Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Joyful

Here we are at the end of the third Sunday in Advent, properly known as Gaudete Sunday. I discovered this fact from reading Sybil MacBeth’s Advent series of blogs, which I highly recommend. I will be buying her new Advent book to give me some ideas and inspiration for next year. “Gaudete” means “rejoice” and it’s the imperative form; we are commanded to rejoice!

Our Church family had lots of reasons to rejoice this morning, with a load of baptisms and renewals of baptismal promises, a huge answer to prayer witnessed in the recovery of a young person from a serious illness, plus two 90th birthdays and a brand-new 4-day-old baby joining us :)

I was also reflecting, as I cut and curled ribbon this evening, on the joy of giving. I ponder every Advent on what I want to teach my children in this season. Not just that they learn the Christmas story (by the way my Bluebird is LOVING working through Alice Buckley’s fabulous retellings of the core of the Nativity – God to the Rescue! It’s not too late to download the pages, colour in the characters and tell the stories together) but that the heart attitude they see in me and the actions they watch me take are ones I would be happy for them to emulate. One thing I want them to learn is to give joyfully.

An elderly person asked the other day if my children had written their lists to Santa. I looked a bit blank. I’m sure they will reach that stage at some point, but actually the only lists they have asked for help to write are the lists of people they want to make presents and cards for. This year, Snow White and I began crafting in October half term. She has made sets of fridge magnets from stamped, painted and varnished air-drying clay, and I have helped her package them up in matchboxes made with Christmas scrapbook paper.

gift in matchbox

 

She has invested a lot of time in these gifts and put a lot of thought into them too. Bluebird will be giving bookmarks, decorated with one of his drawings. They are both excited to give their presents to teachers, helpers, family and to many people who contribute to their happy little lives (such as “The Library Van Man”!). Although they would (naturally) answer “getting presents!” as the most exciting thing about Christmas, I do think they also take joy in giving.

Each year I also want to select the most meaningful, special and “magical” elements of the season for our family to participate in. I don’t want Advent to be swamped by manic shopping, grumpy tidying, obsessive baking, over-coached performances or too many occasions that require best behaviour. I want to tread a careful path through the tangle of my own unrealistic expectations and the claims of others on our time, and come out the other side still rejoicing that my God came to Earth as a baby in Bethlehem. Read Desertmum Lucy’s thoughts on the balancing act here.

So far several things listed on the calendar have been prevented by poor planning, illness or circumstances beyond my control. I’m trying to choose to see this as a blessed opportunity to prune and simplify my crazy, rather than a frustration. I would only have cried through the whole of Snow White’s school nativity anyway. I can trot out the Advent activity for our Mums’ group next year. The cakes I bought for a cancelled party will do for a different party. And I’m sure the gingerbread men for the pre-school bazaar tomorrow are just fine without icing or decorations!

This morning our church will be holding their usual Remembrance Sunday service. It’s a tricky one for me because it’s not an occasion where I’m comfortable to have the children in church – it doesn’t seem fair on them or on the elderly members of the congregation. So J has gone as our representative and we have stayed home. We decided to hold our own service.

Snow White and Bluebird got the congregation ready in their bedroom:

alternative church

And I whipped together a few resources. The children were the worship band (Bluebird now wishes to be addressed as ‘Dave’) and they opened with two familiar songs (via Youtube): Bigger Than Big and I Will Lift Up The Name Of The Lord.

The Meerkat family led prayers for the world, our town and our family (they all spoke with appropriate accents):

meerkat family

I was going to be the vicar, but after my drumming in the worship songs we realised I must actually be our curate. Anyway, I was up next. I read the congregation a story from one of our Alfie books. It’s called The lost Sheep. Alfie and Grandma meet a sheep who has got out of her field. They try to help her but she runs away because she doesn’t know them.

I then read John 10:1-5 from Snow White’s Good News Bible, about how God’s people recognise the voice of their shepherd Jesus. We talked about how we can get to know Jesus really well so we recognise his voice. Koala remembered that we could read our Bibles, Dog recommended praying to Jesus to ask to be his friends and I reminded us how we have the Holy Spirit inside us and can tune in to him.

We finished with a song the children didn’t know, The Lord’s My Shepherd (new version), but they were happy to play air guitar and dance along. Snow White does enjoy traditional style hymns/songs where there are parts for different voices.

The congregation were invited to stay on at the end of the service and share bananas and milk (which they are now consuming) and Veggie Tales “Dave and the Giant Pickle” is showing because Snow White remembered it contains sheep!

Two and a half weeks ago the postman brought me a brown paper package (not tied up with string). I opened it, wondering what I had forgotten buying, and found my bloggy friend’s new ‘baby’ – in fact it was twins!

2014-10-08 13.01.32

 

I then remembered pre-ordering Alice Buckley‘s book (plus one as a present because I was very confident this book would be share-worthy!) The wait was over and here it was!

I have been a Bad Blogger, not posting for months and months, so I shouldn’t think anyone remembers what children I have or how old they are. My big girl, Snow White, is almost 6 now. She began Big Girl Bible Notes called XTB over the summer, which funnily enough I ordered at the same time as pre-ordering Play Through The Bible. She love, love, LOVES them, but it leaves Bluebird (just turned 3) far behind. I was excited to tell him that this new book was Just For Him and would involve Bible stories and lots of play :)

Alice’s book is beautifully laid out and presented. It’s quick for a parent to navigate and attractive for the child to look through. Bluebird likes to point at pictures and say “I want to play that game!” He is very proud of his Bible book and I think relishes the fact that it guarantees a bit of quality Mummy time! I love it just as much as I knew I would. Alice has taken away my hard work by making stories accessible. She is a gifted story-teller and has a thorough understanding of what the young brain will take in and how to condense God’s messages into catchy, meaningful portions. With each week, Bluebird has been able to tell key parts of the story from memory within a few days. He likes the story to be repeated twice each night. We have enjoyed using props and acting to enrich the stories, just as Alice suggests. This week we learn how Jesus made people well. Some soft animals are the ill and hurt people and Snow White helps with bandages and spoon as we wonder how Jesus would heal them. Bluebird loves the miraculous “right away” healing that happens when Jesus touches them.

The take-home messages are so well-tuned to the everyday world of a young child that it’s easy to refer back to them even when you’re not in a situation where you can play specific games. The message of God’s people waiting for their King was easy to weave into waiting for Pre-school to open, or waiting at the dentist’s. Listening to Mummy and Jesus listening to his Father God were also a good link, and healing is a topic never far from an active young boy who bumps and scrapes himself on a daily basis!

When it comes to the suggested play sessions, we’ve had fun being superheroes (God to the rescue!) who rescued imaginary wolf cubs, brought some sand indoors to think about Jesus in the desert (Mummy was not very patient with this game when Snow White started eating the sand and Bluebird thought he’d copy!) and Snow White (who has read ahead) is keen to do fishing in the bath with sieves! I find our weekly timetable doesn’t always give much room to add new games in, but I’m making a real effort to do two activities specific to the story each week. As Alice says in this video, there are way more ideas than you could use in one week, but there will be at least one suggestion that’s a perfect fit for your child and your resources.

I was quite right to order a spare copy, and will give it to my sister-in-law for Christmas to use with my nephew who will be 2 in January. I also took my copy along to my Mums-of-Small-Children Bible study group and everybody was very impressed and took down the details. If you are a mother who wants to inject some fun, consistency and relaxation into Bible time for your small children then BUY THIS BOOK!

If you want to know more about the author, then there’s plenty on Alice’s blog, and you can also read this interview about the process of writing the book.


 

4th November: A quick note to add to this review – if you hop over to the blog Desertmum you can read her review and comment to be in with a chance of winning your own copy!

Sunny day shorts

I just made the latest Oliver + S free pattern – a pair of shorts for Bluebird. Appropriately named “Sunny Day Shorts”, as the making was in reaction to the weather which has been beautiful today :)

sunny day shorts

I usually sew at the weekend or in the evening, but I was so determined to get on with these that I managed to do it while the children were playing around me. The standard of the pattern and instructions is everything you would expect from Oliver + S, easy to follow with meticulous attention to detail. Bluebird was pleased with them, and even helped me choose the fabric in the morning (it’s a linen-look heavy cotton). They are probably not the most flattering cut for Bluebird, them being on the “skinny” side and him not, but never mind. I am creating a stock of easy pull on trousers and shorts for this summer as potty training is on the horizon ;)

In other news, the lilac is in bloom. For 50 weeks of the year a lilac is mainly a nuisance, at least in my book, but for 2 weeks you can see why people plant them…

lilac

It has been a lovely two-and-a-bit week Easter holidays in our house. February half term holidays were a week of misery, so it was extra appreciated to have the family together, in good health, with lots of sunshine and warm weather! We had so many things on our To Do list, and I think we’ve accomplished most of them.

I decided I wanted to learn more about icing biscuits the professional way, with royal icing and piping and stuff. I have plenty more to learn, but this was at least a tasty first trial of techniques :)

iced biscuits

I mostly researched how to do this by phoning my sister, but if you should want to know EVERYTHING about this fun hobby, try the Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle website.

Now, how to remember that tomorrow is both a get-up-for-school day and it’s Tuesday?!

Ladybirds

I wandered around the garden last week, peeping to see how the buds were coming along on my fan trained fruit trees. I met two ladybird buddies on the pear tree:

ladybird buddies

 

Our en-suite bathroom is infested with ladybirds. I thought perhaps this was a rare and strange occurrence, but letters published in the March BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine prove the contrary. I do like ladybirds, and I wouldn’t mind them hibernating indoors. It’s just that they spend very little time sleeping and a lot of time creeping, crawling and flying, getting into places where ladybirds Should Not Be.

<whispers> and if you hoover them up they release a horrible smell that makes you feel guilty every subsequent time you hoover. Just saying.

Count to 100

For a really high percentage of the time our two children get on together superbly. They truly are best friends as well as brother and sister. 

However, on the days when they annoy each other it can be hard work to referee. There have been a lot of unhappy moments today. Angry words, fierce faces, unkind hands or feet. Sometimes it was the children.

I want to focus on the good though. Today there were lots of chances to say sorry to each other. To have making-up cuddles and to talk about how we ALL do the wrong thing even when we KNOW it’s wrong, and to remember that making mistakes is okay.

From the glass-half-full perspective, I am glad that I didn’t have to clean and polish Snow White’s school shoes this weekend, as they wore right through the toe. Also, she turned out to have grown half a size, so I didn’t feel irked at having to replace them.

Snow White’s “hundredth day of school” apparently comes round next Thursday. I never knew this was a “thing” until I saw stuff about it on Pinterest lately. She was extremely excited to do her homework of finding 100 of something small to take to school. So far we have sunflower seeds and buttons :)

feb 8th

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 40 other followers