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Friday, April 24, 2015

A Curious Perspective

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to go spend the morning helping at Woodson Kindergarten Center.  KSMQ was doing an Explore the Outdoors activity day.  I spent the first hour and half or so helping children make bird feeders with honey and birdseed.  During that time, Curious George wasn't feeling so well and needed to go home before visiting classrooms.  Not wanting the children to be disappointed, I offered to don the big furry costume and walk class to class.  If you are ever feeling short on hi 5's or hugs, put on a big furry costume and patrol the halls of a kindergarten center.

One of the classrooms I was able to visit, was my son's.  It is challenging to see through the mesh of George's mouth, but I know the smiles and hugs I got from Sam were genuine.

After school that day, I asked Sam how the day was.  "Lame.  It was all lame."

"Aw, come on Sam.  I saw you having fun and smiling.  You must have like something you did today."

"Nope.  It was all lame."

"What about George?  Did he visit your classroom? I bet that was fun."

"Nope, lame."

"Wait a second.  I happen to know for a fact that you were smiling, giving Curious George hi 5's, hugs and fist bumps."

"You don't know that, you weren't there."

"Oh, but I was.  You were just so busy being buddies with George, that you didn't notice me."

"Were not."

"Was too.  I even know where you sat for the class picture."


"Right in front of Curious George, next to his foot."

"Well, mom, I was just acting that because you should keep your enemies close.  Duh."

Friday, March 27, 2015

Why I Try To Say Yes

When kids are little, they often want to do whatever Mom does. We moms must have a real nack for making the mundane look exciting! Sometimes all that "help" can be overwhelming and it's tempting to just do things yourself. But taking a little extra time now to let little ones help can pay big dividends later because they will learn the skills and they are more likely to be willing helpers later if they have been allowed and praised for helping. That's why tonight I let my well meaning 11 year old male dinner tonight (even if it may have been faster to do it myself).  I also let my 2 and 6 year olds "clean"the floors. I will thank myself someday when dinner is on the table and my floors are clean. And even if that dream never becomes a reality, maybe a future spouse can harvest these seeds.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

It's a New Day

It amuses (and annoys) me that I have to remain my older boys daily to tackle care of personal hygiene issues while at the same time Sam seems to be a little overzealous about some aspects. He changes his underwear everytime he gets dressed,including pajamas.

"Sam, why do you need to change your underwear at night? You change them in the morning."

"It's already a new day on the otherside of the world,obviously.so I need new underwear."

Hard to debate with that kind of logic.

Multiple Times

As we were preparing to leave daycare the other day, I packed some of Sam's things together knowing he is likely to forget something. I can't count the number of times we have left shoes, boots,  blankets or other important items behind. I was a little surprised when he asked where his gloves were since that is an easily forgotten thing.

"I already put them in your backpack, Sam. "

"Why would you do that," he asked.

"Because I've met you before."

"Of course you have,we've met multiple times."

Monday, January 26, 2015

And so it Begins

Here is an actual text conversation with 10 year old Ray.

               Be there soon.  Sam is in the bathroom.
Did not need the bathroom part, or the big text.
               Be there as soon as Sam is done wiping his butt, washing his hands and ready to go.  Theo
               already went potty.  I need to go, but I will wait.
               How's that for too much info/big text? ;)
Did not need that, again.

So what is the first thing he says when we pull up?  "What took you so long?!?"  I tried to tell him. Oh, let the embarrassing of the tween begin!  I've been practicing my whole life for this ;)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Just Call Me Betty

My old oven had been working less than ideal. After a many frustrating attempts at learning how to cook with it, we caved and got a new oven on the post Thanksgiving sale. This evening we had a beef roast for dinner and it must have been a success because Sam declared it "the best pork he's ever eaten!" (Hey, I'll take what I can get where I can get it.) Ray said the gravy was so good he could all but hear angels sing when he tasted the gravy. It was decided by a 5-1 vote that I also needed to make cookies. So bake I did. Mmm, Mmm Holiday Magic in the making.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Play as Worship?

Sit down, behave.  Can't you just be quiet and listen?  You are embarrassing me.

Let's be honest.  Anyone who has taken children to worship and said things like this, or at the very least thought them.  When I leave worship, I want to feel fed for the week ahead.  Refreshed, renewed.  However, worshipping with children often drains me more.  It's hard work.  When my boys were young, I had thought it would get better as they became school age.  On some Sundays, it is better.  On other Sundays, it's more difficult.

Let's face it, worshipping with children is tough.  It's hard work.  We often wonder if it's worth the effort.  Maybe we should just stay home.  After all, we could just worship on they days that the children can conveniently be carted off to Sunday School.  The attempt to worship in the midst of a fear that your child will rip the pages in the hymnal, ask an inappropriate question too loudly, make you appear like a poor parent, drop a toy into the pew in front of you, laugh/scream/cry during a moment of silence can feel like it isn't worth the effort.

IT IS!!!

In the middle of a Holden Evening prayer service one evening, I was becoming very frustrated with my then 7 and 10 year old boys.  I could understand the 5 and almost 2 year old playing and lack of participation, but surely the two older boys were capable of more.  Yes, we were in an informal setting, yes it was a family style event, but come on boys!  Get out from under the chairs, and quite playing with the battery operated tealight candles.  My frustration and annoyance was peaking and I bent low to tell them to get off the floor and worship with us when I saw what they had been doing. They had taken the extra battery operated tea lights under the chairs and with them built an illuminated cross.  They had huge smiles of accomplishment and asked if I liked their cross.  Later, the 7 year old told me that they built a cross with candles because Jesus is light.

Years before that, one year around Easter, I was shocked when I walked into the playroom to find my then 3 year old pushing over my then 6 month old from a sitting position to the floor.  The baby, popped back up, the 3 year old threw his hands in the air and yelled, "He has risen!  Alleluia!"  and they both exploded into a fit of giggles.  They played "the resurrection game" over, and over, and over that spring.

Let's not forget the times that each of my boys has "baptized" himself or a brother in the bathtub.

What had looked to me like play was them worshipping.  Did their worship look the same as mine?  No, but should it?  The teacher with a master's degree in education knows how important developmentally appropriate learning, not to mention the immense need that children have for hands-on, concrete learning opportunities before they can move to abstract concepts.  The early childhood educator in me is well aware that many children learn best through play and movement.

So why is it that I KNOW all these things and even applied them into my years of experience as a teacher, but fall short when giving my children worship opportunities.  In the last year and half, I have left classroom teaching and now serve as the Director of Faith Formation at our family's church.  This has made me more mindful of trying to provide my children with authentic, age appropriate worship experiences like our family summer worship experience planned with the kids where offering included them choosing a toy to donate, a message delivered by a 9 year old, and where the body and blood of Christ was served to all, including the dogs, in the form of saltine crackers and grape Kool-Aid.  There is no doubt in mind the Jesus was there in our backyard that Sunday morning as much as He was in any sanctuary space.  My children enjoyed our non-traditional yet traditional worship service immensely and look forward to making it a summer tradition.

While our backyard worship was an awe-spiring experience for our family (and Wookie and Ewok, our family dogs), how feasible is it to bring this type of experience to the whole congregation?  If we leave it to parents, how equipped do they feel to plan and lead this type of service themselves?

I can plan and lead the best Sunday School units in the world, the most engaging VBS experience ever and still fall short to give the families I serve what they thirst for. Authentic, engaging, worship opportunities for the family to experience together.  A common experience they could talk about together beyond Sunday morning.  A tool that helps them take their faith beyond Sunday morning, into the rest of their week.  As amazing as that sounds, how on God's great Earth is that ever going to happen?

When I first took my idea to the Pastors and worship coordinator at my church, I suspected there was a good chance it would be shut down.  I was elated when it was embraced and I am ecstatic, but nervous, to have our model of worship go live for a trial run this coming January.  After the holiday season, we will be inviting our whole congregation to worship in multi-generation and interactive style.  We have named this maiden voyage of our interactive worship "January Journey with Jesus".  Beginning with the first Sunday in January, we will journey with Jesus from his infancy through His baptism.

What does it mean to have in interactive worship service?  The best way I can think to describe it as as a Sunday School meets worship collision.  We will begin with traditional worship elements, including gathering music, Word and prayer.  When the service gets to the place where a sermon would normally be, people will be invited to choose from a host of stations.  Each week, people will be able to worship and learn in a way that they are drawn to whether it be creating a craft, trying a science experiment, playing a game, participating a Pastor led discussion about the scripture, doing a crossword or reflecting on a series of images projected.  As our activity time draws to a close, we will regather as a community to round out our worship experience with more traditional worship elements including Holy Communion, music and a blessing.

As I mentioned, I am eager, ecstatic and also quite nervous to try this style of worship with our whole congregation.  I am praying that God will help us all to keep open minds while giving us faith like a child so we too can be drawn closer to Him through this process while also inviting the youngest worshippers closer too.