Thursday, March 31, 2011

Today I Choose...

We are defined by our choices, and today, I choose to live in light of eternity; I choose to treat my body like the temple it is. I choose to believe the best of others; I choose to be present with and for my husband and my children. And today I choose to seek out and savor moments of grace.

Do you know what I mean by moments of grace?  I'm referring to those moments of internal peace, even while the busyness of life continues to swirl around us; those precious pockets of time when the kingdom of God draws near and a glimpse of heaven is revealed.  I'm talking about resting in the strong embrace of our Creator.

There's no question that we lead busy lives.  As a mom of 3, one preschooler and two school-age children, I am constantly on the go and constantly in demand.  If it's not one thing, it's another, and I never, ever feel like I'm completely on top of things, or doing everything I should be doing.  That balance that the morning talk-show hosts, the lifestyle bloggers, and the advice columnists are always touting as the key to happiness continues to prove elusive for me.  I am never in balance.  If I have one area of my life under control, something else is simultaneously spinning dangerously close to chaos.  I've resigned myself to the fact that it is metaphysically impossible for my entire house to be clean at the same time.  If I feel confident about one aspect of my life, there's something else that makes me want to hide my head under a pillow.

I've come to the conclusion that this so-called balance is impossible.  No human can do everything, and do it well--some of us are just better at faking it than others.  But there is good news in the midst of all of this wobbliness.  God sees us, with all of the plates we're spinning, all of the balls we try to keep in the air, and God knows that we just can't do it all.  So God, in his infinite wisdom and love for us, gives us these moments of grace and rest, these glimpses of heaven.  We just need to be looking for them, because, believe me, they're not easy to spot in the middle of all of our craziness.  You'll know you've found one when your spirit is quiet, and you feel a sense of rightness.

Let me tell you about one of my favorite ways that God injects grace into my ordinary, crazy life.  Every now and then this winter, I would be outside playing with the children, and they would be occupied with other things.  I would lay on my back in the snow, seeing the impossibly blue sky framed by the brown branches and green needles of the pine trees stretching upward. I would feel the gentle touch of the suns rays warming me along with the comforting, solid cold of the snow on my back.  I would float there, listening to the sounds of children at play, and know that God had crafted this moment in time just for me--that I would feel God's presence and know His peace, catching a glimpse of heaven in that moment--oh, what a precious gift.  And how easy it would have been to miss God's gift of grace in the midst of my busyness.

And so today I choose to seek out and savor moments of grace.

 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

Great deal on Kellogg's Cereal!

So I don't usually share the secrets of my couponing sucesses on my blog, but this offer is so great I just couldn't resist (plus, I know my Dad really, really likes Raisin Bran Crunch).
Raisin Bran Crunch Cereal, 18.2 -Ounce Boxes (Pack of 4)

I'm getting 10 boxes of Kellogg's cereal for only 56 cents per box.  You can, too.  Want to know how?

Through 12/31/2011, you can earn a $10 per-paid Mastercard that can be used for gas purchases by completing the form found here and sending in UPCs from 10 participating Kellogg's cereals**.  And guess what!  You can earn up to 5 pre-paid Mastercards!

Since you don't need to send in a receipt for the rebate, check your pantry to see if you already have any of the participating cereals**.  I bought 2 boxes of Crispix cereal the other day for $1.66 each, with a $1/2 manufacturer's coupon (plus I got a coupon for free milk, but let's just say I got those for $1.16 each).

Next, I ordered 8 boxes of Raisin Bran Crunch from Amazon.com, currently priced at $8.58 for four 18.2 ounce boxes.  I chose the "subscribe and save" option*, to save an additional 15%, bringing the price down to $7.29 for four boxes, plus I used the coupon code KELRTEC2 during check-out (valid today, 3/31, only) to save an additional 10%, bringing the price down to $6.44 for 4 boxes, or $1.61 each.

Once my cereal arrives, I'll send in the UPCs and the rebate form, making my total cost (including the stamp) for 10 boxes of cereal $5.64, or 56 cents each!

Don't like Raisin Bran Crunch?  Amazon is currently offering four 20 oz boxes of Raisin Bran cereal for $9.30 ($7 after the 25% discount).  And, of course, you can just go to the grocery store to purchase 10 participating cereals, too, and don't forget to check your pantry :)

* The Subscribe and Save Cliff Notes version: when you order through subscribe and save, you will receive 15% off your order and your order ships free.  You choose an interval for shipments (I always choose the longest option, 6 months), you can cancel your subscription at any time.  I always wait to cancel until I get notification that my order has shipped, but you can cancel future shipments immediately after placing your order if you wish. For more information on subscribe and save you can go here.
**Participating cereals include:
  • Kellogg’s All-Bran® Original
  • Kellogg’s All-Bran® Bran Buds®
  • Kellogg’s All-Bran® Complete® Wheat Flakes®
  • Kellogg’s Smart Start® Strong Heart Antioxidant
  • Kellogg’s Smart Start® Strong Heart Toasted Oat
  • Kellogg’s Corn Flakes®
  • Kellogg’s Corn Flakes® Touch of Honey
  • Kellogg’s Raisin Bran®
  • Kellogg’s Raisin Bran® Crunch
  • Kellogg’s Raisin Bran® Extra!
  • Kellogg’s Crispix®
  • Kellogg’s Product 19®
  • Kellogg’s Mueslix®
  • Kellogg’s® Cracklin’ Oat Bran
  • Kellogg’s® Lowfat Granola with Raisins
  • Kellogg’s® Lowfat Granola without Raisins
  • Kellogg’s® Fruit Harvest Strawberry/Blueberry
  • Kellogg’s Rice Krispies®

 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring flowers

Yes, it's true.  It's almost April and we still have snow on the ground.  Oh yeah, and there's more in the forecast.  Seriously?  I love snow, but this is becoming a bit tiresome.

There certainly aren't any spring flowers coming up outside, so we've taken matters into our own hands, and started making our own.
 No pussy willows in sight outdoors, but these ones are bright and cheery on our wall.  First we gathered sticks from our yard.  We swirled Q-tips in white with just a little brown paint, and let them dry before clipping off the tips.  A little glue, a colorful vase, and voila--instant spring.

It will be months before our hyacinths bloom (the foot of snow on top of them really needs to melt first), so we painted some to decorate our walls inside.
 Pal was doing pretty well until she saw what Bubby was doing to his paper!
This is Bubby's artistic rendering of a hyacinth in a wind storm.
Here's mine--I decided I had to make my own so y'all would know what I was thinking when I set those kids loose with paint and corks (special thanks to Mom of the Wild Things for stepping up to the plate (or wine glass) to provide us corks with which to paint).  I drew the stems with colored pencils, then, after the paint was dry, we added a strip of green scrapbook paper grass...as if that's ever going to happen around here.

Stay tuned...up next: flowering tree branches and soda bottle flowers.  And, perhaps, the eventual arrival of spring outside our doors as well.

No Matter What

I tell my kids that I love them a lot, several times a day, in fact.  And I hug and kiss them a lot, too, almost as often as I tell them I love them.  I'm not sure how much longer the older two are going to be willing to be kissed by their mommy, so I'm trying to get as many in now as I can.

You may know that Logo, my middle child, is the one with whom I have the most, shall we say...issues.  He is loud, impulsive, and stubborn, and has a hair-trigger temper.  Logo is also passionate, generous, kind, the best hugger ever (side-note: recently, Logo has taken up a practice we call kamikaze hugging, where he runs as fast as he can and launches himself into the air for a hug--he almost knocked me down the stairs the other day), smart, and has a keen sense of justice--he really is a great kid.  But most of my frustration and anxiety as a parent can be attributed to Logo, either directly or indirectly.  The most frustrating aspect of being Logo's mommy is that he is so much like me.  And I remember what I was like as a kid...let's just say that I wasn't too fun for my parents to parent, either.  Sorry, mom and dad.
A few weeks ago, Logo was acting in such a way that I felt compelled to ask, "do you know that I love you no matter what?"  I can't remember exactly what was going on that made me ask that question, although I think the antecedent must have had something to do with Logo behaving in a manner of which I did not approve, and me taking disciplinary action of which Logo did not approve.  It certainly had never occurred to me to ask it before.  I thought that with as many times a day as I tell my children I love them, surely they would know that I love them regardless of circumstances or behavior.  But I was wrong.

I asked him, "do you know that I love you no matter what?"  And he looked at me like I was nuts (he's really good at that).  "No," he said, and after a pause he asked, "really?"

Yes, Logo, really.  I love you so much, much more than you can understand, and there is nothing that you could do or say to change that.  Nothing.  I may not like what you do or what you say sometimes; I may be annoyed with you, or disappointed in the choices you make.  And sometimes, I even might not like you very much, but I will always, always love you.  Because, Logo, I love you.  Not what you do.  Not what you say.  You are not defined by those things; you are so much more than that.  You are valued and precious and loved, no matter what.

So I'm still telling my kids I love them often, and sneaking in as many hugs and kisses as I can, too (and watching out for those kamikaze hugs), but now, instead of 3 little words, it's 6: I love you...no matter what.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Jackie Robinson

Logo researched Jackie Robinson for Friday's 2nd grade biography showcase. 

He did a great job, and I think he looks pretty good, too!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Today I choose...

We are defined by our choices, and today, I choose to treat my body like the temple it is.  I choose to believe the best of others; I choose to be present with and for my husband and my children.  And today I choose to live in light of eternity.

But when the kindness and love
of God our Savior appeared, he saved us,
not because of righteous things we had done,
but because of his mercy. He saved us through
the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
whom he poured out on us generously
through Jesus Christ our Savior,
so that, having been justified by his grace,
we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Titus 3:4-7

We all live with the hope of eternity--that there is more to come after this earthly life--but we so often lose sight of that.  It is so easy to get bogged down in the nitty gritty details of this life, and we forget that our time on earth is just an instant compared with eternity.  And we forget that now (yes, right now) is part of eternity--whatever it is we think we'll be doing in eternity, we really ought to be doing now. 

I think if we truly lived with eternity in mind, we would live with open hearts, loving and accepting each other, and not taking ourselves, or our problems, quite so seriously.  We would live with open hands, not holding on to our possessions, or even our loved ones, so tightly, but offering them back to the One who gave them to us, who cares for us, knowing that He will care for them.  We would live joyfully, rather than constantly seeking happiness.

For our light and momentary troubles
are achieving for us an eternal glory
that far outweighs them all.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18

And so today, I choose to live in light of eternity.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

When Sparrows Fall

When Sparrows Fall, by Meg Moseley, is the story of Miranda, a widow and mother of six young children, who is living under the thumb of the controlling pastor of a tight-knit church with some, shall we say, interesting, ideology.  Miranda has been seeking a way to separate from the church, but the pastor holds some sort of secret over her, which, Miranda fears, if revealed, would cause her to lose her children.
When Sparrows Fall: A Novel
 When Miranda is seriously injured in a fall, her late husband's estranged half-brother, Jack Hanford, is appointed guardian of the children while their mother recovers.  Jack disagrees with Miranda's conservative lifestyle, and immediately begins chipping away at some of the family's more isolating beliefs.  The children quickly come to love the uncle they never knew, but Miranda remains suspicous of his motivations.

I enjoyed the theme of isolation in the book.  Miranda is part of a church that values being isolated from mainstream society, and is further isolated, even within the church, by her rebellious ways, and, of course, her horrible secret.  When Jack comes into the family's life, he offers freedom from that isolation, and yet, even though Miranda is miserable and lonely, she fears the freedom Jack offers.  I think many of us feel that way: longing for freedom, and yet too comfortable in the familiar to take the risks necessary to gain that freedom.
It was a good story, a very quick read, and pretty well written.  I identified with Miranda, and fell in love with her children.  At times, I found the mysterious secret to be tiresome--the author kept coming back to that darn secret, but she basically just kept writing the same thing over and over, rather than giving more clues as the story unfolded.  I wanted the author to be out with it already, or at least tell me something new--it took too long to work up to the reveal, and I found myself distracted as I read, wondering what secret this woman could possibly have that would be that terrible.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for Meg Moseley's future novels. 

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.

Ah, that new kayak smell...

Just look at what Hubby brought home yesterday!  It's just like Cody's except it's much larger and much...redder.  And it smells like...a new kayak.  Which, and I never knew this before, having never been around a new kayak before, smells like...you're not going to believe this...it smells like...cherry LifeSavers!  I know!  How odd is that?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tom Sawyer

Code-man's school recently staged a production of Tom Sawyer in just one week, under the direction of Prairie Fire Children's Theater.  Yup, that's right.  Auditions were Monday after school, and the performance was Friday evening.  Going into auditions, Code-man told me that he didn't want a speaking part, but he ended up being cast in one of the lead roles as Tom's cousin, Sid.  Sid is a well-behaved angel child whenever Aunt Polly is looking, but a trouble-maker whenever her back is turned, and he blames everything on poor Tom Sawyer.  In short, Sid is a little stinker. 

One of my favorite parts is when Sid puts a lizard in the split pea soup...or actually, when Aunt Polly discovers said lizard in the split pea soup :-)

Code-man did a terrific job, and so did the rest of the cast!  It's amazing to me how these things always just seem to come together...I watched part of Thursday's rehearsal, and it wasn't looking too good.
Sid and Hildy (Sid's sister) at Tom & Huck's funeral:
When Tom appears, not dead, Hildy says, "I knew it was too good to be true,"
to which Sid replies, "you're lucky it wasn't, elstwise I'd have to start blamin' things on you!"
 Unfortunately, these are the best pics we got.  I went to the dress rehearsal on Friday morning and got some good ones, but accidentally deleted them all before transferring them to my computer (grrr for accidental deletions).  Luckily, the mom of one of Logo's friends videoed the performance and is making us a copy (yay for Mom of the Wild Things making us a copy!  I'm hoping to be able to get some still shots from the video).
Sound (Michael) and light (Connor) guys, Sid (Code-man), Becky (Emmy), Tom (Seth), Huck (Jace), Suzie (Hannah), Hildy (Anna), Mrs. Harper (Audry) and Mrs. Thatcher (Brooke)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Today I Choose...

We are defined by our choices, and today I choose to be present with and for my husband and my children.  I choose to believe the best of others.  And today I choose to treat my body like the temple that it is.

God created us to yearn for him.  Did you know that?  God created you and me with something missing, so that we would seek to be filled, or completed, by Him: I've heard this referred to as a "God-shaped" hole.  I'm sure you've felt it--that wistfulness, a yearning for something more, something we're not even sure exists.  That something to soothe our souls, to bring us joy and peace.  That something that is beautiful and elusive.

So we try to fill it, this void inside us.  Some attempt to fill it with drugs, alcohol, or food.  Others try to fill the emptiness with possessions, accomplishments, relationships, or constant activity.  Some use the Internet, sex, or pornography to drown out the incessant echoing of the emptiness.  You name it, someone has probably tried to use it as a God-substitute.  But none of it works, nothing satisfies that hunger within us, because this is a void that only God can fill.

In Paul's first letter to the people of Corinth, he writes, "do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own.  You were bought at a price.  Therefore, honor God with your body." (chapter 6, verse 19)

Two phrases really stand out for me: "your body is a temple," and "you are not your own."

I don't know about you, but I tend to treat things that don't belong to me better than those that do.  Don't get me wrong: I do take care of my own things, but I'm extra careful to return things I've borrowed in the same condition in which they were lent to me.  And yet, I haven't been caring for this body, this holy place, where God lives, which really doesn't belong to me, with that same care.  So today, I choose to treat my body like the temple that it is.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Baptism

I'm a big fan of infant baptism, so much so, that when we had just moved to West Virginia (more than 11 years ago!  Ack!  I'm getting old!), and were looking for a church, the lack of infant baptism was one of two main reasons that I couldn't bring myself to become a member of the large Baptist church that we really liked, other than those two little (or huge) things.  I just love the symbolism: infant baptism reminds me that God chooses us to be His, and diligently pursues us, before we are even capable of choosing Him.  Besides, that's the way we did it in the churches in which I grew up, so that must be the right way, right?

This weekend, however, I was a witness to over 100 adult/teen/older child immersion baptisms.  Five wonderful women and I attended Willow Creek Community Church together on Sunday morning, and it was Baptism Sunday.  I had witnessed an adult (well, I suppose he was officially an adult, but he was also still a teenager) dunking baptism before.  My freshman year of high school, our church youth group traveled to Colorado, and one of the young men chose to be baptized in the frigid (40 degrees) Arkansas River.  I don't remember much about it, except that a lot of us girls were crying, and Michael and Pastor Tim looked really, really cold.

These baptisms at Willow Creek were so inspiring--I wasn't prepared to be so inspired.  First of all, it was so amazing and wonderful to witness these men and women being dunked.  This wasn't just a few sprinkles of water on the forehead, this was a whole body commitment!  The pastors would put one hand behind the baptizee's back, and hold on to their arm with the other hand.  Then they dunked them, backwards, into the water.  I couldn't help but be reminded that as these brothers and sisters went under the water, they were dying to self, and as the pastor raised them back out of the water, it was just a perfect picture of being raised again to new life in Christ, after having been washed clean. 

But it didn't stop there.  Many, many of the folks raised their arms in victory after being raised out of the water.  They were just so incredibly thrilled to have made this public commitment to live a new life in Christ, and their enthusiasm was contagious.  The atmosphere in the auditorium was festive and celebratory.  There were hoots and hollers and applause as each person emerged from the water.  Yes, every single one.  Over 100 times.

Another thing that I noticed was that a lot of the people who were being baptized, probably 95%, wore black.  As they stepped from the pool, their black clothing was covered with a white towel, just as Christ covered their sin through his death and resurrection.  Just as their baptism symbolized.

A few of the baptisms really stand out in my mind.  At one point, one pastor was preparing to baptize a couple, and all three of them were bawling, as he was asking them the questions.  The woman looked a lot like the pastor, and I think that, perhaps, this pastor was finally getting to celebrate his sister coming to Christ.  I'm sure that moment was, quite literally, an answered prayer.  It's making me tear up just thinking about it.  There was also a group of 4 teenage girls who were baptized together, and I just remember them coming up out of the water and jumping up and down and hugging each other--oh, what a joy it was to witness.  Everyone was smiling, everyone was thrilled to be finally known as a child of God, and I tell you, it made me want to run down there and join in, renewing my commitment to live fully for Christ.  By the time it was over, I was bawling, and cheering, and laughing, too.

I found myself thinking about Confirmation services that I've been a part of.  I've always thought that a baby dedication in a Baptist church is kind of like infant baptism in other churches, in that it's the parents making the commitment on behalf of the child, and that Confirmation or Profession of Faith is like baptism in a Baptist church, in that it's the child or adult making the commitment for themselves.  But never in my life have I seen someone as thrilled to be confirmed as those people were to be baptized.  Wouldn't it be amazing if we could all be that excited and joy-filled to live as Christ followers?

Today I Choose...

We are defined by our choices, and today I choose to be present with and for my husband and my children.  And today I choose to believe the best of others.

It's only natural that we humans view the world through the lens of our experiences, and a thousand times a day, we make snap judgements about whatever is going on around us, based on our own knowledge.  Do I have enough time to pull out and complete my turn before that oncoming car reaches the intersection?  Can I jump over that puddle, or should I go around?  Or should I, perhaps, jump in, making the biggest splash I possibly can?  Oh, that poor, tired, overworked mommy with the screaming toddler...sure glad it's not me...at least, not today.  Is that email forward true, or just an urban legend?

We literally would not be able to function if we didn't make these instant judgements.  Unfortunately, however, we humans are not all knowing, all seeing beings.  We do not know what other people are thinking, what their motivations are, what their hopes and dreams and fears are.  We only know what we know, what we've experienced.  I tend to see the effect of others' actions and I assume that the effect achieved was the effect desired. 

For example, if the words or actions of another person hurt my feelings, I assume that they said or did whatever it was because they wanted to hurt my feelings.  I know, that's a bit narcissistic of me, to assume it's all about me.  Most likely that person didn't have a clue that they were hurting me.  But think about it.  Don't you do the same thing?  Think of all the assumptions and misunderstandings that have scarred your relationships through the years.  I think that if we truly believed the best of each other, we would relate in a whole different way.

One of my best friends started having children quite a few years after I did.  I don't know how many times she has said to me, after having children of her own, about one aspect of parenting or another, "now, I understand."  I truly cringe to think about what she must have thought about my interactions with my children before she became a parent--I'm sure there were more than a few unuttered "why would she do that"s running through her head.  But really, I can't blame her for thinking whatever it was she thought regarding my actions.  She had only her own, non-parental, experiences to shape her thinking.  And to tell the truth, I probably had some of those same judgements myself, pre-children.

This weekend, I spent a lovely couple of days hanging with some terrific women, and one of the things we did together was go to a comedy improv show.  An hour or so before we went, one of the women mentioned that her husband didn't want her to go, because, in his experience, comics are rude and crude, and he didn't want her exposed to that (let me just say, that I wouldn't want to expose her, or myself, to that kind of thing, either).  He made a judgement, based on his knowledge and experience, and he was wrong.  We had such a great time!  The actors played improv games similar to those played on "Whose Line is it Anyway," which you may remember aired on ABC quite a few years ago.  It was not rude or crude--it was just plain fun.

We humans, we don't see the big picture.  We don't know how everything fits together, and we have no business going around making judgements about one another based on our own limited perspectives, because a lot of the time, maybe even most of the time, we're wrong.  Just plain wrong.  So today, I choose to believe the best of others, especially of those I love the most. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Today I Choose...

Did y'all notice that Lent started yesterday?  The Christian church has long viewed Lent as a time for intentional spiritual growth.  A lot of folks like to give something up during Lent, and I've done that in the past.  In the United Methodist church, folks like to add something during Lent, something to facilitate aforementioned spiritual growth, and I've done that, too.

This year, during Lent I've decided to be intentional in incorporating certain truths into my life.  I believe strongly in the power of choosing.  Even if one does nothing, one is still choosing.  Know what I mean?  So during Lent, every few days I will choose...something, and I will do everything I can to live and embrace that choice.

We are defined by our choices, and today I choose to be present with and for my husband and my children. 
Let's face it: we all have had times when we are one place, but we'd really like to be somewhere else.  But today, I choose to stay there, both physically and mentally, because that is what is needed.

As I mentioned a few days ago, my duties keep increasing.  I've got so much to do, but still the same amount of time in which to do it.  Unfortunately, lately it seems like all of the stuff I need to do (or at least think I need to do) is winning out over the people I love the most--the people, in fact, for whom I am doing the stuff.  What sort of a screwed up priority system is that? 

Today, it is my highest priority to let my family know, not just by my words, but through my actions, that there is nothing I would rather be doing than spending time with them.  The dishes and laundry and clutter will just have to suffer my neglect, because today I choose to be present with and for my husband and my children.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

File Folder Games

I'm not sure why it has taken me this long to discover file folder games.  After all, I've had pre-school aged children for almost 11 years now, but the fact remains that up until about 3 months ago I didn't know these things existed.  This is definitely a why-did-I-not-think-of-this moment...but I'm pretty sure the reason I didn't think of it is because I've been in the trenches of motherhood, keeping my head down so the shrapnel doesn't take an eye out.  I kind of feel bad for my older kids that they didn't get the benefit, during their pre-school years, of all the really nifty stuff I know about now.

Anyway, file folder games are really fun, and so easy to make.  The best part is I already had all the supplies on hand.  A file folder becomes the game board, and you make game pieces to use with it.  You can do an Internet search for "file folder games" and a bunch of listings will pop up, but here are a couple of sites that I looked at:

http://www.filefolderfun.com/ (this site lists file folder games by subject and grade level)
www.preschoolprintables.com/filefolder (this site focuses on preschool level activities)

I was looking for number recognition games for the preschool set, so I decided to use this watermelon game and this flower petal game, but really, you could use any shape at all.  You could use die cuts or just find an image you like on the Internet to use.

All you do is print out the images, and glue one set to the inside of a file folder.  For extra durability, you can laminate the folder, or, if you don't have access to a laminator, just cover the file folder with clear contact paper.  Then laminate (or cover with clear contact paper) the game pieces and cut them out.

You can add velcro to the game board and pieces to make them stick, if you like.  I would suggest using self-adhesive velcro, but I had the sew-on kind, so I hot glued it on, with mixed results.  I suppose you could also use small magnets--glue or tape a paperclip to the back of your game pieces, and stick a small piece of self-adhesive magnetic tape on the game board.

I used packaging tape to attach an invitation envelope to the outside of the file folder to hold the game pieces when the game is not in use.

For our watermelon and flower games, the kids count the number of seeds (or dots), and match that to the number.  I've been folding the watermelon file folder so that just the numbers 1-5 show and Bubby has been having a terrific time finding the correctly numbered melon to match the number of seeds in the melons on the game board.  Bubby has also discovered that if he places two of the melon pieces with their flat sides together, the pieces form a circle.  We've involved Logo in the fun by asking him to add the two numbers together.

I'm sure that you can see that the possibilities for file folder games are endless.  I'm thinking I may make a pie or a pizza shape next to help teach the concept of fractions, and I'm still mulling the idea of an alphabet matching game.  And as I was working, I thought, gosh, this would be a good way to make paper dolls!

And, as with just about anything, if you're feeling lazy (or overwhelmed) and don't want to make your own games, you can buy kits!















Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Job

Lately, I'm beginning to feel like the person left behind in the aftermath of a corporate down-sizing.  My work load keeps increasing (more children to care for, more dirty clothes to wash, more food to cook, more messes to clean up, more appointments to juggle, more arguments to referee, more possessions to deal with), but I'm not getting any additional hours in which to do it, and I sure as heck am not getting a salary increase.  I'd love to be able to delegate some of this stuff, but the company is not hiring (no sister wives here), and the interns...well, let's just say they need a lot more training (which, of course, falls to already overburdened me). 

And speaking of my job, why does everything always fall to the mama? 

The kid hurts himself.  Who needs to kiss the bump?  Mama. 
The kid wants a snack.  Who does he ask?  Mama. 
The kid acts up at school.  Who does the principal call?  Mama. 
The kid is sick.  Who does he want?  Mama. 
The kid wants to spend the night at some other kid's house.  Who does the other mama ask to talk to?  Mama. 
The kid has decided that he doesn't like to eat dinner anymore, but he's not allowed to leave the table until everyone is done.  Whose lap does he attempt to crawl into, and whose face does he continually touch, once he succeeds?  Mama. 

My delightful children have been known to walk right past a perfectly good parent, their father, to ask me for permission to do something or to do something for them or to get something for them.  I've already decided that next year I'm putting Hubby's cell number down as our home number on all the school forms so the principal can call him for a change (it'll be better all around, 'cause he's a lot less prone to tears than I am).  The real kicker?  The other day, Sawblock answered the phone and Code-man's teacher actually asked him to hand the phone to me!  What?

Why?  Why is it always the Mama?

**Just in case you're planning on answering my rhetorical question with an annoying or sarcastic comment, don't.  I don't want to hear read it.  Yes, I mean you.  You know you complain about your job, too, even though you love it and wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lazarus Awakening

I recently received a copy of Lazarus Awakening by Joanna Weaver.  This book peaked my interest because of the subtitle: "Finding Your Place in the Heart of God." 
Lazarus Awakening: Finding Your Place in the Heart of God
You see, I know that God loves me.  At least, I know that in a detached, intellectual way, but sometimes my heart has a hard time believing it.  There are times when I don't even like myself, which makes it very hard for me to believe that God, the creator of everything, would like me very much either, let alone love me.  If you feel this way, too, even just sometimes, you should definitely read this book.

The author takes a look at the story, from the Gospel of John, of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  In the past, I've always viewed this as a nice story, a miraculous story, a little bit of a confusing story, but not a story that has much relevance to my life here today.  Each of the 10 chapters of Lazarus Awakening begins with a section of the text from the Gospel of John.  Ms. Weaver then reveals a nugget of truth that can be found in the words of the story.  I was astounded by the way the author was able to take these nuggets of truth and expose them in an uncomplicated way that spoke straight to my heart, every time revealing my fears, and answering questions I didn't even realize I had been searching for answers for.  Ms. Weaver is honest, sharing her own trials and doubts with her readers, and insightful, as well as rooted in scripture. 

This is a book that is not so much about Lazarus being raised from the dead, but about how Jesus longs to release each of us from the deadness of our sin-sick lives to a new joyful and abundant life in Him.

The book includes a 10 week study guide for personal reflection or discussion, which is easily adapted to 8 weeks, as well as other resources to learn more, and hints to assist in your own journey toward freedom in Christ.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
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