Tag Archive | faith

Science Unit Plan 1: The Food Pyramid

NOTE:  I am posting the first half of this tonight, June 26.  I will get the other half up tomorrow.  Typing time has been a mite scarce!

Please note that this is a first grade lesson.  If I forgot to mention this earlier, Bugaboo and Beanie will both be in first grade this year; Beanie did all of the kindergarten work with Bugaboo this past year, and actually scored higher than Bugaboo on the end of year testing, so we decided it would be a special kind of cruelty to, essentially, make her repeat kindergarten.  A bored Beanie is a defiant and destructive Beanie.  We tend not to cause her to experience ennui unnecessarily as a result.

And without further ado . . .

Science Unit Plan:  Food Pyramid


Name the six food groups.
Explain how many daily servings should be consumed from each food group.
Classify at least a week’s worth of food intake using a blank food pyramid.
Identify which food groups in our family diet should be increased or decreased.
Compare the prices of healthy foods to the prices of snack foods and luxury items.
Create a lapbook incorporating information about the food pyramid, food production, and food budgets.
Grow at least one kind of vegetable.
Learn to catch fish as a source of protein.
Prepare 3-5 healthy snacks.
Identify ways to use food to perform acts of mercy.

Time needed:  10 x 30 minute lessons, not counting field trip time.

Texts needed:

Seton, Science 1 for Young Catholics
Hello Kitty Hello USA
The 50 States
Rand McNally Children’s Atlas of the United States
Children’s Bibles

Materials needed:

Plain paper, construction paper, pencils, markers, grocery ads, department store ads, scrapbook paper, scissors, glue, crayons, seeds, fishing tackle, pail and shovel, blackline US maps with state outlines, car, notebooks.

Field trips:

Grocery store
Dairy farm
Food bank
Motts Run Reservoir or Fredericksburg City Dock (fishing)


food guide pyramid

Scripture verses:

1 Cor 10:31 “So whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Gen 9:3 “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.  And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”


Lesson 1

Read Scripture verses.  Make foldables for lapbook to write verses, then glue into lapbook.   Introduce vocabulary/spelling words; make foldouts for lapbook.  Read pp 1-7 in Science 1 for Young Catholics.  Make 7-10 food pyramids on white paper and hang on the wall un the upstairs hallway (use textbook for shape/division reference).  Discuss favorite foods and where each one fits into the food pyramid.  Discuss why we pray graces before meals, and introduce the grace after meals.  Make foldables for lapbook with the graces.

Lesson 2

Read Scripture verses aloud.  Girls quiz each other on vocabulary definitions and spellings.  Let little boys identify the letters in the words, too.  Enter previous day’s food intake on one food pyramid chart.  Cut out pictures of things our family enjoys eating from grocery store ads.  Sort pictures into piles of healthy foods and not so healthy foods.  Make a chart of healthy foods and their prices, and a chart of less healthy foods and their prices.  Discuss which healthy foods would make good snacks.  Calculate how much it would cost to buy enough ingredients to make enough healthy snacks for our family for a week.  Go to the grocery store and purchase ingredients.  Make a snack from those ingredients.

Lesson 3

Read Scripture verses.  Review food groups and enter previous day’s food intake into a food pyramid chart.  Sort yesterday’s cut out food pictures into the six food groups, and identify those foods which might fit into more than one group.  Use the grocery ads and food pyramid reference to calculate how much it would cost to purchase healthy food for a family of six for one day.  Make a circle book or accordion foldable with this information for the lapbook.  Get food from our pantry that would provide a day’s food for a family the size of ours, and explain that it pleases God when we share our best instead of our leftovers.  Have girls call the food bank and ask how to donate they food they’ve gathered.  Take food to donation site.  At home, repeat 1 Cor 10:31 and pray for a blessing upon the food and the family (families) that receive it.

Lesson 4

Read Scripture verses; try to repeat from memory.  Review and practice vocabulary.  Re-read page 5 in S1FYC. Discuss what fruits and vegetables we like to eat.  Read instructions on a packet of spinach seeds and follow instructions to plant in a box garden.  Enter previous day’s food intake into a food pyramid.  Visit an orchard or a berry farm.  En route, discuss the Garden of Eden and explain what is meant by the term “forbidden fruit.”  Harvest some fruit and ask if we can take water to any workers who are tending the orchard.  Have girls ask whether the orchard or berry farm donates produce to charity, and if so, what and how.  On the way home, try to name a fruit and a vegetable beginning with each letter of the alphabet, and sing the “Apples and Bananas” song.  At home, have some fruit for a snack, remembering to say grace.

Lesson 5

Review Scripture verses and try to repeat from memory.  Review and practice vocabulary and spelling words.  Enter previous day’s food intake into a food pyramid.  Use The 50 States, Hello Kitty Hello USA, and Rand McNally Children’s Atlas of the United States to find food items that come from each state.  Make a lapbook foldable for each state (label blackline US map with state names, Mom cuts out the states, kids glue state cutouts onto foldable containing what produce comes from each state – lists can be words, pictures, or both).  Group the states into food groups and put the groups into cover “folders” to go into the lapbook.  Sing the first verse of “America the Beautiful” and explain that “amber waves of grain” refers to grain used to make bread.  Prepare a snack using bread, and discuss what states produce foods that are good to eat with bread.  Remember to say grace.

They blinded me with science

Here’s the song reference.

I could relate a thousand pieces of news about the recent adventures of our little tribe, but for now, let me assure all of you that they are all well and happy.  Beanie turns five tomorrow, which should not surprise me nearly as much as it does, and Baby Guy will be two on Saturday.  For obvious reasons, life is a little hectic right now.

My husband and I recently made the momentous (for us) decision to forego the boxed curriculum approach to homeschooling for the upcoming school year.  Because of this, I am busily engaged in lesson and unit planning.  For the next couple of weeks, at the request of a couple of friends (one of whom is not a homeschooler but is intensely curious about exactly what it is that we do), I’ll be posting those lesson and unit plans.  Comments and suggestions are, as always, welcomed; there is great love in pointing our error before it becomes disastrous!

At the enthusiastic request of Bugaboo and Beanie, I started my unit planning with science.  Both girls (and Mr. Man, for that matter) are possessed of an intense and joyful curiosity about the world around them, how things work, and why things are.  It is my great privilege to provide them with enough answers that they know how to ask more probing questions, and to look for their own answers both in books and in experimentation, the latter where appropriate for their ages.  In our family, we instruct always in the context of fostering a sense of awe and wonder at the boundlessness of the Lord’s creation, and with an eye towards Christian stewardship of that creation, including stewardship of our own bodies.  Please pray for us as we create the structure within which we will train up our children!

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You have favored us with a bounty of blessings, including four who are flatly refusing to sleep at the moment because they are too excited about tomorrow’s birthday celebration.  Please grant us the grace and wisdom to regard even the smallest moments as miracles, worthy of joy, and deserving of a prayer of thanksgiving to You.  As we plan for a new school year, Lord, with new knowledge and experiences, please help us keep love for You foremost in our hearts, and grant that we may teach Your blessings truly always and in all things.

Throwing roses at her feet

Here’s the song reference.  The lyrics to this particular tune become particularly poignant when you consider the context.  Many of the songs I post only have one line that’s actually relevant to the post, but this one made me cry when I stopped to consider it in its entirety.

Beanie has an uncommon, for her age, understanding of certain social customs, one of which is the bringing of flowers to funeral homes.  She was very affected by this when Nonno died in December; she and Bugaboo both insisted on bringing their own flower arrangements, both of which were lovingly dried and preserved by Deedaw.

Wednesday, as I was busily packing for our trip to Pittsburgh for Great-Grandma’s funeral, a solemn Beanie approached and advised me, “Mommy, I need to get a flower for Great-Grandma.  She gave me my name.  She gave me my Deedaw.  I want to bring her the prettiest flower in the whole world.”

Beanie is, in fact, named for Great-Grandma.  I had to take a very deep breath before I answered her.  “Okay, Beanie.  What flower would you like to bring her?”

She replied, “I want to bring her rainbow flowers.”

rainbow roses

Photo credit:  100roses.com

Beanie discovered rainbow roses at Wegmans, and has long since decided that they are the most gorgeous things in the world.  I liked the idea of roses that bear the symbol of God’s promises, and, of course, I would have moved mountains to honor her request, coming as it did from the little one who reminded me that we should be happy for Great-Grandma because she went to Heaven.

Thursday morning, on our way out of town, we stopped for Beanie’s flowers.  I have prayed for many blessings upon the kind ladies in the flower shop at Wegmans, because they noted out attire, inquired as to the occasion, and promptly offered to trim the roses and put water tubes on them for Beanie, so her flowers would be beautiful.

When we arrived at the funeral home, Beanie was her usual exuberant self, and I helped her put her flowers in the casket with Great-Grandma, at her feet, along with a little paper heart she had cut and inscribed, “LOVE DOTS,” before she headed off to have something to eat and play with a horde of cousins she seldom sees.

may 2013 003

The next day, we all gathered again at the funeral home before heading to the church for Great-Grandma’s funeral Mass.  After the priest had led us all in prayer, everyone had the opportunity to see Great-Grandma and offer a last goodbye before her casket was closed.  Once the room had cleared except for Deedaw and her brother and sister, I settled Beanie on my hip so we could say goodbye and offer a prayer together.

We did pray a traditional prayer, and, before we left, I related to Beanie the tale of the last time Manie and I stayed at Great-Grandma’s house.  Great-Grandma had quite the sweet tooth, although she denied it, and Manie and I had a stash of Snickers bars in our gear.  We were staying with her on the occasion of the marriage of two dear friends (who happen to be Mr. Man’s godparents, and who had so much love in their hearts that they invited Great-Grandma to their wedding – in person – on the spur of the moment), and when we returned from the wedding, our Snickers bars had gone missing.  Manie and I had a good laugh over it.  After I related the tale to Beanie, I said to her, “Now let’s offer a special prayer that Jesus will help Great-Grandma find the Snickers bars.”

“Jesus, please help Great-Grandma find the Snickers bars.  She likes them a lot.”

At the church, the priest offered a homily that perfectly explained why Great-Grandma is one of the most important people any of us will ever know.  There were no reporters covering her funeral, no news obituary trumpeting her impact on national or international affairs, but there was a large gathering of family, of the people she had fed and clothed, loved and prayed for, encouraged and, yes, disciplined.  There is great nobility in a life devoted to building and maintaining a family that is pleasing in the eyes of the Lord, in offering prayers of thanksgiving for those who have chosen His path, in offering prayers of intercession for those who have gone astray.  Great-Grandma’s life was a life spent in love, a life spent as an anchor for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, an example of how we are to love and serve one another — an example, that, in the end, that same family needed so that they could love and serve her when her physical and mental faculties withered away, so that we would know that while authentic love doesn’t always look pretty,  it is real, and true, and of God.

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Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Great-Grandma, without whom there would have been no Deedaw, no Manie, no Beanie.  Thank You for the lesson You taught through her life, that every vocation lived truly is holy and worthy of respect, whether this world lauds it or not.  Thank You for Your promise that those who earnestly live according to Your Word will be raised up to a joyful eternity with You, and thank You for the rainbow that reminds us of Your vow that You will save.  Please help us teach Your blessings, Lord, that whatever profession they choose, if they offer each day, each little act, to You, the world’s opinion of them will not matter, because You will be their reward.  And thank You, Lord, for a little Beanie who has the wisdom to answer beauty with beauty, and to appreciate Your most priceless gifts.

Singing in the shower

Here’s the song reference.  You should listen to it.  It’s funny.

Today was something of a blur, and the less said about much of it, the better.  Bugaboo and Manie are away for Great-Grandma’s funeral, and Beanie, Mr. Man, Baby Guy and I will join them later in the week.  Getting everything and everyone together for travel is something of an undertaking, and nothing is ever as simple as it should be.

Nonetheless, the boys were bathed and tucked happily (for once!) into their beds just before 8, and Beanie, having been my “big girl big helper” all day, was allowed a few extra minutes to have an undisturbed portion of tropical Lemonheads before her shower.  Since no one in this house EVER gets to eat a snack undisturbed, particularly a snack that involves candy of any kind, this was a rare privilege indeed!

She was smiling as she headed for the bathroom to shower, a little skip in her step, and I grinned as I tidied up a few things in Manie and my bedroom, which adjoins the bathroom.  After a few minutes, I heard the distinct sound of a warbling Beanie, so I stopped what I was doing to listen.

Sure enough, I could clearly make out the strains of “Jesus Loves Me,” the first song she ever learned to sing, and still a favorite of all the tiny people.  She was still singing as I tiptoed out of the bathroom to go find the camera, because there are some moments that you just have to capture on video, even if the only image on the video is the flowers on the shower curtain.  I came back in as she was finishing the last couple of words, and, after praising her for the lovely song, asked her if she would be willing to sing it again.  As it happened, she was, and so I have a sweet memory on the SD card.  That’s a gift.

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Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank you for the quiet moments when I can hear small voices raised in song.  Help me to seize upon those moments as Your gifts, Your reminders of what matters, when I am tempted to wrath because of someone else’s disgraceful behavior.  Make me an example to Your blessings of, instead of fury directed towards fools, prayer and charity towards all.  Help me recall the words of Your servant Francis, who begged that he might be made a channel of Your peace, and fill my heart with the desire to serve You as You commanded.

Oo-ooh, that smell

Here’s the song reference.

I was going a little crazy running around this morning, and I managed to lose track of Mr. Man for a few minutes.  At some point, I heard the door to the upstairs bathroom close, then the heavy thuds of a three-year-old boy doing two-footed jumps down the stairs.  When I heard the door to the boys’ room open and close, I figured he had brushed his teeth, then headed downstairs to play with the spiffy food playsets he received for his birthday.

Until it was time to round up the tribe for a quick run to the grocery store, I really didn’t think any more about his foray into the bathroom.  When I went downstairs to retrieve him and see if he might be aromatic, I was quite surprised that, in addition to the unmistakable odor of a pull-up in need of changing, he was surrounded by an oddly floral scent, which emanated most strongly from his Chuck E Cheese t-shirt.

As I went about cleaning up his odoriferous bum, I had a little chat with my oldest son.

“Mr. Man, why do you smell like flowers?”
“Bugaboo likes flowers.”
“Yes, she does.  Mr. Man, did you spray yourself with something?”
“Yes.  I spray pee pee in my diaper.”
“Mr. Man, honey, did you spray something on your shirt?”
“Yes, I spray something on my Chuck E Cheese shirt.”
“Did you borrow Bugaboo’s perfume?”
“No, I not borrow Bugaboo’s perfume.”
“Where were you when you sprayed something on your Chuck E Cheese shirt?”
“I spray something on my shirt in the bafroom.”
“Was it the upstairs bathroom or the downstairs bathroom, sweetie?”
“It was the upstairs bafroom.”
“Do you remember what color it was?”
“It was BLUE!!!!”
“Very good, then.  Mr. Man, if you want to spray anything you find in the bathroom, please come get Mommy first, so I can tell you if it’s good to spray on you.  If it’s not something good to spray on you, I will help you find something that is good to spray on you.”
“Okay, Mommy.  Are we ready to rock and roll?”
“We will be soon.  I need you to put your shoes on and put your play foods away, okay?”
“Okay, Mommy.  Then we can rock and roll!”

After lifting the big fellow down from the changing table, I ran up the stairs and flung open the door to the upstairs bath.  Quickly perusing the contents of the vanity top, I ascertained that there were, in fact, three bottles of blue liquid thereupon.  One was mouthwash, one was ordinary Windex, and one was the Windex touch-up cleaner that’s become my best cleaning buddy of late.  I’d been cleaning the bathroom yesterday and completely forgot to lock them back up under the sink.  From the floral smell, I could eliminate the possibility that he’d been into the mouthwash, and experimental sniffs of the other two bottles revealed that he had, in fact, scented his shirt with the touch-up stuff.

I managed not to break the bathroom mirror when I banged my head against it.

After securing the cleaning supplies, I headed back down the steps to have a little more of a chat with Mr. Man.

“Hey, buddy.  Have you picked up all of your play food?”
“I looking for one more piece of the cake.  Baby Guy hid it again.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Man.  Here, I’ll help you look.  By the way, can you show me where you sprayed the blue stuff?”
“I spray it HERE!”  He pointed vigorously to Chuck E’s ears.
“Did you spray it anywhere else?”
“Did you get any of it on your face or in your mouth, sweetie?”
“No, Mommy.  Is destinkifier.  Mr. Man put the destinkifier in his armkits, like Daddy.  Destinkifier is NOT TASTY.”

I managed to choke out a request that he change his shirt before I had to flee the room to keep from laughing in front of him.

april 2013 001

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your bright and inquisitive blessings, who look to us for examples of how they should behave.  Thank you for the moments of great humor that result when their imitations are imperfect, and for the twin graces of laughter and gentle redirection.  Please help us gently lead them in the ways they should go, and guard our tongues against the examples we would not have them follow.  Kindle in their hearts a desire for Your wisdom above all else, and until they have attained it, Lord, please give me the presence of mind to lock up all of the cleaning supplies.  Thank You for Your providence, that led Mr. Man to put it on his shirt instead of on his face or in his mouth.

You can go your own way

Here’s the song reference.

After the dinner dishes had been cleared away this evening, Manie and I were pleasantly surprised to discover that the girls had, in fact, cleaned their room satisfactorily.  We sat and read stories with the girls for a while, until I remembered a box of wooden toy cars I had stashed in the back of one of the kitchen counters.  While the girls were drinking their milk, I quietly put their art kits and the box of cars on the table; upon further thought, I put Manie’s out as well.

april 2013 001

No one needed a second invitation to gather for an art project.  I puttered around the house for a few minutes before I joined the rest of the car-coloring crew, who had quickly decided that markers were the proper tool for painting wooden cars past bedtime.

april 2013 003

We had to moderate a minor disagreement between Bugaboo and Beanie.  Bugaboo has developed a habit which we are trying to redirect, which involves insisting that anyone who is not using her preferred colors is not exercising creativity correctly.  That’s an overly diplomatic way to say she tells Beanie that Beanie is “coloring wrong,” which upsets Beanie to no end, and leads to an exchange that goes something like this:

Bugaboo:  “Beanie, you’re coloring that all wrong.”
Beanie:  “No, I’m not.  Mommy, she’s telling me I’m coloring wrong.  I don’t want to use her colors.”
Bugaboo:  “You should be using this color instead of that one.  And then you’re going to say yours is more beautifuller than mine.”
Beanie:  “No, I don’t like that color, and mine IS more beautiful than yours, because I picked the colors myself.”

Tonight, I interjected as soon as Bugaboo started to tell Beanie how to color her cars.  Beanie had delightedly informed us that she was making a rainbow car, and Bugaboo piped up, “You ALWAYS do rainbow stuff.  You should do it . . .”

“Bugaboo, let her be, please.  If she wants to make rainbow cars, she can make rainbow cars.”
“But, Mommy, then she’ll want everything to be rainbows.”
“That’s okay, Bugaboo.  You do yours your way, she’ll do hers her way, and Daddy and I will each do ours, our way.”
“But she . . .”
“Bugaboo.  What colors do YOU want YOUR cars to be?  I’m putting a blue and yellow flower on mine.”
“I can’t decide what color to use.”
“Well, take a minute to look at all the colors you have there.  Which one do you think is the prettiest?”

Beanie proceeded to color one rainbow car and one black one, Bugaboo created a pretty good variety of designs, including one car she reversed to look like a pickup truck, and Manie and I had a good time coloring cars with our daughters.  We chatted as we worked, one of those aimless and meandering conversations that ranges from whether apples or bananas taste better with pancakes to whether, if Manie was a superhero, he would be Iron Man or the Incredible Hulk.  When he explained to Bugaboo and Beanie that he probably would not fit into Iron Man’s suit, Beanie chimed in with, “That’s because you’re big and chubby, Daddy, so you’d be better as the Hulk.  Could you fit in his clothes?”

If he could have stopped laughing long enough, he might have answered her.

april 2013 013 april 2013 014 april 2013 004 april 2013 003 april 2013 001

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for all the colors, and for four little blessings whose eyes can see every one of them.  Thank you for their desire to add color and light to the world, to re-create Your promise by painting rainbows everywhere.  Please grant us the grace to diligently teach them that we love each other even when we disagree, and while one of us may draw flowers and another butterflies, the love of You and Your law unites us.  Help us teach them to always speak the truth boldly, but to do so tenderly and with the intent to help, not harm.

If you want to, you can cream on me

Here’s the (utterly inappropriate) song reference.

Whipped cream, the kind that comes in a can, is a very big deal to the kids on my husband’s side of the family.  I remember one of the first family dinners I attended featured a dessert that involved the yummy stuff, and Niece, who was not quite four years old at the time, rushed over to Zio to get a little “spruff” (Italian for froth) sprayed directly into her mouth.  Having received the coveted treat, she scampered off, giggling, only to return for another helping a few minutes later.

Niece was greatly delighted when Bugaboo reached an age where she was permitted to have a little whipped cream of her own.  Whenever there is dinner at Deedaw’s, and whipped cream is present, there appears a line of little opened mouths (and one no longer so little, as Niece is now thirteen), anxiously awaiting their spray.  The smaller they are, the messier this enterprise becomes, but it is always conducted with great good humor and no small amount of laughter from the children and adults alike.

Deedaw decided to come over to our house for dinner this evening, and, in spite of my usual insistence that she didn’t need to bring anything but her beautiful self, she arrived bearing a bag with the makings of strawberry shortcakes.  We had a chuckle as we realized that, given the family sweet tooth, there was a pretty strong possibility that all four members of the tribe would find some way to finagle not only one of the chocolate-filled, chocolate-frosted cupcakes we’d baked that afternoon, but also a decent helping of sugared strawberries and spruff.

It was one of those rare and blessed evenings where not one child decided to argue about the necessity of eating everything on his or her plate, and thus, when the dishes were cleared away, everyone was deemed eligible for dessert.  Out came the pan of cupcakes, the angel food cake, the tub of sugared strawberries, and, wonder of wonders, the tall metal can of whipped cream.  Before Manie could even get the cap off the can, he was surrounded by what looked like a convention of the world’s largest, featherless baby birds, all vocalizing wordlessly their desires for the contents of said can.

In deference to Deedaw, we did make an effort to ascertain who wanted which type of dessert before we went wild with the spruff.  Since Deedaw had expressed a preference for strawberry shortcake, we made sure she had a plate properly piled with cake, berries, and whipped cream before we risked touching the nozzle to any tiny mouths.  As they waited, Baby Guy, Mr. Man, and Beanie tucked into cupcakes, while Bugaboo daintily nibbled at some berries and cake.

Baby Guy’s manual dexterity still has considerable room for improvement, but, at almost 22 months of age, he has concluded that the absolute best part of any cake is the frosting.  If there is frosting inside and outside (as is the case with filled cupcakes), so much the better, and every fleck of frosting must needs be enjoyed by as many of his five senses as possible.

april 2013 003

And why, yes, we did have spaghetti for dinner.

He also managed to score a couple of strawberries to accompany his chocolate, all the while madly flailing his chubby little arms, trying to attract the attention of the holder of the whipped cream can — in this instance, Manie.  He finally succeeding in convincing Manie to circumnavigate the kitchen table (no mean feat when there are seven people seated thereat), and opened his mouth wide in anticipation.  He actually got a couple of mouthfuls, because we were trying to get a good picture.  Fortunate son.  Of course, Manie being the fair-minded Dad that he is, he made it a point to even up the whipped cream distribution after the camera had been put away.

april 2013 007

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for little blessings who derive great joy from the simplest of things when delivered by loving hearts and loving hands.  Thank You for the opportunity for Manie to bottle the very last batch of Nonno’s wine with Bugaboo, just as he and his brother bottled it with Nonno when they were little children.  Please help us teach Your blessings that Your bounty is endless, and that it is far better to exult in a can of whipped cream and the company of family than to complain about those worldly goods or experiences we wish we had.  We would show them the joy in our humble, everyday life, Lord; please inflame our hearts with the grace to revel in Your bounty, instead of wishing we had the bounty of another.  Grant, we pray, that we may always find joy and a stronger faith in the little things.

She can see clearly now

Here’s the song reference.

pittsburgh june 2012 073

Very early this morning, our phone rang with sad, although not unexpected, news.  Great-Grandma, after 97 years on this earth, had left us, and there was an urgent need for someone to get over to Deedaw’s house, so that she would not be alone when her sister called with the sorrowful tidings.  Manie quickly bolted out of bed and threw on the nearest available clothes.  While he was washing his face, a sleepy-eyed Bugaboo wandered out into the hallway to ascertain the cause of the commotion.  Upon being informed, she declared that she would like to help comfort her Deedaw, and actually managed to get dressed while Manie was still tying his shoes.

I made a couple of phone calls in the short interlude before the rest of the tribe awoke.  Beanie was our next riser; she shambled out to the kitchen and inquired as to the availability of hard-boiled eggs.  While the eggs were cooking, and after she had consumed enough juice to brighten her eyes a bit, I snuggled her in my lap and told her Great-Grandma was gone.

Beanie blinked slowly, then cocked her head to the side before slowly asking, “So that means Deedaw lost her husband AND her mommy?”

“Yes, sweetheart.  And she’s sad.”

“I would be sad.  I am sad for Deedaw.  I love Deedaw.”

“I know you do, noodle.  Daddy and Bugaboo and Zio and Nephew are with her now to make sure she has lots of hugs and kisses.  We’ll go over there, too, but a little later.”


april 2013 001

I called Deedaw a few minutes later, just to say, “I love you,” and see if there was anything I could do from across the river.  She demurred, but said she’d be very happy to see the rest of the tribe once everyone was feeling civilized.  As we were saying goodbye, Beanie stretched out her hand for the phone, and I asked Deedaw if she had a quick moment to talk to her youngest granddaughter.

Beanie took the phone and said her good mornings, then calmly stated, “You lost your mommy.”

Deedaw said that indeed, she had, and that Great-Grandma had gone to Heaven.

Beanie replied.  “Yes.  I’m happy for her.”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the blessing of Your faithful servant, Dorothy, without whom our little family would not exist.  Thank You for welcoming her to a joyful eternity and a beautiful reunion with her husband, Daniel, and for releasing her from all suffering and pain.  Thank You for the quiet childish wisdom of her namesake, Beanie, who so perfectly clarified our faith when she explained that she was sad for her Deedaw and happy for her Great-Grandma.  As we bear each other’s burdens in the days and months to come, please grant us the grace to see Your love in all the gifts You send, and to recognize them AS gifts, even when it’s hard to see them through worldly eyes.  Please, Lord, bestow upon us the wisdom to use this time to teach Your blessings how to persevere, how to show compassion, how to say “I love you” without using those words or giving material goods.  Keep us mindful of Your assurance that those who mourn are blessed, and let us love one another as You have loved us.

Giving the best of his love

Here’s the song reference.

When we were expecting Bugaboo, we received a great deal of advice from many corners regarding Bo, who is now the elder canine statesman of the house.  Bo was almost insanely protective of me for quite a long time, and, while he had mellowed significantly by the time we were planning our eldest daughter’s arrival (he was 6 1/2 at that time), there was concern from most of the family that he would be displeased about, and perhaps aggressive towards, a new baby person.  I must confess that while we gently dismissed those concerns, Manie and I were just a smidge worried about Bo’s reaction.  Sheila (a border collie/schnauzer mix who left us at the ripe old age of 15 1/2 two days before Christmas of 2008) and Gretchen (a thoroughly enormous Plott hound who died shortly before her 8th birthday in 2011) had always been the very pictures of gentleness towards children, but Bo had a history of being skittish around them.

I don’t think we’d been home from the hospital more than ten minutes before we were able to discern what Bo and Jackie’s relationship would be.  She had managed to poop on the car ride home, so I whisked her into her new bedroom and set about changing her diaper.  Bo bolted past Manie, put his front feet up on the changing table, and, after giving her tiny toes a very gentle sniff, proceeded to bestow upon said toes the tiniest, most delicate puppy kisses I have ever seen a 75 pound dog give.   He has been her constant companion and guardian since that moment.

Bo has had a couple of strokes in the past year, and, at nearly 12 1/2, he walks gingerly and slowly.  He’s relinquished watchdog duties to the younger (and twice as big) Smudgie, although he still makes it a point to let Smudgie know who the alpha dog is from time to time.  He sleeps heavily, and has so few teeth left that we had to switch him over to soft food about a year ago.

Nonetheless, Bugaboo faithfully makes time to pet her oldest friend every day, to sit by him and speak gently to him.  She and Beanie actually have had many altercations over whose turn it is to feed him his “crinkly bags” in the evening, and he knows that if he’s prowling for table scraps, the best seat in the house, for him, is under Bugaboo’s chair.  He doesn’t play much these days, but he sighs contentedly when she brings out handfuls of Transformers, fairies, and toy animals and plays sitting next to him on the floor, and grouches at Mr. Man and Baby Guy if they try to make off with any of her toys.

One of the daily rituals at our house is the afternoon nap.  I am generally awake at 5:00 a.m., and generally don’t get to sleep until sometime after 11:00 p.m., so after lunch, I desperately need to lay down for half an hour (or an hour, or on some blessed and wonderful days, an hour and a half) so I can finish the rest of the day upright.  The boys sleep in their cribs, I stretch out on the living room sofa, and the girls have a daily dispute over which of them will get to sleep on the loveseat.  If there’s something intriguing on television, whoever doesn’t end up on the loveseat usually curls up with pillows and blankets on the floor.  On those days, Bo usually sleeps on the floor of the girls room, which has very soft carpet, while Smudgie sprawls between the floor-sleeper and the loveseat-lounger.

Today, Maryland was playing in the NCAA women’s lacrosse tournament, an event I deemed worthy of a little extra TV time.  Bugaboo lost the loveseat lottery today, and thus was, somewhat unhappily, piled up with her stuffed penguins, pillow, and blankets in the middle of the living room rug.  Beanie quickly fell asleep while I was still explaining to Bugaboo that if she found her accommodations unsatisfactory, she has a perfectly good bed in which she could nap.  Finally, she settled in, and Smudgie deemed it safe to stretch out between the couch and Bugaboo’s head, where he stood a decent chance of getting his paws patted.

I thought I heard Bo’s heavy, halting tread coming up the stairs as I drifted off to my own nap, and figured that when I awoke, he’d be sawing logs in the girls’ bedroom.  When I awoke, this is what I saw.

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There are moments when the tears fall before I realize they’re there, and it took me a moment to comprehend that there was nothing wrong with the camera’s focus.  I watched them silently for about fifteen minutes before Bugaboo awoke, pausing to hug Bo before she headed for the bathroom.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for blessing our family with furry members, who have loved us as tenderly as we have loved them, sometimes more so.  Thank You for the many lessons You have taught us through their lives, from the wonder of watching puppies grow to the devotion of caring for a dog who has grown frail with age or illness.  Please help us teach Your blessings that while You created mankind to rule over the beasts, we are to do so with great gentleness and love, and recall that You made Your covenant with all living creatures after the Flood.  We would keep ourselves, and Your blessings, ever mindful that the trust our dogs place in us must be met with the love You show us, that we should look to You as the example of a good and loving master, Who safeguards His charges faithfully and with tenderness meets all our needs.  Please grant that we may love as unreservedly and forgive as readily as the dogs You have sent to guard and teach us.

I’m gonna reach out and grab ya

Here’s the song reference.

Today was a catching up on housework sort of day, which meant that, other than meals and a quick run to the grocery store, all of the tiny people had the day to do more or less as they pleased.  I could have drafted them into service, but, honestly, I wasn’t all that delighted with the thought of tripping over them as I carried laundry upstairs and down, and, as their laundry folding skills still need a lot of work, the thought of having them help me fold ten loads of the stuff was unappealing as well.

The girls and I did manage to rummage through a box of craft supplies before the boys arose, and Bugaboo and Beanie then passed a pleasant hour making beaded bracelets. They each cheerfully bestowed one upon me, and I wore them throughout the day, to their very great delight.  More lovely than the colorful beads, though, was Beanie’s proclamation as she stretched the elasticized cord over my wrist, “Mommy, now you have something beautiful just like you!”

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I love my job.

Later in the day, as I was making sauce and meatballs for a pasta-and-meatballs dinner, Baby Guy meandered into the kitchen.  His vocabulary has exploded over the past couple of months.  His favorite word is “really,”  which he utters in an appropriately plaintive tone whenever one of his siblings does something that runs contrary to his wee toddler desires.

His favorite phrase, however, has been the subject of much merriment at our house.  You see, Baby Guy is WILDLY ticklish on nearly every part of his chubby little anatomy.  This works out well, as he is a ridiculously happy little fellow, who loves to laugh.  When he is bored or a bit blue, he will wander up to the nearest person and inquire, with a hopeful smile, “tickle tickle tickle?”

When our youngest tramped into the kitchen, I was rather busily trying to convince some exuberantly simmering sauce to remain in its pot while trimming the stems off several bunches of broccoli.  Generally, adding a curious toddler to any situation that involves boiling liquids and sharp knives is a recipe for disaster.  We are most blessed in that Baby Guy’s preferred method of observation, when it comes to culinary activities, is the stand up on one of the kitchen chairs and peer over the back.  This is likely because he’s been around a couple of times when some hot oil has become overly excited, causing Mommy just jump around holding a wet paper towel to her face and saying words that cause his sisters and brother to get into a great deal of trouble when they repeat them later.  The boy is wise beyond his years.  But I digress.

Having successfully tamed the wild sauce, I turned to play a little peekaboo with Baby Guy over the back of the chair upon which he stood.  With a mischievous little grin, he clambered down from the chair, stumped two steps backwards, held his little arms out towards me, and cheerfully asked, “tickle tickle tickle?”

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I wiggled my fingers at him.  He shrieked out a barrage of joyful giggles, retreated two more steps, then took a tentative step back towards me, still smiling broadly.  I wiggled my fingers again, and got the same hilarious result.  We kept it up until he finally backed into the refrigerator and plumped down heavily on his well-padded little bum, whereupon he literally fell over laughing. I nearly did, too.

All the while, Bugaboo, Beanie, and Mr. Man were happily playing with the play food sets Mr. Man received for his birthday.  It’s rare that I have a few moments to play with Baby Guy (or any of them, really) alone.  They’re gifts.

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Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You, for little blessings who rejoice in the days You have made, who constantly remind us that joy is a choice that is pleasing to You.  Thank You for the moments when we laugh at the simplest of things, and for Your constant reminders that happiness does not come from any created thing, but from You, the Creator.

Lord, we humbly ask that as you welcome Hope into Heaven today after her hours of life here on earth, that you comfort her parents, Todd and Laura, her brother Nathanael, and all those who wait in joyful hope to meet her at the end of their own days.  Please enfold those who mourn with Your peace, fill them with Your grace, and send Your love to them through the embraces of all those who love them.