Thursday, March 31, 2011

April Fool's Day: Sneak Peek

I am feeling mischievous.

Tomorrow, of course, is the first day of April. The significance of this day is, of course, especially great for elementary-aged boys. I, of course, happen to have two in my home.

I do not want to miss this opportunity.

And because it is so much more fun to share a good prank, I am letting you in on my scheme to trick the boys tomorrow.

The necessary resources:

  • two snack packs of cookies (carefully opened, cookies removed)

  • a package or carrots (divided into 2 appropriate serving sizes and placed within "cookie"

  • an "April Fools" note from ME (also placed in package)

  • double-stick tape (used to reseal "cookie" package)

  • two lunch boxes (into which "cookie" package is inserted with other food items and placed in its usual spot within the refrigerator for tomorrow morning's backpack loading convenience)

Hee, hee, hee, hee, hee...

Update: This prank was terrifically succesful from a surprise stand-point. Both boys admitted being startled by the sight of carrots in their snack pack. However, neither thought the removal of their cookies in favor of a vegetable was particularly funny...just very (insert overdone eye-roll) Mom-ish. (They love me!)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More Artwork

How do you see the world? Sometimes, it is revealed in how you color. Andrew's pictures are usually all about hockey :) Ethan's pictures are usually full of lots of different colors, haste, and activity. Jadon's pictures are always full of lots of bright, loud color. Abby is particular. She likes things to be just right.

I LOVE how "just right" this one is. I love how she is learning to see the world.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Backwards Birthdays and Other Crazy Things

For his birthday party, Jadon decided to have a "backwards birthday celebration" complete with backward attire for his good-humored family and friends...

cake-eating first, of course...

upside-down brain teasers...

a fun word-matching game (for a few examples, can you figure out the backwards version of drawer, dog, desserts, pan, star, and wolf?)...

pin the donkey on the tail...

backwards spoon-balancing races...

and backwards balloon basketball.

The birthday boy had a blast! And it was fun to be silly with friends and family!

On a completely different note, Mike decided to remove his gotee today. He let the kids in on the process. They thought that was ridiculously fun!

Block/car/farm creations are pretty much a daily activity in our house. They never seem to tire of trying something new with these. Sometimes, they come up with some very creative ideas. Other times, just outrageous...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jadon!

Our youngest is another year older! We celebrated Jadon's fourth birthday today (with more celebrations to come on the weekend, too!) This little man is so full of life. He overflows with joy--singing almost constantly, laughing his incredibly hearty laugh, and loving interactions with other people. He loves to read, play blocks, help in the kitchen, make all kinds of music, and do pretty much anything that involves jumping.
In the words of his big sister: "He is SO cool."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Loving Touch

Several months ago, I wrote a post about how simple things can show love. Specifically, I described my desire to renew my intentionality regarding eye contact with my loved ones. This week, I’ve been challenged to be deliberate about another relatively simple thing: physical touch.

It first came up when I was doing some stuff online. A pop-up for 5 Love Languages self-analysis came up. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about here, check out this site.) I had previously read a couple of the books on this topic, so I wasn’t unfamiliar with the ideas or where my loving tendencies might be assessed. Not being particularly busy, I decided to see how I scored on the test. When my results came up, I was a bit surprised! My love languages have adapted quite a bit over time. Quality time used to be my run-away top pick, but, according to my latest results, quality time and physical touch (interesting!—I don’t necessarily think of myself as a “touchy-feely” kind of person) actually fell just behind acts of service (there’s something about being a mother of four that enhances this language, I think!). I took a bit of time to reflect upon how acts of service and physical touch might be more important (or even just accessible) to me now than ever before.

I was reminded of this idea again while I was preparing for a Bible study group. We were supposed to be talking about relationships and how people give and receive love. There were questions about how we’d received love, how we’d given love to others, and how we might have missed opportunities to give love. Hmmmmm.

Then, last night, I finally took time to look up some information on brain chemistry and neurotransmitters that I’d dumped into a file for “another time.” This is a fascinating topic of study for me--how physiological formation of the brain corresponds to one’s physical activities and circumstances. For instance, did you know studies suggest that an 80-year-old couple who reach out and hold each other’s hand stimulates new connections in their brains, making possible the production and release of chemicals which support feelings of satisfaction and well-being? Furthermore, children’s brains are all about making these types of connections which optimize brain chemistry. However, they do not happen automatically. Positive, loving physical touch is essential to ideal brain development.

From my research, I found and watched a fascinating interview with child development specialist, Karyn Purvis. If you find this post interesting at all, I highly recommend that you take some time and watch it here. (The whole video is over 25 minutes long, but it includes another interview as well. If you want to watch the information on providing loving touch for children, you need to give yourself about 15 minutes.).

I was reminded that all children need loving touch. Not touch that only facilitates something necessary (like changing a diaper or bringing a child safely across a street). Children need touch that simply communicates affection. Children, like mine—who may have had periods of their lives during which they received little or no affectionate touch—may have an especially great need for such physical touch. This is because they must make up for some “lost” brain connections, which would often occur naturally in those with less stressful or traumatic early life circumstances.

When an idea repeatedly pops into my life within the span of just a few days, I figure that it is something to which I probably ought to pay some attention. So, this morning, as the children ate their breakfast, I intentionally made unnecessary physical contact with them: resting my hand across a back, pulling a body close for a moment, touching a cheek, gently rubbing the shoulders. Ethan noticed immediately: “Mom, can you keep doing that? I like how it feels.”

So simple. Yet so easy to miss.

I needed a reminder.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Just to Wind Down from the Day...

Yes, I know the picture quality is terrible in the above collage, but how can you really capture the action when three very enthusiastic boys are trying their best to pelt you with large, wet snowballs? Happy Spring from Gatineau, Quebec!

Friday, March 18, 2011

A House Divided

It occurred to me just the other morning that our house is divided. And I think that's gotta cost me.

You see, three of the members of our family do not settle particularly quickly into bed at night. Their pillows are more a necessary end than a passionate pursuit. Rather, they have this inner energy that crescendos during the later hours, enabling all sorts of industrious activity. After night, however, when the light of morning creeps around the window curtain or the alarm clock sends forth its urgent call, these three are, at best, listless. In fact, greeting them in the morning can be downright dangerous. They would fall into the "night people" category.

Of course, that leaves three others. These three do not have a glorious final energy surge at the end of the day. In fact, their brains and bodies tend to go into some form of shutdown as the sun sets. They tend to snuggle into bed with the joy of a reunion with a long-lost friend. Sleep is sweet release from the exhaustion of the day and is eagerly embraced, readily received. Morning finds them refreshed and enthusiastic about the day's opportunities. They wake with clear mind and great hope. They would fall into the "morning people" category.

I fall into the second group. My other two happy morning friends happen to be two boys from Ethiopia. Two extroverted boys from Ethiopia. Two extroverted boys from Ethiopia who have developed incredible English vocabularies...and love to use them...PRETTY MUCH CONSTANTLY.

I love them dearly, of course, but, having lived for quite a few years with a bunch of night people, this introverted mom had grown accustomed to savoring quiet early mornings with a cup of tea, a Bible or another great book, some yoga stretches, or a bit of efficient task accomplishment while other household members slumber in oblivion. Now, not only do I have two companions for my morning activities, but they want to talk to me--a lot. This is disturbing. It should not be this way, says the introverted, quiet morning lover.

Yet it is.

So, I am committing to a new motherly sacrifice. It's two-fold, really. First, I recognize that I must be willing to give up some sleep (or at least be more disciplined in an early bedtime) in order to facilitate desired quietness and solitude. Second, I realize that I must love my boys by joyfully engaging them in the mornings, turning those times from my special times into our special times.

Maybe I needed to recognize our dividedness in this matter in order for us to come together in a new way. And maybe I need to count this cost in order to receive a tremendous gift.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Sure Sign that Spring is Near

There was ball hockey in the driveway this afternoon--a sure sign that spring approaches.

There was a minor incident involving teeth and a lip, but as you can didn't slow anybody down too long!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Déjà Vu (Almost)

Abby is still loving playing the piano. She has completed 11 lessons with, can play 5 songs, and knows quite a bit of basic theory. Of course, this music-loving mom is pretty pleased!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tapper Happenings

I completed worship banners for the lenten season. The background material is a deep charcoal felted wool and contains a tiny bit of a sparkle. For me, its rough texture and dark colour symbolize the heaviness of this season as we contemplate Christ's passion. The sparkle is like a hint of the hope that we have, even in the dark times. The contrasting fabric is a lavender satin. Purple is symbolic of both suffering and royalty, appropriate as we consider the painful sacrifice of the King of Kings. The image on the one banner--a cup held up toward the cross, being filled with thorns--provides a reminder of Jesus's willingness to submit to taking on the sin of the world, with all its horrible pain, loneliness, and distress. The verses from Isaiah 53 describe him as one of us, who knows suffering and pain--even our pain. Indeed, he took the punishment that should have been ours. I hope that these banners will be a meaningful part of our church's worship this season.
Yesterday, Ethan completed his last gymnastics class for the winter session. He really enjoyed participating in this group. There was lots of opportunity for him to move, move, move! Bars, rings, trampoline, somersaults, headstands--he learned a lot!

We've had a few sunny days! Our ice rink is not so happy about this, but I love it! There is still lots of snow on the ground, but it is so nice to feel warmth on your face when you leave the house.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ethiopian Adoption Uncertainty

There has been a lot of talk in the adoptive community about rumors that Ethiopia will be severely reducing the number of international adoptions that it will allow to be processed. Apparently, the Ethiopian Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MOWA) has stated that they wish to reduce the number of recommendation letters (required for a successful adoption) that they write each day in order to provide greater attention to each individual case. Some have suggested that this action could decrease Ethiopian adoptions by up to 90 percent and significantly delay the adoption processes that do proceed. MOWA and court officials will be meeting this week in Ethiopia in order to discuss this issue.

Obviously, I care about international adoption. I think adoption can be a powerful, redemptive work in a broken, messy world. This blog post resonates with me because it looks at the current uncertainty from several angles, which I think is very important.

Will you join me in praying for the meetings in Ethiopia—that somehow God’s heart for orphans would be reflected in the decisions made there? Further, check out the Joint Council Emergency Campaign for Ethiopia at This site details a few other practical ways you can offer support for adoption processes in Ethiopia in the midst of this time of uncertainty.

Our LORD, you will always rule,
but nations will vanish from the earth.
You listen to the longings of those who suffer.
You offer them hope, and you pay attention to their cries for help.
You defend orphans and everyone else in need,
so that no one on earth can terrify others again. (Psalm 10)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Day at the Zoo

This past week was March Break. (Yeah, I started in February. Go figure.) We spent a few days in Toronto with Mike's family and had a super time! Here are a few favorite pics from our trip to the Toronto Zoo.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Our Busy Bread Machine (and a Recipe for you!)

Since adjusting Jadon's diet in an effort to make friends with his reactive digestive system, one of the common sounds in our house is the whirring of the bread machine. You should know that his bread machine was a wedding it has been faithfully serving this family for over 12 years! But it has been getting quite the workout lately, for sure.

Making our own bread means that I know exactly what is in it (as opposed to most bread labels which have a considerable list of "may contain..." items). I have done a bit of experimenting with different types of breads, but--for simple, inexpensive, sliceable, sandwich-friendly bread, I have landed on the following favorite recipe:

Sandwich Bread

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons warm water
1 cup warm milk (we usually use rice milk)
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup corn starch
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

Add the ingredients into a bread machine as listed. Set for a basic light crust setting. Wait 2 hours and 40 minutes (or as long as your bread machine takes). Enjoy!