Tag Archive | creation

Riders on the storm

Here’s the song reference.

We had some horrific lines of thunderstorms roll through here yesterday, and the three ambulatory members of the tribe spent a good part of the afternoon and early evening trying to watch out the windows.  I say that they were trying to do so because I kept shooing them AWAY from the windows, since the weather radio was lit up with a steady stream of tornado and severe thunderstorm watches and warnings.

During one break in the storms, Bugaboo observed, “There is a little peek of sunshine coming through the clouds.  That means there must be a rainbow.”  I complimented her on her recall, and invited her, Beanie and Mr. Man to check all the windows to see if they could find one.  Unfortunately, none was visible from our little corner of the world.  However, just before the girls went to bed, I chanced to check Facebook.  Lo and behold, a friend had posted a photo of a beautiful rainbow, arcing across the sky above Wegmans.  I ran into the kitchen, where Bugaboo and Beanie were cadging one last pre-bedtime snack from Daddy, and showed them the picture.  Bugaboo jumped up in her chair and said, “Wow!  I knew there would be a rainbow!  God always sends rainbows after storms!”

Yes, he does, my love.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the storms that deepen our appreciation for calm, and for the rainbows that follow lightning.  Please help us teach Your blessings that in every frightening or destructive thing, we can see Your beauty if we pause to consider Your promises.

Color our world

Yesterday was sort of an odd day, but it did involve a lot of sleep,which was a definite plus.  We’ve had a lot of early morning thunderstorms this week, which has led to the tiny people waking too early and snarking their way through days.  I’ve had my share of cranky moments, too.  The boys slept until almost 10:00 (this is rare — Beanie and Bugaboo are generally up by 7:00, while Mr. Man and Baby Guy usually make their presences known by 8:00), and by the time they awoke, the girls had giggled their way through several art projects, several stories, and an interesting round of make-believe starring Bugaboo as Camomod, the Flying Hero Girl (the name is her own creation) that I had to interrupt to tell my oldest daughter that she was not permitted to practice her flying skills by jumping off the headboards of the beds.

Once Mr. Man and Baby Guy woke and devoured pumpkin butter sandwiches and bananas for breakfast, it was time to head for the grocery store.   Armed with a list that was longer than it strictly needed to be (Grandma and Grandpa will both be here today, so I wanted to have a few extra dinner ingredients on hand), a pocketful of coupons, and a bottle for Baby Guy, I challenged the three walking children to a race to the van.  For the first time since Mr. Man learned to walk, I didn’t have to herd any lollygaggers after I buckled Baby Guy into his seat, so I’ll have to remember that tactic.

The tribe was delighted to discover that their campaign for a car cart was successful, and there were a couple parked directly in front of the store.  After a brief dust-up over who would get to share the car portion of the cart with Mr. Man (Bugaboo prevailed, and I explained to Beanie that whining and screaming in the parking lot will not procure her heart’s desires), we were off.  Beanie’s annoyance at being denied the second steering wheel was assuaged by my assurance that since she was walking instead of riding, she would get to be the big girl helper and put things in the shopping basket.

We entered our neighborhood grocery through the produce section, which is always a fun place to be with the tribe.  Mr. Man has been working on the names of colors lately, and Bugaboo was cheerfully quizzing him on the colors of carrots, peppers, and bananas as I perused.  Beanie carefully selected a bag of dark green avocadoes, inquired about the quantity of bananas we had at home, and needed a little help getting the five pound bag of carrots into the cart.  Once the cart was about a quarter full with fresh fruit and vegetables, I looked at the next item on my list, which happened to be pudding cups.

I do not normally buy pudding cups, but there were a few factors in play.  Factor one:  I had coupons which reduced the price of each pack of pudding cups to about thirty cents.  Factor two:  our grocery store has weekly features where, if you buy a certain number of items on the list, you get twenty cents per gallon off a gasoline purchase, and pudding cups were one of those featured items this week.  Gas is still close to $4 a gallon here, and my van has a twenty two gallon tank.  Factor three:  we do a lot of picnicking in the spring and summer, and pudding cups are nice to have on hand for lunches in the park.  Factor four:  the food bank is looking for dessert items, and pudding cups fit the bill and the budget.  Four factors, four wins, eight packages of pudding cups.  Stewardship comes in sweet, small, preservative-laden packages sometimes.

Beanie literally jumped for joy when I informed her that she had the awesome responsibility of picking out the eight packages of creamy goodness since she was, after all, my big girl helper.  Pudding cups of every flavor went flying into the basket, and somehow, she managed to take requests from Bugaboo (caramel) and Mr. Man (CHOCKWIT!!!!!).  I was delighted that she even remembered that the puddings with the blue label were “Grandma’s pudding,” and carefully selected a package of sugar-free cinnamon pudding, with an admonition to me not to forget to give it to Grandma (Grandma has diabetes, but enjoys a nice pudding cup from time to time).

As we proceeded down the canned fruit and juice aisle, Bugaboo convinced Beanie to trade places with her, so Beanie could ride in the car and Bugaboo could be my helper.  While they were trading places, Bugaboo informed me that Mr. Man had removed something from one of the store shelves and was refusing to replace it.

There are rules governing very small children and objects removed from grocery store shelves when I still have a couple dozen items on my shopping list.  First rule:  check to see if the object is breakable or openable by the child.  If it is, replace it with something else of a similar size, weight, and color that is on the list anyway, which cannot be opened or broken by the tiny person.  Second rule:  remind the child that we have to pay for whatever is in our cart at the end of the trip.  Third rule:  if it’s something I was planning to get anyway, thank the child for helping and remind him or her to ask before rendering any further assistance.

Fortunately, Mr. Man had acquired a plastic jar of unsweetened applesauce, which he loves almost as much as hot Italian sausage.  He cradled it gently in his wee hands all through the store, and briefly surrendered it to our smiling checkout lady, holding it up to her with a hopeful, “Pay take home eat?”

Baby Guy’s milk lasted just long enough for us to complete our selections and pay for our purchases (one of these days, I’ll post my standard grocery list as a help to any readers who struggle with grocery budgets; we feed our family of six on under $400 a month, and each meal includes at least one serving of some fresh produce item), and we headed for home with plenty of food and everyone chuckling over Mr. Man and his applesauce.  Groceries were stowed while the tribe demolished the lunch we’d picked up at the store; after that, Mr. Man and Baby Guy were ready for a nap.

Unexpectedly, Bugaboo was ready for a nap about an hour later.  She hasn’t really napped since just before she turned 3, which is why we have “quiet time” while the boys are sleeping.  Reading, TV time, or quiet crafts (or the balance of seatwork, sometimes) can fill those two hours, but only on very rare occasions do either she or Beanie actually sleep.

Beanie took a quick snooze, too, but Bugaboo’s nap was of the three hour variety, so Beanie got a lot of “I have Mommy all to myself” time.  We read her favorite stories for a while, and then she asked for some paints.  It irritates her when her colors get muddled, so she’s been practicing cleaning her brush with water and a paper towel between colors; she’s also determined, for reasons known only to her, to figure out how to paint a completely straight line.  For about an hour and a half, she adorned big sheets of paper with her practicing, presenting each one to me with a chirpy, “I made this just for you!” and receiving my smiling, “You do lovely work, sweetheart.  Thank you for thinking of me when you make something beautiful.”

I love my job.

Here’s the song reference.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, we know how important and beautiful the rich array of hues in Your creation are because, in the beginning of Your creation and the beginning of Your book of love letters to us, You made the rainbow as a sign of Your promise.  Thank You for the healthy eyes You have given us to see and appreciate them, to admire the beauty of Your handiwork, and thank You for Your little blessings who delight in them.  Help me teach them that every shade You have made is a reason to celebrate, that there is beauty and purpose in every hue in the heavens and on earth, and to see the blooming of flowers and the browning of leaves as parts of the glorious rainbow of Your promise of Heaven if we walk in friendship with You.  When we err, as we will do, give our eyes the grace to see the colors around us as reminders of that promise, calling us to wholeheartedly seek the happiness You promise us we will find through earnest repentance and return.

And thank You, Lord, for the days of simple pleasures and the grace of a heart that sings with joy at the simple knowledge that You are.

Life on the farm is kind of laid back

In terms of the excitement generated among the tiny people, there is exactly one day of the year that can rival birthdays, Easter, and Christmas — the first day of the CSA pickup season.  For those who don’t know what a CSA is, it’s an acronym for “community-supported agriculture,” and the link goes to the CSA in which we are shareholders.

“Farm box” season means that we make a weekly trip out to a local family farm to pick up our share of the farm’s produce for that week.  As it happens, the family that owns said farm is absolutely huge, warm, and welcoming.  While Mr. Snead’s children are all grown, he makes it a point to maintain a play area for children visiting the farm.  As he puts it, he wants the kids to fel happy when they think about where their food comes from.  There are swings, a playhouse, a sandbox — oh, just look at the gallery.  I can’t describe it all.  You can also check out the videos from last fall on our family YouTube channel.  As I mentioned to the friend with whom we share our share, one of the absolute best perks of homeschooling is that, during CSA season, all of our lessons can be done en route to, at, or on the way home from Snead’s Farm.

What I can tell you is that the kids started cheering as soon as they saw the Christmas trees that mark the start of the farm, and kept cheering and chattering excitedly all the way down the long, winding drive, past the house, and while I fished the little stroller out of the back of the van.  Yesterday was a rite of passage for Mr. Man, of sorts; it was the first time he was permitted to walk around, holding one of his sisters’ hands, instead of traveling to the playhouse in the big double stroller.

It was a beautiful, glorious, sunny day; there were birds and butterflies of all sorts flitting about, and the occasional lazy bumblebee investigating the riotous little patches of flowers with which the farm’s grounds are adorned.  I found myself wishing I had brought the diaper bag so we could have prolonged our stay, but in the absence of beverages and sunscreen, it seemed advisable to pick up our box and head for home after about forty-five minutes, when the tiny people were medium-rare in appearance.  There was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, which abated only when I advised them of the insane quantity of strawberries tucked into our farm box.  Only Baby Guy remained unimpressed.  He was quite vocally distraught that he would not be allowed to consume any additional sand or sticks.

Dinner tonight was delicious.

The tribe was still excited when Daddy arrived home from work.  You’ll be able to tell that from the gallery, too.  We had a mellow storytime after they had burned off the last of their energy using him as a trampoline and a pony.

Days like yesterday, when I’m able to spend time with the tribe enjoying the vastness and bounty of the Lord’s Creation, recharge my soul.  I was exhausted last night, but was nearly singing the parable of the sower and the seed in my head.  When I can show the tribe what stewardship looks like, when we can celebrate the day the Lord has made, we are sowing wheat in our souls.  On the days when the weeds threaten to take over, we have those moments, those memories, to recall and reflect upon the joy we felt when we bit into those first spring strawberries, the gratitude we had for the kindness of a family who made room for children to play, the awe in our eyes as we looked up at the boundless May sky from the sand and dirt.

I was also reminded of the book of Ruth, which calls us to industry and charity, and reminds us that even when it appears we have nothing, the Lord provides, often through the hands of His faithful.  We’ll be reading the story tomorrow, and, perhaps, painting pictures of the beautiful farm fields we saw yesterday.

If you’re curious about the title of the post, this may help.  I mentioned to another blogger that many of my post titles are pop culture references of some sort, mostly from the 1980s and earlier.  We can find Jesus wherever we find joy!

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the day of clear weather for our first visit to the farm this year, and for the joyful noise Your blessings made in their excitement at being able to see how You made the earth to bring forth life.  It is fitting that we celebrate the beginning of the spring harvest in the same month we celebrate Your mother, Mary, who bore the greatest fruit man or woman has ever known.  Please fill me with the wisdom I will need to teach Your blessings to see Your hand in all of Your creation, and help me recall, while we are standing in the farmer’s fields, Your love letters that refer to agriculture, so I may share them joyfully.  We would teach Your blessings to be good stewards of the land and all its bounty, Lord, so that the lands may be fruitful for as long as we are here, and that whatever blessings Your land yields should be shared with those who You have blessed differently.

Lord, please bless the farmers and the farms, and all those who labor to bring forth good fruit.  Please enrich the soil of our hearts, minds, and souls with Your wisdom and grace, that what we produce may multiply Your harvest.

Moments matter

There was no single “blog moment” yesterday, primarily because it was one of those days filled with small delights.  It wasn’t that nobody whined and everyone ate meals without complaints or food-throwing, it was just that I took my own advice and decided to answer the small, everyday transgressions with a song instead of a stout voice.

It may help that I’m spending two weeks on the parable of the prodigal son with my daughters.  We’d been having some problems with petty squabbles and resentments, so it seemed like it might be helpful to spend a little extra time talking about Christ’s infinite mercy, and the joy we should feel when someone seeks to atone for wrongs committed.  This took on a little extra poignancy over the weekend, when I received the news that my estranged aunt is dying from stage four lung cancer with brain metastases.  Tidings like those tend to make all the reasons I find to hold onto anger and grudges seem even more foolish than they usually do.

We were talking today about how the father in the parable greeted his returning son with great joy, and threw a party to celebrate his safe return — and his change of heart.  The task of showing them that remorse isn’t just mouthing a few syllables, but an actual change of heart, will continue for many years, but it made a big impression on the girls that the son was reduced to wishing he could eat the pigs’ food.  There are opportunities for lessons in stewardship here, too. It’s such a great parable for teaching so many foundational concepts that I’m beginning to think we may have to return to it every six months or so, as they grow and mature and the boys start to join in the actual instruction.

This is Beanie’s newest workbook.  For weeks, I have struggled to find a way around her mulish resistance to coloring her assigned coloring pages.  We are talking about a girl who colored every single page in a 288 page Hello Kitty coloring book in a single day (and colored them well, I might add) when left to her own devices, but flatly refuses to complete a single assigned age of coloring.  Saying this is frustrating would be a grievous understatement.  At any rate, I remembered that the only thing Beanie loves more than coloring is stickers, and happened upon this book in our little stockpile.  Since she is still working on some of the basic skills, she and I made a deal — if she colors her assigned pages within a reasonable amount of time (say, 30 minutes), she gets to do ONE page in this book.  I let her do a page today just so she could see how much she would enjoy it, and immediately found myself with a lap-full of not quite four  year old jubilantly exclaiming, “Mommy that is the best schoolbook ever can I have ‘nother page I really like the stickers and did you see it was three different fishies and one of them was yellow and yellow is my favorite color . . .”

If you’ve ever read Roger Hargreaves’ Little Miss Chatterbox, you have read a reasonably accurate description of an excited Beanie.  Hopefully, this will result in less mayhem at lesson time tomorrow.

Later in the day, while Mr. Man and Baby Guy were napping, Beanie had wandered off to see if she could build a cave for her Care Bears with her Lincoln Logs, and Bugaboo was slumped on the couch, pouting a little because I would not let her go back outside to play until her brothers awoke.  Wanting to avoid a mutiny that would wake the wee guys anyway, I asked her if she would like to do a craft.  Thanks to Grandma, we have a ridiculously large supply of foam craft kits in the house, and Bugaboo loves to assemble the little projects.  For the record, glue dots are the greatest innovation in the history of children’s crafts.  Thoughtful girl that she is, she decided not to use the magnets that came with the kit; after scrutinizing their size, she advised me, “No, Mommy, I don’t think those magnets are a good idea.  Mr. Man likes to pick those off, and they look small enough for Baby Guy to swallow.  Can we save them for something we’re going to give to Grandma or Grandpa?  I want to keep these to play with my Strawberry Shortcakes.”

Not long after Bugaboo finished her project, Beanie ambled out of the girls’ room, having tired of both solitude and Lincoln Logs, and decided to brush Smudgie and read a couple of board books on the couch.  I love that she reads to Smudgie.  Bugaboo disappeared and, after a quick stop to make sure she hadn’t fallen into the commode again, I poked my head into the girls’ room to  see if she was, perhaps, napping, as the house was unnervingly quiet, even taking into account the sleeping boys.  There sat our oldest daughter, playing with her sister’s dinosaurs and her own Strawberry Shortcake cafe, pretending a family of giant lizards had dropped by for cakes and milkshakes.  I believe Orange Blossom (bottom left) probably fainted from fright.

After a dinner that actually was eaten without any complaints about the quality, quantity, or preparation of the food, the three ambulatory members of the tribe skittered back out into the yard to run off their meal and desserts.  Baby Guy decided to check out the toys that reside in the bottom of the entertainment center, and happened upon the toy that has been all four of their favorite at the age of ten months –the animal wheel.  He was smiling and laughing, spinning the wheel as fast as it would go, then stopping it himself to see what animal noise would issue forth, even trying to imitate some of them. While his siblings were exploring a world with broader boundaries than his, he seized the opportunity to investigate the possibilities of one single toy, without worrying that anyone would try to “help” him with it.  He passed a very giggly half hour indeed, and I laughed right along with him — and imitated the animal sounds, too.  The Lord God made them all, you know, and it’s fun to spend a little time appreciating His handiwork with a baby.

When the animal wheel lost its allure, he crawled across the living room and checked out Beanie’s drum and its stick.  It did not take Baby Guy long to determine that the sounds the stick made when rapped smartly against the wood floor or pounded against the couch were significantly more interesting than the noise produced by hitting the drum. Another half hour passed while I watched our youngest son explore how many sounds he could make, by himself, with a wooden stick.

Around the time Baby Guy tired of experimenting with the drum stick, Mr. Man wandered in with his newest rock.  I believe I’ve mentioned before that he loves rocks, and can be counted upon to bring me several specimens whenever he ventures into the yard.  After I captured him and his treasure on camera, he proceeded to show Baby Guy that you can make even MORE noises by banging rocks on things than you can by banging a stick on things.  Some of those noises come from Mommy, who is several feet away from the rock in question.  The boys found this pastime particularly hilarious.

In the meantime, the girls were busily swinging and singing, “One, two, buckle my shoe” at the tops of their lungs.

In the midst of the rock-banging and counting song-singing, my husband came home.  We changed the boys into their pajamas and settled in for prayers and lullabyes.  It’s rare that I’m able to get a shot of all five of my brightest blessings together.  From left to right:  Mr. Man, Beanie, Daddy, Baby Guy, and Bugaboo.

We had a full and wonderful day.  Smudgie, however, was exhausted from running to and fro, watching over and playing with all his tiny people.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for a day of simple pleasures with Your blessings.  Thank You for the grace of a heart open to wonder and arms open to comfort.  Your Scripture warns us of times when people will turn their face from You and become “lovers of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedient to their parents, irreligious (2 Tim 2),” and we would raise Your blessings to honor You above all things, to praise You for your glory and the beauty of Your creation always.  Please grant us the grace to teach them to delight in every small moment of joy, for every second in which we are happy in Your love and each other’s company, and teach us to pray for those whose hearts are hardened against an appreciation of Your people, Your law, and Your works.

Seek and you shall find

It was a raw and rainy day hereabouts, the sort of day that begs for big mugs of hot cocoa and lots and lots of stories.

Once the ladies had colored all the pictures they could stand, and everyone had a decent nap, we opted for an afternoon story marathon, which began before the boys were done snoozing.  I’ve mentioned before that reading is a favorite pastime at our house, and we have a formidable library of children’s books.  I’ve also noted that we read a wide variety of materials, and that we’ve been able to find Christ in whatever we read.  For today’s post, I’ll share the books we read and how we saw the Lord in each one.  For those who just want to know what books we read, I’ll begin with a gallery view.

For the books that are specifically about faith, I’ll assume you can figure out how Jesus was included, but if there’s one about which you would like specific information, please ask in the comments or in an email, and I’ll be happy to answer you.

We are huge Tomie de Paola fans around here.  Fin M’Coul is a retelling of an ancient Irish legend, and in it, the wife of the giant loves him enough to use all her wit and talent to save her husband from a horrible beating at the hands of a bully giant.  It’s sort of like Samson and Delilah, except in this case, Delilah saves Samson.  We found Jesus’s teaching to the Pharisees from Matthew 19 here, about how the Lord created male and female, and the two become one flesh forever.

This one is easy.  It begins with Psalm 139:14 — “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Yes.  Every new life is.

I’ve loved this book since I was tiny.  By reading it, we are reminded that while we may receive a mild rebuke for straying, the good shepherd always welcomes the lost member of his flock.

These are pretty self-explanatory!

My Big Book of Opposites reminds us that the Lord made all creatures, great and small.  It’s Time to Play gives a little lesson on stewardship, that we are to clean up the messes we make, and that even putting our toys away can be a happy task.

Brave Butterfly reminds us that we can do things we think are impossible if we have faith.  Peekaboo Fun reminds us that the Lord made every living and non-living thing, and He made them in an infinite number of shapes, sizes, and colors.

It’s Great to be an Engine reminds us that we are to make a joyful noise unto the Lord!

Jesus wanted the little children to come to Him, so we have special books to help bring them closer!

Can you tell these two have been well-loved?  The Belly Button Book reminds us that we all are born of women, as Jesus was, and Doggies reminds us that the Lord created some animals to be our friends, playmates, and protectors.

Pooh’s 1-2-3 reminds us that whenever two or more are gathered in His name, there He is, and that each of us has something we can share.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat calls to mind Noah and his ark, and, of course, Christ calling the fishermen.

Psalm 139 again!

While this book is more about snow and baking cookies, it’s also a good reminder that we share the fruits of our labors with our neighbors — and, of course, we give gifts to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

The wonders of Creation can be explored and investigated, but not always fully explained.  We thank the Lord for the mysteries he’s given us.

In the Fairy Berry Bake-Off, we learn that arrogance leads to unloving behavior, wastefulness, and destruction, but that we always have the opportunity to reconcile and be forgiven.  In Beck’s Bunny Secret, we learn that telling a lie leads to unhappiness and mistrust among friends, but, again, there is the opportunity for repentance and redemption.

The Strawberry Shortcake stories remind us of the value of friendship as defined in Sirach 6.

In the “Little Miss” books, we are reminded that He has given each of us particular talents, but that it sometimes takes us a while to figure out how to put those talents to their best use.

The Wind in the Willows reminds us that friends who lead us down the paths of wisdom are priceless, and that love sometimes means saying “no.”

In Bossy Bee, we remember that Jesus, the great leader and teacher, wasn’t rude or bossy, but gentle and humble.

The Foot Bookcalls to mind Christ washing the feet of His disciples.

We love Arch books.

If you have never read this book, go directly to your library or bookstore and get it.  Each of us has a gift to offer, and if we offer it freely and with love, even the most seemingly strange offering is pleasing to Him.  I have had this particular copy since I was five years old.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, we can see Your face anywhere we seek You.  Thank You for your constant presence, and help me teach Your blessings to recognize You and Your wisdom in books that don’t mention Your name.  Please grant us the wisdom to see Your triumph and grace in all things, that we may use every word we read, song we sing, and show we watch to draw nearer to you.

Rock on

Mr. Man, of late, has picked up a habit of bringing me rocks from our back yard and presenting them to me with a smile brimful of pride and joy.  I hug him, and kiss him (and call him George, which happens to be his name), and thank him for his gifts.  There is a corner on one of our kitchen counters reserved for these treasures, each one of which he helps me lovingly wash in the sink.

It seemed like a good day to concoct a project with some of the enormous population of rocks in our back yard, so before lunch, I sent the kids out with big plastic cups and told them to fill them with rocks.  They happily did so, and brought me two full cups in a trice.  I washed them and spread them out on old newspapers to dry while we ate lunch (peanut butter and jelly is better on homemade bread — just sayin’).

After the boys had gone down for a nap, I cut pieces off of a cardboard box to use for sculpture bases and assembled paints, glue dots, construction paper, and artificial flowers.  The girls decided the first things they wanted to make were rock gardens.  Beanie used paint for hers, and Bugaboo used flowers. It took a few minutes to convince them to use their rocks and flowers to remove the glue dots from their backings, instead of using small fingers; fortunately, I did not have to remove any glue dots from anyone’s hair.

Beanie finished first, at which time I unleashed my paper-cutting skills, which only a preschooler could love.  Little triangles glued on either side of a painted rock became “rock candy.”

I decided to make a “rock guitar.”

We have pieces cut to make a rockfish, a rock lobster, and Peter (as in, “upon this rock I will build My church”).  We’re saving those for when Daddy gets home, as he wants in on this particular craft project.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You have blessed us with a world full of small wonders and nimble minds to appreciate them.  When I teach them to look at things commonly considered insignificant in new ways, I’m hoping to lay the groundwork for teaching them later that each person, each life, each event, has a value and a beauty that may not be apparent at first glance.  Please open my eyes, Lord, to the possibility inherent in each molecule of Your creation, and help me give You thanks for every ordinary thing with which You have graced my life.

Tot lot

Yesterday, we had to run to Target to restock our supply of Baby Guy’s formula.  Since it was approaching the tribe’s dinner time when we finished that errand, I decided to make a pit stop at Sonic to avoid what would have become a very grouchy cluster of three tiny people around the stove, keeping up a steady patter of inquiries regarding the readiness of food. I’ve never enjoyed being pecked to death by ducks, and Sonic’s wonderful for Lenten Fridays, since one of their kid’s meal offerings is a grilled cheese sandwich.

Bugaboo, Beanie, and Mr. Man are all big fans of Sonic’s grilled cheese sandwiches, but what they really go for is the tater tots (I go for the cherry limeades, myself).  Thus, three of the relevant meals were procured, and home we went to savor a relatively rare treat.

I had a good laugh when I saw that the current Sonic kid’s meal premium is a package of trading cards.  Most of the Sonic prizes are tater tot-themed, and these were no exception.  Luckily, I have a passel of Justice League aficionados.

Bugaboo was delighted by this, and promptly set about organizing all three sets of cards so she could see if, among herself and her siblings, there was a full set.  Since I can’t figure out where she put them, I cannot say whether she managed to find every single card.

If you read last night’s post, you’ll know that later that day, Bugaboo made the sad discovery that her first pet fish, Blue, had swum off this mortal coil.  Daddy offered to take her and Beanie to secure a replacement betta, and she gratefully accepted.  The new piscine pet is named Tot, and Bugaboo has informed me that his middle name is Red.

Bugaboo apparently found some paper and markers in the back of Daddy’s car on the way back from PetSmart last night, and she decided to make him a backdrop for his new tank.  She used plenty of red and orange to draw things she thought he might like, and since he is a red fish, she figured it would keep him from feeling lonely.  Here are a couple of pictures of Tot’s introduction to his new home (she couldn’t put him in his tank until this morning because we had to dechlorinate the water and set up the tank).  I hope it makes you smile.

Mr. Man wanted to check out the new arrival, too.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You made all the creatures of the earth, air and sea.  Help me teach Your blessings to treat them all with respect, whether they are companions to be loved, wild creatures to be admired, or livestock to be eaten.  Thank You for the tenderness with which they treat their pets, and the awe with which they view the incredible diversity of Your creations.  Help us teach them, always, that while You gave mankind dominion over all the birds, beasts, and fishes, those creatures are properly appreciated as proof of Your love for us, Your provision for our need not only for food, but also for beauty.

Chalk it up

First, a gratuitous picture of Baby Guy, who was terribly pleased at finding himself the only tiny person in a room full of toys:

We were blessed with a day of surpassingly beautiful weather today, which meant that the tribe spent as much time as possible outside.  Because the size of our house means that most of what they do indoors has to be at least somewhat structured, we try to let their outdoor play be as unstructured as possible.  They have play equipment out there, along with some good shade trees, a couple of fruit trees, and our faithful dogs, and a big stockade fence to keep them from wandering off into the woods or the swamp.

Every now and again, though, it’s fun to give them something different, and some very general instruction as to how they might use whatever it is.  Today’s offering was sidewalk chalk (which I buy in big buckets when the local big-box stores put it on clearance.  Since Mr. Man has never really met a chalk before, he required some rudimentary teaching about what to do, and not do, with it.

I did not get a picture of Mr. Man mistaking this new and interesting substance for a giant Smartie, as I was too busy removing it from between his incisors.  Following that clarification, I handed Bugaboo the tray of chalk sticks, reminded her that they were for sharing, had her explain what “share” means, and headed back in to check on the increasingly mobile Baby Guy.

Baby Guy hadn’t moved, but Bo had knocked another toy over to him.  That duck spinner has now entertained all four of our kids, plus more than a few of their friends.

After half an hour or so, while Baby Guy was in his high chair snacking on rice puffs, I peeked out the window to check on my budding artists.  Sidewalk chalk works wonderfully well on wood, so Bugaboo, Beanie, and Mr. Man had decorated quite a few things in the yard.

Bugaboo found a piece of scrap wood and turned it into her personal canvas.

Beanie showed Mr. Man how to draw on the fence.

They, and their chalks, are still out there.  I suppose I’ll have to call them in when it gets dark, since they’ve already come in, eaten their dinner in record time, then sped back downstairs so as not to waste a single moment of daylight.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You have graced our home with little blessings who can wring every drop of joy from the simplest of things, like chalk on a wood fence on a sunny day, throwing leaves into gusts of wind to see how far they’ll fly, chasing a gleefully sprinting puppy until either he or they drop from exhaustion.  Your oldest blessing thanked You this morning for today’s gifts, and pleaded passionately to be allowed to run outside to enjoy them.  Thank You for helping us teach them that Your creation is beautiful, and that it is a wonderful prayer to spend as much time appreciating it as possible while still attending to our necessary tasks.  Please help me teach them to be good stewards of Your world and the resources You have given to nourish us.  And thank You, Lord, for sidewalk chalk and wooden fences.

No business like snow business

Note:  There is a video link to the girls having fun in the snow.  Please click it — they’re in rare form.  I’d love to embed the video player widget, but don’t want to invest $59 in it right now!

We had a rare March snow today; it started around 8:00 a.m., was done by 2:00 p.m., and had melted away by 4:00.  However, since it started at 8:00, getting Bugaboo and Beanie to focus on their lessons this morning was a near impossibility. Our classroom is the kitchen table, near a great big window that offers a full view of our back yard.  Their distraction was quite understandable; after all, when you see this every time you look up

what snow-loving child or adult wants to do this?

Or this?

We had an early lunch today, since both Mr. Man and Baby Guy slept poorly last night, and once I was sure the boys were asleep, I sent the girls off with strict instructions regarding appropriate snow attire.  They were advised that they were required to have sweatshirts, jeans, socks, and boots.

Bugaboo got it right.  I did not specify that the boots had to match, or even belong to the wearer.  Lesson learned.

I also did not specify that hoodies should not be worn backwards.  However, I had quite the debate with Beanie over whether pants were an absolute necessity.  It actually took me about five minutes to convince her they were.

Finally, both girls were appropriately attired and zipped into their coats.  They headed out into the yard, Smudgie in tow, to salvage what they could of the rapidly-melting snow.

I was baking bread (my favorite snowy day pastime) at the time, so please excuse the “screen shot.”

Since the girls had “forgotten” to put on their mittens, I had to bring them in after about half an hour.  However, I did manage to secure this video of the end of their playtime, including the results of Beanie’s backwards tumble off the swing into the giant mud puddle she’s created underneath it.  They quickly remembered that there are perks to coming in from the snow, among which are mugs of hot chocolate to be consumed while finishing the morning’s unfinished assignments.

Beanie slurped hers right down, while Bugaboo chose to savor hers, taking a sip after each problem.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for surprises, like snowstorms in March, and the wisdom to recognize them as the opportunities to rejoice they are.  Thank You for the excitement of Your little blessings and our canine companions, all of whom stood with their noses pressed to the kitchen window, marveling at the beauty and majesty that can only come from You.  We are in the season of reflection and repentance, where we call to mind that mud that stains our souls; thank You for the snowy carpet that covered the world today and reminded us that Your grace can make all things clean.  Help me teach Your blessings that if we are too busy to praise You for the small miracles with which You bless our days, we are indeed too busy.

Pleasures and treasures

We met Nonno and Deedaw at the mall today; the tribe always loves to visit there, as the playpark generally offers a whole host of other tiny people with whom they can romp, particularly on days when the predominant weather feature is a torrential morning rain.  It was with no small amount of sadness that we noted Bugaboo, who is nearing the height limit for the playpark, is also nearing the enjoyment limit.  As the play equipment is definitely geared towards the two- and three-year-old set, she still runs a lap or two around it, making sure not to miss a slide or a climber, but after about five minutes, she shuffles back to where we stand with Baby Guy in the stroller, and asks if it’s time for lunch.

Fortunately for the cause of domestic harmony, the playpark was replete with over-the-size-limit ruffians today, which resulted in even our rough-and-tumble Beanie wishing for a quick departure from the land of polystyrene butterflies, bridges, and trees.  Since everyone, including Nonno and Deedaw, was in the mood for lunch, we headed for Wendy’s, our favorite mall food joint.  Not only are all the adults passionate about their burgers, but we also love their kids’ meal toys, which generally encourage creative play instead of repetition of lines from a movie.  We ended up with a total of four today, since Nonno wanted a burger and a small drink and I wanted fries.  It’s funny how those things work out sometimes.

I grinned when I presented Nonno with the kid’s meal bag.  Daddy and Deedaw were at the table with the four kids, so Nonno and I got to sit back and enjoy the fireworks.  We also got to check out “his” toy.

I wish we had brought the camera to the mall, because I don’t think I’ll ever forget Nonno, after we made a close inspection of the little gadget and discussed the physics of reflectivity, surreptitiously winkling the wee pencil loose and lightly tracing the reflection of the planet.  His tracing was, alas, so light that I couldn’t get a decent photograph.

After lunch, we headed for JCPenney to find Easter finery for our tribe, plus our nephew (who is almost exactly halfway between Mr. Man and Baby Guy in age).  The three boys in question each has his first proper suit, although I suspect we will dispense with the little clip-on ties; the girls exercised their customary good taste, and each was allowed to select her own puffy Easter dress.  They also talked Deedaw into purchasing coordinating purses and hats. I have no idea where they get their fashion sense (it’s definitely not from me), but their tastes run to the modest, feminine, and exquisitely accessorized.  You’ll have to wait until Easter for those pictures, as we have locked outfits away from the perils of small, grimy hands.

Later in the day, after naps, a little Smile of a Child, a proper romp in the muddy yard, dinner, and baths, we gave the kids their pre-bedtime snack and let them loose with the little projects each had received at Wendy’s.  Nonno was the only one who got the magic tracing folio.  Beanie got a monster-making kit, complete with craft clay.

The creatrix in her laboratory.

The theme from “Weird Science” was inexplicably playing in my head.

Mr. Man and Bugaboo each received a Colorforms-type toy, and they had a terrific time using the decals to change the appearances of the little people in the frames.

Mr. Man insisted on trying to feed his pirate goldfish cookies.

While creative mayhem was unfolding in the kitchen, I was in the living room with Baby Guy, wistfully watching his last hurrah with the exercise saucer that has entertained all four of our children.  He is now crawling proficiently enough that he doesn’t really want to be in it any longer, so tomorrow, I’ll clean it and send it on to another family who has a need for it.  As much as we would like to add a fifth tiny person to our tribe, the Lord seems to be calling us in a different direction now.

After we tucked in two very sleepy boys, Daddy and I came back upstairs to honor our promise of allowing the girls to play with a newly-acquired treasure — a box containing two hundred brand new crayons.  I believe he was nearly as excited as the girls.  Since I have the artistic talent of your average walnut, my role in this enterprise was to make sure the paper supply was ample and that no tiny people fell off chairs.

They had a blast.  Bugaboo set to drawing fairies and flowers, while Beanie decided to see how many different colors she could imprint upon her paper.  Both girls decided that paper hula skirts were in order, and set about brilliantly coloring their big pieces of paper.  Unfortunately, the paper in question was not of a size conducive to making skirts, even for little girls, so I suggested they make hula skirt hats, instead.

The idea was a hit.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the ordinary days we spend doing ordinary things with Your blessings.  You have taught us that it is right for us to rejoice in even the simplest tasks, to delight in time spent with family, to celebrate the life You have given us when we mark the little everyday passages.  Thank You for children who find greater happiness with their parents, some paper and crayons than with all the technologically advanced entertainments they have available to them.  Help us teach them that no device, no matter how impressively engineered, substitutes for time spent lovingly with family.