The Importance of Play

My North Carolina grandchildren popped in for a few days in September. Before they arrived we had had an abundance of rain and the pool water was spilling over the edge. They fixed that for us in a matter of moments without us having to do a thing. I love to watch them and my local grandkids (their cousins) playing together. No one is safe from getting wet when they’re around.

Getting rained on is a nice break from the pool.

One of their favorite pool games is categories. One person is “it” and everyone else waits on the opposite side of the pool for a category to be called. Each person secretly chooses something from that category and when that name is called, they try to swim to touch the opposite side without being detected and tagged. Categories range from colors to Disney princesses to Marvel Superheroes.

As we watched, my daughter Dena commented that there should be an adult form of the game. Perhaps the person who is it would yell out, types of wine or places you’d like to travel or part of your body that is currently hurting. I’d love to have my neighbors hear the words, merlot or cabernet sauvignon being shouted from my backyard. It might be even more fun to have them hear sciatica or lower back.

We are a big game playing family, but you don’t have to like games to enjoy some play time. Doing a jigsaw puzzle might be more your cup of tea. Or maybe a tea tasting is your cup of tea. Perhaps you’d enjoy viewing sports together if you’d rather watch something than physically play. You could try Bob’s and my favorite game. That’s the one where I change something insignificant in the house and see if he can figure out what I did. You can imagine how much he loves that!

Board games and puzzles have had quite the resurgence during COVID. They provide great times of interaction and don’t involve a screen. Of course, video games can be fun, too. Bob and I have enjoyed video games for as long as I can remember. I was first introduced to PacMan back around 1981. Our good friend and pastor innocently introduced us to it and our lives have never been the same. (Thankfully, this is not the only influence he has had and still has on us. Thanks, Danny!)

Prior to that, there was Pong or Space Invaders. Child’s play! PacMan had a catchy tune and I immediately was hooked. One day soon after Danny introduced this to us, I ventured to the mall with our two kids – a toddler and a six-month oldish baby. There was a game room there. How had I never noticed that! I blew through a bunch of quarters with a baby on my hip and a toddler mesmerized by the sights and sounds. It was amazing.

Soon we discovered that we could have a gaming console in our very own home. Then, if I wanted, I could practice while the kids were taking a nap! I could beat Bob! Well, I wasn’t that obsessed. Close though. When Nintendo introduced Tetris, we were hooked. Then came Dr. Mario, which was a lot like Tetris only with cute Mario characters. When we would put our children to bed at night, Bob and I would play. I think even now when they hear the music they drift off to sleep. 

We took a decade or so off when our Nintendo died. We would blow on the cartridge or smack the top of the console, but alas, game over. Then one day our son said he was taking his Wii to the game store to trade for an xBox. He told us Wii had Dr. Mario. Our hearts leapt for joy and we traded him right then and there for car insurance money. Score.

Fast forward to now – 2020. Bob and I have that same Wii and we regularly play Dr. Mario. I tell myself it is good for my hand-eye coordination. Don’t spoil that for me!

 

Survivor Finale – Spoiler Alert!!!

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Photo Source: tvseriesfinale.com

Sacred TV time. That statement is wrong on so many levels, except that is how I “view” my Survivor television watching. Survivor is my absolute favorite TV show. My kids know this. Some of them watch the show, too; so last Wednesday night when Bob and I sat down to watch the finale an hour and fifteen minutes after the scheduled time, I texted my kids to let them know we were just then starting. I couldn’t risk a kink in my plan to find out who the sole survivor would be from watching the show, not from my kids lack of knowledge that we were watching delayed. (more…)

This is What We’ve Been Training For

We just spent two days in Zion National Park in beautiful Utah. This is our first stop in the region. We are doing the Big Five National Parks – that is Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capital Reef, and Canyonlands. So far, I think Zion is going to be tough to beat. Its Navajo sandstone cliffs with their brilliant vermillion color contrasted against the green Aspen trees and the brilliant blue sky, well, it takes your breath away. 

The other thing that takes your breath away is the hiking. I have been training for literally days for this trip. I would have started earlier but #1 I hurt my foot in the end of January, and #2 I hate training. After dropping a plastic bin on the top of my foot back in January, it took a while before I could wear a shoe comfortably. This was the perfect excuse for sitting around. I should have thought of that years ago. But as this trip started sneaking up on us, I knew I needed to strap on a pair (of shoes) and get out there and walk. So, Bob and I did a 5K. Actually, I think we threw an extra K in just getting to and from the finish line. I was able to complete the walk with no pain so I was encouraged.

If you have ever been to Orlando you will remember that hills are pretty hard to find. I think that’s because they moved them all to Utah. They were waiting for us, and they were not smooth. They believe in rocks out here. I guess that’s why they call it the Rocky Mountain Region

My Latest Obsession

I think I’m getting closer to truly joining the twenty-first century – not too bad considering we’re only about 15 years into it.  Why, as recently as Saturday while I was shopping in Home Goods a needy shopper asked me about bed skirts and did I think they could be found there.  Or, she wondered, perhaps she should try Target or JC Penney.  My reply came so quickly and spontaneously that it took me by surprise – Amazon.

IMG_0140Amazon is now my go-to place for all my shopping obsessions, which are usually weird, come inexplicably and consume too much of my much-needed brain power.  Obviously I will continue to frequent brick and mortar establishments, but you can’t beat the convenience of sitting at your computer, drinking a cup of coffee, and ordering a case of lip balm.

It was lip balm that taught me the value of this gas-saving, frustration avoiding method of shopping, which all of my kids swear by.  I had purchased Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Ultra Moisturizing Lip Balm many times at Target.  I love the way it dispenses soothing moisture as it glides across dry lips and love the oval shape of the tube.  Plus, it’s inexpensive (if you don’t count the gasoline cost involved in covering the tri-county area in search of it).

Every time I’d go in a Target, CVS, Walgreens, or even out of desperation Walmart, I would look for it to no avail.  So I broke down and went on Amazon and there it was!  Nothing compares to the joy of looking in my linen closet and seeing a case all lined up.  Even thinking about it makes me utter a happy little sigh.

The last time I had a weird obsession that involved ordering online, I think Amazon was mainly a place to get books.  I had to go straight to the source to get my Heinz India Relish, which by the way, I can now find on Amazon.  Now that we are empty-nesters, I’m not sure it’s a good idea for me to buy this by the case.  Unless someone out there wants to go in on it with me.  Any takers?

 

Winter Can Be Sneaky (Europe Part 7)

We were enjoying our car ride back to our resort in Pongau, near Salzburg, after a lovely day touring the castles of King Ludwig II in Bavaria.  By the time we got in our car, we noticed the weather had cooled and the wind had picked up.  Off in the distance we could see cloud cover begin to cloak the tops of the Alps.  I figured it might be snowing up there.

The scenery was unbelievable.  My mouth pretty much hung open the entire trip.  We were happy.  Bob, my husband, was enjoying driving along the mountain roads.  (Side note – If you ever go on a trip to Europe and plan on renting a car, consider asking Bob to come along and chauffeur.  He is amazing.)

I was getting cold.  I touched the glass on the window and knew the temperature had dropped.  The indicator on the dashboard read an external temperature of 11 degrees.  (Double the Celsius temperate and add 30 to give you the fahrenheit.  That meant it was 52 outside.)  Not bad, but cooler than earlier.  I watched as the temperature dropped to 9.  Then 8.  Quickly it was 2 degrees.

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Soon we encountered a few snow flurries.  How exciting!  My first Austrian snow.  It looked a lot like the snow we have in the U.S. except the flakes were enormous.  They looked like they could have been cut out of paper.  Now the temperature was zero (double that and add 30 – you get 30).

We were winding through the Alps.  It was getting dark.  The flurries had turned into a snow storm.  This Florida girl was not liking it.

We were about 45 minutes from our resort when the snow started accumulating on the windshield and the road.  The temperature held at zero.  The speed limit was around 80 kph, not that we were going that fast.  At one point a car in front of us stopped and Bob had to swerve around him to avoid a collision.  I think the other driver must have skidded and panicked.  We pressed on.

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We were heading down the mountain so we figured we would be driving out of the snow, but no.  It was picking up and now it was totally dark.  We were so thankful to pull into the parking garage at our resort and sleep safe and sound in a warm bed.

The view from our balcony April 22 in St. Johann at Pongau, Austria.

The view from our balcony April 22 in St. Johann at Pongau, Austria.

The next morning was beautiful and the weather had warmed up.  We could see the beautiful new dusting of snow on the roofs and trees.  The server at the cafe told us winter had decided to come back but it was gone again.  What a difference a day makes.

 

Thank you, God, for Red Lights

I was heading to my son’s house to stay with my grandsons for a few days.  It had been a busy morning and I left my home an hour later than I had planned.  I needed to be there by 2:30 to receive the boys from the school bus, and I had to stop at Costco for gas.  It was 2:05 when I finished filling up.  There was plenty of time, except I needed four things from inside the store – four things that were just steps away.  If I could be in and out in 10 minutes, I would just make it in time to get the boys.  Of course, getting in and out of Costco in ten minutes would be a major miracle.  I was up for a miracle.

I was back in the car at 2:18; that was thirteen minutes, which was a major accomplishment for me but only a minor miracle.  As I drove down SR436 I prayed that I would get to their home before they would.  I knew it was tight.  I felt like God was saying, “Trust me.  Be at peace.”

That meant that I didn’t need to give in to anxiety and wouldn’t need to go 80 mph when I got on I-4.  I was at peace.  (The thought of a delay due to getting pulled over by the police occasionally crept into my mind.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.)

file4281249501933 (1)I met one green light after another.  I thanked God for the green lights.  I knew he was using them to get me there on time.  Then I came to a red light.  I thought about the boys.  God gave me peace.  He didn’t say I would get every light green.  He only told me to trust him.  That meant that even if they had to wait for me, he was caring for them.  So, I thanked God for the red light.  After all, he was in charge of that, too.

I pulled into their neighborhood and had to go through the security gate, where three trucks were lined in front of me.  I sat there waiting as a school bus rolled by me.  One of the trucks went through and another school bus passed.

Finally I got through the gate, it felt like it took forever, but it was only about four minutes.  I turned onto their street and there were the boys – one house away from their home.  I would have beaten them home if they hadn’t broken into a run when they saw me.  I am amazed at how God cares for his children.  He gave me just the right amount of green and red lights to get me there in a timely manner, but most of all he gave me peace that I could trust him with every detail.  I just love that.