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

Enjoy the Journey

November 25, 2017

Enjoy the Journey

The world through the eyes of a 2 year old is amazing.

He spies Daddy cutting strawberries for a pie!  Lucas yells “yeah!  Yummy strawberries!  Red berries!   I eat?” and half of the strawberries destined for pie filling instead fill Lucas’ tummy.

On the way to Grandma’s house, 2 year old boy yells, “Mom! Look!  Big trucks!  One! Two! Three! Four-Five Big Trucks!”  (Everything from his mouth comes in two volumes: mouse-whisper or top-of-the-lungs yell )

Sometimes he helps me to slow down and enjoy the things I often take for granted… like time.  It’s easy to find fun in the chore when you share the wonder of a 2-year-old.  For instance: An attempt to transfer toddler chickens from one pen to another and they excitedly hop-fly off in all directions yelling “FREEDOM!”  Lucas giggle-screams and chases them around.  This turns the frustration into laughter and a lesson on counting as they scurry over to the day pen and wait for us to lift them in where the food is.  “One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight!” Lucas screams it all together as if it was a single word.

Lucas finds wonder and excitement in everything.  From washing dishes (he always wants to help) to being stopped by a train (one-two-three-four-five-six trains!), everything is fun.  Sometimes he helps remind me to enjoy life as it is presented to me.  Goals (finishing the dishes) and plans (getting to the produce market before it closes) are good, but enjoying the journey is just as important.

Stopped in slow traffic turns into “Dance Party in the Car” and the backseat is bouncing to “Pink Shoelaces” and “Rockin Robin” (two favorite oldies).  Lucas spots birds and shouts to tell everyone.  Rebeccah looks in her book and gives their names.  Taking in this special time is part of me slowing down and enjoying the journey.

I hope you join me in enjoying the journey today.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

“I am Lucas!”

October 9, 2017

“I Am Lucas!”

It had been a very hectic day!  As Christina and I sorted the folded clothes, I imagined how much money we would make if we designed a Roomba-type total-clothes robot.  You know, you would dump dirty clothes in a bin and this robot would suck them in, wash them, dry them, fold them, and put them away in the correct drawer.  (I was imagining coding for the brain and a lego technic body rolling around the house in an endless cycle – it would have to be powered by a rechargeable battery that plugged itself in at night so I wouldn’t forget to charge it.)

(With Christina’s cap!)

Lucas ran down the hall with lightning speed.  (On second thought, maybe I should just discover a way to harness 2-year-old energy to offset electric costs!)

He tapped Rebeccah’s knee.  “You are Becky!”  He screamed.  (He and his best buddy at church had amused themselves by yelling “I AM…” *insert toy, like BIG TRUCK, BLUE CAR, LITTLE PUPPY, etc.* This was the first “You are…” I had heard.)

Rebeccah, Kimberly, and Christina applauded.  Lucas loves attention even though he plays shy.  He ran into Kimberly doing dishes.  “You are Kay!”  (This is the sometimes-nickname the girls use for Kimberly.)

“He knows my name!” Kimberly laughed.

Jaquline stopped with an armful of clothes to be put away, “who am I, Lukie?”

Lucas got that crooked boyish grin. (She had said Lukie instead of Lucas!)  “You are BECKY!”

Jillian stopped gathering Lucas’ army of trucks that lined the hallway and laughed, “am I Becky too?”

“You are Prim!”  (This is Christina’s dog!)

Christina and Rebeccah laughed.

Jillian thought this was hilarious.  She started nudging trucks with her nose and yipped as Lucas raced past.  Lucas ignored the newly-discovered doggie and ran full steam back through the house.

He called out names as he touched or ran into people, “You are Ki-tina!”  (Best version of Christina so far.)   “You are Mommy!”  (Can’t really get that wrong; he’s been saying it correctly for a year and a half.)  “You are Becky!  You are Kay!  You are Jaqu-line!  You are Jillian!” This continued until the clothes were put away.  (The energizer bunny would run out of power before Lucas slowed down!)

Christina laughed, “who are you?”

Lucas giggled and yelled, “I AM LUCAS!”  This sound echoed off the hallway walls as he raced back into the playroom.

There is one little guy who knows who he is!  (Some of his energy does actually leak out to us; he can race through and brighten the mood of a whole room!)

 

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

Investigating

July 25, 2017

Investigating

One of the things I love about writing anything factual, like the Home Edge Readers, is the research and investigation I get to do.  I love to learn about something new.  I enjoy compressing it into a compact form yet still managing to include most of the important facts and unique terminology.  (Like “rift” or “Plinian explosion” in volcanology.)

As a Mom, passing on the love of learning is my passion.  Children are normally curious.  I don’t want to squash that.  I want to build on it.  I want them to always look at the world with wonder and ask questions about whatever they want to know.  If they want to know about something, I want them to investigate: read, touch, listen, explore, and learn.  By definition, this is true science: the observation of the world around us.

Early scientists from all cultures (even if they were still called by some title other than “Scientist”) observed and wrote or drew about the world around them.

When I watch children learn, they observe, draw, write about, build models of, manipulate, and ask questions.  Our natural curiosity needs to be fed so we always want to learn!

Consider this beach day:

The water was cold so only the older girls were in the water deeper than their ankles.  Lucas seemed to smell the November cold.  (That’s Florida cold, though, as you can see they were in bathing suits!)  He didn’t even try the water.  He started off by chasing gulls.  Seagulls in Florida have learned the art of evasion.  I think they laugh at these funny miniature humans racing toward them making odd animal-like shrieks.  They watch until just the last moment, and hop-fly about 50 yards away.  Their bright black eyes challenge said little human as if they are saying “you can’t catch me!”  Of course, without adult intervention, Lucas would chase a single seagull until he dropped from exhaustion. (Maybe this is a seagull’s crab hunting technique?)

But as Lucas starts chasing, he steps in a squishy, odd thing he hasn’t touched before.  Two crabs race out of the seaweed and waddle into the water.  Lucas jumps off of it and dances around it, laughing.  Jillian joins him and pokes it with a small piece of driftwood she’s picked up from somewhere.

“What is this, Mom?” Jillian asks.  So I explain its seaweed washed ashore after the storm.  They spend about ten minutes poking, prodding, lifting, and observing that one clump until Lucas is sure it isn’t dangerous.  Now he uses his new knowledge and seaweed clumps become toys!

Jillian and Lucas built a seaweed mountain that stood as tall as Lucas, but they weren’t faster than the tide.  They also watched the ocean “eat” the seaweed a few strings at a time and carry them off.

At home, for many days later, Jillian drew her impressions of seaweed.  Whenever we watched ocean documentaries, she would spy seaweed and yelp, “that’s seaweed, I know that!”

She “knows” seaweed because she explored it and played with it.  I want my children to know anything they want to learn about that completely.  To have touched, tasted, researched, and immersed themselves in it.  It doesn’t matter if the subject is baking, gardening, crocheting, fractions, nouns, writing letters, raising chickens, equations, times tables, letter sounds, zoology, biology, or whatever they want to learn.  I want them to dive into it and “know” it.  I figure the best way to teach this is to show them that I learn this way too.  I let them see me looking things up, studying various recipes before I attempt a dish, reading their algebra books ahead of them to “relearn” it, searching with them when they have a question I can’t answer, and researching for my books.

I want learning to be a passion for them.  Because once you discover a love of learning, you will always be investigating new things!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Where the Crib is Clean

May 27, 2017

Where the Crib is Clean

It is 1900 hours.  I’m at war.  I come in armed with every weapon in the arsenal.  I am determined to win this battle.  THIS HOUSE WILL BE CLEAN!

“Mommy!” squeals the toddler, streaking through soaking wet and followed closely by another child, chasing him, in shoes that have obviously been outside.  Battle temporarily paused as main unit boils like a canning pot in frustration.

The most simple and yet most complex of all equations: H2O + DIRT = MUD … and wet couches, footprints… this is the assault that never ends, it goes on and on my friends!  And yes.  It Will NEVER END!  (Especially if you have a child and/or a pet – and in this equation, 2 doesn’t equal double the mess, it equals mess to the tenth power!)

While the sounds of war (okay, laughter and squeals of rapturous joy – but those sounds feel like flaming arrows right now) engulf my brain into retreat and I attempt to bury myself in a book and disappear, I’m able to find my big-vision goggles.

When I’m at a loss for what to read, I grab the Bible and open to Proverbs, look at the calendar (or attempt to remember the date for ten minutes before I give up and check my wall or my phone), and read that date’s chapter.  Well, it was the 14th of I-forgot-the-month.  (Oh yes, January – one birthday just done, another around the corner and year-end business reports due on the 15th! Oh my, that’s tomorrow!)

Proverbs 14:4 reads : “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean, but much increase is by the strength of the ox.”

What I saw was: “Where no children are in the house, it is clean, but much blessing, love, joy, and strength are gained by the vibrant, amazing, intelligent young people being trained within!”

Big vision goggles on.

“Cleaning the house” is a battle that will never end.  But, just like a productive farm has a dirty “crib” (okay, think motor oil spills and mud tracked in the barn by a tractor today) and a productive kitchen has dirty dishes (yes, my dishes are stacked in a to-the roof model of the leaning tower of Pisa), a productive house is in a constant state of never-really-perfectly-clean.  (Mine is in constant state of tornado-just-went-through.) A productive house, according to the same chapter I was reading means a place where wise parents are building up the next generation(s) and encouraging each other.

A game of Scream-the-Flash-Card-Answers has started.  Lucas is on the drums.  Jillian is watching Christina play the piano.  I glance at the after-dinner kitchen chaos.  Someone has unloaded the dish drain and Rebeccah is working on dismantling the leaning tower of Pisa without creating a demolition zone.  My war on cleaning is secondary to the battle we are winning – the strategic, long-term battle of instilling character and truth in our children.

If I seriously believe that I should “Do everything as if unto God” and know that children follow my example more than my words, training would be to model a joyful attitude in mundane “serving” tasks like cleaning.

So, loud dance music comes on, (God know me so well, “Born for This” – which is perfect, I love this song.) I try to delegate cleaning operations and bedtime preparations.

Oh yes, I’m a perfectionist and “clean” would pass hospital sterility, but if my “crib” is clean, it means my children aren’t there.  I want to enjoy this “untidy crib” with all the vibrant life within it for as long as I can.

Translation: less stress about the house. Stop and play or teach as needed.  Tidy up the last big mess at one set time with teamwork – it’s easier and more fun.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time,

~Nancy Tart

Trucks!

May 22, 2017

Trucks!

     Lucas is almost two.  He loves trucks.  He loves food.  While all of the girls had “Dada” as their first word, Lucas heard the air popper and screamed “Pop-pop!” running into the kitchen with his popcorn bowl in hand.

Currently, his newest craze is yelling on the condition of the trucks that pass his window.  At home, it’s just the UPS or Fedex trucks (BIG TRUCK!) and Grandma and Papi’s trucks (PAPI TRUCK!) which enter the yard.

We had a friend riding shotgun.  She says hi, but Lucas pretends he’s shy.  A garbage truck goes by.  A squealing yell erupts from the second row, “BIG TRUCK!”  This is followed by two “PAPI TRUCK!” yells, an ear-shattering “RED TRUCK!” shout and a Publix big rig.  Huge gasp, “BIG, BIG TRUCK!  MAMA BIIIIIG TRUCK!”  Shotgun is laughing hysterically.

This boy can spot a policecar with lights off a mile away.  Those are “Woo Cars!” or “Please Cars” since he can’t clearly say “POLICE.” (This made an officer smile and give him a toy car at the Family Fun Fest – “WOW, PLEASE CAR!”)

Any toy with wheels is “my truck” or “my train” or “my car.”  His daily exercise includes fifteen miles of running behind a wheeled toy sputtering “rrrrrr” or “brrrrRrrrrr.” (If it looks like it should have wheels but doesn’t, he will pretend it has wheels and push it all over the house instead; examples are empty boxes, pillows, toy boxes, baking pans, and chairs.)

Today he discovered two of his wooden trucks in the last of the moving boxes and was cradling them yelling “yeah! My trucks!”  Scattered around him and overflowing his car shaped toy bin are probably two dozen assorted vehicles, but these were missing for almost two months and now demanded all of his attention.

What was lost was now found.  God does that when we come back to Him.  He loves each of us tremendously – He sees us coming from our “far-away” place and runs to us.  Like we are the only person in the world.

Isn’t it neat what images God puts for us to connect to His love?  A little boy with his trucks reminded me of God’s amazing love.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~ Nancy Tart