Tuesday, January 26

Eight Things About B.

1. When he wants to be compassionate (which is fairly often) he will blow you away with his generosity.

2. He is a wonderful, wonderful big brother and yet is a reluctant little brother.

3. He is able to figure out life by reading all the clues.

4. He loves gum, likes to cook and has natural athletic skills.

5. He is either going to be a notable collector one day or a hoarder.

6. He will build great things one day.

7. He feels deeply and is the reporter of all injustice.

8. He makes me smile like no other.

Happy Birthday, B!

Friday, January 22

Homeschoolers for Haiti

Our local homeschool group is hosting a bake sale TODAY to raise money to send to Haiti via the American Red Cross.

It lasts until 2:00 (or until they are sold out)
at 14023 Denver West Parkway, Golden Co 80401.
Outside Service Magic, Inc.

There are many great things about this venture:
  • the parent company for Service Magic is going to match whatever we raise (which was $150 before the sale even began).
  • my kids wanted to help and we got to talk about the whole thing.
  • our cookies will turn into blankets and medical care and water and housing...
If you want to donate to our cause (and have your donation doubled) send me a Facebook message today!

****Update: As of 4:15 Denver time we have raised $2739.18 and that's before it gets matched! How cool is that!?

Tuesday, January 19

Egads! More Winter Reading

And I'm excited about every single one.

Thank you to my Aunt Cyn for the Amazon gift card for my birthday, to Danica for inspiring me to glean from my own shelves to find my creative spirit again, to the used book store down the street that I perused sans-children and to the library to whom I am always indebted (and who has
The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek on hold for me right now).

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker J. Palmer. Palmer wrote some thought provoking books on education and I thought I'd see where he takes this one on vocation (since I seem to be rethinking my own vocation as of late). I just finished it and it is very powerful and very rich. If I could make a bubble bath out of it I'd bathe in its wisdom.

Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Ann Rice. I've never read her work but the reviews on her newest books and her apparent faith conversion have me curious.

Mama's Got a Fake I.D.: How to Reveal the Real You Behind all That Mom by Caryn Rivadeneira. I know a few people who have recommended this one and it seems to go right in line with my desire to expand my "homeschool mom" identity.

The Creative Call: An Artist's Response to the Way of the Spirit by Janice Elsheimer. I bought this one a couple years ago and hoped that I could get some friends to go through it with me. It's time to just do it. It's like Cameroon's The Artist's Way, but with a distinctly Christian motivation.

Gifted to Lead: the Art of Leading as a Woman in the Church by Nancy Beach. I don't know what to expect from this one, but I'm willing to learn and customize it for where I'm at.

Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard. I don't read essays often enough and I've only just discovered Dillard. I'll wait on this one until I have Norton's Cloister Walk put to bed. I'm also going to go pick up my copy of Dillard's The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek right now.

The Vein of Gold: A Journey to Your Creative Heart by Julia Cameroon. This will be my follow up to the Creative Call, to keep myself exercised and working.

Combine these with the rest on my list and I think I'm booked until Easter.

Angry Moms & A Book Suggestion

Growing up in the church, I saw a lot of imitation Christians. I learned very early on that when you show up on Sunday morning you're to dress in your best and bring your best game face. I also saw a lot of high expectations and heard a lot of right answers. (To be fair, I also saw a host of wonderful people willing to change their lives in order to help change mine).

What I didn't see were parents who were angry with their children... that is, except, of course, my own who did everything in their power to wrangle us out of the house each week in a state of mind suitable for worship. I thought we were the only family with hard Sunday mornings or who expressed anger at all.

We were not.

I swear I apologized to my mom every chance I could for the first two years after having my own child. I know that I was just as self-centered as my own children are now. Is it a family pattern or human nature? Tough to say. But here is what I want to tell all new parents, "This will bring out the worst in you, so be prepared to be humbled."

When parenting does bring out the worst in you, there is help. Oh, don't you dare think you're the only one who has yelled, belittled, spanked too hard or scared her children chitless. I didn't ever want to be that kind of a mom, but I have been. And I was always afraid to admit it to anyone. I still am. But I think I just did.

She's Gonna Blow!: Real Help for Moms Dealing with Anger
Enter She's Gonna Blow by Julie Ann Barnhill. I've read this book twice in the past five years and both times I was so glad that I did. Julie addresses a super sensitive topic with an authentic, gentle truthfulness that kind of makes me want to bend over and say, "Thank you, Ma'am. May I have another?" I'm thankful for people like Julie that can say what needs to be said in a way that inspires change rather than defensiveness. She outlines how we show frustration and anger, helps us draw lines that we'll be far more hesitant to cross, and drenches us in Scriptural truth without the platitudes and proof-texting that other Christian authors fall back on. Yes, she is going to say all the things that you think she's going to say, but it's because you need to hear it... again.

Life never hands you what you think it will. You marry your true love because you accept everything about him. But you can't special order your children and yet you have to accept them too. Be real about it -- it's hard work. If you need help, please tell someone. The most pointed lines from the book are these:
"What will happen to my children if I tell someone how I treat them?"

"What will happen to them if you don't?"

Tuesday, January 12

Methodology from Jesus

I'm a huge proponent for reading aloud to your kids from day one until they move out. There are so many wonderful benefits for for them in this one simple, cozy act. One of the biggest is to give them a working context for future knowledge.

As I was reading through Matthew in The Message I was delighted to hear that Jesus' rationale for story-telling is spot-on with mine. (I love that the Almighty agrees with me on this).

The disciples came up and asked, "Why do you tell stories?"
He replied, "You've been given insight into God's kingdom. You know how it works. Not everyone has this gift, this insight; it hasn't been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That's why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they're blue in the face and not get it."
I read to my kids in order to give them a building block for the knowledge yet to come. If I read Plantzilla by Jerdine Nolen to my 7 year old before we study plants, his interest is peaked because it's a very cool story. We can then talk about cilia on leaves and he'll understand where the name Plantzilla came from (plant + cilia). He'll also be prepared for his Creeping Charlie to get out of control one day because he knows some plants will just do that.

Likewise, if I put spiritual lessons into story form they can grasp the story simply for what it is while they are young. When their hearts and minds are ready to take in the deeper truths of the story, it will make so much more sense.

Jesus: creating readiness in a homeschool near you.

Friday, January 8

The First Week of 2010

  • a birthday brunch with friends.
  • the Museum of Contemporary Art and dinner with my man.
  • playing Life with the boys and their friend.
  • a very relaxed 3-day school week.
  • a frigid, cold Epiphany in which we could not go geocaching.
  • a dental insurance foul-up that might not end up in our favor.
  • a friend leaving our church.
  • the cancellation of Taekwon Do for the month.
  • an inch of snow.
  • exploring a new charter school for my oldest...
  • choosing to go to the gym class that kicks my bum the hardest.
  • a nap.
  • a second date with my man ...tonight.

There's good. There's bad. God is there in all of it.

Monday, January 4

Adding Epiphany to our Plate

Since I didn’t grow up in a liturgical church setting I had little exposure to the Western church calendar and all the celebrations that surround it. As my own little family has learned about Advent, Lent and Holy Week we have tried to observe them in ways that make them meaningful in our context. Our annual traditions grow closer to the intent all the time though our methods can, admittedly, be a bit quirky.

Several years ago I was stumped over the meaning that Epiphany could hold for my family. Epiphany, on January 6th, is a traditional Christian celebration that marks the 12th day of Christmas and observes the arrival of the wise men to the house where young Jesus was staying. It also commemorates the introduction of Jesus to the Gentiles; the kings were not Jews but were visitors from the East. At the core, it’s an open invitation for all people, who seek the Christ, to find him.

As I looked into it I found that some family traditions included a special cake, a house blessing, annual reflections on how God was at work, the completion of the crèche or homemade boxes lined with hay in which to receive small gifts. These were all very appealing, but didn’t quite hit the spot for us as we navigated this day for the first time.

I wanted to interpret this day for my boys in a way that made it special without turning it into another gift-giving opportunity. The ideas of seeking and finding and of going on a resolute journey stood out to me. These seemed like tangible things for young boys to take hold of.

Our tradition for Epiphany now looks like this: On January 6th, we read the story from Matthew 2 and finish our nativity scene by adding the wise men while removing the shepherds. And then, as we have done every year since, we go Geocaching.

While this may seem like a toss out of left field, my children love the activity. It gives them the chance to plug a destination (coordinates) into our handheld GPS and follow the directions until we come close to the cache (a hidden treasure box of trinkets). This is when the real search begins as the cache can be very well hidden within that last 10 feet. There is rejoicing when we find it and we tear into it excitedly, writing our names in the log and exchanging the trinkets we brought for a charm we find inside. There are so many teachable little moments in this activity. It’s not a perfect metaphor, but for young, kinesthetic learners, it’s a hit.

The holidays have so many extra dressings that tend to weigh me down. This off-the-beaten-path activity lets our family peel away the extraneous and looks afresh at the core, the gift of hope given to us through Jesus. If you want to try geocaching with your own family you can get started at www.geocaching.com. Let your own epiphanic journey begin.

Friday, January 1

Winter Reading

What the Land Already Knows: Winter's Sacred Days by Phyllis Tickle. Seems like a great way to spend a winter evening. The book jacket says, "Our middle years can be viewed as a sacred passage -- a bridge between the early formation of our lives and our maturing. For Phyllis Tickle, this bridge is much more a land and a place than a record of changing circumstances." There are enough keywords in that alone for me to want to open this one...tonight.

The Message "by" Eugene H. Peterson. In an attempt to redraw the lines around my focus, the new language of this Bible paraphrase will hopefully provide me with new perspective. My goal is to read the New Testament before Easter.

She's Gonna Blow: Real Help for Moms Dealing with Anger by Julie Ann Barnhill. I read this about 5 years ago when my guys were little and before I was feeling the burnout that I'm currently experiencing. It's time for a refresher. 'Nuf said.

Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor. Simply can't wait to dive into her work again.

Poor Eaters: Helping Children Who Refuse to Eat by Joel Macht, Ph.D. Our children have food issues. I don't think this one directly hits the issue, but he did start a clinic here in Denver...

The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris. I keep starting this one and stopping. It's written in short vignettes, so it's easy to put down and put off. But I really do want to finish it.

Other Fiction by ?? I know I'll insert more here.

What are you looking forward to reading this season?