Saturday, June 30, 2012

Thankful

“Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant—a seed—this plants the giant miracle.”
― Ann Voskamp



I am grateful for new parks in our city. We have discovered a beautiful new park with a splash pad just a few blocks from the kids' school. What a fun spot on hot summer days!  The city has also been doing some major repairs on a large park that is just up the main street from us. We are looking forward to new suprises there. It is a joy to see the children laugh and play together.

I am also grateful for some awesome teens in our church.  A couple of weekends ago, our church had a campout at our district camp at Silver Lake.  The location is absolutely beautiful, and we enjoyed tenting, swimming, kayaking, picnicking, chatting, and playing together with others from our church community.  For my kids, it is really special to have time with some of the "big" kids, who choose to  include the younger folks in what they are doing.  One young woman brings fancy nail polish to paint fingernails for all the girls (a treat that Abby loves, of course!).  There are several strong teen boys who wrestle and play with younger folks in such a fun and energetic way.  I would imagine that these teens might prefer other things to being climbed on, chased by, and accosted with questions from 5-9 year olds, yet they have shown themselves to be so gracious and loving and inclusive.  The Tapper children adore them, and I am truly thankful to belong to a community with such a culture.  And I hope that my kids will be shaped by the love they have received from others.

Here are some thank-you pictures that my four made to express their appreciation for the teens:





I'd love to hear what or who you are thankful for today!  Leave me a comment!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fun Times with Two and My First Craft Tutorial!

School has finished here and the summer adventures have begun!  Andrew and Ethan are enjoying a few days traveling with Grampsie and Nanny and their RV.  I am sure they are having a blast!
Meanwhile, the younger two are also having a marvelous time--with each other!  It has been very cute to see them enjoying each other's company so much.  Abby decided she wanted braids like Jadon, so we gave her a few.  They have been loving playing together, reading books together, riding bikes together, having picnics together...


 ...posing for pictures together :)  (This next one was taken after Jadon accidently knocked out Abby loose front tooth while they were playing balloon volleyball in the living room!)



While those two have been happily entertaining each other, I have been thinking ahead to some of the upcoming driving that is involved in some of our summer adventures.  I will use some of the ideas for car trips that I have mentioned before, but there was one problem that always seemed to plague us.  Despite the use of individual plastic trays for each child to use as a desk/table for holding "stuff," it always seemed that we ended up with a complete mess of markers or colored pencils on the floor of the van.  Whether I used plastic pencil cases or zipper pouches that could be clasped within 3-ring binders, it didn't seem to matter.  The coloring supplies were somehow spilled or dropped or knocked from hands.  Once out of reach on the floor, they were unusable during the hours of driving that still remained.  Then, of course, there was the clean-up after...

So, I chose to try something new.  I did a bit of searching online, and decided to try my own adaptation of a pencil roll.  Below, with pictures, I will try to describe all the steps involved, so that you may want to make your own!  Here is what you will need: two pieces of fabric (at least 20x12.5 inches), a 20 inch cut of bonding product, about 2 yards of ribbon, a washable marker, a ruler/tape measure, an elastic, a button, a sewing machine, an iron, and thread.  Oh, and you might want to have some pencils, too!

Okay, here's the tutorial for the (Hopefully) Drive-Friendly Pencil Roll!

1) First, cut 2 rectangles of contrasting fabric, about 20 inches by 12.5 inches.

2) Iron WonderUnder or HeatNBond or a similar product onto the back/wrong side of one of the fabrics. 

3) When cool, peel the paper off of the bonding product.  Place the other rectangle, right side up, on top of the bonding product, matching edges of the rectangle.  Iron again, making sure that the fabrics are fully adhered.  When finished, you should have one rectangle with contrasting designs on each side.

4) Next, cut 2 lengths of ribbon just a little longer than the long edge of your rectangle (so about 20 1/2 inches).

5) Fold the ribbon in half over the long edge of the rectangle, pinning as you go.  Sew the length of the ribbon, staying near the ribbon's edge, but making sure that you catch both sides of the ribbon (on top and the side folded underneath.)




6) Repeat step 5 for the other long side of the rectangle (with the second length of ribbon). 

7) Decide which fabric will be your "outside" fabric and which will be your "inside" fabric.  Then, lay your rectangle with the "inside" side facing up.  Fold the bottom edge of the rectangle up so that it covers just a bit more than half of the "inside" fabric.  Iron to crease.


8) Now it is time to mark your pencil spaces.  I gave myself 1 1/4 inches from the edge for my first mark.  Then I marked every 3/4 of an inch, straight up and down from top to bottom.  (I ended up with 25 pockets).  I like this spacing because it keeps the pencils in tight.  If you wanted a looser fit, try marking every 1 inch.  (You'll end up with less pockets.)


9) Next, sew directly on your marked lines.  Cut away all those extra threads as you go!



10) When you have finished sewing all the pockets, you will need to cut 2 more pieces of ribbon.  This time, cut them about an inch longer than the short ends of the rectangle.



11) Again, you will need to fold the ribbon in half over the edge of the rectangle.  I folded over the end of my ribbon for a nicer edge.  Pin as you go.


12) Then, sew, as before, along the edge of the ribbon.  Once again, be careful to try to sew through all the layers, including the layer of ribbon at the bottom.

Here, you can see, I found I had gone "off track" a bit on the underside.  If this happens, just reload it into the machine and touch up the spot that needs tacking down.


See, fixed right up!


13) Repeat steps 11 and 12 for the last edge of the rectangle. 



14) Test out those pockets with some pencil crayons, if desired.


15) To keep the roll closed when not in use and to provide a hanging option, I attached an elastic and button.  For this you need an elastic (I used a ponytail holder.) and a short length of ribbon. Fold the ends of the ribbon under and iron the creases down flat.



16) Next, pin the ribbon halfway up one short-side edge, making sure the elastic is through the pinned-down ribbon.  Then sew the ribbon in place.  (I did this by hand, but you could do it with a machine.)

17)  Finally, roll up your pencil-loaded roll, stretch your elastic to find a proper latching position, and hand-sew a button into place.

Here are two pencil rolls that I completed this afternoon and evening!  The pencils slide in very nicely but are held in firmly.  The elastic will allow the kids to hang these on those hanger things above the windows in the van.  They should be able to take the pencils out one at a time and then return them to their snug home...hopefully, without spilling and dropping!  We'll see how it goes :)



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Les Livres du Lundi (Mais C'est Mardi, Aujourd'hui!)

My own reading has been a bit sporadic in the last little while, but I wanted to pass along a few great children's storybooks selected as Jadon's Picks of the Week:

First, Kofi and His Magic by Maya Angelou tells the story of a young boy from West Africa who has a secret skill to share.  This imaginative tale incorporates cultural awareness with a unique narrative style and fascinating pictures. 

Next, Buried Treasure by Juliet Kerrigan was a very informative little book about archeology.  I was suprised by how interested all of my children were in this book that described archeological finds from various periods in history.  The book also includes discussion ideas for parents.

The Scoop on Poop by Wayne Lynch might sound like a story full of bathroom humor, but it is actually a fascinating exploration of scientific knowledge on animal waste.  Full of cute--not disgusting--humor, this book is full of facts about the quantity, color, and uses for dung from around the world and from all kinds of animals, including humans!

Finally, Jadon has really started to enjoy telling jokes.  So, his final book of the week is Kids are Funny 2.  From this (and a few other sources), he has collected quite a little routine of funniness.  Here are a few of his favorites:

Q: What is a sheep's favorite fruit?
A: A baaaaaaaa-nana!

Q: What kind of car does a farmer drive?
A: A corn-vertible!

Q: What does a cat have at a birthday party?
A: Cake and mice cream!

Q: What did the 0 say to the 8?
A: Nice belt!

1: Knock, knock.
2: Who's there?
1: Juicy.
2: Juicy who?
1: "Juicy" the hockey game last night?

Q: What do you get when you cross a lighthouse and a henhouse?
A: Some beacon and eggs!

Q: Why did the bird cross the kitchen?
A: To-eat!  To-eat!  To-eat!



Happy Reading!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Picture (and Thought) for the Day

If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies.  --Author Unknown

Monday, June 4, 2012

Family Ministry Banners

Here is a sneak peek at some banners that I helped to create for our church.  We are celebrating some of the past year's family ministry events on Sunday and wanted something new in our worship space to emphasize this focus.  As you can see, the banners are designed to reinforce the celebration of God's saving works.  My own children have really enjoyed looking at the symbolic banner as it has been coming together at our house.  They enjoy reviewing the Bible stories that correspond with each of the pictures.  Can you identify each image?  (That really is the point!!!) 

What you cannot see on this picture is the final detail--the "plain" banner with the verse will have many colored handprints, traced from the hands of the children of our church, all around the outside edge--another beautiful symbol of the God's work even now in the life of God's Church.

 

O my people, listen to my instructions.
Open your ears to what I am saying,
for I will speak to you in a parable.
I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
stories we have heard and known,
stories our ancestors handed down to us.
We will not hide these truths from our children;
we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
about his power and his mighty wonders.
For he issued his laws to Jacob;
he gave his instructions to Israel.
He commanded our ancestors
to teach them to their children,
so the next generation might know them—
even the children not yet born—
and they in turn will teach their own children.
So each generation should set its hope anew on God,
not forgetting his glorious miracles
and obeying his commands.
Psalm 78:1-7 NLT

Les Livres du Lundi

I just finished reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.  In this book, the story of the Price family is told from the perspective of Orleanna, the wife and mother, and from the views of each of the four daughters.  Each narrator brings a unique personality and an alternative perspective to the story of an American family's missionary endeavor in the Congo during the 1960's. 

While some Christians might find the presentation of Nathan Price and his family to be an unfairly negative representation of Christian servants, there is, unfortunately, considerable evidence for imperialistic cultural ideals associated with historic missions movements.  I prefer to consider this novel as a personal challenge toward seeking to understand before seeking to be understood.  Certainly, this is a lesson that has many implications!  Therefore, I would recommend this book to discerning readers, especially those who are interested in Africa or missions philosophy.

Jadon's Pick of the Week is Bat's Big Game by Margaret Read MacDonald.  This story is a re-telling of a folk tale regarding the question of a bat's classification as an animal or a bird.  In this version, bat tries to play on both sides of a soccer game, according to whoever is winning at the time.  Jadon says, "The bat learned to stick on one team."

Other favorites included Llama, Llama, Home with Mama by Anna Dewdney, and The Retired Kid by Jon Agee.  Oh, and one afternoon, Jadon spent about an hour reading the hymnal--too cute!



Happy Reading!