Friday, January 15, 2010

Lessons About Haiti

Many people are buzzing about the 7.0 earthquake that happened in Haiti a couple days ago. The devastation is widespread and tragic. SO MANY PEOPLE have died or are dying right now! I took the opportunity today to teach Ladan a little bit about it. Here's what we did:

I showed him a map of the earth's plates and the various ways that they move against, toward, and away from each other. We talked about the effects of this movement. Then we built a Lincoln Log house on a flat square lego plate, put some people and animals inside, and shook it. The house crumbled on the plate, and then everything fell off. The people were trapped under the rubble, and we couldn't even find the mother. We talked about what that would be like if I were trapped underneath our house and no one could find me. We talked about the poverty that existed in Haiti long before the earthquake and how that impacts their ability to recover.

Then I showed him real pictures on the internet of the people and places in Haiti. He did see piles of bodies, which may be a lot for a five-year-old... but it's real... and it's what five-year-olds there are dealing with. We didn't stare at the images for a long period of time like the kids there are having to do, but he did get a glimpse of what has happened.

We talked about all the kinds of ways that people in Haiti are going to need help, the most important of which is to know and trust the Lord of heaven and earth for their help and salvation. Then we prayed for the people of Haiti. We prayed for the people who are helping them. And we prayed that we would know if there is any way that we can help them.

And now Ladan is sitting in his comfortable, stable home making disgusting sounds with his Flarp. It is yet another reminder to me that one of the biggest dangers we face in America is complacency. We like to think we know what's happening in the world because we get a 30-second report on the evening news. We like to think we know something about poverty because we sometimes have to choose between buying a new accessory or a dinner out... and can't have both at the same time. To put this in perspective, I was listening to a missionary pilot talk on the radio yesterday about how quite a few people in Haiti eat mud just to have something in their empty stomachs. THAT is poverty. And that was BEFORE the earthquake.

May God be merciful to the people of Haiti as they attempt to recover!

For an interesting read, check out the following article by Dr. Albert Mohler: "Does God Hate Haiti?"

And if you're looking for a way to help the people in Haiti, may I recommend that you consider giving to one of the following organizations, who will not only help provide physical aid but will provide the people of Haiti with the Gospel of Jesus:

Baptist Haiti Mission

Samaritan's Purse

Missionary Aviation Fellowship

Compassion International

For His Glory Adoption Outreach

There are many others out there, but these are a few I know about and am convinced will make good use of the funds they receive to help with aid efforts.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2010 Reading List

Update: I added one more at the end of my list. I don't know why, but I forgot to add it when I made the original list.

It's my goal to read the following books in no particular order in 2010. Hopefully I'll be able to read more than this, but I'm being realistic here. Actually, I might be unrealistically hopeful that I'll even get all these read. I'm going to give it my best shot!
  1. Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone by Elyse Fitzpatrick
  2. Look, No Hands by Brian Gault
  3. Knowing God by J. I. Packer
  4. Desiring God by John Piper
  5. The Magician's Nephew by CS Lewis
  6. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
  7. The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis
  8. Will Medicine Stop the Pain?: Finding God's Healing for Depression, Anxiety, and Other Troubling Emotions by Dr. Laura Hendrickson and Elyse Fitzpatrick (In case you're wondering, I don't particularly struggle with depression, anxiety and other troubling emotions, but I know SO MANY people who do that I'd like to see if this might possibly be a good book recommendation and am hoping that I'm better equipped to encourage others through their struggles as a result of reading this. And you never know how much reading this might help me deal with any future struggles should they come my way. Always better to be prepared ahead of time, huh?)
  9. Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney
  10. The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw
  11. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Starting School

Well, we started school again on Thursday. Ladan is now working on his 1st grade phonics/reading/handwriting/art program; Saxon 1 Math; his catechism and scripture memory program; and some fun and random science stuff. He's so fast at learning new phonics rules and figuring out new words! He's also great at addition and subtraction and is beginning to learn how to tell time on a "real" clock along with some very basic fractions. I was pretty surprised at how quickly he dove back in after two weeks off. Well, at least with regard to his understanding. He's still a bit distracted by his desire to play, which hopefully he's figuring out ends up stealing his time to actually play with the things he's pining after. Isn't that so true of many adults though? We sit and stare at what we want to be doing, and rather than just getting the mundane stuff over with so we can move on, we sit motionless chewing our fingernails and staring out the window. Well, I don't chew my fingernails, because I think that's gross, but you get the picture. The point is that he's doing great for the most part and just has to get back into structure mode.

One thing that's been really fun is that Ladan has been running up to me giving me totally random HUGE hugs much more often than normal for about a week now. I don't know what it's all about, but I'll take it!

He's learning to make sense out of so many things in the world, and his conclusions are often very observant and entertaining. For example, today he was eating an apple for his snack. He was just walking around the kitchen while I was doing dishes, and he said, "Mom, I really like apples because they're crunchy and sweet. And they have vitamins that are good for my body. But the seeds are NOT the vitamins. They're the part in the middle that we eat around and then throw away so we don't choke!" And a couple weeks ago I told him I needed to dust the television, and he said, "Don't you mean 'undust', Mom?" Well, yes, I guess that does make more sense, doesn't it?

For Christmas, Gabe received a copy of My Giant Sticker Activity Book. I went through this book with Ladan when he was three, and it really got him moving in the direction of paying attention to instructions and learning quite a few basics about spelling, numbers, vocabulary, fine motor skill development, etc. Well, when I started school with Ladan last Thursday, Gabe ran to find his new sticker book because he wanted to "start school" too! And boy, was he serious! He went from A through N in the alphabet section of the book, breaking only to run up and show Chet his "work" every couple pages. I finally had to stop him and tell him we'd do more the next day. He was so excited about it. My favorite part was when he got to the letter M. He said, "That's a letter M! It says 'Mmmmmm'. Marvewous!" I love that my three-year-old boy exclaimed "Marvelous!" all on his own. His great-grandma would be proud. It's one of her favorite words.

Sure enough, on Friday, Gabe went running for his sticker book to start school again. He finished the alphabet and was ready for more when I had to stop him again. Today he did the same thing. I was so disappointed that I couldn't help him with it today because so many things were going on, but I'm going to make it a point to work with him at least 3 times a week. It seems like he may be ready to start Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons this summer. For sure he'll be ready by the fall. I'm so excited that he's so excited! The only two things that can hold his focused attention for longer than 10 minutes are "doing school" and playing in a sink full of water (that still wins by a long shot seeing as how he literally will play in the sink with three toys for 2 hours or more at a time).

Gabe is a drama star! His favorite thing to do when he has the attention of a crowd is to recite the lines from Bambi when Thumper says, "Eating greens is a special treat. It makes long ears and great big feet. But it sure is awful stuff to eat. I made that last part up myself." He says all of this with the appropriate motions and then dives into a recitation of a monologue given by a caterpillar in the Veggie Tales move, Jonah. It's something about how Jonah is going to chase off a band of camel thieves, and in the process, he's going to break the heart of the woman he loves! [Huge gasp!] He has all of the appropriate motions with this as well. It's my goal to get this on video this week before he changes the way he does it. He's such a fun kid!

Claire is still a remarkably happy baby. She still throws up often enough, but it's SO MUCH BETTER than it was! She's very easy-going, which is a lifesaver for all of us. Just tonight, I found Gabe happily slapping her in the face with her new Sophie Giraffe, and she was just sitting there like nothing was going on at all. Thank goodness Sophie is made of very soft and pliable natural rubber, so she wasn't getting pelted in the face with something harmful... but you'd think that she would have at least tipped me off that something was going on. I guess Gabe's cheerful smile was enough to calm any nerves that may have been frazzled by the onslaught. She's starting to laugh every once in a while, and it's so cute! I hope we can get it on video soon.

As far as her motor development goes, she's able to grab and hold onto quite a few things. She definitely knows when she wants something and will go for it. My favorite is when she sees me and reaches out to grab both sides of my face and pulls me toward her so she can give me a big sloppy kiss on the face! She absolutely cannot stand tummy time, and she's content to just lay still on her back for LONG periods of time playing with the same toy or just staring at something, so she's not in any hurry to roll over it doesn't seem. Unless some major shift happens, she's definitely not going to be crawling by six months. And to that I say, "Praise the Lord!" I'm not ready for her to be mobile yet, so I'm fine if she wants to take her sweet time like her oldest brother. Well, actually, a balance between her two brothers would be ideal, but I'll take what I get as long as she's okay. She's starting to get better at holding herself in an upright position in her exersaucer. I still have to pack a little blanket in around her so she doesn't tip over, but she's able to stay up for a minute or two before I have to support her.

I regularly find her laying on her back with her left leg stuck straight out at a 45 degree angle. Random and kind of funny. She loves it when we tickle her feet and will stick her feet out to us when she wants to play. Speaking of her feet, they are some of the cutest little baby feet I have ever seen! They're so dainty! Claire is dainty herself, I guess. I take her in another couple days for a shot visit and a height/weight check, so we'll see how big she is then.

That's a little peek into the recent educational/developmental milestones the kids are making. We are so blessed to have healthy children who are growing and learning new things all the time! I do not take that for granted and realize it could change at any moment. We thank God for every day we have with these little ones! They are amazing! They point us regularly to the grace, mercy, and glory of God. Who else could create such intricate and unique individuals?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My New Favorite Parenting Helper

Can you guess what my new favorite parenting helper is? Yep, it's the microwave timer! I found myself using it twice yesterday for different purposes.

When Gabe has to take a few minutes to collect himself, I have him sit in a chair. The problem is that he REPEATEDLY asks OVER AND OVER AGAIN, "Can I get up, Mom? Can I get up?" He has a high-pitched voice, and while he's cute and all, it can drive a person up the wall quickly. So I set the microwave timer and tell him to listen quietly for the beep, and then he'll know he can get up. It doesn't work perfectly every time, but it's loads better!

The microwave timer is also handy when giving kids choices. For example, I asked Ladan if he wanted to put the silverware away "now or in 5 minutes". Often enough I ask my kids to do things immediately, so when possible, I like to give them some options about the unfolding of their day. It's Ladan's new job to put the silverware away, and he was in the middle of playing, so I gave him a choice between stopping what he was doing immediately to put it away or playing for 5 more minutes before doing his job. He chose to wait 5 more minutes. So I set the timer, and he knew when it beeped that it was time to get to work. It also freed me up from watching the clock and seeming like I was nagging him to stop and do his chore. Nice.