-aloud so they are more complex.  My goal for them is to entertain both the mom or older child reader and the younger preschool or elementary listener.

Story From the Inn was written when one of my girls mentioned, “I wonder what it was like to work at the inn where Jesus was born.”  (We had just watched a show about the culture of Jewish life in Jesus’ time and read through a book about growing up where Jesus lived.)

I imagined the small inn at Bethlehem run by a family (most were in that time) and one daughter (one my girls could relate to) always trying to help yet always getting underfoot.  This became the eyes and ears of my target audience (my little girls).  Children would relate to Rachel and see, hear, and feel that inn, culture, and special event through her eyes.  I dove into some more specific research and developed Rachel’s story of Jesus’ birth as remembered by a beloved grandmother while entertaining several grandchildren awaiting a new baby’s birth.

Rachel epitomized most children: full of life and expectancy, eager to help, longing to please, and constantly asking questions.

In the moment, Rachel doesn’t understand the magnificence of the event, she only feels elated that she gets to help with a birth (something “big”) and hold a newborn baby (for the first time).  As the storyteller, she reflects on this as an adult, to complete the circle.

Check out Story From the Inn to read Rachel’s story!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

Conquering Ticks

August 10, 2017

Conquering Ticks

We live on what we call a tiny farm.  It’s just over an acre.  It was abandoned before our landlord bought it, spruced it up, and cut down all the brush.  When we arrived in April, we discovered that a twenty-foot walk from our carport to the front step attracted lots of ticks!  Not the big, easy-to-see dog ticks, but tiny ticks the size of a period!  (Yes, some are so small they can fit on the head of a sewing pin, the girls have tried it – they also are fascinating to look at under a microscope because the light goes through them!)  Some were slightly bigger.  (No, we’ve never taken pictures of them!  We are usually inside when we find them and we smash, burn, or flush them, instantly!)

Research taught us these were a variety of deer tick.  The small ones are called “seed ticks.”  In part of the tick’s life cycle, they are newly emerged in their tick form (small adult form) and need just a little blood to finish growing.  So they bite and release.  The duration of this bite is between ten minutes and an hour, so sometimes we caught them and got them off.  We got very adept at distinguishing tick bites from the bites of other minuscule horrors of Florida, like sand gnats, mosquitoes, fire ants, and yellow flies.  We all know that ticks attach themselves once they are full adults.  (For this variety, full adult size is about 1/8th of an inch in diameter – the size of a small print “o”.)

I hate ticks.  (Who doesn’t?)  I don’t like pesticides.  (We want to eat food from this yard!)

Luckily, I have chickens!

Chickens are opportunistic omnivores (aka, scavengers).  This means while most people envision them eating dry seeds and corn, they actually have a palate that inclines them toward consumption of living organic material such as insects, microscopic organisms, fresh new plant shoots, and anything moving that is small enough to fit in their beak.  My chicken flock has always been known to hunt actively for mosquitoes and flies.  (Yes, they run along under the flying insect and jump to attack once they perceive catch is possible.  Several times they have smashed into a fence or wall while hunting in this manner.  Side-effect: human entertainment.)

Roosters (grown-up males) seem to find ant larvae a delicacy and get all excited digging up ant beds and telling the others, “here, some awesome food!”  (A few hens join in this feast, but others look at the ant-larvae-loving chickens with “eww, gross” expressions.)

Our laying hens (females) and breeding roosters stay in the covered henyard.  Our “biddie-babies” (the girls have made-up terms for every stage; this is newly hatched to 6 weeks) and “baby-toddlers” (6 to 10 weeks) share the brooding pens so they can be protected from rain, draft, and heat in the pre-feathered chick stage (biddie-babies) and to protect them from our area’s population of kites (beautiful, small hawk-like birds who hunt young chickens).  The “big toddlers” (10 to 15 weeks) and “teenagers” (15 to 24 weeks) roam near the henyard because they are too big for the kites to carry away.

They will forage all day for insects and leave the free-choice feed completely alone.  They stay within about 25 feet of their water source at all times (during or just after a light rain, they may wander a bit farther, but not normally).  They LOVE seed ticks!

Within two weeks of our natural pest control plan, we could walk to the carport with zero ticks!  Within a month, the strip of back yard where we hang clothes and the kids play was nearly tick-free!  It’s been five months and they have cleared an expanded circle that includes parts of the front yard.

(My bulb beds helped grow the circle as they love to eat insects that eat the bulbs and the plants hold dew.)

Slowly, our chickens are conquering the tick population in the rest of the yard!

In closing, if you have a tick problem and don’t mind chickens scratching through your plant beds, maybe consider a pest control plan that rewards you with organic fertilizer… and eggs too!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

Butterfly Dryer

June 22, 2017

Butterfly Dryer

My Dad calls them “butterflies.”

Little coincidences that God orchestrates just so.

It’s almost like God says “I know you need this, here you go.”  It can be something simple like a kind word or a child’s smile, something amazing like trust, belief, or healing, or something material like as awesome book, a home, a bonus, or a ride.

The latest for me was a dryer.

I do love to hang-dry clothes.  I love being outside, I love the fresh smell the clothes have, and I love having time to meditate (because hanging clothes is something I could do blindfolded).  The only thing I don’t like about it is the time it takes from other things.

Yesterday, I thought I was keeping up on everything; I would clean the house, go out to hang a load of clothes, come back in, and a new tornado had spun through.  We’d clean up again, work on school as the washer did its magic, and I’d gather the younglings and go back out to take off clothes and hang out new ones.  This cycle continued – between answering calls and hanging clothes, it appeared there was time for little else. (Of course, there was cleaning, cooking, and school work also done.)

Lucas bumped his head while I was outside getting the last load (the girls had him inside to escape the mosquitoes) and he spent about 30 minutes screaming “NO ICE!” at the height of his vocal strength while we sang “1, 2, buckle my shoe” to distract him while applying ice; so an hour later, in total frustration over this days’ craziness, I announced I needed a dryer to have more time.  As I was saying this (and running down the hall after Lucas to make sure he didn’t fall in the potty), I missed a call from my Mom.  She wanted to know if we wanted her dryer.  (I hadn’t told anyone else I needed a dryer, but several knew we didn’t have one.)

I laughed as I thought of my silliness.  Call it a coincidence, butterfly, or whatever – actually it felt like a hug from God.  As if He were telling me, “I see your frustration; don’t let a little thing like this bother you, I love you.”

It isn’t really the dryer so much as it was God’s impeccable timing.  He already knew these events would go as they did and knew me well enough to know I would be frustrated at my lack of time management (I sometimes wish for a 30 hour day, but I’d fill that up too).  The perfectly timed phone call was just a reminder that nothing is out of God’s sight.  I need to trust a little more and worry (or be frustrated!) a lot less.  I’m not perfect, but I know who is.  And I get to call him Abba (Daddy, Father).

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Baby Mode

June 20, 2017

Baby Mode

Babies have several levels; there is no-sleep level, walker level, mobile level, and want-to-be independent level.  Then they graduate into toddler level and you’re off to the races.  Really, off to the races begins with baby’s birth.  When you hear Momma yell: “It’s time!” the race is well underway.  There are endless modes baby can choose from as well.

Random strangers say “Oh, your baby is so sweet!” but as soon as they turn the corner “Angelic Mode” shifts into “Cranky Mode with supersize red food dye on top.”

My personal favorite is “Grandma Mode” – this is characterized by sweet, innocent faces and nuzzling into lots of adoring hugs and kisses.  It makes everyone go “Awww how sweet!” then it’s time to go.  “Tell Grandma bye bye,” – cutest little wave and shy away ever!  But as soon as you drive off, “leaving fun mode” comes on and it’s ferociously scream “I want Grandma!” at the top of his lungs.  (This is related to “Auntie Mode,” “Bestest Uncle Mode,” and “Cousin Mode”)

“Snuggle Mode” is nice.  This always turns on when mom, dad, or big sister has something vital to do (like make food, do schoolwork, or remove the insect that is causing the dog to break the sound barrier).  Baby enters snuggle mode and the world stops until he is really asleep.  Don’t ever try to lay him down while in “Half-Sleep Mode” (this is where your stemware shatters with the ear-piercing squeal announcing that he had not received enough snuggle time)

“Goofy Mode” is the most wonderful of baby modes – and this mode continues into teenagerhood.  This is when anything and everything from “Boo” faces to tummy tickles to doggies kissing sister’s feet makes baby laugh.  Not just a little chuckle, but a deep belly laugh that makes everyone else in the house laugh too.

Laughter is Baby’s superpower.

Sometimes even in “Total Demolition Mode” laughter emerges.  Mom can be cleaning up one mess as baby is making two more yet when she sees the marker masked bandit excited to show her his masterpiece of tape and sequins decorating the couch, Mom just can’t help but laugh.  (Maybe a bit of insanity laughter, but still laughter.)  Of course, those stories make everyone at the family reunions laugh (or the lady’s group, church, PTA, etc.)  This is because anyone who has experienced baby knows the memories are what you carry with you.

God has entrusted us with His little angels (they are His first) for a short time.  18 years goes by so quickly.  Before you are done cleaning up messes, your baby has toddled off to school and instead of screaming because he’s hungry and can’t express it, he is asking for the car keys.

Enjoy the baby levels, different modes, and ages of life.  Remember that laughter can turn any situation into a happy memory. Who knows?  An artistic mess might be framed and remain part of the wall to show your Grandchildren, “see, this is what your daddy did to my wall when he was your age.”

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Hair Day

June 14, 2017

Hair Day

Yesterday was a misty day with the sun desperately attempting to peek through, but the clouds kept winning.  Louis decided it was time for a haircut.  We usually cut hair outside so I trimmed his hair while Kimberly watched.  Kimberly wanted to know how it was done.  Lucas was outside too, occasionally peeking at us from his mud-pie play spot.

When I finished with Louis’ hair, Lucas ran up to the stool, climbed up and gave me the biggest pleading grin, “my Daddy hair, please Mommy?”

Well, I had to smile.  Lucas just turned two years old two weeks ago.  He’s embarking on this “like Daddy” stage.  “Big boy panties like Daddy,” (I’m trying to get him to say “pants” but with six females in the house constantly saying “panties” it may be a while.) “me drive my car like Daddy,” (Grandma surprised him with a motorized ride-on car, and you should have seen his amazed face!) “me Daddy food,” (means he wants whatever Daddy is eating) and anything else that he sees Daddy do, he wants to do.

I LOVE his baby curls!  Lucas’ hair is dirty blonde and naturally curly.  I combed it a bit, wondering if I really was ready to do his first haircut.  His hair was between four and seven inches long!  It was so thick and curled into perfect ringlets!  He repeated with excited eyes, “me Daddy hair, please, Mommy!”

So yes, he got a “big boy” haircut.  He giggled when I took a picture to show him his hair.  He ran to my bedroom to the mirror and touched his reflection, “me Daddy hair!”  He danced around waiting for Daddy to get out of the shower to show him.

Kimberly thought this was the perfect opportunity to do her “Nancy Drew” haircut – I keep asking her, is she sure? But since “you have the scissors and I really want Nancy Drew hair” we did that too.  Add Rebeccah’s trim.  Rebeccah has beautiful thick brown hair and usually decides to cut it short in the summer.

It usually takes me a few days (or sometimes weeks!) to get used to the kids’ new haircuts, but they are so happy with them.  Lucas got up from his nap to run in the bathroom, potty, and climb up on the counter to touch his reflection and giggle – the entire house heard him shout: “Me Daddy hair!”

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later,

~Nancy Tart