Tag Archive | kids

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.

Human rain delay

This one is actually a sports reference.

Beanie is a very deliberate little girl in nearly everything she does.  When collecting leaves for a school project, she examines each leaf minutely to ensure that it has characteristics that are pleasing to her; when performing the forbidden “couchy-couch” jump, she carefully surveys the floor where she’ll land if she misses as well as her landing spot, to ensure that no obstacles or siblings might cause her a harder landing than she intends.

This tendency, while wonderful in terms of her work habits (you should see her cleaning the kitchen baseboards, which is one of her chores), can occasionally cause a little friction in other areas.  There are six people and two dogs who live at our house, in a total of just under 1400 finished square feet, and we have two bathrooms.

We had a busy afternoon and evening planned yesterday, which meant that, in order to not have a profoundly grouchy tribe halfway through everything, I had to snuggle everyone down for naps by around noon so we could be mobile by about 3:30.  Baby Guy and Mr. Man obligingly curled up in their beds and fell asleep as soon as their blankets were tucked in around them, Bugaboo brought a pillow, blanket, and pair of stuffed penguins out to her preferred napping spot on the loveseat, and Beanie . . . well, I reminded Beanie that she needed to go to the potty before she cuddled up to her big Funshine Bear for her nap.

Beanie is also a world-class lollygagger when there’s something she does not want to do on tap.  One thing my precious perpetual-motion machine does not like to do is nap.

Five minutes after I sent her into the upstairs bathroom, Bugaboo informed me that she needed to go, too.  I sent her downstairs and, since I also needed a rest stop, went in to check on Beanie.  A pile of uneven shreds of toilet paper lay on the floor between her dangling feet, and the loose end of the roll was torn into a triangle with a hypotenuse of about 18 inches.  I tore that off, handed it to her, and said, “Okay, Beanie, are you done going potty?  If you are, it’s time to wipe and get off the potty so other people can use it.”

What seemed a perfectly reasonable request to me was met with an ear-splitting howl of, “I DON’T WANT TO USE THE RIPPED PAPER I WANT TO USE THE STRAIGHT PAPER IT WON’T RIP RIGHT,” tears, and emphatic gesticulations at the pile of toilet paper scraps on the floor.  Her problem was threefold:  firstly, that she desperately NEEDED a nap, secondly, that she did not WANT to take the needed nap, thirdly, that she couldn’t get the toilet paper to tear neatly along the perforations.  Imperfect toilet paper squares are not acceptable at certain times in Beanie-land.

Carefully tearing off a few squares and handing them to her, I soothed, “Okay, Beanie, time to wipe and flush now.”

“I can’t.  Another drop of pee got made while I was trying to get the toilet paper to behave, and I want it to come out in the potty so it doesn’t get in my panties.”

At this point, I realized that going downstairs to use the other bathroom, which a flushing sound indicated had just been vacated by Bugaboo, was probably not a good idea, as it would start a new battle between Beanie and the toilet paper.  I turned around and started wiping the vanity top while waiting for Beanie to finish.  Some moments later, I heard the sweet sound of two little feet hitting the floor and turned around to, I hoped, use the pot myself.

Beanie, upon descending from her throne, had stationed herself at an angle that made it impossible for me to sit on the fixture without sitting on her.  I asked her if she was done, and smiled at her chirpy, “Yep!” before asking her to please move just a little bit.

“I need to pull up my pants first so I don’t trip.”

Reasonable enough.

It seemed a little less reasonable five minutes later, when she was still pulling up her underwear . . . one . . . millimeter . . . per . . . elastic . . . gather . . . at . . . a . . . time . . .

“Beanie, HONEY, Mommy really needs to use the potty.  Could you shuffle over a step or two for me, please?”

She shuffled right into the doorway — the very doorway I needed to walk through to get to the commode.

“Beanie, do you need some help?”

“NOOOOOOOOOOO!  I’m a big girl.  I’m being careful ’cause I don’t want wrinkles in my panties.”

Okay, at least that was a new one.

“Sweetie, you’re blocking the doorway.  And you really need to pull up your pants and snuggle Funshine in your cozy bed.”

“Funshine would be sad if I was wiggly because my panties have wrinkles.  I don’t want Funshine to be sad.”

I remembered to pray before I said, or did, anything else.  My thoughts were a little poisonous at that point.

“Honey, Mommy’s going to be sad if she pees in her panties because she can’t get to the potty.”

“Yeah, and then you’d have to get a towel and clean it up, too.  That would be yucky.”

Deep breathing, in through the nose and out through the mouth, really is a highly effective relaxation technique.  I did so a couple of times as she meticulously continued to raise her completely unwrinkled panties.  I have seen freshly ironed shirts with more wrinkles.  Finally, I gently picked her up and moved her just enough to gain access to the toilet.

She turned around and looked at me, and said, “Mommy, we’re supposed to be patient with each other, especially if we’re trying to get something just right.”

“You are correct, Beanie, but we’re also supposed to be considerate of each other, especially when someone has a big need.”

“I have a big need to keep the wrinkles out of my panties.”

Twenty minutes later (no, really), I finally tucked her blankets around her, silently fuming at the insane amount of time it had taken her to use the potty and get into her bed.  After snuggling her in and giving her a kiss and a whispered admonition to take a nap, I closed her door and, wearily, walked over to the couch to lay down for a few minutes myself.  Bugaboo had taken advantage of the delay to build a village for her penguins on the loveseat, and after requesting that she deconstruct it so she would have enough room to lay down for her own nap, I plopped down on the sofa to rest and think.

I cracked a wide grin as I remembered the many times I had prayed for children, for patience, and for the time of their childhood to slow down so we could savor it.  Well, He certainly does answer my prayers, and does so with a great sense of humor.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You have lovingly given me those things I have asked for in faith.  Please fill my heart with the same amount of patience with Your blessings that You have shown me, and when I must correct or reprove, keep my voice gentle and my face mild.  Make me a teacher to them who instructs gently and joyfully, responding to trials with love and grace.

STOP! Jamma time!

Here’s the song reference.

By 7:00 tonight, Baby Guy’s clothes were covered in three meals, one dessert, plenty of spilled milk, and a dog hair topcoat.  Since it was within a half hour of his bedtime anyway, I decided to change him into his pajamas before something decided to eat him.  Our youngest, however, was not at all pleased with the proposed wardrobe change, and babbled his displeasure all the way to the changing table.  Once we arrived at the changing table, the babbling turned to a rather vociferous series of complaints, accompanied by plenty of flailing and kicking.

I rubbed noses with the smallest member of our tribe to distract him long enough to get his pants off, got his diaper changed by distracting him with his toes (I swear, I feel like an octopus sometimes), then played a quick round of peekaboo while wrestling him out of his shirt without getting any of the goo from the shirt on his hair.  Once divested of his cruddy clothes, Baby Guy decided to use this sudden ease of movement to attempt a triple-twisting somersault off the changing table.  This athletic endeavor was met by my thunderous shout of “STOP!

His lower lip started to quiver, and I felt bad for bellowing.  Granted, I had to make the point, quickly and unambiguously, that triple-twisting somersaults off the changing table are a terrible idea, but I didn’t have to be quite as loud as I was.  I whipped his pajamas in a circle around my head and chortled, “Jamma time!”

Baby Guy’s little face erupted into a broad grin, and he started to giggle.  As I wrangled him into his footy pajamas, I sang in my most ludicrous voice, “Doon doon doon doon, doon doon, doon doon CAN’T TOUCH THIS!” and tickled him.  We were both still laughing when we made it back to the living room where the rest of the family was waiting, with somewhat bewildered expressions, for a bedtime story, prayers, and lullabies.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the four little blessings You have entrusted to us.  Help us teach them and protect them gently, so that they have no doubt about what is right and good, but also have no doubt of our love for them.  Your yoke is light; grant us the humility of heart to follow Your example.

How easy it would be to show him how you feel

Here’s the song reference.

We moved our classroom over to Nonno and Deedaw’s house today; the cousins were spending the day there, and it was a rare opportunity for the six of them to enjoy each other’s company for most of a day.  Bugaboo made a brief attempt to snow Deedaw and Niece into believing that she really couldn’t read her assigned passage, but righted herself when I came in to ascertain why it had taken 15 minutes for her to decipher five lines of thirty-six point text.  Deedaw, Niece and I smothered our chuckles at her red-faced and rapid reading of the page thereafter.  Interestingly, Beanie finished her seatwork in record time, and received showers of praise from both Deedaw and Nonno as a result.

It was actually a very pleasant homeschooling morning, although I was slightly discombobulated from having to extract books and materials from a backpack instead of my little kitchen cubbies.  Mr. Man, Baby Guy, and Nephew wandered in and out of the dining room where we had stationed ourselves, I took a couple of diaper-changing breaks, and Deedaw produced a largish pan of macaroni and cheese just as the last math problems were solved.  We even worked in a round of the “Austrian Yodeler” song.

After lunch, the shorty syndicate wanted to go outside.  Niece, before heading outdoors, asked Deedaw where she might find a rake. Having been directed to the shed, she proceeded to gather the leaves in the side yard into neat piles.

I should point out here that Nonno has been ill of late, and has had a lot of difficulty getting outdoors to do his usual yard work.  Deedaw and I had discussed that last night, and I had assured her that over the course of the week, I would take care of the leaves.  Heartened by the unexpected assist from Niece, I grabbed the other big rake, distributed toy rakes among the tinier helpers, and set about raking and bagging the backyard.  Bugaboo did heroic service fetching and delivering the big leaf bags, and helping pile leaves into them. We managed to get in a couple of hours’ worth of work before Mr. Man and Baby Guy started “need a nap” meltdowns.

After Bugaboo and Beanie awoke from their naps (the boys were sacked out until nearly dinnertime), I called Deedaw to see how she and Nonno were faring.  Niece and Nephew had gone home with their father by then.  I marveled to Deedaw about Niece’s willingness to help, and asked her if Deedaw had instructed her to assist.

“No.  She did that all on her own.  She asked if she could do that right after she got here this morning.”

When I teach my seventh grade Faith Formation class later this week, and ask them the same question I ask every week, Niece will have provided a shining example for young people only a year her junior.  Oh, the question?

“How did someone say ‘I love you” without using words or giving you any material thing?”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for a niece who sets an example of comforting the afflicted for Your blessings.  Without words, she showed a love that is patient, kind, and humble.  Please grant Your blessings the wisdom to remember her wordless teaching as they grow, and help me to reinforce the lesson with my own thoughts, words, and deeds.   Grant us all the grace to honor our parents as we should, to be Your face to them as they have been to us.  They are Your first gifts to us.

Slime, slime, everywhere there’s slime

Here’s the song reference.

One of the great Halloween traditions at our house, and the one perhaps most eagerly anticipated by the tribe, is the presentation of gifts to our wee tribe that are, shall we say, not suitable for polite company.  There are gummy body parts, toy bugs, snakes, and spiders, and other treats that verge on the vile.  The kids, of course, think this is perhaps the coolest set of little surprises they receive all year, and as a result, we rarely have any trouble getting them to eat dinner on Halloween night — the brown paper bags will not appear if so much as a morsel remains on their plates.

This year’s offerings, in addition to ghoulishly blue ring pops and pumpkin-shaped marshmallows, included little canisters of glow-in-the-dark slime.  My husband and I remember the goo fondly from our own childhoods, and giggled madly when we discovered it in the dollar bin at Target.  We rationalized giving this to a kindergartner and two preschoolers by considering the possibility of a science lesson about non-Newtonian fluids.  Homeschooling has its perks, you know.

The slime in question was the surprise hit of Halloween.  As soon as each child finishes breakfast in the morning, she or he sets about clamoring for a tub of slime. Beanie is particularly enamored of her wee vat of green goo, and has merry adventures with it and her little Care Bears toys.  This morning, while Bugaboo was curled up on the couch watching her Saturday morning cartoons, Beanie meandered into the kitchen, where I was attempting to assemble a grocery list, and plumped her rump into her chair.

“Mommy, I want to play with my slime, please.”

“Okay, Beanie.  Please keep it out of my coupons, okay?”

“Can I get a Care Bear to hide in it?”

“Sure, why not?”

As she pelted out of the kitchen to retrieve a toy, she chortled back over her shoulder, “I’m getting Share Bear, because slime is more fun when you share it, and Share Bear knows lots about sharing!”

For the next hour, a curly-haired, shining-eyed little blessing of a girl played contentedly with her pool of slime and a pink plastic bear, narrating the bear’s adventures as she went.   First the slime was a mud puddle, then a sleeping bag to wrap around the bear, then a skating rink, then a green donut, then a meadow, then a frisbee, then a pizza, then a BIG GOOEY MONSTER that would have eaten the poor bear had Beanie not rescued her from its evil clutches.

I could sit and listen to Beanie tell stories for hours.  She is completely unselfconscious about it, and equally oblivious to anything that’s going on around her.  Give her a pile of confetti, and she names the pieces and sends them on quests.  The common thread in all of her adventures is kindness — everyone has to share and use nice words.  I love that about her.

Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for this little blessing who cannot abide ugliness. Help me teach her that she must show the same love towards others that she insists upon in her play, the same gentleness of manner and speech that You used.  Cleanse my heart of anger and rancor, that I may be Your face to her and thus teach her with more than words.

Bat out of . . . shoebox?

Here’s the song reference.

As part of our homeschooling, we cover a topic in science every week; this week’s subject is bats.  It’s a particularly important subject at our house, as we live near a swamp and thus are subject to an absurdly large mosquito population.  I’m loath to spray a bunch of chemicals around, partly out of concern for the tiny people and our dogs, partly out of concern for the nearby wetlands and the critters that live there.  Don’t get me wrong — I have no problem hosing the kids down with Cutter before sending them outside to play, but I’d rather not spray the entire yard.  To us, it’s a simple question of stewardship; the Lord calls us to take care of His Creation, and to me, that means considering the impact of everything we do on the creatures over which He gave mankind dominion.  I keep hoping the kids will quit pulling up the mosquito-shoo geraniums, but until then . . .

At any rate, we read a spiffy book about bats, at the end of which were plans for a wooden bat house.  While I lack the intestinal fortitude to tackle a carpentry project involving four children under the age of six as the only adult in the room, I have no problem breaking out a shoebox to build a suitable model.  Again, part of stewardship involves using the materials we have on hand.  With a family of six, there are always shoeboxes and cereal boxes aplenty at our house; quite a few of them find their way into the recycling bin without any intermediate steps, but at least half of them end up being used as craft supplies, to bring a lesson to life.  Having read about bats, and watched a couple of neat videos to see bats in action, the girls and I talked about how we’ve seen bats flittering about at twilight, and how many times we’ve gone diving for calamine to cool the itching of dozens of mosquito bites.  Beanie is particularly afflicted by the little bloodsuckers, and thus was the most enthusiastic about learning how to attract a healthy bat population.

Our basic plan was a simple one, to wit:  cut a side off a shoebox, trim another side and fold it up a little for an entry restrictor, add a small sheet of gauze for a bat toehold, then cover the shoebox with brown construction paper to simulate the wood of a real bat house.  The girls rifled the sticker box to find stickers with pictures of things bats like to eat, and came up with butterflies, moths, and bees (I don’t know if bats actually eat bees, but they had the concept of bats eating insects, so I wasn’t inclined to argue).  Beanie pointed out that some bats eat fruit, and was promptly countered by Bugaboo’s assertion that the bats we wanted to attract were the bug-eating variety.  Beanie eagerly agreed that we did not want to encourage any bats that might steal our bananas and apples.  We finished it off with a half-dozen scratch-art bats suspended from strings, “flying” into the “bat house.”

The girls were delighted with their project, and animatedly pointed out all its features to Mr. Man and Baby Guy when they boys awoke from their nap.  We may have to make another one, as Mr. Man’s wee noise is quite out of joint at not having been allowed to help with the construction.  They’re trying to convince Daddy to help them make real ones from lumber in the spring.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You have blessed us with an abundance of flora and fauna to study, understand, and appreciate.  Thank You for eyes to see their beauty, and for lips to sing Your praise as we discover the wonder of each tiny piece of Your creation.  Please help me teach Your blessings that we cherish life of all kinds, and we can show our love for You in the way we care for all the lives around us, and grant me the wisdom to find anything redeeming about stink bugs.  Thank You for the mosquitos that feed the bats, for the bats that eat the mosquitos, for the writers who have taken the time to set down their knowledge about Your creatures in books, for the videographers who have recorded Your creatures in all their beauty and majesty.  Keep our vision broad, Lord, but remind us to always focus on You as we survey the world around us.  Thank You also, Lord, for the gift of little blessings who rejoice in sharing tasks, and who are learning to share the stickers as well.

Better together

As part of her schoolwork today, Beanie made a largish lump of play clay.  While flour, salt, oil, water, and cream of tartar were being mixed and cooked, Bugaboo was sourly practicing her addition facts and lamenting that her day’s assignments did not include the concoction of moldable substances.  Beanie managed not to look too awfully smug, and I reminded Bugaboo that there are days when her own schoolwork includes a spiffy craft and Beanie’s is mostly drill.

Around 10:00, all the day’s assignments were completed.  This was about a half hour after Baby Guy decided he’d had enough of this morning and went down for an early nap.  I credit Mr. Man, who decided that he and his brother should both awaken and play a game of catch the bear between their cribs at 5:45 a.m.  Beanie snagged a couple of wipes to clean along the baseboards, Mr. Man headed for the living room to pick up the fluffs of Smudgie’s fur that seem to reproduce overnight, Bugaboo grabbed the dustpan and brush to sweep the hallway and around the living room carpet, and I started in on the breakfast dishes.

A few moments later, Beanie came skipping through to deposit her grimy wipes in the trash cans, and rendered me nearly speechless by asking, “Mommy, do you have any other chores I can do?”  Once I had recovered, I told her she could take the other dustpan and brush from behind the trash can and see if Bugaboo or Mr. Man needed help.  Shortly thereafter, Beanie and Mr. Man came giggling into the kitchen, balancing a dustpan full of dog hair between them, and managed to empty most of it into the trash can instead of the dogs’ water dish.

The rest of the day was relatively peaceful; we read stories for a while, had warm biscuits, honeycrisp apples, and slices of nice sharp cheddar for lunch, then the tribe caught the Barney Halloween special on Netflix while I dozed on the couch for a few minutes (I was up an hour before the boys, for the record) before we all headed to the back yard to play “chase the puppy” on a glorious October afternoon.

After dinner, we dropped Bugaboo off at Faith Formation (think Sunday school, but on Monday night), then came home for some more story time, a can of enormous olives, and some desperately needed baths.  Beanie generously ceded the privilege of story choosing entirely to her little brothers.  Once we had tucked them in, she and I headed upstairs for our Monday night Mommy and Beanie time (Bugaboo goes fencing with Daddy after Faith Formation).  After she put her toys away, she danced over to the kitchen table to see what tonight’s adventures might be.  She helped me chop dates, nuts, and candy for an orange slice cake, then, to her very great delight, got two make-your-own-Halloween-sticker-scene sheets for her very own.  Beanie is FANATICAL about stickers, and she set to decorating a couple of haunted houses with great glee, narrating what was happening as she built each one.  I love her stories, because everything is innocent and sweet.  Even the ghosts are nice in Beanie’s stories — they’re the ones that know the best candy to put in trick-or-treaters’ pumpkins is the chocolate kind.

Once she was all stickered out, she polished off the rest of the olives while I got her play clay, now cooled, from the refrigerator.  She gleefully dumped it out of the bag, dug her little hands merrily into it, and started to build a big snowman.  After a few rolls of the dough, she sighed and slumped back in her chair.

“What’s wrong, Beanie?  Do you need some help?”

“No, I don’t need any help.”

“Is the dough too cold.”

“No, the dough’s not too cold.  It’s just not as much fun without Bugaboo.  Will she and Daddy be home soon?  I miss making things with her.”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your blessings, for whom we prayed for so long.  Thank You for guiding us to teach them that they are each other’s first and best friends, and that every joyful thing becomes even greater when it is shared.  Help us to continue and extend that lesson with the, Lord, that whatever they have can be shared with whomever they meet.  Please remind us that whenever two or more are gathered together in Your name, You are there, and that whenever we reach out a hand in love to share the bounty with which You have blessed us, we honor You.

Let the rain come down

Here’s the song reference.  I had Prince on the brain yesterday, thanks to a posting by an old friend.

The weather forecast yesterday was for rain, rain, and more rain, which didn’t exactly inspire me with confidence that we would have a joyful day.  One of the main ingredients for peace in our house is that the tiny people are able to get out of the house for a while every day, and, even with my wretched housekeeping skills, there’s only so much mud I can tolerate.  The Lord is merciful, however, and the morning was reasonably dry, so as soon as breakfasts had been bolted, Bugaboo, Beanie, and Mr. Man headed outside to play ball with Smudgie and invent all manner of games.  Now that the three of hem are big enough to use the teeter-totter without adult assistance, they spend a lot of time pretending to fly, although I’ve overheard them also pretending that each seat is a different pony.  Mr. Man takes a particular delight in rocking his sisters as hard as he can from a perch on the ground, which means my watchful eyes are frequently at the window.

Once the rain started, they bolted back into the house to see what chaos might be caused indoors.  Since I was cleaning the kitchen counters and singing with Baby Guy, they decided that a snack and an episode of Spider-Man would be a grand way to pass the time until the terrific trio decided what else they’d like to do with their morning.  I finished my chore about halfway through the show (here’s the episode — Rhino sort of reminds me of Beanie and Mr. Man), by which time Baby Guy had wandered out into the living room to play with the marvelous toy, so I took a break and watched the show with the tribe, smiling and laughing as they shouted out helpful advice to their favorite superhero.

While there was a certain amount of complaining about the TV being turned off after the show, Beanie, Bugaboo, and Mr. Man were quickly mollified by my suggestion that since it was raining outside, it would be a perfect day to paint.  Three little streaks of lightning bolted into the kitchen, where they were quickly supplied with tempera, brushes, and paper.  I also showed them the old “put a blob or two of paint on the paper and fold it over to make a butterfly” trick, which they absolutely loved, and the overhang by the kitchen window was quickly adorned with scads of vivid artwork, fluttering in the breeze from the ceiling fan.  Beanie exclaimed, “Look, Mommy, our butterflies are flying even though their wings are wet!”

I could actually get to like rainy days.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your blessings, who delight in the simplest of pleasures, and who derive joy from creating images of Your beautiful creations.  Please grant me the grace to always see the opportunity to exult in grey skies, and to teach Your blessings that the most joyful days don’t have to involve going anywhere but our kitchen table, if we are grateful for the gift of the family You have built.  Kindle in us the wisdom to see Your unwarranted generosity in every event of every day, and to find the rainbows You set for us as a reminder.

Postscript:  After doing my morning reading, I added a link to a blog post about the grace of being grateful for the Lord’s essential gift of fulfilling our basic daily needs; click on “unwarranted generosity.”  SR’s post is well worth the read.  I’ll be considering today what the things are that enslave me, that keep me from joy.

And they call it kitty love

Here’s the song reference.

Beanie is something of a legend at our county’s parks and recreation department.  Last spring, when I was picking up the supplies for Bugaboo’s soccer team (Bugaboo, Beanie and Mr. Man in tow, Sal practicing corner kicks in my belly), the nice gentleman leaned over to address our younger daughter and asked her, in the singsong voice some adults use with very young children, “And are you going to play soccer like your big sissy?”

I should mention here that Beanie is altogether disdainful of anything that remotely resembles condescension.  We have NO idea where she gets that.

At any rate, she looked up at the gent with a facial expression that suggested she was questioning his intelligence, then slowly replied, “Nooooo.  I want to play football.”

Continuing with the singsong tone, he cooed at her, “Aww, are you going to be a little kicker?”

She regarded him again and sighed with the mild exasperation she often expresses when she has to explain something that, to her, is patently obvious, before replying, “Noooo.  I want to WHAMMO somebody,” while punching one little fist into the opposite little palm.

I should point out that at the time, Beanie was two years and nine months old, about 31 inches tall, and about 28 pounds.

The poor man snorted, then literally fell to his knees, laughing until tears ran down his face.  Some minutes later, as he wiped his streaming cheeks, he blinked up at me and choked out, “Lady, you’ve got A LOT on your hands.”  I somewhat smugly replied, “Mister, you don’t know the half of it.”

I am relating this tale as background to the story of my morning yesterday.  Beanie shambled out of the girls’ room a little after 7:00, and, after a couple of failed attempts, managed to clamber up onto the sofa and snuggle in next to me.  As it happened, I was perusing the Internet looking for party supplies for her upcoming birthday bash.  You see, this tiny titan has decided that nothing in the world will do but that she has a Hello Kitty-themed birthday party, complete with a pinata.  There are, fortunately, quite a number of purveyors of such pinatas, and a wide array of Hello Kitty goodies with which to fill them.

Since Beanie is the honoree of this particular shindig, it seemed appropriate to seek her input on the question of the pinata.  I pulled up the Google page containing a dozen images of the different types of Hello Kitty pinatas, then explained to her that we needed to decide whether she wanted a pull-string version or a bash-it-with-a-stick version.  She looked at me with a genuinely horrified expression, then emphatically exclaimed, “We have to have the string kind!  I don’t want anyone to whack Hello Kitty with a bat!  Poor Hello Kitty!  Hello Kitty is nice!  I don’t want anyone to break Hello Kitty!”

My comment on Facebook last night was, “I believe I may have to dress all of her siblings as Hello Kitty from now on.”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for little blessings who fill our days with laughter, and who derive joy from many different aspects of the world You have given us.  Please help me teach Your blessings to treat their siblings with the same tenderness they treat their imaginary friends and toys.  It is sometimes difficult for adults to treat gently with people who have given them offense, Lord, but please help me give them the right example of treating people more lovingly that we treat inanimate objects that cannot love us, or You, back.

And please, Lord, let me never lose the ability to laugh while I’m teaching, even if I have to do so silently.

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.