Parenting Brilliance

This was the runner-up to our Christmas card photo:

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That smile on the 4-year-old? Courtesy of a pro-parenting tip from my friend, Deborah.

BRIBE THEM.

She promised her kids candy if they smiled nicely.

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And then I … did the same. See that grin? That’s motivation.

Why have I never thought of this before? It takes a village, people.

Rocks, Sticks, Leaves and… FaceTime

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I love this time of year. A friend in college looked forward to fall all year long, and I remember asking him why. “Because it’s football season!” he said.

Not me. This is all about the weather.

It finally gets pleasant to be outside. The bugs mostly go away. The nights are crisp, with the smell of warm leaves baking in the sun.

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We spend a lot of time out in the yard. The baby can’t get enough of picking each leaf, stick and rock up and shoving it into her mouth.

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And, it’s even better when you can FaceTime with grandma and grandpa and tell them about it.

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Art Deco in Tulsa

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This summer we did something I’ve long wanted to do in Tulsa: take an architectural tour of the downtown deco area.

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The Tulsa Historical Society offers a walking tour… on Friday morning. Not helpful for people with actual jobs.

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So we did it our way. We found a self-guided tour online and dragged along the iPad.

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My handsome tour guide was in charge of navigating us to each spot and reading the building description.

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The bummer about doing the tour on a Saturday (and now why I totally get that they do the tours on a weekday) is that the lobbies of the buildings, featuring the same spectacular type of detail as the facades, aren’t open.

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Never fear, however, we pressed our greasy noses up against many a plate glass window.

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Near the end, there came a moment when we tried a door lobby, and it was actually open! Great! We went inside, inspected the described details of tile and brass, sucked in the cool, conditioned air, then turned to leave.

Except… the door was … locked?

I pulled. And rattled. My husband tried. We exchanged a look. Would we be sleeping here? As he pulled and pulled some more, panic started to rise in my throat as I imagined being stuck in an office building lobby all weekend. What about the kids? Would the babysitter keep them? Could she send someone to help?

And then I gave the door one more tug, and it popped open. Crisis averted.

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The lobby that I feared I’d have to sleep in.

Our first stop was the Mayo Hotel and Topeca Coffee. The seed-to-cup family-owned spot set on vintage tiles provided fuel for the afternoon’s venture.

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How many feet have trod these tiles?

Then we meandered up and down the blocks, reading the descriptions of the buildings fueled by oil barons’ dollars.

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Many buildings had initials or other significant personal details embedded in their facades – a permanent testament to either the owner or his ego.

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The detail on these buildings is simply incredible.

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After a few hours walking, finally, it was back to the Mayo for a swing by up to their rooftop bar at sunset.

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The ride in the vintage elevator is always fun. My worst fear ever, probably, (more than getting stuck in a lobby) is to get stuck in an elevator. One time, my dad got stuck in an elevator when the power went off… in AFGHANISTAN. Talk about a place where you’d never want to be stuck… he was there for 10 minutes before the power was restored. Man, in those 10 minutes, I’d be in a full-on panic mode.

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Upstairs, the cooling summer air made it the perfect spot for relaxing on the outdoor patio.

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From there, you have expansive views of the Arkansas River and downtown Tulsa.

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It was the perfect place to end our day of exploring.

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Downtown deco tour: done. Check one more off the life list… and add about 17 more.

Kiddie Park

I really thought I’d talked about Kiddie Park before, either here or here, but I guess I haven’t. But I guess I haven’t.

Every summer, there’s a magical village that opens in a park in town. The name is totally silly, and it’s nothing fancy, but for the 1-6 set, it’s perfect. Kiddie Park is filled with pint-sized carnival rides with a 1950s vintage. The word around town is that these type of parks were popular all over the U.S. in the post-war period, but that in time, along with drive-in theaters, most have gone under.

But not ours. Every summer and a few other special times during the year, the park is open. It’s staffed by high school students who usually appear pretty miserable to be standing in the heat for hours on end, but they’re also usually pretty sweet with lifting kids up into rides and buckling them in. It’s a summer job, I guess. For all the years we’ve lived here, rides have gone for 25 cents a pop – a price for entertainment that can’t be beat. This year, they raised it. To a whopping 50 cents apiece. I think we can handle it.

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(How cute was he here two years ago at Halloween?)

We’ve visited Kiddie Park lots over the past four years, but this is the first year that this sweet kids really got it and enjoyed it. No crying on the rides, confidently running to the next ride he wanted to go on. Nearly every visit starts with a trip on the cars.

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These cute little vehicles are all custom painted in various color schemes. I think local auto shops donate their services.

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The cars are a perfect starter ride because they don’t go to fast. And, the little guy can pretend he’s steering as they roll around in a circle. For two minutes. Which the workers time on a kitchen timer while they sip their drinks and act bored.

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A new favorite are these mini semi-trucks that go around on a tiny track.

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This year, little sister is there watching every move, but not quite big enough to go on any rides. Next year will be double the price for us!

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Last year we made a fun discovery.

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These World War Two era planes spin around, but they also rise up if you pull on the stick.

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Last year we’d be screaming and screaming at the kid to pull the stick to go up and he sometimes couldn’t quite figure it out. This year, he’d pull up right from the beginning, and stay up, grinning like a cat that swallowed a canary.

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They remind me of the Flying Ace.

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This one can’t wait to be next.

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The roller coaster is not a favorite.

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That’s his friend Brody and his sister. His sister wasn’t a fan, either.

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The motorboats are also a favorite, especially when he can ride with his buddies and ring the bell.

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So that’s the town Kiddie Park! Cheap thrills and big smiles all around.

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Gone Fishing

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This kiddo turns four this week. We had to celebrate, so I turned to one of his recent loves to build a theme around: gummy worms. Or, as the little guy calls them, gummy snakes.

I’m not one of those go all out types of pinterest moms, but I wanted the kids to have some fun, hands-on activities.

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Saturday morning found these guys out in the garage, making fishing poles out of leftover wooden dowels from when my husband made our nephew a crib many moons ago. Aren’t they so cute sanding together?

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The fishing was a hit.

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I cut out fish shapes, added stick on magnets to the fish mouths, and the fishing poles were equipped with washers on the end.

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There were also blue balloons in the pool for water, but of course, those immediately blew away and popped as soon as we got outside. Oh. Well. They liked it.

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I have beautiful friends, no?

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The baby just got passed around like a party favor, and she loved it.

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Next, we had “fishing for treasure” a.k.a. digging through spaghetti noodles to locate trinkets hidden therein.

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This was a surprise hit with the kids.

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(Not sure WHAT was happening here, but it was too funny not to include.)

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I oiled the noodles so they’d slide past each other and not stick, and now I’m left with the party souvenir of sweet, oily hand prints all over my backdoor. Live and learn.

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And for our last act: la piƱata.

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This guy took multiple swings from everybody in order to give up it’s candy. But at least a good time was had by all.

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These four kids were all born within four months of each other, and we’ve had fun watching them grow up together.

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At least, it was time to head inside for the goodies.

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We had goldfish, fishing rods, jelly fish sandwiches and bologna fish sandwiches.

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Of course there was cake.

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Dark chocolate, vanilla bean butter cream six-layer cake with gummy worms.

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Making the cake is my favorite part of the whole process.

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And how annoyed am I that I didn’t ask them to turn the cake around for the photo? Oh well.

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It was almost more frosting than cake… just how I like it.

And this guy, is four!

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