Monday, June 20, 2011

Just So Stories

In my last post I referred to Elephant's Child. I borrowed that expression from Just So Storiesby Rudyard Kipling. As a family we have really enjoyed reading Kipling and listening to his stories read on CD. I especially like Kipling's focus on wild animals and far away India. His stories carry one far away to exotic places where anything can happen. Combine this with a great sense of humour and an impressive command of the English language, who can resist the books written by this master storyteller?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

'Satiable Curtiosity

As you may recall from my first post on this blog, I have given all my children nicknames for privacy purposes. Upon further thought, rather than naming Bob, Bob, I should have called him "Elephant's Child" on account of his insatiable curiosity. The other name I could have used is "Curious George" and, yes, we do call him George every once in a while.

I have never heard a 5 year old ask so many questions.

Perfect strangers at the door, sidewalk, store as well as family members are often taken aback at being accosted by a small boy firing questions at them with no end in sight.

The past few weeks have given Bob a big chance to ask his fill of questions.

Our bathroom is being renovated. The guys coming in and out of the house doing their work seem to enjoy Bob, who, perched on a chair right by the bathroom, watches and asks questions, and asks, and asks, and asks....

B: What are you doing?
W: Renovating your bathroom.
B: Why?
W: Because.
B: What are you holding?
W: A hammer.
B: Why?
W: So we can take apart this counter.
B: Are you going to crack it?
W: No, we are trying to keep it in one piece.
B: (to worker 2) What do you have?
W2: A grinder.
B: I have a grinder too.
W2: Great! We just might need it.
B: No, you can't use it. It has no batteries. What are you doing?...........


B: What are you doing?
W: Laying tiles.
B: Why are you taking that outside? (pointing to a tile)
W: To cut it.
B: What do you use to cut it?
W: A grinder.
(Worker coming in with cut tile)
B: Where did you cut it?
W: Here
B: Why did you cut it?
W: So it will fit.

And so it goes on. If the workers don't answer because they are too busy, Bob doesn't mind. He sits there, watching, biding his time until the guys have a minute to answer yet one more question.

Thankfully, no one has yet spanked him for his 'satiable curtiosity as was the case with Elephant's Child.

As an aside, people often think Bob is older than 5. His knowledge of things surprises them. His diverse vocabulary impresses them. Perhaps one maxim of education should be, "Ask questions; you'll learn a lot that way".

As Bob has the physical limitations that spina bifida imposes on him, he definitely makes up for it with his voluble nature.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Math 4 Preschoolers

What does one need in order to teach the little ones math?

1. The tiny book written by Dr. Ruth Beechick called An Easy Start In Arithmetic.

2. Manipulatives. I bought these cute bears at Scholar's Choice.

3. Wooden numbers. I bought mine at the Dollar store.

4. A relaxed attitude. It's amazing how much kids learn while playing!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Of Bush Tea and Self Knowledge

Every once in a while, I come across a book or series of books that has a special impact on me or resonates with me.

Having spent my early childhood in Africa, there always seems to be a piece of me that is distinctly "African".

A few years ago, someone recommended a series of books for me to read. She informed that as a TCK*, I probably would particularly enjoy those books.

That is how I became a fan of Precious Ramotswe and her friends, relations, clients, and opponents. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith has given me lots of laughs, triggered many memories, and carried me to the country called "Nostalgia".

Not only have I read all the books but I have also listened to some of them read aloud on CD. I can't remember the name of the narrator on those CD's but I love how she reads with such a true accent that greatly increases the sense of nostalgia for me.

This past week I read the latest book in this series: The Double Comfort Safari Club.

Following is an excerpt from the book filled with a truth that is presented in McCall Smith's inimitable humorous style. It's on page 5 of the edition I read.

"That was the way the world was; it was composed of a few almost perfect people (ourselves); then there were a good many people who generally did their best but were not all that perfect (our friends and colleagues); and finally, there were a few rather nasty ones (our enemies and opponents)."

Isn't that priceless? :-) So just know, all you people who 'generally do your best but are not all that perfect', if you don't agree with me that this series is delightful, I may need to move you to the "rather nasty" category. Thus speaks the 'nearly perfect' one. ;-)

Seriously, if we are honest with ourselves, is this not how we often think? That is probably why Paul needed to write that we need to "esteem others better than ourselves" because our natural response to others is that we are better than they.

Now, my dear blog readers, brew yourselves a cup of bush tea, put up your feet, and enjoy a visit to Botswana with Precious and co.

*Trans-Cultural Kid

Friday, June 3, 2011

What did we learn this week?

This blog was supposed to be about home education as well but I have written one, only one lone, post on that so far.

Well, let's remedy that!

We are on our last few weeks of the formal part of our home schooling for this school year. This week was supposed to be one of those weeks where lots of this book learning happens. We did three days.


Just blame the sun. After an extremely cold, wet spring we finally got a whole week of sunshine! I confess, I let the children play outside.

They got dirty in the sandbox.

They hunted for bugs.

They built a fort out of branches we had trimmed off one of our trees.

They blew bubbles.

They spent an inordinate amount of time on the swings.

They planted 'gardens'.

They tracked in lots and lots of sand and needed many baths. Their clothes got soiled but they've got sun-kissed legs, arms and faces. They are sleeping well and long at night and the amount of food they have consumed and water and juice they have sipped has risen astronomically.

I have been able to spend extra time organizing my home and preparing for our bathroom renovation starting next week.

I'm sure you're wondering how I can say this post is about home education! Ha, thought you'd never ask! :-)

I can tell you in one word: F L E X I B I L I T Y

Teaching my children at home means that I can allow them to take breaks like this from time to time knowing that there will be days in the summer when the kids don't know what to do. Sitting down then with a few books is no punishment especially if they are taught that education does not happen just during the school year and on week days.

Doing 30 minutes to 2 hours of 'school' per week during the summer is no hardship and allows the children to much better retain what they have learned throughout the year and not come back to school in September having forgotten so many things over the long summer. It also takes care of the days when they just need some one on one time with me.

This week I got a much needed break and so did the children. I would not be surprised if they learned nearly as much this week as in 'normal' weeks of book learning. They learned different things but they were still learning.

They learned how to get along with each other so they could stay out longer.

They learned to include Bob, who has spina bifida and can't walk. They helped him get on his plasma car, and on the swing. They brought the bugs to him for him to see and hold.

Bob learned to be patient and is now realizing that he doesn't need to worry about being left out.

Little Lucy is getting better at walking on uneven surfaces. :-)

These are just a few of the things my children learned this week. I think those are valuable things, don't you?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What Christians Can Afford

Once upon a time, there was a deep ravine. The bridge that spanned the ravine was a narrow log.

One day, two mountain goats needed to cross that ravine. Naturally, being nimble of foot, they had no problem getting on that narrow log to cross over to the other side. There was just one problem.

The goats were on opposite sides of the ravine. Unnoticed by each other, they both stepped on the log at the same time and began to cross this chasm.

What was going to happen when they met? Closer and closer to each other they walked.

Amazingly, one mountain goat lay down right on the log. The other goat stepped over him and continued his walk to the other side. The mountain goat got up and also continued his journey.

They both got safely to the other side because one was willing to be stepped over.
This story is attributed to Martin Luther.

Our pastor used the story above to illustrate the sermon he preached on Philippians 4:5.

"Let your reasonableness be made known to all men, the Lord is at hand." ESV

As you can see from the portion that I copied from an online lexicon (see bottom of this post), reasonableness in this context means


Because of certain happenings in my life this week, this sermon has remained with me in an especially powerful way.

Our pastor told us that he once heard a rich man say, "I can afford to be generous."

Just like that rich man can afford to be generous, Christians can afford to be fair. I can afford to be gentle when treated unfairly. I can afford to be fair in my judgment of others. I can afford to be gracious when things don't go my way or when others are unkind to me.

It is not a bad thing to be stepped on as a Christian because Jesus is coming. He will bring justice. I don't need to take vengeance in my own hands. When it comes to my name, my comforts, and my ideas, I don't need to spend my time, money and energy quarreling with others and focusing on being 'right'.

When truth is at stake or when Christ's honour is at stake, I don't need to be passive. However, I can still choose to be gracious, fair, and gentle in my battle for the truth.

How often have we not justified angry outbursts, hate-filled speech, contemptuous looking down on others, scoffing at or mocking those who are not as 'enlightened' as we are by claiming to be fighting for the truth.

Boldness does not equate harshness. Standing up for the truth does not mean trampling on other believers.

The law of love is what should govern our actions. Christianity is real when we are able to respond in a Christlike manner when a bad temper, harshness or despair would be our natural responses.

Christianity is not about a religious system but is all about a relationship with a Person. A relationship which transforms our entire life, especially our character.

Christ is so patient with me every day. I can afford to be patient with others.

Every day, Christ forgives the sins I have done over and over. I can afford to forgive those who have hurt me over and over.

Christ has shown a tremendous grace towards me. I can afford to be gracious to others.

Christ has and continues to shower me with love and mercy. I can love others extravagantly and be merciful to my fellow brothers and sisters.

And when Jesus comes back, He continues to show me His love by taking me to live with Him and by making me perfect and wiping away every tear. How can I not afford to be like Him?


The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon

Strong's Number: 1933
Original WordWord Origin
epieike├čfrom (1909) and (1503)
Transliterated WordTDNT Entry
Phonetic SpellingParts of Speech
ep-ee-i-kace' Adjective
  1. seemingly, suitable
  2. equitable, fair, mild, gentle
NAS Word Usage - Total: 5
gentle 5
NAS Verse Count
1 Timothy1
1 Peter1

Greek lexicon based on Thayer's and Smith's Bible Dictionary plus others; this is keyed to the large Kittel and the "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament." These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information

Thayer and Smith. "Greek Lexicon entry for Epieikes". "The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon".. 1999.