Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Letting Kids be Kids

From Playing Princesses to...

Playing some baseball...

Even the littlest ones can play this way...

Automatic home run when the ball gets lost in the brush...
 When our company was here last week they played many a great ball game.  The bases were generally located at a pile of rocks, one you'll be sure to not slide into, around the fire pit, and a patch of bare clay for third base.  Then on to home which was more like the end zone of a football field but with many dips and bumps.  In the above picture the kids were hunting for the ball that got everyone home.  We were about ready to get the weed eater out when our visiting teenager located it in the crook of a tree branch.
Budding young painters busy at work...
 I am always amazed at how children really do not require loads of toys to occupy their time.  Give them some time and space and let them create.  They do not require perfectly level playing fields and 50 colors to paint with.  They don't all need a bike and the latest in wordly fashions.  They need some raw materials, yes, but don't limit their creativity with to many toys.  Children need you.  They need your gentle guidance and your availability to chat.  They don't need lengthy sermons and formal times of talk.  Do they need to be educated in a government setting or do they need a Mom and a Dad who care about them individually? 

They need your daily input and you need their daily output or vice versa.  Children were created in families.  Families used to have purpose:  to educate and bring up their children in truth.  They weren't created for toy consumers and for independent autonomic decision making.  They need to learn the logic and truth of God's word and practice applying it daily.  Do not leave them by themselves, but encourage them to relate lovingly and with patience.  Give them quiet time, give them good meals, direct them to excellent reading material, include them in your discussions and in your real life.  Let them be kids and play hard and play long but don't be to busy and to far away.  Enjoy life together.  It is rich and abundant and loaded with adventure when following Jesus Christ.  Yes, sorrow comes and goes but not without joy in the morning.  

Don't be surprised when you can't find a quiet place in your home.  It will be full and brimming with good, healthy activity and very little arguing and complaining.  The few times it will be quiet, is when you all settle down for an hour or two of quiet reading in the afternoon and evenings.  You'll suddenly realize that TV went missing weeks ago and in its place you'll begin to form some lasting and real relationships.  Don't count on meals being quiet unless you really have nothing to talk about.  Meals are lively and loud and probably nothing like you've ever experienced until you begin to want to really look at your children and get to know them and how God designed their individual personalities and learn to appreciate their differences.  When you begin to truly love your children you will sacrifice worldly gain for their good.  It is not always easy.  It pays off in eternal dividends.  BUT the choice will always be yours.  So don't complain, it's up to you and what you've done, is what you've got.
Nothing like riding on perma frost heaves on a bicyle built for one...

Friendships are a gift from God!

Bull Moose Viewing

Just enjoying some tasty under water plants...

Look at this rack just having grown since May...
We drove out Sunday afternoon for a day trip to the North Fork of Chena River and spotted this Bull Moose on the way home.   It inspired further study on the subject of Moose in Alaska.  We had just purchased a wonderful book entitled, "Interior & Northern ALASKA: A Natural History" at the Farmer's Market last Wednesday from the author himself, Ronald L. Smith.  So we looked up Moose and learned that a Bull can eat up to 44 pounds of vegetation a day!  They can stand over 7 feet at the shoulder and weigh between 1200-1600 pounds.  They grow a new set of antlers every year.  Moose can live to be up to 16 years old. 

Interestingly enough there is not much genetic diversity in the North American Moose.  The author has his theories.  I know the Scriptures to be full of concrete facts and undeniable truths, evident to all of mankind, whether or not they admit it.  I believe they were created on the sixth day of a literal 7-day creation by God Himself.  I also believe the Bible to be true when it describes a world wide catistrophic flood.  Why is it so hard to believe that a pair came off of Noah's ark, probably mere calves and traveled northwards from Mt. Ararat to find some good willows to eat.  They travelled and spread until some of them ended up on the land bridge linking Asia to Alaska.  Look how many of the same animals that live in Mongolia, also live in Alaska.  How much genetic diversity exists between these mammals?

I hope to get permission to use some quotes from this author, out of his book.  He is a retired professor of Biology here at the University of Alaska.  He has put together a great book with personal stories throughout.  It is a good reference book as well as a book to really make you think about logic and how to apply that to the evolutionist's theories. 

If you've been reading this blog long, you'll know that I am not in any way supportive of any evoltionary theories because the basis for its logic is not based on God's word, but on a manmade system of rules that will change with the winds of society, which is really no logic at all.  It is much like shifting sands.

I'll take the Rock, let the winds blow and the rains come down, just so long as the waters don't come up to far.  God has promised to never flood the world again, so I can also find solace in this logical promise made 1000's of years ago to all of mankind.

Just a few parting shots of our day trip to Chena River...

Do you think this will wash out?

Our teenager raiding the cooler...

Learning to fly fish, enjoying a good tangle and a good laugh....
We didn't know this Father/Son but they were sure having a great time and this was a priceless picture!

Camping at Olnes Pond AGAIN!

Poor hound, I'll keep you company...

Practicing my powers of concentration...

Attempting to remove the "Sword in the Stone" or should we say the "Axe in the Wood"

Hiking the trail down to the nearby Chatinika River

Surely the fishing will be better in the River

Hangin' out with Bro

Hangin' out in the wild roses with fishing pole in hand...
We went camping two weekends ago at Olnes Pond.  We had a great time, minus the mosquito's and the incessant four wheeler noise.  I'd write about it, but it is a little to fresh in my mind to invoke any feelings of happiness!  I descibed it in an article that I recently sent in for possible publication.  If it is indeed published, I will send all those who desire to read my account of dealing improperly with this situation, you may.  Let's just say it was a humbling experience.

The camping, hiking, and fishing part of the weekend was great, as well as having friends come out for the day on Saturday for Dutch oven stew and Daddy's birthday cheesecake!  I was thinking how nice it was to have a port a potty so close at night!  The older kids slept out in a pup tent and Daddy, the two littlest, and I slept in the pickup truck camper. 

University of Alaska's Botanical Gardens

Enjoying the wild iris's at the University of Alaska's Botanical Gardens...

Cute little shed with grass on the roof, and logs and cement for walls

All eight children enjoying the hike and coming picnic...

Our dear friend and her two boys and one on the way, actually overdue...

Man made stream winding through the picnic area
We had company all of last week and throughly enjoyed every minute of it!  Our friends from Tok, which is four hours away, came up to the Fairbanks Hospital to have their baby.  Baby decided to wait, and wait, and wait some more before she came and as we waited we visited, played, and worked the days away.  People who live far away from medical care here in Alaska have to come in at least two weeks before their babies are due.  There are clinic's in smaller towns but Fairbanks has the only hospital in the interior of Alaska that I know of. 

I must boast about what a trooper this Mother and family were when they came to stay with us.  She was overdue, it was 80 degrees and more all week, Mom and Dad slept on our couches for beds, and there was only one outhouse between all 12 of us people, over half of which were children!   The mosquito's are really thick this year.  The kids had no play equipment other than a couple baseball bats and a ball.  We also had a plastic kiddie pool filled with cool water to play in and a double sided painting easel.  The only real complaints I heard all week, which weren't really complaints at all, but rather statements about the heat and the thick mosquito's.  We cooked and served up meals and snacks each day and had just the best of times and memories.  It felt like we were on vacation.

Mother had her beautiful baby girl in the wee hours of Thursday night and she and her husband and children and teenage helper went home Saturday loaded with Grampa and Grandma just in from the airport the night before along with everyone's baggage and grocerices to boot.  You might be wondering what sort of vehicle would contain all this?  The vehicle of choice in Alaska:  The Suburban!  Those things are huge!  You could almost live in one!

What a blessing it was to see another homeschooling family in action for a week, loving each other, loving God, full of happiness and no complaining.  What an amazing testimony of the power of God in a human life!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Beautiful Backyard Salad

The finished masterpiece...
 My daughters and I gathered the following wildflowers and common weeds to add to our salad:
A nice patch of Chickweed

Some delicate dangling Chiming Bells

Lambs quarter weed in the foreground

Wild pink roses
So many wild plants are edible, very nutritious, and even tasty!  I have noticed when I buy store bought produce here in Fairbanks it does not last near as long in my refrigerator as I remember it lasting down in Oregon.  It must travel so far to get here that the shelf life is so much less.  I know that the vitamin content in produce lessens with each passing day after it has been picked.  What better way to really get good nourishment than picking and eating your nutritious weeds!  Many weeds are very easy to identify so that even a child knows how to spot them.  Some weeds are harder to identify and we've made a rule that one must first find the same weed in at least 3 different books before they can attempt a nibble.  If there is ever any question of it's identity or its value as an edible plant, we pass it by. 
My oldest daughter showing our creative design
Oh that my daughters would be able to identify and place value on everything good thing and despise the evil in this world.  It takes such time and effort to learn to identify edible plants, let them use the same amount of diligence in determining the wealth of everything that sets itself up in their path.  We all want our children to be well educated, what in?  What good is an education if it does not teach critical, godly thinking in order to discern right from wrong?  I think many do not stop to think about what an education really means.  We've accepted such a general and generic worldly view on this subject.   Every parent should spend a long and serious amount of time thinking about what defines an excellent education.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

How to Feed a Wild Butterfly

"Butterfly cotton candy"
 First you must rescue a butterfly from the wild.... my son found this one on a dusty gravel road.  We're pretty sure that this is a Canadian tiger swallowtail butterfly. We learned years ago from the owners of "Wings of Wonder," a large indoor butterfly conservatory and commercial rearing lab located in Buena Vista, Oregon, that you can feed butterflies with a cotton swab dipped in sugar water. 
It really loves this stuff!

Little sister tries feeding it a handful of wildflowers...

I see you, do you see me?

Can we keep it forever?

Inserting the cotton swab into an old nail hole in the cabin wall...
 My son had the great idea of letting the butterfly stay over night on the wall above his bed perched on the sugar dipped cotton swab.  It didn't seem like it was doing really well and he was concerned.  The next morning we awoke to see it had finally spread it's wings fully, ready to fly.
The butterfly awakes, wings fully spread.

Releasing the butterfly back into the wild....
The hardest part is always letting go.... the previous day the children had taken turns holding and observing the butterfly.  We had gone on a hike/bike ride away from the cabin when my son found this lame butterfly.  We all took turns carrying it all the way back home and enjoyed watching it cling to our fingers.  We were very careful to not touch the wings, knowing it would damage its ability to fly. 

Almost four years ago or more, when we lived in Oregon, my son found a tiger swallowtail caterpillar outside and put it in a pickle jar.  He sort of forgot about it until one day he woke up and saw a "brilliant flash of yellow."  It actually hatched!  It was right at Christmas time and it lived for seven days.  We had our Christmas tree up and let it roost in there before we put ornaments up.  It flew around the house and then would drop suddenly.  Daddy named it "Butterfall" do to its inability to fly well.   When it died, my son took it the hardest because it was a real pet to him that he loved in such a short time. 

Now that same little son is my teenager!  He has grown and matured and realizes the painful truth about life and death.  He lost his best friend almost two years ago now.  He knows his friend is in heaven but he still misses him.  He didn't want to spend time with this new butterfly and I wondered why.  The memory of his precious "Butterfall" was to fresh.  He didn't want to be disappointed again.  I shared how the fear of disappointment can leave us without the confidence to make new precious memories, yes, even at the cost of more hurt.  Good memories are always costly but worth the experience, the understanding and the knowledge gained.  Pain, grief, and emotional hurt is part of real life.  We fear the anguish, but can embrace the one who designed life and reject what has brought death into the world.  If we want to be fierce and angry about something, let it be the right thing:  sin.  The ugliest most pitiful and tangible thing I know.  It's real and it destroys.  How often do we joke and make light of a little wrong doing?  How bad is too bad?  God forgives right?  Sin causes death and destruction.  It is serious.  Disobedience has serious consequences. 

Yet, just as serious is the love of God!  How could we reject his plan for salvation with the idea that we don't really need him.  Or perhaps we feel that we're just to busy at the moment and will sit down someday and figure it out.  Maybe we've been deceived into thinking that sin and Heaven and Hell and all that Bible stuff is a fairytale.   If we could only think that, we'd be free to live life as we pleased, right? 

BUT.... what if, we are missing all these beautiful, joy filled memories with the very one who created us?  What if we are cutting him out of our life because of fear of hurt.  Surely, the God of the Universe couldn't care that much for me that He would involve himself in my life?  What if the answer is yes, He does care that much!!!  Someone had to take the risk of relationship in your life.  Jesus Christ is that risk taker.  He took it all the way to death!  And back again!  You can depend on Him for your life, abundant and free because he broke the power of sin and death.  That's the good news, that's the salvation known to all of mankind for all time:  He lives.  Because He lives, you are so free!  God's forgiveness covers all, let it be you too, today!

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Hole in the Raft!

Is this raft going to hold air?
 We took the kids out to Olnes Pond to picnic, fish and raft on Memorial Day.  When we arrived and tried to inflate the raft it wouldn't hold air.  Much to our oldest boys' dismay, he found a gigantic hole in the front;  nothing a little gorilla tape wouldn't fix.  Thus began their adventures for the day....
Don't forget baby brother's life jacket!

We're off.....
Look at this beautiful bald eagle that landed in a tree right next us

The glassy calm of a serene pond...

The fish keep eating our grubs!
 Our friends came out to enjoy the day with us.  They brought the best bait: the fish kept stealing it right off our hooks!
Fishing with Daddy...

The mighty adventures return with their deflated raft...
These mighty adventurers rowed all the way out to the island on the far side of the pond to go exploring.  When they had thoroughly tramped through the brushy island, they returned to their raft and found it barely afloat.  They half-floated and swam to the nearest bank and pulled and pushed the raft alongside the bank until they could all get out and finish the rest of the way walking back to camp.  We could hear their voices floating to us across the water and our friend pulled out her binoculars so we could see their progress.  They had so much fun and had a great time solving their dilemma all on their own.  This was their friends first time ever rafting!  What a great memory!