Saturday, August 25, 2007

Before I forget...

Recently James held an impromptu supper time spelling bee with the kids just for fun:

"Okay kids, who can spell sewer?" (Don't ask me why that particular word popped into his head while we were eating!)

Sophie: "I can! I can!" pausing to spell into her hand, then saying out loud "S...T...I....N...K...Y."

We cried with laughter.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Pachelbel Parenting

This is the second time that I've seen a video at Smockity Frocks and embedded it in my own blog to share! My whole family enjoyed this:

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Road Trip Magic

Summer is often the time for a family road trip. This is an unusual summer for us in that we have stayed close to home, but I'll share my children's favorite road trip activity.

Crayola Model Magic is an air-drying modeling material that is easy to use, and best of all, is easy to clean up. My children have used it on three road trips so far, and it has never stuck to anything that it shouldn't. Each of my kids sits in the van with a lap tray which provides the surface for sculpting.

Crayola Model Magic provides a creative, minimally messy activity that works for me! Visit Rocks in My Dryer to read more helpful tips.

Thank You

I participated in the recent Dog Days of Summer Bloggy Give Away and entered several contests myself. To my great surprise, I won three give-away items!

Mary at Owlhaven sent me this lovely Ethiopian necklace which I wore to church this past Sunday. Thank you Mary!

BooMama gave away ten Mandisa CD's! I gave the CD that I won to a friend at church who is a Mandisa fan. Thank you BooMama!

To my children's delight, I won these Adventures in Odyssey cd's from Michelle at By the grace of God... The kids have already listened to the whole set! Thank you, Michelle!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Family Discipleship

We have recently started two new habits in what I'll call "family discipleship" that God is using to bless each of us. For the past several months, we have been having a sermon discussion on Sunday afternoon. We encourage the kids to take some notes during the Sunday morning sermon, and James and I do as well, though it usually is a joint effort between us. If Logan is with James, I'm writing, but if Logan comes to me, the notes get passed down to James.

At some point in the afternoon, we gather the family together and go through our notes, asking the children questions in order to discuss the main ideas. We have found the practice to be a great platform for discussing key spiritual truths, bringing up examples of our own, or tying in other scripture that goes along with the sermon. It is encouraging to hear what the children remember from listening and to go over what was missed.

An exciting benefit we have discovered from starting this habit is that we are all retaining in the long run more of past sermons, and when we discuss the sermon of the week, we often tie in examples, illustrations, or truths from past sermons.

James and I are encouraged by the soft hearts we see in our children at this point in their lives. We haven't run across sighing, groaning, eye-rolling or other "How boring" type of behaviors. The children participate in and seem to enjoy our sermon discussions. It has even been a time when I get to "cuddle" one of the older kids on my lap which doesn't happen as often the older they get!

Sunday afternoons are often opportunities for a family bike ride or walk as well (though I often stay at home while Logan naps, because I feel all worn out on Sunday afternoon), but I like that we have added in this spiritual "discipline" to our routine which draws us closer together as a family and closer to our Savior.

The second discipleship habit that we have added is in our nightly family worship routine. We have begun using the guide Balancing the Sword to aid us in our Bible reading. Right now, we are reading through Exodus (Again-- in case anyone remembers that I read in Exodus with the kids at the beginning of last school year.) The guide includes 3-4 content related questions which James reads to us before the Bible reading and then asks the children to answer after we read the scripture aloud. We also pick one of the questions to read all of the related cross-references which often is a wonderful opportunity for tying the Old and New Testaments together.

When we read the chapter about Moses and the burning bush, we talked about how God wants and requires the worship of His people. The guide asked the question, "What did Pharaoh say was the root problem that caused Israel to ask to leave and make sacrifices to YHWH?" The kids remembered that Pharaoh accused the Israelites of wanting to worship God out of idleness, and we talked about how Pharaoh considered working for him more important that worshiping God. The cross-reference for the question included Matthew 26:8,9 ~ the story of the woman who poured out expensive perfume on Jesus, getting scolded by those present for wastefulness, while receiving commendation from Jesus Himself for her act of devotion. While the children did not grasp the connection between these scriptures on their own, the light dawned on James and me as we pointed out the similarities between the two stories. Just as Pharaoh discounted the Israelites desire to worship God, considering hard work more important, the disciples frowned on the woman's simple, yet extravagant act of worshiping Jesus, telling her that it would have been better for her to use the money from the perfume for the poor. We came away from our Bible reading with a renewed sense that our highest calling as God's people is to worship God. (And what an encouragement to continue faithfully in family worship.)

Guess what the sermon the following Sunday was about... Matthew 26: 6-13! Praise God for His grace to us! We thank Him for this demonstration of His love and encouragement to us through His Word and the timeliness of the sermon for our family! The pastor brought out the phrase "She has done what she could" from the parallel passage, Mark 14:8 and discussed how, though she was nothing in the eyes of the world, God made note of her, because of her worshipful, self-sacrificing act, done solely out of love for the Lord Jesus. The sermon drove the meaning of the passage deeper into our hearts.

For my family and any other readers of this blog, if you would like to pray for our family, please ask the Lord to continue to lead us into greater faithfulness in our worship and service to Him, that we would do what we can, simple though it may be, but out of love for Christ and with our eyes fixed on His glory.

Thanks for letting me share our joy in the Lord!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Baby Einsteins or Baby Stooges?

"Baby development videos like Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby are little more than snake oil and can actually slow a toddler's learning, a new study has found.

For every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants aged eight to 16 months understood an average of six to eight less words than those who did not watch them, the study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, found." Click HERE to read more...

I'm not surprised that a study has actually demonstrated something that should be common sense: Babies learn language from interacting with other people.

(By the way, my title is exaggerating to make a point. I don't actually think that a baby who watches an occasional Baby Einstein while a parent gets something done is going to be a dunce!)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tea, Tedium, and Toddlers

This summer, our family is enjoying food flavored with fresh basil from our very own basil plants. Matthew waters the plants everyday and recently pruned two of the plants, washing and trimming the leaves, coating them with olive oil, and freezing them in ice cube trays for future use. That little project inspired him to put them to another use. He tore up some of the leaves and put them in a cup of water, letting them steep in the warmth from the sun for awhile. Sophie and Evan also requested that he make them some "basil tea." I tasted it and it was slightly sweet and actually good!

Now that Evan is back to square one with learning new piano pieces, his attitude and quality of practice has crashed. He gets so easily discouraged when learning anything new and doesn't put his heart into the hard work that it takes to get to the point where he can become proficient. He doesn't want to quit piano, but he is just spinning his wheels as far as making progress in learning new pieces. He is driving his piano teacher up a wall. Unfortunately she resorts to nagging which isn't helping. James are praying and discussing alternate methods of external motivation to encourage Evan until the internal motivation kicks in (as it did eventually last year.) I'm attempting to be an example to Evan by practicing one of his songs myself to demonstrate good habits (in all my spare time :). At least the kids see me applying myself to something that I require of them.

Last weekend James and I watched the movie Rudy. (Unfortunately the movie included a lot of taking God's name in vain.) The movie is based on a true story and shows how a devoted heart can overcome seemingly impossible obstacles in ability. Of course, it is all from the perspective of purely human effort, but it is an interesting study in human nature. Rudy is Evan's antithesis right now.

Since Aunt Beth was babysitting her grandson Elijah on Friday, she brought him over to spend time with our kids. Logan and Elijah are both at the same stage where they get far more interested and excited over pictures of people than the people themselves. They both point happily to pictures of each other, but when they are right next to each other, they look everywhere but at each other!



We enjoyed watching the boys play side-by-side, and someday they will enjoy actually playing with each other. (Click on the pictures to view larger. You can see a video by clicking on "My Recent Shots" in the sidebar.)

Down with Internet Explorer!

Based on a recent comment, I grabbed a clue that I should look at my blog with Internet Explorer and made sure that it looks okay. Why, O why is the blogger bar at the top cutting off my header in that browser?!

Do any of my blog readers use IE? Have you wondered why my blog looks ridiculous?

Either I have to fiddle with the template until it looks right in both Firefox and IE, or I'll have to include a disclaimer in my sidebar that this is best viewed in Firefox. Sigh.