Monday, February 29, 2016

The Cross


Our church - Our Savior Lutheran Church in Thomaston, CT - hosted an Ecumenical Lenten Worship tonight. It began with Evening Prayer, Vespers, which is one of my favorite services. It veered a bit off course after the Psalmody. There was a reading from John and then some pharisees had quite the conversation about their actions not matching their words - and a modern day pharisee helped them discover what the cross is all about and that it's all about the cross. 

And then... and then, after another hymn was sung, five young people. ages 8-13, held captive those who congregated for this Monday night worship. The Interpretive Movement Ministry performed "It's About the Cross" after running through it just twice an hour before worship. They had done it for Christmas, and it was perfect for this Lenten worship as well.


It touched the hearts of all who attended. It is my hope that they carry its message with them through Lent, the Easter season, and always.

Today, I am grateful for children who give their time and talents to this amazing ministry; for outside of the box worship experiences; for ministries that touch hearts and souls; and for Barbara Howard for taking the video so we can share it with others. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Worship


It's been a rough week. From a leg that felt like it was going to explode, to steroids used to treat the leg, to ear infection girl, to ER visit for her spectacularly ruptured eardrum, sleep has been difficult to come by - 18 hours in 8 days by my calculations. Add in children who are feeling under the weather, a Remicade infusion and doctor appointments, and I'm exhausted. 

This morning, I ignored four of the five alarms I had set to make sure I could get up for worship. Alia was up half the night in pain, so I didn't bother getting her up. Coren was up, but had a hurt foot. Haley got up, looking completely miserable. I tried to wake Zachary up several times to no avail. I didn't even bother waking Alex. I pulled myself together and went to worship alone.

I used a coupon for a free macchiato and arrived in time for Coffee and Conversation. I did more listening than talking as I struggled to wake up enough to string intelligible words together. 

As the words of readings, hymns, and the sermon washed over my sleepy soul, a feeling of peace and inspiration wiped away some of my lethargy. Being in that place, with those people, hearing and singing and saying those words, was just what I needed.

Today, I am grateful for coffee; for Our Savior Lutheran Church, Thomaston, CT; for shared stories; for laughter; and for cuddly children.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Gifts


Today  was a day gifted to me by my husband to do whatever I pleased. Gifted to me because I really find it difficult to just to say I need a day off and then follow through and take it. Haley came with me and we went to see a guy about a tattoo ... and pieces of a tree. 

I wanted to surprise my husband with getting some of his artwork tattooed on my body, so I went to see Jacob Myjak, my favorite local tattoo artist. He did our wedding band tattoos, as well as my super hero death bunny (artwork by Alia), 1 John 3:18 LOVE tattoo (artwork by Haley), and my tree tattoo (watercolor by Coren). He had never done a tattoo with such tiny detail, and I think it came out wonderfully. 

The Myjaks also had a tree fall in their yard during a storm and were offering it free for firewood or whatever other use we had. Knowing my husband, I was sure he'd love some of the larger pieces, so we loaded some up on our way out. 

And just because I knew he'd love some, I picked up some Magic the Gathering cards for Jim on the way home as well.

I not only got a day off, I got to listen to good music, talk to good people, and give a couple of gifts myself. 

Today, I am grateful for my talented twenty year old tattoo artist; for his mother, my friend, who is a joy to hang out with; for a husband who loves that I got his artwork tattooed as much as I do; and for an Alia who had a rough night (neither she nor I slept much), but who called me when her eardrum ruptured to make sure the drainage and blood were ok, without bothering to fill her Daddy in on the details of our phone call, necessitating a text from him to get the same info. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Hair


Hair seems to be a big deal in our house. My boys have gorgeous long hair. Haley has the hair I always wanted when I was growing up. Alia has had an awesome rainbow mohawk and her hair has spent less time its natural color during her lifetime than some fanstastical color or three. When we met, my husband had the same luxurious long flowing wavy hair that my boys have now.

And then there's me. I could never get my hair to cooperate with anything I wanted to do with it. As a teen, I fussed over my hair to no end, trying to get it to look at least a little bit cool. In college and well beyond, I colored my otherwise boring hair anything from neon purple to auburn. 

And then Remicade happened. Shortly after my second or third dose of Remicade, my hair started falling out and breaking. I tried different things, but nothing helped the situation. And so I shaved my head. The first time, I shaved it completely, just a little peach fuzz left. More recently, I've shaved it very short, but not that short. Or I should say, my husband and my younger daughter shave it. 

Alia takes great pleasure in shaving my head. My husband, not so much. 

People ask me if I miss my hair. Not really. It's just hair. If I "kept" my hair, I'd be picking hair off of everything. It's bad enough using my smartphone and having to blow hairs off the screen every few seconds when my hair is getting "too long" and therefore breaking more. Hair would be nice. Mobility and quality of life are more than a fair exchange for my hair. 

Today, I am grateful for children who let me twirl their hair; for a husband who prefers me with hair, but will shave it anyway; for bandannas, which keep my head warm and from getting sunburn; and for children who admit that I look funny, but love me anyway. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Inspiration


My children inspire me.

Whether it's my youngest seeing a cooking show and recreating the dish, my newest teen's fearless theater audition, or my ten year old trying something even though he's afraid, my children are a constant source of inspiration. 

It was Alia's cooking escapade that led me to challenge myself tonight. 

There's this soup at Senor Pancho's in Thomaston, CT that I get every time we're there. I say I'm going to get something different, but I can't not order it. Sopa Azteca is just that good. But we don't get to Senor Pancho's often, so I don't get to eat it as often as I'd like. Until now. Tonight, after getting the special peppers and perusing several different recipes, I delved into the fun and anxiety of cooking something new. I also made chicken and rice, in case my attempt was a total flop. 

I roasted the peppers, sauteed the garlic and onions, blended those with the tomatoes, boiled, simmered, added chicken, simmered some more, and finally served it over tortilla pieces, with avocado, cilantro, sour cream, cheese, and lime wedges. Of the three children who tried it, two were fans, as was my husband upon eating his portion after work. I thought it was good, too, but needs a bit of tweaking. Next time, I'll use more of the roasted peppers, will use fire roasted tomatoes, and make a bigger batch! 

Today, I'm grateful for children who love to learn, love to try new things, and in the actions of living their lives, inspire others; for friends who stop by for a chat and in the process remind me of what a blessing it is to take time out to just sit and enjoy a nice conversation; and for a husband who makes me breakfast for dinner, since I didn't do very well feeding myself today due to a Remicade hangover. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Date with Remi



The day started early. Again. I was up by 6:30 and out the door shortly after 7 for my date with Remi. 

My husband drove through the rain and slush, stopping briefly to pick up a gluten-free breakfast wrap and dirty chai. We parked the car, shared the wrap, and I kissed him before grabbing my chai and heading inside for my long-awaited date. It had been six weeks - a week more than usual- since I'd last hooked up to Remi. 

My Remicade infusions keep me mobile. Without them, I'd spend much more time in bed, on crutches, or in a wheelchair. Excruciating pain would punctuate every movement and exhaustion would overwhelm every moment of my day. My dates with Remi are vital to my quality of life. 

Today, I am thankful for a husband who drives me to my dates with Remi; for my Mom or friend Renee, who pick me up and drive me home so that my husband isn't late for work; for my Mom, who treats us to Five Guys on the way home, making my day easier and keeping my kids for insisting they're still hungry while I'm attempting to nap; for children who let their Mama nap; and for the life-changing results of my dates with Remi. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Coffee



Some days just need coffee. A lot of coffee.

Some days, days like today, need coffee with a good friend in a place that doesn't contain any of our children. Where wonderful women keep our coffee cups full and don't seem to mind that we take up a booth for two hours. When we talk about everything from faith to family to tattoos and back again. We take turns venting life's stresses and listening. We share ideas of what might help or provide a new perspective if we can, but don't feel like we need to fix or be fixed - just hear and be heard. 


Some days we drink too much coffee. Many days and hour or two just isn't enough time, yet it is. I know that, no matter how long I have to spend with Lisa, I leave renewed and refreshed. And way too caffeinated. 

Today, I am grateful for time out; for the opportunity to listen; for being heard; for friendship from the heart, framed in faith; for coming home to a houseful of children, including an extra 3 and 5 year old who are full of giggles; for teenagers playing a game that might be more interesting and funny for me to listen to than it is for them to play; and for coffee...lots of coffee to get me through the day after a mere two hours of sleep.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Ubuntu


Tonight Haley mentioned that last year's Mainstage production at Epoch Arts is on YouTube. We decided a viewing would make for a wonderful evening.

Ubuntu is a story of real community, of working together, of serving one another. At one point in the play, the word homeless is used to describe the yearning for human connection through community. I used to experience that type of homelessness often, especially in the Winter months when I spend more time hibernating than socializing. I felt homesick, yet I was home.

This Winter, it's been different. I feel more deeply connected with community at church, at Epoch Arts, and with friends. I know my close friends are there for me and I for them, even if we don't get together as much as we'd like. I'm enjoying the company of my family and striving to carve out more time to just be in the moment with them. 

Ubuntu is a philosophy in which it is believed that there exists a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity. I feel that connection more and more, as I seek out communities that exude that connection. 

In less than ten weeks, we will journey to a place that radiates ubuntu - Camp Calumet in Freedom, NH. Free of charge, but full of community spirit, families and individuals will gather for a weekend of cleaning, repairing, building, and preparing Camp for the Summer season. We will be well fed, not only in the dining hall, but through our work and our time together.

Today, I am grateful for community; ubuntu; children who love to watch and perform in plays; for the Arts; for creativity; for inspiration; and for time together.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Guests


We have two special guests with us this evening. 

I received my husband's customary I'm on my way home from work do you need anything call.  No long thereafter, my phone went off again. Strange. A brief conversation led to the arrival of our guests, much to the excitement of my children. They miss their little friends, who used to be here a few days a week. 

The invitation was put forth almost immediately - they were welcome in the room of the thirteen year old for a movie and to play. Some singing and lots of giggling later, they were downstairs acting as the audience for magic tricks, drawing and stickering and inquiring as to whether or not there were bananas. Then it was back upstairs for more fun. 


Throughout the evening I received text updates from the emergency department, where my dear pregnant friend was getting treated with iv antibiotics and was undergoing a non-stress test to make sure everything is ok with baby boy, who is not due for another couple months. 

Children tired out and fed, we received word that it would most likely be another few hours until Mom was discharged. It was time to put the little ones to bed. It took a while the children to settle down, the excitement of the unexpected visit still fresh. 

My friends thanked me multiple times for taking care of their children while they dealt with health issues. I assured them their girls were a welcome addition to our evening...and night if it comes to that.

Today, I feel blessed to be able to help friends and to entertain two lovely young ladies. I am grateful for children who love playing with friends of all ages and who are so kind and loving to those younger than them; for my own friends and family who help me and my family out when we have medical appointments and emergencies; and to have made it to worship this Sunday after illnesses and power outages had kept us away.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Claudia


There's an elephant in the garden, and it's my daughter. Haley got the part of Claudia in the mainstage production at Epoch Arts in East Hampton, CT. Claudia is an elephant, one of an array of characters from corporate to clown in a unique story that will be weaved by 17 or so teens for themselves...and incidentally for an audience as well. This play speaks volumes. It captures parts of us, challenges us, and hopefully changes us all, if even just a little bit. 

Today I am thankful for laughter; for tears; for teens who cringe and even cry at the maltreatment of others, even when it's just when reading through a script for the first time; for inspired words; for challenges; for gardens; for hope; and for very little, but very important things. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Anticipation


She's been waiting and wondering for a week. Haley tried out for a play last Saturday, did amazing at her audition, and is counting down the hours until she finds out. One o'clock in the afternoon on Saturday seems so far away from a four o'clock Friday perspective. The anticipation is driving her crazy.

I'm experiencing a different type of anticipation. I have information she doesn't. I am fairly confident I know which part she got and am incredibly excited for her to find out. I'm not going to be the one to tell her. She has to wait until tomorrow when the rest of the cast finds out their parts. The anticipation is killing me. 

Today I am thankful for joyful anticipation; for looking forward to good things to come; for good conversations with friends; for tough conversations with children; and for gluten-free chocolate chocolate chip muffins. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Food


Funny, I wasn't hungry until 5AM, when I couldn't have even a sip of water. I hadn't eaten since dinner on Tuesday and it was now Thursday morning. With just a few hours until my procedures, and then a bit of recovery time afterwards, I knew I'd be eating soon, and that there would be food waiting for me in my fridge and pantry. And it's just a one time thing, so no big deal. 

Many people aren't so lucky. There are children who eat their only meals of the day at school. There are may people who don't know where their next meal is coming from. There is more food produced in the world than needed to feed everyone in the world sufficiently. Everyone. But enough food doesn't get to the people who need it most for many reasons. 

So today, still groggy from sedation, heating up a gluten-free chicken pot pie in the microwave, I packed up some nonperishable food items for the food pantry. If everyone would just grab three or four extra items every they grocery shop and donate them to the food pantry, less people would go hungry. 

Today, I am thankful for procedures that went well; caring medical professionals; food in fridge, freezer, and pantry; the ability to share what we have with others; and for the Blue Bucket Ministry at our church that feeds the local food pantries.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Better Perspective


Today has been a horrible day. 

I woke up with a migraine. I still have a migraine. I can't do anything to treat it or the pain I'm in because I'm on a liquid diet and am off all medications other than thyroid meds in preparation for an endoscopy and colonoscopy tomorrow. The limited things I can consume are making me feel more ill combined with migraine and the wonderful concoction I need to drink in preparation for tomorrow's procedures. The nausea is horrendous.

But I am grateful!


I am grateful that my husband was able to take the day off of work and take the children to my parents' house for the day (they're on vacation) so that I can have the one and only bathroom in our house to myself. I am grateful that I was able to nap a bit this afternoon. I am grateful for peace and quiet and the ability to watch what I want all day without someone questioning my choices. I am grateful that the nausea cancels out any want or need to eat, as that won't be happening until sometime tomorrow afternoon.

Sometimes horrible days just put the not-so-horrible days into better perspective. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Eight


My youngest child is eight years old and I have no idea how that happened. 

Wasn't it just yesterday that she was an overly precocious three year old asking for a cadaver for Christmas? Ah, those were the days!

Eight is a funny age... and age where the child seems to be straddling being a little kid and a not-quite-tween. Alia has always acted well beyond her years, but I see so much child still left in her, which I adore. 

We had quite an adventurous day celebrating Eight. Cupcakes for post-sleepover breakfast followed by Kung Fu Panda 3 (successfully this time) and Kidcity Museum with friends. After a quick trip home, we were supposed to pick up gluten-free pizza and head to Tuesday Night Sunday School, but the church lost power, so TNSS was cancelled. Pizza already ordered, we added another pizza to the order for the teen boys and called it a birthday dinner.

Today I'm thankful for older children who are mature enough to be bummed about not being invited along to the movies without being distraught over having to wait to see KFP3; for friends who made our day so much better in so many ways; for a newly minted eight year old who is still as scary and as unique as she's ever been; and for a messy house that attests to the amount of fun we've had over the past couple days. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Going With the Flow



As a homeschooling parent, I must be spoiled. Usually when we go to the movies on a weekday, there's barely anyone there. 

Somehow I completely didn't take into consideration that it was a school vacation day into Alia's birthday trip to the movies. We arrived to a sold out theater, with no other movie options. The four excited children took it amazingly well and we returned home to play some more.

We'll try again tomorrow, cramming an 11AM movie followed by a trip to KidCity into our day before we have to go home, order pizza, and get ourselves to Tuesday Night Sunday School.


Today, I'm thankful for children who go with the flow; for a friend who is willing to drive back to my house so the kids can have more play time; for children who entertain themselves and each other so well; and for laughter filling my house as the sleepover girls get the last of their energy out before going to bed. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Day of Rest


It was -28 degrees Fahrenheit with the windchill this morning when I got out of bed this morning. My throat raw from a night of waking up coughing every fifteen minutes, I assessed the situation, the week to come, and decided it best to retreat back to bed. Not long after, I had two smallish children in bed with me. 

It's not often we don't go to church, but today I prayerfully made the decision to stay put. A day of rest is what I truly needed on this Sabbath. 

Today, I am grateful for a house that keeps out the snow, electricity that helps us keep warm, afghans lovingly crafted by my Mom, children who still like to cuddle, and a husband who brings me a rose and chocolate because it is, after all, Valentine's Day. I am thankful for a week that includes not only necessary, yet not so pleasant medical testing, but also a two day birthday extravaganza, Alia style, and is ended with homeschool co-op and Mainstage theater fun. 


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Drama


It seems I'm travelling in circles.

I'm back at Epoch Arts less than 24 hours after leaving homeschool co-op. Teenagers abound, playing guitar, playing with the resident baby, listening to music, talking about myriad things. Two words propel these teens from whatever they're doing into the theater. Circle up! Mainstage has begun.

As I sit, looking into the faces of these youth, I'm struck by their love for this place. One is crying with joy upon returning after three months away. Another cannot contain her enthusiasm about being a part of the "mainstage family." 

Auditions are today, and Haley, 13, has never auditioned at Epoch before. They need to pick two parts they'd love to play and read them in front of the director, stage manager, and a few others. I'm impressed with Haley's excitement and confidence. Grinning from ear to ear, she exits the audition room and responds to my inquiry as to how her audition went with a great big "great!" 

As auditions go on ... and on... and on... I make my way from room to room, making sure everyone is being kind to each other, cleaning up after themselves, and not getting too crazy. It's an easy job, as the atmosphere has mellowed little by little as auditions are done and children can now relax.

Time to go, I peek my head into the office to hand in a piece of paperwork forgotten by one of the teens. I learn quickly that Haley did indeed rock her audition, and they are super excited to have her ... well ... that will have to wait. I'm not allowed to say any more until after Mainstage next Saturday, when parts are handed out and the long-anticipated first read-through of the script happens. 


Today, I am grateful for a self-confident teen who follows her passions; for a great bunch of teens who know that Epoch is a place where they can be themselves; for the hugs that I got to witness today - teens welcoming back others they hadn't seen in a while; teens rushing to hug Beth and Omar just because they love them and are loved by them; and for coming home to a delicious dinner prepared by my husband, who I haven't seen nearly enough of today.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Safety


Scrolling through emails, including news alerts, my heart skips a beat. Another school shooting. It dawns on me that, should I not have time to post this today, it won't be long until it's once again appropriate to post. There was, on average, more than one school shooting a week in 2015, 64 in total. Seven school shootings have already happened in the first six weeks of 2016. 

I look at the families around me and am filled with overwhelming gratitude for them, for this place, and for the feeling of safety and love that surrounds all here. I am deeply thankful we chose to homeschool our children, and for the blessing that is Epoch Arts Homeschool Co-op. 

Don't get me wrong. I am not under the impression that we are completely safe here. Anything can happen anywhere. And we do have a plan in place should someone enter the building in a threatening manner. That's not what I'm talking about here.

What I'm talking about is the absence of thought by the children that someone menacing could enter the building, and that schoolers turned homeschoolers have noticed the difference in atmospheres between their former schools and this place. They feel better here, safer here. 



The only drama we face here at Epoch seems to be in the form of Theater classes and the like, and the only weapons allowed are those crafted from paper, pool noodles, duct tape, binder clips, and other materials in World of Weaponry class. 

Today I am grateful that my children are able to learn without even the smallest amount of fear clouding their experience. I pray for those whose educational experience is marred by one news story after another of violence in schools. 


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Little Hands

 

There's nothing like holding a baby. Tiny fingers and toes get me every time. And today I got to hold a seven week old baby because I'm blessed to provide and facilitate mother to mother breastfeeding support.

Only one mom showed up to my La Leche League meeting today. This used to be very discouraging to me, but today, with eyes of gratitude, it wasn't at all. 

One amazing new mom showed up at my LLL meeting this morning! She had a beautiful baby girl who nursed like a pro. She had a few questions I was happy to answer, and we talked about so many things. It was wonderful one-on-one time with a new breastfeeding mom. 

And then there are the not so tiny feet and chilly not as little hands of the magnificent Maggie, whom I was blessed to pick up from her bus and escort on a shopping adventure while her parents dealt with a series of unfortunate events. 

It was wonderful to see her shining face and to hear the complete (I was assured) story of Franklin and his valentines. It was a blessing to me to be able to help a friend in a bind, as friends often did for me when I was mom to two young children, pregnant with a third.  Now if only Emily and I could manage to sync schedules enough to get together for a chat or a movie!

Today, I'm filled with gratitude for wonderful opportunities in my life - even ones as simple as holding a baby and helping a friend. 



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lenten Gratitude

The time has come once again for me to choose a Lenten discipline. This Lent, I'm going to concentrate on Gratitude and throw a little photography into the mix. Each day I'm going to take a photo ... or find one that I've taken ... and write something about it that has to do with Gratitude. I have no idea what this will look like, or whether or not I'll be able to do this daily, but it's my goal. 

And so I begin...



I wake early with too many things to do. 

Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

It's cold and snowy. The cross in front of my house is now adorned in purple solemnity, the new stairs to our new deck in the background. This time last year, there were no stairs, no deck, just a repaired wall that had been going to dust and the promise of a long wait. 

Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return. 

Heading down those stairs I give thanks for the blessings that came with the burden of major home repairs. I feel the love of family members who helped out and friends who cheered along with us when we once again could use our front door. I am grateful for the sawdust that blanketed our lawn through Summer and Autumn as oh so slowly everything took shape. 

Remember you are from dust and to dust you shall return.

Tonight, Ash Wednesday, as ashes are imposed on my forehead, I will give thanks for life's trials, for decay, for rebirth. As I reflect on my imperfections and inadequacies, I will attempt to take in the enormity of God's grace. As I contemplate the ashen cross on my forehead, my heart will sing prayers of thanksgiving for the carpenter who died so that I may live forever forgiven. 

_________________

2. Little Hands
3. Safety
4. Drama
5. Day of Rest
6. Going with the Flow
7. Eight
8. Better Perspective
9. Food
10. Anticipation
11. Claudia
12: Guests
13: Ubuntu
14. Coffee
15: Date with Remi
16: Inspiration
17: Hair
18: Gifts
19: Worship
20. The Cross
21. Covered
22. Creations
23 SPPA Days
24. Share
25 .Energy
26. Planning
27. Registrations
28. Blessings
29. Warmth
30. Rain
31. Amazing Adventures
32. Distractions
33. Enthusiasm
34. Preparations
35. Friends and Freedom
36. Time
37. First Day
38. Fika
39. Illness
40.
41.
42.
43.
44.
45.


Monday, February 1, 2016

Recipe for Learning



In the waiting room at the doctor's office, Alia, age seven, watched a cooking show on the tv near the kids' area. I missed the first five minutes of one of the segments while I was checking her in, and as the chef was finishing up a dish, I commented that it looked really tasty. Alia asked if she could make it for dinner sometime, and I was excited at the idea. On the way home, we stopped for the ingredients we didn't have at home, but needed - spinach and mushrooms - and planned to make the dish the next night.


The next evening, Alia cut mushrooms, chopped spinach, delegated the garlic mincing to me, and put pasta on to boil. She recreated a wonderful spinach, mushroom, chicken, and pasta dish quite successfully,  It was such a big hit with nearly everyone in our family, she ended up making in two more times during the following week.


We homeschool. Actually, we unschool, life-learn, or whatever you want to call it. Part of our learning philosophy includes the fact that children will retain information in which they are interested, especially when learned in real-life scenarios. This becomes knowledge. Add in our discussions about how things affect ourselves and others, differing philosophies, or the morality of things, and this knowledge becomes wisdom. This, rather than cramming tons of information into our children's minds in order to meet some predetermined list of what must be learned by a specific age or at a specific time.

In a recent discussion with an acquaintance about homeschooling, she asked how my kids could possibly learn if we didn't make them memorize things. Facts and figures are, according to her, integral in life. I asked her to please tell me how she used the date of the start of the Civil War, the names of the presidents from George Washington to the present, and the names of the capitols of every state in the U.S.A. for something constructive recently.  I received a blank stare in reply. She admitted she doesn't even use her times tables, which she stressed so much about memorizing in elementary school, because whenever she needs to do math, she uses the calculator on her phone.

My response included that my children do math in their heads, including hundreds and thousands, with ease because they enjoy playing games like Magic the Gathering that require quick calculations. They manipulate fractions when baking and cooking, are familiar with where all the states in the US are located due to a game called Mad Dash, and know a fair amount about science and history through museum and science center visits, visits to historic sites, and discussions with people who lived through major and minor historical happenings in our relatively recent past. My children also memorize lines for theatrical performances in which they choose to participate, and songs for church choir.

And they watch a cooking show on tv, memorize the ingredients and steps on the spot, have the real life cooking experience due to years of helping or being in charge in the kitchen, and recreate the dish with ease and minimal help - no recipe required.