Book Review and Sign Off

Dear readers, friends, family and fellow bloggers,

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I constantly am going on large breaks from posting. I am an inconsistent blogger. I always have been and I’ve come to realize, I always will be. I have three wonderful and crazy kids. They are 10 months, almost 4, and 6 years old. I have a fantastic husband. We are involved in a terrific church. We have two extended families mostly living close by. We have a wonderful private school nearby. We live in one of the most beautiful and rich places in the whole world. We are truly and abundantly blessed.

With all of that, we have come to the realization that in order to raise the best kids we can in this post-modern, secular culture, we need to concentrate on our relationships with them. This takes time and patience, as any parent will testify. However, in the last 50 years, it takes a lot more time and patience. Our grandparents were able to raise large families with much less proactive parenting than we must today. They didn’t have the nearly as many distractions in their lives, technological or otherwise. Up until the 1950s or so, you could send your children off to play and have fun with the other kids around and be sure that your neighbours held similar moral and cultural ideas to your own. You could live simply because, quite simply, that was the only way to live. That is no longer the case.

I have just finished reading “Hold Onto Your Kids” by Vancouver psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld. I won’t go into a long review here, except to say that I wish I had read it when it first came out in 2004. It is the only “parenting” book that has ever made complete and total sense of everything. I wish I had listened to my instincts when I first came across his name and theory when Emma was a baby, 5 years ago. I wish I had gotten rid of the baby trainer books right from the start. I wish I had cultivated an intentional attachment village. I wish I had spent less time worrying about things. I hope you will all pick it up at the library or buy a copy or borrow mine and read it. It has changed the way we think. Not since God came into my life have I ever been so transformed by and convicted of anything. For those that have or will read it: it may not be “Biblical” in that there are very few scripture references or mentions of God. But look deeper, between the words into the message. The God of the universe is the God of relationship. He is relationship himself. When you understand that, it makes absolute and total sense.

I am most grateful to God that I have the chance to mend my ways. I am not perfect. Neither is my husband. Or my kids. Or anyone else in our world. Only He is. And he gives us second chances. Every day, every breath, we are redeemed and forgiven. Over and over again. And it is with this grace, this renewal, this beautiful gift, that I sign off from the blogging world. It has been great to share of myself and our family and ideas, but it is not a passion. It is not a requirement for our family. It is not an income-earner. It was a hobby and a sporadic one at that. When I got into a consistent groove, it ate up a lot of time. When I wasn’t consistent, it was constantly simmering in my mind, heaping guilt on my conscience. Of course, that comes from no one else but myself, but as I said, I am not perfect.

And so blogging world, I have left my (minuscule) mark. But that doesn’t matter. I could have left a giant crater or nothing at all and it still wouldn’t matter. God doesn’t look at what we do, He sees what it is our hearts. And we are turning our hearts towards our family, on the firm foundation of our Lord, Jesus Christ. As you meditate upon His awesome sacrifice this Easter season, ask Him, again or for the first time, to be the Lord and Master of your life. To forgive you. To redeem you. To free you. And He will – He is a faithful God, abounding in steadfast love. That’s what the cross is about.

To Him be all glory!

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A Christmas Letter 2011

Hope you are all gearing up for a fantastic Christmas! Today is E’s last day of school and her Christmas Concert. Then we are taking a well-deserved stay-cation! Lots of movies, pajamas, Christmas cookies, and possibly even some naps! We’ll take a hiatus from here until the new year so until then, be amazed by love that came into the world as an infant. God bless you all!

E's chalkboard nativity: Son of God, Pine, The Stable that Jesus was born in


Happy Sinterklaas!

December 5th is Sinterklaas! E got a big bag of candy at school today – that’s what you get at a private school where the majority of the parents are Dutch. The parents committee does a treat for the kids one day a month and that’s what it was for December. We didn’t get to a Sinterklaas celebration this year but J took the girls last year to the big one in New West. Unfortunately that one got cancelled this year. Anyway, we’re not huge into Sinterklaas, but we did get the girls to put their shoes by the door – they’ll find Pocky, Kinderbars and gummy bears in there in the morning. Maybe an orange too!

The Olive Press

Have you heard of Buck Denver? Jelly Telly? Phil Visscher? Veggietales? Well, Veggietales was created by Phil Visscher. He has gone on to create a new animated Christian franchise called Jelly Telly and one of the main characters is Buck Denver. Buck’s got a new DVD out called “Why do we call it Christmas?”

 

which is part of the “What’s in the Bible?” series. Have you seen it? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it, for your kids and for yourselves! You’ll find out about the history of all the different Christmas traditions we have from trees to St. Nick and Santa to Dec 25 and more. I learned as much from it as my kids did!

Cookie Cutter as: Stencil

For Day 1 of National Cookie Cutter week, I started simple. I used a plastic star shaped cutter as a stencil to make shapes for our Jesse Tree

No fuss, no muss. It also happened to be that we were out most of the day and then the dinner hour was wonky and I didn’t realize until 8pm when I was feeding Mr. T his nightly avocado that I hadn’t done anything. But hey, we’re into creativity here! I traced both the outside and inside of the cutter to get the different sizes.

The yellow fat one reminds me of the Super Mario Bros star. Now that brings back memories!

Here’s a pretty photo of our Jesse Tree. The girls do simple colouring of symbols from here and we glue them onto construction paper and hang them up with bent paper clips. We also do the devotions from here at dinnertime. This is the first year we’ve done it and it’s been a lovely and meaningful way to celebrate Advent and anticipate Christmas. It’s reminiscent of Resurrection Eggs at Easter.

And just for fun here’s a picture from J’s birthday cake on Sunday. It’s a Reese peanut-butter cup ice cream cake. Yumo! In the picture right before this one, Mr. T is staring at the candles ready to pounce. Someone gave him pencil crayons to distract him:

Quick update

Has it really been that long since I last wrote? Well, yes it has. Lots has happened since. LOTS. We are also very busy right now. VERY. Many things on the go and just the general craziness that is life with one who started school, one who started preschool, and one who started life.

I have a few big things to get off my plate before I think I settle into a less hectic state. Seriously, my floor is constantly unswept (I’m trying to teach E to do it), the laundry is constantly piled up (moreso than usual), the office floor is half covered in paper (I’m drowning in it), and there are tulip bulbs still to be planted.

But on the other hand, E is enjoying school, C is enjoying preschool, T is enjoying the Exersaucer, J in enjoying vball and I’m enjoying rehearsals. We are all enjoying church life and family life and FABULOUS sunny weather. We have even snuck in some holidays.

So, with that all being said, we have not dropped off the face of the planet. Rather we are starting to emerge from the newborn cocoon. He’s 5 months now and starting to sleep longer. It’s amazing how once that fog of sleeplessness starts lifting, life just starts coming together. Praise God for sustaining us! There will be much up and coming posting starting soon – I have so much to share! Pictures, videos, travels, recipes, crafts etc.

For today, please enjoy this video by Terry Kelly. And do not forget. Nov 11 is next week. It is so important for us to remember the sacrifices men and women make for our country. We cannot, as people, move ahead to create a better nation and world if we do not remember the fallen and learn from our past.

Wear a poppy, thank a veteran, and attend a ceremony. Make it a family trip and turn it into a tradition. Contact your local legion or municipal leaders to find a ceremony near you.

“Everyone wants to save the world, but no one wants to help Mom with the dishes.”

A dear friend sent me a link to an article on www.desiringgod.org that was EXACTLY what I needed to read. I was almost weeping by the end. Tim Kimmel said that in parenting, especially in the early years, “The days are long but the years are short.” When you are in the midst of babyhood (I have a 1 month old!) each day can seem like forever. But then I turn around and my baby E is 5 1/5 and starting kindergarten in September! And my little C is not so little anymore, except that tonight she was so exhausted and having such a meltdown after dinner that I had to sing and rock her to sleep. (She still fits in my arms!)

Let them be little…

cross-eyed!

best buddies

Tristan's baptism day

 

 

Resurrection Eggs: Day 11 & 12

Saturday ended up being quite a busy day so we skipped our egg for the day and did them both this evening. It was actually a perfect setup because we attended a different church this morning to witness our nephew’s baptism and the sermon was on the stone being rolled away, the empty tomb, and Jesus’ resurrection.

Egg 11 contained a stone to represent the stone rolled away from the tomb. The story comes from Matthew 27:65-28:4:

Egg 12 was empty!

We read of the angel telling the woman that Jesus has risen from Matthew 28:5-8.

One of E’s favourite things in the Bible is when angels appear to humans. She will excitedly tell you that almost every time, the first thing the angel says is, “Do not be afraid.” I think that goes to show just how powerful, other-worldly, and un-cherub-like angels must truly be.

They coloured a picture from Bible Wonderland and one from Catholic Mom:

Because it was Easter Sunday and a bit of a busy day, we didn’t do a craft, just the colouring. But the services in each church of course reinforced all of the teachings over the past week and a half. E even asked to come up to church in the afternoon instead of going to the nursery with her sister (which she usually does for the second service.) It was a blessed and glorious day.

He is risen! Rejoice and be glad.

Parents, don’t dress your girls like tramps

A friend sent this link to me yesterday and it weighed heavily on my heart, so I wanted to share my thoughts with you all.
I’ve heard it complained that it is harder to buy age-appropriate clothing for kids, especially little girls. I agree if you are only talking about shopping at the mainstream mall. I’ve looked at La Senza Girls and thought to myself, I don’t even like most of the clothing in the adult version of the store, so why would I shop there for my kids?
I’ve noticed that in the “little” kids stores like Children’s Place and Please Mum, their sizes actually go up to about 12. So what if their styles are more “little girl” than other places that sell clothing in these sizes… who are we dressing? If you insist on shopping with your girls at places that sell sexified clothing, than don’t complain. There are alternatives. Handmade clothes, second-hand and consignment stores, shopping at non-chains or just making the more modest choices in the mass-market stores is not hard.
Having two girls (and maybe a third!) makes me conscious of issues like this all the time. I don’t even like taking my girls (let alone if I had sons) in the mall to walk by stores like La Senza – it’s like soft-porn on display for everyone to see.
What kind of self-image are we helping them to create?
That being said, should we really be surprised that the industry is like this? Probably not. The world is a terribly fallen, selfish, greedy, sexualized, commercial place. So what’s a parent to do?
Pray. And then be pro-active. Talk to your daughters (and sons!) about their bodies and foster a sense of beauty in what God has given them in modest ways.
And just turn off the TV and don’t buy those magazines and watch what you say to your friends around your kids. Because actions (and the voices of others) speak louder than parental words.

Resurrection Eggs: Day 7 & 8

Tuesday’s egg contained three nails in the form of a cross for Jesus’ crucifixion. We read Matthew 27:31-35.

Pain and suffering are hard topics to talk about with children, especially young children. Somehow, by the grace of God, they understand Jesus’ trials and death. In their own child-like way, they understand how “unfair” it seems that Jesus didn’t do anything wrong and yet was punished. They may not understand politics or deep theology, but they understand punishment. Believe me, when one of my girls gets disciplined unfairly, they understand it! They coloured this picture:

and then we did a “stained glass” cross made with melted crayons:

Yesterday’s egg was a die to show the soldiers casting lots for Jesus’ garments. We read Matthew 27:35

We talked about how games are supposed to be fun but in this case, the soldiers were being very mean. I found this picture for them to colour:

It’s not the greatest illustration but it does was the only page I could find that showed the soldiers’ game. It also happens to show the vinegar drink and the spear wound (which is funny because the spear wound happens after Jesus was already dead, which would be after he was offered a drink…) This was an after-dinner devotion so we didn’t do a craft. Actually, there aren’t many crafts out there that apply to this particular passage! We’ll do another cross craft for the next egg.