Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What's Up: Child Interviews

Just for fun, I asked the kiddos a few personal questions. Here are their responses, for the record...




JADON Age: 4 years, 1 month


Weight: 37 lbs.


Favorite food: avocado


Best thing you've recently learned: about dinosaurs from before they were extinct


Favorite activity: playing anywhere while I'm singing


Favorite new words or phrases: Pchooey (obviously not quite dictionary-worthy), driving me bonkers, deciduous, coniferous, noggin, trapezoid


Favorite animal: cats and dogs


Two words to describe yourself to others: hard-working and serious (when questioned, he stated that "serious means you're really true!")


ABBY


Age: 5 years, 6 months


Weight: 41 lbs.


Favorite foods: chips, cheese, and chocolate


Best thing you've recently learned: about butterflies


Favorite activity: swimming


Favorite new words or phrases: comme ci, comme ├ža


Favorite animal: kittens

Two words to describe yourself to others: sometimes quiet and sometimes loud




ETHAN


Age: 7 years, 8 months


Weight: 41.5 lbs.


Favorite foods: soup and pasta


Best thing you've recently learned: to put story pictures in order



Favorite activity: swimming



Favorite new words or phrases: Oh, yeah, baby; Let's roll, baby



Favorite animal: jaguar



Two words to describe yourself to others: awesome and strong



ANDREW Age: 8 years, 9 months

Weight: 73.5 lbs.



Favorite food: spaghetti, pizza, and lasagna


Best thing you've recently learned: about the ocean



Favorite activity: hockey



Favorite new words or phrases: Always the best deal ever!; Macaroni!; What a goal!



Favorite animal: orca



Two words to describe yourself to others: smart and determined

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Tapper Family Annual Easter Egg Encouragement Extravaganza

What a special family tradition! Lots of smiles this afternoon as the notes were written, the adventure of the hunt was on, and--especially--as the notes of encouragement were read!






For a description of our take on the Easter egg hunt tradition, scroll down to the end of my last post or click here and scroll down to the egg hunt section.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Symbols: Reflections from the Past Week

**Jadon was washing dishes. (He does love water--actually, he just had his first official swimming lesson today, and -- while he might not have won any awards for the best leg kick or back float -- he certainly took the prize for brightest smile of joy! Anyway, back to the dishes...) He reached in, up to his elbows at least in suds, and pulled a bowl out of the sink. It was a small bowl, but heavy, I'm sure, to him. Accustomed to his plastic "kid bowls," this ceramic one probably felt substantial, seemed weighty. He dipped it into the water, filling it to the brim, and balanced it on the edge of the sink.
"Mom, this reminds me of the Jesus bowl, like on the banners at church," he called out. "You know, Jesus is holding it with all the bad stuff and thorns and stuff."

(I love that my kids think like that, making connections from everyday, ordinary objects and events to spiritual ideas...that we can go from washing dishes to talking about how the right choices, the things God has for us, are not always what we think we want...that we can worship washing dishes.)
**We've been reading a Lenten devotional at bedtimes. A few nights ago, it included the passage about how the thorn of crowns was made, how they beat it onto Jesus's head, how he was mocked and spit on. Of course, imagining this happening to Jesus makes the children furious.

We asked the children what kind of crown they think that Jesus should have. If they could give him any kind of crown, no limits on what it was made out of or anything, what kind of crown would they make for Jesus? Oh, we had some creative ideas! The Tapper children do not lack for imagination!

(And I wondered, as I listened to them conjure up their most elaborate designs and features, how delighted God must be to hear us strive to express his worth, to communicate our adoration. Hebrews 12:2 talks about how Jesus endured the cross "for the joy set before him. I wonder if he knew--even as that crown of thorns was biting into his scalp--that, one day, Andrew and Ethan and Abby and Jadon would LOVE him so much.)

**Our at-home preschool theme of the week has been eggs. We've read some lovely books and discovered a lot of interesting information. Today, we even found a small, broken egg shell in our backyard. It is a treasured possession.

One of the things that has struck me is the diversity of eggs. When I think of eggs, anyway, I generally just envision a dozen large-sized grade A eggs, safely stored within my refrigerator. But some of our books have reminded us of the assortment of animals who get their start in life from inside an egg, of the endless variety of egg sizes, shapes, colors, textures, and of the diverse processes which are undertaken to care for different kinds of eggs.

(I love that our God is a terrifically creative God. He really could have just made all eggs white, smooth, round, and hard. But he didn't. He made the tiny, pink speckled eggs of the booted warbler and the tubular seaweed-grabbing eggs of the dogfish. He made the rubbery eggs of the green iguana and the pointy ledge-loving eggs of the murre. He made the huge and heavy egg of the ostrich and the miniscule eggs of the lobster. He made feet and soft belly of the male emperor penguin just right to hold its egg and the spider silk and tree leaves for the talented female tailorbird to sew up her egg-holding nest. And that's just a few eggs.

Mark Buchanan has said, "God's creativity is, in one sense, the most obvious thing about Him. He grandstands it, parades His crafts and wares and potions, brash and guady as a gypsy's wagon. But in another sense, God's creativity is hidden. He's elusive with it, playful, coy. Much of what He makes He tucks away, in microscopic minuteness or cosmic immensity, deep beneath us or far above us. He saves His most intricate work for the insides and undersides of things." Anyway, in studying eggs with my preschoolers, I feel like the men on the Emmaus road--like I just met my Lord again in a way I'd never thought about knowing him. And I'm pretty much them...left in awe, jaw-hanging open, head shaking, amazed and inspired.)




**Andrew reminded me of our Easter tradition. (I was impressed that he remembered.) Last year, we had an Easter egg hunt. However, hoping to skip the sugar-high and eager to provide meaningful family interactions during our first spring as a family of six, we came up with an alternative to the candy-filled eggs. On Saturday, each family member took some time to write brief notes to each of the other family members (or, in the case of the youngest, to dictate them). For the kids, most were just a sentence long, something like this: "I like it when you play cars with me" or "You are a good singer." I gathered all the notes and arranged them in plastic eggs, with all the notes for each individual family member in their own individual color of egg. For example, all the notes for Abby went into pink eggs. Mike and I did the hiding in the back yard Sunday morning, and the kids did all the finding! Then we went inside and read all the messages from our family.


It was a special way to celebrate life, love, and our many blessings. We're planning to do it again this weekend.


(How we, for real spiritual living, need the focus of a child on an egg-hunt! It really is a striking metaphor. If I would only be so focussed daily to find LIFE! I know God is not with-holding it. But it might be hiding a bit (in the "basement" of the yellow-rumped thornbill's two-story nest perhaps) while he stands by, eyes trained, brimming with the anticipation of our moment of discovery of all he's offering. My aspiration: Go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage...do good...be rich in helping others...be extravagantly generous. If [you] do that, [you'll] build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life. --1 Timothy 6:17 MSG)



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter Eggs

But from this earth, this grave, this dust,

My God shall raise me up, I trust. ~Walter Raleigh



We decorated eggs today. As we did, talked about our various family traditions associated with Lent and Easter and about what Christ's death and resurrection actually mean for us. Only one egg was dropped, causing some tears. Luckily, one smart mom had a few substitutes available for free trade.

Then, childish mischief and an interrupting phone call turned bedtime into a less-than-smooth process. Unfortunately, one tired mom doesn't always handle such situations with perfect technique.


And I'm reminded again of why I love (need) this season.




Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Courage

"Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." -quote from the movie The Princess Diaries


As weeks go, this one has been a hard one. Being a mother, a wife, a friend, a Christian, it certainly takes courage. And I can gather a lot more courage as I trust that I am not alone.


Wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badlands will celebrate and flower—

Like the crocus in spring, bursting into blossom, a symphony of song and color.

Mountain glories of Lebanon—a gift. Awesome Carmel, stunning Sharon—gifts.

God's resplendent glory, fully on display. God awesome, God majestic.


Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees.

Tell fearful souls, "Courage! Take heart!

God is here, right here, on his way to put things right

And redress all wrongs. He's on his way! He'll save you!" --Isaiah 35:1-4

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Overcoming "Flat-Brain Syndrome"

One of the books that I read during my Masters coursework talked about "flat-brain syndrome," which occurs when an emotional response minimizes one's ability to think rationally and respond to others appropriately. I've tried to become better at recognizing "flat-brain syndrome" in myself, to verbalize my own feelings more, and to avoid attacking others just because they happen to pass by while I'm feeling angry or stressed or whatever.

I've also attempted to recognize this emotional state in my children and to help them through it. Of course, it is not an easy job for anyone, but it can be particularly difficult for children who endured neglect, abuse, or significant trauma to calm down from an emotional outburst. We had one such incident with one of the boys today. Certainly, he was tired from a too-late-bedtime last night (because of a school concert that ran until almost 10pm!). Furthermore, it was in that space of time just before dinner when hunger starts to rise, but the food isn't quite ready yet. He was working on a project...I was trying to help...and let's just say that he didn't find my help particularly helpful.


Then came the explosion.

I never quite expect that. But here it was. Molten lava emotion spewing all over the living room. No sign of letting up. What should I do?

Fortunately, today, I thought of something that has been helpful in the past. Honestly, our emotional explosions are quite a bit more rare than the used to be (I'm so glad.), and I haven't had to think about too many diffusing options lately. But the idea of art popped into my head as the volcano roared. I simply pulled out a few sheets of paper, a bag of markers, and a case of colored pencils. I set them beside the offended party and quietly suggested that he might want to draw what he was feeling while I went to finish up the supper preparations in the kitchen.

I came back a few minutes later and found this...


...and an infinitely more agreeable child.


"Oooh! Can I see?" I asked.


He gladly handed over his creations.


"Can you tell me about these?" I queried, but he wasn't quite ready yet. I pointed to the shorter blue person. "Is this you?"


He nodded; a sheepish smile turned the corners of his mouth.


I pointed to the oval-shaped object near the mouth region of the boy figure and guessed. "Is that your tongue sticking out?"


The grin was unstoppable now.


"And is this who I think it is?" I asked as I pointed to the larger figure with the glaring face and the various marks upon its frame.


"That's you!" he exclaimed with glee. We giggled together and continued to talk--to actually talk about his feelings and about how great it was that he was able to share in this way, safe and productive.


Needless to say, I love this simple technique. It's like a little trapdoor that allows for the release of all kinds of pent-up emotion that my little guy can't quite figure out how to control, an alternative form of expression when verbal language simply doesn't suffice.


If others of you are using art in some creative way with kids, I'd love to hear about that. Or if you have any other strategies for overcoming "flat-brain syndrome" in your household, I'm eager to hear any other ideas, too. And if you come across a flat-brain (your own or someone else's) in the days ahead, feel free to give this feeling-drawing technique a try and let me know how it goes!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Leaky

Honestly, today was one of those days when I felt like my "patience tank" must have had holes in it, because I felt repeatedly annoyed by various behaviors among the Tapper clan.
I don't enjoy those days so much.
I did enjoy watching Ethan help his Daddy change out the winter tires on the van. Seeing him work always makes me smile. He loves a good, physically-demanding job.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

First Snow-less Day at the Park


Answer to a Child's Question by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Do you ask what the birds say? The Sparrow, the Dove,
The Linnet and Thrush say, "I love and I love!"
In the winter they're silent -- the wind is so strong;
What it says, I don't know, but it sings a loud song.
But green leaves, and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
And singing, and loving -- all come back together.
But the Lark is so brimful of gladness and love,
The green fields below him, the blue sky above,
That he sings, and he sings, and for ever sings he --
"I love my Love, and my Love loves me!"