an outlet of encouragement, explanation, and exhortation

Category: Children

Advent Calendars

I’m writing this on November 25. There is just enough time to get an Advent calendar to use for yourself or with your children to work your way through the Christmas season with daily reminders of what it means to us as followers of Jesus.

For children, the idea these days is that you get a “calendar” that is actually a picture of some sort with little doors that you open one per day on the 25 days leading up to Christmas day. If you choose a Christian Advent calendar, there will be something behind each door that takes you through the Christmas story leading up to Jesus’ birth. Our two youngest grandchildren are into Snoopy this year, so I ordered the Peanuts Calendar from Amazon. There are two Peanuts Advent calendars. One is completely secular and the other (the one I ordered) tells the story of Jesus’ birth in a way that may remind children of the original Peanuts Christmas special.

There are many other Advent Calendars available. has many, for example.

I recommend Wikipedia for a bit more in-depth explanation of Advent Calendars.

Euphorbia tirucalli WARNING

Firestick Pencil Cactus – Euphorbia tirucalli

You might want to get rid of these firestick pencil cactus if you have them. This one nearly sent me to the emergency room last night. Sam Ginder, Nathan, and I were outside playing catch and Nathan was restacking some garden decorations. One of them fell on this plant. It leaked white sap. In the dim light, I touched it to make sure it wasn’t white flies, a garden pest that I have fought before. It was sap instead. I thought nothing of it, but wiped the sap off my finger – just a drip. A few minutes later I went inside and carefully washed my hands with soap and water. A few minutes after that, I inadvertently touched my eye with my hand. And fire broke out! At least that’s what it felt like.

It took me a bit to piece together what had happened and read about this plant. And that was after a desperation shower to attempt to get rid of whatever was burning my eyes! Eventually, several minutes of cold water on my eyes/face made the immediate burning sensation calmer. I was moments from asking Susie to take me to the emergency room. After stopping the eye-burning, I just had a major headache until I was able to go to sleep for the night. This morning I have a blister where the stuff must have touched my arm. I carefully covered up, dug out the three of these I had planted a few months ago (fortunately they were still small) and bagged them. Having grandkids around, I shudder at the thought of one of them getting this toxic sap on their hands and face!

I think there should be a big warning on these plants to read before you buy them. I see them in many public spots around town. Beware of their sap!

Here’s a couple of articles:
If you look, you can find numerous stories worse than mine!

I have spread my dreams under your feet…

I listened to a TED talk by Ken Robinson this evening who quoted a poem by W.B. Yeats, He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven.

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Robinson referred his listeners to children who relate to adults by spreading their dreams beneath our feet. It seemed to me a fitting consideration for all of our significant relationships. The more significant, the more dreams are exposed to tread. And so I’m sharing it with you. One furthering of the idea, perhaps… Is it central to the ideal of hospitality to tread lightly on others dreams? I have spread my dreams under your feet.

Addendum. A couple of weeks ago, a group of us from church ate at our favorite hamburger joint after a softball game. Four of us sat with my granddaughter Kylie, who is three years old and, in her words, almost grown up now. Her father likes to put a packet of pepper into his ketchup and dip his fries. Kylie the almost-grown-up-3-year-old likes this flavor and likes to imitate this very grown up habit (along with eating Thai Chili-Lime Cashews from Trader Joe’s, but that’s another story). So, mingling with us other grownups she casually picked up a packet and emptied it into her ketchup. Unfortunately, it was salt instead of pepper. The four of us “grownups” at the table all instinctively reached out and spoke up to try to stop her mistake – that’s not pepper! – startling her from her nearly grown-up reverie. We were too late. Someone picked up the ketchup and attempted to shake the salt from the top. Kylie shrank back. After a time, she started crying uncontrollably. We all felt bad. No had spoken in anger. It was just that we stepped all over her dream of being grown up, and she was terribly embarrassed. The petals of the blossoming rose retracted a bit. Could we have that little episode back to do over?