Almost Paradise

Last Saturday, I took Jeremiah, Natalie and Ben with me to the store to get a few various and sundry food items that Sarah needed. (Yes, I know saying “various” and “sundry” is redundant, but you have to admit, it’s fun to say together.) Usually, such a venture is a crapshoot – you never know what’s going to happen, how they’ll behave and whether or not I’ll end up getting the urge to buy a roll of duct tape. Sometimes, it’s an ordeal just getting them to cooperate by riding in the cart. And believe me, I would MUCH rather have them ride in the cart. That way, I know where they are and know where their hands are (“please keep arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times.”)

But on Saturday’s excursion, they each did wonderfully. There was no arguing as to who got to ride where, why couldn’t they walk instead and generally refrained from adding things to our cart that didn’t need to be there. Jeremiah, in particular, however offered up some rather funny moments. This should be no surprise since this is also the child whose style of worship leading covers quite the range of music. On the subject of putting things in the cart, Jeremiah quipped “Do you know why we don’t put things in our cart? Because it’s not on our list.” He definitely gets that from his mother.

After getting all of the food items on our list, we went to get some toothpaste. Since the toothpaste is right beside the toy section, we couldn’t possibly NOT go down the toy aisles. Especially since the munchkins had done such a great job in the store. I lifted them out of the cart and they made their way down each aisle, checking out the various and sundry toys [see? You had fun reading that, didn’t you?]. We checked out the pink aisle with all the girlie stuff and the more colorful aisle with the Legos, building block and other learning toys. But then, we rounded the last corner and Jeremiah must have heard angels singing and a bright light shining a path for him. He stopped, stretched out his arms and exclaimed with a sigh, “Ah! The toys with all the buttons!” And that’s exactly what they did – pushed buttons to their hearts’ content.

I told Jeremiah that I felt the same way when I go into a bookstore. He just looked at me like I was nuts.

Turn in your hymn books to…

All my children love to sing, dance and listen to music.  They also love to “play church.”  I remember doing the very same thing when I was their age.  My sister, brother and I would line up all our stuffed animals in a row, play some music of some sort or just make up our own, then someone would “preach.”  The “preacher was usually me since Michael was too young and Sharon, well, no women preachers and all that.  Occasionally a bear would get converted or a dog might “rededicate his life.”  But the outpouring of the Spirit was rare.  But I digress.

So it is often with fond memories when I watch my kids doing the same thing.  This morning, we were busy get ready for church.  As I walked past the living room, I noticed Jeremiah, Natalie and Ben holding pieces of paper and were singing “Holy! Holy! Holy!” — or what they could remember of it — with great gusto.  Jeremiah, apparently the designated song leader, then said “Now turn to #136.”  As they started singing “My Soul finds rest in God alone”  my heart swelled with love and pride for them.  Here they were singing two great songs praising our God.  Alas, the moment was short-lived.  Next on the kindergarten liturgy:  Jeremiah launched into the final song with just as much gusto – “Pants on the ground, pants on the ground, looking like a fool with your pants on the ground!”  Sigh.  Back to the drawing board.

All together now on the last verse.

To have and to hold?

Ben has this little blue lovey blanket that my parents gave him when he was first born and he has slept with it almost every night since then.  Every night, I tuck him into bed, put his lovey beside him and cover him up.  Before I go to bed, I check on the kiddos and usually, Ben will be curled up with his lovey still nestled under his arm.  It’s very cute.

When I put him in bed Thursday night, he held up his lovey to me and said “Don’t want.”  Needless to say I was very surprised and more than a little skeptical not to mention rather saddened – he can’t be too old for this thing yet!!!  Up to this point, he has been adamant about having his lovey with him in bed.

“Are you sure you don’t want it?” I asked, holding it out to him.

“Don’t want,” he replied, then revealing his new bed partner said, “Cool car.”  Sure enough, he had a car in his hand which he proudly showed me.

Still rather skeptical, I said “I’ll just put your lovey down this end of the bed, okay?”

“Don’t want.”

It didn’t last long.  I had barely gotten to the door when Ben cries out plaintively, “Lovey!!!”  As it turned out he’s not quite ready to give up his sleeping companion.  I go back and place the lovey into his outstretched arms.  Satisfied, he lays down with his once-shunned friend.

“Night Papi.  Luv oo.”

“Love you too, Ben.  Good night.”

When I check on him later, he is sound asleep, lovey still tucked under his arm.

Flashback Week – If I could write my wife’s journal…

[originally posted on February 25, 2008 – when Sarah was pregnant with Ben, who is 2 years old today!!  Happy Birthday, Ben!)

(with apologies to Daniel Defoe)

Day 279.

Or is it 278?

I seem to have lost all track of time. Each day blends into the next, with hardly any distinction. Has it really been that long since I arrived on this land I’ve come to call Bay BeBump Island? Was there ever a life or day NOT spent on this island? I can’t remember, but I doubt it, even as logic assures me that there was. Bah, I can’t trust my mind any longer, anyway. This land has had a strange effect on me. I’ve tried to counteract the effects with these lovely little cookies that I’ve found, each one enigmatically marked with an “m.” Surely, it must mean “munch me.”

I didn’t fare too well during the first weeks on this island. Adequate sustenance was hard to find and harder to keep [down]. Everything edible had a horrible affect on me. However, in time, I must have since acclimated to the food and my surroundings. For awhile, all was good. In the past few weeks though something has inexplicably happened to my bedding. No matter what I try, the ground seems to follow my every move and refuses to surrender its comfort in my sleep. And I swear someone or something somehow knows where I’ll lie down because they put a stick or something that pokes me in the ribs all night long. Have I mentioned the heat? I am now fully convinced of global warming since this place sure has heated up in the past few months. I’d give anything for an arctic blast. Or raspberry chocolate ice cream.

The natives on the island, though few, at times are quite demanding. It’s hard to describe them. Mostly of a darker complexion, they’re rather short in stature. They seem to be a fierce tribe, at least one would think so from all the war party’s they have. At least, I think it’s a war party, which is the only explanation I can think of for all the screaming and wailing. But for all their “fierceness” they raid my provisions quite frequently and even have the gall to sit on me! Don’t they know what kind of stress I’m under here on this island?! They appear to have made me their chief of some sort, although apparently not the kind of chief that gets waited on hand and foot. Speaking of feet, I wonder if I can bribe one of them to rub my swollen feet.

But there is good news! I spotted a ship on the horizon this afternoon!! Just thinking about leaving this island has me ecstatic. If my calculations are correct, the ship appears to be only a day’s journey away. I’ve got to get busy! I’ve got to make my list of things to do! If only I had the energy!

Ouch, what was that?!

Schooling for the birds

One of the nice things about homeschooling is that you get to do all kinds of cool projects or illustrations with your kids.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We study science in the evenings and lately we’ve been reading about birds. Now, generally birds are, well – they’re boring. No offense to all you feathered fowl out there, but you don’t really lead lives of mystery and intrigue.  At least, that’s what I used to think until I actually started reading about them with the munchkins.  But we’ve learned so many different things about birds, many of which are actually quite interesting.

For instance, Black Herons makes an umbrella shape with its wings, shading the water it wades in to help it look for fish.  (This is the bird of the “Nighttime, daytime!” infamy.  If you don’t know what I mean, check out this video. It’s hilarious.)  Flamingos aren’t born pink, but get this color from a natural chemical in its food.  In general, most female birds are a drab color to help camouflage it and protect it and her young from hunters.  A female Cuckoo will lay an egg in a Reed Warbler’s nest after dropping one of the Warbler’s eggs out.  When the Cuckoo chick hatches before the other eggs, it will shove the Warbler’s eggs out of the nest, even while still blind and naked.  The Reed Warbler feeds and takes care of the Cuckoo chick, thinking that the chick is its own, even when the chick outgrows the adult Warbler.  An owl can turn its head in almost any direction, even upside down!  And then of course there’s the many various and beautiful kinds of Birds of Paradise (like the neon smiley face one).

We’ve had a lot of fun illustrating various things about birds.  The kids curled up in a ball on the floor, pretended to “hatch” and then follow the first moving thing that they saw to learn about how goslings “imprint.”  We tried eating “fish” (a.k.a. marsh mellows) upside down like a flamingo.  We tried tossing up our fish and catching it in our mouths like a Snake Bird.  We tried flapping our wings in a figure eight movement like a hummingbird.  And we saw how much water a Pelican can hold in its pouch.  The videos below lets you join our class for this special project.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Riding the rails

My kids love to play with trains.  So for the past couple of months, I’ve been working on making them a train table as a Christmas present for their Thomas the Tank Engine trains.  Most of the ones for sale in stores are too expensive and rather small anyway.  I wanted something that all four of them could use at the same time and have plenty of room.  I used a 64″ x 32″ piece of plywood as the table top; some 1″ x 4″ wood planks for the sides, support beams and part of the legs; and 1″ x 3″ wood planks for the other part of the legs.  Here are some pictures of the work in progress and the finished table.

First, I penciled an outline of what I wanted the top to look like.  Since just having land would be rather boring, I made a lake with a river “flowing” through the land.  The outline of the water area can be seen below.

After the top was finished, I painted the legs, sides and braces a bright red.  Here is the bottom of the table complete with sides and braces.

Now to make sure the legs are lined up correctly…

And here is the finished table, complete with trains ready to roll!

From the top

Ham runs in the family

Or so I’ve been told…