Thursday, November 25, 2010

Faith Comes Softly: Signing Our Way Through the Old Testament

I think it's important that my children know the Story of God. I want them to know how God has interacted with humanity from the beginning. Veggietales and Sunday School have helped them learn portions of the story; Daniel in the lion's den, David and Goliath, Jonah and the Whale, etc. These stories are smaller portions of a bigger story, the story of Isreal. Israel was the people group that God choose to make Himself famous. God was faithful, Israel... not so much. I wanted my kids to understand how these smaller stories wove into the history of Israel.
Shortly after Stephen and I were married, my sister and I went to a seminar called Walking thru the Old Testament. In a day, we learned signs that told the story of the Old Testament. I kept my little workbook for the day when I could share these signs with my children. I changed them up a bit, and even created a curriculum pairing the signs with stories from this Children's Bible which I highly recommend especially for children four and older. I used the curriculum at my church in San Antonio, and my friend Joy helped me put the signs on video. FYI, Joy Crampton rocks and I miss seeing her.
So we've been working on these signs since May. My kids are thrilled about what's next in the story...Christ. We've finished just in time to begin Advent.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Recommendation: Toot & Puddle

I rescued this book from my mother's christmas garage sale. She was going to sell this little treasure for $.50! Every year, I set a box out full of Christmas books, DVDs, and Advent supplies. The kids can pull out items throughout the month as they prepare to celebrate. All our belongings are still packed away in my in-laws garage so this may not happen this year. Thanks to my mom's garage sale, though, the kids will have one fantastic Christmas book to look at, Toot & Puddle's I'll be home for Christmas.
Toot & Puddle are a sweet little pair of pigs that live in some hippie dippie place called Woodcock Pocket. Their home is quaint and cozy and full of love. I love their character and relationship, but what I absolutely LOVE about this book is the pictures. I love them because they are LOVELY. Holly Hobbie, the auther and illustrator, is also an artist. If her paintings look anything like her picture books, I would totally hang them on my walls.
Is it possible to love the books you read to your kids? It is.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ideas for Anyday

In 2009, I did a series called "Tips for Tuesdays". Well, it's not a Tuesday and I don't want to come across that I have this mommy thing down to a science. I don't. I do have some good ideas, though, that might help another mommy out there. I was in our church's nursery tonight. Schroeder bumped his head. I did what I always do when my kids get hurt. I said, "Do you need a hug?" Schroeder was already at my legs ready for one. We gave each other a squeeze and he left to play some more.

My friend, Abby, and I began to discuss what one says when they have a child who has tripped, bumped their head, been bitten by their sibling, etc, etc, etc. I greatly dislike the "Oh, your fine." Sure, maybe in the long run they'll be fine, but at that moment maybe their head is really hurting or maybe they just feel overwhelmed with life. Being a kid can be hard.

I think parents say the "Oh, you're fine" because they don't want to encourage being a wimp or being over dramatic. I get that, but it's ok to want to be comforted sometimes.

The "Are you ok?" response isn't horrible, but I find that my kids will say that they are fine while still having tears in their eyes. I guess they have some perspective that, no, they don't need to go to the hospital so, yes, they are "fine". That doesn't mean, though, that the bump or bite didn't hurt.

My response is always, "Do you need a hug?" I think this is the response that I look for from Stephen when I'm having a hard moment. I need just a brief moment of comfort. A hug conveys that the person understands life is tough and that they love you. Being understood and loved helps you to move on with life. Nothing drys tears up on a child faster than a hug. The child no longer needs to be dramatic because whether it was big or small they can still get a hug.

Many times I follow the hug up with, "I'm sorry that happened to you." Because I am.

I make my kids practice this on each other, and I hope that one day, I will see them doing this with their friends, their spouses, and their own kids.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Grandpa, age 87

A couple of weekends ago, we celebrated my grandpa's 87th birthday. A lot has happened in 87 years. He's fathered ten children (a daughter from his first wife whose name escapes me at the moment, Jean, Jane, Tom, Joan, Tim, Craig, Kent, Brian, and Lynn). He's been married three times. One marriage ended in divorce after the war. He's survived the other two women. My grandmother, Josephine, died of breast cancer in 1989. Mary, the woman he met at the hospital when they were both caring for dying spouses, died in 1997 from a stroke. He's had a girlfriend for the past seven years or so but they see less and less of each other as they get older.

I'm one of I don't know how many grandkids; Nick, Jenny, Andrea, Bud, Jacinda, Rod, Valerie, Ryan, Christi, Amanda, two step grandsons I don't know the names of, Jason, Jessica, Connie, Melissa (me!), Kyle, Matt, AJ, Kristy, Stephanie, Briana, Zach, Mark, Tyler, Alyssa, and Jillian. Ok, now I know, 27! We range in ages from 40 to 10. He also has a plethora of great-grand kids, somewhere around 21.

During World War II, he spent time as a prisoner of war in Germany. This is better than dying in the Normandy invasion which I've been told was the fate of most of his section. He got sick right before their departure and was delayed. He only has two teeth now. They began falling out after his return from Europe and he believes that is linked to something he was exposed to during his time there.

He's lived in the same house for the last thirty years or so; my whole life. When I was little I remember the inside being brown, a garden in the back, and lots and lots of people filling it up playing cards. He and his third wife renovated it some in the 90's which means it's country blue and white inside. He now lives there with his precious dachshund who he spoils sometimes to the dog's detriment.

He's of the opinion that he has lots of money. He doesn't spend it very often not even on medication. He has not one prescription. This is amazing to me since I know how many pills Stephen's grandma and even Stephen's parents already take. That makes sense since he refuses to see a doctor. He's generous with his kids and grandkids, though. Every year at Christmas, all the kids under the age of eighteen line up to get there $20 wad of cash (that's why I keep having kids :P).

The problem is that he doesn't always recognize who he's handing this money to anymore. My nephew, Gabe, went up to him at the park and he asks, "Who's this?". My sister tells him that Gabe is her son. "Who are you?", he replies.
"I'm Connie."
"Oh, I thought he belonged to Connie."

Since he lives alone, we aren't always sure what he eats. He decided he needed to cut down on sweets so he only eats a few cookies for breakfast now. We know he spends a lot of time watching TV. He started watching some program about Cops who bait criminals. He finds this despicable and has suggested that these cops and anyone who defends them might not be going to heaven. He's also just generally weary of police officers due to this show. My cousin, AJ, just graduated from the police academy so this opinion has come at just the perfect time.

Other funny stories have emerged in recent years, like the time he hid his keys so a burglar wouldn't find them and then forgot where he left them. Or the time he stuck his hand which I think had a cut on it down in the tank of pariahs he kept in his house. Or the time he put a board in between the kitchen and back room as a booby trap for invaders which he forgot was there and tripped over scraping his legs up.

It's sad to see a once well minded man get so confused. He got lost recently in the town he's lived in for thirty-five years, and I guess he couldn't remember anyone's phone number who would know how to help him out. This is what it is to age, I suppose. He asked my cousin, Zach, at the park this question. "I wonder if you took everyone out of the park who was younger than me, how many people would be left."
Zach responded, "I hope not many, Grandpa."

Friday, November 5, 2010

Common Conversations

Conversation #1
We went to a new dentist this week. It's downtown because we will hopefully be downtown dwellers in a few months. The hygienist was super sweet and talkative. Maggie Lu was with us, sleeping peacefully in her car seat. They hygienist asked if she was our first. It came out that we have four. Yes, four. Then she asked the question I sort of dread. What are their names? I did what I normally do which is list the names we call them by; D'arcy, Julian, Schroeder, & Maggie Lu.
"Yes, Schroeder."
"Where did you come up with that?"
I'm pleased when people are reminded of Charlie Brown because Charlie Brown makes everyone smile. Not everyone gets it right, though.
"What's his middle name?"
This question is asked, I think, because they are hoping this child will someday have the choice to choose his middle, less ridiculous name.
"Well, Schroeder is his middle name."
"Oh, what's his first name?"
"Yes, it's a family name."
I slip that in there as an explanation hoping it will redeem me.
"Why does he go by his middle name?"
"All of our kids do."
"Oh, well what are there first names."
The hygienist leaves the room and goes into the room next to me where my husband is at. I can hear him having a similar conversation with his hygienist except he is laying down there full names from the beginning. Crap. I know that not only is this conversation going to continue, but I also know Stephen is going slap my wrist for not proclaiming my kids names from the mountain tops. My hygienist returns.
"You were holding out on me. Your husband says they have three names!"
It's not that I don't love my kids names. I do. I hope they will grow to love them as well. It's just that explaining their names is long and complicated. I feel like it draws unnecessary attention to me. I didn't name them this way to stand out as cool or weird. These names have meaning to us. Plus, sometimes I just want to sit in a dentist chair and watch Ellen on the big screen on the ceiling.
I also must confess that having a child named Schroeder is keeping me humble. Whenever I hear a ridiculous name. After my eyes roll, my brain informs me that I have a child named Schroeder, Duren Schroeder Vonnegut to be precise, and my new response becomes "to each his own".

Conversation #2
I'm out and about with my two boys and newest little girl. D'arcy is in school.
"Oh, that's so great that you finally had a little girl!"
"Yep, it's fantastic!"
I've realized that I need to just be as happy as they are that I FINALLY had the privilege of dressing a baby in pink instead of fessing up that I already have a daughter in first grade. If D'arcy's existence comes out, their eyes pop out of their head and this question ensues.
"Are you done, then?"
"Ummmm, we've always said five. (This eludes that we may change our mind to make me seem less insane.) But I need a break from pregnancy so we'll be waiting several years. Then we'll probably do something permanent."
These last two sentences are totally PR control as I want them to know that I do know what birth control is and am not planning to become Michelle Duggar. No, I do not want to be compared to a woman who nurses her baby when on a parade float. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kids say the darndest things...

My kids haven't spent a lot of time wearing socks, but now that we live up north I'm trying to get them familiar with them. Julian was wearing a pair the day we went to the park for my Grandpa's birthday. After a long day of playing, we got in the car and he pulled his shoes off. He got a surprised look on his face, and said, "Mom, look! Someone left a message on my sock."
The message was HANES.

Julian enjoys playing on the computer. Here's a conversation that happens frequently in our house.
Julian, "Mom, how do you spell pbskids?"
Me, "P"
Julian, "P?"