Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rebecca's Birthday

Just wanted to share a little bit of how we celebrated our sweet girl's birthday.  Roger took the day off from work as is his custom for their birthdays.  (Isn't that a great tradition?!)  Rebecca wanted to go to the park to picnic and play.  We invited some friends and headed out to the park. 

It was a chilly day, but still fun to hang out with friends.  One sweet friend brought cupcakes (thank you Rebecca!).

The kids played capture the flag and tag.  Fun games that can involve all who want to play.  Of course there was a playground to play on as well.

We even got a family photo!

After several hours we went home.  Rebecca and I then headed out again.  We first went to Panera to get smoothies.  Yum.  Then we headed to a spa for pedicures.  We were the last people in there for the day.  It was fun to have some pampering.

Then home for dinner that Rebecca picked out.  She also picked out Key Lime Pie for dessert. 

Most of the rest of the evening was filled with packing and baking.  Rebecca made 5 pies for Thanksgiving.  We had a great Thanksgiving week-end with my family and I'll post more on that tomorrow.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Signing Time Special!!!

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Monday, November 30: 20% off all gift sets - One Day Only!

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Rebecca!

Where do I begin?  I think I must say that with all of the birthday posts.  Just having these days come causes me to be reflective and to think back in ways that I don't always take time to do.  Has it really been 14 years?!  Don't I sound like an "old person" just saying that?  I remember when I was that age wondering why older people were always so surprised that I had gotten older.  I didn't understand how fast the years could pass.  I didn't know that I would want time to slow down one day. 

I have even joked with Rebecca that we were going to skip this one so she didn't get older so quickly.  She laughed - but was not in agreement.  Guess you only want to skip birthdays when you get older.  LOL

I remember being pregnant with Rebecca and having a vision that I would be having a girl.  I had wanted a "Rebecca" for years.  I was so certain I was having a girl, that my mother had bought only gifts for a girl!  I was delighted with our beautiful new daughter - and yet had no idea the joy that was awaiting us.  I couldn't even begin to fathom the blessing she would be - to me, to our family and to so many other people. 

Where do I start?  I'm thankful for the gifts Rebecca has been given and the beautiful way she uses those gifts to bless others.  She is creative, talented and hard-working.  This is evident in her Wholehearted bracelet ministry (see sidebar for details) in which she has made hundreds of bracelets and raised over $8000 for Duke Children's Hospital.  I see these qualities in her day to day life as well as she is constantly creating things - both craft projects and also cooking projects.  All of us benefit from these!

Rebecca is bright, inquistive and interesting.  She is a joy to teach and has always been a great student.  She is motivated and willing to do all that is asked of her.  I know this will serve her well throughout her life. 

She is brave and willing to try new things.  Starting a business at age 11 is amazing to me.  Speaking to a group of 150 is daunting - and she was wonderful.  All this for a young girl who is somewhat quie and a little on the shy side - until you get to know her. 

Rebecca has a heart to serve.  She demonstrates this every day in so many ways to her siblings.  I would not be able to manage nearly so well without her capable help!  She has also served in the community.  She is wonderful with young children.  She is energetic, athletic and sensitive.  She is also unassuming - so much lies behind her sometimes quiet exterior. 

I have loved being your Mom, Rebecca.  I have learned so much from you.  I love spending time with you, sharing interests and just talking.  You are all I could have ever wanted in a daughter and so much more!  I thank God for you every day and look forward to another amazing year with you!  I know that God has great plans for you.  I have loved watching Him at work in your life already and look forward to seeing the work He will continue to do in and through you.

I love you!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Life is made up of little moments

So much has happened over the last several years to make me stop and appreciate the little things.  I think it can be easy to become overwhelmed with the big events, projects and deadlines that occupy so much of our energy.  These can become the focus of our scrapbooks (and sometimes our memories).  It isn't the bulk of our days though.  Most of our time is spent in the ordinary, every day things.  Things that are just as sweet and maybe even more important than those big things.  I want to remember to stop, enjoy and spend time in these moments as it is what my life is made of.

We've been enjoying being outdoors this fall.  I love the fall - the colors, the crisp sounds, the cool breezes (well, eventually we get those!).  We have been studying clouds for a week.  Wouldn't you know that 4 of the 5 days we had beautiful, clear - cloudless - skies!  LOL  The other day was our field trip day which has some great clouds which we enjoyed seeing but weren't able to draw in our nature journals since we weren't at home. 

Even without the clouds we found things to enjoy in nature.  I loved the color of the blue sky against the color of the changing leaves.  Isn't this beautiful?

I also enjoyed seeing my children thrive in the fresh air.  I think it does them good to be outside and I do want them to appreciate the many amazing things that  God has made for us to learn about and enjoy. 

I also enjoy seeing them have fun together.  It does warm a mama's heart to see a site like this one.

Rebecca took advantage of the beautiful weather to take her siblings to our neighborhood park one day.  They had fun playing and I loved that she took pictures while they were there!  Isn't this a sweet one?

She also let Eliana help cook again.  Have I mentioned what a great big sister she is?  I wonder if they truly appreciate how blessed they are to have her?  I probably need to help this along. 

Nothing big.  Nothing dramatic.  Just a few of life's sweet little moments.  I'm loving them!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Field Trip - Falls Lake

I love field trip days.  I look forward to the time learning more about nature or history whatever out topic of the day may be in a fun and hands-on way.  I look forward to seeing our friends.  I just look forward to all the day has to offer.

As our field trip day approached last week, it was raining and the forecast was grim.  It was calling for rain and our field trip was an outdoor nature one.  I wondered what the day would hold.  We were assured that it would be a go - rain or shine - as shelters were available (unless it was storming). 

As we drove over to Falls Lake, a few drops were hitting the windshield.  A number of people had to cancel for various reasons.  When we arrived, we were a small group.  It was overcast and dreary  ... and yet beautiful.

The haze obstrucing the view.  The brilliant colors of the leaves, muted through the fog.  Can you see God in views like this?  So many times, I want my path to be clear.  I want to see where I am going.  I want to know what lies ahead.  I want God to tell me what His plans are.  I want.  I want. 

What I don't want is to wait, to wonder, to worry.    I don't want to let go of my hopes and dreams.  I don't want life to be so unfair for so many.  Again, it is all about what I want.  Sigh.  It is hard when you can see so clearly that your focus is on yourself instead of on God. 

I want answers to so many things right now.  Things I've been praying about for a long time.  It is hard to wait and yet I really do want what God wants for my life.  I know He loves me.  I know He is working in my life.  I know He is there - even when I can't see clearly. 

There is beauty in so many places if only we will stop and look.  There is often beauty in places that may at first not look beautiful at all.  My eyes see things so differently now than they did a few years ago.  I'm thankful that God has given me that gift.  I continue to pray that God would give me His eyes to see things.  It is an area in which I fall short often.  I think that the many struggles that our family has been through have helped to open my eyes to so much.  I'm not the same and for that I'm thankful - and yet there is still so much work left to be done in me.  I think the more I learn about Him, the more I can see that I lack.  I'm thankful that I don't have to earn His love, but that it has been freely given to me. 

Now, on to the field trip.  We split into 2 groups.  The younger children were learning about Dangerous Plants and Animals.  The Ranger talked with us about spiders, snakes, fire ants, bees, ticks, poison ivy and unfamiliar dogs.  He gave the children a lot of good information on what to do when you encounter these animals/plants.

We looked at pictures in order to recognize various species such as the Black Widow spider.

And even saw some that had once been alive.

The most dangerous snake in our area is the Copperhead.  It was good to see what it looked like so that we could hopefully recognize one we might see.   (Though I hope we never see one!)

Due to its coloring, this snake can easily hide among the leaves.

The Ranger also shared the most poisonous snakes have larger triangular shaped heads and eyes shaped like slits.  One of the snakes that breaks these rules though is also found in NC, though typically not near us.  It is the Coral Snake.

 In order to help remember this snake, the children learned a rhyme.

Red and yellow kills a fellow
Red and black, OK  Jack

They looked at some snake skins.

We walked around a bit and looked at the poison ivy vines growing on some nearby trees.  Then we just played.  It is a beautiful area and I'm thankful we had the opportunity to be outside today. 

While we were with the younger children, the older kids had a class on Compasses.  They learned about how to read and use a compass and then were tested on this by having to put their skills to a test.  There were directions given and then they followed them to see where they ended up on a numbered line.  The teams were given points based on how close they were to the right numbers.  I heard great reports on this class, but unfortunately have no pictures to share.  Please check out my friend Lynn's blog (click on her name) for more details and some pictures of this group. 

A couple of hours later, some of the fog had lifted and the view was a little clearer.  I love the reflection of the trees!

At lunch, we had a scare as Joshua's blood glucose numbers were very, very high.  I haven't seen numbers like this since the week he was diagnosed.  It was frightening.  I had him wash his hands again and then we did a recheck.  The number was accurate.  We treated it and thankfully he was down 200 points by mid-afternoon and another 100 points by dinner time.  Yes, it was that high! 

He ALWAYS spikes on our field trip days.  Always.  I'm not sure if it is just the excitement of being with friends on a fun outing, but I've come to expect higher numbers on those days.  Just nothing like this.  It usually evens out by later in the day too.  I'm not sure if there is more I could or should be doing about it either.  I have talked with his doctor about this.  I'm going to try to make sure he is well hydrated on these mornings and just continue to do our best.  (There is no other factor that is different in terms of food, carb counting or amount of insulin.)  It's a mystery as this disease often is.  It can be a hard thing. 

So often I'm asked if his diabetes is "under control".  I'm not sure if it ever will be under our control.  We are doing our best to manage it day by day and I think that is all we can do.  Just yesterday a friend told me that it was still a struggle for her dh who also have Type 1 and that he still has highs and lows.  I think part of the challenge is that so many different factors can affect your numbers.  We are learning though and hopefully we'll continue to improve and get better.  There is a high incentive to do well and with God's help we will continue to work at it each day.

I feel like I've been rambling and want to end with some things I'm thankful for.  I'm thankful for our health.  I don't think I'll ever take this for granted again.  I'm thankful for a wonderful medical team.  I'm thankful for friends.  I'm thankful for a great FIAR homeschool group.  I'm thankful for the many things in nature that God has made - each pointing back to a wonderful Designer.  I'm thankful for my family.  I'm richly blessed.

With love,


Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Fun

What I would love to be able to write is what a sweet fun time we had today making this craft.  I don't do crafts all that often and the boys typically really like doing them.  I was looking forward to them having fun with this activity.  I would like to say that we enjoyed laughter while we talked about turkeys and the day of giving thanks.   I would like to say that everyone was happy and cooperative while we were working. 

Instead though, I'll tell you what really happened.  We waited until the end of the day to do this craft.  (That was probably mistake number one, but we had a couple of therapies and a science lab interupting our day).  The boys were to have gathered pine cones earlier in the day.  One hadn't and went out to find one in the dark.  It was a small one and he was not pleased with it.  Another boy had gathered two earlier in the day.  Well, the first boy decided he wanted the extra one (though wasn't all that nice in asking).  The other boy didn't want to give his up.  Hearing them argue over a pine cone didn't do a lot to put me in the best of moods either.  And no, I didn't take advantage of this teachable moment to talk about sharing or listening or anything else.  My first thought was that I needed to remember this when it came time to do Christmas crafts!  lol

The boys were a little ... less patient that I would have liked for them to be.  I probably was too!  The pine cones were prickly and didn't feel good on the hands.  The pipe cleaners hard to manuever and the level of difficulty was just too much for my boys at this time.  I ended up helping them a lot.  (And did I mention that they weren't really being patient?) 

In the end, we got them made.  And they are cute. 

I think the lessons that I need to learn are several.

*Don't wait until the end of the day for crafting when people are tired and the grumpiness comes on faster.

*Check the level of difficulty before starting a craft.

*Patience, patience, patience.  I need to model it and teach it through my actions.

I know we'll remember these turkeys - and hopefully not the bickering that went with it.  I hope I'll learn.  I wasn't at my best tonight, but thankfully, there will be another chance.  Thankfully the boys are pretty forgiving and love me in spite of my flaws (and the feeling is very mutual).  I'm thankful for the times that I fail for it reminds me that I struggle just like my children do.  It reminds me of how much I need a Savior to shape and mold me into the image of the one I want to reflect.  So while it may not have been a teachable moment that was used wisely, I did learn from it. 

Just thought some might like to see a less than stellar experience.  We all have them.  Sometimes I think people can feel discouraged when they hear about "all" that someone else is doing.  Most of us tend to share the positives (I'm no exception).  Just know that we all have those days - and so do our children.  I still have much to be thankful for and yes, I will still do crafts with them at Christmas. 


P.S.   If you are looking for something fun to add to your November, check out the blog of my FIAR friend Kendra   She has posted a great list of activities to do celebrating Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

FIAR Co-op: Gullywasher

We had another fabulous co-op day.  I feel so very blessed to be a part of this group.  The talent, creativity and energy is amazing - and a delight to be a part of.  And fun!  This is a fun group of children and moms! 

We started out talking about fats.  Hmmm ... interesting start to the day, isn't it?  But, it did weave in through the other topics.  The children went to a table to see lots of jars filled with interesting colors and substances.  Each had water and a fat in the jar. 

The jars were passed around and the children shook them up to see if they could get the fats to dissolve.  Some did while others were more resistant to change forms.  We heated a couple to see if this made a difference and it did for a short time.  It was interesting to learn and observe the difference.  The shaking was a hit too.

Next it was time for art.  This involved fats too!  The children did a crayon resist using light colored crayons on art paper.  The crayons were a fat.  They drew designs on their cards and then went over these with watercolors.  Each child was given 3 cards on which to paint and later send to a friend or grandparent.   Look at this beautiful example.  Can you see the lightning?

It was fun to see the various designs that the children came up with and how the watercolors just did not stick to or mix with the crayons.

I didn't get a good close-up of the art, but you can see the technique in the red card on the table.  The word "Hello" is written in crayon then painted over with red paint.  The word just pops out from the paint.  It's neat and it a good use for those white crayons!

The next part of the lesson was about taste and the ways in which our body sends messages to the brain.  The children formed a chain by holding hands.  They were to squeeze the next persons hand and say "ouch" to see how long it too the message to get around the group. 

Then we learned about the 5 (yes, one more than I learned about in school) areas of taste.  The new one is savory

We also learned that the tongue can taste all of the areas throughout and not just in one spot.  That makes more sense to me.  This ball was a representation of the various areas of taste (see how the ends on the ball match the chart above?). 

We learned about what happens when we eat something hot!  The Scoville chart for measuring heat was discussed and various types of peppers listed.  (This may not sound interesting, but our energetic teacher made this very exciting and hands-on!) 

When we eat something hot and then drink water, the water acts to push the hot further into our taste buds making it seem hotter still.  If however we choose to eat or drink something with fat in it like milk or yogurt, then the fat will bind with the heat and pull it away from our tongue. 

Now, it was time to put that to the test.  The table was lined with 10 containers numbered from 1 to 10.  Each person started at 1 which was the mildest with no heat in it at all and then went as close to 10 as they wanted to go!

They each took turns.  Some needed some coaxing to keep going.   Others were eager to try more. 

A lot of the children made it to 10!  (It was yummy!)

While the older kids were learning, Rebecca was playing with Eliana and her friend.  She even brought some craft things for them to work on during this time.  What a thoughtful big sister!  She is awesome with younger children!

Daniel was given a neat picture from his friend Miss Lynn.  It is the leaves that they gathered at our last co-op.  She laminated them and made the page so that it could be hung on a window.  He was delighted and loves seeing it in our kitchen.  Wasn't that so very thoughtful?!  Thank you friend!

Another fun day with friends.  I love these days!  Hope you enjoyed the pictures. 


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thank you! And a few other things

A sweet friend recently let me know that I'd been nominated for a homeschool blogger award (thank you Kendra!).  I was surprised as I didn't know anything about it.  I wasn't sure whether to post anything or not as I didn't want to be asking for votes.  I do however want to thank whomever nominated me.  Thank you.  It was very sweet!

I've been nominated in two catagories.  You can click on them if you want to see more.

Best Homeschool Mom Blog

Best Cyber-Buddy Blogger

I appreciate the encouragment.  I am thankful for the opportunity to share some of my life and always hope that it may bless and encourage someone else.  I feel that we all have great things to share as God is working in each of our lives.  I love that He has made us each unique with incredible gifts and talents.  I'm fortunate and thankful to be in a place doing what I love.  God is good.

I wanted to share a few other things.  Daniel has an appt with the specialist (neuro ophthamologist) in 2 weeks.  We were told that there would be 3 hours of testing done (to determine why he has optic nerve pallor in one eye).  I'm not sure what kind of testing.  I'm sure though that it will be a hard time for my sweet little boy due to his sensory issues.  We would love your prayers.  I confess that it is hard not to worry about what this could mean - especially if I do any googling on the exact words used to describe his eye.  We are hoping it is nothing or something fixable.  I've been told it may take a month to get the results!  I"m hoping that is not right!  I'll post more as we get closer to the date.  The date and time are also going to be a challenge for us personally.  They can only see us on the one day that is worst for us (field trip day) and beginning at lunch time (hard to juggle with Joshua's diabetes needs).  I know it will work out and I'm glad to have an appt sooner rather than later. 

Isaiah had an OT evaluation today and our therapist said he would definitely qualify for OT (occupational therapy) based on his handwriting and is looking to score his other tests to see if there are any other areas that need to be addressed.  He did well during the evaluation and seemed to have some fun with parts of it too.  I'm not sure when therapy will start for him.  (She told us there is a waiting list, but that it may be shorter for him since we can come during school hours.)  It's a step in getting some help for our sweet boy so he isn't struggling.  It is hard on a mama's heart to see your child struggle and to want so much to help.  I know that some struggle can be good and hopefully I can help him to learn from the struggles, because that is something that can apply to life over and over again.

Joshua is doing pretty well.  Diabetes managment can be such a roller coaster though!!!  Some days he seems to spike or plummet for unknown reasons.  Learning how to treat him is as much an art as it is a science.  He has a great attitude most of the time.  As an aside, Isaiah is very concerned about him and prays often that a cure would be found. 

Lastly, just something sweet. 

There are times when I just watch and think how lucky my children are to have each other.  One day, Rebecca decided to make cookies.  This wasn't a huge surprise as she does like to cook.  (I really appreciate this as cooking is not my favorite thing to do.)  The surprising part was when she included Eliana.  She got aprons for both of them, pulled up a chair and let Eliana help.


Is that cute or what?  Doesn't  Eliana have the best big sister?!

That's all for now.  I need to go finish up school and then get dinner started.  Thank you friends for your encouragment and prayers.

With love

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Family Event 2009 - Gullywasher

This week-end our Five in a Row homeschool group hosted our biggest event of the year.  This is an event we have done annually and this year marked our 8th event!  It is a wonderful co-operative event.  I love seeing how it all comes together.  Each Mom has a job and is responsible for carrying out that job.  Seeing the gifts, talents and creativity displayed is an awesome thing!  Many of the children and adults come in costume to just make the day one that is exceptionally fun!  (I didn't get a family shot, but think I have photos of all but me to share.)

This year we choose the book The Gullywasher around which to build our day.  The story takes place in etiher Mexico or the Southwestern US (it isn't clearly stated).  It is a tall tale told by a Grandfather to his grandaughter. 

I have lots of pictures and it was hard weeding it down.  Hopefully you'll get a good idea of our day as I explain what we did.  It started early for some of the gals who were busy getting things set up.  There is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into much of this and this year was no exception.  I love seeing how an grassy field and picnic shelter are transformed into something special!

We began the morning with a welcome and a prayer for the day.  Then we had a telling of the story.  This year it was done with a puppet show.

There were some liberties taken with the story, but the general ideas were all there.  The children were mesmerized and it was new way to experience the story.

After the story, we were divided into 6 groups to go through an activity/obstacle course.  It was not a race, but rather an activity to do as a group.  Our group started with lassoing a steer.

Everyone wanted a try.

Even Roger.

It wasn't easy though and most found it hard to get close to the target!

Next, was the rain from the gullywasher.  This one was a huge hit with our group.  Each child was givein a water gun.

They were to aim at a rain cloud.  (Each group had a different cloud.) 

As the water hit the cloud, the paint from the cloud begain to "rain" down on the catci below!  This was really neat!

A really fun water event even though it was still a bit chilly at this point in the morning!

Next was building birds nests.  Each child was given a baking cup and had to search for items with which to build the nest.

Our fourth station was corn grinding.  There were ears of Indian Corn and after grinding the corn off the cob, it was used for a craft activity.

Each child selected a fun foam that had a frame in the shape of an ear of corn.  The inside was sticky so you just had to press the corn into the picture along with some of the husks at the top.

Even Eliana enjoyed doing this one.

If you notice the "wheel" around his neck, that shows a picture of each station and the order in which to go. 

Our fifth station was "pop, pop, pop".  There were two parts to this one.  First each child had bubble wrap that they stomped on to make it pop and pop. 

Next they were able to choose some popcorn to eat - either plain or spicy.

The last station was a carry the horse station (like in the story).  We had one person to be the horse (a small person) and then the rest of the group stood in a circle.  The horse was then carried from person to person.

Or if the person was smaller than the horse, they might choose to just push the horse.

There was festive music playing while this was going on.  It was the scene of much laughter!

When we finished this event, we gathered for a group photo.

Next it was lunch time!  What a beautiful spread of delicious foods we had to choose from.  Each family brought a main dish, a side and either an appetizer or a dessert.  It was so very yummy. 

We ate in a beautifully decorated shelter too.  I unfortunatly, don't have any really good pictures.  Here you can see some of it - but mostly my little sweetie looking up at a pinata.

After lunch, the children had three choices of activities to enjoy.  One was an art area in which they could do sand art (peel a piece of paper off the picture and pour colored sand onto the adhesive background) or sticker art (fiesta theme).

There was a science area in which they could learn about a tornado in a bottle or sand/water erosion.  There was a demo of how sand was affected by rain (small hole in a cup of water) and flooding (larger hole). 

The children were fascinating to see what happened.  There were even had houses to show the effects during flooding.

The last area was a sound discovery station.  You could expore sound by trying to discern different sounds.  There were group of numbered bottles with different items inside (paper clip, screw, coin, etc.) and you would shake the bottle and try to figure out which of the four items was inside.  There were able 7 different groups of these to try out.  You could then lift the flaps to find the answers.

You could also choose to make instruments like shakers - with a variety of things to go inside and ways to decorate the outside.  Tamborines were made from lids that were hole-punched and then strung with floss, bells and washers.  Drums were made from empty containers, a balloon and a rubber band.

There was also a free play area with sand, play-doh, horses (stick and plastic) to play with at any time during the event.  I have so many pictures that I haven't posted of the creative signs and the set-up at the stations, lots more of many children enjoying the day.  Just too many for one blog post.  One last picture I wanted to share of two little cuties.  Rebecca made these adorable ponchos for Eliana and her friend J.  They even wore them the whole day. 

We had a beautiful day!  That was a real blessing as it rained and rained and rained the days leading up to it.  Someone asked me what our back-up plan was - and the answer is that there isn't one.  We are able to use this site for free (which helps tremendously with the budgeting for the event) and it has worked beautifully for us for many years.  I'm thankful God planned for this to be a beautiful day weather wise (cool and cloudy in the morning and sunny in the afternoon) which was perfect for our day!

I am so thankful to be a part of this group and thankful for each family in it (whether they were there or not).  I'm thankful for the moms (and some Dads too) being willing to invest time, talent and energy into pulling off this incredible event.  I'm thankful to have such a sweet group with which to share this homeschooling journey!  Thanks friends!