Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Reading to babies

What is the point in reading to babies? They can't understand what you're saying. They don't follow along with the story. They frequently get distracted and look away. Sometimes they don't even look at the book at all.
The truth is that there are a lot of great reasons to begin reading to babies from the time they are born. Here are just a few that I could think of.

* It is a lovely bonding experience. Cuddle up nice and close and make it fun for both of you.

* They learn how to use a book. For example, we usually start at the beginning and read through to the end, we have to turn the pages to find out what happens next, the pictures match what the writing says, and so on.
* They listen to the sound of your voice and this stimulates their little brains and encourages language development.
* It encourages an enjoyment of reading in children.
* Reading to a baby helps develop a good habit of sitting together and reading regularly.

* It means that they will have a better chance of become good readers as they grow up. Children who enjoy reading tend to read more which makes them better readers. Also, studies show that children who are read to regularly by adults become better readers because the adults are modelling the skills of reading to them.

Spring Cookies


1/2 cup sugar
100g butter
2 eggs
2 cups of self-raising flour

Butter Icing
125g butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
food colouring

1. Beat the sugar and butter in a bowl until creamy.
2. Add the eggs and flour and continue beating until mixed.
3. Sprinkle some flour on the bench top then roll the dough out until it is about 2mm thick.
4. Use cookie cutters to cut the dough and place the shapes onto a greased baking tray.

5. Bake the cookies in the oven for 10-12 minutes until they go very lightly brown.

6. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool.
7. When they are cool, ice them with butter icing. I used Wilton Icing Colors to make bright pink and purple.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Berry Muffins

2½ cups (375g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
90g cold butter, chopped
1 cup (220g) sugar
1¼ cups (310ml) milk
1 egg, beaten lightly
200g blueberries and raspberries

1. Preheat the oven to 18o degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
2. Grease a 12 hole muffin pan.
3. Sift the flour and the baking powder into a bowl and rub in the butter.
4. Stir in the sugar, milk and egg.
5. Add the berries and stir them through gently.
6. Spoon the mixture into the pan and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.

These berry muffins were so delicious and moist. My only tip would be that when you spoon the mixture into the pan try to put just the batter and no berries on the bottom of each pan, then spoon some berries on top. If there is a berry at the bottom, it might stick to the pan when you try to remove the muffins.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A little boy and his ball

When I first became a Christian I was working as a kindergarten teacher. Each day I would go to school and hear and see things that broke my heart. Children came to school without breakfast, with very little food in their schoolbag, without a jumper in cold weather, telling me stories of policemen coming to their house in the night, and more.

One little boy in my class was very quiet and shy and cried easily. I had met his father only once when he came up to school and lost his temper with me over a minor incident regarding homework.

One day this little boy had brought in a small ball from home to play with at lunch. After lunch he came back to the classroom crying. When I asked him what was wrong he told me that someone had thrown his ball onto the covering over the play area and he couldn't get it down. He was worried that he would get into trouble when he got home for losing his ball.

I looked out the classroom window and could see the blue ball sitting high up on the metal shade cover. I told him not to worry about it, that I would ask the groundsman to get the ball down for him after school. All afternoon I kept a close eye on that ball through the classroom window. When the bell rang and the children went home I went searching for the groundsman. Someone told me that he had already gone home for the day. My heart sank.

I walked back up to the classroom and climbed onto a brick wall about 1 metre high to see if I could reach the ball. It was way out of my reach. I couldn't help but think about that little boy and pray that he wasn't getting into trouble from his dad at home. I stood there looking at the ball and I asked God to please help me find a way to get it down.

At that very moment (I am not making this up!) a wind blew the ball right across the metal covering and into my hands.

I don't believe in coincidences. I believe that God answered my prayer because he wanted to let me know that he was walking alongside me during those difficult days.

The next day I gave the boy back his ball and he gave me a very rare and special smile.

60 Years of Marriage

Last week my grandparents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. That's right....60 years of marriage. Not many people will get to celebrate such an occasion. Most people will probably not even live long enough to reach their 60th wedding anniversary. They were married very young and have seen many changes in their family over those years.

When my sisters and I were young we lived about 3 1/2 hours away from their house and we would always go up to visit during school holidays. Every time we would pull into their driveway my Nana would come rushing out of the house to meet us with lots of hugs and kisses. And every time she would put her hands on our cheeks and say "You know it feels like it's been about 273 years since the last time I saw you". It always made me feel so special and so loved to know that she had missed us and was excited to see us.

I am so grateful to have so many happy memories of my grandparents, and I'm also grateful to have the chance to visit with them more regularly now.

Visit Heavenly Homemakers to see what other people are grateful for today.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Afternoon Tea Surprise

A few months ago my younger sister was over and she reminded me of something we loved to do when we were kids. When we were about 8 or 10 years old we would come home from school and take turns to make each other an afternoon tea surprise. If it was my turn I would try to think of her favourite foods and make up a little snack. I would try to present it nicely and then carry it into the living room on a tray to my sister who was waiting to be surprised.

We used to make simple things such as chocolate milk, crackers with cheese or peanut butter, cut up fruit, but it was always fun to see what the other one was going to come up with. Sometimes we got a bit crazy and tried to invent new recipes (throwing all sorts of sweet things into a glass of milk, for example), but that just made it more fun.

Now that I think about it, this simple activity taught us some really good lessons. We learnt:

- how to prepare and present food nicely.

- how to put some one else's preferences and desires above your own.

- and how to be creative with the things in your cupboard.

I hope when my children are old enough they will have as much fun doing this for each other as we did.