Sunday, May 13, 2012

One Thousand Gifts

Figuring Life Out - One Thousand Gifts from Jacob Forrest on Vimeo.
One Thousand Gifts
A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

Come join the community taking the dare to LIVE FULLY

Photos, Text, Voice, Author:
Music: "No More Tears"
Production, Edits:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Homeschooling" our Toddlers

What it has meant to homeschool Evie as a toddler
It's meant about the same as homeschooling any other age. It means that we had goals for our little one. That we considered who she was at this age and chose resources and activities that we hoped would delight and challenge her. It has meant intentionally incorporating her into life and planting seeds of Newlife. 

Considering this "homeschooling" works for the personalities of our family. I struggle with schedules and order, which actually leaves me craving more structure in my days. Then there are Kai and Evie who thrive on interaction and love activities and LOTS of reading time. Setting "school" times and being intentional honors their needs and gives me the freedom to accomplish other things without missing being present with them during the day-something that it is surprisingly easy to do. 

Goals for little ones
  • Continuing and building on this goal from infancy that our children would learn to trust us to meet their needs and in doing so would begin to trust their true Provider. Psalm 22:9-10 says "Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God." 
  • That our children would come to see themselves as "individuals under authority" as Dr. Tedd Tripp puts it in Shepherding a Child's Heart. And ultimately that they would embrace that authority as a source of good and protection.
  • We want our littlest one to begin to see herself as a treasured part of our family and to develop a sense of having responsibilities towards and being able to give to others.
  • For our toddlers to love reading and to develop a taste for good books and imagination. 
Activities and Resources

Reading times-
Other than on demand on the kitchen floor? It comes as no surprise that littlest ones thrive on repetition, but I never would have believed the extant of this until I saw how they could laugh out loud at the same book on its 27'th read-today. As I saw how much they gained from repeated reads, we moved to a week long schedule for books. Same books every day. I can't handle any more than that, but I'm sure they'd do well with even longer. Repetition gives them a chance to understand a story's narrative, identify with characters and even memorize the words. For littlest ones exploding in language and making sense of the world, this is so good. So, we read our book(s) of the week and one that Evie's chosen for that day cuddled on the couch. Now that we've built up a good collection of books, I mostly choose from them, but have recently been checking books from our book list out from the library. While she's loved books from the beginning, just in the last few months, maybe from 14 months on, she's really interacting with books, acting them out, pointing to pictures, and trying to repeat words we read.

     Resources for Reading with a One-year old-
  • Lots and Lots of books to read to them with engaging pictures, repeated phrases and situations to create anticipation and aspects that encourage them to participate such as animal noises or movements. None of this means the books should be ones that only a one-year old could enjoy. I love the books we read to Evie. While we've been building our little one library, the library, thrift stores, and book fairs have been my friend. At our local Goodwill I always find at least one GREAT book for kids and it typically costs between $.30-$2.00.  
  • Lots and lots of sturdy board books that their baby hands can easily manipulate without too easily destroying. We have a shelf of board books down low that even a baby could have complete access to, books in their rooms for room time, books in the car. They can eventually destroy even the board books that we are dragging around so much but it is much less likely, and when they do it will have been a book we got our money's worth out of. 
Songs and Rhymes-

     Resources for song and rhymes with a one-year old-

These are invaluable for building an arsenal of distractions for long wait times in the grocery store, doctor's office, or car.

Activity with Mom Time-
  • Slow and Steady Get Me Ready. This has got to be one of our most used resources. It's described as a complete preschool from birth through age four. The subjects covered are varied: art, often a fine or gross motor skill, body parts, rooms of her house, family members, colors, ect. 
  • Another great resource for games, rhymes, and outdoor play is Unplugged Play. It is chock full of inspiration: Idea lists for car games, toys and supplies that will enhance play for kids at each stage of development, birthday party tips and games. Love it. 
Boat loads of outside time-

Doing chores with Mommy-
I have to psych myself up for this one and choose chores and times that aren't rushed. They love doing dishes, weeding and folding laundry together.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Preschool Book List for Home Nurtured Hearts

:-) I'm a little excited about today's landmark. A couple years ago we adopted another family's book list and used it as a jumping board to building our own. The books came from other great resources like Honey for a Child's Heart, Educating the Wholehearted Child, and Sonlight and Veritas curriculumI found each book, mostly at the library, and kept the best ones as well as adding our own family favorites. And today I looked over my last book in the preschool section. I can heartily recommend each and now our family's preschoolers will always have a rich garden of books as they grow into readers.

So, here it is. The Parris Family Preschool Reading List

Monday, February 27, 2012

True help in sickness

Three adults and three kids down in our little family with pneumonia, a sinus infection and whatever virus started it all. And Kai is so confused because I keep thinking we're getting better and tell him that we'll be starting fresh on some or another day and then down goes the roller coaster.

It shocks me every time how emotional being sick is. It's 10 days without sleep, the reminder that someday we could be REALLY sick, money being spent and money not being earned, and the tension between kids who really need and adults who are empty.

How to rejoice here? Let me count the ways.
#45 Ginger ale. I heart Canada Dry
#46 Comfort food delivered with comforting smiles
#47 Soup. This Filipino soup will be on my sick day menu now
#48 That renewed passion for normal healthy day things like cleaning, homeschooling, and walking the dog
#49 A friend bringing groceries
#50 Being checked in on. I need to remember to check in with those who've been sick. How comforting it is and how lonely sickness can be
#51 Remembering what a gift it is to be able to go to the doctor, have needed medicine and treatments for my children 
#52 A pediatrician with a mom's heart
#53 The opportunity to daily remind my children and have it mean something to them. One day there will be no more sickness
#45-#53 of how he tends my weak heart

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

Testimony has been been my watchword this Advent. What am I bearing witness to for myself, our children, and those around us as we prepare to celebrate Christmas? The image of light in darkness is what stays for me. This is what I long for our Christmas preparations and celebrations to testify to. There is much darkness and rather than remain insulated from it, Light became flesh and made His dwelling among us. Much of this vision for longing for what has been promised and tasted was fed by a sermon my pastor gave a few years ago. It's a must listen for me each advent. 

Another focus of our season is the joy and surprise of God stepping into human history to fulfill his long promised rescue. 

A few ways we're living those truths this year-Lots of candles, advent readings in front of the fireplace, Christmas tree lights lit at night. For my kids, candles mean something special is happening. It gives them a sense of Holiness. Another tradition was keenly felt as being given by the Lord. Kai got our mail one day, found the Compassion catalog and decided he wanted a pig so we chose to share with him a little of the darkness of joblessness and poverty and suggested a way for him to be light in that place would be to raise money to buy a pig by doing chores for friends and family. We had a slow start this year, not in small part because we were all sick the month before Christmas. None the less this was hands down the best gift that Kai received for Christmas-Knowing that he had authority to go into dark places in the name of Jesus and spend himself to bring light. 

In the service of leading our children in the nature of the Father to bring joy and perhaps delighted surprise-we began what they call now-Ding Dong Ditch. This isn't the Ding Dong Ditch you may know from childhood. Nope, this was a mad dash to daddy's office before he left for home, a cryptic message with driving directions taped to his steering wheel to meet mommy for a surprise date and peeling away before he could catch us to screams of "Go, Go, Go! Mommy!" 

We used Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree Advent Family Devotional to walk from creation on through the Gospels seeing Christmas unfolding in the lives the kids know from the Old Testament. It comes with beautiful illustrations for each day that we printed out and pasted onto black felt for ornaments. It's free here. Really Ann's blog gives me such high expectations for the Christmas it's possible to give our children and ourselves, marked by peace and Jesus rooted traditions. 

Most everything we did this year was from ideas and resources stored up from last year. That was one of my decisions about Christmas and holidays in general-rather than trying to research and make plans on the spot, we'd live out of what has already been provided. Much that we tried this year were flops(the kids rejecting acting out parts of the nativity, my Christmas morning breakfast) or shaky (Both kids chanting "chocolate, chocolate!" when family was joining us for our Advent Devotion time) due to the their ages BUT it's Christmas night and I'm so glad for what we received this Advent and with so little angst. Peace be with you tonight, Gena
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