Tag Archives: birthday

Lesson in a Can

P1150861A few weeks ago, for my son Luke’s sixth birthday, we had as many family members that could drop by for a party. It was a pretty day, so we ate outside at the picnic table, and with so many cousins, we created quite a mess. As my husband went to take out the trash, however, we were all met with a interesting surprise. There, stuck in the bottom of a plastic garbage can, were two small opossums.

They must have been there a while, as we hadn’t used that particular can for quite some time. We decided they had climbed in looking for something to eat, but because the sides were so slick, they were unable to climb out again. They were curled up in the bottom of the can, one on top of the other.

We decided to wait until dusk to let them out, as opossums are nocturnal and they’d have a better chance at escaping safely from any would-be predators such as the neighborhood dogs. We covered most of the opening of the can with the lid, to help them “hide” for the rest of the day, and then we went on with the party.

At dusk, before everyone left, our opossum lesson continued. We carried the can out back behind our house to the woods, tipped it over, and dumped them out. One of the opossums took off right away, while the other managed more slowly to find his way through the trees. They were both glad to be free, and we were glad for the opportunity to see them go.

We’re much more careful, now, about leaving the lids on the cans, though we’ve still had some opossum sightings around our trash bin. And just when we had gotten the cats and the chickens to leave it alone…

A New School Year

school yearThis year I thought we’d get an early start on school. It seems our year is often interrupted, so if we had an early start, we’d hopefully finish up in May.

Well, that’s what I thought. My plan was to begin on August 10 and jump right in with school five days a week. Too ambitious? Apparently so!

The first three days of that week, my husband was off, and he needed my oldest son’s help on a project. I worked that first day with the other three on their lessons, but then we decided to take the next two days off, since their brother had it off anyway. The end of the week was my birthday, and we’ve made it a general rule not to do school on birthdays. This does not include the birthdays of extended family, though, or we’d never get anything done. So, that left just one day, and, well, there didn’t really seem much point in that.

Next week, I told myself, we’ll get started, and it’ll be great!  However, John is part of a homeschool FCA club (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), and they had their last big outing of the summer scheduled for that next Monday. They went hiking, leaving in the morning and returning in the late afternoon. I could have worked with the girls and Luke on their lessons, but I decided to delay, just one more day, so we could all start at the same time.

We finally got started on Tuesday, and we had a really good day. Wednesday the children worked hard again. But Thursday we had the opportunity to visit with cousins we don’t often see – we took off and it was a good day, but we didn’t work on schoolwork, and we got home late. That made Friday less productive than it should have been.

So, although we had ten potentially good school days, only three could be counted. But I’m glad it happened at the beginning. We had started early, so no time was really lost. And I realize once again how easily distracted I can be, and how important it is for me to set a plan and stick with it. Perhaps next year, though, we’ll start in July.

A Gracious Guest

To add to the fun of Luke’s birthday, my sister, four of her children, and my mom who was visiting them came from Tennessee to spend the day. Towards the end of their visit, my oldest son, John, looked a little distressed; his cousin, who’s the same age, had wandered off by himself, and John couldn’t find him. John was aware that their time together was growing short, and he wanted to make the most of the last thirty minutes or so.

After a couple of minutes calling for him, the cousin emerged from our chicken pen holding one of the chickens. He was close enough that he must have heard John calling for him. My sister scolded him. “John’s looking for you,” she said. “Ask him what he wants to do. Remember, you’re the guest.”

Her comments reminded me of something she had mentioned to me a few years before. As we were growing up, we’d have friends over, and we’d spend the time doing the things they wanted to do. We were taught to be good hostesses, ensuring that our friends had a good time at our house. Now grown, my sister had a new view of the situation. A child, she said, should also be taught to be a gracious guest.

A gracious guest is one that doesn’t demand his own way. He understands that activities with his host don’t have to revolve around him; instead, he finds out what  his host wants to do. He helps out when he can and fits himself into the host’s schedule.

I thought about it again that day, and I believe my sister is right. I, too, want my children to learn to be a blessing, whether they are serving in the position of the host or as an invited guest – a gracious guest.

The Birthday Banner

This past weekend, my youngest, Luke, turned five years old. For the past month, he and his eight-year-old sister Lillie have been planning the party – decorating treat bags, looking through catalogs for favors, deciding on cake decorations. And, of course, bringing out his birthday banner.

Birthday banners have become a favorite tradition in our family. It all began seven years ago when my second child, Cassie, turned three. We were living in what we thought would be just a temporary home – a single wide mobile home on the same property as the house we planned to renovate. Because we were going to be moving again soon (or so I thought – it actually took two years), I didn’t unpack photos or pictures for the walls.

When Cassie’s birthday came around after Christmas, we decorated with streamers and balloons, but there was still one large bare wall where the Christmas tree had been. To fill the space, I pulled out some large pieces of felt my mother had given me and decided to make a banner. I used the large pieces as background colors, then cut flowers, butterflies, and “HAPPY BIRTHDAY CASSIE!” out of the rest. My mother was living nearby at the time, so when I was finished gluing all of the pieces down, she secured them with stitching and added tabs across the top. We hung the banner on that bare wall with a curtain rod and two sticky hooks, and it filled the space perfectly!

Of course, as each of my other children’s birthdays rolled around that year, I had to make a special banner for them too. My mom had moved, so after I created the patterns for the designs, I sent them to her to sew together. She even made banners for my husband and myself. Now we all have our own birthday banner, which we hang in our living room at least two weeks before the big day. It’s one of our favorite family traditions, and one my children can take along with them even after they’re grown.