Thursday, June 18

Nine!

There are certain birthdays, that while special for the wee one, come and go with a glow of gratitude on my part.  This is not one of them.  Nine feels big.  I find it hard to believe that I've been a parent for nine years.  But more than that, it is half way to eighteen.  I don't believe or hope that Jonah will be 'on his own' at eighteen, but I do know that we are probably half way to him spreading his wings and flying off, at least part of the time.  

Parenting Jonah continues to challenge me and shape me in so many ways.  Love, gratitude, patience, perseverance, intellectual challenge, and laughter are all products of the discipline of parenting this guy.  He continues to amaze us with his quick mind and sweet spirit.  There isn't much to say other than I'm incredibly grateful to be sharing this journey with him.

I've become very careful in this space to not share too much of my boys' stories.  Their journeys are entwined with mine, but on some level they are also their own and I want to honor that.  But, here is a quick glimpse of this guy that I'm happy to share.
Older Brother

Delightful!
Gentleman
Explorer

Wednesday, June 3

Creating a Space for Godly Play

When we decided to begin Godly Play at St. Matthews this spring, one of the first hurdles was finding a space. Our church has a wonderful education wing, but as it is used by preschool classes during the week, the large classrooms are full, fun, quite busy and not conducive to godly play.  So we were given a little room upstairs that is unused.  It fits a storyteller, door person and up to eight preschoolers really well.  With any more it is pretty cramped when we spread out at work time, but for now it is working and very cozy.  

Godly Play is exceptional because everything that happens in Godly Play is intentionaly creates space for right-relationship with God, Others, Self, and Creation.  There is space for the children to learn about and talk to God.  There is space for them to think on their own and to create their own response to God's story and work.  There is space to wonder and feast with others.  And, there is space to care for the physical space that they have been given. (I particularly love that learning to be stewards of the place  is an integral part of Godly Play, perhaps because this is absent in most other approaches to christian education.)  

Creating a beautiful, simple, and intentional physical place is a crucial step to creating a hospitable space where relationships with God, others, self and creation can flourish.  I am very grateful for our little room and am excited to see it grow and develop.  We are committed to keeping it calm (not lots hanging on walls or competing for the children's attention), natural (as they are working on stewarding this space it it also important that we are being gentle with the whole of creation with the materials, supplies and decorations we choose) and comfortable (Montessori had such a lovely vision for keeping furniture child sized and materials accessible so the students are free and independent in the space.)
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Here we are moving our few things into the room in Januray.  I love the windows and the wall color. 
A family donated an children's table and chairs and we found a small table in storage at the church that works as a kneeling table. 

There were small shelves in the room that we are using for art supplies.   We attempted to buy quality supplies and keep them as natural as possible.  Prisma Colored Pencils and Watercolor Pencils, Pens, Stockmar Beeswax Stick Crayons, homemade playdough, scissors, Ticonderoga #2 pencils, prang watercolors, clipboards, watercolor paper, white cardstock, and sleeved smocks all made the cut this first round.  On top of the shelves are the children's folders if they want to leave their work to complete another Sunday.

Our first material purchases were the circle of the church year and the core parables.  The nativity set beside these shelves was found at church, I'm happy it has found a home and is being used.

We also bought the Haba Middle Eastern blocks; they have been a very popular choice for work each week.  The boys often make Jerusalem and tell fantastic stories!


We still haven't found what we want for the good shepherd, but we did buy this nativity (our parables are from Finland as well).  It took a very long time to get the supplies from Finland, but the workmanship is beautiful and I think having lovely materials goes a long way in saying that what we are doing in this space is important, and they are a constant reminder that we have been given a marvelous world to steward and that the physical stuff of this world is god-given and often precious.

We had cupcakes and red banners up for Pentecost.  It was quite the celebration and our last session before fall.  We have so much we want to do in the room and are hoping to take the summer to get things ready to offer Godly Play every week in the fall (Godly Play has been two Sundays a month this spring).


Looking at these photos reminds me of a myriad of projects we want to complete.  We need to find more shelves, we want to cover the cork board with a solid color (white?), there are more banners to be made, more materials to be purchased and created, a desert box that will need a home come fall, as well as, dreams of practical life shelves and a nature table.   I am so very grateful for a minister and a team of energetic volunteers who are willing to learn about Godly Play, how to lead it and to help to create this space where relationships can flourish!

Monday, May 25

Pentecost


A friend asked if we had plans for Pentecost last week.  We didn't, so plans ensued.  
Last summer when visiting my parents I went through my Mom's stash of red fabric and cut banner pieces for Pentecost.  Piecing it together was a fun project in spare moments this week, often with Mr. five in charge of the sewing machine peddle and Mr. 3 on my lap managing the backstitch.  We also made a banner by painting with orange and yellow on red card-stock and stitching the pieces to ribbon.  I used the banners in the godly play room this morning (pictures to come) and had fun hanging them in the tree by the tables tonight.  Rowan was delighted with our 'Pentecost Fort' and sat down to write out the lyrics to a song they sang at school this week while I set the tables.

"Tongues of Fire - Tongues of Fire
Rushing Wind - Rushing Wind
The Holy Spirit - The Holy Spirit"


 The menu was fairly simple and I wasn't responsible for most of it.  We had 'red' chicken bbq sandwiches.  I made bread in honor of the Jewish festival of Pentecost, which is a grain harvest.  I shaped a large loaf like a sheaf of wheat and for the children's table made birds with a dusting of icing sugar to make them look like doves.  We had a green salad from the garden with radishes and beets for the red color.  Fruit represented the fruits of the spirit and red velvet cake balls finished out the night.




At the end of the evening we took out the six left over sparklers from last forth of July and some glow bracelets and read the first verses of Acts 2 before lighting them.


I do believe a Pentecost party has been declared a new tradition.  It was fun, fairly simple, and meaningful; all the pieces of a good celebration!

Sunday, May 24

Godly Play Banners


 I just finished the Easter banner for our godly play room at church. Technically it was finished in Eastertide, though it won't get hung this year. The good news is I finished the Pentecost banner too.   So we have the correct banner for a week.   

I worked with a friend on these and we were going for simple. The Easter banner was done by freezer paper painting with gold fabric paint on cotton (the only white I had on hand). The Pentecost banner is just paintbrush streets of paint on red fabric (sateen I think, someone gave me a big piece of it at some point). 

Wednesday, May 20

Easter Books: Sacred

Eastertide :: 45/50

I have tried the past couple years to get the Easter books out on or just before Easter and leave them in 'circulation' through all fifty days of Easter.  I thought I would share a few here.  I've been trying to build our collection, we have a small stack of Easter books.  There isn't nearly the selection of Easter books as there are Christmas books, so I'd love any suggestions of favorites you might share! 

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned these before in this space so I won't go on, but they are the two sacred books that we read the most.  I started reading these to the boys just before Holy Week to prepare them to journey though the week.   Peter's First Easter follows Peter through the events of Holy Week and Easter. It is divided into chapters and would be great to read through Holy Week or throughout Lent.  The Easter Story is told from the donkey's perspective.  I always love the details in Brian Wildsmith's illustrations.  Both of these books invite a child to enter a full and difficult story, but they do it in a way that is imaginative and grace filled, allowing the child to enter however far they are ready, but not forcing them into the darkness.

Tuesday, May 19

Easter Books: Eggs!

Eastertide :: 44/50

I have tried the past couple years to get the Easter books out on or just before Easter and leave them in 'circulation' through all fifty days of Easter.  I thought I would share a few here .  I've been trying to build our collection; we have a small stack of Easter books.  There isn't nearly the selection of Easter books as there are Christmas books, so I'd love any suggestions of favorites you might share! 

These are two books that have been added to our collection over the past couple years.  I'm enjoying them both immensely.  

The Easter Egg is filled with classic Jan Brett illustrations packed with lots to see and adding so much depth to the story.  The boys adore this book and ask for it again and again.  A small bunny watches in awe as all the other bunnies decorate beautiful eggs in all sorts of ways.  He ends up taking care of a fallen robin's egg instead of finishing an egg of his own.  I'll let you guess who wins the contest.

The Egg Tree is precious and an inspiring story.  Cousins go on an egg hunt and one finds some beautiful old eggs in the attic (they weren't part of the hunt) which they hang on a tree.  This book leaves me ready to run to the craft shelves to paint some eggs to hang.  Perhaps next year...

Monday, May 18

Easter Books: Old Favorites

Eastertide :: 43/50

I have tried the past couple years to get the Easter books out on or just before Easter and leave them in 'circulation' through all fifty days of Easter.  I thought I would share a few here over the next couple days.  I've been trying to build our collection, we have a small stack of Easter books.  There isn't nearly the selection of Easter books as there are Christmas books, so I'd love any suggestions of favorites you might share! 



These were my two favorite Easter books as a child.  I read them over and over.  I have so enjoyed sharing them with my boys, who also ask to read them over and over again.  Both are sweet magical stories.

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes is the story of a mama rabbit who is chosen to be an Easter Bunny.  Her well trained children are quite able to carry on without her while she brings joy to children and one sick child in particular.   My favorite part of the story has always been when the 21 children (heavens!) are all assigned tasks - two to paint pictures, two to sing and dance, two to set the table...  The illustrations are precious and I love how the family works together to care for their home.

Grandpa Bunny is a tale of how a rabbit family paints eggs, leaves, birds and bugs, making them all very beautiful.  It is a fun and imaginative story.  When I was growing up my family called any beautiful sunset a Grandpa Bunny Bunny Sky.   The other day my middle boys were inspired to be painting bunnies themselves.  I have a pair of stained shorts to prove it (isn't tempera paint supposed to be washable?) as well as a nature table full of painted pieces from our garden.