Monday, September 30, 2013

Dear Tooth Fairy, Part 2

Do you remember the "Dear Tooth Fairy" letter my 8 year old daughter wrote a few weeks ago?

If you missed it, my 8 year old daughter lost her tooth ("lost" meaning it fell out of her mouth) at the beginning of September but then she lost it ("lost" meaning it went missing somewhere under her bed) before she could put it in her tooth fairy pillow in her bed.  So, she wrote a note to the tooth fairy saying, "I can't find my tooth.  Will you still give me money?"

The tooth fairy was very generous and did give her a shiny gold one dollar coin in exchange for just the letter and not a tooth.

Well, there is an update in the "Dear Tooth Fairy" Saga!  A letter the same 8 year old daughter wrote yesterday and put under her pillow:

Dear Tooth Fairy,  

Remember when you got a letter from me saying I lost my tooth but guess what I found it!  Please take.  You can give me money if you want.  From, your friend, (and then she signed her name).

And she taped the letter to a Ziploc baggie containing the long lost tooth.

I laughed out loud at my daughter's boldness telling the tooth fairy, "You can give me money if you want."  But, at least my daughter realized when she found the lost tooth that she owed it to the tooth fairy and was honest about it not being a newly lost tooth.

The tooth fairy did come by to collect the tooth that was rightfully hers, but left no additional money.  Only one payment per tooth, is perhaps the tooth fairy's policy?

Find more Wordful Wednesday here.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I took my 4 kids for flu shots, how was your week?

My 8 year old daughter has to get her flu shot at the allergist because she is allergic to eggs.  Yesterday when I took her in for her normal monthly allergy shot, I asked if she could also get her flu shot.  Then I asked (okay begged) if my other 3 kids and I could get our flu shots, too, to save us a separate trip to the pediatrician.

They said "yes".  When they called us back to the injection room where there is typically 1 or maybe 2 nurses, I ushered all 4 of my kids through the doorway and looked up to see 4 different nurses all ready and waiting on us!  I think one nurse had called in reinforcements from the clinic area!

My boys were super brave, the girls not so much!  My 4 year old daughter had to have a ton of shots to catch up on regular childhood immunizations after being adopted from Ethiopia at age 3, so there is always drama now when she needs a shot because all those shots most kids get as babies and don't even remember, she REMEMBERS.  She was her typical pitiful self after the shot with tears and the saddest expression, the nurses couldn't stand it. "Just look at her!  That breaks my heart!"  one of them kept saying.  Little Girl KNOWS how to work a room and she does pitiful really well!

At one point as my 8 year old daughter was literally on the floor trying to avoid her shot and a nurse told her, "Your little sister did it,"  my 6 year old son piped up and loudly announced to all the nurses that he did it and he was "THE SECOND YOUNGEST!"

I've never heard him refer to himself as "the second youngest" before.  But it cracked me up and also made me feel like I had more like 10 kids instead of 4!

But, we survived!  And they talked me into chocolate shakes at Sonic to celebrate!


We had some rainy weather last week, which always means the "dog towel" takes up residence by the back door to wipe muddy dog paws.  Only Madeline doesn't like to leave the towel by the door, but prefers to carry it around the house!


If you've been following along on this blog for very long, this next statement will make you laugh.  Somehow I ended up as room mom for my daughter's 3rd grade class.

I know!  Room mom.  I have blogged before about how I avoid that job like the plague.  There are tons of other volunteer jobs that I do, like helping children learn to read in the library, doing special projects for the teachers, teaching children's bible study, visiting child abuse victims in foster homes and testifying in court on their behalf, but that "room mom" job always seemed like too much soliciting help/money from other parents for whatever class party/school function/teacher gift was coming up for my taste.  So, I'm not at all sure how this happened except that it did involve an email specifically requesting help with the role and I couldn't say "no".

Now I'm in the world where I get approximately 17 emails every day with the subject line "Fall Carnival Class Basket".  Meanwhile thousands of children died of starvation around the world today.  

As you can see I am perfectly suited for this class mom job! 


On a related note, have you ever been drafting an email to your child's teacher and you suddenly become overly worried about your grammar and use of commas?  Happens to me all the time!!


Happy Friday, Friends!  Find more Friday Fragments here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

That Newborn Baby Cry

Recently I was in the grocery store checkout line and I heard it.  

That unmistakeable newborn baby cry.

From 3 lanes away!

The mama was checking out, a toddler-aged child in the cart, along with an infant carrier containing the wailing baby.

It's been a while since I've had a newborn in the house, but the sound of that cry is unmistakeable.  It is very different than the cry of a 2 year old or even a 6 month old.  You hear the cry of a very young baby and you cannot ignore it.  Literally the pitch, tone, whatever of that sound tells every fiber of your being to respond.  DO SOMETHING!

And it was an interesting scene to watch unfold that day in the grocery store since I'm a mama who keenly remembers being in that position of checking out with a crying baby.  A baby that has maybe made it through the entire grocery store trip peacefully asleep but has awakened just 5 minutes too soon before the groceries can be paid for, and is hungry and must be fed RIGHT NOW!  It was as if everyone in the store was tuned in to that baby.  The mother got the baby out of the carrier and was trying to cuddle the baby against her chest while also sliding her credit card through the card reader.  The sacker was wildly sacking the groceries in an attempt to allow the mom to leave the store as quick as possible.  The checker was digging through her drawer trying to find a sticker for the baby's big brother to keep him happy so he didn't demand any more of his mom's attention than the newborn and paying for groceries were already occupying.  A checker from another lane even ran over to provide the desired sticker! 

Humans are wired to attend to that sound, the sounds of a newborn baby's cry.

God made us that way!

He made us that way for a reason.  Because tiny babies are helpless and dependent on other humans to survive!

When a mama or a daddy respond to a baby's cries by picking it up or feeding it or changing it's diaper or speaking softly to it or singing to it or rocking it, that baby learns that the world hears her voice and her voice can be used to convey her needs.  She learns that she is important.  And that the world is good, people are good, because they attend to her needs.

( My 2nd child at only hours old.)

So, of course, God was so smart to wire into every baby this very unique cry so that other humans hear it and respond.

The only ways that a baby's cries are not going to be tended to are if the baby is in an overcrowded orphanage (in which case the babies stop crying after about 2 months because they learn their cries do not work) or the baby's caregiver is incapacitated by drugs, alcohol, or mental illness.

And what then?

If the baby survives, how does that neglect as an infant play out in their behaviors later in life?

And how do adoptive or foster mothers attempt to make up for all that was lost in infancy to heal that child?

Those are big questions I am not going to attempt to answer today, more on that later.  But, the beginning of finding those answers is realizing just how much a child has lost when they did not have an attentive caregiver as a baby.  The losses run deep!

I sometimes joke that at least I missed out on potty-training, getting our 4th child as a 3 year old through international adoption after having 3 biological children I did have to potty-train.  But, the truth is I'd give just about anything to have been able to be there for my Little Girl from the time she was an infant.  And there's not another adoptive mom I know that wouldn't say the same thing.  Those early months are so important!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

For When You Don't Feel Like Scheduling the Family Portrait . . .

I should have done it weeks ago, set up a session with our photographer for our annual family pictures.  A younger, more energetic version of me, who had fewer children vowed we'd do this once a year every year while the kids were growing up.  But, now there is zero motivation to schedule it, plan everyone's outfits, and, of course, endure the 1 hour of torture that is getting my children to cooperate for photos!

But looking at this picture from 5 years ago, when my oldest children were 1, 3, and 5 years old, I'm really glad to have captured that moment in time!  It is so fleeting!  Those children are 6, 8, and 10 now.  They have changed so much since then!

As much as I love that picture, I haven't forgotten the reality that day.  The photographer was late (which was really unusual for her), the mosquitoes were terrible there in that little wood, my 3 year old had to go potty about 2 minutes into the photo shoot, the 5 year old got his clothes dirty sliding on his knees before the 1st picture was even taken, and there was a little gazebo that the 1 year old just wanted to run around over and over again instead of posing for pictures!

And still, I know it was worth it, every bit of wrangling those monkeys, to remember them just as they were.

Find more Wordful Wednesday here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Reading Time

As part of his homework, my first grader is supposed to read to someone for 20 minutes each day.

Some days the reading time looks like this:

Him reading to us while my girls and I snap beans.

Multitasking works for me!

And this is way less shameful than the next day when I convinced him to read to me from his seat in the third row of the car while I drove the girls to dance class.  "Just read a little loud.  I can hear you."  Poor 3rd child!

Friday, September 20, 2013

There Is No Title

My 10 year old went off to camp this week with his entire 5th grade at school.  For 3 nights they stayed in cabins and do all sorts of outdoor activities.

So of course, I helped him pack with my favorite ZipLoc Bag method.  I'm hoping that in a cabin full of 10 year old boys my son was able to proudly own those ZipLoc bags of clothes without any shame!


We've all missed him this week, even his younger siblings.  It's been interesting the different things his brother and sisters missed most while he was gone and the different ways his presence affects our home.  We will be glad to get him back this afternoon!

I was thinking about how we all missed my son this week when the radio DJ shared an excerpt from Rick Warren's appearance on CNN this week.  Rick Warren wrote The Purpose Driven Life and sadly his grown-up son, Matthew, committed suicide a few months ago.  Rick Warren said, "I need the presence of God in my life more than I need the presence of Matthew."

What powerful statement!  It is true, but also so hard for most parents to say, especially one who has so recently lost a child!  


When my 10 year returns from camp he may find his bed has already been given away!  The 6 year old who typically sleeps on the bottom bunk has been asking for a while when he would get to sleep on the top bunk.  I thought these 3 nights his big brother was away would be a great opportunity for Little Brother to fulfill his top-bunk sleeping dreams.  Well, Little Brother loves it and now there may be Battle of the Bunks this weekend at our house!


 New this year, our elementary school is teaching spelling rules to kids in addition to spelling words.  My 8 year old came home talking about the "Floss Rule".  She was incredulous that I did not know the "Floss Rule".  She was like, "But Mom, you went to school!"

Learning along with my kids, I give you the "Floss rule":  "If a one syllable base word ends in the (f), (l) or (s) sound immediately after a short vowel, the (f) sound is spelled ff, the (l) sound is spelled ll, and the (s) sound is spelled ss.

Don't you just feel smarter now?

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mixed Up

Today Little Girl (my 4 year old who was adopted from Ethiopia 21 months ago), and I were eating lunch together at home, left-over spaghetti.

She gobbled her spaghetti up and I started thinking about how much she liked spaghetti.

I told her we ate spaghetti with her in Ethiopia the very first week we had her.  "It was really spicy spaghetti,"  I remembered out loud, watching her face to see just how much she remembered about that first week we were together when she was three years old.

Then she said, "People in Ethiopia like spicy food."

Me:  "Yes, they do."

Little Girl:  "I like spicy food.  But I just got all mixed up."

Me: "Mixed up? What do you mean?" 

Little Girl:  "Yeah, I got mixed up with you when I came here.  You know because you have white skin and I have brown skin. We're mixed up."

Me (trying to understand what she was thinking and totally flowing with the concept that a conversation about spaghetti turned into a skin color discussion):  "So, we got mixed up when you left Ethiopia and came to America with us to be in our family?" 

Little girl:  "Yes, people from American have white skin and Ethiopians have brown skin like me."

Me: "Well, not all people who were born in American have white skin."

She agreed and pointed out a little boy in her class who has brown skin like she does. 

Then I asked, "So what do you think about being 'mixed up'?" 

She didn't understand, so I clarified, "Do you think it's bad or good being 'mixed up', or it doesn't really matter?" 

"It doesn't really matter," she said easily, cheerfully. 

And then she began jabbering about something else. . . 

We will have a lifetime of these conversations, she and I, sorting through the 'mixed up'. 

 Our mixed-up family

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Chicken That Was Not For Dinner

Here's one of my favorite pictures from our Dominican Republic mission trip a couple months ago:

That's my 8 year old daughter on the right, holding a chicken.  And the little boy is Felice.  We ate dinner at his house one night and Felice couldn't wait to show us the chickens in his backyard.  Felice is only two, but he had some serious chicken-catching skills!  It took him mere seconds to scoop one up even though they were running free in his backyard! 

We ate a traditional meal by candlelight because there was no electricity with Felice's mom and dad and Felice.  They are a sweet precious family and were such gracious hosts to us!  They had a much smaller house and drastically fewer things than most people we know here in America, yet they had more joy and faith than most people we know.

Monday, September 16, 2013

When life hands you cups . . .

We have family Bible devotionals at least once a week with our 4 children who range in age from 10 to 4 years old.  I've found that as we read the Bible together and discuss important, heavy topics of life and faith, it's also important to have an element of fun!

So, I'm always looking for easy ideas (like things that need nearly zero advance prep) for fun activities we can do during this time.  

Because we hardly ever watch TV, I had no idea about the show Minute to Win It but recently I was somewhere where they had Minute to Win It games as an ice breaker activity and it occurred to me that the games would be great to add some fun to our family devotional time.  Sure enough,  the website for the show has some great game ideas!

A week ago we did a game of seeing who could stack the most small paper cups in one minute.  It was super fun and so easy to prep for as we already had the cups!  My kids loved it so much that even after the game time was over they entertained themselves building with the cups (which made me totally wonder why we even have toys)!

Do you have any good games your family plays together?

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Parenting in the Wake of September 11th

It seems really odd to me that my children will never really understand September 11th.

That infamous, tragic September 11th was 12 years ago, my children were not alive yet. I know this logically, but conceptually it's just hard to imagine people who don't know what that day was like because they didn't live it. People who can learn about the facts but it will be without the memories of their own personal horror and fear and sorrow and experience that day.

I think of what I, now as a parent, want my children to know about September 11th, but more deeply I think of how I want to parent my children knowing their generation may have their own September 11th.

Would my children as young men and women have the courage to run up the stairs of those burning buildings?

What if my daughters as grown women, married with 2 children and a 3rd on the way were suddenly widowed?

What if my children came face to face with an evil so strong it threatened many, many lives?

How would they respond?

What would be their strength? their peace? their comfort? their hope?

And am I doing enough today to teach them about the only God who will never leave them, who loves them with an everlasting love, who can slay giants, who can save and redeem their lives so that they're ready if and when their world is rocked to the core one beautiful, sunny day.

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." Zeph. 3:17

*Originally published on September 8, 2011

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Help Your Child Learn to Sit Still!

I posted yesterday about the energy level and enthusiasm (um, yeah, we'll call it enthusiasm) of our 4 year old Little Girl.  Little Girl CANNOT be still!  Or so I thought up until a couple weeks ago.

She's always bouncing around or running or dancing or doing forward rolls or standing on her head (yes, literally!).  So it was really no surprise to me what I saw when I peered in the window of her pre-K classroom right before pick up time the first week of school.  I saw 13 children perfectly sitting criss-cross applesauce on the rug in a semi-circle around the teacher who was reading to them and Little Girl was also in the circle but rather than sitting nicely she was bobbing up and down in excitement, rocking back and forth on her knees, even jumping up to point at pictures in the book!  Her behavior didn't surprise me in the least, but the contrast to the other children did.

"Oh dear!" I thought.  "We are going to have to get this sitting still thing down before kindergarten next year!"

Little Girl was adopted from Ethiopia at age 3, she's now 4, almost 5.  I've learned a lot these past few years about children from "hard places" and one thing is that the kids are very often labeled as ADHD but only a few truly should be, the rest struggle with hyperarousal where they get so keyed up and then have trouble calming down and regulating their emotions.  Did you know that trauma even in utero can change a child's brain?  It can.  The stress causes the child's brain to release more hormones like adrenaline and cortisol which then speed up heart rate and breathing and cause muscles to tense up.  Over time these stress hormones can cause dysregulation in children that may last for years after the stress or trauma has ended!

But, there is much good news in brain research.  The children's brains can slowly be rewired over time.  First the children need to feel safe.  Then they can be taught calming skills.  Over time their brain chemistry can change back to more normal levels.

Here's one technique I found after the pre-K epiphany a couple weeks ago to help Little Girl learn to sit still for a few minutes and thus calm herself down.

It's called Strong Sitting (here's an article on it).  My quick explanation is that you practice by having your child sit in the middle of the floor with their legs crossed, their back straight, their hands folded in front of them, and their mouth closed for short periods of time and then once they have success for say 30 seconds sitting nicely and quietly the next time you increase it to 1 minute.  Ultimately a child should be able to sit like this for 1 minute for each year of age.  So my Little Girl is 4 years old so she ought to be able to sit still for 4 minutes.  We are currently at 3 minutes and working up!

Here are some key things about this technique:

- It is not punishment!  You can use it during times your child is acting wild but not like it's a negative consequence more like, "You seem pretty reved up, let's calm down by practicing your strong sitting."

- Make it a game.  Little Girl is so competitive that all I have to say is, "I bet you can't do the strong sitting for 2 minutes."  And she's all, "OH YES I CAN!"

- Set the timer for your goal time and reset it if your child talks or breaks the sitting position.  Again, don't make it sound like a punishment, just matter of factly point out, "Oh, you talked.  Remember you can't talk during your strong sitting.  Try Again!  I'll set the timer over."

- Cheer like crazy for them when they make the goal (even if the goal was just 30 seconds it's an accomplishment for them)!

It's working!  I even shared the term "Strong Sitting" with Little Girl's teachers and the first day they suggested to her that she do her "strong sitting" during storytime, they were amazed at how well she sat.  And best of all, she came out of the classroom so proud to tell me how nicely she sat!  "I was the best one at the strong sitting, Mom!  I did better than all the other kids!"

There is so much hope for these kids from hard places and any high-energy kids who need some extra practice calming themselves!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Her Big Personality

That picture of her screaming at the clown statue was not staged.  It's just my Little Girl doing life in the very big way that is typical for her!

She is very loving and sweet and she's also loud and silly and feisty and bold and full of energy!  Before we ever met Little Girl, her reputation preceded her.  "She's spunky," we heard over and over again from people who met her in Ethiopia.  Our missions pastor at church, who our family has gotten to know recently, made the amused observation while watching Little Girl, "She's the spoon that stirs the pot," he said with a grin.  I've heard many times people say, "She has A LOT of personality!" or "She just radiates joy!"

It's all true!

And while usually it's fun and well-received, there are times when it's just too much.  I say this as her mother, who is pretty much her polar opposite when it comes to personality!  I am thankful that God made our Little Girl just like she is, and I absolutely believe her big personality helped tremendously with her transition at age 3 from life in an Ethiopian orphanage to life in an American family.  But it's also my job as her mom to help her reign it in a bit when needed.  Tomorrow I'm going to share a strategy we've been using lately that is really helping to calm Little Girl during times when her typical level of energy is not appropriate.  It's a skill that is becoming more and more essential as she gets older!

Do you have a wild child?  Please share what works to help you guys do life.  And stay tuned for our new strategy tomorrow.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Twins with Different Skin!

My girls are taking a jazz dance class together this year.  Today was their first day.  I helped them get dressed in the required attire and jazz shoes and then had to run downstairs to help my 1st grader with a homework question.  My girls came downstairs a few minutes later in their matching jazz outfits loudly chanting a cheer they had just made up.

It went like this:  "We're Twins!  We're Twins!  We're twins with different skin!"

I just couldn't make up that kind of awesome!


My 10 year old is now a banker!  His 5th grade teacher has a whole economy worked out for her class and the kids applied for jobs last week.  Of course my son had to try for the highest paid position in the class.  I even had to write him a recommendation letter.  I mentioned the 5 years he has managed his own allowance in the letter!  He gets a salary but then he has to pay rent on his desk, rent on his chair, there is a library fee, a trash fee, and a computer fee.  Also, kids get deducted from their accounts when they don't have their homework or get their agenda signed.

How awesome is his teacher?!!!

'Course when my son was leaving for school the morning the jobs were to be announced, I told him, "Even if you get custodian, you work hard as if you are serving God with your work." 

 I do have to say, as his mother, he knows a whole lot more about math than he does about cleanliness, so the teacher probably made a good choice!


 Happy Friday, Friends!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Life Lessons I Learned at the Black Hair Salon

I haven't written about the Trayon Martin case on this blog because I didn't want to be part of the controversy.  I don't know what happened the night he died, who was the aggressor.  Really it's hard to know the facts in news stories any more with even the press being dishonest.  All I know is that it makes me sad.  

And while I'm not sure how much race played into that particular case, I do know that the race relations debate that resulted bears some truth and though many conversations were offensive, many were also good. 

As a white mama to a black child, I know that we have come such a long way as a nation in the 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech!  But I also keenly know that we are not there yet.  In this country people are often still judged by the color of their skin.

Before becoming an adoptive parent to my Ethiopian child, I was naively colorblind.  "Skin color does not matter,"  I probably would have told you.  Now I know that while that is a good dream, it is not reality.  And I cannot be a good mother to my black child if I do not acknowledge that she is and will be sometimes judged by her skin color.  That her experiences when she goes somewhere with her white family members may be different than when she goes places by herself.

President Obama said he could have been Trayvon Martin 35 years ago.  While I could not have been Trayvon Martin, I do feel like I could have been his mother.

I hurt with his mom that he is gone.  I hurt for the friends I have who have black sons and sat them down after hearing news of Trayvon's death and instructed them to "Never run through a neighborhood!"  I hurt for my own 4 year old Little Girl and fear the day she is old enough to understand and feel the sting of discrimination.

I recently switched Little Girl to a dance studio that has many black little girls in the classes.  At our previous dance studio my daughter was the only black child in her class, one of the few in the whole studio.  I found this other studio which is actually closer to our house and am excited for Little Girl to have a place to go where she is not in the minority but where many of the little girls look like she does.  I am also happy that the owner and founder of the studio is a black woman and a mother of three and can serve as a woman my little girl can look up to.  And in another good reversal, my white daughter will also be taking dance at this studio, yet she will be in the minority!

While not always comfortable, embracing some of the differences of my black daughter, rather than ignoring them or pretending they are not there, has been a growth experience for our entire family.  So much so that my 6 year old recently lamented that he, "wished his skin was not white because you have to worry about sunburns!"

Then there was the time recently when I took Little Girl to get a hair cut.  I shake my head looking back now on how nervous I was taking my youngest daughter to a black hair salon for the first time.  I knew with my Casper-the-Friendly-Ghost white skin I'd stick out like a sore thumb.  I worried that the ladies there would be condescending to me about Little Girl's hair, tell me I'd been doing everything wrong.  I worried they'd feel sorry for her for having a white mama.

I couldn't have been more wrong!  I parked in front and immediately noticed the Trayvon Martin sign and the first thought that popped into my head was "These are my people!" because the whole case with Trayvon Martin hurt my heart, too.  And some of my nerves began to calm.  I did still pray for Jesus to be near as I grabbed little girl's hand and walked in.

I was the only white person in the shop for the entire hour we were there but everyone could not have been nicer to me or to Little Girl!  The hairstylist we got is also the shop owner and she even commented on how healthy Little Girl's hair felt (which I totally took as a pat on the back for how I've cared for it rather than a condemnation of my care which I feared).

Little Girl really loved getting her hair washed in the special sink!

THEN the stylist and I began to talk about adoption and she told me she'd like to adopt.  She then proceeded to share with me about losing her only child, a son, as a young infant due to a genetic disorder several years ago.  My heart broke for her and we visited as two mothers, two women, about blessings and pain and life and hope. By the time I left we were friends.

I re-learned a life lesson that day in that black hair salon.  In all my worry that I'd be too different, too much of an outsider in that setting, I forgot something so key.  The ways we are the same are the things that really matter.

Celebrate the differences, but focus on where we are the same, that stuff is far more important.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dear Tooth Fairy,

Really the tooth fairy ought to expect this sort of thing from us by now.  

No tooth under the pillow, we are not capable of keeping track of those tiny things once they fall out of our mouths, just a note asking for money. . .

Find more Wordful Wednesday here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Weird and Wacky Adventures

This weekend my husband and I planned some mystery field trips for our kids because it's just fun to load the kids up in the car and refuse to tell them where we're going!

First up, the beer can house.

Yes, you heard me right.  The beer can house.  Right smack in the middle of an otherwise normal looking neighborhood!  I think my family's reaction below is probably the same as most people's as they stare and wonder, "What?"  "Why?"

You'll be happy to know that nobody lives in the beer can house, it's just a tourist attraction now, but amazingly a couple did live there at one time!  The husband slowly transformed their normal house into this display of art.  I mean we all tolerate some strange things our spouses do but that woman deserves an award for her level of tolerance!

Next stop on the wacky tour:  The Orange Show

Which is not a show at all, but a place that appears to be an old, abandoned amusement park/circus, only it was never a functioning amusement park/circus but rather built to look exactly as it does!

All very strange, but our kids had fun exploring it!  And broadened their definition of "art".

Then we stopped for dinner before going to watch 300,000 bats fly out of a bridge near downtown.  We set out our blanket on the side of a hill next to the bridge, waited, and sure enough just after sunset tons and tons of bats did fly out from under that bridge, just like they do every night.  Who knew that was happening right here in our own city?  Creepy and cool!

Then today we started up again with a field trip to downtown.  We'd heard of a mysterious red button on a bridge over the bayou that you could press to create a big bubble in the water below, otherwise known as "burping the bayou".  

We took our kids to the bridge telling them we were looking for a button but we didn't know where it was or what exactly it did.  They found the button and were a little nervous about pushing it, not knowing what would happen.  

Finally, the oldest stepped up and pressed it.

The large bubble in the bayou below:

We ended the adventures with a walk through the fountains:

Because our city may be weird and wacky but it's also WARM!

How was your weekend?  Did you do anything strange?