Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Noah Yohannan has arrived!

Our dear friends and partners in the ministry, Jake & Jaya Yohannan, have a new little baby boy named Noah! We love them, but they just cannot have a boring delivery and birth!!! :-) Here is part of a note from Jake along with some pics...

Well....his name is Noah. FOUR seemed to be the "number of the day" (too much Sesame Street at our house). Our fourth was born on Thursday July 24th at 8:42am and weighed 4lbs 14oz. He came four weeks early at 36 weeks in Jaya's pregnancy. Jaya had been having pre-term labor since July 4th and we were praying she could make it for a few more weeks.

He came fast and furiously. We arrived at the hospital around 7:30am on Th. and he didn't even let his mom get an epidural. It was all natural with lots of screams from mommy and baby: ) He was kept in the NICU for several days because he was small and needed a little extra attention, but they finally sent him home by Sunday evening. We are trying to settle in at home, since he came almost a month early. God is SO GOOD for protecting him and Jaya. We are glad to have him as part of our family (especially Jesse our almost 5yr old, who REALLY wanted a little brother since according to him, "i don't want another baby sister"). Too bad for Josephine; she'll have to put up with the boys!

Noah means "rest" and "peace" and we pray he will be a man of peace, especially in the next few months. Our prayer is that he will love the Lord God and share His peace with anyone who needs it. His middle name is "Yaakov", Hebrew (a language i love) for Jacob which is a family name for a few generations now. Yohannan is a straight translation of "John" from the Malayalam New Testament Bible (language of Kerala, India).

Please pass this on to any of our mutual friends and family, and please forgive me for not getting to call you personally as we just got back home and have been very tired trying to set up. Hopefully we'll be able to talk or see you soon.

With thankful hearts,

jake for jaya and the gang: )

Monday, July 28, 2008

News from the sick house...

It seems as though everyone in our family, excluding Sarah, has come down with symptoms from a nasty stomach bug. I was the first to go down on Saturday, which as most of you parents know, it is never a good thing for momma to get sick. As we say down here, when momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy! Plus, John was gone all day working on his sermon, so I was left to hold down the fort while feeling miserably nauseated. Thankfully, the kids played extremely well together all day so I was able to parent them from the couch. After all of the kids woke up from their afternoon naps, however, I was really feeling wretched. Shortly after that, John came home and then his mom came over and offered to keep all 3 kids overnight so I could finish being sick, get some sleep, and so John could finish up his sermon. WHAT A BLESSING it is to have family so close by and so willing to help!
Later on that evening, we got a call from John's mom saying that Christopher had thrown up all over his bed! Gross! I had just had my last sick episode and collapsed into bed. The next morning, I felt better but incredibly dehydrated and spent. I called over to John's parents house to see how the kids were doing and to offer to take over, but they insisted on keeping the kids who were all contentedly playing after breakfast. Christopher didn't eat or drink anything besides water, but was already at work on his giant dinosaur puzzle. So I got to work disinfecting my kitchen and bathrooms before collapsing again. The kids all came home around lunchtime and Christopher fell asleep while reading his dinosaur books in bed. Then John came home from church feeling sick to his stomach! Either we all caught this virus at the same time and place or it is highly contagious with a fast and furious latent period.
When Christopher woke up from his nap, I asked him if he was hungry or thirsty, to which he said, no. He said he was still tired and then said to me, "But you could stay in here and read to me about dinosaurs..." So we read LOTS of books yesterday and put together numerous puzzles. As the day went on, Christopher still wasn't eating or drinking very much, but he was playing like his old self. I figured he was over the worst of it until he woke up this morning and threw up again on the way to our room. Poor guy! After I got him and the floor all cleaned up, I said to him, "Christopher, I'm sorry you're still sick. I thought you were getting better." He then told me, "Well, I feel better as long as we're talking about dinosaurs. When we stop talking about dinosaurs is when I start to feel sick again." Ha! How's that for a prescription?!
So I sent John into Christopher's room to talk to him about dinosaurs while I got the girls some breakfast. You would think that he went through a miraculous healing or something by hearing the volume and excitement in his voice from the other room! Next thing we knew, he was running out of the room to grab his big dinosaur books to show Daddy what he was talking about...since Daddy doesn't know as much as he does about dinosaurs.

Pictured above are Christopher's big dinosaur books that he reads over and over and over again. No exaggeration, he can identify every dinosaur on every single page of these three books. I know this because he has shown us several times. Today he took us through the fat book in the middle and even gave us some facts about most of the dinosaurs in there. The middle book is one we got from the library and have already renewed once. It is due back this Saturday and I'm wondering if we might owe some money on this one since it has been so 'well loved'. Honestly, I'd be happy to buy it since I know he'll be sad to see it go. Ah, but I remember there were about 4 shelves of dinosaur books upstairs, so that should help to assuage his loss.
We concluded that talking and reading about dinosaurs really did help Christopher to feel better. The video below will show Christopher feeling just fine as he reads the book, Go Dog Go, by P.D. Eastman to Sarah. What cracks me up is that regardless of how slowly he reads, he does it with inflection in his voice and everything!

Monday, July 21, 2008

A day at the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science

Mondays are John's day off and we usually try to plan for an excursion of some sort. Today we decided to go down to the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science since the kids enjoyed it so much the last time we went and since they also had new exhibits and IMAX movies to see. We first went over to the Nature building where the Ice Age and Oceans exhibits were along with the fossil lab and many dinosaur skeletons, bones and fossils. Just as learning about art history helps you to appreciate priceless works of art in an art museum, so our recent learnings about dinosaurs gave the kids a much greater appreciation and wide-eyed wonder for all of the exhibits we saw today. It was really hard to keep the kids from running from one thing to another or yelling at the top of their lungs when they recognized something. It was a lot of fun.

Here is Christopher standing in front of the woolly Mammoth skeleton (Ice Age Exhibit) that was found in the Trinity River here in Dallas.

Here are Sarah and Christopher standing in front of a Mosasaurus skeleton (Oceans Exhibit). Christopher will be quick to correct you if you call this a dinosaur shark. It is NOT a dinosaur; it's a swimming lizard.

After we were finished at the Nature building, we headed back over to the Science building to see the Roving Mars IMAX movie, which was incredible. It really made you appreciate all the time, work, and painstakingly detailed research that went into making and testing the Mars Rover before it even left the earth. You even felt like jumping up and cheering along with the people in the video at NASA when the Rover successfully landed on Mars and started sending the first pictures of Mars ever. Very impressive and the kids thoroughly enjoyed it as well.

After the movie and scarfing down a packed lunch, we then explored the Science building exhibits.

Here, the kids were able to be a paleontologist for a day in a big sand pit that had several dinosaur bones scattered throughout. The pits are filled with paleontologist tools such as shovels and brushes to excavate the bones and measuring tape to examine them (see Christopher measuring a bone above). Funny, there were no hammers, picks or chisels...

Sarah carefully sweeps the sand off of this giant femur. Sarah's T-Rex t-shirt was on backwards, but she assured me that she liked it that way.

Above the sand pits stood this enormous Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton and the Quetzalcoatlus flying overhead. Sarah's favorite dinosaur is the T-Rex, so you can imagine how excited she was to see this up close. I pointed to it and asked her, "Sarah, do you know which dinosaur skeleton this is?" She looked up and started to say, "I don't kno..." and then gasped before proclaiming, "It's a T-Rex dinosaur!! Chri-o-fer! Wook! It's a T-Rex!!" I asked Christopher afterwards if the Quetzalcoatlus was a flying reptile or a Pterosaur, to which he said, "Mommy, they're the same thing." Oh...

This is a Triceratops skull that was sitting just on the edge of one of the sand pits. To get a sense of the size of this thing, you can see Christopher's head poking up just behind it.

I was resistant to let her in the sand pit, but Hannah was just dying to get out of the stroller. She could have cared less about the dinosaur bones but she had a blast since this was just a super-sized sand box to her.

I was hoping to avoid going downstairs to the children's museum, but unfortunately Sarah remembered riding the tractors the last time we came and insisted we do it again.

Here Sarah is dressed up like a fireman (or fire woman). They also have an area where the kids can dress up like bugs and crawl through an ant hill tunnel.

Firemen Christopher and Sarah at the wheel and Hannah in the background.

We were there from about 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Needless to say, we were thoroughly exhausted from such a fun-filled day and the kids were in bed well before 8:00 p.m.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Yet another obsession...

If any of you know Christopher or have kept up with our blog long enough, you'll recall his various obsessions. His latest obsession, which was piqued earlier this past Spring after watching an IMAX movie at the Science museum in Dallas, is dinosaurs. Sarah sat on my lap and shivered throughout most of the "Dinosaurs Alive" IMAX movie, but Christopher sat upright on the edge of his seat, wide-eyed, commenting and asking questions all throughout. A teenage girl sitting next to him, obviously amused by this, leaned over and asked, "Do you want to be a paleontologist when you grow up?" With wonder in his voice he smiled and said, "Yes."

I then purchased Leap and the Lost Dinosaurs book for his Leap pad and gave it to him to play on the trip up to PA...which he did, intensely and incessantly! Every now and then he would pop his head up and ask, "Did you know that Bracchiosaurus weighed more than 5 elephants?" along with dozens of other "Did you know...?" questions. You may remember from the preceding post that he would ask random people at restaurants and service stations these "Did you know...?" questions as well. Needless to say, he was very excited about his newfound love and knowledge of dinosaurs that he couldn't contain himself.

I also mentioned in the last post that Christopher is learning to read (even sounding out pretty long and complicated dinosaur names) and I think that Sarah will fall hot on his heels since she always wants to be where Christopher is and do whatever he is doing. The following video clip captures them in one of these moments. (Also notice the dinosaur t-shirt he is wearing...)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Read, read, read to your children!

Our 5 year old son, Christopher, read an entire book out loud almost exclusively by himself today! This is a huge milestone in any child's life, I think. Granted, the book was Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss and not Moby Dick or even Charlotte's Webb, for that matter, but I am amazed that he could make out nearly all of the sentences without having yet begun a formal reading program. The thing that probably amazes me the most is that he had the patience to work through the entire book, sounding out each word and then repeating the sentence after he figured out all of the words. He is NOT my most patient child, so this was quite an accomplishment. Then again, the kid really enjoys learning and mastering newly acquired skills, so I can see why he was bound and determined to finish the book. He's been able to read 3-5 letter words that follow simple phonics rules for a while now, but it's only recently that he's been able to read sentences with complex words. You may already know that Christopher's latest obsession is dinosaurs (when we were traveling home from PA he would ask perfect strangers, "Did you know that Tyrannosaurus Rex was the largest and fiercest carnivore of the Cretaceous period?...and did you know that Dimetrodon was a Pelicosaur that lived even before the dinosaurs?") We have understandably indulged his love of dinosaur-learning by getting him books on the subject. Yesterday as he was flipping through one of these books, he was starring at and slowly trying to sound out a dinosaur name that he was not familiar with and finally said, "Mommy, is this dinosaur 'Albertosaurus'?" I looked down and sure enough, it was! So for those of you out there who think phonics is a waste of time, I point you to my child who was able to figure out the pronunciation of Albertosaurus from simply knowing his letters and sounds.

This is a huge relief to me as we embark on homeschooling this Fall. Not that there won't be challenges, but teaching my children how to read and write seemed a daunting task to one who has only had experience teaching children who already knew how to read and take notes. I just ordered the math and language arts curricula for the Fall and am eager to familiarize myself with them and get started. I'm currently reading Susan Wise-Bauer's & Jessie Bauer's book, The Well-Trained Mind and highly recommend it for anyone who is considering homeschooling. Not only is it a great reference book for classical home education, but it's also great at encouraging and relieving the stress from worries like, 'Am I doing enough?', 'Am I qualified to do this?', 'Which is the best curriculum out there?', 'How much time should ___ subject take each day/week?', etc. One of the things I remember reading in the chapter devoted to teaching your child to read is, "Remember, reading is easy. Reading is easy. Reading is easy." So far I'm finding that to be true. Plus, so much of reading preparedness is simply turning off the TV and reading to your kids as much as possible.

All of my kids, including Hannah, enjoy having books read to them and flipping through them on their own. Part of the reason is that we have shelves and shelves and SHELVES of children's books within their reach and we always walk out with way more books from the library than we can reasonably carry. Any time I am sitting cross-legged on the floor, Hannah will grab one of her board books, hand it to me while saying, "Ree ree reee!", then climb into my lap and plop down. Sarah will patiently sit through as many books as I will read to her and will bring me more if I in any way indicate that this might be the last one. I actually think Sarah will be reading at an earlier age than Christopher since she always wants to be where he is, do what he's doing, she's the 2nd child, AND she's a girl.

I still am a bit overwhelmed at the task, especially with a new baby arriving in the early Fall, but I am more excited and eager to get started than I am worried about it. Sure, it will be crazy with the little ones running about the house and I'm sure it will test my patience as tackle more challenging subjects and tasks, but I still think that it will be a lot of fun and that the benefits will far outweigh the stress of it. At least I hope so! I'll write another entry about this after we've been at it for a year or two and see if my song has changed, but so far I've thoroughly enjoyed home-educating my preschoolers and can't wait to get started on Kindergarten and beyond.