Monday, December 8, 2014
Slow It Down! Way down. If I start the season slowly instead of with a bang things won't seem as hurried. If I gradually build steam like I'm using this month to prepare the season may not feel as harried. Building anticipation slowly and gradually may just be a piece of the puzzle needed a more relaxed relaxed Christ centered season.
Here are ways in which I'm trying to slowly build steam this season.
1-Spread out the decorating throughout the season. This year I'm not decorating all at once. Christmas then isn't thrust upon us suddenly. Keep things subdued initially with a feeling of growing delight and anticipation.
Excitement builds gradually as the decorations increase steadily.
2- Talk about any symbolism and pray. As you decorate or admire the decorations casually offer brief prayers of thanksgiving, penetance, adoration to the one who is the "reason for the season". Explain the story of Benedict. Talk about greenery. I learned that in some traditions the wreath on the front door appeared on December 24th as did the tree.
Have an advent wreath. Use an advent calendar and reading schedule. Reference your readings throughout the day. You could even change colors for a few decorations to reflect the change between advent and Christmas. This year T has a mini "advent tree". The ornaments are blue and purple for now but on December 24 will change to white. And seriously though I don't intend to teach him "happy birthday Jesus" as I think it belittles the real meaning of the day. It may sound like an easy way to explain the purpose of Christmas but the incarnation is so much more.
Jesus came to redeem his people- plural- so celebrate with others. I think there's a real balance that has to be struck though. I don't want to over schedule my family. That means I may goto a select handful of events but not everything. Something else is time with extended family, especially December 25 & 24. They're important. Is Christmas about family though? If I'm overwhelming my kids that hardly makes it a celebration of Christ's love. If I prioritize family time over church I'm also sending a strong message to my kids. You see, Jesus really is the reason for the season. I can tack Bible reading on to my Christmas morning or I can make worshipping Him the priority and tack everything else on to show He's the one we are celebrating. A few years back Christmas landed on Sunday. S and I had such a hard time finding a service open Christmas morning! Sadly after all that effort we ended up giving in to pressure from his family and attended a Saturday evening service instead. This was wrong. We set the wrong tone and the wrong example for our little T. Im just glad he was only a toddler then! Jesus came to redeem his people. Those people are called to be God's children. We're part of the family of God! How better then to make time on Christmas day than to worship God incarnate with brothers and sisters in Christ? What joy to which we can anticipate! The now and the yet to come, when thanks to this miraculous birth we can anticipate celebrating with all our family in the celestrial city. What am I saying? I think I need to search out a Christmas Day service, even on a weekday, if there still is such a thing.
4- Choose My Music Carefully
This may or may not sound silly. But I recommend choosing which songs you sing in the weeks leading up to Christmas around hope and expectation rather than fulfillment. December 24 things can change. Save singing Silent Night for December 24th and on and for now sing O Come O Come Emmanuel. Wait to sing Hark the Herald Angels sing on Christmas, for now singing Hark The Glad Sound. Waiting to sing While Shepherds Watched learn to sing From The Squalor Of A Borrowed Stable for now. For a place to begin learning advent songs check out lists here or look in a hymnal's advent section. Ideas include
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent
Come Long Expected Jesus
Lift Up Your Heads
The Mighty God The Lord
Rejoice All You Believers
Christ Is Coming
When He Cometh
O Lord How Shall I Meet You
Savior Of The Nations Come
Hark The Glad Sound
Check out this link for contemporary
Then the evening of the 24th burst out in Hark The Herald Angels and others. You'll have a couple more weeks to enjoy them (& not grow tired of them).
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
You'd better watch out
You'd better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town.
The elf on the shelf watches. Santa is making a list so you better behave. If you don't behave or if you're too selfish you might not get...The holidays are full of empty silly threats.
I've started wondering if the constant use of these shift the heart's focus off the redeeming substitutionary work of Jesus. Why? Whether simply for fun or at times a useful alternative to counting the child is subtly given the message good gifts are earned.
Should the message of Christmas be "be good so you can get something"? Is that why He came? I want to teach T & F Jesus came because they aren't good, he is. I want them to learn we do good from a changed heart, not from a bribe. Isn't it encouraging greed? Isn't "best behavior" then about self-centeredness rather than selflessness?
Such constant reminders- verbal and visual- may just give the season a human-centered tone rather than God-centered. Just think with me a moment. Think of the examples I opened this section with and contrast it to Jesus. We can do nothing to earn the ultimate gift.
Now I'm not saying it's bad to hang Christmas stockings. We do. But Santa is treated as a fairy tale on par with Hansel And Gretel. It was when i was a child too. Stockings were hung by the chimney with care. We left cookies out for Santa knowing full well he was really our parents. And it was fun! Grandma gave us books like Santa Are You For Real and VHS movies about Saint Nicholas alongside Cajun Night Before Christmas and a beautiful pop up Night Before Christmas. Santa, or rather Saint Nick, inspired us. When were children my sister and I used to fill each other's secretly in the spirit of the original Santa, Bishop Nicholas. It's not a bad thing in and of itself. Just playing the "he's watching" game, I believe, builds the wrong sort of anticipation.
If we want our kids to understand gifts aren't merited by our behavior then lay off the empty threats. When my child struggles at Christmas I need to do what I should year round. Discuss the glorious character of God and the nature of his grace. Bring them back to the gospel.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
Every year as fall winds down and December begins I hear and see this statement. Generally what's meant is don't remove the references to Jesus from decorations, cards, and songs. Let me put my nativity up for display without criticism (as a side note these are actually debated in the Christian world in light of the implications of the second commandment). Throughout our holiday -BTW as holiday means holy day I have no qualms using the term- is the message we send our children really that Jesus is the center of Christmas? Or that people are? How can I as a parent change it?
And I mean I. I am parenting two precious little people T and F. How can I turn their focus first and foremost to Christ? How can I focus on Him so that His character and His deeds are wondered at, appreciated, and anticipated? How can I reference him to T & F so the Christmas story doesn't ring hollow? How do I not just tack Him on as an addendum? I have a few ideas to try. Over the coming days I'll be making a series of posts on building anticipation.
1- Model It!
This is where everything begins, isn't it? After all "Actions speak louder than words!" rings especially true in parenting. To get the "reason for the season" across to my kids I need to model expectation, anticipation, and wonder. Historically Christians have celebrated a season of four weeks leading up to the beginning of Christmas as not Christmas but Advent. In thinking, it was sort of similar to lent (just look up liturgical colors). It has historically been a time of longing and anticipation as you remembered the Old Testament promises and considered them in light of waiting for the second and final advent. It was a time of self examination. The dual undertone of advent - both first and second coming- makes it a time to remember both a threat (the consequences of the fall) and a promise (the earth groans but will be made right. Jesus made this happen and will complete His work. He came to redeem the world. He "banished sin and sadness" and will one day eradicate it in the new world).
Thus advent is a season of prayer. So pray! Even if it seems awkward. Remember that praying constantly doesn't mean you're under pressure to say the right words. Pray about sin. Pray about God's promises. Pray about the anticipation of a savior. Pray about longings and dreads of the second coming. Feel free to drop little prayers in addition to long focused ones constantly. If you need help here, pick up a good book like "If God Already Knows Why Pray" by Douglas Kelly, "Pray With Your Eyes Open" by Richard Pratt, or "The Lord's Prayer" by Sproul. For your kids grab a copy of "The Barber Who Wanted To Pray".
Meditate. Follow the advent calendar with your family. I'm not talking just Christmas countdown. I'm talking wrestling with the promises of God. In your own life this could be reading over the promises. It could be focusing on one of the themes from the advent wreath in your daily devotions.
Week 1 read passages on hope. Focus on why we need hope, the hope in God found in the Old Testament, and halfway through the week shift to the hope found in the New. I mean beyond the gospels. Or read a book on Christian hope.
Week 2 is Preparation or Peace. Think about the God of peace and all its implications. Think over the Prince of Peace. Meditate on the how sin has left the world and your life in anything but peace and how OT promised the Emmanuel who'd bring peace between God and man. Consider how one day there will be forever peace in the new creation after the second coming. Read a book on peace.
Week 3 of advent is a bit like midway through lent. The focus is on joy. "He has turned mourning into gladness." Consider the joy of fearing God, the joy of Christ, the joy that filled OT followers as they hoped and longed for their savior, the joy of following our savior and anticipation of actually being with Him ourselves thanks to His redeeming work. Read a book on joy.
Finally, week 4 the focus of advent is on love. Read passages in both testament on the love of God. Saturate yourself in realizing His character. Realizing the love he had to be Emmanuel, and your lack of love. Dwell on how a heart changed and redeems can love because he first loved. Or read a book on the deep, deep love of Jesus! Vast, undesired, boundless, free.
My favorite book for advent personally is On The Incarnation.
Read Part 2: Grace Not Moralism
Monday, November 24, 2014
I've always thought of T as my reluctant singer. When he was a toddler in story time he'd listen but not participate. After we got home he'd mimic what'd he'd seen in his own time.
At church if the music was too loud preschooler T would press his hands over his ears. Sensitive child. At home he'd bang away rhythmically on every toy instrument he could fun. What a noise.
If I tried to sing with him he'd just listen.
Eventually at four call-and-response songs began working with T (and yes he'd match notes). At five he began wanting to lead the echo songs rather than follow. He also began figuring out notes on the piano. Mary Had A Little Lamb and Twinkle Twinkle Kittle Star are both recognizable. Church changed, a little, as T began humming along to the congregation's singing. Still, in large groups he'd absorb but only copy at home.
This Sunday things were different.
This Sunday things changed.
This Sunday T sang.
Yes, sang. Sang the same words as the rest of the congregation with the congregation. Not at home later. He joined in song together. What made the difference?
His access to the words.
Words accessible to a beginning reader who needs to use his finger to follow along.
It turns out for a small reader like T just hearing isn't enough. He needs to see. And not up high, far away on the board. Right there where he can move his finger under each word and follow along reading. He's a beginner reader after all.
Would that he'd have finger access to the words of church music every week. It just might make a difference.
It's these little things that make a difference.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
It all started with an attempt to conduct a messy experiment in a place where mess wouldn't matter. On the porch.
Then T stuck his entire hand in the bowl. He lifted it up. Next thing I knew both hands were coated. He'd blissfully rubbed them together.
"Let's go wash now!" I ordered, pulling open the door.
I hurried inside. As I entered the kitchen I realized he was still a room away. His movement was slow, dreamlike. He was only half listening. The texture on his hands far more interesting than water.
Then, as that realization sunk in, from behind me I heard a "Slap! Slap!" I looked, horrified, watching the blue globs fly from his hand and land on Grandma's carpet.
Cleaning it was tedious work. After a quick web search I came up with a multi-step game plan. First I blotted every single spot I could find. Second I poured ice cold water on the spots. After letting it sit a minute I blotted again. Hope was raised as some of the smaller splotches began coming up. Hurrah! A fine tooth comb pulled up a few of the flecks. Yet not all came up. Some was still stubborn, taunting me in deep blue circles.
Third step was a cleaning solution. I mixed vinegar and liquid blue Dawn detergent with hot water. This I soaked on the remaining spots. Then I slowly started blotting some more. Gradually the blue cleared. I began to see the true carpet color. What a relief!
How I got the blue food coloring out of the carpet
2- soak 1 minute with ice water
4- clean with solution of 1 tbls white vinegar, 1 tbls liquid Dawn, 2 c warm water
I found more steps on How Stuff Work but it appears they won't be necessary!
Thursday, October 23, 2014
His. Yes. His.
My son is learning how to do his own laundry. This is a typical five year old boy. He has a strong dislike for anything relating to soap and water on his person. Yet here he is, helping me clean his clothes.
Friday, October 10, 2014
Native to our state yet less common due to farming and suburban development that has swallowed much of the native wild prairie in the last almost 200 years of settlement. The children were so excited. It will be wonderful to return and explore with other homeschoolers -and guidebooks - soon.
Can mom accidentally be a hindrance, a stumbling block, as she tries to encourage her children to delight in nature? Usually I read people advocate a more hands-on approach for mom. "Get off your phone and join your kids!" Yet here I read Charlotte Mason advocating watching from a distance, even sending your children back if they leave off observing until a natural concluding point (like the spider disappears from view).
Don't follow your child everywhere. Sit down. Watch them. Observe them observing nature. When they approach you have them create a word picture and if they can't send them back. If that's not enough she takes it further. If the create is doing what it was before also send them back. There are so many things she's wanting mom to encourage here. Yet it is such a different approach. Do you see the value? Would this really help T and F?
And what am I, the parent, supposed to be doing? Just sitting there watching? Reading up on natural science or some other topic so I'm always improving my own knowledge and call be a well of information for my children as she suggests I ought always to be striving to set an example of studiousness? There are many ways I could take this. Must ponder some more. Can I really be a distraction for my children learning attention, observation, and reverence? I have a feeling I can. It's not a good feeling either.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
I was reading something written a century ago about children and the outdoors. The author, Charlotte Mason, discusses the advantage of country children who practically live outdoors. She discusses how "hectic lives" (wow, imagine that! 100 years ago a complaint about life being hectic! Nowadays we long to go back a hundred years to a "quieter" era) can be eased by spending as many hours as possible outside. And no, she's not talking about the 1-2 hours we are so thrilled over if our kids are outdoors. Every. Possible. Waking. Hour. When not at studies or work. Like six, seven hours. As much as daylight and temperature allows.
She's not done there. Time outdoors, she says, is so healthy for both body and mind why not take your meals outdoors in decent weather, including breakfast and lunch? To me a picnic is a treat. She would have it be the norm. How very unusual. Would you consider it practical, or advisable?
Now, this author lived in the UK, in England to be precise. Temperatures there are much milder than here. Much more steady too. Here temperatures vary wildly, ranging from potentially dangerously cold in winter if you get a nice arctic front through to high humidity 100F days in the summer. At the same time, I remember reading an article about children in a Scandinavian country who nap outdoors in cold weather. A major question is: how to safely follow such advice in a land of extreme temperature fluctuation?
It's interesting to note that these long afternoons outdoors are not to be unsupervised, even back then. I know I have a mental image of pre-1960s as the era of kids wandering at will pretty much anywhere. Yet she talks about supervised, directed yet hands-off time outdoors. Directed yet hands-off? Yes, basically it reminds me a bit of Montessori here but outside instead of in. She advises parents to accompany their children, to watch them, and to let them "wander and dream" as they will.
To this end she says leave the books indoors. Mom (or babysitter) isn't outside to entertain. Feed them outside, then send them off to explore. But from time to time she says the parent can take hold of little opportunities to train their power of observation pointing out what they are seeing "a cedar waxwing!" and hearing.
Long hours outdoors. I've noted on here before the seemingly magical powers nature has to calm the spirit. There are so many questions though regarding spending much of the non-work hours outside. Meals too. One of which isn't mentioned in a single websearch of Charlotte Mason sites and forums. Is the value of eating meals and long hours outdoors for health changed if the family has bad environmental allergies?
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Well then. It happened again. The call of the mud. It cannot go unanswered.
This time T acted as though he was at a spa. He carefully, deliberately painted it on every visible limb, and even gave his face a mud mask. Of course I didn't have the camera at that moment.
F stuck with the nearby wading pool. While she does enjoy a good dig in the mud the call of wet water is stronger for her. She was a bit jealous when T got a midday bath.
Monday, August 11, 2014
For three weeks now we've been out of the Midwest, visiting relatives in the west and southwest. T has had the wonderful opportunity to improve his bicycle skills. There are so many places to ride here, on concrete and on dirt. My does T enjoy "off roading"! He intimidates easily though when confronted by a hill. Today Grandpa discovered a great incentive.
He always travels with snacks when outdoors. T adores Grandpa's snacks. In particular Cliff Bars. So as T was waffling on whether to tackle a hill with or without help Grandpa swiftly pulled a Cliff Bar from his pocket. He held it in front of T, who pedaled as hard as he could. Grandpa sped up, trying to stay just out of reach. But that bike gained speed. Soon T's arm stretched out, his fingers opening and shutting. T was laughing so hard. He got to the end of the road, and snatched that Cliff Bar.
Hurrah for T!
Monday, August 4, 2014
Thursday, July 31, 2014
This morning I awoke to a gentle pitter patter over my head. Rain! Such a pleasing sound to hear first thing.
Back at my house in the Midwest early morning rain is hardly unusual. Here in the southwest though is another story. Even during Monsoon season.
So what did I allow my children to do first thing after breakfast? Go outside and get dirty. Yes. I am encouraging them to get their toes, hands, and even clothes caked with mud. Why else is there a tub waiting inside the house? Mud comes off.
Playing in mud is relaxing. Have you recently taken the time to squish and squeeze some through your fingers and toes? Your blood pressure goes down. It's soft. Earthy.
Playing in mud makes you happy. Really it does. Smelling the air and the mud together are a pleasure enhancing combination. Apparently seratonin levels increase. So send your grumpy fighting kids to the nearest mud puddle and watch attitudes change.
Playing in mud is heathy. There are several ways in which it is healthy. It's sensory, so it aids brain development. It's a natural resource for creativity as your child imagines, builds, and explores. It builds memories. Good ones at that. Your child learns social skills if a friend is in the muddy mix. Plus it apparently helps build the immune system.
Mud how I love you.
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Here's how we made them.
Red, blue, green, yellow food coloring
Glitter, beads, buttons, & rubber bands in gold/yellow, black/blue, silver, red, white, & green
How to do it:
Empty and clean a plastic bottle.
Add beads in the bottom.
Fill about 1/4-1/3 full of baby oil.
Dye the water desired color. Note that when making black combining food dyes you'll end up with more of a purple shade.
You'll want to make gold, dark, red, white (use clear water), and green.
Add the colored (or clear for white/clean) water filling it up to the base of the neck. Glue the lid on securely.
Now you can use them to talk about the gospel whenever your little one shows an interest.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
You know those moments where you realize you made a mistake as something occurs?
That happened here this morning.
I mean I seriously should've seen it coming. The mess was 100% preventable. But I didn't until it did.
So I was getting ready to give the toddler second breakfast. She's a grazer so multiple meals are a must. T's math books were sitting on the table. For some reason I unthinkingly placed the tray on top. Then I turned to answer a question T had about his Lego's.
F may not he obsessed with food but she is with music, animals, and books. So the next instant F grabbed that book off the table pulling the tray of food that had been placed on top with it. Crash! The contents fell all around as she looked at me, stunned.
I should've known better.
At least everything was plastic.
It could've been worse.
A broom. A dustpan. The floor is now clean again.
Problem solved--- oh. Wait. Now I have to fix a new tray of food.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Next Tuesday the gymnastics class T takes will have their "show". After this T is going to take a break from gymnastics for a month or two. For June I've signed T up for swimming and soccer instead. A change should be good for him. At least for a little while.
Monday, May 5, 2014
My baby is fifteen months old. At least according to her birth certificate. She thinks she's more like fifteen years old.
Going through her dresser she'll pick exactly which clothes she wants.
Shopping with me at Target she will spy some article of clothing. "My?" She'll enquire. If she doesn't like something I look at she will disdainfully look the other way.
Eat with fingers? Oh mom. That's so last year. Spoon and fork please.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Saturday, April 26, 2014
My poor 5 year old is learning how to do laundry.
His. Yes. His.
My son is learning how to do his own laundry. This is a typical five year old boy. He has a strong dislike for anything relating to soap and water on his person. Yet here he is, helping me clean his clothes.
Sunday, April 20, 2014
I love some of these comments. "God promised that one day someone would come and crush Satan's power..." "Do you know what the flood teaches us? God will judge every single person who rejects Him as king. And do you know what God's judgment teaches us? Every single person needs God's blessing...""his promise was big, and Abraham's faith in God's promise was big too...""the blood of the lamb was God's great sign" "God did keep his promise to Abraham!...God gave this great nation his good word...""Then. God surprised David...someone from David's family would live forever as God's king...and bring God's blessing to all the peoples of the earth..."
So here in a child's book we have it.Many years ago, God promised, when sin first entered the world, he would send someone who crush Satan's rule. Satan would try to harm/stop, but this Seed would triumph. Then God sent a flood, but an Ark kept Noah safe just as Jesus keeps His people safe from God's judgment. Afterwards god sent a rainbow as a sign of his promises. Abraham was promised many descendants, people who would be God's own. One of these would bless the rest. In Moses' day an angel of death came through the land. To stay safe people had to kill an innocent lamb, dip leaves from a certain tree in its blood and paint it over the door. The angel of death saw the blood and skipped the house. The blood of the lamb saved people from death. Later. God set up a sacrificial system, and gave his people a law to keep (which they couldn't) In David's day God promised a forever king.Years later, Jesus was born. And the magi came to worship the forever king. The shepherds came to see the lamb of God.
Jesus grew up, being the spotless lamb. He never did or thought or said anything wrong.
Now fast forward to Easter and The Big Picture Story Bible again.
The chapter on Jesus' death leaves the followers scared and wondering why he died and is still death, whether he was really the forever king promised to David, whether he was really the one who would crush Satan and sin, or bless everyone on earth. Then Jesus over the next several pages is revealed to have risen again. God's promises are explained. "He showed them many pictures that proved he must die to pay the penalty for sin."
He obeyed God's law perfectly.
I can't. Sometimes I don't want to. Even as a believer. That's how powerful sin's grip is on humanity.
He died. The spotless lamb. Death/judgment passed over His people. Over me. Over everyone who He calls and who calls on His name.
He was/is the ark, saving people from God's wrath. God's wrath is terrifying. All I can say is, "Thank you!" And it doesn't seem like enough of a response. He took God's wrath instead of us. We find our refuge in him.
He is the one through whom the nations are blessed. His promise wasn't to one nation. Nations. Plural. I am living proof of that with my ancestry; I am so thankful he blesses the nations, plural.
Satan thought he stopped him when he was crucified, but Jesus arose and crushed death/sin/Satan. Now Jesus is God's forever king.
Christ is risen from the dead
Glorious day we celebrate
Death has no power over Him
He is risen!
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Sunday, April 13, 2014
There are few sounds more shrill than a newborn's cry.
Often those first three months are deemed the hardest.
You have very little sleep. If it's your first you probably have more than if you have older kids. On top of hardly any sleep you are recovering from birth. Then there's the whole figuring out what baby needs on top of your own needs.
Here's a tiny new human. Totally helpless. Your responsibility. Unable to communicate except by crying and wow can it cry. Frequently and furiously. Sometimes a new parent may be so frustrated trying to figure out what this shrill shrieking means.
Diaper? No. Baby is dry.
Ok then. How about cold?
Hot? Strike three.
Hungry? A few sucks but obviously not hungry.
Well let's rock or bounce while crying on the phone or babycenter's boards for a sympathetic ear.
Newborn days are hardest you may reassured.
If you can't calm baby, baby is dry and full just step back. Get a cup of tea and realize sometimes newborns just cry.
That's what experienced moms all seem to say.
I've heard it many times over.
Then suddenly you hear a little toot toot! Baby's now ok.
Well. If only you'd known baby was gassy. They're so right. Newborn days are hard.
Yet few people seem to realize some of these confusing cries may actually mean something. The cries may have similar sounds. They may start out quiet and grow intense rapidly when you don't magically know what baby needs. I've been in stores before as I've watched a mom hover over her precariously balanced car seat on the shopping cart trying to figure out what baby wants. Depending on the newborn's cry I've found myself wanting to run up and say "He's just hungry. She needs help sleeping. " Not always as I get further from the newborn stage again but it does happen.
I think 4 months up the crying for both F and T was more difficult to discern than the newborn stage.
Before T was born I bought books and films. Some were better than others. My top three had to do with being in tune to baby. One of those was by a musician with a photographic memory for sound. She has isolated five basic sounds newborns make based on their needs. S and I started applying it in the hospital with T. It was great. Even with a very fussy baby. Worked well until baby began playing with sound. Four years later when F was born (a very different, happier personality) we applied Dunstan Baby Language again. More success.
You can bet if we are blessed with a third child we will be listening for these five universal cries.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Monday, April 7, 2014
Sunday, April 6, 2014
What particularly captivates the children is watching Norbert eat. Now Norbert subsists on mealworms and crickets. Watching him hunt crickets is quite entertaining.
This evening T was staring in the cricket keeper. "There are three crickets left," he announced, "so ill name them Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego!"
Great. So now we name the lizard's food.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
What I gleaned:
*One speaker said the same thing my parents always told me (& practiced): don't treat Bible as a separate subject that has to be completed each day. Have devotions and then apply/integrate to allow it to permeate life. But separating it out lowers it to just another box for kids, and de-values it. Kids this speaker noted who grew up with Bible as just another daily subject often grow up and don't value it as highly.
*Re-affirmed pacing lessons for full attention to maximize learning. Even if the lesson isn't over. Set a time limit that's developmentally appropriate (10 minutes for example for k) & move on. You can come back to it later. Your child will absorb more!
*Talk on the value of poetry and Shakespeare as an essential part of education- even in grade school.
* Interesting talk on four major variations in the current classical education world. I was taking kids back and forth to bathroom and diaper changes so missed a lot of that talk.
* A history of the differences in goals of a liberal arts education and creating thinkers vs a lot of the financial backers of the 20th century educational system and teacher training wanting good workers (for the sake of their companies/the economy) but not independent thinkers.
* Also an interesting challenge asking what would happen to our country if all students were required to take 3 years of Logic prior to high school graduation (formal and informal).
Things I didn't like
*Feeling like I've heard a lot of this before.
*Not really seeing much I wasn't familiar with from the vendors.
*Feeling odd that I didn't feel an urge to buy. HSers keep telling me how easy it is to blow a budget at these things. The only money I spent was on food.
*A plenary session that was promoting a personal not-related-to-education agenda. Seriously? Plus I'd respect it more if it hadn't contained some mocking of other beliefs and ignorant comments.
Was it worth $60? Probably not.
I'd rather spend a few hundred to attend the ACCS in the future. Love their recordings and loved attending their conference in the past. I'm thinking I would also prefer to go to the Latin Schools convention for home, cottage, and private schools at the end of summer.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
T is five! He turned five a week and a half ago but today we are finally having his party. Right now his favorite thing to do is build with Legos. So naturally he wanted a Lego party.
His cake wasn't difficult for an amateur to make. I mixed two cake batters. One was the classic Hershey chocolate cake. The other was a fresh strawberry cake made without added jello or food coloring. Since T really wanted the strawberry I made a bit more of it than chocolate.
I poured the batter in sheet cake pans. Two standard size and one half size. After baking I turned each cake sheet out on parchment paper.
Next I cut the sheets in half and trimmed as needed. I ended up with two 2*3 & one 2*2 cake "legos".
I filled them with frosting. The chocolate got orange and strawberry got cream cheese buttercream. Getting out the food dyes I mixed just enough in small bowls to get the colors I wanted. Then I dirty iced the tops and sides. While waiting for it to harden a little I got out fondant. I rolled it and cut out circles. After finishing frosting the cakes I added the fondant circles to the tops. I ended up with two 2*3 bricks and one 2*2 brick.
Final step was assembly. I put the large bricks next to each other. They became the base. The smaller brick was stacked on top. Topping it off was a cake topper T built from a kit we found at the Lego store online.
It was a lot of fun to make!
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Stuffed bedtime toy
One doll per child
Basket of puppets
Duplos (Legos for T are in the toy library cupboard and come out any time he asks)
Dressup (probably coming out of rotation as only the hats are being played with)
Barn with animals and buildable fence
"House" game items
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Friday, February 28, 2014
We had such a fun evening! S' s parents threw the children a family birthday party. One of S' s cousins brought her 3-year-old daughter A along so T and F had a playmate. T loves his cousin A. Thank you C for coming. It meant a lot.
Grandpa and Nana ordered a strawberry cake. So yummy. T really wanted strawberry. Nana made some cupcakes too. Butter yellow. Yum!
Preparing for the party was time consuming but surprisingly relaxing. We had a ball. I found drawing, coloring, and cutting out paper fish with T rather therapeutic.
Since F was too young to lick her candle T handed it to cousin A. Oh did they enjoy themselves. There's something almost magical about candle-licking isn't there?
F hit the musical jackpot this birthday. She will be bringing home a small collection of handheld musical instruments. I'm sure many new memories will be formed with them in the days ahead.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Chick-Fil-A has done it again. They've put the most fun toys in their kids meals. We've spent a lot of time folding and flying the airplanes in the kit we found in T's meal on Monday. Each plane is designed like a bird. Nana, F, T, each one of us is having a blast. They fly differently which makes it all the more fun.
What is it that makes flight so fascinating?
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Friday, February 21, 2014
We start out the day with F's level. She just started year two of level one. There are lullabies, hand claping games, circle games, and even tickls to enjoy. T often demands "give me a turn!" as F laughs and laughs and laughs. Then we move on to the preschool lessons for T. There's pitch exploration, echo songs, arioso, movement, beat, and at the very end I have to sing a story. It's delightful.
We have all been delighted with it. T never liked singing before. Now he's not only starting to keep a beat, learn pitch, he's also singing his own songs.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Friday, February 14, 2014
There will be some overlap in this list, the preceding list for infants, and the following list for toddlers. This list includes our favorite and our dislikes. Hopefully it will give you a few ideas.
Check back at least monthly. F only turned 1 in February 2014 so this is ever growing.
This is a book I checked out for my almost 5 year old. To my surprise is actually my 1 year old who most enjoys it. The book features beautiful color photographs of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings. They are accompanied by a lilting text of descriptions quoting Van Gogh himself. Quite creative. The book is hardcover, not a board or cloth book, so be aware.
I have an entire blog post devoted to this one. A touch and feel book with rhyming text. In the back are two pages with more information for the parent.
This book is stunning! Perfect for any baby or toddler 3 months through three years. Features photos of baby faces from all around the world.
DK Touch and Feel series
With a wide variety of titles there's sure to be a favorite. Each touch and feel book's pictures are actually photographs making the books more interesting. Has titles like Farm, Kitten, Playtime, 123, etc.
-not every book is a hit-
Little Miss Austen Pride and Prejudice
I'm sorry. I just can't get into these. The artwork has nice contrast but both unrealistic and unremarkable. The literary value is gone. In fact it really has no story at all. Events are out of order. If you took a bunch of stills from the P&P film and highlighted a certain number of people or things in the still that'd be another matter entirely. This is not a good way to introduce your young bibliophile to famous literature. It's written more for the fan than baby. If you want baby to learn counting and be introduced to the cultural literacy road there are better ways.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
While it can be a challenge to find beautiful children's illustrations you are generally safe with Caldecott books. What about baby though? There are some marvelous board books if you search. I will be featuring some favorites as F makes her way through toddlerdom.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
One year olds are such fun! F is playing with both her own and her brother's toys when she can. She loves taking things out and putting them away. So this simple educational game is quite a hit.
Hide and seek baby edition.
Hide a toy (or sibling) under a blanket. Ask "Where is ---?" At one point her toy dragon's tail was sticking out. Great moment to build vocabulary too!
Monday, February 10, 2014
Sometimes it's impossible for a mom to sleep through the night.
But that's ok.
Sometimes after a really long day and you're ready to put the kids to sleep they're so wound and tired themselves they take even longer than usual to fall asleep.
But that's ok.
Sometimes just as you close your eyes and start to drift you hear a wail.
But that's ok.
Sometimes you wish you really could nap in the middle of the afternoon.
But that's ok.
Sometimes in the wee predawn hours, after you've already been up once with the toddler, big brother bursts through the door to tell you about his bad dream.
But it's ok.
Sometimes you're awoken by a cry of "Mom, I woke up and can't get back to sleep!" Later after putting your own small child back in dreamland you lie awake yourself wishing for your own mommy to help you fall back asleep. You wonder if she wished the same thing as you lie there, awake in the dark as you should be sleeping.
But that's ok.
Those middle of the night song, snuggles, and stories are precious.
To a mom that makes these sleepless nights more than ok.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
My little F has celebrated her first birthday. She's already walking. Started at 10 months old. Younger than her big brother T.
Meanwhile my very close friend, their Aunt M, is expecting her first at the end of spring. We're all so excited. Just wish they lived closer than a 17/18 hr drive. Seeing them busily prepare for their first bundle of joy (and that spell check keeps wanting to capitalize joy!) started me thinking about what was useful and what wasn't with our second baby. So here goes!
Arms Reach Bedside Sleeper- I am such a fan! As we didn't want to bedshare this was the best compromise. The sleeper attaches to the side of the bed. We could reach over and touch F while sleeping or roll over to nurse/change diapers. We've used this with two babies so far and I'm use if we're blessed with a third will use it again. Age used: newborn-5 months
Crib: ok, this is a tricky one. I am a huge fan of Montessori style floor beds. With T when we switched him to a Montessori floor bed it made a huge difference. You totally childproof a room and put a mattress on the floor. No fall hazards and baby can entertain himself instead of crying first thing upon waking. We'd planned on a floor bed with F too. But we ended up getting a long-term houseguest in her future room and I didn't want to also lose the guest room. So while she's sleeping in our room she's in a crib. We bought a convertible. Eventually it will become the bedstead for the guest bedroom. Age: 5months +
Playpen: first child unnecessary. One story house unnecessary. Older child or two story house useful.
We really didn't use a play yard with T. The house was child proofed.
Swing/bouncer: can be useful is the right circumstances. Generally however a carrier can do the same thing. We did occasionally use the bouncer. It was nice occasionally to put baby down in something that still had motion. But it's so easy to rely on it! Overall though it's not a priority and was used for weeks in all. A swing might be more fun in all. Now an outdoor swing on the other hand that's useful!
Jumperoo/ Exosaucer- fun for a couple months. Entertainment for while working with your older kid on math or phonics. But really? I want it out of my house. For the cost and space why bother?
Tummy Time Mat- Babies seem to hate tummy time. These mats may seem silly but in my experience they are worthwhile. The key is the bright mini boppy. Much smaller than a standard nursing pillow it is the perfect height to prop baby on stomach for tummy time. Both babies found tummy time more tolerable using it.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Chill rains would fall. Frost paint rooftops. Brown leaves clinging to the random deciduous tree branch or mixed in with pine straw on the ground crunched underfoot or glistened as they were held stiff with frosty ice crystals. The rising sun turned them into a soggy mess. By the time the last leaves fell in February the new ones were beginning to bud as the air warmed.
Snow didn't usually accompany cold snaps. Flurries were a huge event when they occured. Every few years a dusting or a little more would fall. Or a light sleet. More often though still not every year an ice storm would strike a crippling blow. Every winter we'd get heavy rain, even severe thunderstorms, as the fronts dug down toward the southern coast. After clearing the area (& the air! It left the sky so blue!) dry cold air would remain.
At least it was cold for there. I learned early on the cold like manners was somewhat relative to where you lived. People complained if the highs were in the 40s. I'd laugh. It's invigorating I thought. Cold weather encouraged me to be more active than on those sticky summer days when you'd be drenched in sweat after taking the trash down the driveway.
No. When I was a child winter was something you visited on vacation. Read about in books ("The Long Winter" seemed so exciting!). It was the American childhood experience assumed in Christmas songs, tv, and movies. To me but a dream.
My sister and I turned the song White Christmas into a joke.
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I've never known...
We'd sing every year.
My children see winter differently.
Here snowplows are a common sight. Here you see salt for sidewalks sold next to gas pumps at the station. Everyone owns a snow shovel or two or even a snowblower. Streets are salted regularly. If you are a small child without a sled that's quite unusual.
Over the holidays we visited loved ones in Arizona, Texas, and Tennessee. T was convinced it was still fall in TX because the leaves were still falling from the trees, coating the grass. To him winter is not just a time of year. Winter means snow. Snow means winter.
It's all a matter of perspective.
Monday, January 20, 2014
There were two variations T created. One used rolled oats and the other cheerios. Next time we're going to try it with Uncle Sam Cereal.
Equal parts peanut butter & almond butter
Couple Tbls honey
Rolled oats or cereal Os
more dark cocoa powder
Thursday, January 16, 2014
When T took his first steps it was around his first birthday. She took hers before Christmas. At 10 months. There's been no going back. No crawling. He gradually decreased crawling and increased walking over a couple months. F? Instant walker.
Now at 11 months she's cutting molars. Working on teeth 9 & 10. She has rejected soft foods like yogurt, oatmeal, etc in favor of finger food. So here I have food pouches in the cupboard for snacks and who is asking to eat them? T. Not baby F. Such a different child.