Sunday, December 21, 2008

Some day we'll laugh about this

Ah, Jordan. My chunky little nephew. You are the happiest, smiley-est, most charming baby ever one minute. Then the fussiest, most anxious and discontent baby the next. You have come in, rocked our world, and stolen our hearts in not even a half a year. And above all, you are certainly not your brother, nor your cousin. You are uniquely you, and you have changed everything we are used to about babies.

You always have me on my toes, sometimes reminding me not to be at the computer too long and other times to get down on the floor and play with Duplos for a little bit. And other times, giving me a hard time while I'm trying to read aloud a story. But you make up for every tear with a dozen shining smiles, and it makes it all worth it even more.

I sometimes have to remind myself of the wise words of your Nana, this too shall pass. We're here for you buddy, and we'll get through this. And as we were snapping pictures today, it made me think, that one day we'll look back and laugh at this. About the first few months of life when you cried nonstop. And about the following few month where you were full of smiles one second and full of tears the next. It doesn't always feel laughable, but in the end it will be but a fleeting moment in time to share a smile about. Love you little man.

~Aunt Liz

"Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right."
Proverbs 20:11

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Directed Confession

"Mommy, that's a bad word."

It's a bad habit, my road rage. Okay, rage is a little bit of an over-exaggeration. No, a LOT of an over-exaggeration. But in light of a less-than conscientious driver I encountered today, I mumbled under my breath, "What the heck?"

I try to encourage Hunter not to use euphemisms. A euphemism is, after all, a just substitute for a harsher, more offensive word. And although a word's euphemism is generally less offensive than the original, the meaning and attitude is yet the same. And after all, it's really not comely for a young man, or woman. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." (Ephesians 4:29) Euphemisms certainly don't edify or minister grace so, I try not to use them.

I say try because, I still have a bad habit of doing so. It's hard to teach your child something when you're doing the opposite in front of him. More is caught than taught...

Anyhow, our conversation today went like this:

"Mommy, that's a bad word."

"You're right Hunter, I'm sorry I really shouldn't say that, it's not a nice thing to say."

"Tell God you're sorry."

"I'm sorry God."

"He forgives you."

"That's good."

"Tell God thank you."

"Thank you God."

I was a bit surprised - "Tell God you're sorry"? I'm not sure where he picked that one up. I suppose he's probably overheard me praying before. Kids pick up on the funniest things.

"And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long."
Psalm 35:28
Hunter is 3 years, 9 months old

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What Do You See?

What do you see in this picture? A water-spitting phenomena? An obtuse angle? A yellow sunset over a blue ocean? A sign pointing left?

Hunter saw this squirt gun today and said, "Hey Mom, look! It's Ukraine!"

The things he picks up on...

"The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God."
Isaiah 52:10

Hunter is 3 years, 9 months old

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Museum of Science and Industry

Today we went with our family to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. We haven't been there in a long time even though we have a membership. It's a really great museum, and apparently the largest science museum in the Western hemisphere! We're so blessed to live so close to such awesome learning experiences in our community.

The main focus of our visit was to see their seasonal exhibit, Christmas Around the World or also called Holiday of Lights. Each year at Christmas time they deck their halls with dozens of Christmas trees, each tree representing one of more than 50 countries. The ornaments on the trees represent the traditions of the country and there is a tablet in front of each tree giving you information about how that country celebrates, a traditional holiday greeting (Feliz Navidad!), and other fun information.You can actually go to the link above and read about the different countries featured.

Some of the trees didn't quite represent that country's respective decorating traditions, i.e. the USA tree looked more like a Fourth of July tree than a Christmas one! But the Swedish one, on the other hand, had tons of familiar decorations, like the straw reindeer and the weaved paper heart ornaments. Hunter's Great Grandma was full-blood Swedish, and we actually have some Swedish Christmas decorations such as these that she gave us.

We learned a lot in this exhibit and read many of the trees.

Fast Forward

The Fast Forward into the Future exhibit was pretty neat. Emailing pizzas? Human-like robots? There was a lot of interesting stuff in this exhibit, which Hunter enjoyed. Below - Hunter and Jocelyn enthralled by the "magic" mist at the entrance; Hunter experiments with some sort of sound-mixing music machine; Hunter tests out a fuel-efficient car; butterflies land on Hunter's outline as he experiments with a computer that can be run by your shadow.

Chicks and Genetics

Hunter really loved the baby chicks at the Genetics exhibit. I think we all did, as we hung around there for a long time! There were a lot that were already hatched but we didn't get to see any hatching, unfortunately. Hunter and Jocelyn also really loved playing with this touch-screen controlled video presentation that takes you into life in the womb.


We briefly looked at the train exhibit. There were tons of awesome little electric trains running on over 1000-feet of track, with mini replicas of the city of Chicago and so much more.


We spent quite a while relaxing in the aerodynamics exhibit, which I would have loved to explore more with Hunter, except I spent most of the time sitting down! We were all pretty exhausted at that point - well, everyone except Hunter that is! I had a hard time keeping an eye on him as he was busily running all around checking everything out!

"And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints."
Psalm 89:5

Hunter is 3 years, 8 months old

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Window-Washing Adventures

Several months ago Hunter was helping me wash windows at the gym and I meant to blog about the conversations we had, but never got to it. We were having some interesting talks about contrails, rock doves, crickets, and ants. While I washed I spilled some drips on the ground, some in the sun and some in the shade, and we decided to see which one would dry faster. We talked about why the sunlight makes the water evaporate faster, and enjoyed a little spontaneous science lesson.

Today we were once again washing windows together, and having our usual conversations, about the clouds and the weather and the people and the birds. This time we were singing Christmas Carols in preparation for the Christmas party that is coming up on Monday. I let him help me wash sometimes (he works on the windows I haven't done yet) or he plays on the sidewalk. He hasn't helped me with this in a while and I believe it was July or August since our last window-washing adventure.

The minute we got out there Hunter found two old, dead leaves and dipped them in the water then laid them out on the sidewalk, watching. He did this for a while before he brought up that he was testing which one would dry the fastest. It's so much fun working with him and it's nice to know how much he remembers the conversations we have, even if it was months before.

"... a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun."
Ecclesiastes 8:15

Hunter is 3 years, 8 months old

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Të dua!

Saying I love you in Albanian [të dua (tuh-doo-ah)] and sign language.

"I will love thee, O LORD, my strength."
Psalm 18:1

Hunter is 3 years, 8 months old

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Hunter got a Rubik's cube a few days ago. I got him a 2x2 cube and a little later, got myself a classic, 3x3 one (pictured).

This mechanical puzzle was invented by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik, hence the name. It's purpose? To demonstrate the properties of three-dimensional figures to his students.

There are exactly 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible combinations on this little two-inch high toy. Hence, solving it is completely about mathematical logic and reason rather than guesswork, as you could literally spend your entire life doing nothing but twisting the layers to different combinations and still not even touch the surface of possibilities. Forty three quintillion possibilities, one solution.

With so many possibilities and only one solution, it is the unsolvably solvable cube.

The solution to the cube is found in algorithms, those wonderful things that give Google's search engine its power, astronauts the ability to send a spacecraft to the Saturn, and a fifth grader the information to discover the solution to 253 x 746. Algorithms power computer science, mathematics and even linguistics and understanding them is key to all things math and science.

So what could playing with one of these little, inexpensive toys do for a little kid's brain? Well, let's just say I'm not even going to even try to analyze the potential, but I do know that exposure to manipulating one of these little toys has an incredible potential in teaching a superbly advanced level of logic, reasoning, and concentration skills as well as developing an intense understanding of the properties of three-dimensional geometry.

Has he solved it yet? No. Does he play with it all the time? Not really. It sits in his toy box, right in there with his wooden blocks, and he likes bring it out to fiddle with it while we're driving in the car. He joyfully exclaims when he gets two, three, or four blocks of the same color next to each other. Perhaps he'll figure out one of the algorithms (there are many) on his own, or maybe we'll look it up and explore the possibilities together. Who knows, but all I know is that it is one of the best $10 I have spent! With all the potential, what an incredible gift to invest in your child!

What can you teach your tiny kids? Absolutely anything!

"Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences... were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation."
Daniel 5:12

Hunter is 3 years, 8 months old

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Solution to Obnoxious, Talking Happy Meal Toys

"And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: ...for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless."
Luke 1:22

Hunter is 3 years, 8 months old

A is for Albania

You Can Change the World

Those are some pretty weighty words to be saying to a three-year-old, especially when you're not talking in future tense. But that is the title and focus of the new book we're going through, and it's not about building kids' self esteem but about teaching them to pray for the nations.

The book mainly focuses on praying for your family but I got the great idea to start praying for the nations, and we're using the book "You Can Change the World" by Jill Johnstone. It is the children's version of Operation World. Each week we will be praying for a new nation or people group, and learning things about them to better help us know what to pray for. The book we're using is written for children and is in alphabet-style format, with a different country or people group for each letter. The first country is Albania:
A is for Albania, where Christians once were banned; But God has stepped in and is changing this land.
Hunter is very excited to be praying for the people of this nation, and to know that he is having a lasting effect on the eternal souls of these people.

But perhaps you're thinking, do the prayers of toddlers really mean anything? Isn't changing the world a little much for a three-year-old? Are the prayers of tiny kids simply cute, innocent, and sweet, or are they capable of having a true and lasting effect on the world? I believe whole-heartedly that God views little children as so much more than "cute" and takes their requests seriously.

"And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them." (Mark 10:13-16)

"Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great." (Luke 9:46-48)
"... but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger." (Luke 22:26)
God puts little children as an example for us, a role model, and says that the greatest among us shall be like the youngest, says that we must become like them and receive God's kingdom as they do in order to enter therein.

Little children - yes, even toddlers - can have a world-changing impact through their heart-felt prayers to their heavenly Father, calling on him to change a nation - and he will. "The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer." (Psalm 6:9) "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." (John 14:13

So we are going to be praying - and praying a lot! And we are also going to be learning a lot about the land, the people, and their history of each country we pray for. I spent this weekend researching Albania and learned a great deal of interesting things. The first thing I made was a list of "Programs of Intelligence", which is basically the Doman term for facts about a subject. The point of Programs of Intelligence is not to cover every single fact about the subject, for that has the potential to go on infinitely. Rather the point is to give a good general overview of important things about that subject. The POI's for Albania include things about their culture and geography, like their language, climate, type of government, location, and other interesting facts.

We're also learning a few things about their language (common phrases and counting to ten), and learning about the history of their nation. Here is the information I compiled:

Programs of Intelligence for Albania:

  1. In Albania people shake their head back and forth to say yes and nod their head up and down to say no.
  2. The Albanian word for Albania is Shqipëria (shchih-PIRd-ia) which means the land of eagles.
  3. The national motto of Albania is "Albanians place their faith in Albania"
  4. Albania is located in southern Europe and borders the Adriatic and Ionian Seas.
  5. The capital of Albania is Tirana.
  6. The official language of Albania is Albanian.
  7. The climate of Albania has a moderate, Mediterranean climate with an average temperature of 7° C. in the winter and 24° C in the summer. Its landscape is mostly covered with mountains and hills, with small plains near the sea.
  8. The natural resources of Albania are petroleum, natural gas, coal, bauxite, chromite, copper, iron ore, nickel, salt, timber, and hydropower.
  9. Albania’s form of government is now a Parliamentary Republic. The Albanian Constitution was adopted on November 28, 1998
  10. During World War II the Albanians protected the Jews that lived there and provided refuge for Jews from other countries. Only one Jewish family was killed during the Nazi occupation of Albania. Albania was the only country that had more Jews living there after the war than it did living there before the war.

You can speak Albanian! Useful and common phrases we will be learning in Albanian to give us a brief but meaningful overview of the culture and language:
1 një (nyUH)
2 dy (dEW)
3 tre (trEH)
4 katër (KAHT-uhr)
5 pesë (pEHS)
6 gjashtë (JASH-tuh)
7 shtatë (sh-TAHT)
8 tetë (tEHt)
9 nënd (nUHnd)
10 dhgetë (duh-YEHT)

Common Phrases:
Hello – Tungjatjeta (toon-jat-yeta)
Goodbye – Mirupafshim (meer-oo-pafsheem)
How are you? – Se jeni? (See-yeenee)
Where are you going? – Ku po shkoni? (koo-paw-shkawnee)
Good morning – Mirëmëngjes (meer-mihn-JEHS)
Good afternoon – Merëdita (meer DEE tah)
Good evening – Mirëmbrëma (meer-EHM-bruh-mah)
Yes – Po (pOH)
No – Jo (jOH)
Thank you – Faleminderit (FA-leh-meen-DEH-reet)
Please – Ju lutem (joo-LOOTehm)
Sorry – Më fal (muh-fahl)

History of Albania in a nutshell:

  1. The land of Albania was once the Roman province of Illyricum since the year 165 B.C. Later on this land was divided into two provinces, Dalmatia and Pannonia.
  2. In 476 A.D. the Roman Empire fell and Albania was now under the Byzantine Empire, administered from Constantinople. Albania was under Byzantine rule up until the 14th century.
  3. In the 14th century the Ottoman Turks took over the land that is now Albania. The Turks ruled this land until the 20th century.
  4. Albania is mentioned in the Bible in Romans 15:19 where Paul says he preached the gospel from Jerusalem to Illyricum. In 2 Timothy 4:10 we learn that Titus went on a mission to Dalmatia. Albania was once filled with Christians but after the takeover of the Ottoman Empire in the fourteenth century many people converted to Islam – the religion of the Turks. Albania became the only Muslim nation in Europe for many years.
  5. Between the years 1444 – 1466 a man named Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg led the Albanians in driving out the Turks. Skanderbeg led 30,000 men to successfully hold off the brutal campaigns of the Turks. The Albanians were independent for a very short time of just 24 years. Albania became famous throughout Europe for their resistance to the Turks. Skanderbeg is still a hero to this day and a symbol of hope to Albanians.
  6. The Albanians continued to resist the Turks for many years, and Albania finally became an independent nation on November 28, 1912.
  7. In 1939 Albania was invaded and conquered by Italy who made Albania part of the Italian Empire.
  8. In 1944, during World War II, the Italians and Germans were driven out of Albania and Enver Hoxha became the dictator. Hoxha set up a communist form of government. The state owned and controlled all factories, farms, power plants, schools, hospitals, and all other businesses. They also controlled all communication and transportation facilities. The government controlled all peoples’ lives and did not allow the people to have things like cars or refrigerators, did not allow people to travel and did not allow them to sell things with other countries. Religion was banned and people were not allowed to pray, talk about God or own any books that spoke about God. Parents were not even allowed to name their children Christian or Muslim names. The government tried to control everything so they could improve the country’s education and industry, but Albania became the poorest country in Europe. Many people saw the horrible situation in Albania but no one was allowed to go in or out of the country.
  9. In 1985 Enver Hoxha died. In 1991 the communist government was forced to resign. Since then Christians and many others have been coming into the country to help the Albanians with food, clothing, and medical supplies, and tell them about the gospel. They are still one of the poorest countries in Europe but are improving with the help of new government leaders and with freedom of religion.

Can you imagine what a thorough understanding you would have of geography and each country's place in world history if you learned 50 facts like these for each nation and people group of the world? I wouldn't doubt that after learning 50 or so facts like these about each country of Europe you would have a better understanding of the geography and history of the continent than do most college professors.

He is going to be learning a lot and getting a very good understanding of the nations of the world, but the most important thing he will be learning - the whole reason that it is important to learn about geography and history in the first place - is that he is developing a missionary's heart. From this young age, he is learning that his life has meaning, has significance, for eternity.

To say the least, I am very excited about our new geography curriculum!

"Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works. All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name."
Psalm 86:8-11

Hunter is 3 years, 8 months old

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Realistic Animal Coloring Pages

I found these neat coloring pages from National Geographic Kids. I liked them because they are realistic rather than the cheap cartoons that most other stuff for kids is like. They had quite a selection of animals as well as a few facts about each one. I printed out lowland gorillas, orangutans, and chimpanzees for next week as we'll be learning primate bits. Enjoy!

National Geographic Coloring Pages

"For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine."
Psalm 50:10-11

Quantum Leap Pad

Yesterday Hunter's aunt gave him her old Quantum Leap Pad and a couple of books to go with it. He has been playing with it ever since and really enjoying it, especially the geography book.

In times past I used to be really "anti-electronics" for little kids, not in the sense of being borderline Amish or anything but just having a thing against all the computer and TV learning ware that is on the market for little kids all the way down to newborns. I read Endangered Minds by Jane M. Healy when I was pregnant with Hunter and although there was some things in that book that were good (like the fact that kids who are constantly bombarded with loud, obnoxious television and other media for many hours a day may have some trouble learning in the real world, that is, in real books the letter A doesn't dance up and down and morph into an apple then into an airplane then fly off the screen, accompanied by flashing lights and fast-paced music, all in under 5 seconds flat) but there were a lot of premises in the book that were off, like the idea that when kids watch any type of media they are virtually in "zombie mode" and aren't learning anything, just being mesmerized by all the ruckus.

But now I know that kids can, and do, learn from just about anything. There are a great many people who simply refuse to believe that kids could learn to read from the TV but it happens all the time, and many kids are picking up words and figuring out reading on their own as the result of the TV. Now I don't in any way propose that we sit down our preschoolers to four hours a day of good ol' "educational TV" on PBS, and would much rather have my son playing with blocks or running around outside than watching TV. Hunter rarely, maybe once a week, watches any videos, other than maybe 15 minutes a day of foreign language immersion. But with that said, I do believe that kids can and do learn from just about anything, and pick up an amazing amount of information from their environment. I still would rather him use his imagination and be building and creating when he plays, but a limited amount of play with an electronic box can nonetheless be beneficial.

So, back to the Quantum Leap Pad. He loves the world geography book, and that's the main thing he's been playing with. In this small book they have all the countries and their flags (over 200), the states of the USA, continents and oceans, and tons of other stuff. You can learn how to say "hello" in the languages of Asia, Europe, or Africa. You can learn about longitude and latitude and about different seas, gulfs, rivers, and landmarks. You can learn each country's capital, national anthem, it's population and land area, things about its economy and people, etc. Some things I've heard coming out of this little box of plastic and wires are things like "Vexillology is the study of flags" and "You could fill 160 Olympic-sized swimming pools with the olive oil Spain produces each year." There are lots of games and challenges and it's a great way to review all the geography facts he's learned as well as learning new things. It's supposed to be for ages 8 and up but he didn't have any problem navigating the system.

There were two other books that he was given, one was a sample book (that's the one that comes with the system) with all kinds of stuff like the bones of the body, planets, multiplication, parts of speech, and presidents of the USA. The other book he got was 3rd grade math, which as soon as he's done learning all his numerals he will be able to use.

I do prefer to be learning with him, having lots of face-to-face interaction, learning by doing, etc. But for those times when that's not possible, it sure is nice to have fun toys that teach like this!

"God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us... That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations... O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth..."
Psalm 67:1-2, 4

Hunter is 3 years, 8 months old

Monday, December 1, 2008

December Words

Here's the words we'll be learning in December, taken from's online archive.
  1. cavalcade: a procession.
  2. vicissitude: a change in condition or fortune.
  3. soporific: causing sleep; also, something that causes sleep.
  4. profuse: plentiful; copious.
  5. tarradiddle: a fib; also, pretentious nonsense.
  6. deracinate: to uproot.
  7. surly: ill-humored; sullen and gruff.
  8. mendicant: a beggar.
  9. rapprochement: the establishment or state of cordial relations.
  10. perspicacity: clearness of understanding.
  11. artifice: an artful trick, stratagem or device; also, cleverness, skill.
  12. dishabille: the state of being carelessly or partially dressed.
  13. cacophony: harsh or discordant sound.
  14. frangible: capable of being broken; easily broken.
  15. draconian: excessively harsh; severe.
  16. complement: something that fills up or completes.
  17. unfledged: not fully developed; immature.
  18. pari passu: at an equal pace or rate.
  19. discursive: digressive; rambling; also, marked by analytical reasoning.
  20. tocsin: a warning.
  21. finical: finicky.
  22. calumny: malicious misrepresentation; slander.
  23. persiflage: frivolous or bantering talk.
  24. amity: friendship; friendly relations.
  25. benefaction: the act of conferring a benefit; also, a benefit conferred.
  26. hermitage: a secluded residence; a retreat.
  27. gnomic: uttering, containing, or characterized by maxims.
  28. multifarious: having great diversity or variety.
  29. bibulous: of, pertaining to, marked by, or given to the consumption of alcohol.
  30. gelid: extremely cold; icy.
  31. ebullient: high-spirited.

"But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it."
Deuteronomy 30:14
Hunter is 3 years, 8 months old