This Week Is At…

Sandy’s park! Last time it was too cold to be awesome, so we’re trying again. Sandy lives on Burnell Street just north of St Matthews. Her house is the one with the blue door, and this time it’s DEFINITELY available for bathroom breaks. The weather is supposed to be okay on Thursday, so hopefully we can still have fun! (See the post from a few weeks ago for the map, if you need it.

(In case anyone is confused, Bethel is booked this week so we’ll be two outside weeks in a row. We’ll get back to our every-other-week schedule at Bethel next week.)

One other note: if anyone has ideas for places we can go, feel free to send them in as comments or emails. If you have a great park by your place, or know a fun kid spot, I’d love to hear about it – I don’t know all the hotspots. I’m thinking we should go to the zoo one week, and the Children’s Museum once it reopens, plus the splash parks once it’s hot. Any other thoughts?

~Annemarie

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This Week is At…

Assiniboine Park!

We’re going to check out the new playground that just opened last week. It’s by the new! improved! duck pond, so you can park in the big zoo parking lot or along the road and meet us over there. It should be AWESOME.

I’ll also add that you can feel free to bring friends, grandparents, cousins, the kid next door, your dog, your husband, or anyone else who’d like to have a playdate on a Thursday morning. We’re super nice and super fun. Just warn them that Lucy will poach their snacks.

~Annemarie

This Week Is At…

Bethel! If it sounds boring to just hang out in a church basement for an hour or two, let me prove you wrong:

I took those with my iPod last time. (If it bugs you to have yourself or your child on the blog, just let me know, but our blog is pretty exclusive to just our group.)

Another note: If it’s gorgeous outside like it is today, chances are high that we’ll make our coffee and head out to the grassy patch to run around. It is a crime to waste the lovely warm bug-free days at this time of year! So pack some sunscreen and a hat just in case. Otherwise you will be a flaming burning lobster like I am today.

~Annemarie

Examen for Young Children

Maggie sent this to be posted as something to consider for nurturing our children’s spiritual lives. I hope you find it interesting!

~Annemarie

Examen for Young Children and Their Parents in the Home

by Michael Gibson, of Mullica Hill Monthly Meeting (Quakers),Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Friends General Conference

Children have deep spiritual lives, but may not have adequate vocabulary or tools for expressing them.  There are numerous ways parents can help, including the regular use of examen, a variation of which will be described here.  Examen is an Ignatian (Jesuit) daily examination of conscience and reflection on the movements of the Spirit. Parents can nourish themselves and their families by practicing this discipline with their young children at bedtime, perhaps holding them in bed while doing so. Asking “wonderings” instead of pointed questions can help greatly to build trust (all answers are respected), to provide safety in sharing (there are no “wrong” answers), and to nurture children’s natural capacity for wonder.  I recommend keeping the wonderings open-ended and asking the same wonderings each night.  Children may quickly grow accustomed to, and fond of, this time of intimate sharing with their parents. Through this practice, children and parents gain skills in reflecting on their own experience and can learn from each other’s spiritual lives in age appropriate ways.  As the children mature, more wonderings can be added as feels appropriate, or each person can enter more deeply into the same wonderings.

Below is a suggested format using wonderings inspired by those used in Godly Play® stories.  With very young children you might want to use only two or three of these. Experimentation will let you know whether this model needs any adaptation for your particular family situation.

I wonder what you like best about today.  [Child and parent(s) respond simply.]

I wonder what is most important to you about today.  [Again, after the child responds, the parent responds briefly and simply.]

I wonder if there was any part of the day we could leave out and still have all the day we needed.   [Parent and child might respond back and forth.  It is surprising how many things children sometimes share in response.  Someone was stung by a bee.  The cat got stuck up a tree. A parent burned the oatmeal.  Someone was very rude.]

Depending on the age of the child and how the wondering is going, the parent(s) might add: I wonder if there was anything about today that you want to keep in your heart and remember.  [The parent also shares in response.]

Wonder one or more of these:
I wonder where God was in your day.
I wonder if (and when) you felt God today.
I wonder how you listened for God today.
[Naturally, it is extremely helpful for the parent to also respond to the wondering.]
I wonder if there is anything we might say to God about today.  [The prayers that follow might be spoken, unspoken, or both.]

Depending on the age of the child, the energy level, and the mood of the moment, the parent(s) might consider adding a period of silent prayer. Don’t be afraid of silence!  Children are often able to be more contemplative than we think.  Initially, it is helpful to give the child something go do in the silence, such as feel and listen to her breath, listen to all the little sounds in the silence that we don’t usually notice, or simply enjoy God.  The child might even suggest something for all to do in the silence.  The parent or the child may decide on the length of the silence.  End with a hug or a good-night kiss.
_______________________

Parents can do a variation on this exercise with their children when they come home from school instead of before bed, if this works better.  When a parent asks a child, “what did you do at school today,” the response is likely to be “oh, nothing.”   However, asking more specific, yet open-ended, questions in a spirit of wide-eyed wonder and play often yields expressive results that are rewarding for both parent and child.  Some open-ended wondering questions are offered below.  One is wise not to skip the first one listed, for doing so can very easily make the wondering sound like a test, which is not helpful!  Depending on the age of the child, it may also be wise to limit the sharing session to three or four wondering questions.
I wonder what you liked best about today (or about school today).
I wonder what was most important about your day.
I wonder if there was any part of the day you could leave out and still have all the day you needed.
I wonder if there was anything you discovered about yourself today.
I wonder where God was in your day.

This Week Is At…

The park by Sandy’s house!


Sandy has graciously volunteered to let us use her bathrooms while we’re close by. The park is just north of the intersection of St Matthew’s and Burnell.

See you Thursday!