Last year I took my daughters and step-daughter with me for their first-ever experience of Black Friday.  They had so much fun that they decided it had to become a tradition.  This year was a little different.  Mack had a terrible head cold and didn’t feel up to coming with us, and Juju, my step-daughter, chose to sleep over at a favorite cousin’s house.  Since we were down two in numbers, we invited my 13-year-old niece, “Mad-dog” to come with us.  This was Mad-dog’s first Black Friday experience.  She says it won’t be her last.  🙂

Here are some of the highlights from our experience this year:

*Getting to spend time with Huh, Hoob, and Mad-dog standing in line at Target from 3:00 a.m. until the store opened at 5:00 a.m.  We spent the time joking and visiting.

*Making friends with the strangers in line around us.  Learning that the guy behind us was from Canada.  Hearing the hilarious stories of others who had already visited some stores.  Wondering how on earth someone could show up wearing shorts and flip-flops.

*Receiving a coupon for IHOP (Buy one entrée get one free) from one of our new friends in line.

*Seeing friends from our neighborhood as they arrived to stand in line.

*Receiving free re-usable bags from Target as we stood in line.  (I believe this was their way of combatting “line jumpers.”  Anyone who didn’t have a bag wasn’t getting into the store until the end of the line had entered)

*Once entering the store, laughing hysterically as we ran like crazy people on the hunt for the GPS unit we were trying to get. (Not a must-have item, we just needed something to hunt for so that we could experience Black Friday.  If we hadn’t gotten the GPS, we would have still had fun).  Hearing Mad-dog say, “This is funny,” as she was running behind me through the store.

*Finding the GPS unit and the Flash drives we were looking for.  Adding a digital picture frame, blanket, and a Christmas gift for Yawlin (I can’t type it here in case he reads my blog in the next few days) to our haul.

*Helping out my sister and her husband by finding the bike they wanted to buy for their youngest son (Mad-dog’s little brother).

*Laughing as we tried to cram the un-assembled bike into my car.  We got the box in, but it forced Hoob and Mad-dog to ride in a cramped style.  We decided to take the bike and the rest of the stuff to our house before going to breakfast.

*Using our IHOP coupon that we’d received from our new friend in the Target line to buy breakfast.  Running into those same friends at IHOP as they were using their coupon.

*Listening to Hoob’s contagious laugh as we drove home after IHOP as she laughed at a funny she’d made up.  And when I say contagious, I mean contagious.  We were all laughing hysterically when we finally pulled into the driveway.

*Taking a two-hour nap after returning home at 8:00 a.m.

*Stopping at my mom’s after dropping Mad-dog off at her house and eating Thanksgiving left-overs (I love my Mom’s sweet potatoes!).

*Taking another nap by the fire after returning from my mom’s house.

And the best part?  The girls still want to keep Black Friday a tradition.  Mack hopes to be able to go next year, and Mad-dog says she will continue to join us. 

Maybe next year we can talk my sister into going with us.  And maybe Hub and Shroom and Yawlin and my parents and my other sister and my brothers…

At the beginning of October I listed some of the traditions our family has for that month.  Though our family doesn’t have as many traditions for November, we do have some.  Here they are:

*I decorate the house with Thanksgiving decorations.  I’m one of those people who is saddened by the fact that Thanksgiving seems to get pushed aside in favor of the Christmas season.  I don’t listen to Christmas music or put up Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving.  Though I don’t have as many Thanksgiving decorations as I do Halloween or Christmas decorations, the decorations I do have please me.  I have a collection of turkeys and a collection of pumpkins, a few Pilgrims and Indians, and fall foliage.  They are placed throughout the house and, because of their cheery fall colors, help to brighten the house.

*I keep a bowl full of mixed nuts (with a nutcracker) or pistachios on the kitchen counter for snacking.

*On Thanksgiving Day our blended family has worked out a visiting schedule that works for us.  On the “even” years we visit my parents and extended family for Thanksgiving dinner.  Later in the evening my kids leave to go with their father to visit his family for dessert and Hub and I, and his kids, go visit Hub’s family and siblings for dessert.  On the odd years we do just the opposite.  My kids go with their father to his family dinner while the rest of us go to Hub’s family dinner.  We join up with my kids later in the evening and go visit my parents and siblings for dessert.  We like this schedule because everyone gets to see both sides of their family. 

This year, being an “odd” year, we are hosting Hub’s family dinner at our house.  My kids will leave with their father mid-morning to go to his family dinner.  After hosting Hub’s family for dinner and cleaning up, we will pick my kids up so that we can go visit my family for dessert. 

For whatever reason, Hub’s ex never expresses a desire to have her kids for Thanksgiving, so his kids are always with us on Thanksgiving and they follow the schedule Hub and I are doing.  

*Whether we are having dinner at my Mom’s house, or only seeing her for dessert on Thanksgiving, we all make sure to sample her sweet potatoes, homemade fudge and caramel, and pumpkin pie.  They are to die for!

*Last year my daughters, step-daughter, and I participated in Black Friday.  It was the first time for the girls to experience it.  They liked it so much they have decided that Black Friday is our newest November tradition.  We will bring the newspaper with us when we go to my parent’s house for dessert on Thanksgiving and will peruse the ads to decide on what deal(s) we will try to get.  My sisters and Mom also like looking at the ads with us, though they participate in Black Friday activities in their own towns.

*A tradition I keep, just for me, is to continue to walk our dog on the local trails for as long as the weather permits.  I love the fall colors and our weather here has been gorgeous!  Pics to come next week!

This is my favorite time of year.  Family, pretty scenery, good food, focusing on the good in my life and giving thanks for it–it all adds up to a season of satisfaction.

The next three months hold many traditions for our family.  Here are the October traditions in random order:

*We decorate the front porch with corn stalks, pumpkins, and squash from our garden.

*On the first day of October I put the Halloween decorations up.

*The first weekend of October is General Conference for our church.  Because we live in Utah we can simply watch the broadcast on t.v.  We are lazy on these days, lounging in sweats and eating snacks as we listen to the leaders of our church speak.

*The first Monday of October we start the neighborhood phantom.

*One dinner in October has to be homemade chili and homemade bread.

*One dinner in October has to be another homemade soup (corn chowder, clam chowder, stew, potato soup, etc) and homemade breadsticks.

*Near the end of the month I purchase a few of those yummy caramel and candy apples from a local chocolate store and split them between everyone in the family.

*A CD of Halloween music goes in my car for listening while driving. 

*As a family we visit at least one of the numerous “Haunted Houses” that pop up this time of year.

*The last Saturday of October my mom throws a big Halloween party for our extended family.  We all dress up, play games, and eat a menu of ghoulish food.

*There is always a jug of apple cider in the fridge for the entire month of October.

*I fill the candy jars on the counter with Halloween candy.

*We have a fruit bowl that sits on our kitchen table full of fruit for the kids to snack on.  In October we draw jack-o-lantern faces on the oranges in the fruit bowl.

*I always make sure there is caramel dipping sauce for the apples in the fruit bowl.

*When Halloween nears we carve pumpkins and roast the pumpkin seeds.

*We make sure to take at least one walk in a local canyon or park to enjoy the fall foliage.

*We pop popcorn and watch The Nightmare Before Christmas.

*We always participate in our ward’s “Trunk or Treat.”

I love this time of year!  The kids love the traditions, and if we ever miss one, they make sure to let us know.  What are some of your traditions for this time of year?

We have traditions for birthdays in our family.  The birthday child gets to choose the menu for breakfast and dinner, they get to go to lunch for some one-on-one time with a parent, they receive “dollar gifts” from their siblings, a cake is baked and the Happy Birthday song is sung, gifts are received from the parents, and they get a day off from doing chores.

Yesterday was Yawlin’s 10th birthday.  The birthday started out normal enough.  He chose fruit crepes for breakfast.  For lunch, I checked him out of school and we went to Zupa’s and shared a combo meal (the “Nuts About Berries” salad is to die for!).  The menu for dinner was Swedish Meatballs , potatoes, and zucchini (we have zucchini coming out of our ears–thankfully Yawlin likes it). 

I’d finished baking the cake but hadn’t decorated it before it was time to go to my afternoon crossing.  I asked Huh if she would frost the cake for me while I was gone so that we could have the cake when Yawlin and I got home from the crossing.  She agreed to do it.

This is how Huh ended up decorating the cake:

Lovely cake!

Lovely cake!

The “Shut up” and “I ran out” signs refer both to the sprinkles (she had to use two different kinds) and to the candles.  Yes, those are uncooked spaghetti noodles stuck into the cake to act as candles so that there would be ten total.  This is what happens when you let an 18 year old decorate a cake unsupervised.  🙂

I laughed when I saw the cake, and Yawlin got a kick out of it.  He made some goofy faces while I took his picture next to it–goofy faces for a goofy cake.

Later in the evening, Huh and her boyfriend, Plumber, took Yawlin to go get a smoothie for his birthday.  They came home with a mouse.  Yup, a tiny black and white, whiskered, long-tailed rodent.  They had a cage, bedding, and food.  Apparently Plumber and Huh had hit upon the idea of getting Yawlin a pet for his birthday and he chose a mouse.  A mouse he named Oreo.


Yawlin was so excited, I didn’t have the heart to tell him the mouse had to go–until later.  The cage had been set up, food had been poured into the dish, and the mouse had tried out her running wheel a few times when things suddenly changed.  I was in the tv room watching the evening news when I heard Yawlin yell, “Oreo got out of her cage!”

I looked at Huh and Plumber who were doing the dishes and said, “You’d better go help him.”  Since they bought the mouse they got the fun job of catching it when it escaped.

After listening to lots of bumping and banging and yelling I went up to Yawlin’s room to see how things were going.  The mouse had been caught, Plumber’s finger had received a nice mouse bite, and Yawlin’s room was a mess.  When I learned that the mouse had gotten out of the cage by squeezing through the bars of her cage I said the mouse had to go.  Poor Yawlin was heartbroken, but if the mouse could squeeze through the bars it would end up being a constant vigil to keep her in her cage.  Nope.  Don’t want to deal with it.

Huh felt bad, too, for getting Yawlin all excited to have a pet.  She and Plumber will be returning Oreo to the pet store today.  They put the mouse and her cage in our green recycling bin so that she can’t escape into the house if she squeezes through the bars of her cage again.  Hopefully they will think of some way to make it up to Yawlin.

Sometimes traditions are born unexpectedly, sometimes they are purposely planned.  It might be that sticking uncooked spaghetti into our birthday cakes will become a tradtion.  Receiving a birthday rodent?  Not so much!

 1.  School started! 

2.  And because school started I baked cookies according to tradition.  The home baked scent of applesauce chocolate chip cookies was heavenly.

3.  Mack informed me that we needed to pick up one of the girls from the neighborhood at exactly 6:55 a.m.  When I asked why we were picking her up, and especially that early, Mack told me that she’d promised to help the girl learn her way around the high school.  [A bit of history here:  The girl is extremely shy, is new to the school, and lost her father 18 months ago to cancer.]  Yes, I am proud of my daughter for reaching out and helping another.

4.  Remember Ryan?  We met him on our trip to Florida last summer.  We have kept in touch with him for the past year, continually inviting him out to Utah.  He finally took us up on our offer and is flying out today to spend the weekend with us in Moab. 

Yesterday Hub shot Ryan an email telling him that we were sorry, but would have to cancel the trip because we didn’t think Ryan was going to have enough fun.  He ended with a smiley face [ 🙂 ].  The first part of Hub’s statement startled Ryan–picture him thinking about his air fare and hotel cost for tonight–and then he finished reading the statement and realized Hub was teasing him.  🙂  Ryan gets in this afternoon, plans on seeing a little of SLC on his own, and then will join us tomorrow morning as we get ready to head to Moab as soon as the kids get out of school.  Everyone is looking forward to seeing our Florida friend again.

5.  Have you ever discovered a random picture saved on your camera?  A picture that you didn’t take?  That happened to me yesterday.  Obviously the picture was taken by one of the kids, though I have no idea which one. 

misc 142

Yeah, yesterday was a pretty good day. 

I have a gazillion things to accomplish before we head to Moab.  Enjoy your weekend!

Today is Hoob’s 14th birthday.  So, rather than craft the much longer post originally planned for today, I am writing a quickie and then spending the day with my girl.  She has requested German pancakes for her birthday breakfast and spaghetti for her birthday dinner.  She and I will go to lunch together at her choice of restaurant and then shop for a rug for her bedroom (her request for a birthday present).  I will have Huh, Mack, and Juju bake her a cake this afternoon and we’ll all sing Happy Birthday to her later tonight. 


Hoob showing a dance move on the beach in Oregon.

Hoob showing a dance move on the beach in Oregon.


It’s going to be a great day!

“We just want to experience it,” my daughters were telling me. 

“Are you sure?  You will have to get up quite early.”

“So what?  It’ll be fun!”

I had participated in Black Friday a few times when I was a single mom.  Sometimes I was able to get what I was looking for.  Most times, when the store had a very limited supply, I missed out.  But what I always came home with was a story.  And my kids liked hearing the stories.  There was the very effeminate guy who, on a frigid morning, wore only a t-shirt, jeans, and flip-flops (showing off his freshly painted toenails).  He lasted for two hours standing in line by jumping up and down to stay warm.  There was the little old lady who kept helping herself to items in other people’s carts.  There were the people who worked in a pack to put as many items in their carts as possible.  Fortunately, I never saw any major fighting, although my sister could tell stories about that!

My daughters and step daughter decided they wanted to experience Black Friday this year.  After being told how early they would have to get up and how cold it would be, they still wanted to go.  I relented and, while we were digesting our Thanksgiving dinner, started perusing the ads in the newspaper to see if there were any good deals.  I finally settled on a mobile DVD system with two screens on sale at Target.  It wasn’t a “must have” item, but since we are planning a road trip for this summer, and neither vehicle has one, I decided that it would be nice to get one for each car.  It gave us something to look for once we got inside the store, but if we didn’t get it we wouldn’t be heartbroken.    

At 3:30 a.m. Friday I made the rounds to all four girls’ rooms and woke them up.  I told them to dress in layers and to be ready to go by 4:00.  There was no complaining.  In fact, they were quite jovial.  We arrived at Target at 4:15 and settled ourselves in line.  There was a steady rain coming down.  We had grabbed the small umbrella out of my car, but it wasn’t big enough for all of us so I told the girls to stay in line while I went back home to get our two big umbrellas.  After I returned it stopped raining, of course.  We closed the umbrellas and continued our wait.  Standing in line wasn’t too bad.  The temperature was comfortable, in spite of the rain.  We laughed and joked with each other, making observations about our fellow shoppers. 

As the time neared for the store to open we saw two men from our neighborhood coming down the line.  We greeted them and found out that they were just coming from Walmart that had opened an hour before Target was scheduled to open.  “What were you after?” I asked.

“We were getting a tv for my son-in-law,” said Darryl.

“I don’t need anything,” said Mark.  “I’m just along for the experience.”

“Yeah,” I said, pointing to my girls.  “They wanted to experience it too.  How quickly did the tvs go?”

Mark smiled and shook his head, “It was hilarious.”

We all laughed and Darryl and Mark continued on their way to the end of the line.  Finally, it was time for the doors to open.  I had done my best to prepare the girls for what they would see once they got inside the store.  “You are going to see grown people running around with a look of total panic on their faces as they try to find the item they are looking for.  There might be pushing and shoving, there might even be some fights.”  Our line filed calmly through the doors and then, like every Black Friday before, people took off running with that look of panic on their faces.  Huh, Mack, and Juju were a few steps in front of me.  I saw them stop, take in the scene before them, and then take off, with the same look of panic as everyone else.  In an instant they were lost in the crowd.

The whole thing struck me as funny and I started laughing.  I couldn’t walk because I was laughing so hard.  Hoob just stood quietly beside me, her eyes as big as saucers as she watched what was going on.  I finally got myself under control enough to walk up to a Target employee.  I held my hands up in the shape of a mini tv screen and said, “Dual DVD players.”

“Behind you,” he said pointing.  Hoob and I walked calmly to the display and each grabbed a box.  The boxes had handles so it made it easy.

“Okay, we got ’em.  Let’s go find your sisters.”

It was too hard walking against the crowd, so we went with the flow until we neared the hardware section where I pulled Hoob down an empty aisle to rest and figure out the best way to get to the check out stand.  We could still see people running everywhere.  We started for the front of the store, looking for empty aisles to make the going easier.  Huh called my cell phone using Juju’s phone.

“Mom, where are you?”

“We’re nearing the electronics department.”

“What?  I can’t hear you?  There’s too many people.”

“Where are you?”  I asked.

“We’re crammed against a wall and can’t move!”

I couldn’t help but laugh (Huh later told me that there were two guys trying to walk past them as she said that into the phone and they laughed at her predicament as well).  I told her to get Mack and Juju and try to get to the check out area because that was where we were heading.  We did finally manage to meet up again.  The girls spotted more neighbors from our neighborhood and went to talk to them while I stood in line to pay for our DVD players.

The rest of the morning was pretty uneventful.  The girls wanted to wander the mall for a little while and then we went to breakfast at Village Inn.  Juju fell asleep in our booth as we were finishing our breakfast.  We returned home tired, full, and with more stories to share with Hub and the boys.  The girls say they enjoyed the experience.  They want to make it a tradition.

I think it will be a fun tradition to continue.  Maybe next year we can talk Hub and the boys into coming with us.

Because there were requests for me to provide the recipes of goodies mentioned in my last post I have decided to post the recipes here.  Disclosure:  The oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I made for my son’s first day of third grade came from a mix.  We had just returned from family vacation and the day was full of unpacking and laundry.  I only had time to make cookies from a mix.  So sue me!  🙂


2 c. sugar                            1 c. shortening

2 c. applesauce                   2 eggs

2 tsp. baking soda              3 1/2 c. flour

2 tsp. nutmeg                     1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon                 1 bag mini chocolate chips (my mom always uses the mini.  I like regular)

Cream the sugar and shortening.  Beat the eggs and add to creamed mixture.  Beat until smooth.  Add the baking soda to the applesauce and add to the mixture.  Add the dry ingredients.  Drop by spoonful onto greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 425 degrees for 8 or 9 minutes. 


Cream together:

1/2 c. margarine, 1/2 c. oil, 1 3/4 c. sugar (I got away with using only 1/4 c. oil–if you are trying to cut down on fats)


1 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 c. sour milk (for sour milk add 2 tsp. vinegar to 1/2 c. milk)

Sift and blend with creamed mixture:

2 1/2 c. flour, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 4 T. cocoa, 1/2 tsp. cloves, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt

Stir in 2 c. finely diced or grated zucchini (my family has texture issues, so I always frappe my zucchini in the blender for this cake and for zucchini bread).  Pour into 9×13 pan and sprinkle with 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (I’m very generous with the chocolate chips–ain’t no half cup here!) and 1/4 c. chopped nuts (optional).  Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes (it depends on your oven, I end up baking mine 15 minutes longer).

The cake is one that can be played around with.  Though the majority of my family and kids’ friends liked the cake the way I made it, I had one daughter and one of my son’s friends say that they could taste the zucchini so they weren’t as fond of the cake as everyone else.  If you have members of your family who are “squash sensitive” and who swear they can taste even a teaspoon of zucchini in a recipe, then you may want to cut down on the amount of zucchini.

 Note:  These recipes aren’t fat free, which may seem a contradiction to the postings on my newest blog “Run the Cat,” but I figure first day celebrations are worth it.  I’m sure the recipes can be changed to be more healthy.



One of my earliest memories of my school years is returning home after the first day of school and smelling the wonderful aroma of my mom’s homemade applesauce chocolate chip cookies.  It is a tradition she began on my first day of kindergarten (I’m the oldest of eight) and continued until my youngest brother finished school.  There were always homemade cookies waiting when we got home from school on the first day.  We would snack on warm cookies and cold milk and tell Mom about our new teacher and the things we did.

I loved the tradition so much that I decided to continue it with my own kids.  On Huh’s first day of preschool I made applesauce chocolate chip cookies.  I have continued baking on the first day of school ever since.  Yawlin started third grade on Monday.  (And, yes, he felt like a victim because he was the only one in the house who had to go to school the day after returning home from family vacation).  I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for Yawlin’s first day.  Most of the family had already grabbed cookies and dashed to destinations unknown before Yawlin walked in the door from school, but the two of us were able to have cookies and milk together as Yawlin told me about his day.

Squid has decided to live at home and attend the community college for a year before he goes on a mission for our church.  Today is his first day at the college.  I will be baking again today.  On Monday the rest of the kids start school.  I will bake yet again.  Three “first days”, three times to bake.  And the kids have all come to expect it.  It is tradition.

This year is actually an easy year.  In 2005 when Hub and I got married, Shroom, who was a 6th grader in a year-round school, was the first to have his first day of school.  Then Hoob began at a different year-round school on a different track.  Yawlin had kindergarten testing before he started, so his first day of school was a week later than Hoob’s.  Huh and Mack had decided to stay with their old school in another school district.  Their first day of school was next followed by Squid and Juju a week later.  There were five “first days” that year.  Five times to bake.  But I had to do it.  It was tradition.  It had never been a tradition for my step kids, but they liked it and look forward to it now. 

The next school year Huh and Mack switched to the school district in which we live so I thought baking for first day would be easier.  But, that was the year Juju’s mother decided to put her in a private school and we invited a foreign exchange student from Vietnam to stay with us (he arrived two weeks into the school year) so I ended up still having four “first days” to bake for.

I’ve changed the tradition a bit, it is not always cookies that I provide.  With so many “first days” I decided I wanted a little variety.  So, instead of cookies, I sometimes bake brownies or cake.  Today for Squid’s first day I am making chocolate zucchini cake because the zucchini plant in our garden is doing very well.  Zucchini anyone?

For any who know me, spending a lot of time in the kitchen is not my activity of choice.  But, the eating of baked goods while hearing about the new happenings at school is worth the effort.  Mom, your tradition lives on!

One morning this week, as I stood at the stove making omelets, my seventeen-year-old daughter appeared in the kitchen, grabbed me in a big bear hug and gave me a kiss on my cheek.  She didn’t say a thing.  After she’d kissed me she smiled and went back to her room to finish getting ready for school.  Of course, as a mother, I was pleased with this unexpected show of affection, but I also found myself wondering what brought it on. 

I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary.  I’d opened all the blinds and a few windows to catch the morning breeze, lit a scented candle, set out dishes, and was making breakfast (only one of my omelets turned out picture perfect).  Things I do every morning.  Was this enough to earn such an enthusiastic greeting?

As I reflected on it later that day, I remembered a magazine article I had recently read about family traditions and rituals.  I hadn’t really thought about it, but my morning ritual of opening blinds and windows (turning on the fireplace in the winter time), lighting candles, and making sure something is ready for breakfast, even if it is just cold cereal, is kind of like a tradition.  I do it every morning.  My family knows they can count on me “waking the house” in this manner every single day.  From the perspective of a kid, this type of tradition might be comforting because it is a constant, it is stable.  For our house it is normal.  

I started to list in my mind all the family traditions and rituals that are a part of my life.  The second Sunday of every month my mom has dinner at her house for the entire family, the annual Halloween party and Christmas party at my mom’s house are traditions, it is a tradition for me, my mom, and my sisters to get together annually in Phoenix, in our little blended family we have certain birthday rituals and we stuff stockings for each other at Christmas, we make Sunday a day for worship and family only, we make Monday evenings “Family Home Evening” and spend the night as a family, Hub’s family has a family reunion every summer, there are certain weekends during the summer and fall that we go to the family cabin, I always bake cookies on the first day of school, we pray as a family before every meal and before we retire for the night, the stupid dog thinks he needs to go every morning when Hub takes Yawlin to school.  Our lives are full of rituals and traditions.

Some traditions have been in place for years, others started more recently simply because we did them once and decided we liked them so we will continue.  Traditions and positive family rituals can be the glue that holds families together.   Sweet memories are created by participating in traditions.  Cheryl C. Lant recently stated in an article titled, “Righteous Traditions” (Ensign, May 2008, pg. 13), “The most important traditions are connected with the way we live our lives and will last beyond us as our children’s lives are influenced and shaped.”  

I don’t know whether or not my daughter was showing me her gratitude for my morning ritual when she hugged and kissed me.  Most likely she was prepping me so she can ask for something big.  🙂  But, when I hear my step kids say thanks for the breakfast I have served, or my own kids tease me by blowing out my candle, or Hub walks up behind and gives me a hug, I do know I am glad that I have established this morning tradition for my family.


I would be interested in hearing of any family traditions and rituals others have.  I just may incorporate them into my own family life.  Please share, if you desire.  And thanks!