Saturday, April 25, 2009

Growing Up

Noah has had Barney, his security item, for 7 years. It was my nightgown when he was a baby, and he used to rub it against his face while I wearing it. I gave it to him and got myself a new nightgown.

Barney has seen Noah through a lot of trials: teething, sickness, haircuts, fears, first sleepover, pets dying, friends moving away, becoming a big brother, scraped knees, and many others. He's practically a member of the family.

Three days ago, Barney went missing. Noah didn't miss him until bedtime. We all went on a hunt but didn't find him. I promised we'd do a thorough search the next day. Noah didn't mention him again until the next night. We searched everywhere, but we didn't unearth Barney. More promises for the next day. Tonight, Mike was up to his elbows in chair cushions, when Noah came along and asked him what he was doing. Mike told him that he was looking for Barney, and Noah said, "It's ok, Dad. I gotta grow up sometime anyway."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shelter of Wings

We have been visiting a mother and father goose as they watch over their six eggs. We go every day, so they're used to us and seem to trust us. One day the mother stood up, as if proudly showing us her eggs. She sits on the nest in all kinds of weather. No matter what time of the day or night we visited, we never saw her off the nest. The father was always nearby, standing guard.

Today the eggs hatched, and what excitement it was for us to see six adorable yellow goslings! The mother has moved off the nest now, but she is still protecting her newborns. The first time we went to see them today, the babies were all out exploring, with the parents watching closely. The next time we came back, it was very windy, and all but one of the babies were under the mother's wing.

There are several references in the Psalms about taking shelter under God's wing. I had always pictured outstretched wings far above us and didn't think that would provide much shelter. Now I have a new picture of Psalm 91:1-2..."He will shelter you with his wings; you will find safety under his wings. His faithfulness is like a shield or a protective wall." The mother goose had arranged her wing so that it was like a strong, cozy house around her babies. They were warm against her body, and her wing completely surrounded them and protected them from the wind.

There was room under her wing for all her babies, but one of them chose to be independent. He stood up once, and the wind knocked him over. Still he didn't seek the shelter of his mother's wing. It reminded me of me. Why do I struggle and do things my own way, when I could be safe and secure under my Father's wing?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Homeschooling and spices

I've always known I would homeschool my kids, even years before they were born. I'm thankful to have found a husband who encouraged that. Back then, I had this ridiculously idealistic picture in my mind of how it would look. The kids would be sitting at the perfectly clean kitchen table, freshly bathed and dressed, hanging on my every word, quietly doing their work. How naive I was!

In reality, the picture is more like this. If they're sitting at the table at all, it's sticky and has crumbs on it. They're wearing nothing but underwear and not paying a bit of attention to me, because they're too busy bickering.

Today I thought I had a great idea for a project and was sure we were going to have a Norman Rockwell morning. My spices needed reorganizing, and I was going to make it a school project. When we moved here six years ago, my mom arranged my spices alphabetically (her OCD comes in handy sometimes). Entropy has gradually taken over, and now I can't find anything. I decided to have the kids take out all the spices and organize them while I was making soup. It would keep them busy while giving them practice recognizing letters, reading, grouping, alphabetizing, and working together. It was brilliant! What could go wrong?

It took me a few years to learn that my enthusiasm level influences my kids' attitudes. Loud music also helps. So I cranked up a CD, mustered up all my enthusiasm, and announced, "Hey kids! We're going to organize the spice cabinet!" Sarah frowned and said, "I don't want to." I bounded into the kitchen and said in my best Pollyanna voice, "It'll be FUN!"

The first problem was that they can't reach the spice cabinet, even standing on a chair. So I stood on the chair and passed the spices down to them, and they carried them to the table. Noah took a step and promptly splatted on his back on the floor. There was salt all over the floor. Apparently the lid wasn't on tight. Instead of starting on the soup, I spent a lot of time sweeping up salt, and I'm sure I didn't get it all.

Then came the bickering and bossiness, as the two leaders had opposite ideas of how to get started. I turned the music up louder and started chopping vegetables. After a few minutes, Noah said, "There sure are a lot of G's!" There was a huge pile of spices that the kids had determined started with the letter G. I knew there couldn't be that many, so I looked closer: ground cumin, ground mustard, ground allspice, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, etc. I explained that they should ignore the word "ground" and start again.

In the end, they did get everything alphabetized, and I was able to eliminate some things to make more room in my spice cabinet (why on earth do I have two jars of bay leaves?!). One thing I found was an old fashioned metal can of caraway seeds, still full. I remembered that my mom had taken my grandma's spices when she died (almost 30 years ago!) and that she had given me the caraway seeds when I moved into my own house (14 years ago!). I moved them with me from house to house, never using them until a few months ago. I used them in a recipe, and they were hideous. So I finally threw them away today. How liberating! I probably should have sold them at an antique store.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Nazis and Sparkles

This morning, Sarah wanted to cut out hearts and paint them with glitter paint (every day is Valentine's Day to her). She was sitting at the table working on her project, and Noah was asking Mike questions about World War II.

Noah was soon torn between being interested in the war and being interested in what Sarah was doing. He said, "Daddy, how many Nazis died in the war?" And the next thing out of his mouth, two seconds later was," Sarah, can I have the sparkly paint?"

Monday, April 13, 2009


Sarah invited Noah into her room and told him he could sleep on her princess bed.
He said, "You're a good host, Sarah."
She said, "Thanks. You're a good hostess."
N: "No, I'm the guest."
S: "Is Mom the hostess?"
N: "I don't know. I think the hostest is the one who's the best host."

Thursday, April 9, 2009


The kids dismantled an old door and used the scraps to build a bridge and then a pirate ship. They drew a pitiful-looking skull and crossbones on a piece of paper and taped it to a long piece of wood so they could "hoist the jolly roger".

Then they decided to have an Olympic javelin throwing contest, throwing a piece of wood off the trampoline and marking how far it went.

Another Experiment

The kids and I were having a discussion about flying, and we started talking about how many helium balloons we thought it would take to send one of their stuffed animals into flight. We decided to go to the dollar store and have a bunch of balloons filled with helium and do some experiments. After much deliberation, it was determined that Sarah's cheap garage sale penguin, Plop, would be the passenger.

Noah thought I should write a note and attach it to Plop, asking whoever found it to call us so we'd know how far it went. As I was tying the note to the bird, Noah started crying. He said it was too sad to let Plop go and suggested that we find something else. We scoured the house (again) looking for a suitable animal for the flight. We found an old beanie baby bull that no one cared about or would have missed, but Noah's waterworks started again at the thought of the bull flying into the wild blue yonder.

Several tries and a LONG time later, we finally hit upon something which held no emotional attachment for Noah: an empty egg carton. We predicted how many balloons it would take to achieve liftoff, and then we tied them on, one by one, testing after each addition. Balloon #5 dragged the egg carton off the patio, across the yard, and into the fence. Balloon #6 took it soaring over the rooftops, over the electric wires (fortunately), and out of sight. Sarah waved to it and yelled, "Goodbye forever!" with no emotion whatsoever. I thought that might start Noah flowing again, but he was fine.