Stooping low in study techniques

Studying doesn’t come super easy for two of our four family members so I’m very involved in helping with study aids for heavier subjects that include a lot of information. It’s such a balance in trying to help and give direction but not be a crutch. So I’m always looking for fun and creative ways to study material with one of my kids. I thought I’d share a few of them here and ask what you have found helpful.

The newest method I’ve found is an app that has helped in memorizing minutia detailed facts that all run together after the 120th term ending in ology. It’s called smule (auto rap). I have the free version so you are limited on the songs you choose but it’s seriously so much fun and hilarious. When Mitchell is on memorization overload we resort to the rap app. Disclaimer: some of the songs look like they may be trashy from thumbnail pics so don’t pick those. Duh. But “turkey burgers” is awesome and fun. I have no clue if that song is bad in real life or if it’s even a song in real life. It has a great beat and makes getting down those last facts easier that just don’t seem to cram into either side of the brain hemisphere. You just pick your song and record what you want to say and then it turns it into a rap for you in like 1 second. Totally awesome. We have never forgotten what dehydration synthesis and amino acids are thanks to Smule. It’s not always pretty but the information gets stuck in the brain forever and ever. We still go around rapping one of the biochemistry terms of late.

Flip Quiz – I thankful for the teacher who introduced me to flip quiz a few years ago. It’s a fabulous help with studying lots of information. Some teachers make their own flip quizzes which is way cool but you can create your own flip quiz as well.

Old Fashion Flash Cards – yep, old school index cards with term and definition on opposite sides. Adding illustrations are the best because you just can’t get some visuals out of your head no matter how hard you try. Here’s a few of our sassy ones.

Sophie jumped on the bandwagon and helped with an illustration of what she thought cellular respiration would look like. Oh dear. Um yeah. Not sure exactly about all that.

Yeah, so with exams around the corner you can count on Turkey Burgers at our house – but not in the form of healthy eating.

Do you have any tried and true study methods? Would love to hear them! 

 

 

 

 

 

A great view on SmartPhones and Kids by Craig Gross

 

(I’m on a mass email list from Craig Gross and his ministry and received this email today. I copied and pasted since there is no blog post to the same information. All Craig’s social media contact information is in this post so you can decide to follow him if you want. He’s been helpful in guiding our family in some of our decisions and I think you might find his stuff good and helpful as well.)

Hi Melody,I got this email today.

I get this at least once a month, so thought I would just post it (and note, this is exactly what was written):

“My 11-year old daughter wants a phone and my Ex-wife wants her to get one. Only 26% of kids her age have one and they’re mostly all rich kids in Orange County.

I wanna find ways to protect her from seeing big c**ks as much as possible.

Help me Craig!”

Here is my response to this email and so many others. (It’s also what I have done with my kids, who are 11 and 14 years old):

1. First of all, if you are worried about your kids having an emergency and not having a phone, then head down to Walmart or 7-Eleven and get a pay as you go flip phone. Those will work great if your kids need to call you.

You can’t use the “My kids needs a smartphone” line because of emergencies.Not needed.

2. If you want to get your kids an iPhone or Android, don’t ever give it to your pre-teen or better yet 9-year old out of the box as it comes from the store.

3. Don’t give your kids a device you are unfamiliar with and don’t know how to use yourself.

4. Don’t allow your kids to play an app, watch a movie or binge on a show on Netflix that you are unfamiliar or unaware of.

5. Parents still must be parents and that is a hard one, I know.

Most parents are clueless and cave into the pressure from their kids. Then kids get into trouble on devices because they are acting like kids, but playing with devices designed for adults.

6. A lot of parents have an old iPhone 4 or 5 sitting in their junk drawer and when the times comes will give that one to their kid. That is an okay idea, but you need to keep reading.

iPhones and Androids have parental control settings built into the phone.

Use these before you try and buy an app or search for another option. The best options are now built into the phone.

For iPhones head to Settings -> General -> Restrictions and then enable restrictions with a four digit passcode that you don’t give to your kid. This puts you in charge.

Both my kids have phones and have these restrictions:

– I have turned Safari OFF – I don’t need or want them searching the web or wasting time online with their phone. They can use the computer at home to do that.

– Installing Apps turned OFF – I don’t allow them access to the iTunes store to purchase or get free waste-of-time apps. If they want something, I look at it and if I allow, I will enter the passcode and download.

My rule is they can have productive apps but only 3 games on their phones. I am not going to have my kids playing games on a phone all day. I can’t stand grown ass men and women playing candy crush or words with friends on their devices all day long. WASTE OF TIME!

Whenever I board a plane with my kids, I have them look at the first class section and ask them to find a person in the first class that is on their phone playing games. Never. Successful people today don’t waste time playing these games.

Go to the middle seat in the back of the plane and see that dude who is 35 playing some Game of War game. I don’t want my kids to be that guy/girl. It’s not about the money you make, but the time you waste with your life.

Worse than that, people on their phones all day long can’t talk to people in person.

I don’t need my kids growing up with their heads in a screen and not experiencing the life and people in front of them.

I wrote some more reasons why I don’t let me kids play on their phones when their friends are over here. You can read that HERE.

– Deleting Apps turned OFF – I don’t let me kids delete things on their phones. This applies to text messages, emails, and apps. This is more of a life lesson for kids online.

Snapchat and Instagram stories tell you things delete in 24 hours, but ask Draymond Green if you can still see his penis online? The internet keeps a history, and so does your Ex-boyfriend or future employers.

Everything you do online doesn’t disappear.

Even Hillary Clinton couldn’t delete her emails forever yet kids are growing up thinking things they do will just disappear or be deleted. That kind of thinking is the furthermost thing from the truth.

If my kids send a text message or email to a friend, my kids know that they better be okay with the whole school seeing it because nothing is private.

– No Social Media apps on their phones – This could be old school. That’s okay. I don’t need my kids on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or anything else right now.

Over time I will loosen up there, but how many stories do I hear every day of kids and adults making stupid decisions on social and wasting a ton of time?

If my kids want to get on social, they do it on my phone. I also am aware of who they follow and activities on their accounts. When we are on a trip, I will allow my 14-year old to download and post updates and I have started to allow more access to Instagram with him at the house.

As far as your home goes. There is one device I recommend to anyone with kids still at home. It is called CIRCLE. You can read all about it HERE. It will cost you a one-time fee of $99 and it is amazing!

Last thing, Check out www.xxxchurch.com/parents. You can get a free book I wrote called Touchy Subjects and read more about things you might not know anything about. If you are a pastor and want to host a parents night at your church, we have a free video available for download HERE.

If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am doing a parents talk at Real Life Church in Santa Clarita at 2 pm on May 21st. If you are close, come on out.

That’s all I’ve got!

Don’t get overwhelmed, it’s all doable, you just have to be willing to jump in.

LEARN MORE ABOUT CIRCLE
Craig Gross
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How we’re handling The Shack and Beauty & The Beast as a family.

Hi friends – this post is to share where we’re coming from on two movies Christians are talking about right now. We might land in different places on one or both of the topics and it’s okay to do that. It’s the beauty of respect within community.

I read the Shack when it first came out but have not seen the movie. I’ve watched a few interviews with the author to better understand where he’s coming from. The story is fiction. My main concern with this book/movie is that some people are watching it and drawing conclusions about God based on this author’s representation. And his representation is heretical. On numerous accounts. One overriding theme is Universalism. Basically that all roads lead to God and that Jesus is walking with all people in their different journeys to God. The author asserts there is no need for faith or reconciliation with God because all people will make it to heaven. The real heresy of the book/movie is modalism in the portrayal of God.

My husband told me in talking about these things, “I’ve always seen the problem with the Shack being a (probably) good guy trying to help God out by taking it upon himself to explain God better to people. The problem is you have to be very careful to line your explanations up with Scripture.”

This is an author who claims to be a Christian (not saying he isn’t) writing a fiction story but supposedly with truths based on scripture and to help people have a better understanding of God. I think as Christians we have to be extremely careful in the things we portray as truth – even in fiction stories. Some argue that people aren’t walking away with a new understanding of God as a result of this movie. I disagree. I think it is shaping people’s thoughts about God.

There’s a huge danger in forming our own thoughts about who God is. We don’t get to do that as God’s creation. He is our Creator and He tells us who he is all through the Bible. It’s right in front of us. I believe we experience our Creator God in different ways and explaining that to others might be difficult at times. But God will never contradict his nature and who he says he is in scripture. Never. And I believe the Shack, although fiction, is taking dangerous steps in helping people form an idea of God that isn’t true. This is what modern day idolatry looks like.

With this said I personally am not opposed to seeing the movie. In fact I thought about taking our teenage son who is becoming more grounded in his Christian worldview to see the movie and discuss afterwards the areas of heresy. It would be good practice in discerning truth from heresy. However I’m not sure the time is right. I think there’s a time to purposefully examine heresy with the intent of being able to recognize and discern truth….and for the purpose of knowing what our world is hearing and swallowing. But it can be a slippery slope (a good ole’ churchy term) to go down that path. It should come at a time when there are solid biblical principles already established and rooted in ones soul and a deep love for Christ. I thank God that our son and daughter are being exposed to excellent Biblical training at home, at school,  in church and youth group. I’m seeing the fruit of this in their life right now. They have a desire to know, love and follow Jesus but they are both still tender in the faith. As for me and Randy – we don’t have a desire to watch the movie. We’re both afraid we might throw up in our popcorn bucket. Sorry for that visual.

So why are we not going to see the Shack but we are going to see Beauty and the Beast – The Disney movie with the first gay character in it? Here’s why. Disney has never claimed to be a Christian company producing Christian movies with Christian themes. They represent the world and the world is not concerned with portraying Biblical truths. We are exposed to worldly, non-biblical truths every single day unless we live under a rock. We put money towards secular establishments every single day. To see a movie with a gay character in it is not condoning or supporting homosexuality. And I don’t think it’s dangerous because having a continual conversation with our kids about a godly lifestyle and a Christian worldview should be happening all the time.

So how are we handling this with our kids? We’re talking about it. Talking about the fact that we’re disappointed that Disney is choosing a gay character in Beauty and the Beast. But also that we can’t expect the world to act like Christians. We have ongoing discussions about homosexuality openly. We believe  scripture teaches clearly against a lifestyle of homosexuality but that God still loves that person and so should we.

So we’ll be heading to Beauty and The Beast this weekend but we won’t be looking down on anyone who is choosing to see The Shack instead. Or staying at home under a rock.

 

 

 

The back story of my Family Dollar car incident

So we got ourselves a brand spankin’ new Family Dollar in town. And the kids and I went the first day they opened and were so excited to drop in. BUT we couldn’t find a parking space so we had to circle around and leave.

Well there was a car in front of us and she was waiting to pull out. So we just waited behind her. With all the time we had I decided to roll down my window, hang my head out and proceed the tell the 5 managers that were all circled up slightly behind our van talking that I was so excited they were opened but they could use more parking.

I was pretty sure they hadn’t thought about this and I was just trying to help out. As if they could just address the issue of adding more parking places so easily. Not sure what I was thinking. So I’m in the middle of sharing my feelings – yes, with perfect strangers – when all of a sudden I hear every single one of them start yelling very loud. They’re shouting and pointing, “Hey, NO, STOP!! STOP!”

I immediately felt bad and it shut me up on the parking advice for sure. Apparently I had crossed a line and offended them by my words.

And then we felt it.

And heard it.

*Crash. Bang. Crunch.

The car in front of us – that I never saw coming because my head was literally hanging out the window and looking back – was unknowingly in reverse and gunned it and rammed into our van.

And then took off and left.

Thankfully all 5 of the people saw everything. In detail. As in wrote down the description of the car and tag number. So when I called the police they got all the important information – down to the side of the car the donut was on.

I really didn’t know what to do at that point.

Do I apologize for talking about the lack of parking?

Or do I thank them for getting all the information to hopefully catch the chic that hit us?

So what did I do?

Well, I just verbally threw up and rehashed the entire story that THEY had just lived through right back to them like a pyscho-nut-job.

They just stared at me.

And this is how we roll in this family.

This is why we’re so messed up.

This. Right here.

 

 

Christmas Happenings 2016

Christmas in pictures and a few words…..

Chess, movies, chilling, special dinner at home, opening stockings were all part of Christmas Eve at home in NC.

Christmas morning we read the account of Jesus’s birth and tried real hard to remember that it’s not about the presents and gifts but about our King Jesus being born into this world to rescue us from ourselves. And we did dig into some presents too.

I opened a cozy blanket from my sweet girl and a pillow from my man-child. The pillow has background meaning because this conversation always goes down at night at his bunkbeds.

Me:  Love you Mitchell.

Mitchell:  Love you more.

Mom: Not possible.

Mitchell: Well it’s happening.

Then we went to church to celebrate with our church family. I loved our service this year. It was actually really neat being ON Christmas this year. And I love how Randy addressed in his message the fact that it was kind of inconvenient because let’s be honest we’ve probably all thought it but not said it out loud. Christmas on Sunday morning means some people just don’t come to church at all because of Christmas traditions but other people move things around and it’s kind of inconvenient. But what a beautiful reminder to use that  tension of inconvenience to remember that God interrupted our world with the devastatingly beautiful plan of sending his son Jesus to save us from our sin. This is Christmas.

And then we drove to GA to celebrate with our families. The first few days at my Mom’s house with my side of the family and then we’ll go to Randy’s parents for the other half of our time with his family.

And so Mitchell got a big ole airsoft gun and Sophie got a wardrobe organizer for her American Girl Doll accessories and some American Girl doll pajama’s.

And then a surprise gift showed up for Sophie from a woman she’s never met before but that Randy and I know very well from our GA church days. And this is what she gave her:

A reborn baby doll. Sophie named her Hope Bella. And she was shocked and thrilled to receive such a nice gift. She looks so real – incredible. I won’t even go into how Randy and Mitchell make fun of the doll because it’s just so wrong on all accounts. But Sophie can hold her own and it doesn’t bother her one bit. And actually I warned the boys before hand because…..well, because I just know them….and told them NOT to make fun of the doll in any way shape or form. Did it do any good? No, it didn’t. But oh well. She’s a girl who knows what she’s likes and it hasn’t bothered her.

For 30 plus years we headed downtown Atlanta to eat dinner at the Varsity and sit on Santa’s lap and ride the Pink Pig on top of the old Macy’s. But we lost that tradition over the years due to different things – like Macy’s closing and the Pink Pig moving to a different location, etc. So now we just go to the Varsity and it’s still a lot of fun.

This year we saw an artist selling his sketches of downtown Atlanta and other key places around the South and we bought some to frame up and put in our den. So fun. The Fox theatre picture, The Varsity and Helen, GA since many of our years were spent in the North GA mountains.

And we wore this little girl slap out!

Today we go dress shopping with Sophie’s Grandmother and then we head over to Randy’s parents for family celebrations there. We are looking forward to it!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year friends!

 

3 Back2School Tools that Make a HUGE Difference

So school is here and you’re either crying, shouting Hallelujah or just chill about the whole deal. I’m somewhere between crying and chilling. During the preschool days I was getting all pentecostal and shouting Whoop-dee-doo all the way to school but now as the kids are getting older I view it differently. I see that the days are going by fast and long for more time with them.

Either way I have learned there are 3 things that help our back to school transition and school year.

A week in advance start bed time and morning routines that resemble your school schedule. Notice I didn’t say exact same unless you just really want to get them up at 5:30am if you don’t have to. Instead of later nights get them in bed just an hour earlier to be preparing for that first week of school. Transitions are HARD in our household. It takes a few weeks to fully get in a groove. Summer and Christmas break are awesome but the transition can be extremely hard. Talking about the upcoming routine and expectations is healthy.

Find a verse in scripture to pray over your kids for the school year. Write it on a notecard with his/her name on it and pray that powerful word of God over your children. Not sure where to start? Pray about it. And maybe check these verses out: Psalm 119:14; Is. 40:29Proverbs 3:5-6; Romans 5:4; Col. 1:11 they are great ones to be holding as a banner over your kids as they walk out that door into a crazy world.

Join a Mom’s In Prayer Group and spend one hour a week praying for your children with other Moms. All kinds of groups are out there and they meet at different times and places. My schedule works around my MIP group because it’s one of the best things I can do for my kids and their school. For some reason I can’t link to the Mom’s in Prayer page but you can google it for more information. You can enter your zip code on their site and find a group that already meets in your area. Feel free to message me for more information if you’d like.

What about you? What helps make for a great school year in your home? 

 

Front Porch Tales

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Summer nights are the best. They land us on the front porch eating dessert and telling stories. Just the other night we somehow found ourselves in the middle of a conversation that began with, “Things to never tell the future boyfriend/girlfriend when you bring them over.”

We covered all kinds of hilarity – like the time one of them escaped from their bath and just randomly started hula hooping buck-nekked in the living room.  Yeah, we decided that would be a story NOT to tell when the new friend comes over to meet the family. Of course there were a lot more stories we exchanged. And it was fun. We laughed and cried and we’re enjoying this story telling time on the front porch.

Tonight’s question was, “What was the scariest day of your life?” 

I was shocked by Sophie’s answer and I felt so.bad. It was the April Fool’s day when we woke the kids up at 3am and told them a tornado was coming and we had to hide in the basement. You don’t even have to slap me to tell me that was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. This was her scariest day. Oh my word my heart hurts so bad. And just for the record we were only down there like 2 minutes before we told them it was April Fool’s Day.

And I was surprised by Randy’s answer to this question as well. It was a day I came close to seeing Jesus face to face before an emergency surgery – I didn’t realize how serious this was until later – but it was his scariest day of his life. I had no clue.

I shared a story that my kids didn’t know – a scary time when a man tried to lure me and a friend by offering candy to us in a burlap bag from inside his truck. CREEPY!!!! A great short conversation followed about safety and what to do. What I did – rode my white Huffy home so fast the chain almost flew off. And prayed the entire way never looking back.

So it’s good these times of sitting on the porch and sharing stories. Story is good. If truth be known it’s what our ancestors did more of on their front porches back in the day.

Whether it’s the back porch, stoop, grassy backyard or your dinner table – tell more stories. They bring a family together.

A few prompters to get you going……

Talk about a time you tried something new. What was it? What happened?

Talk about a person you admire, famous or otherwise, who has fought or fights for the freedom of others.

Talk about a time something changed for you, something beyond your control. Have your feelings about this event evolved over time?

Tell about the best day of your life.

Ministry hurts

I’m heavy hearted with the conversations I’ve had with ministry families whose families are falling apart. Families who on the outside seem like everything is wonderful and fine. But on the inside they are crumbling.

Ministry can suck the life out of an individual and it can wipe out a family all while satan sits back with arms crossed shaking his head in accomplished approval. I know he’s at the root of it. Tearing families apart who are striving to follow Jesus while leading others.

It’s a fierce battle. One that must be intentionally fought daily. With the Word. With prayer. With forgiveness. With grace.

There are many approaches to ministry and we must be careful in casting judgement on others when they do things differently. But this we can know – God never calls a man or woman with a family to put a church or ministry over his family. God designed the family and calls a man to lead his home. Even pastors. Especially pastors. If a ministry leader is gone the majority of the week – missing dinners at home, missing kids games, important events and clueless about his/her children’s lives and clueless to his wife’s needs they are sadly missing the mark. Sometimes we equate God with ministry. “God is first” and so ministry is the same thing as God so I’m justified in putting my family after the ministry because God called me to the ministry. And this is where families start to crumble. Men and women who think the ministry depends on them solely. It’s a scary slippery slope and before they know it they have lost their family to the ministry.

So how can we as ministry families protect against this?

A great book is Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins when Family and Work Collide? by Andy Stanley. Not just for the pastor or ministry leader but anyone struggling with balancing work and family. And don’t we all? My pastor husband read this ten years ago and it had a foundational influence on him. It laid the groundwork for how he approaches ministry and family. Randy fights hard – I think it will always be an intentional struggle – to keep his family a priority. He has no idea how much we, as his family, appreciate it. I try to communicate to him how much but I don’t think he’ll ever truly understand just how much it means to me that he fights for his family time. When I say “fight” I mean he leaves work undone at the office so he can eat dinner with his family. I mean he misses an occasional meeting because he’s on a family trip. He actually takes his day off. And so on. And the fact that we have a very supportive church for these things is huge. Of course he said it up front before we ever came to our church this was his philosophy of ministry and family so they knew what they were getting when they got Randy as a pastor. He was and is a pastor who is a family man. And that’s a gift to his family and his church.

Including kids in ministry but not forcing them. And not holding labels over their head.

Randy includes our kids in ministry activities but doesn’t force them. Hospital visits, praying for people, etc. are optional. Never a “you’re a pastor’s kid so you need to…….” Church people will put that kind of pressure on the kids. Ministry parents don’t need to. And surprisingly they are open and willing to come along and even pray over people at times. And that warms my heart. Of course there are times when these things are not optional and there are times when they’d rather stay home and watch TV. Not saying we’re always primed and ready for ministry. Ha! Nope, not what I’m saying here. But we are careful not to hold “you’re a preacher’s kid so you……” over their heads. They don’t need that.

Letting your kids see how awesome ministry is.

Not only involving our kids in ministry but pointing out the beautiful things in ministry is helpful in keeping a ministry family loving and serving God in their context. If they hear us saying, “Did you see how God worked here……and look how God provided here……and how cool that your Youth Pastor took time to take you here……..” It’s not manipulation. It’s helping our kids see the hand of God at work in their church. Our kids need us to do that sometimes for them. And soon enough we can teach them how to look for and observe the hand of God at work in the ministry they’re involved in.

Pray. Pray. And pray some more. 

Ministry family, know this one thing: satan wants your family to fail. He wants any Christian family to fall apart but he really wants the pastor’s family to crumble because of the overall fall out. A ministry family is no more important than a Christian family. I pray I’m not coming across that way in this post. But there’s a target on your family, dear ministry family. Pray every day. Don’t live in fear. But pray every single day for God’s glory to be revealed through your family.

 

 

 

 

 

Our first pastoral retreat

We’ve never been on a Pastoral retreat weekend before and so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But it was really a neat time of praying, planning, vision casting, laughing and sharing with the church pastoral staff and a couple training in ministry.

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A family in our church opened up their lake home for us to stay for the weekend with our families. The men went up early on Friday and the wives and kids came up Friday night and we stayed through Sunday afternoon.

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The kids had a blast on Saturday afternoon because it warmed up enough for them to play outside. A huge help was having a young married couple in our church watch the kids while we had our sessions on Saturday. There were six kids in all ranging from ages 2 – 14 so it was loud at times but it worked and we wanted the families to be together.

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At meal breaks we all pitched in and grabbed our food. I have to brag on my man because he did the food planning and buying for this retreat. And he did so good. Good with the amount of food, choices, etc.

We are blessed to be among a pastoral staff who genuinely love God with all their hearts. They love their families and they love the work of the church and what God has called them to.

Ministry is a heavy weight. It’s heavy because you are loving and leading people through incredibly joyous times and also through incredibly painful times. It’s heavy because there are huge decisions to be made that can shape and direct the course of the church. Much prayer and seeking God goes into it and honestly that can be quite draining at times. There are unique burdens and responsibilites that come with it but there are amazingly rich joys and rewards. It is an honor and gift to be called into ministry. We don’t take it lightly. This weekend we were able to seek God on matters, talk with each other and pray together about the things we love most.  And we wait in expectation to see what all God has in store for our church community the next 12-18 months. We even planned out 10 years loosely knowing God has the complete right and control to trump every single thing on the “planned agenda”. It is his work not ours.

Friends, please pray for your pastor’s and their families. I can’t tell you how much it thrills my heart when someone comes up to me and tells me, “I am praying for your family. I know marriage is hard and I’m praying for your marriage and your family.” Ladies, don’t ever take it offensively when someone says they’re praying for your marriage or think in your head, “OMGosh why does she think my marriage is in need of prayer?!! I need to give off a better impression of a stronger marriage.”  No, not at all. The truth is we all stand in desperate need of prayer for our marriages, in our parenting, in our family needs. And your pastor’s home is no different. Cover them in prayer as you cover your own family in prayer.

 

 

 

 

When the preacher’s family gets bored at dinner – this is what happens

So it started out as just a normal dinner but somehow this is where we landed between dinner and Upwards Basketball Practice.

Mind you this balloon was a Star Wars birthday balloon for Randy the second week of December. This is what was leftover.

And now for Mitchell……

And the Daddy-O

And the Helium Mom