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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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.

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.

Resurrection Eggs: Day 5 & Day 6

Yesterday’s egg contained a whip to illustrate Jesus being flogged by Pilate; we read Matthew 26:11-26:

Today’s egg was a crown of thorns for the soldiers who mocked Jesus; we read Matthew 11:27-31:

We didn’t do colouring pages or crafts for these days as we discussed them at our after-dinner devotions. Yesterday’s sermon was on Luke 22:24-60. (See also Matthew 26:31-35 and 69-74). This passage tells of the Last Supper and how Peter told Jesus he was ready to go with him to prison or death; Jesus tells Peter that before the rooster crows, Peter will deny him three times. Then they go to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. The soldiers come, led by Judas, and arrest Jesus. Peter is enraged and ready to fight and cuts off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus heals the ear and tells Peter, “No more of this!”  Then the soldiers lead Jesus away. Peter follows while the other disciples flee. Three times Peter is recognized as being a follower of Jesus and three times he denies it. Then the rooster crows and Peter remembers Jesus’ words.

It was amazing to see E’s attention completely held by the pastor’s reading of this passage. Because she knew the story, she was totally absorbed in the drama of the story. The pastor then preached on Jesus being completely alone, left by all of his disciples, even his most loyal and faithful like Peter. This is to show that Jesus took on the weight of the world’s sin utterly and completely himself. Jesus, the Christ, is the only means of salvation.

Resurrection Eggs: Day 4

Today’s egg contained hands in prayer to illustrate Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane:

We read the Bible passage from Matthew 26:36-45 and then talked about how Jesus knew he had to obey his Father’s will. We also talked about how sad he was, especially when he found the disciples sleeping.

A few years ago I actually helped E make a little garden with praying Jesus and sleeping disciples:

This year we went a bit simpler. They had a colouring page and pasted Jesus and the disciples down into a night garden:

This was just before dinner again so there wasn’t a snack. The girls lost interest in their colouring pretty quick because they were quite tired from C’s birthday party:

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday and even though we’ve already talked about it, it is a reinforcement to them of what they’ve learned so far. It also prepares us for the coming weekend with Good Friday and Easter Sunday sermons.

Resurrection Eggs: Day 3

Yesterday’s egg contained a cup to illustrate the last supper: We read the Bible passage from Matthew 26:26-27 and then talked about how our church celebrates the Lord’s Supper. Last time I printed a colouring page for E and then had her glue down the names of the disciples on another one (she couldn’t read so it didn’t matter whose name she glued where!)

This year I found this craft which is a replica of Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting. It’s a bit more hands on and both of them could do one together. The girls enjoyed making it with dad:

We did this right before dinner so it was the “last” supper of the day… I had thought of making some unleavened bread for them to try but since C’s birthday party was the next day (today!) I decided to choose my workload.

Resurrection Eggs: Day 1

The first egg is for Palm Sunday and is the story of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on a donkey. With my girls, we start with prayer and then open the egg. Inside Day 1 is a little donkey:

We read the Bible passage from Matthew 21:1-11 and then talked about it. Then the girls get to do a craft and some colouring and have a snack if it’s that time of day. Yesterday we made a donkey puppet:

The pattern and printouts are from DLTK’s Crafts for Kids – a great source of ideas! Another great source is Sermons 4 Kids – I’ve gotten lots of ideas and colouring pages from there. Last year E made palm fronds:

She actually took them to church on Palm Sunday that year and waved them around. It was very sweet, especially since we didn’t end up having a Palm Sunday sermon because we had a guest minister. E waved them in the lobby and one of the seniors said to her, “I was looking forward to a Palm Sunday sermon and was disappointed that we didn’t have one. But you just made my day!” Precious!

I was going to make cookies in the shape of palm fronds or donkeys, but when I was at Costco earlier that day, they had Palmiers on special so we had those instead:

from RealSimple.com

J was off work early so he was home and helped the girls do their crafts. They really enjoyed that part (I’ve mentioned before how I don’t craft with my kids).

Then we hang up our work in their playroom on their art wire and look forward to tomorrow.

Preparing for Easter: Resurrection Eggs

In less than two weeks we will celebrate one of the most significant events in the history of the world and in our Christian faith: Easter. This season and holiday is a solemn yet joyous occasion and is one of my favourite times of the year.

But how do you find the true meaning of it amidst the bunnies, chocolate, baskets, and sales?

It’s easy to celebrate Christmas when you’re a Christian because it seems like the whole world is celebrating something magical and wonderful and spiritual despite the commercialism it is steeped in. But Easter is seemingly more and more about the commercial now and the historical events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday are lost and forgotten. At Christmas, almost everyone seems to know Christmas carols that speak of the baby Jesus. But at Easter, nobody sings Easter carols outside of church. You don’t hear familiar Easter carols on every radio station.

So how do we make it exciting and look forward to it with anticipation? With our two girls, we were looking for ways to make the countdown to Easter a bit like the countdown to Christmas. A few years ago I discovered Resurrection Eggs and have used them each year since. They are a fun, bright, hands-on way to tell the Easter story to children. We do them one each day leading up to Easter (meaning we started yesterday).

from Family Life Today

I’ll be posting each day about our Resurrection Egg devotional time and will be sure to have pictures and links so that you too can try this with your kids.

And most importantly, remember to pray for and with your children. For all of the teaching and time in the world can only truly make a difference when covered in prayer.

Have a blessed day!

Kung Hei Fat Choy: resolutions & a year in pictures

Happy Chinese New Year! This is the year of the rabbit. Is it ok to make New Year’s resolutions now? Considering that I actually never followed through on my previous 2 years of resolutions, it seems counter-productive to me but here goes.

Lose weight

Well, since I’m pregnant, I will both be gaining lots and losing lots by virtue of baby growing inside and then coming out. Done.

You can see my belly finally! Oh yeah, that's E's fabulous fifth birthday cake. Thank to Whisk Kid for the cake recipe!

Eat healthier

We don’t really eat unhealthy to begin with, but since dark chocolate is good for you, I can eat more of that. Plus I’ll hopefully be nursing. I tend to eat really well when I’m nursing. Done.

crickets and mole sauce. Yes, he's actually eating the crickets and mole sauce. No, they weren't good.

Quit smoking

Never started. Done. Don’t even have a picture remotely resembling anything like this. Except maybe a campfire.

roasting marshmallows. And this photo is almost 3 years old.

Be more organized

I’m going to have a kindergartner (starting in September), a preschooler, and a newborn. I’ll either be organized or be dead. Done.

you can only see part of our luggage here!

the charging station in the prisoner transport – definitely a fire hazard

Declutter

See above. Done.

decluttering is easy when you have to move your stuff

Exercise more

See above. The average toddler takes 176 steps a minute. She’s not a toddler anymore but still has legs. And we start walking to kindergarten in September. Done.

J diving at Cultus

I think that's a dive

at the Olympic celebration site in Holland Park. Who knew curling was so hot?

Take more pictures

I actually have a problem where we take too many. So really I need to take less. And edit and print more. Oh wait. My last Snapfish order was 700 pictures. Plus I’ll have a newborn. So…Done.

self-portrait

Spend more time outside

Did I mention the walking to kindergarten? Done.

preschool field trip

Read more

I read pretty much every day for myself (novels as well as blogs and magazines). Oh wait. I have kids. They like mama to read to them. A lot. Done.

start 'em young!


Spend more time with family

Again, having a newborn means we’ll probably be at home a lot more. And there’s a family reunion of J’s extended family this summer that we might go to. Done.

in Mexico at the Kasbah

in San Diego

Thanksgiving

I’m going to stop now, I’m wearing myself out with how resolute I am so far! No, in all seriousness, we don’t really make resolutions. We rely on God to lead us further up and further into life and faith. Hopefully we learn from the last year and enjoy life more this year.

So, Kung Hei Fat Choy to you! And may God be with you too.

Day 23: blessing upon blessing

Oh what a Gentle Island! Oh what gentle beds! Indeed they were new and they were so comfortable. We had our hotel continental and then loaded into the PT to go to Green Gables. Where else? The home of Anne Shirley, the land of Lucy Maud Montgomery, and some of the prettiest scenery we’ve seen so far. The last is so gently sloping here and there and gives one the impression of simpler times. On the way to Cavendish we found The toy Factory, a lovely toy store with a workshop in the back where the owner made wooden toys. She also stocked her shelves with all manner of imaginative toys including an extensive selection of playhouse for princesses, knights and families and play figures. The girls had a grand time playing and then selected a handmade top as their souvenir.

Then we got to Green Gables and tried to eat a late lunch. Except we were trying to buy lunch at a small cafe at 3pm so of course they didn’t have any lunch left, only pastries. Lunch consisted of a cinnamon bun, blueberry Danish, scone, chocolate milk and, of course, raspberry cordial. Green Gables was an actual farm at which Montgomery spent time although she did not live there. It’s been restored to the descriptions of her books and one can tour the barn, farmhouse, grounds and as always, the gift shop. We picked up a children’s version of Anne of Green Gables for E and fondly remembered the movies and shows. Then it was time to go and see what else there was to see. We also got a recommendation to go to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner.

 We had passed a restaurant in the next town that advertised lobster suppers and a 60 foot salad bar – it turned out to be Fisherman’s Wharf. What a restaurant! You pay as you enter and they have a salad bar only price for children based on age. How cool is that! We ordered one lobster and one crab dinner and then took our turn at the long, long salad bar. The bar included, as one would expect, salads, but also included cooked vegetables, rice, potatoes, some chicken dishes, jello, and non-stop mussels. It was all better than expected and also included piles of desserts, along with coffee & tea & juices. We had a turn at the bar and then ordered our mains. Both C and E tried the crab and E loved it. She tried the lobster too but didn’t like it. She had more fun picking the meat out of the shells. C liked both and was happy to eat bits of everything. Besides the heaps of cakes, pies, squares, éclairs, ice cream, and whip cream, there was made to order strawberry shortcake – we had two! All in all, it was a scrumptious meal.

After our supper, we went next door to the big playground to tire out the girls. And the park were some vaguely familiar looking equipment – turns out the park included an outdoor fitness area with machines designed to get one moving using body weight. So we had a mini-workout (after the heaps of dessert…) before driving some more. We pulled off on the north coast at a place with beautiful “white” sand beaches. Funny, the sands actually look white when all you’ve seen is red dirt, but in actuality it’s really more pink. We had fun as the sun set racing away from the waves and then showing a local family the PT. They had a hoot sitting in the cells and then recommended places to go that would really show us “our island”. If only we had more time! Montgomery wrote about the emerald, sapphire and ruby of the island and when you drive around, especially on a clear day, you are struck by the emerald of the vegetation, the ruby of the dirt and the sapphire of both the sea and the sky. Stunning!

And back to our hotel to bed once again. When we got there we remembered that we still hadn’t booked our ferry to Newfoundland for the next night. And when M got online, the ferry was sold out. In fact it was sold out to vehicles for the next three days… ack! We are the world’s best procrastinators. J called the Marine Atlantic office and she confirmed that yes indeed the ferry for tomorrow night was sold out.

However.

After J talked about the business and PT and M silently prayed the lady found some spots available for commercial vehicles. Hallelujah! She booked us in. We also were able to book a sleeping cabin, since the ferry was overnight, approximately 8 hours. Another hallelujah!

  • Melodies: can’t remember… birdsong
  • Miles: 63 (100 km)
  • Meals: hotel continental, pastries at Green Gables, lobster & crab at Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Meltdowns: it was a good day!