Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dog slobber

Is it just me, or is it disgusting when a mom allows her dog to lick the sippy cup before giving it to her daughter?

Had a good time at the park today! The sunshine felt good even though we had to wear coats to be comfortable.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Indoor bowling

We just got a couple more balls from Target and the boys have been enjoying them. Noah especially just loves "ba - ba - ba!" I was washing the breakfast dishes this morning, and Sam had the new blue ball, about the size of, well, a bowling ball. He rolled it at Noah, who has finally learned to walk and was heading across the kitchen floor, knocked him down, and yelled "Strike!"

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Fish face

Look Dad, fish lips! I can do it!

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Homeschool vs. Public School

We are still very much considering our choice for Sam after kindergarten. Will he continue in public school as a first grader, or will we homeschool?
There are mixed responses among friends/family, those whom we respect and care about.

On the side of public school:
1. We all went to public school, and we turned out just fine.

2. Are you crazy? You want all your children with you all day every day?

3. You're just sheltering them from the world and its evils. How will they learn to deal with that when the time comes?

4. Aren't you afraid they'll be socially backward and not know how to make friends?

5. You realize they'll be there all the time.

6. What about sports and music and all the stuff you can't duplicate at home?

7. Think of all the people they could tell about Jesus.

On the side of homeschooling:
1. You get to have your children with you all the time!

2. You can shelter them from all the evils of public school and explain things to them when you feel they're ready to handle it instead of letting a teacher or their friends make this judgement for you.

3. Home-cooked lunch!

4. The parents get to pick the curriculum.

5. There are lots of groups to join in order to be involved in music or sports or go on field trips.

6. Sibling relationships can be nurtured.

7. Parents will know when a child needs extra help.

8. Behavioral problems can get dealt with in a biblical way, and it can be consistent with what usually happens at home.

These are just a few examples of both sides. Some came from me.

I would like to say that my primary reason for choosing homeschooling for our children, at least at this point, would be not that I could shelter and protect them, but that I could give them things that the school would not. There are some amazing curriculums out there that seek to provide a God-centered world-view for all subjects - history, math, science, etc. Imagine learning science from day one with such a view! I think that science would have had a lot more appeal for me!
The protection would be an added benefit. I do not think that a child should be sheltered from the world to an extent that they are unequipped to deal with it later in life. I do think that we, as parents, have a God-given responsibility to shelter our children from certain aspects of life and the effects of sin until they are able to understand it and are ready for it. This comes at different ages for all children.
For instance, I don't think that my 5-year-old is ready to hear about homosexuality, even on a simple level. I think that there needs to be a certain amount of spiritual understanding, especially regarding sin, before a child can accept this in a godly way. We all know and have seen many examples of children introduced to subjects such as homosexuality too early - teasing and unkind words spoken with carelessness. If I am able to give my child an understanding of a particular evil, I can also try to instill in them grace and compassion for the one who struggles. You don't find grace and compassion in public schools. You find blatant denial that the behavior is wrong, blatant denial that it is even all that different than a "regular" romantic love.

Yes, as a follower of Christ, I do need to trust God with my children. Does that mean I leave them home alone for the day, trusting God to take care of them? No, just that when my children are beyond my protection that the Lord would be their protector. More so, that the Lord is their protector first and foremost! This allows for parental grace - for those many mistakes that we as parents make throughout the day, week, year.
God does give us the responsibility of caring for them though and does not expect us to blindly follow whatever "is done" in society as the best means of raising/caring for our children. I believe that most parents are in a situation where they could choose to homeschool. I'm not ready to say that I believe that most parents should homeschool, but I definitely think it should not be lightly dismissed. Consider carefully with prayer. After all, it is possible that it is God's express will for you to homeschool your children. And it is possible that it is God's express will for you to send them to public school. Pray and see.

So our plan is, right now, to be in prayer about the subject. To seek out opinions. To prepare for either scenario. To be very involved in Sam's experience with kindergarten in the fall. To be aware of what is taught. To pray for the friends he will make. To trust God to protect.

By the way, I agree with many of the points made in the "for public" and "for homeschool" lists above.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Introduction to Orchestra Hall

Sam experienced a "Kinder Konzert" at Orchestra Hall this morning.
He got to experiment with playing rhythms and also got a chance to play a violin and a drum.
He LOVED it!!

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Reading Time

Sam has been really into reading books lately.
When he is stuck on a word, Caleb (who pretty much memorizes a book the first
time he hears it) will often suppy it for him. They make a good team.
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My boys, Sam in particular, have always been very fascinated with heaven. This fascination has led to many interesting discussions. In the car a few weeks ago, Sam asked me, "Mom, when is everyone in the whole world going to be the same age?"
"Well, uh, never Sam. Although, some people believe that when we get to heaven everyone will be the same age."
"I'm some people because I believe that!" he answers.
"I don't think age will even really matter in heaven, since God is so much outside of time. Things go on forever and ever and ever and just keep getting happier and better." I tell him.
"Well, will people have babies in heaven then? Because having a baby is a very happy thing!" Sam responds.

Today, Sam asked me if the neighbor's dog (who recently died) was playing up in heaven.

Caleb asked what kinds of food is going to be there.

Sam said he wondered if there would be flowers growing in "God's house". "`Cause He could just say `Let flowers grow from the ground right here!' and then they would!"

Both wanted to know if they could bring toys to play with or if there would be any toys there. "Heaven will have so many wonderful things to do and see that you won't care about silly toys anymore." I respond.

Sam asks if he'll get to see Jesus there.

Caleb said he hopes there will be lots of vegetables growing there, like green beans. "Only in the summer though".

We were also having a discussion about their spirits and how our body is kind of like a glove for our spirit. That led to "My spirit's name is Sam" "My spirit's name is Caleb" "Your spirit's name is Mommy". I'm cringing listening to this as I imagine them saying something like this to the general public.
Sam asked me if the dead bodies in the ground would just get "sucked up" to heaven when Jesus comes back.

When I told them that they'd probably get to see and talk to a lot of cool people from the Bible, Jonah was a favorite, as was Noah and Adam and Eve.

"And why does everyone sin now, Mama, just because Adam and Eve did?" This from Sam.

After this, it was time to clean up from breakfast.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What would Jesus watch?

I have often wondered what Jesus really thinks of t.v. and all that falls under that realm of visual entertainment.
If Jesus had chosen to come to earth in our time, would He have watched t.v.? Gone to a movie? Played video games?
It is not my intention to label these all as bad.
However, it may be beneficial to think "what would Jesus do" for a few minutes and then analyze "why?" or "why not"?
I think Jesus would prefer the real person over a screen version every time. He ministered to individuals, therefore it's almost ridiculous to imagine Him watching a screen.
Sports crossed my mind.
What's wrong with watching a good `ole baseball game once in awhile?
Well, if He really wanted to watch the game, He could just appear there in a second I guess.
How about a "social watcher"? It's the chosen activity of a group of people at the moment. Jesus would be too focused on the other people in the room for a screen to hold His interest.
Yes, I realize that I'm making unrealistic comparisons - if we all wanted to follow the "what would Jesus do" we could argue that many things were "wrong" (cars...shoes...)
But I think about the hours I spend staring at a screen, and then I compare that to the hours I spend in ministry. Hey, even add that to the hours I spend reading His Word, praying... screentime wins. And our family does not "watch t.v." We still watch movies, spend plenty of time on the computer being very non-productive, and even play some games - well, Brian does:)
Sometimes it just makes me think ....
How many other time-killers, passtimes, whatever you want to call them, will Satan be able to introduce into the lives of present-day believers because they're so cultural, so society-permeated, soaked-in, widely accepted, etc...that we don't even think about it anymore?!! How can it be WRONG??? It's everywhere!
Yep, he's done a good job, huh?
How many hours of screen time do we need to put in before the Holy Spirit is lulled to sleep completely?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My close-knit family

Sam and Caleb have a great relationship, for the most-part. They are inseparable, whether fighting with each other or giggling and laughing and acting obnoxious. Noah has been left out in the cold, so to speak, but I've been encouraged lately that they are starting to play together. However, this morning, the Bible chapter was about Ruth and her love for Naomi and then Boaz. After the story, I asked the boys what makes our family happy. Caleb glibly says, "If we gave Noah to some other family."
I guess there's still work to be done.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A weekend away

Brian and I went to California this past weekend to attend my grandma's memorial service. She had been suffering from alzheimers for the past 12 years or so, so in a way it was a relief when she was released to be with Jesus. We flew out on Friday morning and left the 3 boys with my mom. The plane trip was amazing!! The hotel room was quiet. We packed MUCH lighter than normal. It was a good trip. When we returned on Sunday evening, Noah had a hard time with me. He wouldn't come to me and wouldn't crack a smile. Just kept staring at me with wide eyes, like "Where did you come from?" or maybe "How could you just leave me for three days?" He went to Brian with no problem at all though. Today he was pretty much back to his normal self, maybe a bit more clingy. So we're busy trying to get back into our routine...even a few days gets things a bit crazy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Noah and the truck

Noah - 15 months
He's going through a phase where he loves to wear hats.
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Three Strikes and You're Out

I tried something tonight that I've heard about - I don't remember where. The boys and I went to Kohl's so I could look for a top, and I promised them a stop at Culver's for ice cream afterward, but only if they were "good". Rather than spending the entire trip threatening them, I explained my system that whenever they misbehaved or got a bit too obnoxious (no, you can' t play hide and seek, no, you can't let Noah keep the mannequin hand, no, we cannot buy that top - it definitely would not look good on Mama), I would give them a "strike". If we got to "three", we would be heading straight home. Sam can control himself when he wants to, and he was terrified Caleb would wreck it for them both. So he lectured Caleb about every little thing and Caleb kept promising to "not be naughty". They ended up getting to two, and after that they didn't talk much at all. It saved me the stress and the slowly elevating frustration that comes with constant reminding. All I said were two numbers. I'll have to do this more.

Nice but VERY windy

So we were going to play outside today, but it was so blasted windy!! (Noah got blown over).

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

That's a first

Something you don't prepare for and never expect:
Your child vomiting into the harmonica.
It has been well-cleaned and will hopefully still meet our expectations.
But now we know...even this is possible.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Just the two of us

I took Caleb with me to run errands today. He was excited to go, and I realized something for the tenth time - my kids are so different by themselves! Get Caleb away from Sam, and he's such a sweet, quiet little boy. Sam, by contrast, is pretty loud, even when he's away from Caleb. We did 2 hours worth of shopping without any discipline problems. Of course, there was the usual, "Let's buy this! How about this? Can we get this?" Most of the time he had no idea what the item was, but hey, new stuff is always fun, right? He responded very rationally to my "No, not this time." I was even commended by a salesperson for saying "no" to my child. Yes, I have no inhibitions about using that word! So we had a really fun time, and I was reminded yet again how important it is for both Brian and I to spend time alone with each of our children and see them as individuals rather than just a part of the tribe, so to speak. Of course I love my children, but doing this occasionally helps me to like them again.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Kindergarten Round-up

Sam will be off to Kindergarten in the fall and saw his future school for the first time yesterday. He will be attending a Kindergarten Center, so there are no other grades in the same building (makes the intro. into the system a bit easier for me). We all congregated in the gym for a brief, well, briefing, of entering your child into the school system - yikes!! Sam was very excited and wanted to know who each speaker was, where they went when they were done, etc. He willingly went up front with the other kids to the storytime mat where he "learned" all about humpty dumpty. Oh boy. Reduced from memorizing whole passages of Scripture (something that actually has meaning) to silly nursery rhymes. Anyway, he was happy to decorate a cookie (looked like Humpty) and color a book which had the rhyme printed out on it. I was much more excited about the things he would learn as we traversed the halls and saw different projects displayed. And I didn't see one controversial thing the whole time. (am I secretly disappointed?) Sam was excited to view the bathrooms, the classrooms, and the bus - he got to climb on and find a seat (he went all the way to the back). He's growing up! I have no idea what Caleb will do with himself for the 2 1/2 hours Sam is gone each day. They've been pretty inseparable.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Teaching the books of the New Testament

We sing the books of the Bible with the kids to help them know them. Here's the song we based the melody on:
A Bb C A Ab A
Isn't He wonderful
G F Bb D Db D
Wonderful, wonderful
G F E E D C D Db C
Isn't Jesus my Lord wonderful.
A Bb C A Ab A
Eyes have seen, ears have heard
G F Bb D D Db D
It's recorded in God's word
Isn't Jesus my Lord wonderful?

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Acts and Romans too
First and se-cond Corinthians
Galatians, Ephesians
Philippians and Colossians
First and Second Thessalonians
(repeat melody)
First and Second Timothy
Titus, Philemon
Hebrews and James too
First and Second Peter
First and Second and Third John
and Jude and Revelation too (whoo-hoo!)

We have one for the Old Testament that we got off of a CD, but it's not as melodic, so it's harder for them to catch onto that one.

Monday, April 7, 2008

That's a talented fish!

Today I was reading a book about the ocean with the boys. The book posed the question, "Do you know how fish breathe underwater?" Sam was so excited. "Yes, I know, I know, Mom, I know! They have skills!"

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Sam got his wheels taken away

Today was a momentous day for Sam - we took off his training wheels, and within 15 minutes, he was riding on his own. Brian got his exercise chasing after him, while Sam kept glancing back, laughing, and pedaling as hard as he could to get away. As you can see, we had him fully decked out in helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads. He stops at nothing. Both Caleb and Noah were jerked out of the way on several occasions just in time for Sam to whiz past. And I don't think he left a dent in the neighbors garage door.

Next up - he was promised a scooter when he learned to ride his bike. We thought we'd have awhile yet, but apparently not.

Friday, April 4, 2008

"And I quote..."

Kids have an amazing capacity to memorize! We started our oldest on memorizing verses when he was about three, and he just took off. None of the short and sweet, "Jesus loves us all." that seems to be the weekly verse in Sunday School. A full verse. We made verse-time a part of the nighttime routine. I believe this is key - ROUTINE. We did a lot of "repeat after me" learning, and I'm also a big advocate for figuring out a rhythm in which you say the verse each time, and also doing some appropriate actions along with the verse (God=point up, love=hand over heart, people=spread hands around to show a multitude, etc). We've gotten pretty creative over the past few years with our motion cues. Our middle child learned the verses at the same time as the oldest one, at about 16 months. We realized he was memorizing too when Sam would occasionally get stuck with a word and Caleb would supply it for him. Wow, okay, so a year and a half isn't too young. Start them early. You'll be surprised. We sure were! Anyway, after the actions are set to the verse and done a few times together, pretty soon, all we need to do are the motion cues and the kids supply the words. Then they're doing their own motion cues and saying the words. At the beginning, we spent about a week on each verse and also spent a good amount of time talking about what the verse means. They are now (at ages 5 and 3) doing the suggested memory verses from church (targeting the kids 1st grade and up) and have memorized approximately 28 verses so far since the beginning of the year.
Now since Caleb started memorizing so early and was picking it up so well, I started him on recognizing his alphabet at just over 2. He learned them in a few months. Of course, I'll be the first to say that we have the smartest kids in the world. But I do think that this early memorization opened up their little "mind capacity" box for them at an earlier-than- normal age.
I would encourage parents of young children (or older children if you haven't started yet) to start very young. Even if it's just you repeating the verse as part of the bedtime routine, your child is hearing that, and you'll be surprised when they start vocalizing it too. An added benefit for the parent - you can stop wishing that you had the diligence/time to memorize Scripture and just do it!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

An exam room with 3 boys

I was at a doctor's appointment today for Noah. Brian came for a bit to help manage the boys, but he had to leave for a work lunch about halfway through the appointment. The wait got long as we waited for Noah (poor Noah!) to get his shots. Sam and Caleb actually did pretty well looking at their books - I told them not to move from their respective chairs. Noah, however, was getting very antsy and screaming pretty loud. But then we discovered:

*The exam room table has fun paper on it for drawing or crinkling or hey, ripping to shreds too.
*The stack of styrofoam cups by the sink can be used to build buildings or towers - which are fun to knock down. They can also be used to hold a small amount of water for a 15-month-old to sip or pour down his front (this activity was promptly followed by "Mom, can I have some? I'm so thirsty, it's so hot in here..."). Or they can be given to the child for a temporary chew toy - this is a fun activity for both mom and child as mom can gather up each piece and throw it away one at a time.
*Tongue depressors are good for sucking/chewing on until they splinter.
*If the screaming gets too loud, the blood pressure cuff makes a great muffle! Just wrap it around child's mouth and squeeze the bulb a few times.
*A small mirror above the sink is a good distraction to practice waving or making silly faces.
*The doctor's little stool with the wheels is a fun ride! (Usually rooms are small enough where you should allow only your child to enjoy this - not yourself.)
*Our room had a poster from Star Wars - which provided a great conversation piece for Sam and Caleb about the cool light sabers. It also had a picture of an elephant riding a skateboard (my personal favorite). Noah enjoyed looking at the elephant.
If, by the time all of the above activities are completed, someone has not yet arrived in your room, I would suggest opening the door and favoring the nurses' station with the sound of your children and their patience level.
Our nurse had come back by this time with Noah's shots. Sam and Caleb instantly crowded around the exam table to watch the administration of the shots - it was the part they'd been waiting for! Noah didn't like it too much though. He refused to cry after the first shot (he turned beet red), but the second one was just too much for him. His consolation was the yummy medicine he got to take for his ear infection upon arriving home.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A visit from the Grandmas

The boys were excited to have their grandma and great-grandma come to visit today. I think their favorite activity with them is reading books. Everyone had fun!
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