abcabcabc Picnics, Playdates, Poems, and other “Good SPRING Things” — Mommy Manders

Picnics, Playdates, Poems, and other “Good SPRING Things”

Exhausted from a busy spring?

Exhausted from a busy spring? Got an elbow in your face?
Take a load off and think on your “good things”…

(written April 27th, before the business began…) It’s a lovely overcast, cool Sunday morning, and I’m enjoying some coffee and bird songs on the back patio, surrounded by the beautiful fresh green of spring before the Texas summer heat sets in. The kids will be home soon after spending the night at the grandparents, and the day promises to get more hectic with Ellie’s first ballet recital (and the dress rehearsal) and MJ’s first children’s musical at church, but for now I’ll breathe in some SLOW moments of relaxation. There have been other joyful, love-filled, fun-filled SLOW moments, moments of connection, in the midst of all the madness of late, and I’m finally slowing down to take stock of them…Here are some of the “good things” from our Manders family SPRING:

  • Monday, April 21st, was Doctor Daddy Dustin’s birthday. At the last minute, I gathered a few friends and family members (and some food from his favorite Red Hot and Blues) for a last minute surprise party! The kids and their friends were waiting out in the driveway with signs and water balloons when he pulled in at 6:30, and we succeeded in making him feel special and appreciated with barbecue, cobbler, and Bluebell homemade vanilla ice-cream.IMAG2649


  • Apparently, Ellie wants to play soccer. She made herself a jersey with a permanent marker while I was in the shower one morning. Not sure how she picked that number…


    “Ellie M, #51, Socr”

  • On Easter morning, the kids and I made “Resurrection Rolls”! Simply dip a marshmallow in butter and cinnamon, loosely wrap in a crescent roll, and cook in the oven. The marshmallow represents Jesus’ body being anointed with precious oil and spice, then wrapped in cloth and laid in the tomb/ oven – just don’t cook for 3 days! When you break open the roll, the marshmallow has vanished! “He is not here, he is risen!” Really brings the story to life in a delicious way, and makes for a special holiday ritual.
I learned about these when I followed my nose to the Bridge class at school!

I learned about these when I followed my nose to the Bridge class at school!

  • Daddy was working on Easter, but I managed to get the kids ready, and he made it for church! And later we got to hang out with family and enjoy an egg hunt at GareBear and Beffa’s house…




Notice how much messier the 7-year-old is than the 1-year-old. (Okay, she’s almost 2.)

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  • The rose bushes behind our back gate are in full bloom, MJ has been making bouquets and potpourri, and I have issued an open  invitation for anyone who knows where I live to come help themselves to some blossoms, even hanging some scissors out on the fence.  We’ll cut some to deliver to teachers for “May Day” later this week!


  • Last week we celebrated Earth day with bike rides to school, and by hanging out after school at a favorite outdoor spot, The Lakes, where we used to live.

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  • MJ used a spring afternoon to hold an impromptu lemonade stand/ rock sale…not much profit was made.



  • One afternoon I heard a knock at the door, and found this note and baby waiting for a responsible caretaker. Did you know my house is listed as an official “safe place”? Apparently, Ellie wasn’t ready for the overwhelming responsibilities of parenthood.


  • I enjoyed riding the school bus with my boy and his K class as a chaperone to the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park, where I got to hang out with some wonderful kids, fish, stingrays, and a rescued sea turtle named….MJ!

MJ, the rare blue-eyed sea turtle! Hmm…I know another MJ w/ blue eyes!



MJ and his dear teacher Mrs. Ruth count turtles in the lagoon!



MJ had SO much gel in his hair that it didn't even budge in this "hurricane" booth!

MJ had SO much gel in his hair that it didn’t even budge in this “hurricane” booth!

  • Ellie asked to borrow my hat one night to help her fall asleep – glad I could help!
Never know what will do the trick!

Never know what will do the trick!

I took Ellie and a fried to experience the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at one of the Family Concerts. They got to make their own “Drumpets” and play along! “The Drumpet: It’s part string, part percussion, part woodwind, and ALL Noise! Parents, you will especially LOVE these in the car!”

Inspired by the female conductor, we used our chopsticks at Pei Wei after the concert.

Inspired by the female conductor, we used our chopsticks at Pei Wei after the concert.

  • MJ and his buddy Mitchell spent their first night in our backyard fort, and had a great time! I think their favorite part was the anticipation of it, creating “walls” for protection, packing an “emergency pack” with flashlights, bandaids, extra batteries, water bottles, a fan, and more!



  • A special Mommy and Me “Walk and Talk” with MJ on the way home from school one day. Ellie was at a playdate, and I wanted us to get to enjoy the spring weather. He came home with a pet Junebug which he names “Juney”, and also an old tire from someone’s bulk trash pile for his next invention. (His favorite time of the month is now “Bulk Trash Pickup” week in our hood!)

Love that he’s wearing his bike helmet on the walk….he had ridden that morning to school.

  • Speaking of  people who like trash, We discovered the perfect one for MJ: “Hector the Collector” by Shell Silverstien as we were reading poems for poetry month:

    Hector the Collector 
    Collected bits of string, 
    Collected dolls with broken heads
    And rusty bells that would not ring. 
    Pieces out of picture puzzles,
    Bent-up nails and ice-cream sticks,
    Twists of wires, worn-out tires, 
    Paper bags and broken bricks.
    Old chipped vases, half shoelaces,
    Gatlin’ guns that wouldn’t shoot,
    Leaky boats that wouldn’t float
    And stopped-up horns that wouldn’t toot.
    Butter knives that had no handles,
    Copper keys that fit no locks,
    Rings that were too small for fingers,
    Dried-up leaves and patched-up socks.
    Worn-out belts that had no buckles,
    ‘Lectric trains that had no tracks,
    Airplane models, broken bottles, 
    Three-legged chairs and cups with cracks.
    Hector the Collector
    Loved these things with all his soul‹
    Loved them more than shining diamonds,
    Loved them more than glistenin’ gold.
    Hector called to all the people,
    “Come and share my treasure trunk!”
    And all the silly sightless people
    Came and looked…and called it junk.

  • On Friday, we enjoyed a play-date and picnic with cousin POPPY and Uncle Jake to celebrate Arbor Day! We also made a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation: inspiring people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees, with the money that we collected at MJ’s “Treehouse” Birthday Party!

I just can’t get these kiddos to cooperate for a picture!




feeding the fish and ducks at The Lakes

rolling down the green hills

rolling down the green hills


  • My neighbor and I have started having open-gate playdates for neighbors in our backyards in which the children can have freedom to play and explore in either yard while we mamas chat! Last week MJ was at the top of one of our trees, dropping caterpillars down for all the younger kids!
My wonderful neighbors in their yard!

My wonderful neighbors in their yard! Jennifer’s got a lap FULL!

  • While playing “Candy Land” with MJ, he was inspired to first add real candies and treats at each spot on the board, and then to create a live-size version of the game….COOL, yummy idea for a b’day party, I think!
  • MJ recently discovered a new passion for “The Periodic Table”, printing out copies for friends and family. I found a “Periodic Table” Song! (Nerdy music teacher…)Video/ Song/ Table
  • Ellie has really been enjoying some solo bath time – relaxing and playing in the tub! As she was “floating” on her back, she told me that it was SO relaxing, and we should trade places so I could try it….”You could be me and I could be you”…(pause)…”but I like being me.”



Here’s hoping that when you slow down to sift through the trials, tantrums, and timeouts, you’ll find some parenting moments and memories from your spring worth keeping – perhaps in a journal or photo album or blog, but definitely close to your heart!