Tag Archive | Strawberry Shortcake

You say it’s your birthday, we’re gonna have a good time

Here’s the song reference.

Bugaboo’s fifth birthday was an absolute riot of activity and good cheer.  Time constraints will not permit me to go into a lot of detail, but if a picture really does say a thousand words, you’ll find the equivalent of War and Peace in the gallery.

Our day began well before 7:00, as both Bugaboo and Beanie were far too excited to sleep, and by the time Daddy left for work at 7:45, Bugaboo had opened all her gifts and was cheerfully playing with a few new toys.  We did “theme boxes” for her; she likes Tinkerbell, Strawberry Shortcake, Spider-Man and Transformers, so she had one box for each.  Each box had a small toy or two (except the Transformers one, which had a big Optimus Prime voice-changing helmet) and a quartet of books about the character.  She also received her first watch, which caused her to exclaim, “I must really be a big girl now!”

Grandma arrived about a half-hour after Daddy left, bearing with her a new scooter (and a helmet — Grandma worked in emergency x-ray for almost 50 years and has rather strong opinions about kids, wheels, and helmets), along with some snacks and crafts for all of  her grandbabies to share.  Suncatchers were painted, scratch art cards were scratched, and then everything chewable by Smudgie was hurriedly stowed for our weekly trip to the farm.

We passed a pleasant hour playing at the farm before I retrieved our big box of vegetables, made a quick stop at home to drop off the box (which also contained a half-dozen of the biggest eggs I’ve ever seen), then headed for the tribe’s favorite unhealthy lunch spot, Big Yellow M.  Grandma rode herd on the tribe in the play area while I waited in line for the food.  As I stood there, my mother suddenly appeared beside me and thrust Baby Guy into my arms, then turned and rushed back to the play area. I figured Baby Guy had gotten a little too wiggly, but then I heard the unmistakeable shriek of a frightened Mr. Man.  Casting about quickly to see what had happened, I spied Grandma spryly climbing the webbed-in steps of the kid Habitrail, where Mr. Man had become lost.  Bugaboo scampered past Grandma and played tour guide, and, after I had plunked our tray down on a table and secured Baby Guy in a high chair with a small pile of fries, Grandma and I switched places, as she discovered that there’s a bit of a trick to getting Mr. Man out of the Habitrail without injury to anyone.  We roundly praised Bugaboo for being such a caring and brave big sister, I gave Grandma mad props for getting into the Habitrail, and Mr. Man, after a little chocolate milk and a couple of fries, decided that he still likes Big Yellow M just fine.

After that, it was definitely time to head home for a nap.  Baby Guy, Mr. Man, and Beanie all went to sleep after brief protestations, but Bugaboo kept wandering out to make sure nothing else interesting was happening.  After about an hour, Grandma left to go check in to her hotel, and Bugaboo came back down the hall to see if, perhaps, maybe, there might be the tiniest chance that she could watch a little bit of TV to relax.  One “Tom and Jerry,” one “Puppy in My Pocket,” one “Mr. Men Show (during which she was joined by Beanie),” and one “Super Hero Squad” later, the rest of the tribe was awake, Grandma had returned, Daddy was on his way home from work, and Mommy was bustling about the kitchen trying to get dinner on the table at 5:00, which was when we had told Nonno and Deedaw (who were bringing little cousin Dubs with them).

One of our house customs is that if it is your birthday, you get to choose the menu.  Bugaboo decided that she wanted steak, macaroni and cheese, carrots, and bread for her feast, so at least there wasn’t any terribly difficult prep work involved.  Grandma did an heroic job of keeping the kids clear of the kitchen while I worked.  Nonno and Deedaw ran a little late, so by the time they arrived, we had fed the tribe and thus did not have to play musical chairs (we can seat eight at our kitchen table — ten poses quite the logistical problem).  As it happened, Nonno and Deedaw arrived with Dubs not long after Bugaboo, Beanie and Mr. Man had cleaned their plates, and thus were met by an excited birthday girl who was wildly curious about the contents of the brightly colored bags her paternal grandparents had brought.  To her very great credit, she shared all of her birthday toys with all of her siblings and her wee cousin, too, even the much-desired actually-transforming-Transformers she received from Nonno and Deedaw.

Once the adults and Dubs had eaten, and Baby Guy had polished off a second helping of macaroni, we cleared the table for singing and cake.  While we were putting the food away, Mr. Man ambled in and began requesting art supplies.  There is a special kind of chaos that attends a two year old boy using paint and markers while his parents are trying to put away food and wash dishes.  After we had sung “Happy Birthday” to Bugaboo and passed around slices of cake, we discovered that adding frosting to the aforementioned two-year old boy is something that has to be seen, because there are no words in any language that adequately describe the resultant mess — or at least none that I could use in this blog.

After all the grandparents left in a flurry of hugs and kisses, we tucked in the boys and let the girls stay up a few extra minutes for an extended storytime (sort of mandatory when one has almost 20 new books).  As we tucked her into her bed, Bugaboo declared she had “the absolute best and most awesomest birthday ever!”

Mission accomplished.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for five years of Bugaboo, for her wit, beauty, and kindness.  Thank You for the large and loving family with which You have blessed her.  Please help us all raise her into a woman who will be a joy to her family and to You.

Growing pains

Yesterday morning, we finished up our coloring books about the parable of the prodigal son.  As the last crayon strokes were being applied, I asked Beanie and Bugaboo what they thought made the father in the story so happy.  Both of them replied the father had thought his younger son was dead, but when he showed up alive, he was so happy he threw a huge party to celebrate. Their wee brows furrowed as I explained to them the father was certainly relieved to see his younger son safely home, but his real joy was in the young man’s loving repentance, and realization that his pursuit of all earthly delights had led him to ruin.  The father, I went on to explain, was wild with joy that his son had returned with a wish to work hard and live uprightly.

Since they continued staring at me in puzzlement, I asked them to think about times they’ve been sent to their rooms with instructions to sit quietly on their beds until they can explain why they were sent thither and show some remorse for whatever caused the sending, then asked them what I usually do when they emerge.  Both quickly replied that I greet them with hugs and kisses, just as the young man’s father did.  “That’s absolutely right,” I told my daughters, “and, while I’m always happy to see your adorable little faces, I’m even happier that you’ve decided you want to do good things instead of unkind ones.”

It was a pretty rocky morning; no one had slept well the night before, and Baby Guy was ready for his nap before 10:30.  Mr. Man made it two more hours after that, then fell asleep with his face planted firmly his peanut butter sandwich.  Since the boys were snoozing, the girls and I decided it was a Strawberry Shortcake kind of day; after handing off some baby gear to a friend for transport to a family in need of same, I curled up on the couch with Beanie and Bugaboo for a little rest.   The boys were still sleeping when the pair of shows ended, and I needed a little more horizontal time myself, so I conceded the point and closed my eyes while the girls enjoyed an episode of Pound Puppies.  As it happened, the episode was about learning to love creatures we initially think are obnoxious, so it turned out to be a nice little heart’s lesson for them and a badly-needed extra nap for me.

While I could cheerfully have sacked out on the couch for the rest of the afternoon with my snuggly little daughters, it’s unwise to let them vegetate in front of the television for extended periods, so I hauled myself aloft and asked if either of them would like to do a craft.  I believe they may have actually teleported into their chairs at the kitchen table, which I took as an affirmative answer, and quickly assembled a few oddments I had handy.  We decided to make angels, since I had a few yards of white tulle, some fluff that looked cloudlike, and oodles of construction paper.

The house is now adorned with their creations.

By the time we had decked the doors with celestial beings, Bugaboo and Beanie were tiring of quiet time, so I gave them leave to put on shoes and head for the back yard.  I had to call a couple of admonitions out the window to Bugaboo about the tone of voice she was using with her sister, and reminders to both that neither of them has exclusive rights to anything in the back yard.  The racket woke the boys, who decided to play together in the living room with a big bag of blocks while I assembled dinner.

Of course, I was slicing a loaf of crusty bread with a very sharp knife when I heard the blood-curdling shriek from Bugaboo.  Hurling the knife into the sink, I spun around to the back window of the kitchen, whereupon I spied Bugaboo perched precariously on Beanie’s preferred swing.  The precariousness of her perch was caused by the hands, belonging to said Beanie, which were twined in her hair in an effort to pull her off the swing at the center of the apparent controversy.

There are moments when I really, truly, do not care what my neighbors think.  That happened to be one of them.  I’m pretty sure they heard me at least two streets over.

Two wailing, crying little girls bolted into the house and up the stairs, Bugaboo bemoaning the (understandable!) pain from her head, Beanie complaining, “She took my swing!”  I shushed Beanie very firmly and informed her of her options — either sit silently at the table and eat her dinner, or go to her room.  While she was tearfully deciding, I checked Bugaboo and determined that there was no real damage done, although I am positive her scalp was smarting (having had my hair used as a rope ladder by all four of my children, I can attest that having one’s hair pulled really hurts), gave her hugs, kisses, and a cup of water, then settled her in at the table for dinner.  Beanie did tell Bugaboo she was sorry, and apologized to me, too.

Dinner was a bit of a struggle as well; the only child who actually enjoyed our Friday soup (split pea with ham) was Baby Guy.  By the time Bugaboo finished hers, I had already given Mr. Man and Baby Guy their baths; by the time Beanie finished hers, Bugaboo and Mr. Man had picked up all the toys in the living room and the girls’ room.

When Daddy came home, the girls were in the bathtub.  They wash each other’s hair and check each other’s faces for dirt spots.  Unfortunately, they also have a tendency to invent bathtub games that result in a lot of water being deposited on the floor of the upstairs bathroom (repainting the downstairs and installing new shelves is a very high priority, so the kids can have their own bathroom and we don’t have to worry about the upstairs fixtures suddenly landing in the downstairs facilities).   My husband, after a quick evaluation of my facial expression, sent me off to take a break and informed our daughters it was time to dry off and get ready for bed.  I took the opportunity to read some stories to Mr. Man and Baby Guy; when the girls and Daddy joined us in the living room, we prayed our bedtime prayers and sang lullabies.

After we tucked the boys into their beds, I let the dogs out.  As I came back up the stairs, I heard Beanie campaigning for some dessert, and firmly said, “No way.”  That brought a wail from our younger daughter.  ” BUT I’M SORRY!”

My husband called her over to where he was sitting on the couch and settled her on his lap.

“Why are you sorry?”
“I’m sorry because Mommy’s ticked off at me!”
“Do you know why Mommy is ticked off at you?”
“I did some bad things.”
“What bad things did you do?”
“I whined.”
“You always do that.  What did you do that ticked Mommy off?”
“I tried to pull Bugaboo off the swing.  I pulled her by the hair.  It didn’t work.”

At that point, Bugaboo chimed in, “Yeah, she tried to pull me off the swing by my hair.  I could have hit my head on the ground and died.”  Thankfully, I was in the girls’ room making sure there were no cups of milk hiding under beds, and thus could chuckle quietly.

“That’s pretty bad.  Did you apologize and give her a hug and a kiss?”
“I’m sorrrrry.”  Hug, kiss.

Daddy then proceeded to have the most gentle discussion possible of how important they could be to each other, and reminded them that each of them had been given, by God, exactly one sister on this earth.  I teared up when I heard him explain that if they let the petty things fester, they could end up like someone very dear to us and her sister, who haven’t exchanged a civil word in twenty-two years, or spoken at all in the last ten.

After that, Daddy and I snuggled the two of them between us on the couch while we read a few extra stories.  When the stories were finished, he picked up Bugaboo, I picked up Beanie, and we carried them down to their room just to get the extra hugs in.  Once inside their door, we hugged the two of them between the two of us, which the girls refer to as a “family hug sandwich,” and were rewarded by Beanie cheerfully crowing, “I’m a baby pickle!”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, only You can form a conscience in an instant.  It will take me a lifetime to help shape the consciences of Your blessings so that they choose to regret unkind actions, instead of just being upset by the consequences of their actions.  Please grant me patience and the abundant grace I will need to set a good example for them at all times.  Thank You for their willingness to forgive, and their nascent understanding that You rejoice whenever one of Your children turns from self-serving thoughts and deeds in a spirit of loving repentance.  You forgive us freely, without holding our transgressions over our heads or carrying grudges, and we would follow You.  Please teach us to speak, think, and act with the mercy we would have shown to us.

Moments matter

There was no single “blog moment” yesterday, primarily because it was one of those days filled with small delights.  It wasn’t that nobody whined and everyone ate meals without complaints or food-throwing, it was just that I took my own advice and decided to answer the small, everyday transgressions with a song instead of a stout voice.

It may help that I’m spending two weeks on the parable of the prodigal son with my daughters.  We’d been having some problems with petty squabbles and resentments, so it seemed like it might be helpful to spend a little extra time talking about Christ’s infinite mercy, and the joy we should feel when someone seeks to atone for wrongs committed.  This took on a little extra poignancy over the weekend, when I received the news that my estranged aunt is dying from stage four lung cancer with brain metastases.  Tidings like those tend to make all the reasons I find to hold onto anger and grudges seem even more foolish than they usually do.

We were talking today about how the father in the parable greeted his returning son with great joy, and threw a party to celebrate his safe return — and his change of heart.  The task of showing them that remorse isn’t just mouthing a few syllables, but an actual change of heart, will continue for many years, but it made a big impression on the girls that the son was reduced to wishing he could eat the pigs’ food.  There are opportunities for lessons in stewardship here, too. It’s such a great parable for teaching so many foundational concepts that I’m beginning to think we may have to return to it every six months or so, as they grow and mature and the boys start to join in the actual instruction.

This is Beanie’s newest workbook.  For weeks, I have struggled to find a way around her mulish resistance to coloring her assigned coloring pages.  We are talking about a girl who colored every single page in a 288 page Hello Kitty coloring book in a single day (and colored them well, I might add) when left to her own devices, but flatly refuses to complete a single assigned age of coloring.  Saying this is frustrating would be a grievous understatement.  At any rate, I remembered that the only thing Beanie loves more than coloring is stickers, and happened upon this book in our little stockpile.  Since she is still working on some of the basic skills, she and I made a deal — if she colors her assigned pages within a reasonable amount of time (say, 30 minutes), she gets to do ONE page in this book.  I let her do a page today just so she could see how much she would enjoy it, and immediately found myself with a lap-full of not quite four  year old jubilantly exclaiming, “Mommy that is the best schoolbook ever can I have ‘nother page I really like the stickers and did you see it was three different fishies and one of them was yellow and yellow is my favorite color . . .”

If you’ve ever read Roger Hargreaves’ Little Miss Chatterbox, you have read a reasonably accurate description of an excited Beanie.  Hopefully, this will result in less mayhem at lesson time tomorrow.

Later in the day, while Mr. Man and Baby Guy were napping, Beanie had wandered off to see if she could build a cave for her Care Bears with her Lincoln Logs, and Bugaboo was slumped on the couch, pouting a little because I would not let her go back outside to play until her brothers awoke.  Wanting to avoid a mutiny that would wake the wee guys anyway, I asked her if she would like to do a craft.  Thanks to Grandma, we have a ridiculously large supply of foam craft kits in the house, and Bugaboo loves to assemble the little projects.  For the record, glue dots are the greatest innovation in the history of children’s crafts.  Thoughtful girl that she is, she decided not to use the magnets that came with the kit; after scrutinizing their size, she advised me, “No, Mommy, I don’t think those magnets are a good idea.  Mr. Man likes to pick those off, and they look small enough for Baby Guy to swallow.  Can we save them for something we’re going to give to Grandma or Grandpa?  I want to keep these to play with my Strawberry Shortcakes.”

Not long after Bugaboo finished her project, Beanie ambled out of the girls’ room, having tired of both solitude and Lincoln Logs, and decided to brush Smudgie and read a couple of board books on the couch.  I love that she reads to Smudgie.  Bugaboo disappeared and, after a quick stop to make sure she hadn’t fallen into the commode again, I poked my head into the girls’ room to  see if she was, perhaps, napping, as the house was unnervingly quiet, even taking into account the sleeping boys.  There sat our oldest daughter, playing with her sister’s dinosaurs and her own Strawberry Shortcake cafe, pretending a family of giant lizards had dropped by for cakes and milkshakes.  I believe Orange Blossom (bottom left) probably fainted from fright.

After a dinner that actually was eaten without any complaints about the quality, quantity, or preparation of the food, the three ambulatory members of the tribe skittered back out into the yard to run off their meal and desserts.  Baby Guy decided to check out the toys that reside in the bottom of the entertainment center, and happened upon the toy that has been all four of their favorite at the age of ten months –the animal wheel.  He was smiling and laughing, spinning the wheel as fast as it would go, then stopping it himself to see what animal noise would issue forth, even trying to imitate some of them. While his siblings were exploring a world with broader boundaries than his, he seized the opportunity to investigate the possibilities of one single toy, without worrying that anyone would try to “help” him with it.  He passed a very giggly half hour indeed, and I laughed right along with him — and imitated the animal sounds, too.  The Lord God made them all, you know, and it’s fun to spend a little time appreciating His handiwork with a baby.

When the animal wheel lost its allure, he crawled across the living room and checked out Beanie’s drum and its stick.  It did not take Baby Guy long to determine that the sounds the stick made when rapped smartly against the wood floor or pounded against the couch were significantly more interesting than the noise produced by hitting the drum. Another half hour passed while I watched our youngest son explore how many sounds he could make, by himself, with a wooden stick.

Around the time Baby Guy tired of experimenting with the drum stick, Mr. Man wandered in with his newest rock.  I believe I’ve mentioned before that he loves rocks, and can be counted upon to bring me several specimens whenever he ventures into the yard.  After I captured him and his treasure on camera, he proceeded to show Baby Guy that you can make even MORE noises by banging rocks on things than you can by banging a stick on things.  Some of those noises come from Mommy, who is several feet away from the rock in question.  The boys found this pastime particularly hilarious.

In the meantime, the girls were busily swinging and singing, “One, two, buckle my shoe” at the tops of their lungs.

In the midst of the rock-banging and counting song-singing, my husband came home.  We changed the boys into their pajamas and settled in for prayers and lullabyes.  It’s rare that I’m able to get a shot of all five of my brightest blessings together.  From left to right:  Mr. Man, Beanie, Daddy, Baby Guy, and Bugaboo.

We had a full and wonderful day.  Smudgie, however, was exhausted from running to and fro, watching over and playing with all his tiny people.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for a day of simple pleasures with Your blessings.  Thank You for the grace of a heart open to wonder and arms open to comfort.  Your Scripture warns us of times when people will turn their face from You and become “lovers of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedient to their parents, irreligious (2 Tim 2),” and we would raise Your blessings to honor You above all things, to praise You for your glory and the beauty of Your creation always.  Please grant us the grace to teach them to delight in every small moment of joy, for every second in which we are happy in Your love and each other’s company, and teach us to pray for those whose hearts are hardened against an appreciation of Your people, Your law, and Your works.

Seek and you shall find

It was a raw and rainy day hereabouts, the sort of day that begs for big mugs of hot cocoa and lots and lots of stories.

Once the ladies had colored all the pictures they could stand, and everyone had a decent nap, we opted for an afternoon story marathon, which began before the boys were done snoozing.  I’ve mentioned before that reading is a favorite pastime at our house, and we have a formidable library of children’s books.  I’ve also noted that we read a wide variety of materials, and that we’ve been able to find Christ in whatever we read.  For today’s post, I’ll share the books we read and how we saw the Lord in each one.  For those who just want to know what books we read, I’ll begin with a gallery view.

For the books that are specifically about faith, I’ll assume you can figure out how Jesus was included, but if there’s one about which you would like specific information, please ask in the comments or in an email, and I’ll be happy to answer you.

We are huge Tomie de Paola fans around here.  Fin M’Coul is a retelling of an ancient Irish legend, and in it, the wife of the giant loves him enough to use all her wit and talent to save her husband from a horrible beating at the hands of a bully giant.  It’s sort of like Samson and Delilah, except in this case, Delilah saves Samson.  We found Jesus’s teaching to the Pharisees from Matthew 19 here, about how the Lord created male and female, and the two become one flesh forever.

This one is easy.  It begins with Psalm 139:14 — “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Yes.  Every new life is.

I’ve loved this book since I was tiny.  By reading it, we are reminded that while we may receive a mild rebuke for straying, the good shepherd always welcomes the lost member of his flock.

These are pretty self-explanatory!

My Big Book of Opposites reminds us that the Lord made all creatures, great and small.  It’s Time to Play gives a little lesson on stewardship, that we are to clean up the messes we make, and that even putting our toys away can be a happy task.

Brave Butterfly reminds us that we can do things we think are impossible if we have faith.  Peekaboo Fun reminds us that the Lord made every living and non-living thing, and He made them in an infinite number of shapes, sizes, and colors.

It’s Great to be an Engine reminds us that we are to make a joyful noise unto the Lord!

Jesus wanted the little children to come to Him, so we have special books to help bring them closer!

Can you tell these two have been well-loved?  The Belly Button Book reminds us that we all are born of women, as Jesus was, and Doggies reminds us that the Lord created some animals to be our friends, playmates, and protectors.

Pooh’s 1-2-3 reminds us that whenever two or more are gathered in His name, there He is, and that each of us has something we can share.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat calls to mind Noah and his ark, and, of course, Christ calling the fishermen.

Psalm 139 again!

While this book is more about snow and baking cookies, it’s also a good reminder that we share the fruits of our labors with our neighbors — and, of course, we give gifts to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

The wonders of Creation can be explored and investigated, but not always fully explained.  We thank the Lord for the mysteries he’s given us.

In the Fairy Berry Bake-Off, we learn that arrogance leads to unloving behavior, wastefulness, and destruction, but that we always have the opportunity to reconcile and be forgiven.  In Beck’s Bunny Secret, we learn that telling a lie leads to unhappiness and mistrust among friends, but, again, there is the opportunity for repentance and redemption.

The Strawberry Shortcake stories remind us of the value of friendship as defined in Sirach 6.

In the “Little Miss” books, we are reminded that He has given each of us particular talents, but that it sometimes takes us a while to figure out how to put those talents to their best use.

The Wind in the Willows reminds us that friends who lead us down the paths of wisdom are priceless, and that love sometimes means saying “no.”

In Bossy Bee, we remember that Jesus, the great leader and teacher, wasn’t rude or bossy, but gentle and humble.

The Foot Bookcalls to mind Christ washing the feet of His disciples.

We love Arch books.

If you have never read this book, go directly to your library or bookstore and get it.  Each of us has a gift to offer, and if we offer it freely and with love, even the most seemingly strange offering is pleasing to Him.  I have had this particular copy since I was five years old.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, we can see Your face anywhere we seek You.  Thank You for your constant presence, and help me teach Your blessings to recognize You and Your wisdom in books that don’t mention Your name.  Please grant us the wisdom to see Your triumph and grace in all things, that we may use every word we read, song we sing, and show we watch to draw nearer to you.