How would I describe today? Frustrating at first, but completely satisfying by the end. Ha! And it’s not even the end. It’s only 7pm.
The day started off frustrating because Jacob and Natalie were just at each other. Being impatient with one another. Using annoyed tones as they spoke. Almost egging each other on with comments. It needed to end because it was driving me crazy. I drew attention to the need for resolution and peace. They didn’t have any solutions. I wanted to ban them to their rooms until they could come out with a more loving attitude towards one another. I whispered under my breath “Oh, God, give me your wisdom, I pray. Today is going to be a hard day.” And as I walked from my bedroom into the living room God ever-so-sweetly lay a thought on my mind: draw them closer to me, their God.
So I called them both to the couch. I sat there with my arms open wide, so that each one of them could take one side next to me. I covered our three laps with my super fuzzy and cozy fleece blanket. I opened up our Action Bible to the New Testament, explained to them who the 4 Gospel writers were: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I stopped and prayed- inviting God into the moment with us, asking Him to draw us together as we read His words and about His Son’s life.
And so together we sat there reading about the birth of Jesus and his early years…all the way up until he was baptized. Which reminded Natalie of a scene from the claymation video Steve had shown them on Netflix called “Jesus, the Miracle Maker”. I hadn’t seen it, so I asked them if they could show me the clip. They found it and showed me. After watching that Jacob said “oh, oh can we watch the part about the man building his house?” Um, what? Huh? I didn’t have any sense of what bible story reference he was talking about. He fast forwarded and found the scene. Ohhhhh, from Matthew 7 “The Wise and Foolish Builders”: Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; and yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
So I went and did a search online to see if there were any kid songs about this. ‘Lo and behold there is a song! And then I found that “Wise Man and Foolish Man” even has hand signals, as I did a search on YouTube. So the next thing I knew there we were- the 3 of us sitting in the kitchen at the computer learning this song and the accompanying hand movements. Peace was in our home. Love was flowing. My heart was profusely thanking God. Thank you God. Thank you.
I then thought of one of my newest, sweet friends Heidi….and how part of her home school curriculum with her children involves bible reading and memorizing verses. Why have I never done this with Jacob and Natalie? Never thought of it. But this morning there we were with a verse: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” I wrote it out on big paper with the blue line, dashed line, red line. And then had that be Jacob’s writing practice for the day. So there he sat reading, writing and committing the Lord’s words to his mind. That was a glorious moment!
And from there the day just got crazy fun. One thing led to another. I can’t possibly do true justice to explaining how in the world all of this flowed, but we moved from one topic to the next in our discovery/reading/research/writing this morning. I fully confess that these things seem SOOOOOOOO bizarre and in no way connected…..but, yes, if you’ve got Marina Wallis as your mama home school teacher allowing the flow of interest and curiosity to direct our learning…..then this is the sequence of instruction that is possible on a Thursday morning:
Remembering about our fieldtrip to the Long Beach Aquarium this past Monday…….remembering the giant blue whale model…..the soda bottle artistic sculpture display of a dolphin…..the sign drawing our attention to the capturing and slaughtering of dolphins in Taiji, Japan……where is Taiji? let’s find it on the map……the movie about it was called “The Cove”…..what is a cove? let’s find pictures of coves……who is Rick O’Barry? how is he advocating for dolphins?…..what are dolphins? fish? whales…..let’s look up a poster of the Order Cetacea…..yes! dolphins are in the same order as whales……what do bottle nose dolphins look like?…..oh what else is a cetacean?…..Narwhals??! what’s that? a whale with a giant unicorn-like tusk? huh?……..let’s look that up…….oh wow! narwhals have two teeth in their mouth. The right tooth stays small but the left tooth keeps growing and growing and growing until it is a giant tusk sticking out of the narwhal……oh let’s go check out narwhals on YouTube…….oh hey look there’s a silly animation…..oh geez, inappropriate content! eeeeeks! …….the song has lyrics about not letting narwhals hit you in the balls….and they say kickass in another line…..aaauughhh!!! i’m screaming inside!!!! how do I get out of this situation?!………okay, let’s focus on something educational in there and get out of the video!!! quick! abort mission!!!! failed attempt!!! so much for go-with-the-flow online research!!! Eeeks!!!……oh look it’s jokingly saying that narwhals are the inventors of shish kebabs…..they have a narwhal illustrated with meat on its tusk, as though it was a skewer……what are shish kebabs?…..let’s look that up…..okay what are skewers?……look, we have skewers: bamboo and metal……okay so what part of the world really likes to eat shish kebabs? who invented kebabs?…….Jacob chimes in: “Maybe Steve Jobs“……we roll on the floor laughing…..yes, yes….Steve Jobs and kebabs rhyme, yes they do!……okay I’m going to now draw on our whiteboard a funny picture……it’s Steve Jobs holding an iPad while riding a narwhal. He’s thinking he’s hungry, so the narwhal says he’ll swim him over to the Middle East for some shish kebabs……where is the Middle East?…..let’s go find it on the map……oh hey, we have other skewers too……fondue skewers……let’s look up pictures of fondues……yes, we’ve had oil fondue, but did you know there’s also cheese fondue? chocolate fondue? The kids were amazed.
and then it was time to get Natalie ready for preschool.
It’s cracking me up thinking how we created this gigantic web of connectivity between the most random bits of information.
And that’s not even the half of it. The day continued with the joy-filled reading and discovery of when chewing gum was invented. Learning about the Mayans in Mexico who chomped on chicle, the dried sap of the sapodilla tree. Centuries later when a Mexican General, Santa Anna, was defeated by the Americans in the acquisition of Texas in 1845, he was exiled to New York. It was there that he, Santa Anna, introduced chicle to an inventor, Charles Adams. Charles at first tried experiment after experiment to make toys, masks and rain boots out of chicle. But to no avail. One day as he sat in his workshop tired and discouraged, he popped a piece of chicle in his mouth. And wham! In that moment realized he could market this if he added different flavorings. Chewing gum factories were made.
And just to think that today this one page on the history of chewing gum, opened up the discussion and learning of…..the Mayans, the fight over land (we now call Texas) between the Americans and Mexicans, what exile means, the calculation of how many years have passed since 1845 until now, and how sometimes in our moments of discouragement is when great enlightenment and ideas occur.
Then a couple hours of intense, awesome math- that I am simply amazed at how Jacob can add a whole string of numbers together. How in the world is it even possible that he knows how to pick up numbers from a deck, with the end goal of 100. He picked up 14, then picked up 6. He knew he had 20. He then picked up 18 and could tell me in an instant that he had 38. He searched the table for more…..added the 32 card to it and then knew he had to go in search of 30 to arrive at the sum of 100. How?! Geez?! Wow! I sat there astounded as I heard him sharing his computational thoughts aloud problem after problem. The strength and might of the skills of mathematical addition all going on in his brain, left me there sitting speechless.
I’m exhausted. But very deeply and completely satisfied with this day. I’ve got to try this more often- of going before the Lord with my kids each morning. You would think I would have thought of that and would have been implementing that for years now. Not. I am thankful for my friend Heidi who planted that seed in my thoughts. Thank you new friend. And thank you God for answering our prayer from this morning.
Tonight as I tucked the kids into bed, I asked if they had anything specific they would like to pray for. Jacob replied, “Mama, I’d like to pray that tomorrow morning Natalie and I would be sweeter to each other and have a better start of our day.” He held onto that bad start all day long; my heart melted. With him I thanked God for answering our prayer this morning and asked God if He, the Prince of Peace, would gift the gift of peace to each of us as we roll out of bed in the wee hours of the morning.
Here’s hoping and praying that 6am looks sweet and loving tomorrow.
Thankful for the blessings of a full, satisfying day.
Thank you God.