My Favorite Preschool Learning Games

My Favorite Preschool Learning Games

Criss cross applesauce on the shag carpet in my best friend’s childhood room.  It was the end of the 70s and we were just out of Kindergarten with our ABCs and 123s.  We spent our summer days riding big wheels around my block, then swimming in his backyard pool.  Often times his mom would usher us in with hair still dripping wet and set up a homemade board-game  between his two knees and mine.  We called it, “The M&M game,” because a little glass bowl in the middle of the board was piled high with those colorful candy prizes.   Taking turns we’d roll the die and make our way around the cardboard trail, stopping at each space to answer a math question.   9+1= 2+3= 4-0=   For every correct answer we’d grab a treat, never noticing we were learning.   This game, those memories, and the idea that play should be the basis for early childhood learning, became the foundation of how I’d teach my own preschoolers 30 years later.   Starting with a blank canvas, white and clean without a bit of knowledge on it, so like your two and a half year old.  Take a marker and draw a spiral pattern around your board,  make it into a double line and mark off individual spaces in the long learning snake.  Finally, inside each empty box write a letter, uppercase & lower case, or a number from 0 – 10.  But the first box says START, and that final spot holds the letters E-N-D.   Sometimes it was the roll of a die, other times the flick of our shoots and ladders spinner that propelled little minds around...
Finding Rest

Finding Rest

Out of my home, away from my people, to rest and refresh for four long days, but instead I feel the divide.  Divided, because my heart remains with them.  Torn with a child now sick at home and another behind in his schooling.  But Nana is doing her best to meet every need, so that I can come to the well for a few days and drink deeply.   Now here I am, two sleepless nights in, when I thought nine consecutive hours would repair all that’s been breaking down.  But it’s fitful and not healing at all, so I flip on the bedside lamp and turn to the One who is the refreshing.  How wrong I was to imagine it could be found in literal rest, between white bed sheets – True rest is spiritual rest, tucked between thin worn bible sheets.   Rest and stretch and find your being there. Renew your hope in His Salvation there… It’s not in how many hours you slept, but in how deep you went, propped up by pillows, resting in Truth.   I set down God’s Living, Waking, Get-up-and-live-it-today Word, and started to pray.  I prayed for the girl with three babies who texted me yesterday, “I feel like I’m going to lose it.”  I wrote back in a hurry, “don’t lose it, sweet girl… I’ve done that myself, and it feels worse than the volcanic pressure you feel mounting.  Get on your knees and I will too.”   And I prayed for my kid with the runny nose and bellyache, and the other brother who had hours of homework last night and two...
Today you are enough – a little bit of mom-poetry

Today you are enough – a little bit of mom-poetry

Today you are enough I watched my children push themselves higher up, then higher still.   Pumping legs and bending backs to reach new heights until… The jump-bump of the swing’s release Made their heart-rates increase, As they whooped and hollered loud;  Swinging hard they touched the clouds. Won the prize, Realized, feeling so complete, Flying up and off the plastic glory-seat.   I joined the celebration Saying, “How good and strong you are!” The littlest let go, and sailed beyond me far. The brothers laughed out loud with giggles great and glorious, And in that shining moment We sang out in joyful chorus. But when I turned around I saw Another mom’s expression fall. Bent low from life, laborious, With no joy left at all. Her children played nearby, Chirping happily with mine, But she couldn’t find a joy-filled tone. I think, in fact, I heard her moan. So I caught her eye and smiled then Infusing courage like a friend. Because yesterday she was me, And I was her beneath that tree. Mothers, friends, sojourners, Some days it flows like praise, But other days are weepy, long, Enshrouded in malaise. If today you sang a dirge, And your heart knew great sorrow, I pray my rhymes encourage, And point you toward tomorrow. Today you are enough by Wendy Speake   For more poetic encouragement that you are perfectly enough…  come this...
Color-coordinated adornments

Color-coordinated adornments

  I’m packed up and ready to go!  So excited to be heading to the Allume Conference in South Carolina this week.  Truly Truly!  Here’s a very shallow confession: While I am thrilled about receiving all the spiritual and practical encouragement I need as a writer, I am equal parts excited about laying out some pretty outfits and color coordinated jewelry.  I even got my toe nails done in a dreamy coral hue then planned my weekend wardrobe around a palate of colors to compliment my toes.  From earrings to  shoes to my pretty notebooks all with pops of coral, packed away for three fanciful days of learning, worshipping, and making new friends.   Making new friends.   And it dawned on me this morning, as I dipped my pretty toes into the second chapter of James, if I’m all color-corordinated, strolling through the posh lobby at the Hyatt in downtown Greensville, I might miss out on the mismatched miracles all around me.  Like friendship treasure standing right in front of me in line for a chai latte that first morning, but her grey yoga pants didn’t coordinate with my look, and so I never see her.  Completely miss out on the beauty she is and the beauty she shares.   My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.  Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in.  If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or...
Favorite Fall Snacks

Favorite Fall Snacks

  There’s this window every afternoon when I want something sweet yet substantial to get me through till dinner.  And in the fall, I want that snack to be extra special, like pumpkin cake and a spiced latte… but I can’t do that now, because I’m forty.   Everything changed at forty.   Now I’m not complaining about 99% of growing up, but that 1%  that’s covered in maple frosting… I really miss!  I loved the way I used to be able to grab a brownie at 3pm each afternoon and never gain a pound.  It was wonderful!  No sugar crashes, sleepless nights, sudden freak-outs with my kids, or weight gain.  Just chocolate, pure and simple.   But that was yesteryear, and so I’m getting creative with my afternoon snacks, and thought I’d share two of my favorites. I am not, mind you, going to give you the calorie count… just in case it’s as caloric and fatty as my brownies and spice cake!  I am in denial that jam and candied nuts are bad for me until I hit Fifty!   First up…   Vanilla Yogurt with Pecan Pieces & Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds It’s just that simple and absolutely divine!  3/4 cup low fat vanilla yogurt, sprinkled with pecan pieces and the phenomenal seasonal sensation, Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds, from Trader Joe’s.  Be forewarned, there is nutritional information on the link I just shared… and, I repeat, I am not advocating that you look.   Now here’s another Smashing Fall Favorite…   Honey Smoked Turkey, Brie, and Fig Preserves This is just a fancy meat roll-up!  Just like you make for your kids...
Brotherhood and Boy Moms

Brotherhood and Boy Moms

  Mothering boys is equal parts difficult and marvelous.  Hard because I’m a woman, and they’re all so loud and strong and free-spirited, and I’m mild, quiet and contained.  It’s like I’m raising bulls here in the china shop of my soul.  But it’s marvelous too, because each little man is a miracle work of art, with personality, passion and faith rolled up big and muscular.   They smile and groan together like a symphony orchestra over a platter of pancakes, then, halfway through breakfast, they beg to help paint the tree-fort their Daddy built.  He says, “Yes”,  and they cheer like a pack of monkeys covered in maple syrup.  The table is cleared fast and furious and I’m surprised three plates aren’t broken in the process.  I holler over the din, “Brush your teeth, and don’t forget socks with your shoes!”  Then they’re gone!   I’m left inside clearing away the wreckage from their morning play, washing down dishes and sweeping up crumbs, as I listen  to their wild fun floating in through open windows.  Pillows strewn about and chocolate milk glasses left on the coffee table where they’d watched Saturday morning cartoons.  Legos are piled up on the floor beside a coloring book with the note:   “mom – Do not tutch.”   So I leave crayons on the open book and enjoy the stillness as I think upon Brotherhood and Boy Moms.   Brotherhood   Sure there is aggressive play, flying limbs and hurt feelings, but brothers forgive fast – the way they clear dirty dishes.  Always fast, moving on together.  And I marvel at the innate fraternal love they share, and repurpose to guide them in their devotion.  ...