Monday, January 31, 2011

Favorite Parts of the Day

According to Abby, the best parts of this day were reading books and baking with Dad.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Child-Raising Challenge #123456: Wisdom about Winning

He thinks he can be the best.

I love that.

I hate that.

When he’s out there on the ice, scoring goal after goal just one year after putting on skates for his first time ever, I love it, and I let him know how incredible I think he is. When he’s coming up with (really lame and far-fetched) accusations of cheating against siblings who happen to defeat him (often much to their own happy surprise) at some family game, I detest it—and try to think of effective ways to communicate my displeasure. When he’s sweating, really working hard, confident that he can do what he has set out to do, I am so proud of him. When he’s swaggering, arrogant, entitled, thinking he has a right to this or that, I grit my teeth in frustration. How do you teach a child the fine line between confidence and arrogance, how to aim with determination for excellence but to accept with grace when things do not end up as you had hoped, the delicate balance of competitive drive and cooperative purpose? And what, really, is it appropriate to expect from a second-grader—especially one whose primary teachers feel like it took them way too long to learn these lessons themselves?

We watched a video of “The Tortoise and the Hare” tonight. We talked about how the hare really was the better runner (a truly great runner!), but his attitude was all wrong. I think there might have been another small “aha!” moment inside our little man’s head. One more little seed of grace on this particular child-raising challenge. And I’m dreaming of a champion harvest.

(Of course, any wisdom from seasoned parents on this matter would be warmly invited as I am open to all the little seeds of grace I can find!!!!)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thank You, God...

...for fun things to do to keep bodies busy during the long winter months!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Moments to Remember

He that raises a large family does, indeed, while he lives to observe them, stand a broader mark for sorrow; but then he stands a broader mark for pleasure too. --Benjamin Franklin

  • Jadon--our joyful one, bounding up the steps after hearing that Abby is (finally) awake in the morning, says: "Abby, are you ready to share a wonderful day?"

  • Abby, after an evening of singing around Mom's piano, Dad's guitar, and a bunch of improvised instruments for children (instead of the customary post-dinner backyard skate), says: "I'm so glad we did this tonight."

  • The whole gang, riding home from some friends' in the late afternoon, is looking a bit music goes on, and soon the whole family is singing at the top of their lungs with the Muppets--the moment is both ridiculous and somehow profound:
Life is a funny thing
Sometimes you laugh and sing
Sometimes you grumble and fuss
But either way, what do we care?
We got us

We have our ups and downs
Our share of smiles and frowns
But through it all we don't fuss
'Cause we got a special thing goin'
We got us

Some people like to go through their life single
Aw, that wouldn't suit us at all
Why sing a melody as a soliloquy
When it's more fun to be harmonizing

People they say we are, crazy the way we are
That we won't even discuss
'Cause what we got they can't smother
We'd trade our life for no other
They've only got one another

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pulling out the Hook...

I can't remember the last time I had a crochet project on the go. It's been one of those things that has kind of taken a back seat lately. Last night, however, I decided to get out some leftover yarn and try a quick project. Here is the end result. (And, yes, crafting still makes me happy.)

Friday, January 14, 2011


A fellow adoptive mom blogs expressively about what she calls orphanage dust. In reading her words about her son, I often feel a vague sense of recognition--even though I've never met her family. You see, I, too, have a boy who spent his early years in an orphanage in Eastern Europe...and certain characteristics in him reflect the survival mode thinking about which she writes.

One year ago, I would say that the orphanage dust was thick in our house. Everything in Ethan's life had changed: home, school, language, siblings, friends, parents' schedules, etc. It was tough.

Over time, things cleared.

But, the thing with orphanage dust, is that it can stir up again at any time.

And there had been just a bit of it around again as the new year started.

This morning, after Andrew's breakfast-time telling of his dream-land adventures (which apparently involved flying his own plane full of supplies for those in need around the world and preaching to all kinds of people and animals), Ethan quietly offered this: "I dreamed that an angel slept beside me."

And I stopped and thanked God.

Because I do believe in angels, sent by God to do his business. And last night was the first night in two weeks that Ethan slept through the night without crying out or sleep-walking. And I am reminded how my Lord cares for my son.

The person who rests in the shadow of the Most High God
will be kept safe by the Mighty One.
I will say about the Lord, "He is my place of safety.

He is like a fort to me. He is my God. I trust in him."
He will certainly save you from hidden traps and from deadly sickness.
He will cover you with his wings. Under the feathers of his wings you will find safety.
He is faithful. He will keep you safe like a shield or a tower.
You won't have to be afraid of the terrors that come during the night.
You won't have to fear the arrows that come at you during the day.
You won't have to be afraid of the sickness that attacks in the darkness.
The Lord will command his angels to take good care of you.
The Lord says, "I will save the one who loves me.
I will keep him safe, because he trusts in me.
He will call out to me, and I will answer him.
--Psalm 91:1-6, 11, 14

On a completely different note, I think a couple Dads had a dream-come-true kind of night, tonight. Mike, his dad (whose childhood home we now fill), and all four kiddos hit the ice for some serious hockey action this evening. I'm really not sure who had the most fun!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Two Tidbits

Parenting is exhausting. I mean that in the best sense. I intend to say that raising children demands my full resources. It forces me to give that last reserve of energy, to stretch my capacity for creativity, to cultivate new habits of patience and love, to sacrifice my habitual selfishness for a wonderfully worthy cause.

And then, sometimes, you find something that makes parenting just a little bit easier. That's what this post is about. I'm offering two tidbits, completely stumbled upon for me, that have helped out around the Tapper home.

The first came from observation. We were at another couple's home. The kids far outnumbered the parents. At one point, two of our friends' boys had some altercation which demanded one apologize to the other. After the who-did-what's and the how-it-happened's were all sorted out, it was time for the actual apology. The perpetrator did the usual duty, muttering out the obligatory "sorry," head down and eyes averted. But the parents did not stop there. There was another step. I watched in wonder. Gently, the boy was instructed to communicate one thing further. At this point, the youngster looked his brother in the eye and asked, "Is there anything I can do to make it better?" One high-five later, all was forgiven, and exuberant play resumed.

A two-step apology--how simple is that? We brought it home with us and have been incorporating it into daily life. After just a few days, the kids are already reminding each other to ask the question after an apology (and coming up with all kinds of rectifying activities: copious kisses, high-fives, "Give me 10 push-ups!", etc.). Even better, a lot of the time, the victim simply admits, "I'm okay," relieving us all of continued sulking and whining.

So, here's Tidbit #1 from the Tapper clan: Make your apologies strong and true. Don't forget to add Part Two!

(Couldn't resist adding that super-adorable pic in with this post, although I did have to get kind of cute to make it fit at all, didn't I?)

The second tip I'm offering today is more activity-focused. I am always looking for new ideas for very simple activities--things that could be pulled out and ready for impact within 23 seconds. Well, I found this little idea on It's called "Builder's Paradise Number Line."

Basically, you take one deck of playing cards, shuffle well, and deal out all the cards to your players. When all the cards are dealt, everyone checks to see if they have a seven. All the sevens are put in the middle and lined up neatly. Then players take turns adding cards numerically (one higher or lower than the cards played) and according to suit (keeping hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs each in their own line). So, the first player can only play 6's or 8's, but, as cards are played, the options generally grow. A player with no appropriate card to play must pass. The object is to eventually have all the lines built up, from Ace to King.

This game teaches numbers, sequencing, matching, and taking turns. It held the interest of all four of my kids, ages 3-8. The hardest part was not bumping the cards we had already played, but perhaps that might have been avoidable had we played on a carpet or while sitting at a table.

Remember Tappers' Tidbit #2: Sometimes you don't need to do anything grand; just provide a goal, a strategy, and some numbers in hand!

So, for any exhausted parents out there who need a fresh idea, I hope these provide a bit of fuel for the journey. And, as always, I love to hear about whatever resources you've picked up along the way!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Abby's First Piano Lesson

I officially started Abby on her first piano lesson today. We used a video from and some of my own stuff to help her learn her first song: Hot Cross Buns. She LOVED it. I was proud of her. And she was pretty proud of herself, too (...just in case you couldn't tell from the picture!)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Catching Up the Blog

I definitely want to forever capture this special memory (Christmas 2010).

(L-R: Jadon, age 3; Abby, age 5; cousin Adilyne, age 2 1/2 months; Andrew, age 8; Ethan, age 7)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Museum Day

To celebrate the twelfth day of Christmas (also the last day of school vacation for the boys), the Tapper clan enjoyed a day at the Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa. After today, I think I've convinced at least half our offspring that "being a scientist when you grow up" would be an exciting and meaningful pursuit!!! Anyway, here's a run-down of the kid's favorites: Andrew--trains and brains; Ethan--"everything"; Abby--the digital connections play area; Jadon: the world and space. My favorite thing was an area where you could analyze your personality by sliding beads according to various statements relating to personal preferences. It was fascinating to watch Andrew and Ethan pretty accurately evaluate their own characteristics! Enjoy the pics...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Favorite New Things (that happen to all start with "O)")

1) Operation World

We got this book as a Christmas present for our kids and have incorporated into our bedtime routine. The book contains a comprehensive outline of the world's countries, including current needs and how people can pray. Each night, a child picks a letter, and a country that begins with that selection is chosen. We summarize the prayer concerns before the children pray. It is wonderful to hear our children praying for needs around the world!

2) Organization
The new year has sparked a bit of energy for re-organization around here. I've moved furniture, emptied drawers, sorted through files, and rearranged shelving units. Admittedly, furniture placement can be a bit tricky in our living room. It is rather long and narrow, with a large window at one end, a fireplace along another wall, and vents for the furnace at various spots around the room (which cannot be covered during the winter). We have pulled one couch up closer to the fireplace, which creates a little nook in the back corner of the room. I moved the cupboard with all the kids's games, craft supplies, blocks, etc. there from its former place in the dining room and reorganized everything in it. I love that our dining room looks more open and the kids are enjoying their neat little play space. There's something about establishing order within one's physical space that creates a sense of mental peace! (I really love that!)

3) Ottawa Gymnastics Centre
Ethan had his first class at a local gym today. He has been so excited, counting the sleeps until today...but when he actually walked into the building today, you could see his body getting stiff and tears starting to edge his eyes. He was nervous.
"I'm too scared," he said, holding me tight.
The staff was excellent. One teacher took his hand and gently led him out to where a bunch of other children were warming up. His own teacher sat beside him on a mat and described each exercise without pushing Ethan to join. It did not take long, however, for Ethan to accept an invitation to join with the other boys running, jumping, stretching, and rolling around the gym. Soon, somehow, he was learning how to maneuver on the parallel bars, to soar off the springboard and land feet-first on the horse, to perform a handstand/flip on the rings, and to bounce straight on the trampoline. 90 minutes passed. He was now smiling from ear to ear.
Later, he showed me where his hand had gotten a bit scuffed performing some daring feat. We talked about how competitive gymnasts use chalk on their hands to improve their grip on the apparatus, about how hard gymnastics can be on one's hands, about how real gymnasts have to have kind of tough hands.
He didn't hesitate a second.
"Well, I have tough hands," he declared. And so, you see, he does.