quick 5

Hey, remember that year that spring came and it suddenly got colder?

Yeah, that was epic…oh wait, that was this week. Excuse me while I get my scarf.

1. Our poor neighbors are on spring break, and I feel like they should get a refund or something. As I type this, it is 27 degrees out. Who wants spring break when it’s 27 degrees out? Sorry, neighbors!

2.  We started reading The Magician’s Nephew  by C.S. Lewis with the kids. We put Tessa (20 months) to bed early (and welcome her earlier each morning but, oh well, that’s the way of it!) and then all crawl into our bed and listen as Diggory and Polly delight us (and inform us- last night we learned that “ass” can be used as an insult and “dem fine” is a way to say something is excellent.)  Whenever we start a read aloud, the first few chapters are a little rough. The kids are 8, 5, and 3, and it takes a few chapters for the younger two to engage. But once they are in, they are in. Ella, in particular, has taken a liking to Jadis (the villain), who Lewis refers to as the Queen or the Witch. (When I call her the Witch, Ella corrects me). In light of enjoying that time together, I thought I’d share a few tips for read alouds with kids:

  • At what age could I start reading aloud to my kids? In terms of chapter books, I’d say three years is a good age (though Ella started at two but it was a struggle.)
  • What should we read first? It helps to start with books that have a few pictures, such as the Narnia books, Magic Treehouse, or  How to Train your Dragon series. The pictures help to break it up and give them a visual. Remember, up to this point, your kids have had an illustrator tell them what characters and scenes look like. So be patient with them as they transition to creating a whole world in their heads. 
  • What if I have different ages and interests between them? That’s a tricky one, but the best advice I can give is to choose books that are great stories. Even if it isn’t your favorite topic, aren’t you captured by a great story? If the characters are relatable and endearing, all your kids can enjoy them. If one child has a particular interest, maybe you could read something with just them? Due to our excess on all things BOYS, Ella and I have recently started reading Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. This book is quite a bit over her head (probably middle school level reading), but is still a great a story. We started at just two pages each time and have worked up to a full chapter at each sitting. And of course, she LOVES that the main character is named after her =)
  • Any other ideas?
    • Audio books from the library are a great start. (I love the celebrity renditions of Dr. Seuss tales). Be creative with when kids listen- in the car, playing in their room, when they are starting to drop a nap but can’t quite read, when playing legos, during a meal, etc. 
    • A book that will convince you of the benefits of reading aloud to kids is The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. (some of the studies cited in this book are amazing!)
    • A book that will remind you how stories feed your children’s souls, Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt. (both of these books have excellent recommended reading lists as well, which is helpful as you get started.) 
(All this read aloud talk reminds me of my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Black, who read to us each day. I distinctly remember reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry- both some of my favorites to this day!)

Are you convinced yet? I’ll move on.

3. I just started reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. The book itself has given me a lot to ponder (and assured me that the “Resistance”, as Pressfield calls it, that seems to grow as I get closer to finishing my manuscript, is normal. Phew.) It also got me thinking about creativity, and how kids love to be creative. Somewhere along the line, we start to feel like creativity is a side thing, a hobby that will linger and dwindle as we get older and move on to real life. But what if we saw creativity as something to cherish, to cultivate, to prize? We all want our kids to be problem solvers, and I think that the best problem solvers are resourceful, analytical, and creative. 

Ella’s art on the fridge
This whole thing has me laughing because Ella, the three-year-old, has a new form of creativity that she calls her “projects”. This involves taping things to paper. She is so proud of these creations and the fact that her daddy said she is a little artist. Lately we’ve been out of crayons because Ella had created a ‘project’ with the entire bin, so I bought some new ones. Day 1- she had taped them all again. As she came to show me her creation, I fought off irritation. 

“What do you think?” she asked.

I sighed, a loud and answering sigh.

“Well, the word ‘waste’ comes to mind,” commented Drew. 

And I kicked myself a little, because why are some expressions of creativity  better than others? Why is drawing a perfect rendition of your family OK but drawing an abstract swirl of colors just…alright? She is creating as she knows how, as she sees fit, as she experiments with putting things together. That’s OK. And it’s good. And my support is important, not just for her to feel loved but for her to feel like creativity can take all forms. That’s kind of the point, right?
Project with Rocks by Ella

So I support. 

And plan to hide the next box of crayons. 

4. Some day I’d like to have a cooking show called Cooking (for the Rest of Us). I think that there’s a lot of things, like baking bread and pies and various other homemade lovelies, that aren’t that difficult but ARE extremely intimidating. Enter Cooking (for the rest of us). This show is where you watch someone cook in a real kitchen, without all the ingredients prepped in little glass jars, and without the pretense. There would be no use of words like ‘proofing’ and ‘glazing’ and ‘scoring’ and all those other words that don’t help at all. And there would be NO fool-proof, no-fail recipes. Cause let’s face it, sometimes recipes just don’t work, right? But there would be things like ‘how to salvage a burnt lasagna’ and ‘what to do with bread dough that didn’t rise’ and ‘the secrets to decent homemade cookies’. Uber practical, people. Some day.

First attempt at homemade apple pie- prettier than it tasted, but still fun!

(This random trail of thoughts was prompted by my adventures in pie baking, when I suddenly realized, “This isn’t that hard!” For some reason, making homemade pies seemed like a ‘super mom’ kind of thing. Guess what? It’s not. If I can do it, you can probably do it faster and with much greater attention to detail. Trust me.)

5. Would someone please inform my baby that she is still my baby? Sheesh. Look at this girl. We pulled out the desks this week and then set up a little desk for her (can you see it? A little yellow chair and a stool in front of it for a table.) She was quite insulted that we would try to put her in a ‘baby’ desk.   

This one works just fine, thank you.- Tessa, 20 months

In other news, I found this lovely article and felt such an “Amen” rise up out of me. In it, Lisa Jo Baker writes,

“But I find I fit into this woman’s skin better than I did a year ago; so much better than a decade ago. I am becoming the surest version of myself. I feel it in my heart. Sometimes I feel it in my tired feet too. But those simply tell me I’ve been busy. Busy with children and their wrangling and wrestling and carrying and tending and it is a soulful kind of busy.”- 

Oh, yes indeed.  

Have you been watching The Bible on the History channel? I haven’t watched it, but the buzz around it has been interesting to me- as was this article called Top 7 Most Surprising Moments of the Bible series so far. 

And then there’s this- After Steubenville: 25 Things our sons need to know about manhood. It hurts a little but it is worth the read. It’s hard to know what to say about that whole situation, but I think Ann Voskamp pretty much gets to the point. 

Well, I do believe that is all for this Friday. Lent is half way over and we are just a week out from Good Friday. Have you been to a fish fry yet??? We are trying to get it in. Our neighborhood has some killer fish frys, thank you very much.

Hope your weekend finds you resting, laughing, loving, and longing for good things. 

Catch ya next week. 

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