Thursday, April 28, 2011

Love this Kid

Mighty Max, ready to play hockey with his cousin Drew.

Yesterday, we were at the park enjoying some sunshine with my sis and Baby James. Max had been racing around and hadn't noticed the sandbox in the rear of the playground. When he finally caught sight of it, he announced with utter joy, "Oh, I'm so excited! I can't wait to go hunt for dead worms, and I'll get some alive ones for you James!"

There is nothing like the blessing of a bouncing, baby boy.
He will fill your home with energy and touch your heart with joy. 
He’ll hug you and bug you and try you within 
But each precious memory you’ll treasure again and again
                                                                        ~ Linda LaTourelle

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Blueberries for Chloe

Each week I try - with the emphasis, especially lately, on the word try, to read a new book with the kids. This is really for the boys, since the curriculum I'm using is for preschoolers, but Chloe loves to join in. I've been using Before Five in a Row for the boys this year, and each day for one week you read the same book to your kids, and then there are all sorts of simple, creative learning activities that the book suggests to do.

This year when we got to Robert McCloskey's wonderful classic Blueberries for Sal, Chloe abandoned her handwriting immediately each morning and curled up on our reading couch to join in. This book was one of my favorites when I was little - I still have the little book plate with my name on it pasted on the inside cover - and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Chloe has loved it since she was pretty tiny. The combination of mischievous little Sal, ripe Maine blueberries, and a surprise visit from a bear makes for irresistable reading for the four- to six-year-old crowd.

This was right about the time we were hitting a few speed bumps in our daily learning process, particularly with math. Chloe was getting bored, and starting to express frustration with having to do the same old routine every day, so I decided to run with her interest in the book and create a week of learning activities around it. We started with math, making a big bowl of "blueberries" out of homemade blue playdoh.

Then I set out "pails," each one with a different math problem written on it.

Chloe read each problem (6+2, for instance, or 9+6), and then filled each "pail" with the number of blueberries that represented the answer.

The next day we began a lapbook.  

We started with learning about different bears in the world today - what parts of world they live in, what they like to eat, and so forth. We're looking forward to bringing this to the zoo with us as soon as the weather gets nicer and seeing some of these bears in person!

Then, of course, we moved on to Chloe's favorite activity - baking. In her lapbook she learned how to write and identify 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 1 whole, and after she pasted in examples of each, she was able to get some hands-on practice adding ingredients to blueberry crisp.

Here's the recipe we used. I wanted something really simple so that she could do almost all of it herself, and this was wonderful!!

 She paused in the middle of mixing to read a new book...

and then got back to business.

Ready for the oven!!

Chloe had a great time, and I learned a lesson about the value of mixing things up a bit and infusing our learning process with a bit more creativity.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Weekend Recap: A Picture-Heavy Post!

We had a wonderful Easter weekend with our family, and I am... EXHAUSTED. But in a good way :-). On Friday we had the opportunity to go to Ohio to have lunch with our sweet friends the Navarres, who moved a few months ago. We all picked up right where we left off and had a wonderful time catching up. Friday night was spent at church. Good Friday is such a special day for all of us who believe in Jesus Christ - somber, yes, but such an awesome opportunity to reflect on the amazing sacrifice that has bought us new life. Greg and I, my mom and dad, my sister and brother-in-law, and all of our kids were there, and it was a very special night spent as a family.

Saturday was our annual neighborhood Easter egg hunt and pizza party, and as always, a good time was had by all!

 Max hunting for eggs:

Sam filling up his basket with goodies:

Chloe on the move:

A nutritious lunch of pizza and candy:

Dying our eggs the night before Easter:

Special treats waiting to be discovered by the kiddos to celebrate the fact that He has risen!!!

The brunch table, ready for good food and sweet family and friends...

Spiderman treats for our Max...

 An elephant bank and a kangaroo for our Sam...

Books, bows, and baking supplies for our Chloe...

Sweet Smith kids on Easter morning:

Cousin Drew checks out the Easter loot that Nana brought:

An elephant basket for Sam, an airplane basket for Max, a pink bunny basket for Chloe, and an Elmo basket for our little friend Emily!

Another Easter egg hunt before brunch!

...and then, thankfully, an afternoon of naps before heading over to my sister's for a wonderful Easter dinner.

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.

John 11:25-26 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter: It's Not About the Bunny

I am sitting at my desk in our classroom getting a little work done, and Chloe has just taken the stage in the playroom next to me. Her Daddy built her a stage a few Christmases ago and she spends quite a bit of time up there, practicing her ballet at the barre and singing into the microphone. What can I say? Our girl loves to perform. I just received a real treat, though, and was compelled to capture this memory. I wish so much that I had a video camera right now!

Chloe must have decided to tell a story... she attends a lot of weekly gatherings - Bible Study Fellowship, Awana, and church on Sunday mornings - where Bible stories are told, and she has taken to coming home and telling them herself with great gusto to either her brothers or her dolls and stuffed animals - whomever is more easily cornered on that particular day.

I was working away and simultaneously thinking through the math lesson we were about to start when her little voice caught my ear: "Listen up, everyone," she said, authoritatively but not unkindly, "the Easter story has a very happy ending, and every word of it is true. Easter is not about the bunny. I know the bunny is a lot of fun, but Jesus is even better!"

She went on to tell the story of the "women who went to Jesus' tomb to take care of His body." With great enthusiasm, she told her imaginary audience that the stone was rolled away and Jesus was not there! Instead, an angel said, "Why are you looking for Jesus here? He is not here! He is not dead - He is alive!"  She finished up by saying, "They were impressed!

Sometimes I get caught up in measuring what Chloe knows - how quickly she does her flashcards, for instance, or masters this week's consonant blends - but it's pretty cool to hear your six year old articulate the things that truly matter better than you can, and with more joy to boot. It's pretty cool that God, in His grace, allowed me to be present for that sweet moment.

I hope I never forget the sound of her voice, announcing that He is alive. I hope that every day I am as impressed as those three women were at the life-changing magnitude of that truth.

I just called her in and asked her to repeat what the angel told the women, and she repeated it again, word for word.

Then without missing a beat, she asked for a snack.

"Cookies and milk?" I asked.

"That's exactly what I was thinking," she said.

 1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 

From Mark, Chapter 16

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Baby of Mine

My precious little #4 at 26 weeks

Baby mine, don't you cry
Baby mine, Dry your eyes
Rest your head close to my heart
Never to part, baby of mine

Little one, when you play
Don't you mind what they say
Let those eyes sparkle and shine
Never a tear, baby of mine

If they knew sweet little you
They'd end up loving you too
All those same people who scold you
What they'd give just for the
right to hold you

From your head down to your toes
You're not much, goodness knows
But you're so precious to me
Sweet as can be, baby of mine

"I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. "  Jeremiah 29:11 (The Message)