Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Mole had been working very hard all the morning,
spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters...
till he had dust in this throat and eyes..and an aching back and weary arms.
Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him.

It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down is brush on the floor,
said 'Bother!' and 'O blow!' and also 'Hang spring-cleaning!'
and bolted out of the house..

'This is fine!' he said to himself...
The sunshine struck hot on his fur, soft breezes caressed his heated brow,
and after the peace of the underground home he had lived in so long
the carol of happy birds fell on his dulled hearing almost like a shout.

Jumping off all his four legs at once,
in the joy of living and the delight of spring without its cleaning,
he went on his way across the meadow till he reached the hedge on the further side.

It all seemed too good to be true.
Hither and thither through the meadows he rambled busily,
along the hedgerows, across the copses, finding everywhere birds building,
flowers budding, leaves thrusting -
everything happy, and progressive, and occupied.

He thought his happiness was complete when, as he wandered aimlessly along,
suddenly he stood by the edge of a full-fed river.
All was a-shake and a-shiver - glints and gleams and sparkles,
rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble.

The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated.
By the side of the river he trotted; and tired at last,
he sat on the bank, while the river chattered on.

A grave round face...attracted his notice. It was the Water Rat! '
Would you like to come over?' asked the Rat presently.

The Rat...helped Mole safely ashore, and swung out the luncheon basket. The Mole begged as a favour to be allowed to unpack it all by himself; and the Rat was very pleased to indulge him, and to sprawl at full length on the grass and rest, while his excited friend shook out the table-cloth and spread it, took out all the mysterious packets one by one and arranged their contents in due order, still gasping, 'O my! O my!' at each fresh revelation.

When all was ready, the Rat said, 'Now, pitch in, old fellow!'
and the Mole was indeed very glad to obey...

Rat...sat on the river bank in the sun, and made up a song about [the ducks]...

All along the backwater,
Through the rushes tall,
Ducks are a-dabbling,
Up tails all!

Ducks' tails, drakes' tails,
Yellow feet a-quiver
Yellow bills all out of sight
Busy in the river!

This day was only the first of many similar ones for the Mole,
each of them longer and fuller of interest as the ripening summer moved onward.

All quotes taken from The Wind In The Willows.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I thought I would make a list of ways 2-3 year olds can genuinely help around the house. I'll probably forget someday what my little ones could do at what ages, so this will be fun to look back on. Some of the jobs might need parental involvement and some of them might lean more towards age 3 since that's where my son is leaning. They might not all make the house neater, cleaner or more efficient, but they are good ways to start getting little ones involved.

  • Putting shoes where they belong after taking them off
  • Putting toys away
  • Putting books on shelves
  • Blowing out candles
  • Watering plants (in the yard)
  • Pairing up socks
  • Carrying *small* piles of folded clothes to appropriate rooms
  • Rinsing dishes (at least not the sharp/breakable ones)
  • Sorting clean silverware back into the drawer
  • Unloading the washing machine
  • Emptying, cleaning and refilling the fridge
  • Washing windows
  • Vacuuming (depending on your vacuum cleaner)
  • Taking his/her plate and other light dishes to the counter after meals
  • Stirring any baking ingredients
  • Rolling and cutting biscuits, cookies, etc...
  • Wiping up spills
  • Putting trash in the trash can
  • Pushing furniture around for sweeping/mopping
  • Dusting
  • Putting mom-designated items into the shopping cart
  • Setting the table (sorta)
  • Planting seeds
  • Bringing groceries in and taking them out of bags

Don't misunderstand. My little 2-3/4 year old does not always WANT to do these things. Sometimes it takes coaxing and other times it is done with pleasure. Either way, it is important for them to learn that things don't just magically get done by themselves. We work together to keep our house functioning smoothly.

What other ways can little ones help?

Friday, March 19, 2010

It's hard to believe Little Miss Mei Li is really 9 months old already.

* She loves being chased and tickled.
* She hates having her diaper changed (because she wants to crawl away and get chased and tickled)
* She loves the plants in the living room.
* She hates it when her brother gets in her space or makes her feel unstable.
* She is 22 pounds.
* She loves broccoli and most of her vegetables.
* She's not overly excited about many fruits.
* She desperately wants free reign to explore the great outdoors.
* She loves taking a bath and has discovered the joys of splashing.
* She's into shoes - for their flavor, not their fashion (notice her smudged nose).

* She's recently gotten a kick out of letting go and standing alone, and she is ever so close to taking some steps.
* She has gone from being a wonderful sleeper to waking up twice a night demanding to be fed (we're working on that one).
* She's waving, shrieking, belly laughing, but not trying to talk yet.
* She loves her daddy and tries all means of grunting and straining to get picked up by him.
* She's a speed crawler and likes to chase down the broom (or the dirt being swept by the broom).
* She's been wearing 9-mo clothing for a couple of months already.
* She has gray eyes with brown in the center and they don't appear to be changing anymore.
* She is a fairly contented little girl, but gives me moments of wondering how strong-willed she might end up being.

We sure love this little girl.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Passover is a couple weeks away and it is time to get planning. My husband and I decided a to make this observance a yearly tradition for our family, but we keep it very simple.

Why? A couple of years ago, Zhong Sheng preached a sermon about the feasts/festivals that God commanded the Israelites to observe in the Old Testament. If I remember correctly there were seven of them.... none of which we celebrate as Christians today. Obviously, with the death and resurrection of Christ, we live before the throne of grace, and we aren't required to come to him with ritual sacrifices anymore. However, a large purpose for having these festivals is as a remembrance of what God has done for us. Actually, when Jews celebrate the Passover, it is more than just remembering what took place for their forebears... they believe that they are joining in with the Jews of old, of all generations, to celebrate God's redemption. I think this is such a beautiful way to view how personal God's work of salvation is across the span of time.

How? The first time we celebrated Passover, we fasted from anything containing yeast or a rising ingredient for the week before. Then we had a meal of lamb, vegetables and unleavened bread. My husband read some blessings over the food that are very likely to be the type of blessings Jesus would have said at the Passover with his disciples and we ended the meal with him washing our feet. It was simple and meaningful. If you go on the internet, you will find a plethora of additional foods, activities, prayers and traditions that have been added on to the original Passover requirements. Our tradition is still developing, so I don't know what all we will do this year, but I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I've been going through a tough time lately involving a screaming baby at night and a screaming, constipated toddler during the day (not ALL night or ALL day, but enough to be wearisome). My spring cleaning goals are a bit out the window now as other things take precedent, and that's ok. We'll do what we can, when we can. Meanwhile this post I read on a friend's blog was some encouragement I needed to hear last night. She titled it "Prescription for Contentment" and gave some interesting background, but I'm going to cut to the chase:

*Never allow yourself to complain about anything – not even the weather

*Never picture yourself in any other circumstances or someplace else

*Never compare your lot with another’s

*Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise

*Never dwell on tomorrow –remember that [tomorrow] is God’s, not ours

Boy, do I do all of those things. I would love to have this posted in every room of my house as a constant reminder to me. Oh, to dwell on all that God has given me and not on the things that I think I lack.

Quote taken from “Calm My Anxious Heart” by Linda Dillow

Photo Credit

Sunday, March 7, 2010

This next week will hopefully be a low-key cleaning week for me, so it is time to hit the 5-a-Day fruit and vegetable challenge. Here's my menu plan for the week.

Monday -
B - Banana Bread, grapes (1)
L - Sandwiches, carrot sticks (1)
Snack - Apple (1)
S - Roasted Cauliflower Barley Risotto with Buttered Peas (2-3)
Tuesday -
B - Toast with honey/jam, fruit (1)
L - Sandwiches, cucumber sticks (1)
Snack - Apple or Mango (1)
Wednesday -
B - Toast with honey/jam, fruit (1)
L - Sandwiches, cucumber/carrot sticks (1)
Snack - Apple or other fruit (1)
S - Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff with Steamed Broccoli (1)
Thursday -
B - Toast with honey/jam, fruit (1)
L - Left-overs (1-3)
Snack - Apple or other Fruit (1)
S - Baked Fish, Buttered Rice and Carrot/Parsnip Casserole (1-2)
Friday -
B - Toast with honey/jam, fruit (1)
L - Sandwiches, ants on a log (celery, peanut butter and raisins) (1-2)
Snack - Apple or other Fruit (1)
S - Eating out with friends at Pound Night (0-1)
Dessert - Fruit (1)
Saturday -
B - Cereal with dried fruit, fresh fruit (2)
L - Sandwiches, cucumber/carrot sticks (1)
Snack - Apple or other fruit (1)
S - Vegetable Noodle Stir-fry (1-2)
"Dessert" - Fruit and yogurt smoothies (1-2)
Sunday -
B - Toast with Nutella/jam, eggs, fruit (1)
L - Left-overs (1-3)
Snack - Apple or other fruit (1)
S - Crustless Spinach Quiche with Homemade Bread (1)

I'm actually not very impressed with this menu. It reflects a fairly typical week for us except that I generally serve fruit to my children for snack, but don't partake myself. We are quite boring with breakfast and often don't include fruit. Hmm... This might be a good exercise after all to show me some downfalls in our nutrition. For anyone reading this... I could use some help with ideas on how to incorporate more vegetables in our lunches. Carrot/cucumber sticks get boring. We often have sliced pickles on our sandwiches, but that's it. I suppose salads would be the easy answer. I like eating salads; I'm just terrible at making them and keeping them around.