Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A little soul food

Only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Monday, March 29, 2010

Who's your mommy?

In typical Southern fashion, we have been learning about "Yes, Sir" and "Yes, Ma'am." My daughter, at breakfast: “Mommy, is Daddy da ‘sir’, and you da man?”

Friday, March 12, 2010

Heaven is like...

My little girl spent the night at Grandma's this week, which very well may be her favorite place in the entire world. She ate waffles for breakfast and got to watch Clifford and Curious George. Tonight, she asked, "Mom, can I wake up at Grandma's?"

A couple of friends of mine are struggling in battles with cancer. Heaven provides me such hope as my heart twists for their anguish and pain. I think about Heaven a lot anyway, and tonight I found myself comforted: Heaven has got to be a little like waking up in your favorite place in the whole world--with someone you love waiting to hug you, and your favorite breakfast sitting at your place at the table.

Better late than never: A unique Lenten fast

A couple of people have recently reminded me that fasting for Lent isn't just about what you're giving up--it's fasting toward something; and in the broadest sense, it's fasting toward God. I've been intrigued by the concept of fasting lately--how it trims the fat from our souls, makes us hunger for God.

As a side note, someone else remarked that when we're struggling with specific sins, as we seek to move toward God in prayer and other disciplines--aside from just focusing on that sin--we experience more victory as we simply commune with Him. Great thought. It's got to be a little like the woman who touched Jesus' garment, or those who laid in Peter's shadow: Just being near God changes us.

All this to say, my sister sent me this link from the UK, and I found it to be a unique spin on a Lenten fast: restraining carbon emissions (scroll down for a Word or PDF document detailing each day's fast for the 40-day period). The Anglican bishop from this church remarks,

All of us need to think more deeply about the energy we use and the effects on other people. I commend the Diocese of Sheffield's Carbon Fast for Lent 2010 as a really helpful and imaginative way to focus on the effects of climate change on the world's poorest people.

In short, they're fasting toward awareness of our own actions on the poor--toward compassion, in my understanding. Seemed an interesting insight to God's heart, who links fasting to compassion and justice in Isaiah 58.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A spiritual mismatch in marriage

I was amazed by what God taught me in a conversation with a friend. If you'd like, check out this article: A Spiritual Mismatch--and the God Who Sees.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Parenting and anger

Anger is an issue I struggle with significantly as a mom. I read this quote on, and I'm directing this one toward myself as a mother.

" overcome your own anger and replace it with tenderhearted joy. Joy that spills over onto your children. When the mouth of dad [or mom!] is angry, the tender emotions of a child are consumed."

The author cited Ephesians 4:31-5:2, and basically explained in this article that God went to great lengths and self-sacrifice to lay down His own anger--by sending Jesus. So I, too, should imitate God this way.

A great reminder to me...I'd appreciate your prayers in this!

Recent kid pics

C. dressed up like Jeff Gordon. The "girl with brothers" thing runs deep. A lot of times she has a tutu on...with a plastic helmet and a sword.

He's an easy smiler!

Making medals for our Family Olympic Night!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ten educational products worth your $$

1. Cariboo. My kids love this game, and it's a good review of colors, shapes, counting, and letters--with beginning and advanced levels. I like the family time and teamwork. They also enjoy The Hungry Caterpillar Game, Chutes & Ladders, and Candy Land.

2. World Almanac for Kids Puzzler Decks. In age ranges from 3-13 on topics from Early Reading, math, U.S. history...these are made by one of the creators of Cariboo, and get my kids thinking.

3. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. At first glance, I didn't believe my friend when she said she'd used it to teach all four of her kids to read; it looked dry and hard-to-use--of which it is neither. When you complete the lessons, your child will purportedly read at a 2nd grade reading level. It's methodical, and it's great to spend time together with a plan already laid out. Check it out before you buy; it may not be for you, but it's worked for a lot of people, and has been around for nearly 25 years--still getting 4 1/2 stars on Amazon.

4. Math Gear Fast Facts. My son loves to practice his math facts with these, and it helps me change things up a little.

5. Pattern blocks. Great for creating patterns and designs on their own, or mimicking designs that are easily found on the internet.

6. Marbulous--and more. This is a classic but affordable marble-run set. Along with Legos, build/rebuild Caterpillar construction sets from Mega Bloks, the Matchbox Mega Rig Space Shuttle/Rover, and our wooden train set that's been added to over the years, I am amazed at the opportunities for learning basic physics and engineering, creativity, and strategy skills that toys like these provide. When my kids are bored, I've got nearly airtight chances that one of these will interest them, and I like that they use their reasoning skills, dexterity, ingenuity, and both brain hemispheres.

7. Reader Rabbit/Jumpstart software. Though I'm sure opinions vary on this, I like teaching my kids basic computer skills (moving a mouse, pressing a key) through controlled programs--and I love when something makes learning exciting for them, to the point that they initiate. We have Reader Rabbit in pretty much every applicable age and subject, and my younger kids rarely tire of watching the oldest play--so they're picking up a lot, too. Jumpstart even has basic Spanish, as well.

8. Base Ten set. If you're helping with math homework a lot or are just beginning to homeschool, this comes in handy--though it's an investment of at least $20. It's a very visual, hands-on method of teaching place value, addition, etc.

9. Melissa & Doug floor puzzles. We have a lot of these: The human body, a world map, a U.S. map, the solar system... Running from about $13, they're hands-on and fun to do together. I have a couple of avid puzzle kids, and we also like these continent puzzles.

10. Audio books. My kids turn these CD's on in their room all the time. Their favorites include The Boxcar Children series, Anne of Green Gables, and The Magic Treehouse (...well, the only one they've heard). I also have friends who love The Chronicles of Narnia and Adventures in Oddysey (technically an audio drama, but great for faith education). Older kids might enjoy The Indian in the Cupboard. I've noticed an improvement in my kids' vocabulary just from listening--even our two-year-old loves these!--and I think it improves their imagination, too (my oldest flips it on while he's playing with Legos). Hint: It's been a great way to settle everyone down at lights out.