Monday, February 23, 2009

Valentine's Day and Keepers at Home meeting by Jessica and Jennifer

Valentine’s Day by Jessica, age 10
On Valentine’s Day the boys went to a Hawkeye basketball game. It is two hours away and they weren’t excited about the trip but they were excited about the game.

I bought everybody a box of candy. I got Jennifer some gummy worms. Mom and Dad got all of us some chocolate in a heart shaped box.

After the boys left, Jennifer and I watched a Little House. It was the one about when Mary went blind. Then we went to Burger King and each got something off the dollar menu. Then we went across the street to Walgreens. We got a little stuffed puppy. Jennifer and I split the money to buy it so we are sharing it. Then we were going home and we saw a loose dog. It jumped on me but it didn’t hurt at all. Then the owner came and took it away. I am glad the owner was there or I don’t know what we would have done.

At about ten minutes before the game was done we turned on the radio to see how the game was going. Purdue won. It was 49 to 46.

Valentine’s Day by Jennifer, age 7
On Valentine’s Day I had a great time. It was one of the best Valentine’s Day ever. Not the best, best but it was one of them. The boys went to a Hawkeye basketball game and they said it was kind of crowded. What we girls did at home was first watch the Little House movie, while Mom did the dishes. Then we went to Burger King and Walgreens. Mmmm! Then we came home and Jessica and me took our dog Pooch on a walk. Then we played with our friend LaShaye. Then we listened to the radio and the Hawkeyes lost by just a few points. We were actually expecting them to lose by a lot. We had Doritos chips and beans and for dessert these ice cream thingamabobs. Then the boys came home.

Keepers by Jennifer, age 7
I loved Keepers. It a lot of fun. I can’t wait until I am old enough to be a member. We went bowling. And I was on a team with two boys. They were the brothers of other Keepers. On one of the games they smoked me. On the other game, I smoked them. I got 108, with bumpers. Yahoo! Then we had some snacks. Mmmm! I even got a couple of Valentine’s even though I am not a Keeper. Then we went to a nursing home and Jessica and the other Keepers played bells. I didn’t get to. I sat on Mom’s lap. The teacher at Keepers brought her younger daughter Gracie. She is so fun and cute. She is five. When we were walking into the nursing home, she grabbed my hand. I thought that was cute. The End.

Keepers by Jessica, age 10
I am part of a girls club called Keepers at Home. Jennifer got to go to my last meeting. It was fun. First we went bowling. It was kind of scary because I knew I was going to lose because all the other girls went bowling a lot and I had only gone once when I was four. But I ended up winning. I got 110. There are 12 girls in our group. After the game we had heart cupcakes and heart jigglers and we all handed out Valentine’s to each other.

Then we went to a nursing home where we sang and played handbells. When we played the handbells one of the songs was God Bless America and everyone started singing. Then we all went home.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Why is my skinny 13 year old on a diet?

About a year ago we began to hear about a "wonder" chiropractor. (Since I don't have his permission to blog about him, I will call him Dr. M.) We kept running into people who had been helped greatly by Dr. M. He helped one friend who had all kinds of health problems. She has zero health problems now. He also helped the autistic son of one of Jeff's co-workers go from non-communicative to conversing and making eye contact with his parents. Dr. M also helped a friend who has cancer.

We really wanted to take Joseph and Jennifer to Dr. M. Joseph because of his learning struggles and Jennifer because of all the health issues she has had this past year. However, he does not take any insurance and we did not have the money to pay out of pocket, so we took that to mean that the Lord did not want us to take them, at least for the moment.

Then a friend of ours, who goes to Dr. M, obtained some gift certificates for them to have a free initial visit. Since the initial visits are $200, we decided to take advantage of it and go ahead and take them. We later learned that we had misunderstood about Dr M not taking insurance. He does not file but he gives us the information we need so we can file, so I am thankful to say that our insurance will cover a good portion of it.

To make a long story short, Joseph will be going to visit Dr M for the next eight months (initially twice a week, then once a week and eventually every other week) and Jennifer will be going for six months (the same type of schedule as Joseph). Dr. M is treating them with adjustments, nutrition and supplements.

Dr M has placed Joseph on a very a very rigid detox diet for one month. Joseph can not have wheat or anything else with gluten. He also can not have dairy, eggs, sugar, peanuts, pork, beef or corn. After one month, he can reintroduce one of these items each week, in what ever order he chooses.

In the three weeks that Joseph and Jennifer have been going to Dr. M we have already seen improvements. Jennifer has been having two or three headaches a week instead of having them every single day. Her legs hurt much less often and she does not have any tummy aches.

It is harder to pin point exactly how much Joseph has been helped. We have noticed that he is stronger physically. He has also really blossomed in many ways. He is able to articulate his thoughts better. His reading speed has increased a bit. We know better than to expect any "miracle cures" but it is great to see these improvements already.

We are so thankful that the Lord led us to Dr. M. It has been really exciting to see the positive physical and mental changes in our children.

Boy's Day/Girl's Day

Most of you know that Jeff is an avid Hawkeye fan. He has taught his boys well and they are also Hawkeye fans. Jeff has always had the dream of taking his sons to a real Hawkeye basketball game. Today, thanks to a generous Christmas gift from his brother's family, Jeff's dream is coming true. At this moment, Jeff and the three boys are sitting in Carver Hawkeye Arena, in Iowa City, watching the Hawkeyes play Purdue. I am listening to the radio and right now the Hawks are up, 8 -6! It would be great if the Hawkeyes won because Purdue is the better team this season (Shh, don't tell any of my men that I said that!).

While the boys are having their day, the girls and I had a special Mother/Daughter day. We watched a Little House episode and then we walked to Burger King together. We had a really nice time. The girls are having some sister time right now while they are painting.

Edit: The Hawkeyes lost by three points but it was a very exciting game! My men should be driving home now.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

An Open Letter to the Stairs That Lead to My Basement

Dear Stairs,

Would you please tell me what I have ever done to offend you? Why are you so mean to me? I know that I don't keep you as clean as I should. I know we walk all over you. But isn't that your purpose in life? Yes, perhaps I work you a little harder than the rest of my family but, hey, I work hard, too!

In case you have forgotten, let me remind you of how cruel you have been over the years. Aside from the minor falls you have caused me over the years, there have been some serious ones. In the year 2000, you made me miss a step and sit down hard, breaking my tailbone. The pain was excruciating and lasted for months. It was over a year before I could sit through a whole church service without having to stand in the back. I still feel pain when I sit too long.

Then, as if that wasn't enough, in 2003, you made me miss the last step and I sprained my ankle badly enough to go to the hospital for x-rays. My ankle swelled up like a softball and I hobbled around for six weeks.

You had gone several years without being TOO mean. I really thought that perhaps we could become friends. Yes, I had fallen a time or two but no major injuries....until this morning. I got up early, had my private devotions, made myself a nice healthy fruit salad for breakfast and was heading to the basement to check email while I ate it. Next thing I knew, my leg gave out from under me, my face hit the wall and there were oranges, blueberries and bananas every where. I sat there for several minutes gaging where I ached and how badly while hoping someone would come to help me (since you certainly didn't offer) but the rest of my family was still asleep. The side of my face hurt, my knee hurt, my big toe hurt and my ankle hurt. I felt something run down the side of my face, touched it and realized it was blood. I realized that my glasses were missing and I found them in a mangled heap beside me. I managed to get myself to the bathroom, where I saw the cut was actually quite small and not very deep, though it continued to bleed for some time. However, my face is bruised and my knee, toe and ankle are still sore. Thankfully, we managed to get to the eye doctor this afternoon and my glasses were fixable. Thankfully the rims were flexible and the glass was not broken.

All I can say is "Thanks a lot! You did it again!"

I know it can't possibly be that "Klutz" is my middle name. It is obvious to me that you have a personal vendetta against me. I think it is time that you grow up and put personal issues aside and do you job, which isn't that difficult. Your job is simply to get me from the top of the stairs to the bottom (and vice versa) in one piece. Surely that is not too much to ask!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Twenty Reasons I Read to My Children

LI had a hard time coming up with an article this month. Every time I tried to think about what to write about, the Lord placed this old one on my heart. I revised it to make it fit the ages and stages my children are at now.

Reading to my children is toward the top of my priority list. I read to them on a nearly daily basis. We have a formal time of reading in our schedule but often the younger children will bring me a book and ask me to read it to them.

Once in awhile when the dishes and laundry are piled high and I am sitting on the couch reading to my children, I feel strong twinges of guilt. However, I only have to spend about 30 seconds thinking about why I spend so much time reading to my them and my guilt lessens greatly!


1. ...Reading Builds Character.
When I read "Farmer Boy" to our children, I noticed our children became even more diligent in their chores. I Almanzo could do a man’s work when he was nine, surely they can do the dishes and take out the trash without complaining. Reading "The Five Little Peppers" helped my children learn to treat each other with greater kindness and respect. Reading biographies of Godly men and women of the past is a wonderful way to help them build character. The Trailblazer books and missionary biographies are great for this.

One note of caution, however, is that many children will take the written word very seriously. Many children will want to copy the characters but many of these heroes and heroines will have serious character flaws that I don't want my children to emulate. For this reason, there are some books that I will never read to my children (even classics) and there are some books that do not have them read until they are older.

2. ...Reading Can Lead to Discussions About How to Handle Life's Situations In A Biblical Manner.
This goes along with building character. As I read to my children, I often stop so that we can discuss what we have just read. I ask questions such as, "Instead of slapping Mary, what should Laura have done when Mary said that blond hair was better than brown?" or "Should Little Pear have wandered so far away from home without permission?"

3. ...Reading Builds Vocabulary.
Often while reading a story my children will ask me, "What does that word mean?“ Often I simply explain the meaning of the word to them, but occasionally we look it up in the dictionary. However, even if they don’t ask the meaning of a particular word, just hearing the word in context helps them to understand the meaning.

4. ...Reading Takes Our Children Places They Could Never Go In Any Other Way.
When you read to your children, they can visit countries that they will probably never visit in person. They can travel through time and “meet” people who have lived before. They can share the adventures of both fictional characters and people who really lived.

A friend of mine explains this so much better than I could, so I am going to quote her. "They can walk with God through the days of creation. They can run with David as he is hunted by King Saul crying out to a compassionate God who hears his pleas. They can experience the tender longing of Hannah, a 'hope-to-be' mother. They can hear the sorrowful words of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and then the triumphant words of, 'It is finished!" They can run with John to the empty tomb and rejoice over the risen Savior who states, Peace be unto you."

5. ...Children Who Are Read To Will Be Better Readers.
Learning to read is much more difficult for some children than for others. I have proof of that in my own family. However, children who are read to will be better readers. If a child who struggles to learn to read is never read to, he will struggle much more. In fact, I would venture to guess that he will probably never learn to read well if no one ever reads to them.

6. ...It Teaches Them The Joy Of Reading.
I felt somewhat hypocritical writing that sentence because I only have one child who reads for pleasure. The rest only read what I require them to read. However, in spite of that, I still stand by this statement. At this point in their life, perhaps the other four don’t enjoy reading on their own but they do know the joy of reading because we read to him.

7. ...It Expands Their Imaginations.
It is very common to see my children acting out what we have read to them. They have made many trips across the plains in covered wagons. They have slept on k'anks from old world China. They have sailed ships across the sea. They have built forts. They have lived in lighthouses. They have climbed high mountains. They have gone after the cows. They have held court. And have done all of this without leaving our house and yard. All of these imaginary games have been sparked books that we read to them.

8. ...It Teaches Geography.
We have a world map on the wall in the basement and a globe. We also have a map of the United States of America on a placemat. The children have traveled from Wisconsin to Kansas to Minnesota to South Dakota with the Ingalls family. They know that Gladys Aylward lived in China. They know where the Mayflower landed. As I said earlier, reading takes them to places they may otherwise never visit.

9. ...It Teaches History.
Reading makes history "come alive.” Personally, I have learned more about history from reading biographies, historical fiction and other similar books to my children than I ever did from a textbook in school. I have nothing against history textbooks. They are important and there is certainly a place for them. We use history textbooks at our house. My point is simply that it is amazing how much history children will learn through literature. Many of the books that I read to them are historically based.

10. ...It Exposes Them To Good Writing.
Children who are constantly exposed to good writing learn to recognize good writing. It makes them better writers. As they learn to write they learn to develop characters and a plot line. To put it simply, it is hard for them to write well if they are not exposed to good writing.

11. ...It Teaches Science.
Not every book will teach science but many will. My children learned how a steam engine works when I read a historical fiction book to them. They learned how strawberries are grown when we read another book.

12. ...It Is An Opportunity To Laugh Together And Cry Together.
Alright, I will confess that I have never actually reduced my children to tears through a book (though I have choked up myself from time to time) but it is really something to see the emotions on their little faces as we suffer along with the characters in the book. And as far as the laughter goes, well, we have dissolved into laughter many times as we read a book. Sometimes we laugh so hard that I can barely continue reading.

13. ...It Teaches Them to Focus

Many parents allow their children to move around the room and play while they read to them. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this and it is a decision each family must make. Personally, I have our children just sit and listen while I read to them. (One of the times that I read to them is during lunch so they are eating while they listen.) We feel this helps them learn to focus and to sit still. It prepares them for other times in life, such as church, when they must learn to be calm and quiet and sit still. They don't have to be little statues. They wiggle about a bit. I do allow them to cuddle a stuffed animal and occasionally even let them draw while we read. Sometimes I even tell them to draw a picture of the story we are reading. However, for the most part, we use this as a time to teach them to be still and focus. One of our sons has a much harder time sitting still for long periods of time then our other children. We gradually taught him participate in our reading time by having him sit for about five minutes and gradually increased the time. It took him longer to sit through a church service than it did our other children but I really think that the quiet reading time at home really helped.

14. ...Buying Good Books Is Money Well Spent.
Financially, my husband and I are very conservative. We buy our clothes at Goodwill and DAV. Our children wear hand-me-downs. We buy generic brands of food. We live in a small house, especially for the size of our family. We have an older vehicle. As a one income family of seven, we have to be frugal and we are content to be so. However, for all the other reasons listed in this article, one area we "splurge" is on good books. Though we also use the library, I enjoy having all these good books available in our home any time we want them. I hope to read them to my grandchildren some day.

15. ...Reading To My Children Exposes Them To A Variety Of Literature
Once again let me quote my friend, "Reading to our children exposes them to a great variety of literature much like introducing our children to the great composers of music. Bach, Beethoven and Mozart are all classical music but each one is unique and carries it's own beauty". I don't think I can add anything that would improve on her words!

16. ...My Mom Read To Me.
I remember many happy hours listening to my Mom read to me when I was a little girl. Each evening before bed she would read a chapter book to me. This was the highlight of my day. It is my strong desire to pass this tradition on to my children. My hope is that my children will read to my grandchildren and my grandchildren will read to my great-grandchildren and so forth through the future generations.

17. ...It Is Fun!
This one does not need a lot of explanation. Reading to my children IS fun! Not everything in life is fun nor should it be. But I can't think of anything else that I do, on a regular basis, that is so fun and so rewarding at the same time as reading to my children.

18. ... It Creates Wonderful Memories.
My children will probably not remember if the laundry was folded immediately or if we had macaroni and cheese for lunch three days in a row. They will, however, remember the hours that my husband and I spent reading to them. It is my hope that, next to family devotions, this will be one of their fondest childhood memories.

19. ...It Is A Way Of Showing My Children That I Love Them.
Most homeschooling families believe in spending quality AND quantity time with our children. By taking time to read to them we are showing our children that we love them. It shows them that we care enough about them to take time from our busy schedule to read to them. It gives opportunity to "bond" with them. There is nothing quite as sweet as having my children cuddle up next to me and to see the rapt attention on their faces as I read to them.

20. ...We Love It.
I have to admit that I borrowed this one from yet another friend. However, this is certainly true with our family as well. We all really look forward to our reading time each day. Recently I could not read to the children for two weeks because of strep throat and we all missed it greatly. The children kept asking, "Is your throat better yet, Mommy?" At first I thought this was loving concern and was pleased with their compassion. However, the morning that I announced at the breakfast table that my throat was much better they began to clap and cheer and say, "Now you can read to us again!". Okay, we need to work a little more on compassion, but their love for reading is certainly heartwarming!

Before I conclude this article, I wanted to add one more thing. One of my editors (By the way, I could never write these articles without them. I am so thankful for their help.) mentioned that her sons do not always seem to enjoy listening to her read. I told her that I have a couple of children like this, too. I mentioned that I wanted to include that in this article but was not sure how to word it and I asked her if she had any suggestions. Her response was so much better than I could have explained it so, with Sarah’s permission, I am quoting her, “Not all kids will enjoy being read to and that can be a little disheartening to us moms. But we need to keep at it because it is like any discipline we want our kids to develop, whether it be learning to eat vegetables, cleaning bedrooms, or learning how to develop daily hygiene practices. It is for their good and it will instill good things in their minds. And even if we do have a child who is not overly fond of reading or being read to, there is always a chance that might change. But if we don't read to them, the chances of that child becoming a reader down the road are pretty slim.”

There are many more reasons to read to our children, but those are a few of them. I realize that not everyone's circumstances permit them to spend as much time reading to their children as I do. However, even a few minutes each day will bring many benefits and create wonderful memories. Reading to them is one of the best gifts we can give to our children. Happy Reading!