Archive for January, 2008

Bible Verses for Kids

What a privilege it is to teach our children the Word of God! I have a lovely book titled My ABC Bible Verses: Hiding God’s Word in Little Hearts by Susan Hunt that I would recommend to every parent of preschoolers. Each letter of the alphabet has a corresponding Bible verse and is accompanied by a story to illustrate the scriptural passage, mostly about behaving God’s way. I recently read that some parents use the book as a family devotional for their grade school children. All in all, its more than just a list of verses.

If you are not interested in purchasing the book, but would like a list of ABC Bible Verses, be sure to check out the following pdfs:

Bible Verses 1

Bibe Verses 2

Bible Verses 3

Bible Verses 4

I would suggest no matter which route you chose — book or pdf — that you set up a family chart to keep track of how everyone is doing. It should be a source of encouragement and accountability rather than a competition. Across the X-axis put each person’s name, including Mommy and Daddy. Down the Y-axis write each letter of the alphabet. When little Johnny has mastered the A verse, put a check or a sticker in the corresponding box. Then, before getting credit for B, he has to say A from memory again. The goal is for each person to be able to say the entire alphabet with it’s matching verse when this family project is over. This could be a fun pre-dinner exercise or done over dessert.

Finally, there is one last resource. I found the Presbyterian Church’s Parent Handbook for Scripture Memory online and have provided the pdf here for you. It includes information on how to get started, ways in which to help you child memorize scripture, and then age-appropriate verses from age 3 through the 5th grade.

Please, if you have tips for what has worked with your children, please share them here. May God bless you in your diligence.

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Eating Local

If you’re like me, you desire to feed your family a menu rich in nutritious foods. I try very hard to have the lion’s share of what we eat be “Whole Foods”, meaning that they are as close to the source as possible. This would mean that I would, for example, make a pot of soup with my own ingredients versus serving soup out of a can or making my own cornbread out of cornmeal instead of a mix. This drastically cuts down on the additives and preservatives that are found in processed foods today. While I’m certainly nowhere near perfect in this regard, the change in my thinking has been significant.

One of the other food related things my family is seeking to change is that we would consume as much of our diet from local foods as possible. I believe that this is significant for several reasons:

  • By eating local, I simply come into contact with more people, giving me the opportunity for relationships. I hold this dear especially because I live in a suburb right smack in the middle of a major metropolitan area. Personal relationships seem few and far between in this environment. The pace of life is so fast and we so often just pass others by. By building relationships, I have the distinct opportunity to share Christ’s love with others.
  • By eating local, I support my local economy, which only serves to further stimulate the local economy as the farmer spends the money I have given to him for his goods. When I buy food from a grocery store (which is most likely not headquartered in my community), this money leaves my local economy.
  • By eating local, my food tastes better! 🙂 What joy to bite into a tomato that was picked from the vine that morning instead of sitting on a truck for several days and then on my grocer’s shelf for the same amount of time. Hand in hand with that, locally grown produce has more time to ripen. Its not losing those days of transport and thus leads to less wasted food.
  • By eating local, I am helping the environment. My food doesn’t travel miles and miles, thus limiting the emissions that would be produced in this transport. In a March 2005 study by the journal Food Policy, it was found that the miles that organic food often travels to our plate creates environmental damage that outweighs the benefit of buying organic. [reference]
  • By eating local, I’m more aware of what I’m putting into my body. I’m more aware of what fruits and vegetables are “in season” (thus saving money by not paying top prices for “out of season” produce) and I’m more aware of what agriculture is prevalent in my area.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of reasons but they are some of my favorites. Now the questions of “how” to eat local comes up. Its not like the food simply shows up on your door step.

A few things to seek out:

  • Farmer’s Markets – Many communities set up Farmer’s Markets in a central place in the community. Local farmers, bakeries, and egg and meat producers bring their goods for sale. In my experience, the prices are better than the local market and the taste is superb! Vendors are often willing to barter and make sure to bring your own reuseable shopping bags. If you aren’t aware of where and when your local farmer’s market is, call your local extension office.
  • Farm Stands – Ask your friends and neighbors if there are any local farm stands where an individual farmer will place his goods, typically, at the front of his property. Many of these stands are on the “honor system” and you’ll get the freshest fruits and veggies in this way…YUM! I have a local stand and we love it. We stop in several times as week and have gotten to know the farmer and his wife. If I have a special request or need, he can generally make it happen for me…even going out into the field to grab more of a particular item.
  • CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) – Miss Ginsu describes a CSA like this: For any who don’t know, a CSA is a community supported agriculture group, which essentially works like buying stock in a farm at the beginning of the growing season. CSA members (the investors) pony up some cash and determine their terms. The farmers return dividends over the course of the season in veggies and also sometimes (if the farmer/s have relationships with other nearby farms) fruit, farm-fresh eggs or meat and flowers.” These are a “gamble” per se, but generally have a wonderful output. Many also require some number of volunteer hours on the farm. What a great opportunity to really see exactly where your food is coming from.
  • Local meat and dairy producers – Many local farms sell their animal good directly to the consumer as well. You have the opportunity to see how the animals are treated and how your meat or dairy is produced. Many dairy’s also deliver their goods weekly in reuseable glass bottles, thus eliminating plastic waste with milk and other dairy containers.

Here are some resources to help you out:

  • Local Harvest – Input your zip code and it will help you find resources in your area.
  • 100 Mile Diet – Lots of information about eating food all produced within a 100 mile radius of your home.
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – This book by Barbara Kingsolver documents her family’s year of living on food that came from their backyard or neighboring farms.

I’m very much still on the journey myself and I can’t even say that I majority of our food is local but I’m taking steps everyday.

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Review: The Godmother

Title: The Godmother

Author: Carrie Adams

Summary

While 30-something Londoner Tessa King questions her no-strings-attached lifestyle, she also witnesses her friends’ difficulties in marriage and parenthood while playing godmother to their broods. Nick and Francesca battle to keep their sullen teenager out of serious trouble; Billy, a single mom, can’t break ties to her now remarried ex-; Helen and Neil, fairy tale parents to twin boys, are hiding something; successful Claudia and Al struggle to conceive; and Ben and Sasha have no plans to have children. But Ben also happens to be Tessa’s best friend, and perhaps the love of her life. When tragedy eventually strikes the group, bonds are tested, and Tessa is forced to re-examine what she thinks will really make her happy. A painful look into the fears, doubts and desires that make and break marriages, this debut novel from Londoner Adams is notches up from the usual chick and mom lit fare. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. (Taken from Amazon.com)

Positive Elements
The characters in this story were well developed, which is probably why I read the whole thing. I wanted to find out what happened to them!

Sexual Content
There are explicit scenes in this book. (I can’t count the number of times the word “shag” was used.) I really didn’t expect these scenes in this book. I was under the impression it was more of a fun-loving story of “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” idea ( “always a godmother, never a mother”). I don’t think they were at all needed in this story. The main character, Tessa, leads one promiscuous life!

Violent Content
There was not any violent content that stood out to me.

Profanity
There is profanity throughout this book.

Drug Content
There is teenager in this book who smokes pot. The main character, Tessa, his godmother, joins in with him. It does speak of being high and there is a scene where he is passed out on the sidewalk. Tessa also frequents bars and parties, so alcohol is mentioned several times. Another character has issues with alcohol as well.

Conclusion
I was disappointed in this book. Like I mentioned before, I was under the impression that it was a fun-loving story of “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” idea. Maybe I should have researched the book a little more before reading it. It turned out to be a sad tale of a woman’s life and the miserable state of her friends.

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My babywearing experience (and making your own)

I’m a few years out of my babywearing era but I thought I’d toss a few things out as well.

When Svea (who is now 6) was born, I was attending La Leche League meetings and their carrier of choice at that time was the Over the Shoulder Baby Holder. While it certainly wasn’t my favorite carrier ever, I did find it comfortable and easy to use. It was pretty padded and I liked that I could tighten each rail by pulling the fabric differently. I did find it a bit bulky, especially for carrying in my diaperbag, so I moved on.

My next carrier was a Maya Wrap Pouch (which I’m guessing they aren’t selling any longer because I don’t find them on their website). I LOVED a pouch for a little infant because I wore Svea pretty much all the time, not just while out and about. I wore her while doing dishes, laundry, chores around the house, at the computer, etc. The pouch kept her very close and I easily nursed with her in it as well. As she got larger and heavier, it became uncomfortable as it is unpadded.

I used a variety of other carriers through my remaining babywearing days. I’m with Lisa on the Ultimate Baby Wrap…I found the fabric to be too stretchy and it was rather cumbersome to get on. My favorite carrier ever was a Calyx by Mama By Design. It was specially made for me and combines many of the features that I liked about the Ergo type carriers with a less bulky design. They are BEAUTIFULLY made.

I was always on the quest for the best carrier for me for the period of babywearing that I was in (a tiny infant, a nursing baby, corralling a toddler, etc.) and I began making some of my own carriers. Many were disasters and I got into a routine of making pouch carriers for friends and family using this pattern. I literally made dozens of these and they were rather disposable to me. We’d be out somewhere and someone would walk up to me and say, “Wow! I really like that thing you have your baby in. Where can I get one of those?” and I’d strip it off and hand it over…I guess I was on my own little babywearing crusade! 🙂 I usually used whatever cotton woven struck my fancy (sometimes matching it to my outfit) and occasionally experimented with fleece, which has a slight stretch. Making your own has some drawbacks…the best carriers have more structure that the beginning or average sewist could easily construct. But the freedom of design was a big draw for me. There is a wonderful page of free web-based baby carrier patterns here .

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Spring for SIDS

My dear friend Jen lost her 4 month old son Grady to SIDS in October. She has now created a fundraising team called “Grady’s Grace” to honor him and raise awareness for SIDS during the Spring-for-SIDS event. It is a national event sponsored by the American SIDS Institute to raise awareness about SIDS and to raise funds for SIDS research. The Institute is dedicated to the promotion of infant health through an aggressive, comprehensive nationwide program of:

  • Research about both the cause of sudden infant death and methods of prevention.
  • Clinical Services assisting pediatricians in the medical management of high risk infants.
  • Education about prevention methods aimed at the public and medical community.
  • Family Support providing crises phone counseling, grief literature and referrals.

Even though I would imagine that hardly any of you reading this know Jen or her family, most of you have heard of SIDS and have a healthy fear of it. If you would be interested in encouraging Jen, you can leave a comment on this post and she will see it. If you would like to donate just $5 to her team, please leave your email address and she will contact you. Most importantly, please pray for Jen, her husband John, and their two little boys as they continue to grieve over the loss of their precious Grady. Thank you.

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Review: Pillars of the Earth

Title: Pillars of the Earth
Author: Ken Follet

Summary

In a time of civil war, famine and religious strife, there rises a magnificent Cathedral in Kingsbridge. Against this backdrop, lives entwine: Tom, the master builder, Aliena, the noblewoman, Philip, the prior of Kingsbridge, Jack, the artist in stone and Ellen, the woman from the forest who casts a curse. At once, this is a sensuous and enduring love story and an epic that shines with the fierce spirit of a passionate age. (Taken from here)

Positive Elements

The story line is compelling. The author is so vivid with the details reading this book makes you feel like you are part of the 12th century. You empathize with the characters and their plights. It is a classic good vs evil saga. This book has elements in the story that would appear to variety of readers; a love story, war, medieveal history. It is a long book, 900 pages, it moves very fast. It almost like watching a good movie.

Sexual Content

There was more sexual content in this book than I imagined there would be. Early on in the book there is a rape scene between two of the central characters of the story that sets the stage for the entire storyline. There are also several vivid descriptions of sexual encounters between the characters. Some, I believe a little to gratitous and not necessary to the overall story.

Violent Content

The setting of this novel is 12 century England otherwise known as the Dark Ages. A term you will understand much more after reading this book. This time in history was known for its savage wars, unmatched cruelty and desperate means of survival. There are many paticularly violent scenes. The book open with the hanging of a thief. This sets stage for more savage acts including rape, murder and torture. I was a little disturbed by the amount of violence in the book. Some of the violence was central to the storyline in helping the reader understand the conditions of 12 century lifestyle. I often skipped over detailed descriptions of fighting and the war as I thought it was unecessary to the plot of the novel.

Profanity Content

I do remember several instances of profanity. It would seem to appear in random points through the book. Much of the profanity is related to the degradation of women.

Drug Content

None that I recall.

Conclusion

This book covers two generations and their quest to survive one of the most brutal periods of history. I would give caution to those readers who are sensitive to violence, as Follet spares no details in their description. The plot of this novel revolves around the building of magnificent cathedral. However, I would not call this a religious or Christian book by any means. The priests and the bishops portrayed in the book are the most ruthless and corrupt characters of the entire book. The novel certainly doesn’t provide a reader with a very positive view of the early times of the church. I thought that the story was well written and the characters are well developed. This book is well over 900 pages. So it will take some time to finish this book.

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Babywearing Resources

Websites & Blogs:

The Baby Wearer — website on babywearing; has reviews, articles, forums, products for sale, and much more

Ask Dr. Sears — babywearing information from Dr. Sears’ site

Babywearing International — a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote babywearing as a universally accepted practice, with benefits for both child and caregiver, through education and support.

Peppermint —  group dedicated to babywearing. Site has carriers by age, position, brand, and more. They have many resources including how to choose a carrier. Great resource!

Magic City Slingers — blog dedicated to babywearing

Articles:

NINO handout — Nine In Nine Out (NINO) organization’s handout on babywearing; great at a glance brochure

Bliss of Babywearing — brochure on the benefits of babywearing

Infant Carriers and Spinal Stress — article on spinal stress caused by some baby carriers

“Babywearing Tips” — article from Mothering magazine

Accessories:

Ergo sucking pad — babies will suck on just about anything and everything so this is a cloth to put on the straps

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