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A few years ago I did some fun research on Pinterest for making your own leg warmers and boot cuffs.  The problem was that I LOVE wide leg pants, and basically had nothing with which to wear such accessories.  Fortunately I used Pinterest to make a board with my inspiring research.

Last year I acquired some thick, fleece lined leggings, mostly to add an extra warm layer under anything all winter long because I get cold, and I’ve discovered that basically if I’m not going to put fat on my body to insulate me, I have to supplement.  An added perk is that in moderate temperatures, I can wear these same leggings with skirts or dresses (not as pants alone!) and boots with that cute little splash of decoration that I loved enough to pointlessly research making them.

So, last week I went to the thrift store with friends in order to acquire some supplies.  I came away with three sweaters whose sleeves were lovely and in appropriate colors to correspond to my fall sense of fashion.  I sat down to work on the first two.  And the third one?  Well, the sweater actually fit and it was beautiful, so I’m keeping it, at least until I get tired of it, and then maybe I’ll Frankenstein it.

I now have these leg warmers, plus a boot cuff made simply out of some wide white lace I have.  And I would kind of like to wear them with jeans.  Jeans are my favorite.  I love long skirts, and fluffy skirts, and some of my grey pants are a pretty color, but jeans are go-to.  It’s probably the most American thing about me.  My solution was to check Goodwill’s 50% off sale this weekend for jeans that are (sadly) not so very long and (wow, can’t believe I’m buying these) not wide-leg or boot-cut.  I found some.  Two pairs, and I bought one of them, leaving behind what I realized later was the pair that didn’t have the hole in the knee.

While at the thrift store searching for skinnier jeans, I found another sweater whose arms were striped in perfectly inspiring colors.  I mean, I wear these colors at least half the winter.  The sweater was ONE dollar, so I bought that, and tried to keep myself from spending any more money, by staying at home all afternoon making them into another pair of leg warmers.  And then I was on a roll, besides having found some wool socks with holes in the heels that I had cleverly saved for just such a craft project as this, and some soft ribbon I love.  I dumped out my whole collection of buttons and began sorting colors.

My first pair is actually super simple.  One of my shopping buddy friends found the sweater for me, and all I had to do was cut off the arm at a good length, zig-zag the cut edge, and then (after wearing them a few times and feeling how often they slipped down, turn them inside out and sew about 3/4 inch inside the pre-existing seam, trim, and zig-zag for a tighter leg warmer.   The four buttons on each even came with.  Perfect.

Next I worked on a sweatshirt I found in the kids section.  I love the blue and the birds on this fabric.  What I didn’t love so much was something I discovered after I cut off the sleeves: they don’t stretch.  Who ever heard of a non-stretchy sweatshirt?  anyway, in the future I’ll always check for stretch.  I added a double row of eyelet lace and two shiny silver buttons on each leg-warmer.  Once again, after wearing them a bit, pondering, and reviewing my previous Pinterest research, I decided to seam-rip down where the eyelet lace was sewn and even a bit past that, and re-sew those edges so that there is a little more give in the top of these socks.  Still cute.

Now we get into some serious buttonery.  I had a surprising number of purple buttons, which did a shabby chic ensemble at the top of my striped socks.  I think these may be my favorite.  I can just see wearing them with my brown tights and a new dark tealish-blue sweater dress I got (also for $1 at the thrift store this weekend).  Or I might wear them with my new jeans and my lime green sweater – or my purple one.  
Next I was thinking about trying to imitate a look on one of my pins.  It was wide lace, slightly gathered by a button in the center.  The only problem was that my only lace that wide was stiff and white.  But I did have some aqua tulle.  At first I thought about braiding it to darken it into a ribbon look.  (And from the olden days, a bit of braided trim was just that touch of hand-made detail that catches my eye.)  Except the tulle just didn’t work well with that, and I didn’t want it actually sewn onto the stripy sock I already had.  So I wound the tulle around my leg about five times, pinned it, sewed up those pin lines to keep it in a tube shape, and then did my little gather-button thing.  I had two buttons I liked, in matching shades of bronze but not at all the same design.  An advantage of boot cuffs is that they face opposite ways, so it would be very hard to see them side by side in real life, so little differences won’t look weird, and if anyone notices, it just adds to the charm.  

Here is the cuff alone:

And the cuff with the stripy sock: 

While searching my ribbon and lace stock for the tulle, I came across a spool of ribbon that I love, but haven’t had much use for.  It feels soft, and is mostly cream with some mocha edging and pale gold flowers with sage leaves.  It’s elegant, and even though I didn’t think of it much as a fall-style before, it works beautifully.  I trimmed it first with some of my favorite cream-colored lace, then sewed it in a loop, and finished with buttons accenting the fall colors in the ribbon (and following the rule of three; however much I liked other buttons and wanted them to go along, or when I tried to line the whole top edge of the ribbon with clear buttons studded with these accents, it was no good.  Rule of three.  Just follow it.).  


These cuffs are pretty short, and I actually like the idea of seeing most of the ribbon.  So with my shorter boots, I wore a pair of matching socks and pulled them up just over the bottom edge of the ribbon.  It doesn’t look so formal, seeing the sock, but it worked.  


I’d abandoned using dozens of small clear buttons on the tops of the cuffs above, but I did have a working idea for blues that were in a line down a sock, not so formally as the first leg-warmers I made, and not matching buttons.  I cut off the top of my grey holey sock and lined up the buttons. I loved it.  I began sewing the various buttons on.  The top one was two-holes, vertical.  After that came two with no holes, and then three more two-holed buttons.  By the time I finished the first sock, the line was more suggested by the buttons than the clean look I’d arranged beforehand.  So I took my seam-ripper and took off all the buttons. This time I had a plan.  I used the ribbing in the sock to line up my needle.  This worked altogether better, and let the buttons speak for themselves.   

One Pinterest image featured a built-in pocket on the sock, which seems so practical to me, even if it is only big enough to hold a key and a twenty.  I haven’t yet decided whether to attempt adding a pocket to the inside of any of these.  

While I was on my second day of boot sock making, I also turned on my iron in order to install an iron-on patch on the back of my new skinny (and barely-holey) jeans.  I forgot about it, went to do it, burned the patch, which then came off.  I also burned an iron-shape only visible when my jeans are inside-out.  I tried a second patch, which didn’t stick, and gave up, hoping the various glues ironed into the pants will keep it for a while, and acknowledging that a bit of a hole can add character to the look.  But since they were under construction, I didn’t do any pictures with jeans.  

Incidentally, I know from testing with wider leg and longer jeans that if you’re worried about bunching (and maybe the best plan is to just go with a scrunched look on jeans and socks alike), if you actually put the socks and boots on before you pull the jeans all the way up over your hips, it can make for a more taut look. Then you just have to be careful how you stretch and bend and sit when wearing them, in order to keep them from bunching.   

I took some pictures with my black boots, and they don’t match so well with most of my sock ideas.  I think the final grey-and-blue ones are probably the best.  

This project was easy and fun, with a good balance of planning and fairly mindless implementation while watching a show.  I am kind of interested in adding a pair of orange ones (for Denver Bronco game days) and a nice green pair that will go with a lot of my sweaters that I end up wearing autumn-spring.  

To God be all glory.  
Lisa of Longbourn

 

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Ok, so there’s this thing going on in the NFL, a gesture of disapprobation for something some players view as a national problem.  The phenomenon is actually in other sports, too.  I’ve seen it in the WNBA, and heard quotes from an NBA player in support of the right to protest.  It takes the form of kneeling during the national anthem or standing with arms linked as an expression of solidarity for a cause.  The cause, as I understand it, is racial equality and justice, with the related concern of police brutality.  And a lot of fans don’t appreciate these protests.  I have observed several reasons that people object.  First, people object to the means of the protest, that it is not showing traditional honor to the United States during the national anthem.  Second, they believe the context, sports/entertainment should be free from political statements (but usually these same people want the political statement of the national anthem being played and honored to remain).  Third, they disagree with the cause for which the players are protesting – not necessarily that they don’t believe it is an important principle, but because they don’t believe the problem is as pervasive as some consider it to be.

 

On some level, I agree with each of these reasons to oppose what these athletes are doing.  However, I have some concerns with the ways people like me are responding.  These concerns are what this post is about.

 

There are three instances I have in mind, which I have encountered this week, that are at the top of my list of reasons to be concerned.  I don’t feel comfortable repeating the language used in these responses, so I will summarize them.  President Trump used profanity to describe people who, as he and many others perceive it, disrespect the national anthem, flag, and country by protesting in this way.  A caller to a talk radio program suggested that those who want to “take a knee” should get a knee, in a way that would cause them pain or injury.  A Facebook post “liked” by a friend used a few different curse words to curse the athletes who were kneeling during the national anthem.  This Facebook user also specifically identified one athlete and hoped he would, in the course of the game, have to be taken off the field on a stretcher.  To this I say, Whoa.  Some people are doing things we don’t agree with and don’t like.  Since when is the correct response to use profanity to describe or curse them?  It is morally inferior to wish violence on peaceful protesters.  There isn’t a lot more to say.  I can’t believe this isn’t obvious common decency.  I can’t believe the people who agree with me are wishing violence on those we disagree with.

 

While I’m on the subject of peaceful protesting, let me make my next point.  A lot of people whose views I mostly share on the subject of race in America are concerned at the escalating violence committed by the malcontents, however legitimate their grievances.  It has been pointed out that Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t burn buildings, overturn cars, or get into street fights with the white supremacists and segregationists he was campaigning against.  There are peaceful ways of raising awareness for your cause, and pursuing the changes you believe are necessary.  I find it disheartening that when a movement arises that is peacefully trying to draw attention to the same issues, it is squashed with as much indignation (and, as mentioned above, threat of force) as the violent movements are.  Let me just say, that while I don’t advocate violence, I know history and humanity well enough to recognize that when people feel desperate, like there is no other way to be heard, they tend to resort to violence.  Should we really be silencing their peaceful statements?

 

On the other hand, at this point, the NFL players who have been protesting ought to recognize that their message has been lost in their method.  Whatever their actual reasons for kneeling, and whatever cause they hoped to highlight, the only thing people who didn’t already know and agree with them are getting from their protests now is a provoking perception that these people hate America.  And honestly, however unintended, the way their actions are being received was not unforeseeable.  I understand that it feels a little like giving in, but as one commentator mentioned, a real protest doesn’t plan to go on forever; it has goals and engages in a process.  So I believe that now, at the very least, they should switch methods.

 

Let’s talk, for a minute, though, about how unfair it is to assign motives to people, in direct disregard for their testimonies about their own motives.  I can think of a lot of more disrespectful actions one could take if they intended to communicate the disrespect ascribed to them.  I have not seen any of these players spitting in veterans’ faces or stomping on the flag.  I have not heard a single athlete say that what they are protesting is the United States’ stand for freedom, nor that they are protesting the soldiers who have served to protect those freedoms they enjoy.  To consistently characterize their protest as against these things is pretty dishonest and egocentric (that is, behaving as though our own perceptions are the most valid).  Let’s not be angry about what they’re not even saying.

 

That said, if their method offends you because of its unintended belittling of things you hold dear, I have a couple of recommendations.  I suggest you recognize that these people are not injuring you, nor encouraging others to do so.  They’re not preventing anyone else from showing honor to the anthem or flag.  If you wanted, you could change the channel and not even see whether they’re kneeling or not.  You could calmly and humbly admit to them that the effect their actions has on your feelings is to irritate you. (This is known as an “I statement”.  It defuses tension because it comes across as less judgmental and more open to their side of the matter, while still inviting them to show consideration to you.)  In that case, rather than believing that all things that irritate us should be forced to go away, you could attempt to engage those with whom you disagree (a little tricky with celebrities, I admit) in respectful dialogue in order to persuade them of your way of thinking.  I advocate for this because one of the great things about people is that they can change.  Even if they haven’t shown an inclination to change, God can change them.  Or, we might be surprised and change a bit ourselves.

 

Another option is to suggest alternative methods of getting the word out or taking a conscientious stand.  This could be challenging.  I’ve tried to consider how I would abstain from showing an honor I don’t believe is presently justified, without being disrespectful?  What if the cause was something nearer to my heart than that which we’re discussing?  If some current and distressing aspect of the USA (abortion, international aggression, government mandating immorality, [insert your pet concern here]) was the most prominent thing to me, so eclipsing the things I value and honor in America besides (sacrificial soldiers and officers, unique freedoms, Christian history, etc.) that I could not in good conscience risk communicating that I’m showing honor for the dishonorable things about our country, yet I still want to respect those things that I sincerely value – how would I act during the national anthem?  I saw a player this weekend, who was participating in the kneeling, but who still placed his hand over his heart.  Is that a good way to communicate both?  Or would it fail to satisfy the outrage many are feeling?  Is it necessary to hold a press conference ahead of time to explain the complex motives informing the decision?  Anyway, I personally am not offended by their method, so it is not for me to say what tactics would be less offensive.  I’d love to hear feedback on this question if you have constructive ideas!

 

Aside from how to handle the expectation of honoring our country before each game, there are some more obvious alternatives for using the platform they have as professional sports stars to engage the public on behalf of their communities and the causes that are they prioritize: They can use social media.  They can call press conferences.  They can organize events.  They can donate to organizations.  They can serve in their communities.  They can meet with influential people who disagree with them, and start a dialogue.

 

When this topic resurfaced this week (months after Colin Kaepernick initiated his kneeling protests), one thing I thought of was the historical abolitionists.  They incorporated their causes into their private businesses.  In an industry that didn’t have much to do with slavery directly, the Wedgwood company wanted to be involved in ending slavery.  So they printed abolitionist symbols on their ceramic medallions, to raise awareness, to bring the cause from the fringes to the mainstream.  The image from the medallion came to be also put on vases and snuff boxes and bracelets.  I think this is an excellent means of promoting social justice, and that the NFL, if it so chooses, could employ such methods for causes they believe in.

 

That said, if their customers or employees don’t believe in their cause, the NFL may find themselves with a choice between profits and activism.  I believe it ought to be any private business’s right to put any (non-sinful) condition on their employees for keeping their jobs.  So if the NFL wants to demand that players stand for the national anthem, they can.  If they want to demand that they kneel, they can.  If they want to allow their employees the option of joining either cause (pro-patriotism or pro-reform), they can.  And we, as the patrons, can decide not only if we like the product, but if we want to indirectly support the causes the companies are promoting, and these conditions for their employees.  I really value this aspect of free markets, and for that reason, I’m reluctant to discourage the boycott that many are engaging in since the NFL declined to take disciplinary measures against players who kneel.

 

But I do.  I discourage the boycott because of the following four reasons:  First, the boycott has the unintended consequence of drawing more attention to the protest, a protest whose whole point, from what I can tell, is to garner attention.  Second, if a bunch of people with mostly conservative values stop watching the NFL, and if the NFL doesn’t comply with their wishes, football will become a smaller part of our culture, but it won’t go away, and it will be left to people who don’t share our values.  Not that this would be a huge tragedy, but there are too many parts of our society that we retreat from.  Do we really want to give over news media, storytelling industries, arts, higher education, the medical fields, cake-making, counseling, and charity to people whose values we oppose?  It is hard work, surely, to keep them and keep them well, but I hope some things are worth it to us.  Third, really? The national anthem and the players standing for it is an integral part of the experience of being a football fan to you?  I don’t even know why we have the national anthem at sports games, and most of the time I don’t get around to tuning in or paying attention until kick off anyway.  And what the players do during the anthem is not affecting the actual game, which is what I want to see.  Finally, while I’m proud of Americans for being able to eschew the conventional obsession with football, I’m disappointed that this is what provokes people to boycott – not scantily clad cheerleaders or players who sleep around or whatever other, more demonstrably wicked behaviors the sport tolerates in its employees.  In addition to football, there are many other businesses whose employees promote all sorts of ungodliness, yet most Americans still patronize them.  Is patriotism such a superior cause?

 

What would you do if the president of the United States said that you or your coworkers should be fired for declining to participate in some morally significant activity?  Would you feel threatened?  Would you relent in fear, or take a stand against a dangerous use of the bully pulpit to compel patriotic uniformity?

 

Some people think these players should be fired, among them President Trump, according to a statement he made last week.  Fellow athletes who may not agree with the cause of the protest, nevertheless respect their teammates’ views and believe they should not be forced to make a political statement they aren’t presently sincere about, just to keep their jobs.  In order to deter their organizations from firing them, these additional players join the protest, because it is much harder to fire half a team than one or two members.

 

Even before President Trump’s comments, to teammates and coaches and owners, the question was not so simple as whether or not they love their country.  The represented cause matters to a lot of the football players and – though you may not be aware, from being in a bubble of likeminded people – a lot of fans.  They had to consider what message it would send to those teammates and fans, to not join in their protest.  If they valued unity and peace – like I do! – they had to make an attempt at a choice that had potential to bring people together, or to demonstrate an example of unity, at least.  I believe this is why some teams chose to stand together with linked elbows, and even why some people joined the protest, who wouldn’t have started it on their own.  They don’t want to be seen to say that they don’t care about things that matter to others.  And even if we disagree with their conclusions, I don’t want ordinary people, myself included, to disregard the things that are inspiring people to take these bold stands.

 

I’m disillusioned enough to realize that some of the participants in these protests are just doing it because it’s popular, or because they’re emotional.  But I also believe that many of them hope for good things for their country.  They see problems.  Not as bad as they have been at some points in our history, and not as bad as the problems in other parts of the world, but they care about what is theirs, their country, here and now.  And they want to contributed to improvement.  That’s why I was disheartened to read that some, even among my friends, suggest that dissenters should expatriate.  If you don’t think America is perfect, move somewhere else?!  If I believed that, I’d have to be living in another country!  And if everyone believed that, no one would have anywhere to live, because every country on earth has problems, and every country on earth has the gift of citizens who haven’t given up on seeing them overcome.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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For a few years, I was an Awana game director.  I wrote the following to teach leaders what to do during Game Time at our beginning-of-the-year training meeting.  We even acted out some of the things!  

Cubbies:

Cubbie leaders, you are needed in the gym or play area with the kids.  As they enter the play area, they will all start with jumping jacks, until all the clubbers are present.  Then we’ll pick a (small) number and count that many more jumping jacks.  We then sing the Cubbie song, with motions, and when that’s over, everyone does high-fives to the game leader.  Then the leader will give instructions about the game.  This weekly routine makes the kids feel safe, and provides a buffer in case some kids are slower arriving.  During game time, there should be no escaping children, from either the group or the gym or play area.  Make sure the kids are not hitting each other or doing their own thing too much.  Cubbies will cry from time to time.  Don’t worry.  Just distract them with something (or take care of them if they’re hurt).  Rules for the games will be simple.  The big thing is that you help keep everyone together and involved.  The Game Leader can’t do everything.

 

Sparks and T&T:

I’d like to introduce you to several characters from my childhood Game Times.  The first is Mr. H, the game leader/director.  He has a mind for relays, and efficiency is his middle name.  As soon as kids arrive at Game Time, he has them lined up tallest to shortest, and is patting their heads, sending them red, blue, green, yellow.  He announces a game, gives a short time for teams to get set up, quickly summarizes rules.  After each heat, he loudly announces winners, POINTS – including points for cheering during events or silence during instructions.  Points are in the hundreds, because points are free, and a leader writes them up on a big white board everyone can see.  He lets the line leaders know if there are any disqualifications, so they can teach their team the rules.

 

His game lines function like relays.  Here’s how it works.  We all line up tallest to shortest (boys and girls separately).  The event calls for two girls (if segregated).  They play, and return to their line.  The tallest one will be standing now next to the shortest girl.  Then the next heat is boys.  They go back to their line.  And another girls heat.  They line up tallest to shortest behind the tall girls of the first heat.  See?  That way when Mr. H is trying to figure out how many more heats to call, he can glance up and see that there are three short girls and two short boys left.  Three more heats.  If you have been playing a balloon game, and now you’ll play something totally different, your line resets to the way it was at the beginning of the Mr. H relay: tallest at the front, shortest at the back.  (Sometimes to mix it up, he’d do it in reverse, and start with the shorter end.)  This “game” happens every week at Game Time, and you the line leaders are responsible for teaching it to the kids and enforcing it.  If there is a leader on your line who hasn’t “played”, teach them too.

 

You will ALL have a color line that is yours all year.  In case of absences, we will shift around.  But you’ll be assigned a color the first night.

 

Next I want you to meet Mr. V.  He is the line leader every week on Blue.  His team always knows the rules, and is never disqualified.  He carefully explains things like running laps, starting behind the line, and running AROUND pins without knocking them over.  When time for a heat, his team is always ready.  When the game director is speaking, his team is standing quietly.

 

On Red is Mr. D.  He’s an LIT (leader in training).  On his line there is no goofing off.  Everyone stands with their toes exactly behind the line.  If they are on the line, they get “stepped on”, because he goes down the line with his big teenage tennis shoes, stepping on toes.  No one is sitting.  Everyone on red team knows that they may earn an extra five hundred points for being the best lined up.  Winning means a lot to Mr. D’s team.

 

Over on Yellow is Mrs. T  Yellow is a horrible color, but that doesn’t stop Mrs. T from being the wildest cheerleader in the place.  She jumps up and down, does enthusiastic kicks, and has her whole team clapping in rhythm for their team.  During the week she notices things that are yellow, and incorporates them into her cheer.  Hers is the best line at game time, not because it wins, but because it is fun.

 

Mrs. C is the leader on Green.  She answers questions about rules from her kids.  She also learns each of their names, and makes sure the whole team knows their names so they can cheer for each other personally.  None of her kids leave to go use the bathroom without permission.

 

Mrs. S loves whiteboards, and she’s good at math.  She takes up her position at the scoreboard, writing huge numbers everyone can see.  Scores go in hundreds.  She adds quickly, erasing all but the zeroes as each score is announced, 200 points for first and 100 points for second and sometimes and extra hundred or so for good cheering or quiet readiness for rules.

 

There are other leaders.  Ideally there will be at least one male and one female leader on each line.  But you can talk to each other about games, and you can talk to both boys and girls.  Each of you must be actively keeping your team standing, cheering, ready for the next game, understanding the rules, interested in points, not fighting with each other, learning sportsmanship.  If we have an extra leader or two, they can help set up the game equipment between heats or escort clubbers to the bathroom so you, the line leaders, do not have to leave your line.  Never leave a line unattended.

 

There is no sitting at any time except for injured clubbers or injured leaders (and elderly leaders!).  Participation is expected unless a clubber is injured.

 

Please get the game leader’s attention if you have a question, if you saw a DQ on your line, or if they’re not loud enough for everyone to hear.  At the end of the night they should announce the winning team and hand a stack of Awana shares (or other small reward) to the line leader.  You make sure each child on your team receives one reward.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 

 

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A couple years ago, a friend asked me to compile things I’d learned about keeping preschoolers busy.  I’ve been babysitting for about 20 years now, but I was still surprised at all the things I was able to write down.  I’m sharing them here in case you are looking for inspiration.  

 

Have a ball or object that you pass back and forth.  Before you pass, you have to say something in a list: a number, a letter, a color, a musical instrument, something they’re thankful for, a song, a toy, a character from a movie, something you can see, a sport, a type of transportation (cars, planes, trains…), an animal…  You get the idea.  You can practice saying a rhyme, verse, song by passing the ball back and forth and each person has to say the next word before they pass it.  Teach the game using a saying, song or rhyme they already know.

 

Set up a tricky way to pass some object to each other: around a chair, under a table, down a blanket like a slide.

 

Do simple games where there are two or three things they’re supposed to act out, and they must switch when you say the other thing: butterflies and caterpillars; land, water, sky; hills, mountains, plains/fields; (incorporate it into a story or lesson: grasshoppers and giants like the 12 spies’ perception when they spied out canaan);

 

Have a collection of objects.  Name them all together.  Cover the kids’ eyes.  Take one object away.  Have them guess/figure out which one is missing.  Play again with a different missing object.

 

You can do all sorts of things with a deck of cards, things for all ages.  For littles: 52 pickup; cards that are red; cards that are black; cards with faces; cards with numbers; hand them one card and tell them to find one whose shape, color, or number matches; have them practice counting by bringing you whatever amount of cards you say (you’ll probably have to help them count).  Lay numbers in order.  You can lay the foundations for odds/evens, addition, subtraction, division.  I’ve had older kids bring me cards adding up to a certain number – or just an odd number.

 

Train to be listening: have a code word for the day.  Any time the child hears you say it, they come to you and either get something (cracker, M&M) or do something (high five, hug).

 

Bat a balloon or roll a ball across a line, no picking up.  Also try kicking.  (Pre-soccer skill.)

 

Have kids try to stand on one foot without holding on to anything.  Count as high as you can, out loud, until they put their foot down or touch something.  Now have them do it while doing something else, like singing a song or patting their head or watching you do something silly.

 

With more than one child, instead of “tag”, do “bubbles” and “poppers”.  Tag is too abstract.  Tell them that once they have popped, they switch roles.  This works even if you want a number of kids who are “it”.  In my experience, kids won’t really switch; they’ll just pick their favorite role, keep doing that, and most kids will be ok with that.  The others will try to debate with fellow toddlers.  It’s kind of hilarious.

 

Have them balance something on their head.  Then have them walk, or sit down and stand up again (depending on how hard the balancing is).

 

Set up a bucket or bag (or two for two teams; you can compete, too).  Have the child fill up the bag, bringing only one object at a time.  (Use toys, socks, cereal if it’s a snack-size bowl.)  Just make sure the container is rather far away from the objects, so that the kid is using up a bunch of energy.

 

Have the child echo patterns of sounds or actions.  Start small.  Clap, stomp, make some noise, wave…

 

Streamers are super fun and cheap.  Wave them.  Use them as finish-lines.  Use them as lines to “balance” on.  Or to divide a room.  Or as a maze line to follow on a treasure hunt.  Pull off a strip and do something with both you and the child holding on.  If you let go or tear it, you have to start over.

 

Teach more basics of soccer.  But break it up.  Try not to put too many rules together all at once.  Have the child try to get a ball past you to a specific wall or basket (using hands or feet or whatever – just can’t be holding on to the ball).  Trade places and have them keep you from getting the ball past them.

 

“Is it the truth?”  While you’re playing, make statements whose truth or falsehood is obvious.  If it is true, the child stands up.  If false, they sit down.  Or have them do some other fun action.  If it’s true, they jump up and down…  If it’s true, they spin in circles.  They just have to switch once they hear the next statement.

 

This one is from a book called “Let’s Play!” that’s decent for ideas.  It’s for a group, not just one child.  Form pairs and give these directions: “touch feet” (kids touch their feet to each other’s), “touch wings” (touch elbows like wings), “tweet to your partner”.  Then call out “scatter sparrows!”  The children flap like sparrows, tweet like sparrows, while they’re either 1) scattering and finding a new partner or 2) scattering, then listening for your call to “touch feet” again when they must find a new partner.

 

Set up an easy obstacle course… line up objects in one straight line with several feet between each object.  Have the child weave in and out between the objects.

 

“Bowl” with whatever objects are on hand: cups, books, toys

 

Pretend you’re in a parade.  March.  Wave.  Bring a stuffed animal or balloon.  (Ever seen the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on TV?)  Stay in line and take a tour of whatever place you’re at, all in parade mode.  You can even stop at an opportune spot and do a performance.  Make sure to pretend you have a microphone if you’re singing!

 

Use a paper plate as a Frisbee.

 

Put small stuffed animals or soft balls (cotton balls, q-tips, other soft small objects you have are fine; raid your purse) on a large blanket or sheet (larger keeps the things on it better, but if there are only 2 of you, it will have to be smaller so you can hold it.)  You hold one side.  They hold the other.  Then wave it to see them pop.

 

Use a ribbon, streamer, jump-rope, narrowly-folded blanket to make a “river” in the middle of the floor.  Jump over the river.  Throw something over the river.  “Swim” under the river.

 

Play hot potato.

 

Go to sleep bunny, bunny.  Say that.  Have the child pretend to be a sleeping bunny.  When you think they won’t be able to “sleep” anymore, call “wake up, little bunny! hop, hop, hop!”  They have to get up and hop until you say to sleep again.

 

Again from Let’s Play!: Give the child an object they can toss in the air.  Tell the story of Jesus calming the sea.  Then play the game like this: when you say “Storm!” they toss their object up, over and over.  When you say “Be still!”, they must grab their object from wherever it is and sit down quietly.

 

Have a bunch of something: crumpled up junk mail, socks, paper airplanes, little balls like in a play-place (soft!).  Split them up evenly.  Make a line out of a streamer, couch cushions, tape in the middle of the room.  Put half of the objects on one side, half on the other.  Half of the children stand on each side (or you on one side, the child/children on the other).  Turn on a song.  While the music is playing, each of you throws as many of the things over the line as possible, even the new things just thrown over your line.  At the end of the song, the side with the *least* objects wins.

 

Teach hand signals for sports teams, like the referrees would use (I had to look up on the internet how to do these).  Show them.  Say it.  Have the kids do the motions, and say the phrases, too.  My favorite about this was that for soccer instead of any signals, I just have the kids put their hands in the air and run around like madmen yelling “SCORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  They like that, too.

 

Be active: gallop, toe-touch, jumping jacks, spin.

 

Set up items with only 1 letter on them in different parts of the room.  These could be posters you make or those little blocks with letters on them.  You probably only want to do a few letters at a time.  Call out the letter and have the child hurry to go touch it.  After they’re good at that, teach them one of the sounds the letter makes, and have them remember or repeat the sound before they can leave and go to another letter.

 

Since I was doing Awana, I taught the Cubbies how to stand with their toes behind a line.  I’d have them run, then say, “Line,” and they had to all get behind the line, not even touching it, quickly.

 

Take a walk and announce a color.  Say the names of things you see that are that color.  Encourage the child to participate.  The next time you take a walk, choose a different color.  It’s not guessing one item; it’s just identifying.  It’s like a preliminary to I-spy.

 

Kids love bubbles.  Blow bubbles for them.  See if they can catch them without them popping.  See if they can guess where they’ll land.   You can also try to catch leaves blown from trees in the autumn.

 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 

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Fun

I bowl. I go to Elitch’s. I jump on trampolines. I play board games. I wear formal or old-fashioned outfits to stores and parks and libraries. I even dance on occasion. Not because I have to. Because I want to.

 

And because I can. I don’t have to spend most of my time keeping a house or supporting a family or choosing homeschool curriculum.  I also don’t get to do those family-oriented things, but I don’t regret, while I wait for them, enjoying fun things.

 

It makes me wonder what kind of mom I’ll be, by the time it happens?  If fun has become an adult habit, not just something that young adult me does while transitioning out of youth group life, will that translate into the way I run my house, and the priorities I share with my kids?

 

I wonder.  I like to think about the story God is telling in my life, how my life is different from the average “grow up, get married, have a family” story that I assumed I would have.  And imagine what He’s making of the differences.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

PS: I know fun parents.  God has various ways of bringing things about in people’s lives.

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Charley Horse

You know that awful feeling when your foot cramps up?  The instinct is absolutely to freeze, tense, since moving made it start hurting.  But the right thing to do, to end the cramp quickly, is to stretch.

 

There are other things like this in life, things where being tense and resisting what is happening are the worst things you can do.

 

Earlier today one of our family cats, a specimen so large that he was named for an assassin in the Bible, was on the back of my sister’s easy chair.  He decided to be done on the top, and was planning to use her as a ramp to a lower level of ease.  This was not my sister’s plan.  And because her response was to go stiff in resistance to his attempts, his claws scrambled for a new course, snagged her shirt, got stuck in the upholstery, and ended up with him dangling from the reclining seat back.  Actually that wasn’t the end, since another sister rescued the pair from the predicament.  Aside from a hole in her shirt, neither are the worse for wear.

 

The house cat is actually back on the top of the same easy chair, where I’m lounging with a laptop on my knees.  Sometimes he nuzzles the back of my head, and I lean back into it, not with opposition so much as meeting his gesture.  Then he goes back to stretching and purring and thinking whatever lazy ponderings cats do.  I’m  not afraid he’ll walk down on me, even though he very likely might.  I’ll shrug him onto the armrest and we’ll both continue with what we’re doing.

 

I know I’m not always like that.  Other things in life make me seize up.  I’m trying to learn to be less afraid, to trust God’s work, and just to go forward with the story God is telling.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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I watched Moana for the first time yesterday. I’m kind of ambivalent about it, since I can think of some good and some bad messages, and as a 32-year-old, wasn’t all that captivated by the story (though I appreciated the quality of the animation).
Maybe because the setting is more tribal and not so Western, and maybe because of Disney’s motif of sort of refuting some of its earlier fairy tales, I was partially hopeful that this would be a story less about following your heart and more about courageously and sacrificially submitting to the leadership and community you were born to.  I was disappointed.

 

It wasn’t the demi-gods or coconut-demons or fire-monsters or reincarnated/ghost grandmas that most concerned me about this movie; it was that message of how to find out who you are meant to be: Disregard your parents and authority figures.  Be inspired by stories and legends.  Find some distant ancestors whose way of life is most appealing to you, and believe it’s an integral part of you.  Don’t prepare; just literally let yourself be thrown into something, and then pursue it with all the publicly rebellious determination you can muster.

 

One thing that complicates this for a Christian is that some of Moana’s discernment is based on the spiritual encounters she has.  There is no true God and Savior Jesus Christ in this movie, so other things stand in for the role He plays in directing our lives and gracing us to fulfill our “destinies”.  If the water-spirit that is so influential in Moana’s journey were actually the Creator God of the Bible, her story would be less concerning.  But it isn’t, and I believe that there are other spiritual forces in the real world, not only in fantasies, that stand-in for the place God ought to have in our lives.  And these beings are not good, not neutral; they are in evil opposition to the loving Lord of the universe.  What kind of message is it sending us and our kids to trust these kinds of spiritual experiences to direct us?

 

Moana did keep in mind and heart, always, how to serve and care for her people.  This is one of the better aspects of the “find your purpose” theme.  I was telling my brother that if they’d written the story of her father encouraging her to be different from him, while holding these same values of service to the tribe, I’d be way more excited about all of it.

 

Also a positive, in Moana, Disney has released another film that demonstrates the need for teamwork.  Moana and Maui each come to realize that they are more effective with each other’s help, and that the other does really need them in order to save their world.

 

I think I am actually most intrigued by the character of Maui, who wrestles with his own identity questions.  When we first meet him in person, we quickly recognize a dominant trait of arrogance, but later we learn that this is sort of a cover, a compensation for a deep insecurity.  The complex ways these issues affect his choices are fascinating; and over-all, I think they send a good message to audiences.

 

In the end, Moana does have a suitably communal argument for everyone having something to contribute, be it a peculiar chicken, a teenage girl, a demi-god with or without his hook, an experienced leader, or the village crazy lady – and the value of embracing what others have to offer.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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