Archive | April 2012

Bookmark Monday: Who’s Theo LeSieg, it’s quite a clever nick!

So sue me for being behind time, but I just found out that Dr. Seuss has a series of books he wrote to be illustrated by others, and for those books, he used the name Theo LeSieg – his real name was Theodor Geisel, LeSieg is his surname, Geisel, spelled backwards.

We’re generally quite selective over the Dr Seuss books we pick. Some just have so many nonsense words, and our kids make up enough nonsense words in a day to rival the good doctor – there’s a limit to how many I can take!

But with our latest find from the library: “Ten Apples Up on Top!”,

I’m thinking that it might be worth checking out the rest of the LeSieg series.

Ten Apples is written with the usual synopsis of zany characters doing silly stuff in high action speed sequences, but it retains the signature rhyming style Seuss(?), Geisel(?), LeSieg(?) is known for.  I like the fact that the text uses simple – and real – words that’s approachable for beginner readers and also can be extended for teaching beginner arithmetic as well.

Click below if you’d like to watch a dramatized reading of the book.

Outside the comfort zone

This Sunday will be the first time I am playing keyboards for the Chinese service.

As I sit and listen to the songs to familiarize myself with the tunes ahead of rehearsal, I can’t help but think how severely I’m in over my head on this one.

I’ve hit the replay button three times now on each of the five songs but for my efforts, the tunes just aren’t sticking much in my head…they’re just melding into one big mass of arpeggios and fill-ins.  Eek.

I’m daunted.

It’s very disconcerting.

Especially when I expect to go into rehearsals with a fair measure of confidence.

Which is easy enough when the songs are ones that I’ve been singing and playing since childhood, in a language native to my ears.

Even if they were new songs, so long as I could read the lyrics, I could still intuitively piece it together fairly quickly.

And that’s the thing isn’t it?  How much of that is my own strength and how much is true dependency on God, the Giver of my skill?

But now…the songs are new and the language is unknown to me.

So here now is a new threshold of faith for me.

It’s ironic – I feel scared and yet excited, hopeful.

That old familiar verse of Sunday School days, Proverbs 3:5-6, never felt more real than tonight.

I will trust. In the Lord. With ALL my heart.

I will lean not on my own understanding. Because I have literally none. The language is foreign to me!

In all my ways, I will acknowledge Him. And He shall direct…  Not me (phew!).  He.

Bookmark Monday: Valuable fables

Hailed as “a master of the simple fable” by the Chicago Tribune, Leo Lionni excels in creating beautifully illustrated books of simple stories with profound meanings.

Last weekend, on our weekly stop by the library, we happened upon a freshly shelved row of his books.

I like how there is always something to learn from his stories, for both adults and children alike. And The Biggest House in the World is no exception.

The book is about a tiny snail who wishes to have the biggest house in the world (and let’s be honest with ourselves…haven’t we all entertained thoughts of having a bigger house sometime…), and is told a story by his wise father of a little snail that once wished the same thought.

And how the little snail in the story would not listen to good reason that he should keep his house light and easy to carry. So, hidden in the shade of a large cabbage leaf, he begins to twist and twitch and grow his shell until it became as big as a melon.

Not satisfied with what he’s achieved, he continues to keep on willing his shell to grow even bigger, eventually coming up with pointed bulges and even bright colours and beautiful designs.

While his fellow snails tell him that surely he must have the biggest house now, and butterflies and frogs marvel in awe at the little snail with a house like a birthday cake, reality soon sets in when the leaves of the cabbage the snails had been feasting on, are all eaten up.  And as the other snails move on to find another, the little snail discovers that he can’t move for the disproportionate weight and size of his house.

Left behind and having nothing to eat, he eventually dies. With nothing remaining but the beautiful shell, which little by little crumbles until nothing remains.

It’s a poignant reminder to me that in our journey of life, it’s more fulfilling, to be neither poor nor rich, but to seek to live life filled with adventure, awe and exploration of God’s world than to be consumed in a quest for bigger, better, more and be eventually burdened by the results of materialism.


“Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me;

give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.

Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God.”  ~ Proverbs 30: 7-9

In my world: Pat it and prick it


Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, dig some sand

Build me a castle as fast as you can

Pat it and prick it and mark it with leaves

Pull out the camera and save it for me.

Preschooler Art: Stars and Ticks

DD showed us this sheet the other day. The kids – they’re so self-driven nowadays they design their own activities. And while at it, award themselves stars and ticks for a great job done.

It’s amusing, but it’s also a reminder of how quickly they are growing.  Makes me half wish preschool days would go by a little slower before the formal primary schooling years hit us, and stars and ticks carry a deeper meaning than just being…stars and ticks!

The Amazing G(Race)

Morning has broken. Blackbird has spoken.

And the race begins.

Which race?

A. The rat race?

B. The Christian race?

C. The race to start and finish the day on an accomplished note – home dusted, deadlines met, family fed, bedtime settled, errands completed?

D. All of the above?

Ans: ______ (10 marks)


It starts after the alarm rings and the knowledge that if I don’t get up this very moment, I risk squandering precious every second that counts down to the point the children board the bus.

In changing pjs to uniforms, straightening crooked socks and taming stubborn strands into a presentable ponytail.

In nagging one for dawdling while chasing the other to go one last time to the toilet.

In negotiating where a son’s sticker book should be placed (not on top of his sister’s favourite book), succeeding, then turning to find daughter brewing stormy tantrum in spite of, and foolishly catching the tailwinds of the storm when I should know better than to growl irritated at her. At the lift. Within earshot of neighbours’ open doors, no less. (Gah, what will they think…what do they already think!)

In gloom-tainted prayers and barely audible amens with frowning daughter and sulking son, happy about the sticker book but upset he wasn’t the one to press the lift button.

In clearing messy bowls of finished yogurt and cereal, putting away the box of raisins, twisting shut the jar of honey, and gathering up crumpled tissues to throw into the bin.

In clearing my own messy thoughts, putting away thoughts of self-flagellation, twisting shut the jar of thickly churned consternation, and gathering up crumpled tatters of a heart that sought to start the day on the right foot but in the first hour has already stumble tripped knee-deep into a befuddled puddle.




If not for Him, more like vanquished.  In times like these, I can do little else but thank God for His grace and His reminder that He hears.  Hears my exasperation, and covers with His immeasurable grace, my innumerable shortcomings.

Grace – sufficient – for me, for the children, for the race.

Bookmark Monday: You’re Mean, Lily Jean

A new neighbour moves in next door and sisters Carly and Sandy find themselves a new playmate in Lily Jean. Or do they?

Lily Jean only wants to play with Sandy and repeatedly attempts to exclude Carly, her younger sister. And when that doesn’t work, she relegates Carly to subjugate roles – the baby, the dog or the cow – leaving Sandy in a conflicted position.

Tired of the bratty and obnoxious Lily Jean, Carly figures out a way to turn the tables and the sisters present Lily Jean her options – either play nice or don’t play with them at all.

Kady MacDonald Denton’s watercolours are calm, sweet and elegant, but yet succeed in conveying effectively the obviously uncalm and unsweet actions and emotions in play.

Frieda Wishinsky has created a great book that discusses the issue of playground politics, presents solutions without coming across as preachy or heavy, and equips parents and children to identify the difference between having fun vs. being bullied vs. being a bully.

Lily Jean is suitably depicted as the typical smug, overconfident and bossy bully. Children will easily recognize in her the Lily Jeans of their own playground or playdate interactions and perhaps take away some clever, non-violent tips in dealing with a bully or overbearing character as a first level attempt to resolution without requiring adult mediation.

I think it also is a good resource to impart to siblings the value and importance of looking out and caring for each other, and that they are strong as individuals but unstoppable as a team.  Phyllis from All Things Beautiful summarizes the sibling creed values succinctly; click here for the original source article.

As a footnote, I also like the fact that Sandy and Carly are shown as not just playing girly girl games in their make-believe play. They play house, but they also play at dragons and knights, explorers and pirates and mountain climbers and astronauts. Very subtle and very cool! 😀

Bookmark Monday: Happy Endings

To teach me grammar when I was a child, my dad bought me a thick hardcover copy of Macmillan’s English, filled with chapters and myriad examples on the eight parts of speech and their usage. And of course, the requisite accompanying grammar drills.

It’s a very good book. But at the end of the day it’s a text book.

And while there will always be a place for grammar text books on our shelves, I have now just recently discovered this genre called “language art picture books”.

A story about suffixes?  I’m intrigued enough to scooch in a little nook on the shelf for it.

The storyline is a little corny and a little wacky but I liked it, I had a good laugh. And I also like that in fifteen minutes, I could have a quick dive into learning about suffixes, what they are and what they do.

There is a guide at the back that lists common suffixes and their functions, e.g. adding to a noun to make it plural, adding to an adjective to make a noun, adding to a noun to make an adjective, adding to a noun to make it go away, or adding to a work to make it full of itself, and some rules for adding suffixes to words.

Other language art picture books by Robin Pulver and Lynn Rowe Reed include Punctuation Takes a Vacation, Silent Letters Loud and Clear, and Nouns and Verbs Have A Field Day. 

While the series appears to have received mixed reviews, I frankly do think that it’s pretty good.  Because it’s hard work to write a good story. It must be even more challenging to write an entertaining story underpinned with the objective of teaching grammar.

I wouldn’t have the gumption, even if I mustered up all earnestness, so I’m really thankful someone out there is fearless enough to do it.

Three cheers for word endings, and three even louder cheers for writers of language arts picture books. 🙂

Bookmark Monday: Easter readings

This week is Holy Week.
I’d planned some Lent craft activities in the calendar, but have been so consumed by the daily rushing and rumbling of keeping household and work life running, I fell behind.
But it is amazing how God’s Holy Spirit can use an innocent heart (and His kingdom belongs to such as these!) to precipitate a diverted perspective into needful action.


“When we get home I want to read my Bible.”
“When I read my Bible, does that make you and Daddy happy?”
“Well…Yes. But more importantly, God is happy, dear.”
“Jesus is happy too?”
“Yes. God and Jesus are happy.”
“Mummy, I want to read my Bible every day.”


Exchanging raised eyebrows and cryptic glances, DH and I wonder what to make of this little exchange.

It feels like we’ve been suddenly drenched in a surprise rainshower of heavenly glory.
And we’re still doing a double…triple take in slow motion.
(And I’m still not satisfied with the way I’ve written this…words fail me as I grasp for the right nouns, verbs, adjectives and find them not.)

It’s been percolating in my mind all Sunday.

What do you do with all that shining shimmering golden – suspended, glimmering, twinkling – all around you?

We don’t know what brought it on, we don’t know how long this moment will last, and we just know we have to make something of it, but we don’t quite know what…

For two evenings now, she’s taken out her Bible, curled up in blanket and pillows and flipped open a page.
She’s read of Moses and the Israelites wandering in the desert, and the walls of Jericho, and Zacchaeus.

And as she carefully placed her Bible back onto the shelf on Sunday night, I figure this is great, but we probably need a little more direction and a little less random.

So I’ve put aside our original plan and weaved together a new series of readings that we’ve just started. There’s no art-and-craft planned. No accompanying activity.

But then…maybe that’s all not necessary.

Only what is needed is to sit at His feet and soak up His words of life…


** Our readings are taken from the Learn-to-Read-Bible by Heather Gemmen, published by Faith Kidz (Cook Communications Ministries). **     

  • Palm Sunday – “Hosanna! Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem” Luke 19:29-38
  • Monday – “God’s Plan – Jesus talks about His death” John 16:16-28
  • Tuesday – “The Lord’s Supper” Luke 22:14-20
  • Wednesday – “Jesus Prays in the Gethsemane” Luke 22:39-46; Mark 14:32-42
  • Maundy Thursday – “Jesus is arrested and tried” Luke 22:54, 23:2-5; John 19:6
  • Good Friday – “Jesus dies on the cross” Luke 23:33-34, 46
  • Saturday – “Jesus is alive! Can it be true?” John 19:40-42; Matthew 28:5-8
  • Easter Sunday – “Jesus is risen and He will come back” John 20:11-18; Luke 24:36-43; Matthew 28:19-20 


Break now the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,
as once you broke the loaves beside the sea:
beyond the sacred page I seek you, Lord:
my spirit longs for you, O living Word