Summer Scavenger Hunt

I spent this hot and muggy day with three of my grandchildren. I had a creative plan. I brought along paints and brushes and colored markers and a pile of river rocks. Our intention was to join the latest artistic craze by painting the rocks, and hiding them in the Joplin and Carthage areas. 

It was a fun idea. However, the high temps and humidity made being outdoors for any length of time unpleasant. If I have learned one thing these past three and a half years, it is to let go of expectations and outcomes and go with the flow. If a planned activity doesn’t work out, something else always comes along. 

That was the case today. 

Summer Scavenger Hunt
Inspiration came unexpectedly as the kids and I watched a humorous YouTube program. Three young adult men went on a city wide scavenger hunt. They gave themselves three hours to locate nine items they selected. Included in the mix was a selfie with a baby, an expensive sports car and a specific brand of shoes. It was a fun, well done show. And suddenly, a scavenger hunt seemed liked the ideal creative adventure for the day. 

Joey, Oliver and Aubrey each came up with six items to include on our scavenger hunt list. I wrote down their suggestions on strips of paper, folded them up and dropped them into a bowl. The kids took turns selecting three items each, giving us a list of nine treasures to look for. 

We drove to Joplin for lunch and visits to the library and the mall, our scavenger hunt list in hand. The rules were to locate each item, take a photo, and cross it off the list. We had an eclectic mix of easily found objects, such as a watch, very specific items, like a 1980s Ford Mustang, and more challenging quests like taking a selfie with someone we didn’t know. 

Here’s how we did:

1. Lemur – This animal proved to be impossible to locate in Joplin! We could have looked up a photo of one in a book at the library. Instead, we visited a pet store and took a pic of a white ferret. We named him Lemur. 

Summer Scavenger Hunt
2. 1980s Ford Mustang – We saw so many Mustangs as we drove to Joplin, all newer models. And then, at the intersection of 7th Street and Range Line, we spotted the older red Mustang. Perfect!

Summer Scavenger Hunt
3. Hover board – This fun looking mode of transportation was found at a remote control shop at the mall. $200 will get you one!

Summer Scavenger Hunt
4. Selfie with a Random Person – Oliver came up with this comfort zone busting item. We had an awesome waitress when we ate lunch at Chili’s. Heidi was attentive and friendly and the kids adored her. She was happy to snap a selfie with each child. The kids encouraged me to leave her a big tip, something I was happy to do. 

Summer Scavenger Hunt
5. A person wearing flip flops – Oliver spotted this person at lunch. He took a discreet photo of her foot, shooting over Papa’s hairy arm and around the straw in his water. Good job Ollie!

Summer Scavenger Hunt
6. A watch – The kids were so attentive and aware during our hunt. They saw this watch on the arm of the woman driving next to us. I kept pace with her truck so Joey could get a pic. Great shot Joey. 

Summer Scavenger Hunt

7. Pink hair on a person – I thought this one would be very difficult to find. Surprisingly, this gracious person showed up in my office…with pink hair. We stopped by the Keller Williams office so I could send out a contract and the kids were so excited to inform me that they had found a woman with pink hair. They asked permission to take her photo. 

Summer Scavenger Hunt

8. A bald person – This item on our list was much more challenging than I expected it to be. Aubrey added this one to the hunt and envisioned a man with a shaved head. We finally settled for partially bald. I laughed when I looked at the pic. It appears as if I was hiding behind a plant when I took the photo. I didn’t even notice the plant at the time. 

Summer Scavenger Hunt
9. Blue 4 door jeep – Aubrey was very specific about this item. And it was the first object spotted minutes after the hunt began. Good eye Aubrey! Unfortunately, we found this one so quickly that we didn’t have an iPhone camera ready. Thanks to teamwork and persistence, Joey saw another blue jeep in Joplin and caught it in a photo. 

Summer Scavenger Hunt
This was an incredibly fun way to spend the afternoon. The kids worked well together and stayed very present in the moment as they looked for items on the list. More than having fun though, the kids learned powerful lessons about how what we think about and dwell upon shows up in our lives. These were not all easy items to find. And yet, except for the lemur, they showed up rather quickly. 

One of the most amazing finds was struck from the original list. Joey had added a painted rock to the list, when we thought we might go by one of Joplin’s parks. After deciding it was too hot, he scratched that idea, exchanging the rock for a different object. 

Guess what Joey found inside the Joplin Public Library? Yes…a painted rock. What a great conversation starter that was. I failed to get a photo of the rock. However Joey still has it. We will re-hide it later with our rocks that we paint. 

Summer heat and summer fun and an adventure that we won’t forget. I look forward to more scavenger hunts and manifesting what we are searching for. 

Summer Scavenger Hunt

Mr Toad’s House

This afternoon I seized an opportunity to get outside and into the garden. Thunderstorms last night meant mild temps today and a ground that was easily worked after a good soaking. I had weeding to do and a few plants to tuck into containers. And, I had a fun project I wanted to do while I was playing in the garden. 

Mr Toads House

Even though pulling weeds is more work than play, I enjoyed cleaning up the borders and containers. Vigilance is necessary to stay ahead of weeds that pop up everywhere. These pesky plants are thriving as well, with the abundant rain that we’ve had followed by days of sunshine. There is satisfaction gained, at least, by completing that chore. 

More fun is planting flowers. I’ve had a remnant of plants, left over after planting containers. My goal this afternoon was to get them all into pots or into the ground. I moved several stumps, left over from the downed maple tree, into the front yard, placing them near the swing. I have deep appreciation for the garden gifts this old tree provided. Flowers were slipped into the hollowed out sections, after I filled those spaces with potting soil. 

Mr Toads House
Mr Toads House   Rilynn is sure this new arrangement is for her. 

Finally, it was playtime in the garden! I have an assortment of insects and small critters that make my garden their home. Not all of them are desirable. Japanese Beetles are a problem right now. However, I encourage bees, ladybugs, praying mantises and spiders to share my backyard paradise. They help to keep the “bad” bugs under control. 

Another helper that is welcome in my garden is the toad. I’ve seen several the last few seasons. I want to encourage them to linger. My grandsons, Joey and Oliver, are expert toad house builders. They build the houses and the toads find them. My creative play today was to create a couple of toad houses in my backyard garden. 

Mr Toads House
Mr Toads House
Remembering what my grandsons taught me about building a toad house, I dug out a shallow hole, and scattered a bit of mulch in the bottom. I have plenty of bricks and thin slabs of concrete that I can use. These materials were repurposed into the walls and roofs of two toad houses. 

As I was cleaning up after an afternoon of working in the garden, I noticed a bin of small river rocks. I felt inspiration’s tap. I had an idea and those rocks were perfect. 

Mr Toads House
Mr Toads House
Using colored markers, I created “vacancy” signs for my little toad houses. My realtor side was amused by those mini advertisements! And since I am confident toads will find the houses, I drew a frog and a toad on the other sides of the rocks, for when the houses are no longer vacant. 

I think my grandsons will be pleased with my toad houses! I had fun playing, and creating, and the project will encourage more visitors to come to the garden. I am looking foward to meeting my new little neighbors. 

Mr Toads House

Would You Rather…

My great-nephews Ethan and Kaleb taught me a new game this evening. During this family oriented weekend, in between Dayan’s graduation last night and his celebratory party tomorrow afternoon, I spent time with my mom, sisters and nephews. We capped our fun day together with a board game I had not heard of before. 

Would You Rather...
This interesting and fast paced board game, by Zobmondo!!, is created around the idea of asking the question, Would you rather…followed by two options. An example is Would you rather have two bats with you in the bedroom OR five pigeons in the kitchen?  The person taking a turn reads the question silently first, and then writes down which option he or she thinks the majority of the players will choose. 

The others players discuss the options and the majority decides. Correctly guessing the most poplular option allows the player to continue rolling the dice and moving around the board. 

Would You Rather...        Kaleb and I were partners. 

There are also Challenge Cards. If a player lands on a challenge space on the board, he can accept a challenge, such as singing and dancing for 30 seconds, or holding your tongue, literally, while two other players take their turns, or holding a pose. 

The winner of the game is the person who makes it to the highest level and successfully completes a final challenge. 

Would You Rather...
Would You Rather...
This was a fun, and in our case, rambunctious game. The boys really got into it. Kaleb is only five and although he is a very good reader, we partnered up and made a great team. We all snacked on fruit and hummus with non GMO chips as we played. 

Laughter and animated discussions were the norm for our evening as we figured out which crazy option we would rather do. The challenges weren’t always as easy as they appeared to be. Ethan quickly grew tired of holding his tongue, but nailed a 30 second dance routine accompanied by humming. 

Would You Rather...
I highly recommend Would You Rather… It was interesting to see who chose which options and why. And the game provided intriguing glimpses into our own psyches as we pondered impossible choices. Would you rather see upside down OR hear backwards? Hmmmm…

I appreciate the boys suggesting a game night, and Mom, Linda and Debbie joining in. I enjoy trying out new games and playing is such a fun way to learn. Would you rather play in solitude on your phone OR play a clever board game with family? 

You know which option we all chose!

Would You Rather...
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Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On

As children, we use playing as a way to learn. So we pretend to drive, practice parenting skills with baby dolls, stand before imaginary classrooms as the teacher. I have often used playing as a trial run for an upcoming event. When I worked in my uncle’s firework stand as a young teen, I first set up a mock store to role play waiting on customers and making change.

Tonight, I played. Exactly one month from today, my daughter Elissa, grandson Dayan and I will be aboard a plane, heading to Italy. I practiced packing for the 11 day trip.

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On
My daughter, grandson and I all agreed…we want to travel light. When I visited Scotland in 2014, I made a mistake. I took a huge suitcase for that 10 day trip. I immediately regretted it. The monstrous piece of luggage was cumbersome, difficult to navigate with through crowded airports and train stations, and impossible to lug up flights of stairs. I hurt my back dragging the thing behind me. I vowed to travel with a carry on next time.

It is the “next time”, as I prepare to take my grandson to his dream destination for his graduation gift.

But could I really get 11 days of clothing plus toiletries and a couple of extra items in a suitcase that measures 22x14x9? I decided to find out.

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On
First problem…my old carry on is 1/2″ too big! The airline we are flying on specifies carry ons cannot exceed 22″, including the wheels and handles. Mine is slightly too tall with the handle included. I’ll be purchasing a new carry on. This is why I play ahead of time! For tonight’s experiment, I used the suitcase I have to practice packing.

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On
All of these clothes….

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On
…need to fit in here. Everything I’ve read suggested rolling clothes, rather than folding. Let’s see if it wotks.

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On
I layered PJ top and bottoms together and rolled them up.

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On

I’m only taking one extra pair of shoes. Those went on the bottom, against the side. Heavier or bulkier clothes such as jackets, a cardigan and capris formed the bottom layer.

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On
I used underwear and socks to fill in the gaps on the bottom layer. They all found a place to tuck into.

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On
I worked on the tops next. Short sleeved shirts rolled up quite small. I rolled as tightly as I could, starting at the bottom of each shirt.

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On
All of my tops formed the second layer. There was plenty of room left for toiletries, a journal and a map. And I hadn’t even used the many pockets or the mesh section. I can easily stash a hair straightener, phone charger, and electrical adapters in my suitcase’s pockets.

In my carry on I was able to pack one pair of shoes, one pair of PJs, a pair of capris, a lightweight jacket, a long cardigan sweater, 11 tops, and 11 days worth of underwear and socks. Of course, I’ll be wearing clothes too…jeans, a top, walking shoes and perhaps a long sleeved jacket in case the plane is chilly.

I am thrilled with my play time! I discovered I need to purchase a slightly smaller carry on. And that it is possible to pack for an extended trip in a carry on.

One month, and what I pretended doing tonight will be reality. Four months and one week from today, I’ll do this again as I travel to Ireland, Scotland and England with my mom, sisters and niece.

Can you tell I am scratching an itch, having been bitten by the travel bug? I am so excited to see new places!

This is the carry on I will be ordering!

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Fidget Spinners

I had never heard of this latest craze among kids, teens and even adults, until this morning. I spent the day with grandkids Joey, Oliver and Aubrey, all out of school for Good Friday. As we chatted about what was new in their lives, Joey mentioned this small palm sized gadget that kids at his middle school are toting around. Aubrey and Oliver chimed in, adding that they also knew about the spinners.

I was curious.

Fidget Spinners
Looking up spinners on Google, I found lots of pics. I confess I didn’t immediately see the appeal. However, I saw the earnest hopeful looks on the faces of my grandchildren. Joey knew of a store in Carthage, Repurpose Boutique, selling these hot items.

Off we went to investigate.

My first clue about the popularity of this new toy should have been that the parking lot for the boutique was full. We had to park in the street.

The second clue was that as soon as we walked into the shop and Joey began his answer to the query, “May we help you?”, the lady behind the checkout counter immediately knew what the kids were looking for. She directed us to a bin of Fidget Spinners. Ah, I thought, so that’s what they are called!

And my final clue was that Repurpose Boutique can’t keep these $15.00 gadgets in stock! As my three excited grandkids picked out fidget spinners, more and more people were coming into the shop, asking for them. They sold out while we were there, after receiving 150 spinners three days ago.

Fidget Spinners
As the kids played with the spinners at home, I did my research. In 2012, a Kickstarter campaign raised more than 6 million for a gadget called a Fidget Cube. The small stress relieving toys were covered on all sides with rollers, toggles and switches, making them ideal for fidgeting.

After the success of the cube (another item I never heard about) the company created a companion product, the Fidget Spinner. Made of metal or plastic, the weighted spinners rotate smoothly, and for a surprisingly long time.

When children or adults fidget with a fidget toy, it soothes them while creating a mind-body connection that frees the brain to focus better. Psychologist Dr Harris Stratyner uses fidget toys such as the spinner with patients suffering from ADHD and sensory issues. He says that in addition to helping people focus, fidget toys help to generate creative ideas by centering the body.

Fidget Spinners
Fidget Spinners
Joey, Oliver and Aubrey enjoyed the Fidget Spinners. They carried them around all afternoon. I gave one of the spinners a try. I liked the satisfying heft of the metal fidget toys, making them spin smoothly with a musical whirring sound. I was reminded of spinner rings, from a few years ago, with a central section that spun freely around the finger. And worry stones, smooth glassy feeling rocks that one could rub repetitively with the thumb to reduce anxiety.

What I decided was that fidget toys like the spinners allow trapped or built up energy to move, releasing tension, stress or anxiety. It gives the body something to do, so the mind can be free to focus, think or create. Yo-yos and the coiled up Slinky toys are older versions of fidget toys.

I read about a man who plays with a fidget spinner while watching TV, so that he doesn’t bite his nails. I can see that some children might   benefit from playing with a spinner while reading or doing homework. We will see how long this latest trend last and whether it endures as the slinky has.

The grandkids found Fidget Spinners to be mesmerizing fun. I think I want one now!

Fidget Spinners
Get your Fidget Spinner at Repurpose Boutique, located at 500 Peachtree Drive, Carthage, MO or by clicking the link below:

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Surrender 21: Playing in the Moment

Nothing keeps me in the moment and surrendered to the flow of life like being with my grandchildren. I enjoyed an afternoon with Dayan yesterday. Today, I had the pleasure of spending time with Joey and Oliver. 

It was much too cold to be outdoors this wintry afternoon. No problem…we moved the fun inside. After snacks and a bit of down time watching a cartoon, the boys decided to play an in-the-house version of a basketball game, PIG. 

  
I surprised the boys by telling them I knew this game and used to play it too. Using a clothes hamper as the hoop, and a rainbow colored ball, we began. 

 

One person picks a spot to stand and makes a shot. If the ball goes through the hoop, or in this case, into the hamper, the other players must attempt the same shot from the same place. If someone misses, he or she takes the letter P. And the next player sets up the next shot. A second miss earns an I…and the third a G…and then you are out. 

 
We had fun and we were pretty evenly matched! I was glad to discover that I can still sink a shot. 

  
The boys moved to a checkers tournament. I confess I lost in the first round. That was okay. I got to sit and watch them play and figure out moves. Again, these two were very evenly matched in skills. Their game ended in a draw, and then became a fun, spirited wrestling match on the floor! Carl the dog literally piled on here. 

  
With their mom on her way home from work, the boys picked up toys and while Ollie finished up, Joey and I began a shared drawing. This was truly a surrendered moment that flowed into a new game. I started by quickly sketching a dragon. Joey added a dog. And the story began. I drew the tree and added to the story, and Joey sketched in baby dragons hatching from eggs. Every picture added to the drawing and the story. 

What a creative way to share an adventure. When my oldest grandson was a small boy, we began telling back and forth stories, adding a couple of sentences at a time. We called these The Adventures of Dayan and Yaya. This method of shared drawing created a fresh way of story-telling, The Adventures of Joey and Yaya. I look forward to doing more of these with Joey and also Oliver, Aubrey and Jonathan. 

  

I so appreciate the perspectives of children. How refreshing, as I reconnect with my inner child, my creative artist, to spend time with kids as they freely express their creativity. They inhabit the moment, and the next and the next, as easily as playing. 

Teal Swan says “What sets youth apart from adults, is their ability to recognize and surrender themselves to happiness.” I surrender as well!