If you are savvy enough to read blogs, I will assume you are familiar with the Nintendo Wii, so I'll provide no description. Matt got ours for his birthday back before the huge excitement started. It is really one of the best purchases we have ever made. Seriously, we play Wii almost every day. Matt and the boys will play while I make dinner. Then we'll all play after dinner until bedtime if we have no other evening activities scheduled.

I did not grow up as a video game player, so I was not enthused about the Wii -- until I played it. It really is fun and Patriot and I will occasionally play even when Matt isn't home. I am so impressed that anyone, regardless of age or ability, can play and enjoy the Wii. I've seen three generations play Wii against each other, and actually all have fun. I've seen my uncle, who isn't normally a game player, play Wii for hours and enjoy it. But the video below is most impressive to me. This is my 14-month old son playing Wii boxing. Enjoy!

I intentionally named this blog "Blessed Mom" because I wanted to force myself to focus on the joys of being a Mommy, through the good and bad days. Nobody wants to read my whines and complaints, so I decided I would just avoid whining and complaining (on this blog, at least -- don't ask my husband about the other times!).

Today, I will disregard those intentions.

Can anyone tell me why there is a public restroom anywhere in the country that doesn't have a changing table? I am especially frustrated with restaurants, Wendy's in particular. Why would a restaurant offer kid's meals, special "under 3" toys, high chairs, and not have changing tables in their bathrooms? I think that's absurd. And gas stations. Everyone knows that people stop at gas stations to use the restroom. Why would any gas station not have changing tables?

I did a quick Google search and found that the Sturdy Stations and Koala Bear fold down changing tables are sold for about $200. Seriously. You will not convince me that cost is the deciding factor. And since they fold down, they don't take up too much physical space in the restroom.

I think it's high time we mothers of the country unite. I say we vote for the presidential candidate who is willing to take a stand on the real issue that affects our daily lives: changing tables in public restrooms.
Matt was gone on a trip with the youth group this weekend. Instead of just sitting around waiting for Daddy to come home, I thought, "why not take the boys on a big adventure?" So we picked up Grandma and Grandpa and headed to Knoxville, TN to see my sister and her husband.

Overall, we had a nice visit. We relaxed, played games, ate a lot, and enjoyed each other's company. My sister's in-laws were out of town and generously let us stay in their beautiful townhouse, so it was a little like being at home (much better for the boys than staying in a hotel!).

Our trip took a turn for the worse on our way home. We were about an hour into our 4-hour car ride when Patriot started coughing. Something in my head told me this sounded like his pre-throw-up cough and I should probably get ready for the worst. But I ignored that little voice -- and lived to regret it. Patriot threw up all over the backseat and we were totally unprepared. No bucket or bag to throw up into. No towels or products to clean the mess. No tarps or ponchos to protect the rest of us. Nothing.

My dad was driving and pulled into the nearest gas station. I carried Patriot into the bathroom to clean him up and change his clothes. Meanwhile, my mom stood in 20-degree weather to comfort the screaming baby and clean the backseat with paper towels and water. There is no end to a grandmother's will.

We continued on and had several more "episodes." I chronicled our trip on the following map. I've got to give Dad some props. He kept driving through the entire thing. His sheer determination got us home through a very difficult trip.

View Larger Map

Now, a day later, both boys are doing better. They had popsicles (what else?) for lunch and some chocolate milk and applesauce for dinner, and no throwing up all day. I managed to clean the car and get the messiest of the laundry done today. So we're almost puke-free.

We ended up having more of an adventure than I'd bargained for, but it's all right now.
At our house, we've instituted a new "Get Out of Jail Free" program for Patriot. I felt like we were on him all the time about his behavior: you're being disrespectful, you need to obey, no whining, stop crying. The poor kid was enduring correction after correction and Mom and Dad were going crazy. Something had to change.

I've heard it said that, to a young child, God looks a lot like Mom. So, I try to model my parenting after God's parenting of us. (As a side note, if you ever want to feel better about your parenting, consider God. We know He is the ultimate parent, yet look how his children -- us! -- behave. If He can't make His children obey, I'm certainly not going to!) How does God deal with our disobedience? According to 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

What our house needs is less correction and more forgiveness! We have taught Patriot to confess his sins. If he can tell me he's sorry and correctly identify the wrong-doing, before I administer the due correction, he is forgiven for that sin. Thus he "gets out" of the time-out or spanking he deserves. If there are natural consequences, he still suffers those (i.e. He still has to clean up the mess he made.)

So far, our new "Get Out of Jail Free" program has made for a more pleasant home. I hope we're learning a lot about grace.
Sometimes compromise is necessary to keep a family happy and functioning. One of the areas Matt and I have compromised on is our family's involvement in sports. Before I married Matt, sports were not a significant part of my life. I would wear sweatshirts rooting for the local college team because they were warm and comfortable. I would go to the Super Bowl parties to eat the food and watch the commercials. I was not a sports fan.

Matt, however, grew up in a family of sports fans. They all played a couple of sports a piece. Their family attended most, if not all, of the local college basketball games. They know the rules of most sports and readily debate plays and officials' calls. They keep up with stats and schedules. They are fans.So, over the last 8 years, Matt and I have settled into a pretty comfortable compromise. We, as a family, have become NFL fans. This is a compromise for me because, left on my own, I probably would have continued my life with little interest in sports. This is a compromise for Matt because his sport of choice is college basketball, not professional football. But we have found a common interest and both enjoy the NFL.

Our NFL compromise began with fantasy football. We set up a family league online that allows each member of our extended family to manage a team regardless of their physical location. This has been great for me, as my family tends to be scattered all over the world. We stay in touch on our league's discussion board and the friendly competition has given us something to talk about at Thanksgiving. It's really been a lot of fun.

One benefit I never expected is that I have become an NFL fan. I am actually watching games. I even bought a NFL magazine before our league's draft this year so I could read up on stats and schedules. I'm becoming familiar with teams' histories and players' personalities. I even watch ESPN on occasion by myself. And I like it!

This is all leading up to one big confession: I intend to waste about 16 hours this weekend watching football on TV. When I think of the magnitude of that amount of time, and the other things I could be doing, I'm a little embarrassed. But I think some leisure is OK so I've just made the decision that I'm going to be OK about it all.

Why 16 hours? Well, there are 5 teams I'm interested in: the Cincinnati Bengals (hometown team), the Green Bay Packers (Brett Favre was my fantasy quarterback and is impressive), the Indianapolis Colts (who doesn't love Peyton Manning?), the Dallas Cowboys (after living in Dallas for 5 years, Cowboys love is in my blood), and the New England Patriots (my first-born shares this team's name, and I'd love to see them make history by going undefeated). Four of the five teams are in the playoffs and are playing in different games this weekend. At about 4 hours per game, we're looking at a grand total of 16 hours.

So, if you need me this weekend, don't e-mail. I won't be on the computer. Don't call my cell. I won't be out and about. Call the house and leave a message. I'll call you back during halftime.

Has anyone else noticed that the popsicle seems to be the cure for any childhood illness? I few months back, my oldest had surgery and the nurses at the hospital gave him popsicles in the recovery room. They made him feel much better. The weekend before Christmas, the same child had some kind of stomach bug and couldn't keep anything down -- except popsicles. (He even threw up water! I didn't know that was possible!) Now my youngest has had a fever for several days. What makes him happy? A popsicle, of course.

Is there a class in medical school about this: Popsicles 101, maybe?

The Popsicle was accidentally invented in 1905 by an 11-year-old boy named Frank Epperson, who left a cup and a stick out on the porch overnight. (Is anyone shocked to learn that some kid left his stuff out? Imagine the popsicle-less world we'd have today if his mother had cleaned up after him! Maybe my kids will someday invent something new by leaving their toys all over the floor.) Later, in 1928, the same kid was running a lemonade stand and realized he could sell these things, at the time called "Epsicles." He changed the name to Popsicles, got a patent, and a new American classic was born.

According to the website, there are 30 varieties of Popsicles currently available. Our family only cares about 2: the Fudgsicle and the Red/White/Blue Firecracker. But do you remember creamsicles and those push-up pops? Now that brings back memories of sticky summer afternoons.

So, heres to Frank Epperson, American ingenuity, and the healing powers of Popsicles!