Friday, January 29, 2010

Cute Valentine's Day projects for kids

Martha Stewart has 26 V-Day ideas for kids!

Link: Protecting Your Child from a Sexual Predator

Please pray for the effectiveness of this article--that God would use it to protect the Church from such harm and its consequences that impact generations. It's changed the way I parent!
Thank you.

Fun math: Balloons!

Read this in my son's AWANA newsletter, and we tried it out this morning with leftover balloons from W.'s big fourth birthday (see photo of the cake out of the dump truck--that's crushed Oreos. YUM).

But I digress. The activity:
Blow up ten balloons, and on each, write a number from 1-10. Throw the balloons up in the air, and your child tries to catch two!

Level 1 difficulty: Identify the number.

Level 2: Add the two numbers.

Level 3: Identify the larger number, and subtract the smaller number.
This actually maintained attention spans considerably well!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Is it a midlife crisis if you're 29?

I was Facebooking an old friend from college a couple of days ago. His life, as he described it, couldn't be better. He has three wonderful kids, a law firm in his hometown. I struggled for words to encapsulate the last seven years. What had I done since college?

What came to mind? The unexpected.

I hadn't expected to be working with the same organization as my parents, raising financial support for our current ministry jobs like they do. I certainly didn't anticipate having four kids this close together, or the realities of being a stay-at-home mom for the most part. I definitely did not anticipate the minivan. There are times when I look at my daily tasks and marvel at the fact that I have a college degree.

I thought back to college: I imagined that by this point, I'd be saving the world in some wonderful-sounding way or another. Personally, I have a passion for the forgotten and the poor, and I thought I'd use some of my cross-cultural experiences. So I basically pictured myself far from this continent helping refugees or something.

Now, as my husband and I approach 30, I realize that as we choose certain paths, we are not choosing others. Windows that were once wide open are now not-so-wide. Did I compromise? Sell out? Maybe you're wondering, like me, How did I get here? Or maybe the question deep inside of that: Is my life special? Am I just another run-of-the-mill mom?

Please don't get me wrong. I don't regret my children or my marriage. And God has provided opportunities to serve Him in my part-time job that are amazingly tailored to the skills and gifts He's given me. But if good is the enemy of the best, which is this?

I still think it's a good question to ask at any point in life, if not simply to realign myself with what God wants. But I had to go back and look at how God brought me here. Yes, I could have signed on with a missionary organization after college, for instance, and gone off into the sticks in Africa. But my husband wasn't gifted or passionate in areas of overseas ministry—and quite frankly, I don't know how much of my desire to minister overseas was actually my own naive ideal that makes some occupations seem more sacrificing or more beautiful in God's sight (or at least other Christians').

As my husband and I walked down each path ... that led to the next path ... that led to the next, we asked God for wisdom. And as I was reminded this week in James,

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (1:5-8, emphasis mine)
And I have to remind myself that even in the times where I haven't asked for wisdom Proverbs 19:21 says, "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." I have a hunch that for now, God has me right where He wants me. And He will look at my life to see if I've been faithful to what He's asked me to do—not at whether or not it was spectacular (or holy-sounding).

Guess my life since college has only been unexpected for one of us.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What to do with all that grapefruit

My kids even like this recipe for Broiled Grapefruit Crisp (I eat it for breakfast; trust me, they weren't interested before!), and it takes less than five minutes to put together.

Measurement games

Right now we're learning about some different forms of measurement and estimation--estimating and measuring towers the oldest has made, different body parts etc. Made a great discovery of, which is filled with activities and worksheets (today we're making their Olympic torch).

Here's one measurement game and an estimation game of theirs that I liked; it's also got some great Valentine's Day ideas!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Books: A beginning list for character development

“You guys do leave some books for the other kids at the library, right?” my mom asked once as I hefted our book bag over my shoulder.

We do a whole lotta reading at my house—partially because I’m a big reader, and because I love the ease of having quality time with my kids when we’re reading. I love the discussion and education opportunities. And there are some lessons that just stick better with a good story—in fact, that’s mostly how Jesus taught.

So I started thinking about some books that were our favorites that also impart some great character qualities. Maybe these will be good fillers for your bag! I'm sure I'll be adding to this, if you feel like checking back--and I'd love your contributions!

Boxes for Katje, by Candace Fleming
Those Shoes, by Maribeth Boelts
Aesop’s Fables
The Giving Tree
, by Shel Silverstein
Finding Joy, by Marion Coste
My ABC Bible Verses: Hiding God's Word in Little Hearts, by Susan Hunt
The Orange Shoes, by Trinka Hakes Noble
Say Something! by Peggy Moss and Lea Lyon
Smoky Night, by Eve Bunting
Ruthie and the (Not So Teeny-Tiny) Lie, by Laura Rankin
You Are Special, by Max Lucado
The Great Stone Face, by Nathaniel Hawthorne (older elementary children)
An Apple Pie for Dinner, by Susan VanHecke and Carol Baicker-McKee

For older kids:
The Book of Virtues and The Moral Compass, by William Bennett (a great anthology of character-laden stories and poetry)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor
Good Night, Mr. Tom, by Michelle Magorian
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas (it’s a lot different than the movie!)

As a side note, for bedtime Bible stories, we’ve enjoyed
The Beginner’s Bible for Toddlers (ages 18 months-3 years for our kids)
The Beginner’s Bible (2 1/2 -6 years)
The Children’s Everyday Bible (5-8 [?] years)

Can you help me add to my list?!

Science starters

I created a box for my kids: Let's Find Out Science! Inside, I've got slips of paper on cardstock with crazy kid science questions so that we can go look them up together. I've determined that a lot of a kid's success in education depends on knowing where to find answers!

I print most "school" documents in the Print Clearly font so that my son regularly sees how to make letters.

letsfindoutsciencequestions1 -

DIY Tangrams

Tangrams are a great way to build a kid's spatial skills. Found out I can make my own!

Try printing this out on heavy cardstock, then cutting on the red lines (if you don't want the black lines on there, cut on the red lines, then use them as a pattern on a new sheet of cardstock).

tangramtemplate -

Click here for some images your child can attempt to replicate!

Poop (reader discretion advised)

Tonight John found major poop in the toilet (ew, and on the seat) in the downstairs bathroom.

John: [Child's name], did you poop in here today?!
Child: No, tomorrow. I pooped in there tomorrow.
John: Do you mean yesterday? (laughing)
Janel (laughing): Or is that future poop?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Love Jesus through Haiti

You've likely heard of the 7.0 earthquake that rocked one of the world's poorest nations yesterday. This link was posted by a friend.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Picture-word Journal

Went into a Lakeshore Learning Store in Houston, where I drooled all over their educational stuff. But since I'm on a limited budget, John and I noodled on some of the ways we could do the ideas ourselves. I'll try to post them so that no one else out there has to recreate the wheel!

Their explanation of their Picture-Word Journal: "Our journal lets kids create their own picture-word dictionaries! It has lots of room for writing and illustrating words".

I'm making one for our firstborn so that when he finds new vocabulary or spelling words, he gets the dexterity practice of drawing while writing the word down, and also creates ownership of the word.

Feel free to use this one if you'd like. You can download this font, Print Clearly, if you'd like to use it in your own picture-word journal. Basically, just print two of these for each letter of the alphabet; we store them in a three-ring binder, and he writes down unfamiliar words as he reads. (As a side note, I want to honor entrepeneurship, but have to be somewhat resourceful since I can't buy everything I lay eyes on!)

picturewordjournal -