Saturday, July 31, 2010

Party Time!

Today is my blog's first birthday!
edited 7/31/10 at 9:55pm
Today's winner is Stop Blogging and Cook with this comment:

JoyACookin' said...

Happy Birthday OSITK Olivia! Like me, your blog is a Leo. Hahaha!

I've subscribed and would love to see a what your shopping bag looks like. Women in NYC collect all manner of shopping bags because, not having cars, we always need something to schlep things in. I'm always on the lookout for the new and interesting bagwise.
I think I'll just have to send her a bag! All of you who commented today are entered to win more prizes later on. Thanks for commenting and enjoy the party!
And around here when there's a birthday, we love to party, so I'm throwing a big two week bash on Of Such is the Kingdom! Hurrah! I'll be looking back at some of the first blog posts and giving away tons of prizes. And yes, maybe even playing a few hide and seek type games. Everyone who comments will be entered to win daily prizes and a whole lot of prizes toward the end of the two weeks. Here's the list:
two $5 Target cards
two $5 Starbucks cards
two $5 Chick-fil-A cards
two "Of Such is the Kingdom" shopping bags
and for the grand prizes (oh, I'm so excited) I'm introducing my mom's new etsy store!
If you like this
or this
or these
then this is the shop for you!
At the end of these two weeks, I'll be giving away 
4 $10 vouchers for Granna's Designs!
So for today's giveaway (small prize--ends tonight at 9pm)
be a follower of Of Such is the Kingdom 
take a look at
and come back over here to tell me what you like!
For extra entries 
(and remember these count for the slightly bigger prizes at the end of the party too)
please leave a comment for each separate thing you do
1. Tell others about this party on your blog, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
2. Subscribe to Of Such is the Kingdom via email.
3. Tell me your favorite all-time Of Such is the Kingdom post.
4. Purchase something from Granna's Designs.
And for today's look-back, how about the very first ever
Of Such is the Kingdom 
blog post?
Look here for a peek at that.
Enjoy the party and here's a little cake for you!
Linked to Six Word Saturday.

Friday, July 30, 2010

And We Visit Those Steps Again

I have posted about our town's water steps before, but I finally remembered to take my camera, and boy, is it a picturesque spot! Everywhere I turned my camera, there was a beautiful shot just waiting.
This trip to the steps was a little different because right as we were arriving so was a huge group of campers. They were older elementary students and a group of them made quite a bit of noise and commotion. Our kids were pulled away from the chaos by the beauty of the big fountains and the boats on the river. Then from there they headed to some grassy steps that make up a walkway beside the river. It was hot, but quiet by the river, and we moms were grateful to follow our kiddos wherever they led us.
They, of course led us back to the water steps eventually. I love our town! 
p.s. Did I mention that all this fun was free? Since we moms packed a lunch (which we ate by more water in front of the aquarium) our whole outing cost us zilcho, nada, nothing. This is a sweet deal, if you ask me! Again, I say, I love our town!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sixth Grade

I believe it was fifth grade when a group of my friends and I decided that our elementary school needed a newspaper. Every month after that we faithfully doled out articles and literally cut and paste and copied to come up with our "Dynomite Lines." The Dynomite Lines that I have saved in a (wonderful, made-by-my-mom) keepsake book is the very last one from the month that we sixth graders graduated from our elementary school. Our county was small, so the elementary went up through sixth and real, live high school began in seventh grade.
This issue was our farewell to being children before we hit the big world. In it we both thanked and made a little good-natured fun of all of our teachers. The issue was dedicated to them. We also put in a "Class Will." "I Laura Olivia leave my good grades to my brother, and the important stuff is still up for grabs," is my literary addition to that will! My two favorites were "I Frederick leave my nasty attitude to all my cousins," and "I James leave my good looks and delicate touch with women to Antiwan." 
If I remember correctly, this was the year that one of the teachers (the one in the jogging suit above) retired. When my class heard that he was retiring, we threw him a Hawaiian themed party, complete with a Hawaiian print shirt as a gift. He was a really funny teacher, and I still remember him telling us about the African tribe that was so poor that they had to tie a string to their meat, so that when they chewed and swallowed it, they could pull it back up to eat again. He loved to make the girls gasp and gag and they guys hoot and holler.
If you can't tell from the above, my class was unique in the fact that we were not afraid to start big projects or plan surprises amongst ourselves. Our class (and when I say "our class" I really mean 10 or 15 of the most precocious ones, including yours truly) was also the first ones to begin the elementary school dances, which that school carries on to this day.
Here's to the C.C.E.S. class of 1990! Those were some good days!

This post is in conjunction with a history-recording summer-long party over at Mommy's Piggy Tales. We're writing about one memory from a particular year of our lives each Thursday until September 16. Here is my walk down memory lane so far:
Second Grade: Wendy and Me
Third Grade: I'll Never Cheat Again
Fourth Grade: SURE Thing
Fifth Grade: The Pageants
Memory lane is definitely a place I love that brings me great joy!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Boy's Eye For Art Again

Forgive me for being a bit redundant, but this boy has a keen sense of color and art! I bought him a new box of 64 crayons and the moment he got home he got them out and began to categorize them by color and mark little swatches on this paper to find out which blue was the darkest or the lightest, etc. When I saw what he was doing, I began to write the (sometimes a little crazy) names of the colors beside the swatches. Now he has them all almost memorized. And in a brilliant (for a 4yo) way, he can identify the colors by the first letter. If he sees a dark green that starts with "E" he knows it must be Eco Green. Wow. He uses his crayons like he's working with the finest paints available. I love to watch him color.
I am so thankful for the moments God reminds me to slow down and color with him.

10 Top Summer Recipes

#1. Green salads. Oh, how I love them! Our current favorites around here include spinach and some kind of fruit: like this one and this one.
#2. Any kind of salad. Add mayo, boiled eggs, and pickles to just about anything (i.e. ham, potatoes, crackers, tomatoes, pasta, tuna, chicken, etc.) and you get a yummy salad! Be sure to make it a few hours ahead of time so that it can chill (except for that cracker salad; it's best eaten right away.) I added sunflower seeds to last night's chicken salad, and it was very good.
#3. I can't wait to try this recipe for bagged ice cream. We have all the ingredients, I'm just waiting for the right afternoon to spring this surprise activity and snack on my kiddos.
#4. These smoothies and fruit popsicles are a huge favorite around our house. The last time I made the popsicles from leftover smoothy and I only made two. Huge mistake! We had major melt down when I told the three children they were going to have to share two popsicles! I ended up shaving off a third of each pop and putting it in a bowl for on of them to eat with a spoon.
#5. I love bread any time of year, but I especially love it with a yummy salad (see #s 1 and 2 above)! These rolls are my favorite to make. If I buy bread from the grocery, my favorite kind is a rich dark bread. The darker the better.
#6. FRUIT! Okay, this is not a recipe, but you can do all kinds of fun things with it. Most recently I served watermelon pieces cut with cookie cutters. The kids called them "watermelon cookies" and gobbled them up! Putting these shapes on popsicle sticks might also be fun!
#7. We love to eat sandwiches in the summer. The hubby says he can only eat so many of them, but I really think I would never tire of them; there are so many variations. My favorites have a lot of green on them: like a bunch of spinach and a pile of turkey with some honey mustard on whole wheat bread. Yum! But my kiddos are a little more conservative. They prefer either straight turkey and mayo or a good ol' peanut butter and honey.
#8. Pancakes are another food we eat all year long, but on Sunday we had these for lunch with blueberries! There are very few things that can beat a hearty pancake loaded with blueberries; okay, maybe a hearty pancake loaded with chocolate chips, but you know what I mean!
#9. Our family will eat almost anything with tortilla chips. We LOVE guacamole (mashed avocado mixed with salsa and a little lemon juice). We also love poor man's caviar, corn salsa, and for something unique and summery, try this cucumber salsa.
#10. These homemade kids' meals are a must for our summer travels. And actually, the kids love this kind of snacky lunch so much that we often have this at home too.
Linked with Menu Plan Monday, Top Ten TuesdayTempt My Tummy Tuesday, and Tasty Tuesdays over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and A Beautiful Mess.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Conversation with the Oldest

The parents exist to teach the child, but also they must learn what the child has to teach them; and the child has a very great deal to teach them.
Arnold Bennett

After listening to my oldest tell our neighbor's son exactly which toys he could play with and how, I was not the least bit surprised when she came bursting in with a tale of how horrible this neighbor was for not playing with her.
When I explained that the poor boy just wanted to play with the toys and that she was being terribly bossy, she replied, "I'm not being bossy, I'm just trying to tell him how to play the game, and he's hurting my feelings by not doing it."
My first reaction, I'll admit, was a stifled giggle and a slight roll of the eyes. But as I continued to try to explain and as she continued to not get that she was at least partly at fault in this situation, I realized the painful truth: here was a reflection of myself. A reflection of both my strengths and my weaknesses--my oldest and I both have good ideas, and we are very comfortable when others follow those ideas. But, on the other hand, if you put us in a situation where we have no defined role and we are just supposed to be we are like fish out of water. This makes us good leaders and sometimes, very poor friends.

Baby I'm afraid you're a lot like me...
And for you and myself I will pray
let our weakness become our strength

Sara Groves
Sara Groves gets it right. I so pray that my oldest will be able to use her strengths and learn early how to be with other people without always being the one in charge!
And on a lighter note, a few instances of how my children are still teaching me how to laugh:

The 2yo to her older sister: Where's Daddy?
The sister: He's at work.
The 2yo: At work!! Ho-ly Cow!

The 2yo singing in the back of our car as the other children are singing along with a favorite cd: "Holy cow, holy cow, holy cow, holy cow!" (Getting the tune but ad libbing the words!)

The silly older kids at dinner:
"Tooty" "Wooty" "Sooty" "Booty" (Lots of giggles) "Hey, we're listing all the "ooty" words!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

This Saturday I'm...

Last Saturday I was painting, 
and this is what came of it:

but this week, I am dancing!
I hit two (yes, count them two!) intense dance classes this morning. I was saying good-bye, with tears, to one and saying hello to another. Two different gyms, two different teachers, and a whole lot of fun!
Linked to Six Word Saturday.

Friday, July 23, 2010

More Summer Fun

Invented in the 1990's, splash pads have recently become all the rage. Our city has just acquired a new one that my kiddos love. This week the boy and the oldest enjoyed getting dumped with water from overhead buckets. If you haven't checked out your nearest splash pad, it's definitely something to add to your summer to-do list!

This week we also visited a local blueberry farm to pick blueberries. I've never been blueberry (or any berry) picking before, and I for one really enjoyed it. The kiddos were done after about 30 minutes (They got really upset when I told them that the blueberries in their bucket would be added to my bucket to take home. They thought they were picking blueberries for themselves only!) so I'm glad that my mom was with us to help entertain. I stuck with the blueberry picking until we had about a gallon and a half. So far I've made blueberry cobbler and blueberry muffins (and added frozen blueberries to my latest smoothie). And I can't wait to try this blueberry dump cake. Yum! Oh, and that gallon and a half of blueberries plus two large seedless watermelons cost me $16! I love that doing something fun can also be very frugal for the grocery budget!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fifth Grade

Again, I don't remember much from fifth grade specifically. I remember that I had Mrs. Guinn for Science and we loved the fact that she often got us out of our seats for experiments. On the first day of her class we took our pulse sitting down then got up and jogged in place for two minutes and took our pulse again. We thought this was VERY cool. 
This was the year that, after chasing my brother under the bleachers, I came to my mom with my hands on my cheeks and said, "I think I bumped my head." I had blood running down my hands. I had stood up and bumped into something under the bleachers. Twelve stitches and a bald patch later, I was all better. I remember my teachers telling me not to scratch my head while it healed.
During those elementary school years, my mom encouraged me to enter beauty pageants. The romantic side of me loved getting dressed up in a beautiful dress and the competitive side of me, well, you know, loved to compete. 

The above picture is actually from sixth grade when I won "Little Miss Spring." If my memory serves me correctly, I usually came in third. I won one other time when I wore a Christmas dress that my mom made for me. I think I was around 9, and I've saved that dress for my little girls to wear. It is red velvet with a smocked collar.
Some may disagree, but looking back, I really applaud my mom for encouraging the beauty pageants. It gave me confidence on stage, poise, and the ability to win and lose well. It was a nice outlet (in a small town) for a girl who loved to dream of being a princess. And it was something fun that my mom and I did together because she was always the one who shopped for the dresses with me and helped me get ready. I have lots of great backstage memories of those pageants.

This post is in conjunction with a history-recording summer-long party over atMommy's Piggy Tales. We're writing about one memory from a particular year of our lives each Thursday until September 16. Here is my walk down memory lane so far:
Second Grade: Wendy and Me
Third Grade: I'll Never Cheat Again
Fourth Grade: SURE Thing
Memory lane is definitely a place I love that brings me great joy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Sun

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
         The LORD will give grace and glory; 
         No good thing will He withhold 
         From those who walk uprightly. 
Psalm 84:11

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Menu Plan and Motivation

I'll be off teaching more ballet this week, but only from 12 to 3. Whew! I am overjoyed that I'll actually be home a few hours this week being domestic! Having a week of out-of-the-home work is sometimes just what I need to realize how much I truly love being home with my kiddos! Here's the meal plan for this week.
Monday: I'll be off teaching an ABC's of Baby Care class again at the local pregnancy resource center. The hubby is going to play tennis with a friend, so my (wonderful) mom will be with the kiddos. I'm giving her free reign with the kitchen. She might end up just taking them to McD's!
Tuesday: I didn't get to make the Spinach Squares that I wanted to make last week, so I'll be making those on Tuesday. This is a meatless dish, so I'll probably need to make a little meat to go on the side for my meat-loving hubby.
Wednesday: Seasoned baked pork chops and homemade macaroni and cheese.
Thursday: Spinach and strawberry salads with leftover pork on top (something like this) We'll have some yummy bread on the side. Will I make my dinner rolls? We'll just have to see. Either that or some store bought bread. Maybe from here?
Friday: Frozen pizzas--we didn't eat them last week, so here they are on the menu again!
For snacks, I'm making some good ol' rice krispie treats and I'd love to make some of this granola too.
And a little motivation for the week--we sang this as the closing hymn in church on Sunday and it really struck me how very necessary each and every word of this particular verse is!

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, 
 stand in his strength alone;
 the arm of flesh will fail you, 
 ye dare not trust your own.
 Put on the gospel armor, 
 each piece put on with prayer;
 where duty calls or danger, 
 be never wanting there.

Linked with Motivate Me MondayMakes My MondayMenu Plan Monday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, and Tasty Tuesdays over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and A Beautiful Mess.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Going to a wedding this evening...

The bride's flowers are calla lilies, so I painted one for her on canvas. If I hadn't lost my cord to hook up my camera, I would show the painting to you. But since I have lost that cord (sigh) the picture to the left will just have to do.

Have a wonderful Saturday!

Linked to Six Word Saturday.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ballet Week

Miss Olivia's Ballet was open for business this week with summer ballet camps. I hosted two camps at a local gym for girls ages 3-6. It was really fun, and I love being able to spend that kind of time with my oldest; she's happy being with friends and we're both happy dancing.
As I thought about telling my blogging friends about the camp, I realized that anyone could frugally recreate what I've been doing this week right in their own home. Why not have a ballet week of your own?
**To begin with (of course) go to your local library and check out a big stack of ballet books, or you could order a few from Amazon. Here are a few that we enjoyed this week at ballet camp (during our rest time):
Hen Lake won the "most entertaining" award from both groups of girls that I taught this week. A group of hens put together a ballet complete with ballet vocabulary like "bourree" and "fouette" to show a proud peacock that they too can be special.
Ballerina or My First Ballet Book would be a great way to introduce ballet terms and learn a few ballet steps.
My Ballet Class is also a great simple book (great for the younger crowd) with ballet terms blended into the story of a girl attending her ballet class.
Angelina Ballerina is always a favorite!
For the more serious ballerina, a book like the Language of Ballet: A Dictionary is a must.
To add in the visual arts side of ballet, check out this book:
Degas and the Little Dancer (the girls also gave this one high marks).

**Next up is coloring! Every day at ballet camp began with students trickling in. To avoid starting without someone and to avoid the chaos of having little excited girls wait for something, we began with ballet coloring sheets. We decorated the walls of our little room with these pictures. These were also great for naming the positions as a review.
**Then of course there is the dancing. Begin with stretching (maybe add in a few of these animal yoga positions; we did, and the girls loved them!) Then proceed (with the help of a glossary) to name and try a few ballet positions. I recommend starting with the positions of the feet and then moving on to plies (bends), sautes (jumps), and arabesques. Don't forget to gallop, march, and skip to music.
**Feel free to use songs such as this one by the Wiggles to have fun with dancing!
**The most important thing with ballet is to learn a little but to have a lot of fun. I recommend ballet for age 3 and up to teach body awareness, motor skills, following directions, and much more!
**Oh, and if you'd like to add a little extra punch to your ballet week, why not end with a trophy or medal to award your little ballerina!
Linked with Friday Finding BeautyFiner Things FridayTickled PinkFabulous Friday and Frugal Fridays and Fun Mom Friday over at Please Pass the Salt.
(And for those of you coming over from Frugal Friday: My goal with teaching ballet is to pay for my kids' school this fall. It's also wonderful that instead of paying for my oldest to take ballet, I'm making a little money by teaching her!)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fourth Grade

This post is in conjunction with a history-recording summer-long party over at Mommy's Piggy Tales. We're writing about one memory from a particular year of our lives each Thursday until September 16. Here is my walk down memory lane so far:
I can only think of a few memories particularly from fourth grade--- 
* we all thought we were very cool because we had a subject with a big name like "geography," * my teacher had a surgery of some kind that made it impossible for her to talk for several weeks (she would write our assignments on the board; we thought this was wonderful!); and 
* the pictures that my friend and I would pass back and forth to add to and finish. 
Yep, that's about it.
But fortunately, there are plenty of generic elementary school memories that I can share. This week I'll focus on the "special education" class that I started attending in third grade and continued in until I graduated from high school. 
In second grade I was called out of my classroom one day by a rather large (and intimidating) blonde woman. She took me into a small room where we sat across a small desk from each other and she began to ask me questions. It's rather funny, but I even remember some of the questions she asked like, "Who invented the light bulb?" I couldn't answer any of the questions. None of them. She even asked me, "What month comes after October?" (ahem, the answer just happens to be my birth month!) but I couldn't even manage that one. I returned to my classroom sure that I was destined for being shipped off for some classroom for the particularly stupid. I had no idea that the whole thing was an interview to see if I would enjoy an excellerated class. My mom thought my teacher had told me and my teacher thought my mom had told me.
Fast forward to third grade where the whole process was repeated (this time with me being in on the loop). I don't remember this questioning at all, but apparently it went fairly well because I was allowed in to the class.
The teacher of the class, Mrs. Small, named the class SURE (which stands for something I can't remember). She fast became my friend and mentor. She had a plaque up in our little classroom that read

This motto became indelibly ingrained in my psyche mostly because it was a motto that Mrs. Small exemplified with her life.
Mrs. Small was the one to take us on walks to collect fall leaves and then have us try to match the leaf colors with crayons. She said she could just picture God smiling at us for trying to match his brilliant art.
Mrs. Small is the one who took us all to her own house and served us pancakes which we had to eat as if we were dining with the president, cutting only three pieces at a time, having our napkin in our laps, and using the correct silverware. 
Mrs. Small is the one who, when I was nearly jumping out of my seat with a new idea, would call on me and then have everyone else participate in acting out my ideas (if they were any good, of course).
Mrs. Small was the one to take us on numerous outings--getting us out of class and making us the envy of all of our classmates.
Mrs. Small is the one who liked my idea of a hamburger decorating contest for our party day. We all had hamburgers, buns and all the condiments. We decorated, took pictures and ate our burgers. I won the contest by cutting my burger in half and turning the halves around to make a butterfly shape which I then decorated.
Mrs. Small is the one who gave us the assignment of each reporting on a country. When I chose Belgium (a country my parents had just visited), Mrs. Small doubted that I would be able to find enough information on it to come up with a good report. (Did she know me so well that she understood that only another's doubt could make me want to achieve the greatest heights?) When I gave my extensive report, complete with a sample of Belgian waffles for each listener, my victory was very sweet.
And Mrs. Small was the one to introduce us to FPS--Future Problem Solving. This is an international competition where a group of four students has to read a story involving a current problem and brainstorm solutions. The four students then have to come up with a commercial to "sell" their solution to the judges. My little FPS group was, in our high school years, able to go to state competition and win, which sent us to Ann Arbor, MI and Rhode Island for two separate international competitions.
I've lost touch with my dear teacher, Mrs. Small, but I will forever be thankful to her for the gifts and encouragement that she blessed me with through that class!
Memory lane is definitely a place I love that brings me great joy!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Menu for the Week

This week I dip my toes into the work-out-of-the-home mom life. I'll be teaching ballet camps from 9 to 3 every day. This may seem like a short work day to those of you who really work outside the home, but it's pretty much got me in a panic! So, to alleviate some of the (unnecessary) stress I am making this week's meals EASY. Or as my daughter says "Easy cheesy Japanesey." (Don't ask me, I think it came from her kindergarten teacher.)
Monday: I'll be off teaching an ABC's of Baby Care class at the local pregnancy resource center. The hubby is going to make his gourmet meal of macaroni cheese and hotdogs. He and the kiddos will be very happy. I may throw out a can of green beans just to make myself feel better.
Tuesday: Spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread
Wednesday: Fried egg sandwiches- a favorite around here. I make them like grilled cheese only I fry an egg first and put it in with the cheese when I grill the sandwich. Sometimes I add a piece or two of sandwich meat as well. We'll probably have these sandwiches with some raw veggies and ranch dressing.
Thursday: Baked chicken, green beans, and pasta salad
Friday: Frozen pizzas (Congratulations, you made it through a week of ballet camps!)
Saturday: This yummy-looking recipe I found over at Finding Joy in My Kitchen--Spinach Squares
Linked with Motivate Me MondayMakes My Monday and Menu Plan Monday.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Twilight Today

I'm going to see Eclipse today.
If I need justification, here's an essay that I wrote after reading all of the Twilight (by Stephanie Meyer) books:

After being asked by several people if I had read the Twilight series and hearing several interesting reviews, I decided that if I wanted to continue to call myself well-read in today’s juvenile lit, I had better read it. I have read and enjoyed everything from AVI to Rand to Austin to Shakespeare, and I knew if nothing else, I would be entertained. And I was.
Stephanie Meyer’s novels pull the reader into a world where vampires and werewolves are possible and somehow all drawn to the main character, Bella. The plot line is thin, centered almost exclusively around Bella, her thoughts, and her feelings, without digging very deeply into these thoughts and feelings. Considering the audience, though, this is in some ways appropriate. The story accomplishes what it sets out to do: stretches the reader’s imagination and gives the reader an almost undeniable impulse to read on in the story.
Other than their readability for teens, what most interests me is the values that these novels imply, and that those values are not disguised in any way. A 15 or 16-year old reading these novels would have no problems picking out the relatively conservative principles.
The first of those values is the most important and the largest theme throughout the novels. It is the fact that Bella understands that love is not about being safe and comfortable. Love is about risk and sacrifice. I don’t know if Stephanie Meyer was aiming for this at all, but it is there—Biblical and counter-cultural though it is. Several years ago I heard a leader of a missions organization speaking about a shameful mistake that the American church continues to make: we teach our children that the church is a safe and comfortable place. This leader spoke out against this by saying that our children will either look elsewhere for excitement and adventure or they will stay in the church and shrivel up and die. Loving Jesus is risky, and Jesus himself defined love as laying down one’s life for one’s friends. In the Twilight series, Meyer’s Bella is agreeing with this. She figures out very early that loving Edward is going to ultimately mean her death, and love is worth that for her.
Throughout the series other value issues arise as well. Sex and abortion are both dealt with in somewhat surprising ways. Edward insists on marriage before sex, and though this is mostly treated as an antique and outdated view, it is also mentioned as virtue before God. After Edward and Bella are married, Bella becomes pregnant with a child who will ultimately take her life. She insists on carrying this child to term anyway. She feels a bond with this child and even realizes after the child is born that there was pre-natal communication. Meyer definitely weaves the value of the unborn into her fiction.
Another idea carried through all of these novels is that of calling or gift. Most of the vampires carry a special power that was theirs when they were human as well. The idea is that most humans have special gifts without realizing them. Bella’s gift of protecting others was shown before becoming a vampire and was enhanced afterwards. Teens today need to know that they have gifts and that those gifts should be used for the good of God’s kingdom.
In Waking the Dead, John Eldredge uses fiction to teach three overarching life principles: there is more to life than what we see; there is a big battle or quest; and we have a part to play in that battle or quest. In Meyer’s Twilight series all of these principles are present. She adds to them the culturally conservative ideas of saving sex until marriage and valuing the lives of the unborn. She speaks of individual’s gifts and our calling to use them for the good of others (or the Kingdom). And Meyer allows her Bella to understand love in a way that possibly many church leaders do not: it is about risk and sacrifice. So all in all, this series is worth the read. If your teens are reading it, it is worth some deeper discussion. And by all means, be entertained as well!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Calendar Fun

Something that we did throughout the school year and something that I have meant to do during the summer is calendar work. Or, (for your kids) calendar fun!
There are so many things you can teach with a calendar, and since I have taught Saxon math before, I'm sure a good bit of this is stolen from them, but I think that's it's just good common learning too.
You can buy any of the calendars you see to the left or to save money, you can draw off your own on large paper (like this paper). If you just draw off the boxes here are things that you can do with a calendar.
1. Learn the months of the year and fill in the current month at the top of the calendar. We use the tune to "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain" to sing "JANuary FEBruary MARCH, April, MAY, Ju-une, July, AUGust, SepTEMber, OcTOBer, NOVember, DECember, Now I know my months!"
2. Learn and write across the top the days of the week. You can use lots of tunes for these; we used the same tune as "Found a Peanut" to sing these.
3. Fill in all the numbers starting on the correct day of the week.
4. This is where it gets fun. Now you can fill in all events, holidays, and special days like vacations or family members' birthdays inside your day-squares.
5. Ask questions like these: 
      a. What is today?
      b. What will tomorrow be?
      c. What was yesterday?
      d. What was the day before yesterday?
      e. What will the day after tomorrow be?
      f. How many days until we __________ (e.g. go to Grandma's house)?
      g. On what day of the week is ________ (e.g. Aunt Suzie's birthday)?
      h. What was last month?
      i. What will next month be?
6. Always have children form answer with day of the week, month, and then ordinal number of date. (e.g. Friday, July 9th)
The skills that you learn from the calendar are so many! 
You can start these kind of questions as early as you like--for younger children you can point to today on an already-filled-in calendar. Then have them point to today. Say the date and have them repeat it. Put picture labels on dates and ask them to point to the Christmas tree and ask them, "What holiday is on that day?" etc. Older children can write journal entries each day starting each one with "Today is (day of the week, month, and ordinal number)." Older children should be able to fill in their calendars on their own and could even be allowed to plan out their days--filling in whether they are going to the pool or reading or whatever on a particular day.
So go forth and have some calendar fun this summer! (And maybe I'll finally get around to doing it too!) This kind of spending time with your kids is inexpensive, fun, and beautiful!
      Linked with Friday Finding BeautyFiner Things FridayTickled Pink, Fabulous Friday and Frugal Fridays.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Third Grade

This post is in conjunction with a history-recording summer-long party over at Mommy's Piggy Tales. We're writing about one memory from a particular year of our lives each Thursday until September 16. Here is my walk down memory lane so far:
During my third grade year my mom decided for the first time to join my dad on a business trip leaving my brother and me with our grandmomma. I don't remember being fearful about them both being gone, but I do remember the excitement of "living" somewhere else for a few days.
My mom did her best to make our stay at Grandmomma's very fun. She hid notes all around Grandmomma's house and gave us a note to open each day that would lead us on a scavenger hunt to find those notes and ultimately a little prize (like a wrapped tooth brush or a candy bar). We thought we had it made!
(Insert suggestive scary music...)
Then the spelling test happened. I had studied and knew my words perfectly, but I happened to be sitting in front of a friend who had not studied. After I had turned my test in, she tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, "I don't know any of these! Can you help?" Feeling slightly uneasy, I began to recreate the test for her by writing each word on my desk and leaning over ever so slightly so that she could copy the words. I'm sure I looked quite guilty and it didn't take my teacher long before she was coming over to find out what was going on. Busted!
She took both my friend and me outside and told me that I had a hundred on my test and did I think that I deserved that hundred or a zero for cheating? A zero! My heart dropped to my stomach and I managed to whisper out a doubtful, "100?" "No," she replied, "I really can't give you that hundred because you need to learn that cheating is wrong."
That zero would not have been nearly so bad if I could have run home and unburdened my little heart to my mother. But there was no mother at home, and when I told my Grandmother about it, she continued folding clothes and said, "Well, that's what you deserved." I don't think she had any idea how devastating that little number was to me.
When my parents returned home, I could hardly mumble and thank you for the pretty little china piano they brought me from New Orleans. I finally was able to get my mom alone in my room and with many tears, confess. Boy, was that sweet!
Thus the story of how I was cured of cheating and how I learned that if I told someone in authority of my sins, my conscience would leave me alone. How wonderful to have that little bit of wisdom in the third grade!

Memory lane is definitely a place I love that brings me great joy!