Thursday, December 22, 2011

Story Challenge: That's Good! That's Bad!

Your Challenge:  
Tell a "That's Good.  That's Bad."  story with your children this week.  Report back by commenting on this post and tell how it went.

Story Tip:  Try this game on Christmas Eve when kids are having trouble sleeping.

Tonight at dinner we played a new story game.  It was brilliant!  We came up with it on the fly.  With two boys and one on the way dinner discussion can often be about bodily functions, body parts, or just plain fighting.  It can drive the Bug with Black Spots and I crazy.  We try to come to the table prepared with a good question or topic for discussion.  Tonight we got talking about books and somehow a story that the boys really enjoy came up.  It’s called “That’s Good, That’s Bad” by Margery Cuyler.  The boys clearly enjoy this story.  We decided to make up our own version of the story at the dinner table. 

Reading the book would be a great idea for your family.  They will get the idea much quicker with the book.  Margery Cuyler, the author, has actually made a series of these books.  Our Favorite is the original story shown below with the yellow cover and the zoo animals.  However, being that it is the Christmas season making a story similar to the "That's Good, That's Bad on Santa's Journey" would be a good tradition to start.  After you read the book make your own story using it’s format sometime when you are desperate for sanity.  I’m thinking a car trip or waiting for an appointment or even dinner in a restaurant.  Everyone can join in.  Even our four year old joined the fun.  We were a little worried about his contribution but he came up with some pretty creative things, which made it even more silly and enjoyable. 
Here’s how it goes.  Have an adult start the first game so the kids get the idea.  That adult starts the story by saying “There once was a …. (boy, girl, mom, dad, monster, bear, etc,...) Who…..(did something with a positive outcome.”  At the end of this short positive one liner everyone exclaims, “Oh! That’s good.”  The next person to go says, “No!  That’s bad.”  He or she then adds a negative line to the story that describes a bad thing that happens to the character.  At the end of this one liner everyone exclaims, “Oh!  That’s bad.”  The next person then says, “No!  That’s good!”  And on and on until the person who began the story ends it with a positive line to which everyone responds “Oh!  That’s good.”  Then the story beginner says, “No!  That’s Great!”  And the story is complete.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Two Birdies Who Couldn't Fly

If there is one thing that pushes me over the edge with my kids it's their incessant "It's not fair!"  I've come to the point where I don't even no what to say to that statement anymore.  Of course it's not fair.  Life never is.  Besides, I don't want it to be fair IF fair means every one gets the exact same thing.  Because to me that doesn't seem fair.  If one child gets a broken leg it's silly to break the other child's leg too. Right?  For me I'm realizing that fair means each child gets uniquely what he or she needs not necessarily what they want.  Which is never enough for them anyway.  Can you relate?

On the other hand, I have one child that is always hungry.  He eats because he's bored and needs stimulation and sometimes lacks a little imagination to supply these things for himself.  Should I just feed him to keep him busy and shut him up?   I have another child who gets so engaged in what he's doing he doesn't want to stop and eat.  It really is a fight to get him to eat when he's in a groove, but if he doesn't eat he has major meltdowns. Sometimes it's easier to ignore both of these different needs just so I can have a little peace and quite, but inevitably that backfires.  So what's a girl to do?

I thought maybe a healing story might be helpful for this issue of fairness.  The following story only begins to address the issue but it's simple and I think gets a clear and easy to follow point across to my kids.  Please feel free to try it out on your kids and tell me what you think.  Oh, and if inspired definitely make up your own healing story around this subject!


Two Little Birdies Who Couldn’t Fly

By Kristen S. Sandoz
Copyright 2011

There once was a momma bird that had a beautiful nest with two lovely eggs in it.  After some time the first egg hatched and an awkward baby bird came out.  From the moment this bird hatched he was a lot of work for the momma bird.  When he wasn’t demanding worms to eat he wanted his momma to cover him with her soft downy feathers and keep him warm.  He was often lonely and wanted her to sing to him in her pretty bird voice.
“Momma, I’m hungry.  Give me some worms!”

“Momma, I’m cold.  Keep me warm!”

“Momma, I’m lonely.  Sing to me!” 

These were the baby birds demands day and night until the momma was wore out.  After all he was a baby and babies need lots of love and care.  Soon the baby bird started to grow feathers in place of his downy fluff.

Then one day the second egg hatched and out came another awkward little baby bird.  He was a timid quiet bird and didn’t ask his momma for a lot of things.  Sometimes he went hungry because he never told his momma he wanted worms to eat.  Often he’d be cold and lonely because he never asked her to keep him warm and to sing to him.  He was after all a baby and didn’t quite know how to tell his momma what he needed.  The momma did give the second baby some of the things he needed but she was frequently overwhelmed and distracted by the loud demands of the first baby bird, who was even bigger now and required much more work than before. 

“Momma, I’m very hungry.  Give me some worms!”

“Momma, I’m very cold.   Keep me warm!”

“Momma, I’m very lonely.   Sing to me!” 

So the first baby bird grew bigger and bigger and the second baby bird grew weaker and weaker.  The momma didn’t notice the difference between her two baby birds.  She was too busy to see what her babies really needed.  She didn’t see that one could hardly move from his fatness while the other could hardly move from his weakness.

Then one day it was time for the two birds to learn to fly.  But can you imagine?  The first bird was too fat to fly.  He would only complain to his momma and say,

“Momma, I’m too hungry.  Give me some worms!”

“Momma, I’m too cold.  Keep me warm!”

“Momma, I’m too lonely.  Sing to me!” 

The second bird was too weak and frail to fly.  He would just lie in the nest limp and quiet, hoping his momma would feed him, keep him warm and sing to him, but she rarely did.

Sadly, neither of the birds ever learned how to fly!  The momma gave one bird too much and one bird too little.  She never gave either bird just what he really and truly needed. 

1…Now my story is done.
2…I love you!
3…Please, kiss me.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Book Review: Healing Stories for Challenging Behaviour

In preparation for an upcoming post I wanted to share a bit of my story journey with you.

In my pursuit to teach my first born son, Thing One, through his insatiable desire for stories I stumbled across a book called "Healing Stories for Challenging Behaviors" by Susan Perrow published by Hawthorn Press, Gloucestershire.  This book was so affirming to me.  It encouraged me to make up stories to tell my boys that would address specific problems I was having with them.  Or even to make up stories to address problems we were having in our relationships with each other.  After a while this developed into making up stories to hopefully preempt problems, like the story I'm going to share with you in my next post.

A Healing Story is just that, a story to heal.  In some cases Healing Stories can work where medicine can't.  They aren't for healing broken arms or burns of course.  They are for wounds of the heart, soul and mind.  At the very least Healing Stories have no negative side effects.  In her book, Susan quotes Ben Okri from his own book "Birds of Heaven":
 It is easy to forget how mysterious and mighty stories are.  They do their work in silence, invisibly.  They work with all the internal materials of the mind and self.  They become part of you while changing you.
 This is the power a Healing Story is trying to tap into.  There is so much more to say on the topic of Healing Stories, but for now I'll leave you with the above thoughts.  I know for most people this is a new concept and might be a little unnerving.  If you want to learn more on this topic I highly recommend Susan's book.  Below is a review on it from
Susan Perrow has developed the art of pedagogical stories to a luminescent degree. In her beautiful book she offers dozens of stories, some her own, some traditional and retold by her. Each story carries with it the seed of healing for just about any childhood problem, from unruly behavior to deep grieving. Her voice is one of warmth and caring, her stories are richly engaging to young and old alike. Having her book at hand is like having a medicine chest filled with homeopathic remedies for all conditions - and, like homeopathy, Susan's stories are guaranteed to produce no unwanted side effects. Healing Stories includes chapters on creating stories and on the art of storytelling, as well as stories selected for their ability to heal. This is a resource that is so vast in its usefulness that we predict it will become one of the most sought after parent/teacher resources ever printed.

Monday, December 5, 2011

St. Nick and the Sausage Machine

Today I am sharing, for the first time I might add, a story I have written.  I'm a little nervous about this.  It feels super vulnerable. So be kind to me :)  It's a story for St. Nicholas Day, which is tomorrow.  If you do nothing else for this day at least read this story.   Oh!  I've added a "Print Friendly" button to the bottom of my posts so you can print this story out and read it more easily to your Littles and Bigs.

I love the imagination that St. Nick brings to children.  The stories around him are full of fantasy and mystery.  They create an opportunity to ponder the Mystery of Christ and the inner workings of our hearts.  I tell this story, "St. Nick and The Sausage Machine", on St. Nicholas Eve in anticipation of his visit the next morning.  And let me tell you it's a gripping story.  My boys are on the edge of their seats every time!  Then afterwards we sprinkle special magical glitter dust on our doorstep so that Santa Claus knows we want him to visit on December 6th instead of December 19th 25th (other common days for him to visit, he does have a lot of homes to visit after all, we can't expect him to do it ALL in one night can we :).  We put out our shoes filled with veggies for his animals; you know the reindeer and white horse and such.  And we go to bed.

 In the morning, we awake to a splendid table set by St. Nick himself for our St. Nicholas Feast in the late afternoon.  He steels Speculatius cookies from our freezer to decorate our plates.  There are three Cutie Oranges in our shoes in place of the veggies, chocolate coins hidden all over.  It is a special day to bridge the gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It brings us hope that Christ’s promise is truly coming. 

Enjoy & Happy St. Nick's Day!

St. Nick and the Sausage Machine
By: Kristen S. Sandoz
Copyright 2010

Tonight is a night of mystery and awe.  For tonight is the night that St. Nick comes to visit in all his wonder and glory.  He was a real man whose love for Christ was so great that he gave away all his worldly possession to those in need.  He was known for his love of children sneaking in the night to leave them gifts of gold and toys.  He was a Bishop who loved his flock and cared for his people like a kind and gentle shepherd.  Legend has it that he was a savior.  He saved three young girls from slavery, sailors from a violent storm and three military officers from an unjust execution.  While performing these deeds of love he was seen riding a beautiful white horse, a humble donkey or perhaps he was seen in a sleigh pulled by nine faithful reindeer.   In these ways he has become a type of Christ performing miracles in Christ’s name and paving the way for His birth on Christmas morning. 

Now, once a year, he brings gifts to boys and girls.  He mysteriously knows the hearts of each child judging if they have been bad or good, naughty or nice.  He is very rarely seen by anyone but he leaves evidence of his presence by eating a plate of cookies, or leaving a gift in a stocking, or coins in a shoe, or he gives a blessing to a child.  Even more his spirit shines in the hearts of children who do secret deeds of kindness as if they were St. Nicholas himself.  Yes, St. Nick is alive and well.  His spirit lives in side those who choose to believe. 

Do you believe?  Then I will tell you my favorite St. Nicholas story.

Nicholas was a loved and respected Bishop who served God’s people in the seaport town of Myra in the country of Turkey.  He served his flock faithfully keeping them on the path of righteousness.  But one day he was called away from Myra to the counsel of Nicaea in Rome to do some very important work.  With sadness he said goodbye to his people and set sail on a very long journey over the Mediterranean Sea.  A journey that took him weeks and weeks.

Nicholas was gone for a very long time.  Days past then weeks and soon whole months had gone by.  The people of Myra missed Nicholas and they began to forget the things he had taught them.  They had no idea when Nicholas would return and they began to get board and discouraged.  Then one day a very elegantly dressed man came to town.  He had a brilliant idea to pass the time until Nick returned. 

“Why don’t you have a fair?  There would be all kinds of diversions to keep you busy and entertained.  Think of all the plays and games, dances and festivities you could enjoy.  It would be a grand event and then you wouldn’t miss this Nicholas of yours so much.”  

He said this with such enthusiasm and bravado that the people of Myra thought this was a wonderful idea.  They began preparations for the fair right away.  Everyone was busy doing something for this special event.  There were stages to be made, lights to be strung, music to practice, and food to be prepared. 

One particular person was very busy making something very special.  It was the town butcher.  He had it in his heart to make the very best sausages the town of Myra had ever seen in honor of Nicholas.  He wanted to make a sausage that Nicholas would be proud of.  So he began to make an incredible machine.

The day of the fair finally arrived and the butcher was excited to start making his sausages for the town.  With a great crowd around him he started his machine.  The crowd was in awe of the marvelous invention before them.  With lights flashing and gears turning the butcher fed the first pig through the sausage machine.  The machine sputtered and made all kinds of grinding noises until finally out popped a string of perfect sausages.  The crowed cheered with delight and started buying the butcher’s sausage faster than the butcher could make them.

Soon the butcher had run out of pigs to send through the sausage machine.  What was he to do?  The people loved his sausages.  The fair wasn’t over yet and his sausages were bringing him lots of money.  He knew that he and his wife would be rich if they could just keep making sausages. 

“Wife!” The butcher called out.  “We must find more pigs.  Our public demands it!”

“But we have bought every pig in the town dear husband.” The wife replied, “There are not more pigs to be found anywhere!”

“We’ll double the price of the sausages.  We must have pigs!”  The butcher replied.

“Dear husband do not be dismayed.  We’ve made enough money to have a comfortable life.  And don’t forget that we’ve made sausages that Nicholas would be proud of.  Isn’t that enough?”  The wife replied.

“Oh, wife.” The butcher argued. “You can’t possibly understand.  We are on the edge of something wonderful here.  We can’t give up now.”

Suddenly the elegantly dressed man appeared beside the arguing couple.

 “Perhaps I can be of assistance to you.”  He suggested.  “I see you have a problem here.  You have run out of nice fat juicy pigs and your fans are eager to have more of your beloved sausages, that have indeed honored Nicholas.  This is a sad day.” He mused remorsefully.

 “If we just think creatively enough I am sure we can come up with a solution that will please everyone.” He said with sudden hope.

“You really think so!” The butcher and his wife exclaimed.

“Why certainly!  All we need to do is find a substitution for pigs.  It’s as easy as pie!” The elegant man exclaimed with confidence.

“Yes, a substitute.  I never thought of that.” The butcher was feeling great relief now.

“I suppose there really is no harm in using something else besides pigs.” The wife declared with satisfaction.

“You see?” the elegant man affirmed, “Our problem is all but solved.”

“Let’s think.” Declared the wife.  “A nice beefy cow just might do the trick!”

“Oh, no my wife.” Retorted the butcher. “We need something tastier than that.  We need something plump and juice.  Something tender and ripe.”

Right at that moment three very plump and tender young boys passed by the sausage machine.  They had been enjoying themselves very much at the fair and had heard rumor of the extra ordinary sausage machine with lights and buzzers and gears whirling inside it.  They had never seen such a gizmo before and were very curious, not to mention hungry.

“Please sir,” the fattest of them said, “May we see your sausage machine?”

The butcher being really a kind man and of course very proud of his invention showed the boys his invention with pleasure.  But as they were looking into the mouth of the sausage machine a strange desire came over the butcher and before anyone could see him he shoved the three pudgy boys into the machine.  With a wink at the butcher the elegantly dressed man pulled the lever to start the machine.  Seeing the sausage machine in operation once more the crowed cheered, not realizing what had really taken place.

It was at this very moment that Nicholas arrived home from his very long journey.  As soon as his feet touched the ground in Myra he knew something was wrong.  He hastened as fast as he could to the town square where the fair was taking place.  Nicholas followed his heart and was soon led directly to the butcher and his sausage-making machine. With one swift sweep of his arm Nicholas throw the lever in reverse just as the boys, who were now three very tasty and plump sausages, were emerging from the machine!  Back the sausage boys went into the machine as the lights flashed and gears whirled.  Until out they popped as three stupefied chubby little boys again, thinking only that they had had a bad dream.

Quickly Nicholas banished the elegantly dressed man, who was really the devil come to stir up trouble in the hearts of the people of Myra.  As for the butcher he realized his evil deed as soon as he saw Nicholas and was very grateful to the shepherd for saving him from his own horrible sin.
“Forgive me my dear savior.” The butcher cried. “I am indebted to you for the rest of my life and I will worship you until I die.”

“It is not I who has saved you.” Replied the wise Bishop, “But your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It is he you should worship forever with your whole heart.”

The butcher vowed he would do this by spending the rest of his life serving the children of Myra and making free sausages for the orphans and the widows.  As long as Nicholas lived in Myra the people were safe from the deceitful ways of the elegantly dressed man.

1...My story is done.
2...I love you.
3...Please, kiss me! 

May you be blessed on St. Nicholas Day!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Santa's Special Day!

Okay friends, I have a confession to make.  Santa doesn’t come to my family’s house.  Well, at least not on Christmas day.  No, we think Santa is special enough to have his very own day!  December 6th.  It’s the first thing my family changed when we started to revive our Advent season.  After reading Gertrud Mueller Nelson’s book “To Dance with God” I fell in love with St. Nicholas, AKA, Santa Clause. 

St. Nick is a type of Christ.  If you use him properly he can point wonderfully to Christ on Christmas.  Much like John the Baptist did for Christ on Easter.  If you want to know more about Santa Clause here is a site called, St. Nicholas Center: discovering the truth about Santa Claus, that Gertrud Mueller Nelson herself directed me to.  Ms. Nelson said she has a play about the very same story I'm going to share in my next post on this site.  Of course you should read Gertrud Mueller Nelson’s book.  It is very inspiring.