You might look at this picture and think it is a NerfGun. You might imagine that it was (surprisingly) the most exciting and fun Easter basket present that each of us (Marc and I share ours) got this past weekend. AND you would be right.
On a whim, I got a couple packs of NerfGuns thinking that they would be a fun diversion for those inevitable rainy days in April and May when we have too much energy and are housebound. I pictured myself sneak attacking my children with some NerfLove and getting some good, healthy giggles started.
But what you wouldn’t necessarily see looking at the picture above, and what I didn’t expect was what a learning tool they would become.
After a good first NerfBattle on Easter, I turned and shot my NerfSuctionPellet at the map in our kitchen with my eyes closed. “God, where in the world would like us to go?” I teased (sort of). The click of the gun, the brief sound of flight, and the impact kiss of the pellet on the map….
And the kids were entranced. All of a sudden four guns were pointed at our world map. Shots rang out and screams which named continent, ocean, country and city destinations. We got especially excited when we ‘hit’ the places where we know people or where our kids have sponsored kids. It was a blast.
And it has continued all week. Almost first thing every day this week, the sound of Nerf pellets make contact with the world and the kids are talking about where it is and what if we went there or who do we know there.
So when you look at our NerfGun, you should also see the most amazing and unintended geography and praying for the nations tool that I have ever (accidentally) found.
Oh – and would you like to know where my very first pellet landed?
That’s right. Southern India. Madras. Wouldn’t that be something – if after 18 years, Marc and I got to go back to India and take our kids with us this time. *sigh*
Apparently I’m in a season of surprising my family. Because not a month before I pulled off Marc’s surprise birthday party, Marc and I pulled off surprising our kids with a trip to the Boston Pops.
The kids knew we were going on vacation and knew that we were going to end with a couple nights in Boston. This was nothing unusual. We stayed in Boston with Marc (when he was consulting there) a lot this past Spring and Summer. They knew all the details except one. We were going to the Pops.
I bought the girls special dresses, tights, and shoes… with their help. They thought they were for the February Father/Daughter dance – and that I was doing a great job of planning ahead. (HA!) Caleb also needed new shoes – which he thought I was buying for his school band holiday concert.
As I packed for vacation I snuck their Pops outfit into a bag that would stay hidden in the van until we got to Boston.
When we got to our hotel room in Boston and were unpacking our things, I handed them each their dress-clothes and asked them to hang them in the closet. I think you would have enjoyed the spluttering as much as I did. “What are these for?” “Why are these here?” “Why do I have to hang something up?”
When they actually stopped spluttering long enough to say something, I told them ‘You will need these to wear to the Boston Pops Holiday concert tomorrow night.’ The spluttering slowed down to long syllable half word inquiring looks. (Insert proud mother – my kids know the Boston Pops AND know how cool it is to see them live.)
Finally one of them – probably the youngest – clarified: THE.BOSTON.POPS?
It was pretty darn cool.
It was either going to be a brilliant success or failure. Planning to go on vacation 10 days before Christmas. But we wanted to take the kids to the Boston Pops and to visit some family – and, well, this week was just our best option.
So on December 15 we pulled out of the driveway on a 6 day trip. Presents had been purchased and wrapped. The house vacuumed and sinks wiped out. We were gone.
The vacation itself was AMAZING. We saw good friends and family. We visited King Arthur flour, Montshire Science Museum, the Boston Museum of Science. We ambushed Marc’s aunt and uncle in a spontaneous snowball fight. The kids swam and swam and swam in an indoor pool. We walked through the beautifully decorated Boston and thoroughly enjoyed Blink in Fanueil Marketplace. And we went to the Boston Pops Holiday Concert. The kids worked and played really hard. We took some school-work with us. The kids not only got along, but seemed to truly enjoy each other. Marc and I enjoyed each other. It was a great week.
What caught me most by surprise was coming home. Because we had finished (almost) everything before our trip, when we got home, we were ready to just hang out with each other and our friends and family. That adjustment period of ‘getting into holiday/time-off’ mode was already done. We were home. We were present. It was amazing.
So while my concerns about travelling so close to Christmas were about Northeast weather and getting too worn out with all of it and catching colds and being cross with one another, my hopes were only for it to kind of end on the level – that the bad and good would equal out. I had no idea that it could set us up for an even better than before starting point of being home and together for Christmas. I think I’ll start planning our next before Christmas vacation right now.
Today is the last day of school for 2009. The kids will have a full two weeks off. I am amused with myself that I find these two weeks a bit intimidating – me, that homeschooled for six years and had them at home ALL the time.
In a fit of inspiration, I decided to pull out our games, and put them under the tree. They will be easy to see, no hidden behind a cupboard door. They will be easy to grab. They are located next to a warm pellet stove and large open place of carpet… a perfect place to play a game. A perfect setting for some good family holiday fun.