Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Heart Day

I almost forgot heart day this year.  I guess that time is healing that memory.  It's a memory that will still bring tears to my eyes.  God used that time to teach me so much!

4 years ago on April 16, Eliana had open-heart surgery.  Four years ago, I had to hand her over and trust God.  He called me to trust Him and to know that He was good - regardless of the outcome of the surgery.  That may sound simple, but it was one of the hardest things I've ever done.  I wrestled with God until I could fully trust Him.  And fully know that He is good.

What a healing He did in her heart.  The surprise was the healing He did in mine.  I hadn't realized that I needed repair.  I certainly wouldn't have chosen the path He chose for me.  In fact, I embarked on the path kicking and screaming.  I wish I had known then what I know now.  I realize though that to know what I know now - I had to go through all of that.  The tears.  The fears.  The unknown.

So four years later, all that remains of that day is a scar ... and a lot of memories.

With all of the business of the play on the same day, I forgot.  But one of my precious friends didn't.  She walked through the trials with me then and celebrates with me now!  Thank you Rebecca!  I love you dear friend and your precious heart!

She came over after the play bearing these adorable (and yummy) creations!
 Aren't they cute?!  And perfect!!!  The frosting was even low-carb!!!
 Healed.  Whole.  This little girl has so much joy bursting out of her little heart!
 She lives life full on and leaves much laughter in her wake!
With a thankful heart for a merciful God who gives good gifts - even when we sometimes fail to recognize them at first.  For healing - in physical and emotional ways.  For friends - to walk through the highs and lows of life.  For family.

Praying you find much to be thankful for today!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood

Two of my children were involved in a theater production this spring.  Tryouts were in January.  This is the same theater group that Rebecca was a part of last spring with Charlotte's Web.  It was again a fabulous experience.  I'm thankful for the things that God has taught me from being a part of this group.  Who would think that a child's extra-curricular activity would be a faith builder?  God used this group to teach me last year - and again this year.  He is so good that way!

There were over 40 homeschooled students in the play.  They had 4 performances scheduled over one week-end in April.  Rebecca played Lady Marian and Joshua was one of the Merry Men.

 It was fun watching Rebecca blossom and grow into her role.  She did a fabulous job!  (And as I biased Mom, I do have to say that she is quite beautiful and talented.)
This was Joshua's first performance.  He learned his part quickly and had a lot of fun in the process and is looking forward to doing another play!  He did a great job too!  It was fun watching him in this too!  This was a perfect role for him too!
 King John, Lady Marian and the Sheriff.  We had some of our old friends in the play (from last year's production as well as friends from our FIAR group) and made lots of new friends too!
 Joshua is the Merry Man with the blue feather.
 Joshua with one of his best buddies Joe.
 Rebecca with her "bouquet" after the first night's performance.  (The vase was also filled with small chocolates.  Yum.)
 After two performances on Friday night, we headed back on Saturday for the final two performances.  We hadn't yet gotten a group photo, so prior to the first show, we took group shots.  The first one is of the characters from "the woods".  Most of these are Robin Hood and his Merry Man.  There is also a "poor woman" and a "rich man".
 The next group is the "castle group" - guards, Sheriff, Prince John, Ladies in Wating, Lady Marian and Fauning Ladies.

The whole group.
 I also wanted to get some candid shots.  Rebecca with Friar Tuck and Will.
 This entire production was put on by students and Moms.  It is truly amazing the talent from directing to sets, from costumes to decorations and more!  I love seeing everyone sharing their gifts.  Here are some of the signs leading up to the play.
 The entrance to the theater.

Marion and Robin Hood meet for the first time.

The "fauning ladies".  Aren't they cute?
 More of the Merry Men.  (Joshua is in the center.)
 The Sheriff, Robin Hood and Town's Guy.
 A scene with Lady Marion and the Ladies in Waiting.
 Lady Marion and Robin Hood.
 The first three performances went beautifully!  We had a break between the 3rd and 4th plays.  At this point, I left with a couple of friends to pick up some sandwiches.  I remember remarking when we walked outside the the air/sky seemed unusual.  While we were in Subway, the sky opened up and the lights started flickering.  We were hoping they stayed on long enough to get our lunch.  Little did we realize what was happening around us.

We rushed out to the car in the pouring rain!  We made it back to the church and found it was dark.  Power was gone.  As we went up to the second floor in the dark, we found everyone in the auditorium.  We were soon taken downstairs to wait in an enclosed hallway.  Away from doors and windows.  Tornadoes were going through our area at that time.

We all wondered if power would return.  We wondered and hoped that we would be able to do the last show.  We looked to our amazing leader, Shannan, to guide us.  As the children sat huddled in the hallway, they were lead in an activity that they had been doing now for months.  Praying.  They took turns praying and praising and thanking God.  Praising Him in the midst of the storm.  What a sweet privilege to be a part of.

When they finished praying, they each took turns sharing their favorite moments and lines from the play.  There was much laughter even as our hopes were strained as we sat in the dim light.  A decision had to be made as we would soon lose the emergency back-up lights.  With no power, unfortunately, the show was not able to go on.  It was very disappointing.

It is hard to know the whys sometimes on this side of heaven.  I do know that even in the midst of our disappointments, that God is there.  He is in control and He is good.  I'm thankful for the heart of our director who kept pointing the children toward His goodness even when things don't go as planned.  It was a good lesson for me too.

Being a part of this production was a blessing.  I'm thankful for the opportunity!  For more pictures, check out Rebecca's post on the play too!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

JDRF Egg Hunt

Well, this will give a great big clue on how behind I am in posting pictures!  LOL

Our local JDRF group sponsors an egg hunt each year - a sugar-free egg hunt!  (The eggs include things like playdoh, chalk eggs, small toys, bubbles and jewelry.)  It was a beautiful day and lots of fun was had!  Little Miss Independent was ready to go even before it was time!

 There were things to keep the children entertained before the hunt - face painting, decorating bags, chalk and bubbles.  My crew always enjoys the big bubble wands!

 I'm thankful for this group and their efforts on behalf of our kids.  This egg hunt is a small thing in a lot of ways, but for a child with diabetes, these "candy event's can be a challenge.  It can be just one more thing that is hard.  It is really a nice alternative and also a fun time to connect with some other families.  We enjoyed seeing some friends there.
 So many kids were afraid of the Easter Bunny.  Eliana took a little time to warm up to him, but soon was giving him high fives.  
 She even shared her eggs with him.

Trying to get a good group shot.  Smiles are clearly optional.

 The balloon swords are always a hit with my boys.  Always ready for a sword fight!

It's nice for them to be able to enjoy this event and not have to worry about the sugar causing spikes.  They even had some low carb juice boxes!

Thanks JDRF for a fun afternoon!


Monday, May 23, 2011

Beyond Co-op: Boxcar Children #3

Wanted to share about another fun Beyond FIAR co-op day with The Boxcar Children.  There are so many fun hands-on lessons to do!  I always enjoy seeing someone else's take on a lesson too!  The others always come up with something different than I would have done!  It's a great way to share experiences, talents and interests with each other.

We started with a devotion on this beautiful sunny day in April (yes, I'm behind still).  We sat around on the front lawn and enjoyed our outdoor classroom.  Today we were covering some of the lessons found in Chapters 7-9.
One of the first lessons was on classification and organization.  The children did an interesting exercise demonstrating how they could have some similarities and some differences, but none of these traits worked well or consistently for sorting and organizing.  (For example sorting by color of hair and then color of eye.  As we moved through traits the system broke down.)  The children learned about Linnaeus and his system of scientific classification.  As they learned each of the seven main categories, they learned a motion to go along with it to help them remember.  Below they are putting a crown on their head for Kingdom.  
Raising their hands for "Class".
Working on making paper cones as a means to collect some things later in the day.  Their cones were made with nothing but a single sheet of paper - no tape, glue or staples.
As always, we enjoy a bounty for lunch!
The next part of our lesson focused on ... eggs!  Isn't it fun to see the variety of colors that eggs can come in?
I copied some of the posters so you could see some of the interesting information on eggs.  For the first poster, they played an interactive game.  They were given a circle with a number on it and then tried to figure out where it went in the comparison of pasture-raised eggs and conventional eggs.  The answers below are correct.

Much of the lesson was spent talking about the benefits of pasture-raised eggs and how eggs come naturally.  Did you know that the egg yolk should be orange?  And that a green "egg white" is alright?

We were all intrigued by the variety of colors in the egg shells.  We learned about the types of chickens laying the different colored eggs.

After talking about eggs, it was time to find some!  As an interesting twist, the children 8 and under looked on the ground for their eggs and those older had to look up!

They used their paper cones to collect eggs.  What a fun way to end our morning!

Thanks Julie and Vickie for a wonderful day!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Duke Gardens

Today was our last field trip of the year.  It was a little bittersweet.  It was a fabulous field trip.  It was the last one that Christopher will be doing with our group.  I've been planning group field trips now for 16 years.  I have loved doing this and loved the memories we have made.  I will miss having him with us.  I'm delighted that we ended on one that he has been looking forward to for quite awhile - and one that was a great one.  One he even thanked me for planning.  :-)  We visited Camp Chestnut Ridge and the oldest kids went on a high ropes course.  I'll post more on that trip later as I hope to get pictures of the older kids.  For now, I'll post another field trip from last month.  (Yes, still playing catch-up and probably will be for awhile).

April - a perfect time to visit a garden.  Especially Duke Gardens.  What a beautiful place!  We were scheduled for touring in 3 groups.  I went with the youngest kids who had a one hour tour around the gardens learning, talking and observing.  

One of my friends snapped this picture of Eliana and I.  I don't know how to turn it so it faces the right way though.  Can anyone help?
 We had a lively tour guide (can you pick her out?) who was very engaging with the younger set.
 After our tour, we waited for the older kids to finish their tours.  They had a Japanese tea ceremony in addition to a one hour nature program.  While we waited, I tried to take some pictures of my youngest two with the beautiful flowers.
 Trying to get them both to look.  To smile.  And get flowers and no people was a challenge.
 We changed locations.

I actually like this one.  

 The flowers were stunningly beautiful.
 I couldn't resist a closer shot of the flowers who posed perfectly for me.
 My little escape artist.  Often too "tired" to do much walking when we are trying to walk with a group.  Left on her own though, she is quick to go wherever she wants.  Do you think she was checking to see if I was following?  LOL
 We wandered over to a large field to have a picnic lunch and play.  Some played near the pond, others under a large magnolia and others yet on the field with a frisbee.  Eliana was very entertained with my camera.  She loves to take photos.  She actually got some good ones too.  Can you see her in the reflection of this wonderful young man's glasses?
 This sweet gal taking a picture of my girl taking a picture of her.
 She has no limits to what she will shoot.  Even went as far as to go up to a sunbather to take a picture.  (Much to the amusement of all of our watching friends!)  I was able to stop her though.  Below is one of her "creative" shots.
 After a warm day in the sun playing, we headed to a nearby popsicle shop.  Homemade and some really unique flavors!  Loco Pops is a great stop!
 They had chocolate too!  Even had some no/low sugar ones.

Another fun day with friends.  I love field trip days!  So thankful for the opportunity to learn and play in such a fun way!  I hope your day and week have been filled with delights!