Natalie’s idea…..a great start to summer!

Two days ago Natalie asked if she could pleeeeeeeeeease plan a family picnic. Sure. Okay. When I woke up Friday morning and scuttled to the kitchen half-asleep for some coffee, I found a verrrrrry enthusiastic and super duper excited Natalie. This girl is a planner and loves being a hostess! Wow. By 7am the picnic was planned, labeled on our refrigerator calendar as “N’s Family Picnic 11-12:30” and already all packed up. She was beyond excited!!!! She waited for the 11 o’clock hour to arrive.

Then off we went. The four of us. Celebrating Daddy’s 1st day of summer vacation. Woohoo! The kids picked up their scooters and went blazing off ahead of us on the sidewalk as we trailed behind on foot. With the picnic basket in one hand and Steve’s other hand lovingly holding mine, I kept thinking “I’m so thankful for my creative, fun-loving 6-year old who planned this for us.”

Natalie was beyond ecstatic to lay out the picnic blanket on a patch of grass at our nearby park. With great charisma she pulled out metal lunch boxes and plastic plates that she had carefully thought out to pack for each of us. IMG_4182

After setting out a lunch box in front of each of us, she counted 1….2….3..….with SOOOO much expectant joy in her voice! The anticipation of seeing our reaction to her surprise was just killing her! It was so incredibly cute to witness. And boy were we surprised!!!!!!!! Daddy’s lunch box especially had the biggest surprise of all.  We laughed and laughed and laughed. If you would have told me I would get a million dollars if I could correctly guess the contents of the metal lunch box, I would never, ever, ever, ever have guessed: mini marshmallows, birthday candles, matches, toothpicks and miniature doll-sized forks. We were expecting sandwiches or chips or some kind of lunch item. Nope.

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Did I mention birthday candles? A LOT of them! She had packed enough for us to celebrate someone’s 30th birthday. Steve and I were seriously rolling with laughter. This was definitely a surprise that we didn’t see coming! Natalie felt accomplished in surprising us. Indeed she had!

So there we sat….the four of us eating mini marshmallows. Steve used birthday candles to poke them one by one and eat them. I used a frilly toothpick. Jacob used a miniature doll-sized fork. I don’t recall ever having focused my delight in marshmallows, savoring one miniature mallow at a time. It really does make for a yummy experience when you eat them one by one, enjoying them in their sweet singleness.

Then out came the sliced cucumbers. Okay now this is a hilarious story! Natalie couldn’t find our peeler this morning, but she really did want to peel the cucumber skin before slicing it up for us. She had watched me use a paring knife the other day to peel the cucumbers, but she remembered me saying it was a bit tricky to peel the skin with a knife. She wanted to be cautious and not assume she could use the paring knife while we were still in bed and she was unattended in the kitchen. So, what did her creative mind come up with? Peeling the skin using her fingernail. Yes. Her fingernail. She just picked, picked, picked along the skin taking it off in chunks. If you look carefully at this picture you can see the “chunky” sided slices. Some are “straight, smooth” sided slices- those were ones she finished after Steve woke up and help her locate the missing peeler. 🙂

IMG_4204Then the fun  of dog-piling Daddy began. Steve is such a trooper! There he lay propped up on his elbows, casually, not in the least bit phased by the fact that his 6-year old and 8-year old were wrestling each other on top of him! How do daddies do this? They seem not to mind being pummeled, choked, laid on, their arms twisted or bodies smashed. And he just lying there unphased, smiling and thinking the whole thing fun. He’s such a fun dad!

IMG_4200And then more silliness ensued. Jacob tried sticking marshmallows to his two front teeth and balancing cucumber slices on his eyes.

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The silly fun had begun. Next Natalie joined in on the fun. natalie teeth

Why not? I can’t be pummeled by wrestling children and still smile…..but I can stick marshmallows onto my teeth and smile! It surprised the kiddos that Mama was partaking in the silliness. Oh they don’t know what a silly goofball I was during my college days and Young Life leader days! They know me as responsible, serious mama….the silly sponge….but today seemed like a good day to let them know Mama knows how to be silly too. So then I convinced Daddy to join in the fun too. We all had mallow buck teeth! And we all laughed our heads off.

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Oh how I love my Natalie girl. My sweet, smiley, creative girl that has a super amazing laugh. She laughs and laughs and laughs. Oftentimes the rest of us start laughing simply in response to her laughter. She is a treasure to our family. I took extra special delight in how she even wrapped and taped labels to the coffee mugs that held the Kool-Aid she had made for the picnic. Daddy and Jacob had their names on one mug. Mama and Natalie were going to share the other mug. And packed for the picnic was a large plastic pitcher of more Kool-Aid in case anyone wanted refills. She is a planner I tell you!

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Some former students of mine always used to say I had a Kool-Aid smile. Let me officially introduce you to the girl who truly does have a Kool-Aid smile…..my sweet Natalie.

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