31 January 2011

Preparing for Snow-maggedon

So... it's supposed to snow...

We're in the 13-18" area.

My facebook friends headed to the store to stock up on things yesterday and today. I resisted the urge to do the same. Instead of heading to Walmart, I thought I'd prepare by finding some links to fun snow-day activities. If anyone else has fun snow-related activities to do, I'd love to know about them! Here are just a few to get started...

Snacks and Treats

We will likely make Snowman Soup. We have one good story to accompany our Snowman Soup, but I think we need another, so we'll likely write a story and illustrate it as part of our preparation.

I've been waiting to make these frozen banana snowmen with the kids.

We may also make some sort of snowball cake sort of like these. I love the yellow cake recipe here. It's so easy and I always get delicious results. We'll top with coconut, which my children love and we hardly ever have. A snowman cake is here.

Here's a Snow White Pizza that looks different and deliciously fun! Or one could make it with alfredo, carrots, and mushrooms and make a Snowman Pizza.

Crafts and Games

There's always snowflake-making. We're going to do ours out of leftover white tissue paper from Christmas and we may cut them into hearts to work as a Valentine decoration.

These snowman pins are cute and would work as magnets, which we happen to have on hand.

Tic-Tac-Snow is fun. The gluing of the cottonballs to the penny is quite the event. I don't usually let my children glue things. :)


I think I'm going to have Annalivia and Daniel do the snowman name graph and scarf pattern found at this link.

And Almost Unschoolers has many cool projects involving snow. We'll be doing this experiment, but I'd suggest searching her blog for "snow" to see her brilliant ideas!

And, if this snow drags on and on, we are going to scrap the winter-related themes and get out the gardening book and seed catalogs! Happy Snow Day(s)!!

26 January 2011

My perceptive son

My kids are fans of the PBS show, Wild Kratts which features Kratt brothers Martin and Chris in various wild animal related adventure. The brothers are animated and one is always depicted wearing green and the other wears blue.

For the record, here is a picture of Chris Kratt.

This morning, Daniel was watching PBS - Sesame Street this time - and discovered that there is a character on that show named Chris. Daniel watched for a while and then came over to explain to me that, because the Chris-es have the same name, they have different colored shirts. The different colored shirts eliminate the confusion one might encounter in dealing with two individuals of the same name. It is, he explained, how we can tell them apart from each other.

For the record, here is a picture of Sesame Street's Chris

And a side-by-side comparison, just in case.

Isn't PBS thoughtful? :)

24 January 2011

A theology of Gratitude

I've been reading Ann Voskamp's blog for a long time... before I actually understood what a "blog" was, really. She's an extraordinary presence - immensely gifted, even more humble, passionate and yet also compassionate, wise and still seeking, artistic and also grounded in the literal dirt, sweat, blood, and tears of life. (And, as an aside- is there a more well-read woman in the northern hemisphere?) I've longed to have her spiritual maturity and honest longing for God. I've followed her suggestions at Lent and Advent and dutifully started up a gratitude journal. I've made some embarrassing attempts at emulating her writing style. I've even more embarrassingly read and re-read the comments she left here a few times. :) I've not googled her to find out where she lives, yet, but I could have wondered... :)

Anyway - let's just say - I've been a fan for a long time.

So I don't know why I was surprised.

But I was.

I opened her book and began reading. I expected to be moved, expected to be inspired, but did not expect to be shifted into another universe of thought, did not expect to be fundamentally changed.

This book... oh my...what to say about this book that has taken my breath away and swept me up into her dizzying, gloriously stretching, delightfully revealing journey?

This book... is good. And I don't mean "good" as in "nice, fun, happy". I mean "GOOOOOOD!" I mean, "God looked at his creation and saw that it was GOOD" sort of "good." It's the sort of "good" that can only come about after total emptiness has been filled by the Divine -- complete with all the breaking and burning and molding and shaping and groaning that divine birth involves.

This book is so much more than a practical guide to creating a gratitude list, though one could find that in it. It is more than a memoir, more than a reflection on the intersection of the mundane and the divine, though it is definitely these things, too. What this book is, at its essence is a book of profound contemplations on the desire of a creation to be returned to communion with its Creator. From her opening assertions that the original sin is one of ingratitude, Ann spins the tale of how she runs, dances, stumbles and gropes the path of redemption found in a life of thanksgiving.

What Ann has created is an extraordinarily insightful, nuanced and deeply honest theology of Gratitude. The answer she has found to the meaning of life (living in intentional thanksgiving) appears to be simple. But the answer goes beyond just keeping a numbered list of God's gifts, something I've done without the essential accompanying contemplation of God's very nature, His plan for our restoration, His willingness to enter into our lives. Ann knows that living out the satisfied life is so much more than a sterile list. Ann knows that living eucharisteo is perhaps the most challenging task a mortal, fallen creature can undertake. She treats her exploration with all the raw desire, startling honesty and passionate reverence that such a task deserves. It's amazing.

I really wish I could buy tons of these books to hand out to family and friends and church members. And strangers, for that matter. If people get hold of the concept of a life-lived-in-thanksgiving, well... it could be life-changing. I know it already is changing mine.

Thank you, Ann.

21 January 2011

Prayer calendar

I've been working on getting a prayer calendar together that will import to my smart phone. I've finally got this one on my Google calendar and thought I'd share the link in case it could help anyone else.

The link for XML (feed readers) is here and iCal is here and the link to view it in HTML in a web browser is here.

When I get together my prayer calendar for Dennis, I'll post it here, too.

10 January 2011

Just So Stories

Recently, we got a Kindle onto which I eventually plan to load a bunch of homeschool books. To fill the gap between receiving the thing and that time at which I unpack the curriculum discs or, more accurately, the time at which I find the instructions for loading said curriculum onto a reader, I downloaded a free copy of Kipling's Just So Stories. I've been reading them to the kids and have been having so much fun!

I haven't read these stories since late junior high and I never appreciated the wit and humor in them back then. The language and vocab is so rich and the characters so lighthearted... They are just a pleasure to dramatize vocally, and the kids sit in rapt attention (mostly) even though the meaning of a good third of it must go right over their heads. It really does make me eager to find more classics to share with them!

03 January 2011

Resolutions- the 90 day version

I love the first of the year, and while I wish I were evolved enough to join the trend toward not-making resolutions, I also love this particular tradition, even though I've never actually fulfilled a resolution in my entire life. :)

This year, I thought I'd get fancy and try my resolutions in 90-day chunks. Dennis recently had a fabulous success in reading the New Testament in the 90 days before Advent, and it inspired both of us to "think small" when it comes to big changes in life. So here's what I (and Dennis, too, actually) will be doing in some 90-day chunks in the near future...
-Reading the Bible in 90 days ( a la biblegateway.com - it's delivered to our smart phones, which makes reading throughout the day pretty manageable!)
-Joining Weight Watchers online (after I'm cleared by my doc @ my 6 week appt.) and following the plan (again, the accessibility through our phones is just awesome)
- Joining e-mealz.com and cooking at home, mostly (we did lots of eating-out in Dec.)
-Sticking to a written budget ( we sort of got lazy w/ this during the move and near Peter's birth/hospitalization, etc.)
and most important...
- Making time several times throughout the day to give kisses and hugs to the kiddos (it's embarrassing to admit, but my kids are usually so good to each toher and me that, if I'm not careful, I find myself reacting only to negative behavior. My mom suggested setting a timer and having a hug-and-kiss break every hour or so, and it has been a big help. Again, I'm embarrassed that it slips my mind to do it without help, but this is working for us!)
Anyway, those are the things in the works for the next 90-ish days for us. I'm going to keep telling myself when I want to get off-track, "It's
only 90 days!"

We'll see how it goes!