One more of these for now, and then I truly shall attempt to move onto other writings:
This is about how our conversation went the other night:
I was sitting on the couch with the three older girls and Matt was playing guitar.
Me: "Doesn’t daddy play pretty music?"
Isabelle: "You’re right mommy, daddy is playing a pretty song."
Me: "You know, that’s one of the things that made me fall in love with your daddy – he played such beautiful music for me."
Isabelle: "Yeah, I love daddy too!"
Hannah, looking very thoughtful: "Well, I love cheese!"
Hannah, looking still more thoughtful: "And big raisins!"
I know, I know, I’m easily entertained. But I just get the biggest smiles out of some of my kids’ questions during family worship. Tonight Matt was explaining how God holds the world together, and if He did not do that, the world would fall all apart, so to speak. He was making it a bit more exciting and dramatic to help the girls understand a bit – he held his hands as if around a globe, and said that if God were to stop holding the world and all things together, then POOF!, they would go all apart! After this and some explanation of other things we’d read in the Bible, Hannah had a very serious little look on her face, and asked most thoughtfully "ummm, daddy what is POOF?" Daddy chuckled and said "out of all that you are wondering what poof is, huh?" Isabelle turned to her and said (almost perfectly quoted, I do believe) "Hannah, POOF means the whole world falls on our house. And there might be fire . . ."
Well, my oldest two daughters had a lovely luncheon feast today. I decided to give them a "diligence chart" a couple of months ago, to help them gain more diligence in their chores, and also help them to understand how we reap what we sow over time. I’m not usually big on rewards -I want my girls to obey because it is good and right and pleases God, not just for a treat. But this was a long haul for them – each time they did a particular chore diligently and cheerfully they put one little star in that column. I promised them that once they filled up the whole chart they could have ice cream for lunch. It took them a few months, if I recall correctly. Now, Miss Hannah didn’t quite get the concept of individual rows, so we counted her chart as "full" when Isabelle’s was. It was such a proud moment this weekend when Isabelle put in the last "morning chores" sticker for making her beds and getting all the water cups ready! Today was the big day. They each were presented with a heaping bowl of good homemade ice cream, graham crackers, blackberries and orange slices! What a feast for little them!
Can you guess which chart belongs to whom?
Love the dimples!
Can we have this for lunch every day?
I can’t resist throwing in a picture of the new baby (sort of ) around 14 weeks old!
Tonight during family worship, Matt was reading from a children’s story Bible about Moses parting the red sea. Matt read: "Do you see what Moses is holding in his hands? Yes, it’s a staff. . . ." and so on, through the rest of the story. Hannah was sitting with me, so I will preface this by saying that she couldn’t actually see the pictures. Here were the little questions after the story, and her rather entertaining answers:
Matt: What is Moses holding in his hands?
Hannah: "Ummmm, a fish!"
Matt: Well, it was a staff, or a rod (like a stick, I added in). Did he raise the staff up?
Matt: What happened when Moses did this?
Hannah: "Ummmm, he fell in the water!"
Not to worry, Isabelle went on (perhaps a little truimphantly) to fill in the correct answers.
I’ve been rather remiss in taking pictures lately, partly because my camera is being very odd. But I did remember to take a few shots this week. Here are some of my favorites:
Happy Little Naomi
I was trying to capture her "serious, pursed lip" face – not sure if I quite got it, but I did try.
Have I mentioned Isabelle is expecting a balloon baby?
Happy little Penny (who unfortunately inherited mommy’s klutziness, and managed to poke herself under the eye putting a puzzle away!)
Ooooooooohhhhh. . .
Hee, hee, hee. . . .
do you like my little rascal hair?
what are we saying?
on the go
still sleepy and chilly, Hannah’s toasting up in daddy’s jacket
Just hanging out in the shower!
Some close ups of Isabelle
One thing I’ve noticed is that certain facets of child training seem to get easier with successive children, due (I’m guessing) to the younger ones having the older ones to watch. For example, I have never really had to "teach" Naomi to tidy up – she’s always known how (she doesn’t always do so perfectly, but that’s a different subject!) She could tidy up all the playpen toys she’d chucked out from the time she was fifteen months old. And some things get a bit easier as they simply become more instinctive to me. One of those things is simply teaching "no" to a baby. Where five years ago it would have been instinctive to move my eyeglasses out of baby’s reach, now it’s just as instinctive to me to leave them there, and use the opportunity to teach my baby what "no" means (or practice her little restraint). This is one thing that was brought up in the parents’ study we’ve attended recently. One of the fathers talked about creating an "antithesis" for our very young ones. He recommended starting with something that was extremely important to teach our babies anyway, such as not touching the wood stove. He reminded us that we want to teach, train and discipline, all of which are separate things. We teach by showing baby what to do what not to do. So perhaps I would take Juliette near the fireplace and pat the nearby carpet while saying "yes". Then I could touch the tile surrounding the stove (to create a boundary) and say "no, no". After repeating this a few times, I could also use her hand and say the same words. That’s the teaching part. Then comes training – I set up situations in which she will face the temptation to touch the tile. Perhaps I set her blocks near the fireplace (which can be so appealing with all those orange flames!) Then I watch like a hawk (maybe where she can’t see me), and whenever she puts her little hand on that tile, I swat it (or flick for a little one) saying "no". This is more to train her than to discipline. The little pain reinforces the word "no", and also reinforces not touching the tile near the fireplace. Once I’m confident that she understands and obeys I can relax quite a bit, and simply discipline if ever she disobeys. It’s actually very cute to watch a little hand come near the tile, then pull back so quickly on it’s own! It surely seems preferable to me to house-proof our children than to child-proof every last thing in our house (to borrow a phrase). Through all four of our little ones we’ve never once had a child burned on our fireplace.
Another thing Juliette has been learning is to sit nicely on my lap for family worship (and thus for church). It’s been a relief to be reminded (after temporarily forgetting, and being rather flustered with her grabbiness) that I can train her not to touch what I’m holding – whether it’s glasses, an open Bible or a little communion wine cup. It also brings a silly smile to my face when I whisper "no" in her ear, and she yanks that little hand back. Still, knowing these things doesn’t automatically do them for me. After being sick for almost three weeks I have a bit of retraining to do, and I am seeking to be diligent to restore that peaceful order in certain areas where it’s currently lacking.
There’s been a study at our church over the past few months for parents of preschool age children. It has to do, largely, with training our children in righteousness. We’ve only been able to attend a couple of times, but it’s been such a blessing, as well as a wonderful reminder of many things we may have let slip. One thing that’s been the most encouraging to me is that there are a couple of different teachers rotating – all godly men with wonderful, faithful families. And while they are all implementing the same biblical principles, there is such variety in the methods they employ in teaching their little ones. It’s been an encouragement that though our family culture and the way we apply certain principles may look different, it is truly God’s grace working through these things to produce "the peaceful fruit of righteousness" in our families. There are times when I begin to feel stressed that what we do with our children doesn’t look exactly like "Shepherding A Child’s Heart", "Raising Godly Tomatoes", or "To Train Up A Child" (since it can’t possibly look like all three at the same time!), and Matt gently reminds me that our family is our family – we are different than every other family. The commonality, and the reason why the people who have shared their wisdom in these and other books have faithful families is because of God’s grace. His grace abounds to us as we work through faith in His promises, and we diligently seek to teach, train, and discipline our children according to His word. One of my favorite passages about discipline is Hebrews 12:9-11 "Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." This passage reminds me that as fathers and mothers we can only discipline our children as seems best to us (never with God’s perfection), based on diligent study of God’s word. The beauty of it is, that although we are never "perfect" in our methods, God allows our discipline to produce the "peaceful fruit of righteousness".