Seasons

Life has found a peaceful rhythm recently. We’re in a season of (relative) rest. Since January this year we have had more time at home and fewer pressing commitments. It has been a time of strengthening family relationships and finding time to pursue interests and education more fully.

Princess working in the sunshine. Window seat for the win!

Prince and Princess have settled into a routine of waking, personal devotional, Morning High Five, then on to Learning Fun. By the time I finish my own personal time with God and come downstairs they have usually started on their work. They have always been good at working independently, but this season has seen a real step up in this. It seems I have hardly noticed them getting older, and all of sudden they are Big.

Big is good. Big is exciting. I love the people my Littles are becoming. But I have to confess – I really miss the Littles, too.

Our days are a mixture of learning independently and together. We do the hard things together, because it’s so much more friendly with two. We do the fun things together, too – read-alouds, walks, picnics, games, day trips, play-dates, church. But we also have time to work, play and rest independently, completing our own tasks and following our own interests. Our days are rich in love and fun.

Enjoying this season; preparing for the next.

I’ve had more time this season for reading. As some of you know, we had been pursuing the idea of adoption over the past four years. This journey took a twist earlier this year, and we are now part way through fostering training and assessment. This season of rest has allowed me to spend more time learning about how to help the types of children who may come in and out of our family in the future. The reading has also helped me develop skills, understanding and new ways to help Prince and Princess during time of anxiety, sadness and change. My favourite book so far is Building the Bonds of Attachment – a great read for anyone interacting with traumatised or challenged kids on a regular basis.

I don’t know when the next season will come, or what it will bring. I suspect it will be much fuller – in both trials and joys. But for now we are soaking up this season, full of its own beauties and blessings.

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven
(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

My Homeschool Day in Life with a 6 and 8 year old

DSC_1011About this time last year I took part in Simple Homeschool‘s A Day in the Life series for the first time  It is always interesting to chart a full day of activity at home. We like to run our days pretty naturally, but over time we have gradually imposed a little structure. Nothing rigid. Nothing formal. Just… a more organised flow. So here is what a typical day kinda looks like this year.

6:45am

I hear Prince getting up. He goes downstairs, but I doze for a bit longer. I’m at that blissful stage of being able to sleep even if my kids are awake. Yes – it really does happen. Yeah – it is as good as it sounds.

7:30am

I get up. YAWN. This is my new weekday rising time. I have never been an early riser. It’s not in my genes. Even so, I have found that doing it regularly makes it easier, and the benefits of a longer morning are worth it. I come downstairs to find Prince has been reading a book on the solar system, and he is now drawing a picture of what he has read. I smile to myself; homeschool happening while I sleep?  Cha-ching!

The kids get breakfast started for themselves. So far, so normal. But I check outside and see that our new electric car, which has been charging in the garden overnight, has got stuck in the mud. Literally. The next hour I forget our Morning High Five ritual and spend it trying to help my husband and brother free the car. Unsuccessfully. Luckily we have a back-up.

8:30am

When we finally give up on the car, I come back inside to find the kids playing ‘Cards of Maths’, working their quick addition skills. We invented the name for this game from Life of Fred. So far today they’ve covered science and maths, and we’re not even dressed. Did I mention I love homeschooling?

At this point I get them started on Morning High Five, while I potter around doing things which need to be done – packing the dishwasher, chatting to my husband, hosing the mud-caked car wheels…

9:30am

Hubby arrives back from dropping my brother at his course. He’s not feeling well (particularly after spending an hour in the cold mud), so spends the day in bed. Meanwhile, the rest of us are finally dressed, fed and ready to officially start our day. We get wrapped up and head outside for our morning walk. We try to do this everyday, regardless of weather. In reality it probably happens three days out of five. Today we stroll over to our local field, where the kids enjoy walking on walls, investigating puddles and playing pooh sticks. These short bursts of fresh air are always so delicious.DSC_1007

10:00am

We have a rotating schedule of different Bible activities that we do throughout the week. Today I put on a couple of chapters of The Lamb for the kids, while I take the time to read my own Bible. After this we pray together.

10:30am

I guess this is where learning ‘really’ starts. (If you ignore the reading, playing, exploring and discussion which has happened since the moment we got up.) Princess and I snuggle up on the window-seat and read two chapters of her maths book, Life of Fred: Butterflies. We started going through the whole elementary series all together a few months ago, but when we reached half way it started to get a little advanced for Princess. She is only six, after all – still my baby. So while Prince continues to storm his way through, Princess has gone back to redo the earlier books. I like to make sure the foundational understanding – in any topic – is rock solid. While we have fun reading about Fred’s silly adventures, Prince is upstairs doing drum practice.

After this, we swap. Prince reads Life of Fred: Honey with me while Princess is whizzing through some mental arithmetic and recorder practice. As Prince moves onto his written math work, I hop on to Duolingo for a bit of French. I enjoy learning, and love that the kids see it as a natural part of everybody’s life – not just something children are forced to do between 9 and 3, Monday to Friday.

11:15am

Princess recently commented that we hadn’t been doing as much free learning time as we used to, and she missed it. I love to have feedback from the kids, and really believe in the value of listening to their opinions. So this morning I call ‘Free Learning Fun’. This means ‘you can do anything you want so long as it’s educational.’ It’s a great way to fuel their natural love of learning. The kids have a quick conversation and decide to play Flags of the World. They just use the European cards for now, and focus on learning the flags, countries and capitals of our continent.

While they play I sneak in another round of Duolingo, and work on writing a script for my next Advanced Creative Writing Open University assignment. At some point I notice that the sun is shining brightly. As we have solar panals, this is my cue to do any electric-heavy housework, so I quickly pop some washing in the machine and enjoy the thought of a free spin.DSC_1015

11:45am

The kids take a break from playing Flags of the World. I pull out the Kindle, and we all snuggle up under a blanket for a couple of chapters of Black Beauty. Reading together has so many wonderful benefits. It’s a great way to fuel a love of books and teach your child to read; it creates shared experiences; it starts conversations; it expands horizons; it strengthens bonds. Most of our curriculum choices are based on reading aloud together.

12:00pm

Lunch time. We don’t always eat this early, but that’s the way it happens today. After eating, the kids carry on their game while I do a bit more script writing.

12:30pm

Another snuggle gathering. I love the way so much of our learning takes place under blankets full of love. This time it’s history, and we are nearing the end of Story of the World volume 1, which we thoroughly enjoy (Prince almost always begs for the next chapter when we’re done). We’re in the midst of the Roman period, and today we read about the intense persecution of Christians. After reading we get caught up in a chat about the Ichthys symbol, so we do a bit of research and some drawing on this topic.

1:oopm

DSC_1016

Officially this is free time. Prince gets stuck into drawing, which is both his highest passion and talent. Princess gets out her plethora of card making supplies and soon the house is covered in paper. It’s messy, but I love it. Especially as they are old enough to tidy it up themselves. They also read, play, and generally amuse themselves productively. Although not officially a learning time, there is plenty of learning going on if you look carefully.

I make use of this time to do things I need or want to do. Today it’s a mix of housework, studying and research.

4:30pm

Tidy up time. We always try to tidy up before Daddy, Nana and Uncle Sean get home (yes, we have a full house – just the way we like it!), so even though Daddy is already here, we still get things sorted. This end of the day sort out also help me to relax after the kids are in bed. Clutter is not my favourite. Tidying up keeps the kids occupied while I get supper sorted (fish salad tonight) and make sure the kitchen is clean.

5:30pm

I leave the kids with Daddy while I nip out to pick up my brother. When we get back it’s dinner time. We try to eat early on Tuesday’s as we host house church from 6:30pm.

 

7:30pm

Bed time routine begins. This tends to get dragged out these days. If it finishes quickly, the kids get reading time in bed. Prince is currently working through many books, but mainly the Narnia series. It think he’s on Prince Caspian, but he moves through them so fast I can’t keep up. Princess is into Milly-Molly-Mandy right now. Tonight, however, there is no reading time left, so it’s prayers and lights out.

8:00pm

I love to end the day snuggled (again!) with my husband. We usually put something on to watch. I almost always get a foot rub. I know – Best. Husband. Ever. Tonight we watch something on his Ipad in bed, so as not to share germs with the other adults in the house. We watch some documentaries on healthy diets, and fall asleep inspired by ideals we might never achieve, but enjoy striving for.

And that’s it! A typical day this year. What will it look like next year, I wonder?

Just for fun

Prince: Mommy – do Germans get sick more than other people?

Prince wanted to give a friend of ours a present…
Me: But we don’t really know what he likes.
Daddy: He likes sociology!
Prince: What’s sociology?!
Me: It’s about how people relate to each other.
Prince: Relate? Relate… relations! I know, we could give him Uncle Ryan!

This girl has SO - MUCH - CHARACTER,

This girl has SO – MUCH – CHARACTER,

I told the kids to tidy their room, and if they were quick they could read before bed. After a short while, this conversation ensued…
Princess: Mommy! I need to send this dress to charity.
Me: Why?
Princess: Because it’s a faster way than cleaning up.

Princess, on her way through the kitchen, noticed the dishwasher open, clean and full: “Mommy – I would be happy to unpack the dishwasher for you!
Prince, putting down his toys in the lounge: Me too!

Princess declared that: Granny Margaret, Pauline, Auntie Helen and Mommy will be the bridesmaids at my wedding. GUB [her great-uncle] will be the photo-er.

Prince, after our history read-aloud: I have more cashews than almonds. It’s like Babylon taking over Assyria!

Prince: You know, Mommy, not everything is made out of molecules.
Me: [Blank stare]
Prince: Molecules are not made out of molecules!

Prince: I want to have a 4×4 when I grow up.
Daddy: The trouble with 4x4s is that they aren’t very economical – they cost a lot to run.
Prince: Yes – but I want one so that Papa will like it when I drive him in it.

Princess:  My favourite country is Papua New Guinea. Because the first part is Papa.

Princess in the morning: I think I really can fly, you know. I think I remember flying before.
Later that the evening: I can’t fly. I tried. I just kept landing.

Princess: Isn’t it wonderful? What God has blessed us with?

Prince: I don’t think this bear can be in the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, Princess.
Princess: Prince! It’s the WIFE!

Princess:  Mommy, it’s quest time on Classic FM. I’d really like to do a quest.

Princess’s morning prayer:  “And God, thank you that you can hear our prayers even at the same time as other people might be praying. I know you have a thousand listeners. I don’t know what listeners means, but I just made it up. But you know what I mean, God.”

Princess:  Will, do you like tomatoes?
Will: Why, yes, I do!
Princess:  Oh… sorry – I ate them all.

Princess:  After eating two slices of pizza, a plateful of veggies and a blueberry muffin, my five-year-old looks at me and says, ‘Do you know what I am? A hungry Princess.’

Prince:  This house is one of heaven’s many mansions.

Life is so fun with this cool kid :)

Life is so fun with this cool kid 🙂

Moments to hold close

There is such beauty to be found in the everyday-ness of life. It’s easy to get distracted by the big picture, sometimes. You know, the ‘what have we got to get done today’ mindset. We go through our day focussed on the ‘next’ thing we need to do, then the next, then the next. Then all of a sudden it’s the end of the day, so we sleep and wake up ready to continue the endless list of tasks, and forgetting the joy and love of life.  As good as it is to be diligent and busy, it is just as good to pause to notice how many little joys are sprinkled in and between our daily jobs and routines. In fact, I think that with ‘stress’ so familiar to the modern adult, taking time to simply notice and give recognition to the joys of each day are vital combat strategies that we should all employ.

Love every moment of life with this family of mine!

Love every moment of life with this family of mine!

Whenever I share cute or funny moments with my Dad, he is always telling me to “write it down!” He tells me I’ll forget – and regret – if I don’t. And he’s right! So here are some of the beautiful moments in my family this past weekend. Moments I want to remember and treasure for years to come, and which make the normality of life sparkle and shine.

  • As we drove home from church the journey was filled with worship. The CD player was loud, but the voices of my husband, son and daughter were louder. Prince held my hand, his sweet, strong voice finding the words as they came and he raised our hands up high. Princess danced, played air guitar, danced, played air drums, danced and danced some more.
  • Saturday night Hubby & I stayed up late, just watching our cute new bunnies explore the lounge. They bounded around, and we laughed together.
  • Sunday morning Hubby sat down on the couch with his Bible. One by one, without being asked, the kids and I picked up our own Bibles and sat quietly down to read, too.
  • Hubby put country music on the CD player one morning. Some songs played that I hadn’t heard for ages. We delayed our jobs to dance together in the middle of the lounge.
  • As I brushed Princess’s hair before church, we all sat on the couch together looking at old family photos on the TV slideshow, chatting about memories we share.
  • Sunday night we all snuggled up close with popcorn, fruit and veggies, and laughed together as we watch ‘The Cosby Show’ before bed.
  • My Prince so often tells me he loves me. This weekend he also reminded me that I am his best friend.
  • Bed time = prayer time. Each night we pray together, and I am always moved by the deep heart-felt prayers of my kids. Sunday night Prince prayed he would be a ‘faithful warrior’ for God, and Princess thanked her ‘Dear Father in heaven’ for friends.

Homeschooling with bunnies

Yesterday we got bunnies.

I’ll let that sink in.

BUNNIES!

!!!!! BUNNIES !!!!!

For those of you who know me, this may come as a shock.  Getting a pet was not on my to-do list.  In fact, I think it was on my ‘How can I avoid this without ruining my children’s childhood?’ list.  But when Hubby showed me an offer of two child-friendly bunnies, along with all their kit, going free to a loving and spacious home something just felt right about it.  The owner, a very sweet lady, loved them dearly but was no longer able to give them the kind of home she felt they needed (running free about the house and garden).  I was struck by her sense of responsibility to do what was right for the animals despite her own desire to keep them.  So yesterday afternoon they arrived to check us out and it soon became clear that we were perfectly suited.  So we told the kids.

Prince was inspired to write this, dedicated to the new loves in his life <3

Prince was inspired to write this, dedicated to the new loves in his life ❤

Princess snatching some reading time before swimming this morning.

Princess snatching some reading time before swimming this morning.

Now we are adjusting to being bunny owners. And not just any bunny owners – Homeschooling Bunny Owners! Pets obviously provide many opportunities for learning, and I’m looking forward to taking full advantage of every one that comes our way.  So far Princess has been doing reading practice with ‘My Pet Rabbit’ and Prince (having already read and practically memorised all three books we’ve borrowed on bunnies) walks around spouting rabbit facts at us, such as “When they flick their paw you mustn’t touch them – they are about to groom,” and “Two sisters tend to get along best.”  Prince even said he’d like to take responsibility for cleaning out the hutch!  [Delighted Mommy giggle here.]

Have you got pets?  I’d love to hear how you incorporate pet care into your child’s education.

My Homeschool Day in the Life with a 5 and 7 year old

I love hearing how other people construct their homeschool days. I like to find new ways of doing things, ideas I can incorporate and lessons I can learn from. Recently Simple Homeschool ran a ‘day in the life’ series and ended it by inviting readers to share their own days – so I am! I hope you enjoy this peek into our life as much as I enjoy living it!

Friday 14th, 2014 – Valentine’s day!

7:30 am

Wake up! I don’t always get up at 7:30, as I don’t like to set an alarm. I usually wake when the kids climb into bed for morning snuggles, but today they stay in their room playing quietly so I wake on my own. Not sure what time they got up… probably 7ish, as normal. Once I’m up I tell the kids it’s time for ‘Morning High Five’, a fantastic idea I found on this blog recently. I adjusted the download from there to suit our own needs and ended up with this Morning High Five poster – feel free to print and use, but please keep the original copyright info so the right person gets the credit 🙂

How we do morning 'stuff'.

How we do morning ‘stuff’.

We normally complete this list of morning jobs and end with a super excited high-five. Today, though, we have swimming lessons so we skip the chores and get ready to go out quickly.

8:00 am

Princess & I finish getting ready for swimming while Prince, who has finished everything he needs to do, catches a few mins to read some Magic School Bus in his Book Nook.

8:15 am

It’s time to leave for swimming. We are blessed to have private swimming lessons funded by Grandma, so the kids get detailed attention from their teacher and are able to progress quickly and effectively.

10:15 am

We’re back from swimming now.  I get a snack sorted (brownies made with spelt flour and muscovado sugar – that’s healthy, right?!). Prince sets up our next activity (Bible Study) while Princess gets out the abacus and does some counting.

10:30 am

Friday is our Bible Study day (we have a rota of different types of Bible/worship/devotional sessions that we go through each week). We’re in John currently, and read a bit of chapter 2 today while eating our snack. After talking about it a bit we pick a memory verse and have a short prayer time.

11:00 am

We move into ‘Learning Fun’ now. Prince decides to read the Usborne First Illustrated Science Dictionary while Princess writes out our memory verse, taking extra time to get her letters formed right, and everything spelled and punctuated correctly. In between helping Princess and responding to Prince’s frequent calls of “Mommy – LOOK AT THIS!!!” I practice some French on my Duolingo account.

Learning Fun!

Learning Fun!

11:30 am

I call the kids together and tell them we’re going to do some science. Although this is technically a ‘lesson’ we all see it as great fun and more like an investigative game. Today we learn about air as a real substance, and how to demonstrate that it – along with all matter – has weight (technically mass, but we’re not that far yet) and takes up space.

12:15 pm

We finish our science lesson and I switch on Classic FM for some background music. Princess plays around with a left over balloon from the lesson, while Prince goes back to reading his science dictionary. I get online to check emails, catch up with Facebook, and work on my blog – frequently punctuated by exclamations of interest from Prince and calls that I “must” come see some thing or other. Love it!

12:30 pm

I grab the kids a piece of fruit each and we snuggle up on the couch to read a bit of the poetry book we are going through: Where my Wellies Take Me by Michael Morpurgo. I love this book – it has quality illustrations, a good selection of poetry and a delightful nature-centered story line.

12:45 pm

I get ready to make lunch, and Princess decides to help me. Together we mix up a yummy-scrummy scrambled eggs with tomato, onion and fresh basil. Meanwhile, Prince signs into his Duolingo account and does half a lesson of French.

My Princess mixing the eggs.

My Princess mixing the eggs.

1:15 pm

Lunch is ready! The kids settle down to eat while they watch a nature documentary – ‘Life in the Undergrowth’ today. I eat at the computer to catch up with some more online stuff, then unpack my Book People order which arrived earlier in the morning.

1:45 pm

Princess has finished eating, and although the nature documentary is still on, she has had enough of it. Now she moves to the table and makes nature pictures for “sick people” – her aunt, her great-uncle, and her special friend, a girl we support through Gospel for Asia. I sit with her and wrap my husband’s valentines present (‘The King’s Speech’) and make him a card. At 2:00 pm Prince finishes watching ‘Life in the Undergrowth’ and joins us at the table.  He wraps his cousin’s birthday present ready for her party tomorrow.

2:30 pm

We now have a couple of hours just moving from one thing to another. This time is filled with reading some of the new books, maths on computer, more Duolingo, unpacking the dishwasher, and Skyping with Grandma.

Enjoying the new books.

Enjoying the new books.

4:00 pm

I call the kids to the couch again, and we snuggle together while I read the next chapter of our current read-aloud, ‘Pollyanna’.  I LOVE this book!  If you have a Kindle you can get it for free, which is simply awesome.

4:30 pm

It’s tidy-up time. We always try to tidy up before Daddy gets home. Usually this is when I also make supper, but Friday means Family Night and take-out chips for dinner!

5:15 pm

Daddy’s home! We settle down to watch an episode of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ while we eat our chips. Prince has a slight earache, so I make him up a ‘garlic hearing aid‘ which seems to sort it out.  I love garlic on so many levels.

6:30 pm

We send the kids up to get ready for bed. Daddy helps them, then we all climb onto our bed for Bible reading with Daddy. He’s reading right through the Bible, and tonight we are in Genesis at the battle of four kings against five. At one point Daddy reads something about ‘tar pits’ and stops to check if the kids know what those are. This conversation ensued:

Daddy:  “Do you know what tar pits are?’
Prince:  “No.”
Daddy:  “They are pits which are full of black, sticky, thick, icky, gooey stuff.”
Prince:  “Like tar?”

7:15 pm

After praying with the kids we go down to watch ‘The King’s Speech’. I get foot rubs, which is always one of the best parts of my day.

10:00 pm

Bed! After a super fun day of learning and love it’s time to sleep. What a blessed Momma I am!

Defining Moments

When I think back over my childhood, there are certain moments, conversations and events which stand out in my memory. Usually they were nothing special at the time – just a passing comment or a one-off situation – but as I grew older they stayed with me. And now, when I contemplate them, I see that each one has played a part in who I am now.

It occurs to me that the people who said and did those things in my childhood had no idea they were forming such a big part of my character. I’m sure they didn’t know that their words would stay with me for the rest of my life. In all likeliness, they don’t remember the situation themselves now. But I do – clear as day. I can hear the words and recall the feelings from years ago.

If that is the case with me, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, then it is also probably going to be the case for my children. And for your children. Every moment we spend with them, every word we speak, might be the one to stay with them forever. We have no idea if it will be the careless cross word we threw out in frustration; the tender hug and kiss after a disciplinary issue has been resolved; the word of spiritual encouragement and inspiration.

How careful we must be. If the memories I want my children to live with are ones of love and joy, then I must intentionally create many opportunities to foster those experiences. Some of the memories that stay with me are positive – I remember one particularly encouraging comment made to me, that I still strive to live up to today. Some, however, are negative. There is one memory that still hurts to recall, as the unfairness is as clear to me now as it was when I was a child.

The defining moments in our children’s lives could come at any time. Are you and I armed and prepared with positive experiences for our children? We are not perfect, and we cannot guarantee that our children won’t have any unhappy memories. But if we can increase the odds. Let us stay aware of the influence each moment can have in the lives of our children, and strive to make as many of them as good as possible.

 

Remember the Easter story

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word ‘Easter’? Hopefully you said something like ‘Jesus’ or ‘sacrifice’ or other words related to the reason behind the season. Hopefully you didn’t say ‘chocolate’. But the truth is, most of us have a very strong association between Easter and chocolate. Whilst I’m not against buying Easter goodies (I confess to being rather a chocoholic…), I do think it’s very sad that eggs, chicks and bunnies have taken precedence over Jesus at this time of year.

Taking the first question a step deeper, ask yourself (or even better, your kids) – What is the first thing your children think of when they hear the word ‘Easter’? If they are only little, you may be inclined to be more understanding if they answered ‘chocolate’, but I think this is just more sad. They have had less time exposed to the commercialism of the world, and are more influenced by us. What are we teaching our kids? Are we actively and intentionally teaching them about Jesus’ gift to the world, or are we letting them grow up to think of Easter simply as a time to buy chocolate?

The commercialised world we live in puts an unthinkable amount of money and resources into strengthening our association between Easter and buying chocolate – and baskets, and stickers, and cards, and fluffy chicks, and stuffed bunnies and anything else it can think of. But nice as these things can be, they have nothing on the awesome events that we are actually celebrating this Easter. How can chocolate compare to salvation?! As parents, we should be passionate about teaching our children the real, eternal significance of the events that took place on the first Easter.

But how can we do this? Teaching our kids to think of Jesus before chocolate isn’t always easy! I think the answer is twofold:

  • Firstly, we need to emphasis the Easter story to our kids. Tell it to them over and over. Write it down, make crafts about it, draw pictures of it, sing songs about it, watch movies on it, play games about it. Get it into their heads and hearts every way we can think of.
  • Second, we can make use of commercialised products, and teach our children to associate them back to Jesus. We must help our kids to see Easter eggs, chicks and bunnies, and immediately think of ‘new life’ and what that means to us as followers of Christ.

At our house this year we had an ‘Easter Story Treasure Hunt’. I wrote down a simple version of the Easter story, and along side each section I put a clue, helping them to find the next part of the story. At the end of the story was a prize.  Below are the story and clues I put together, which you are free to copy and edit for your own use, and some pictures of my kiddies enjoying the hunt!

About two thousand years ago something amazing happened. God came to earth in the form of a baby boy – Jesus. As Jesus grew up, He became wise. God was pleased with Him.

The next clue is somewhere that Princess goes every morning when she gets dressed.

———————————————————————————

When Jesus was a man He taught people about God’s love, and His plan to save them. After a few years, Jesus knew it was nearly time for Him to die.  He went to a garden one night to pray.

The next clue is in hiding with some sweet food.

———————————————————————————

Jesus was very sad, but He told God that He would do whatever God knew was best.  Soldiers came and took Jesus away.  Lots of people told lies, saying Jesus had done bad things.  They decided to kill Jesus.

The next clue is with your Word friends.

———————————————————————————

After Jesus had been beaten, He was nailed to a cross where He died.  But this is not the end of the story!  After three days Jesus came back to life again!

The next clue is somewhere cold.

———————————————————————————

Today Jesus is still alive.  He left us the Holy Spirit and the Bible so that we can learn about Him, and about how we can have a new life after we die, too.

You will find your prize somewhere warm and snugly.

———————————————————————————

Fun on our Easter story hunt 2012.

May we all remember to delight in the joy of the Easter story, and pass it on faithfully to our children.

Taking joy

Children are a gift from the Lord;
babies are a reward.
Psalm 127:3

I don’t think I’ve ever met a parent who would disagree with this verse. Children are such a blessing! But while we might all say we agree and acknowledge this truth, there are times we forget it in the everydayness of life.

Sleeping baby Prince.

When my children were babies they were notoriously bad sleepers. My first child, Prince, would wake me up every hour of every night for the first 21 months of his life. The only thing that would comfort him and put him back to sleep was milk, from me. My Princesses was also up every hour most nights, but only until she was about 12 months. I even remember some nights where I was woken every 30 minutes. I remember times I would try not to feed them, but it would either result in me walking around the lounge for two hours, singing, rocking and patting before finally giving in and feeding them, or else go straight to screaming.

Needless to say, I was a pretty tired Mama during those days! Sometimes in the night, when I was desperately sleepy, I would get frustrated and angry. I certainly wasn’t thinking of Psalm 127 THEN. I was thinking how unfair it was that other people had babies who slept through the night from 2 weeks old! But one day, something made me change my outlook. I don’t remember what it was, but I began to realise that if I was awake so much of every night, I might as well make use of it.

So I began to use my nights for God. Sometimes I would pray. I would pick a person – usually one of my kids or my husband, and all the time I was up pacing or patting or feeding I would be praying for that person. What a way to spend an hour in the middle of the night! Other times I would plan lessons for the girls’ group that a friend and I ran in the local community. And other times I would think up new designs for my online store, Upstream Christian Designs. And whilst these things didn’t make me any less exhausted, they did make me much less frustrated, and a much better Mommy.

As my kids got older, sleep (eventually!) got easier. But as happens in life, when one problem is solved we quickly find more to take its place of discontent in our hearts. Things such as fussiness with food, arguments between siblings, meltdowns over things that seem so unimportant to me, having to repeat the same things over and over and over each day and just wishing they would learn and remember what I say, are all situations that can rob me of taking joy in my children today. But when I stop to think, I remember that they are just children. They are small, fragile beings who need me to gently help and guide them as they learn about life.

Fun family day at the beach!

I think God made sleeping children so beautiful because he knew that parents need a daily reminder of how precious they are! It’s so easy, when they are sleeping, to delight in them. What really counts is keeping that joy when they are awake. This is one of the lessons I’ve learned over the years: love your kids fiercely and delight in the simple things. Last weekend we took a family trip to the beach. There was a moment on the sand when I stood still and watched my children playing, and listened to them laugh. They have such infectious laughs! In fact, we were in the car recently and Prince was showing Princess how to force a pretend laugh, but it quickly turned into real giggles and soon all four of us couldn’t stop laughing! Precious memories.

There are so many opportunities every day to enjoy our children and remember the gift that they are. Instead of letting tiredness, stress and frustration rule our hearts, let’s choose peace, and joy, and love. This is not just a one-time choice – “I choose joy!” – but a choice we make many times every day. When my kids are having a disagreement I can choose to sharply reprimand them and feel resentful that they can’t agree on something as simple as who should carry the box of toys. Or I can remind myself that these things which mean so little to me are very important to 3 and 5 year-olds; that they are still learning to conquer selfishness; that I have a teaching moment in front of me now, that I am about to model the way to deal with a problem. As it happens, I have just dealt with that very situation right now, and am relieved that I followed my own advice! As a result, both kids worked to sort out the problem with calm voices and discussion, both are now enjoying playing and being together, and I am feeling full of joy and peace 🙂

It’s so much more fun to choose joy. Let’s encourage each other to choose it every day!

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