Monday, April 30, 2012

Dance Competition Season Winding Down

Saturday was the final dance competition of the year and the team rolled out a new dance that I loved.  It's a jazz number to Mandisa's song "Shackles" and it will really rock your world if you listen to it so take the time!  I'm sure there were people in the audience that had no idea that the song was talking about dancing for Jesus and taking the shackles off our selves that hold us back from praising God fully.
I love that our dance studio is not ashamed of sharing their faith through their music choices!  Miss M loved the costume; its shakes, it shimmers, it's all glitzy and glamour; just her style.  I have the feeling that after the recital in June, she'll be wearing the costume just for fun!  If she wants to be a flapper girl next year for Halloween, we have the costume.  What I love the most is that unlike some of the costumes I witnessed on Saturday it covers everything up.
I told my husband that I've learned now to bring my knitting bag, find a quiet place in the building to sit and knit away, and just go into the auditorium for "our girls" dances.  That way, I don't have to cover my eyes!  It's my way of allowing Miss M to do what she loves without feeling so guilty watching the rest!
Of course, no dance competition would be complete without a little fun with the team; either putting on makeup backstage, hamming it up for the photos, or grabbing a bit of lunch.  Late Saturday when we traveled back home, I told Miss M that for some reason sitting around all day doing nothing just exhausts me.  She of course loved every minute!

Thankfully she'll get plenty of dance in the rest of the month getting ready for the recital. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Witnessing the Blind Side in Your Own Family

I'm watching the movie The Blind Side right now as I sit in the comfort of my own home.  After a busy Saturday, this is the perfect way to wind down; my favorite husband in one chair, my favorite move on the TV, and my favorite jammies on me.  I'm sure I'll be crying by the end of the movie as it is just one of those movies that you can watch over and over and it still tugs at your heartstrings.

Now there is another great story that I get to watch more often, a little closer to home and one that, while it's not my story to tell, tugs at my heartstrings just as much; maybe even more because it's not all "movie perfect," it's real.  My brother and sister-in-law are living the Blind Side story.  Right now.  They have taken in a young man who needed a home and a family.  They are molding him to become the man God has planned.
It's amazing to watch this story play out and I know that God has big plans for our family and this young man.  I can't wait to see it unfold.  If in the mean time, you would pray for this young man as he nears his high school graduation that the plans for next fall would reveal itself and all the details will fall into place.  I know that those prayers would be greatly appreciated.

God doesn't call all of us to open our homes to "strangers," but He does call us to be the hands and feet of Jesus right where we are.  Lord help me to be open to hear your Voice and heed the call You are placing on my life.

Hebrews 13:2

New International Version (NIV)
2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Miss A's Tea Party

Tea Party take two!  Miss A and her little friends celebrated English Style on Wednesday after school.  By the sounds of the giggles in the van on the way to Nana's house, these girls were uber-excited. Since this was Miss A's third tea party, she showed her friends the ropes of the dress up clothes, the hats, and of course the lipstick.  Lets just say they wasted no time before they were all dolled up.

They were smashing.  Miss A looked fabulous in purple showing off her style and the smile she wore across her face was priceless.  One of Miss A's friends had been to the event the previous year and had told her mother that it was one of her favorite memories ever. 

The girls enjoyed pb&j tea sandwiches, sugar cookies, fruit and of course Raspberry Tea.  I was happy to serve as the waitress, but hope that Miss A won't think that clicking her tea cup will get her service as home.  Nana, of course, had fun little questions for the girls to "talk" about around the table about where their favorite place on earth is for peace and quiet and what city would they go to for a day trip.  Let's just say these girls dream big as two mentioned Paris as a great getaway for the day!
Tea Parties and little girls are a combination that can't be beat.  The memories for these little girls, and especially my own child, will be something to cherish.  What a gift.   

Friday, April 27, 2012

Miss M's English Tea Party

It's Tea Party week around these parts. On Monday, Miss M hosted along with her Nana an English Tea Party for her friends/Balcony Girls and you might be able to tell by the photos that a good time was had by all.  There is just something fun about getting all dressed up, putting on your best hat, and sitting down at a table with all the best china and some of your best friends.

Nana has been hosting these granddaughter Tea Parties for more than a decade (my nieces, Miss A and Miss M) and I think its one of my daughters' favorite things.  Not only does Nana put out the fancy tea cups and tea sandwiches, she has accumulated a closet full of fancy party dresses, hats, and jewels for the girls to gussy themselves up in.

It's like a dream come true for a girl to have a closet full of fancy dresses, heels, and hats to choose from!

Of course, the Tea Party is also a time for Nana to share her English heritage and customs with others. She also shares some tips on how to be a ladylike at a luncheon, table manner tips, and an overall manner lesson done in a fun way.  Lessons like that come best from a grandmother rather than a mother sometimes!

It's fun to see young ladies enjoy an afternoon of fun, fellowship, and dressing up.  I'm sure this is yet another wonderful memory that Miss M will store away.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A New Season Begins: Times Two

Miss A in her Cubs Uniform: First Game

 SCORE: Four Goals in one game!

Miss A is playing two sports this spring.  While we had planned on just playing soccer when all of her first grade friends signed up for softball she wanted to give it a try. Thankfully, she's able to wear the same shoes for both sports which makes getting ready a little easier.  In Miss A's mind the fact that she's a Cubs player is even better. We already own a great deal of real Chicago Cub gear so she's the best dressed at practice.  After eleven years of playing "baseball," it's about time we got to be the Cubs!

During the preseason, she was a switch hitter; batting like a left hander, but catching like a righty.  She was banging the ball far, but once they started practicing at the field she realized it's easier to get down the field to first base when you bat right handed.  Smart girl.  Saturday was the first game and she was psyched to get to the field; ready long before time and even playing a little catch to warm up.  Guess you could say after all these years sitting on the bleachers on the sports complex she was thrilled to finally be in the dugout and on the field. 

In three at bats, she hit off the pitching machine twice; once almost making it to the fence!  Of course a few times in the outfield and on the dirt, I noticed she was daydreaming and chatting with friends, but this girl has got game.  At the end of the game, she was thrilled that she got the "golden ticket."  OK really it was just a snack shack ticket, but it was like gold to her!! 

I think it's a gonna be a fun softball season. 

Sport season number two is also underway; Tuesday was our third soccer game of the season and I hardly recognized the little girl on the field. She was a beast.  Now in the past few seasons while Miss A has always been a part of the action, this season she's been really running, chasing, getting in the mix and dominating the field.  Even when Miss A took a hard hit to the shin and had to hobble off the field, she did not hesitate to get back into the game after a short break.

She even went on to score four goals.  Our team dominated the field so much that by the end of the game the score was 11 to 0!  Miss A was so excited.  One of her goals she really had to work it, the ball kept missing the goal and she had to go back three times in order to score.  She was determined!

By the end of spring, I think we'll not only have earned a few hours sitting on the field and in the bleachers I know that I'll be so proud of the little girl who wanted to "try" a few things and succeed.  My little athlete Miss A.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Freshman Year: An Answer to Prayer

Mr C and his friends at the Father Son Banquet last week.

I love it when answers to your prayers are so evident and the blessings of God so obvious.  For over a year, we prayed that God would show us the perfect place for Mr C to attend high school.  I might have even prayed that He'd strike me with lightening to show me the "place."  While God wasn't that bold, both my husband and myself along with Mr C felt God calling us to send Mr C to MM and, so this fall, we went boldly with faith into Mr C's freshman year.

Y'all can I just say I've been blown away by how this one choice, of a school, has been so perfect for our son.  He's beyond thriving at the school.  He's been challenged this year to think critically and to use his knowledge to research and study for tests, writing assignments and speeches.  The boy who loved math, but hated English and books, is now the young man who still thrives on math, but also has found a love for History and English. He reads books! 

He's been challenged to take his faith to a deeper level and while his knowledge of the Bible and understanding of the tenants of faith have grown, I think his love for Jesus has grown even more. He's become a bold and compassionate speaker and is not afraid to discuss his faith with anyone.  Not only does he "get it," he desires to get more of God in his daily walk. 

He's also grown as young man because of the company he keeps.  I've been blown away this year by the young men that Mr C has become friends with and could not have picked better people for him to hang out with and spend his high school career around. Because the school is small, he's really gotten to know the boys well and made friends with a variety of different types of boys from pure jocks to math geeks, international students, and a few golf fanatics too!  Watching the boys at the Basketball Games cheering like crazy for the team or seeing pictures of their "May Day service project and war ball extravaganza," it's evident that these young men are thriving and loving their high school years.

Our prayer for our son has always been that he would love Jesus, love what he does with his time, and be a servant to others so that they could see the love of Jesus in him.  If freshman year is any predictor, I think that by the time Mr C graduates from high school he will equipped to do all that and more. 

Thank you God for not only graciously answering our prayers for the right school for Mr C but for making this such a great experience for our whole family.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

One of my Favorite Lunch Dates

I'm a sucker for a lunch date.  I love to "do" lunch with friends, my hubby, or my kids.  Not only don't I have to cook or plan the food, a lunch date normally means you have that person's undivided attention and can talk about everything or nothing.

My lunch date on Tuesday with Miss A was a real treat.  It was born out of necessity, but the end result was something that I'll treasure for years.  Because this weekend was crazy busy and my husband was out of town, I had not gone to the grocery store for days. Thus, Tuesday morning when I read the school lunch menu and saw that I'd need to make Miss A a cold lunch I panicked.  I'd planned on grocery shopping that morning, but at 7:30 that morning I was breadless.  Nada. Nothing. Now I'll tell you, Miss A when she has cold lunch, which is often, normally has a peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread along with some pretzels, a piece of fruit, and some sort of cookie, brownie or pudding cup.  The main item is always pb on bread.  That's a problem without any bread.

Quick thinking Mama offered to bring lunch up to school. I'd even bring a hot lunch for her to enjoy: mac and cheese.  How could a girl refuse?  Miss A was thrilled. Not only would she get one of her favorite meals, she'd get lunch with mom out of the deal. Gotta love that.

It's a special day when you get to have lunch with a bunch of first graders.  First, I got to hold Miss A and a friends' hand walking down to the cafeteria. I got a huge hug for the yummy mac n cheese and I got to open a half dozen milk cartons, jello cups, and even cut up a few burritos.  Miss A's teacher even came by to talk.  There was a lot of giggling, some silly stories, and even a few deep conversations about what costumes they would be wearing for the upcoming plays. 

After lunch, I was invited to come outside and watch a little of the playground fun.  Miss A wanted to show off her skills on the jungle gym.  However, I was then quickly excused so that the could run around for awhile and play an elaborate game of chase.  Of course, I got at least five hugs from little girls before I headed off with the best one of course coming from my favorite first grader Miss A.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The End of HIs Musical Career

Mr C is hanging up the trombone.  For good.  Yesterday was his final performance and I just might have gotten a few tears thinking my days of spring band concerts are over. He's ending his musical career after this school year and I must admit I'm a little sad.  Don't let the pictures fool you, until a few months ago, Mr C played the trombone, but this spring he switched to the Tuba. 

The joy of a small school is that the band really needed a tuba player for their spring performance and Mr C was drafted to put down the trombone and pick up the Tuba.  Guess if you know one brass instrument its easy to switch to another.  At least that's the story I'm sticking with.

Mr C started his musical career at age three when we signed him up for Kinder Music.  Our pediatrician had suggested that he might enjoy music lessons since he was so mathematical.  Guess math and music use the same part of your brain.  No wonder I quit piano in 5th grade (I broke my arm and the teacher told me not to return) and I hate math!  Now to be honest, the Dr suggested Violin lessons Suzuki style and that did not sell well at home.
In kindergarten, he took up piano thanks to a family friend who offered to teach him to play (she's still teaching the girls).  In fifth grade, he took up the Trombone.  Which in turn led to a few months of pain for our ears while he practiced and a few concerts that it looked like he might pass out from holding  his breath and pushing out his cheeks!  Only a parent can love a 5th grade Band Concert. 

This year, Mr C decided he'd try out band in high school and since they only have a pep band at basketball games and no marching band, it wasn't a huge commitment.  The main drawback is that the class meets at 7:00 in the morning twice a week.  It's hard to get up that early on a Monday morning.

While I'm hoping that maybe Mr C will go back to piano lessons or at least practicing a few of his favorite songs, I understand that for him his season of music lessons is over.  I guess you could say that the pediatrician was right that math and music use the same portion of the brain since Mr C is a math whiz.  At least his mother, the girl who thought geometry was the best class ever since there was very little "math" involved, thinks he's pretty smart!

Now what do we do with this lovely little trombone that we own?  Let's just say its a $900 dust bunny collector right now!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Driving Mr Golfer

Over Easter break, I had the pleasure of driving Mr C around a lot; to the driving range, the golf course and a few golf shops.  It was what you would call a golfing weekend.  We watched the Master's Golf Tournament, listened to the PGA channel on FX while driving around, and of course, watched the Golf Channel when the actual tournament wasn't on. 

I grew up in a house that watched the PGA tour too, my dad and grandfather would call each other and talk about Jack, Lee, Arnold and Fuzzy like they were personal friends. I might have even had a little crush on Tom Watson and nearly died at the age of 10 when I saw him walking around Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. 

So watching the Masters with someone so enthusiastic seemed just right.  Mr C and I were thrilled with Bubba Watson's win. How could you not love a guy like this whose tweet early Sunday morning read:
"Thanks everyone for the support! 3 reasons tomorrow will be , 1. Jesus has risen 2. See my new baby boy & my wife 3. Masters Sunday

I love how the golf bug has really caught Mr C.  I'm serious when I say that he's eating, sleeping and dreaming golf.  He talks about his golf game constantly.  He's analyzing his swing, buying new "used" clubs to improve his score, and asked me to please mow the lawn as it was a little long for chipping purpose.  (I should work on him mowing the lawn - new summer chore)  One day over spring break, he went to the driving range for two hours to chip, putt and drive and came home one happy boy!

 As we were driving to the driving range on Monday, his final day of break he told me of his "new" life plan.  "I'm going to work really hard when I'm young, make a bunch of money, retire early and then play 18 holes everyday."  I responded that his wife may object to the retire young idea since she might not be ready to spend all day every day with him.  He told me not to worry.  He's already prayed that his wife will love golf too!

One of the fun parts of parenting teenagers is watching them try new things and give "it" all they have knowing that this is building in them skills that will carry them into adulthood.  I'm not sure that Mr C will ever win a Green Jacket at Augusta or play a round in a college golf tournament, but I know that the tenacity his learning on and off the course along with his desire to learn all he can about golf will serve him well in whatever the Lord has planned for his life.

For now, I'll just have the car gassed up and ready to drive him to the nearest golf course plus I'll add "golf lover" to my list of prayers for his future spouse.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

40 Bags in 40 Days Update

I would love to say that as a result of my 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge there is not a stitch of unused or unneeded "stuff" in my house, but the reality is that even though I crushed the goal there is still a lot of junk I need to go through.  In fact, I tossed or donated 55 bags of clothing, books, kitchen stuff, and tons of things that have been sitting in my cabinets for years without purpose.  I'd love to show you some great photos of the cabinets and closets, but I'm no Simply Organized and my closets still don't look like that!  Plus, the whole camera dilemma. Thankfully, now the camera is back so there is still hope; I still have an entire basement to go through.

Can you imagine the good stuff hiding in the storage room?  Not to mention all the camping stuff that Mr C swears he'll never use again or the clothes that kept from when Miss M was eight.  While I though Miss A would love them, I'm sure she'll never put them on.  Oh, the bags that await me.  I've challenged myself to get downstairs next week and get started.  My goal is to be all done before the kids get out of school. 

That gives me a little over a month to tackle my next big project.  I've challenged myself to come up with 55 bags downstairs, too.  I think a garage sale is in my plans as well.  We have a doll house, a little kids art table and two dressers that are ready for someone else to enjoy.  There is probably much more.  I hate garage sales, but hate to think of these items wasting away in the recess of my basement. 

I think if I exceed my goal, I'm going to take the family to our favorite Mexican Cantina and enjoy a margarita on the patio!

Easter Sunday 2012

Easter morning at our house is a little less chaotic than it was when we had three little kids awaiting the bunny's arrival before Church.  Now we have a deal with the "bunny" and the Easter Baskets await the kids on the fireplace with presents from the parents and then the eggs are scattered in the yard with candy while we are at church.  After checking out their stash, we enjoyed our traditional Resurrection Roll breakfast and got ready in our new Easter clothes for church.

It's a great compromise.  Miss A gets a chance to experience all the fun while the big kids get to be of the action, too.  Thankfully, Miss M is more than willing to hunt eggs with A.  After coming home from a wonderful service celebrating our Risen Savior, it was a mad rush to gather as many eggs as possible.

Lunch at Nana and Papa's meant not only a great brunch, of which I only had to provide Fruit Salad , but an afternoon of Master's watching, bingo games, balloon races in the backyard, and a little bit of dress up. 

Who knew that Miss M could get more hairy!  Miss A thought the Bunny Ears really added to her bright pink twirly dress and Mr C enjoyed not only "critiquing" the golfers on the 2nd hole, but also some putting on papa's putting green.  Honestly, I think the kids just enjoy getting a chance to hang with their cousins.  Seems we don't see enough of them in the winter months!

We finished our evening with a fabulous dinner of pork tenderloin, Girl Scout potatoes and asparagus.  I heard rave reviews for the meal.  In fact, Mr C might have said it was two great dinners in a row!!

Miss A told me it was her favorite Easter ever.  With all her "years" of experience to draw from, I'm surprised she can choose. 

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Getting Ready for a Great Easter

I'm just gonna admit it right up front; every year I have to look up in a cookbook/Internet how to hard boil eggs when the Saturday before Easter rolls around.  I hate eggs.  In fact, except in baked goods like cookies and cakes, I try to avoid eggs at all times.  No deviled eggs around here.

However, I know that part of our Easter tradition includes dying hard boiled eggs and just because I'm not an egg fan doesn't mean the kids can't enjoy a little creativity.  The sisters got into all the glitter, the tie dye look, and even attempted a little rubber banding to block the colors.  Big Brother even got in to the action for a minute and made a dinosaur egg. 

I'm thinking the jello jigglers we made were more my speed.  At least I'm willing to eat something made of pure sugar!  What says "Jesus Christ is Risen Today!" more than a yellow jello bunny?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Maundy Thursday: Our Roman Solider

Mr C did a fabulous job in his role as a Roman Solider during the Last Supper drama on Thursday.  Of course, as his mother, I thought he looked adorable in the uniform, but I'm not sure its appropriate to say he was a cute Centurion.  Mr C said he was glad it wasn't a long service as the armor was cutting into his shin,  Oh the burden of being an actor!

The Last Supper drama really set the stage for Holy Week.  Watching Mr C take Jesus away from the Garden and His disciples was amazing.

Singing the Hymn " Go to Dark Gethsemane" and watching the altar stripped of all the elements to shroud it all in darkness makes you even more amazed at Jesus' sacrifice.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter Front Door Decoration

I've been wanting to put up an Easter Decoration for my front door since about March 18th and I'm pleased to say it was up before April 1st.  At least before midnight on the 1st.  Big plans are my middle name, but at least I finally came through with a week to spare.

This is my second Burlap Door Hanger.  It is getting a little easier and I'm certainly figuring out a few tricks.  I figure by the 4th or 5th design I make, they might look good enough to put on Pinterst.  Not yet though.

For this project, I used white burlap and some fun spring paint colors.  While I had dreams of the words like "He Is Risen" written on the front, the reality is it just didn't look right.  I used a cross template from Hobby Lobby (They had the perfect plastic foam cross with the word "It is Finished" on them for sale as a yard display) that was just the right size. 

First, I painted the border and then I made polka dots of various colors all over the cross.  I used embroidery floss to sew together the front and back pieces of burlap.  Next time, I think I'll try to sew with the bottom piece being the "top" so that most of the sewing shows through on the back.  I had tried some spray adhesive but it just didn't stick like I wanted.  I used grocery plastic bags to stuff the cross. 

Not wanting to take away from the impact of the Cross (and advice from P), I choose not to use a ribbon on the top.  I love the final look.  It is fun, bright, and cheery without losing the message of the Cross; Jesus.  I'm planning to drape the cross with black cloth on Good Friday and remove it early Easter Morning. 

A friend and I are already making plans for a Spring/Summer Burlap Hanger.  We are trying to decide if it will be a flower, flip flops, or surfboard.  Who knows maybe it will be all of the above.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mondays' are for Lists....

It's Monday and nothing says Monday to me more than a list.  I have my menu plan list for the week, my chore list for the week, my to do list for today so why should my blog be any different.  Plus, I had the item "update blog" on my list of things for today so by writing this list here, I'm able to cross of that item there.

Today's list is a hodgepodge of life lessons, admissions and funny things perfect for the beginning of a new month. 
  1. Life is too short not to stop at Lemonade Stands.  Take that as a life lesson.  Yesterday, as Miss A and I were driving Mr C to chipping/putting practice, we saw one of her first grade friends having a lemonade stand outside her house.  At first, I almost drove past, but I didn't. We stopped and bought two glasses at 25cents a piece (I tipped her 50 cents) and chatted for a few moments.  You know if you are too busy to stop at a lemonade stand, you are too busy!
  2. There is less than a week left in the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge and there are just a few more areas left on my purging rampage. I'm at 45 bags and counting.  While I don't think I'll make it to the basement before Easter, the rest of the house will be a lot less cluttered.  I might start my own challenge for April-May and see how many more bags I can get before summer.
  3. Friday night, I hosted Bunco at my house and I'm happy to say that no actual gambling occurred.  Come to think of barely any Bunco happened either.  Get a bunch of women together without kids and you'll get a lot of talking going on.  Next month, we might just admit that we are just getting together for "fun" and maybe do a recipe exchange or a craft. 
  4. We've gone over to the dark side by joining Costco.  I know it's hard to believe.  I am the person who has claimed that Costco was like a cult has finally given into peer pressure.  We've been Sam's Club members since 1995 or about the same time most of Miss A's friends' parents graduated from high school.  Costco sucked me in with the fact they are miles closer to my house, have nearly the same stuff as Sams' so I'm not losing anything, and it's right near the gym making it within my "sphere."  I have rules about how far from home I travel and Costco falls inside my zone.  I know it's odd, but I just get more done closer to home!
  5. Finally, it's Easter week, that wonderful time of year when I stand amazed at what My Savior did for me!  This year, Mr C is in the Maundy Thursday drama at church.  He'll be one of the Roman Soldiers taking Jesus away from the garden after the Last Supper.  It's a role my husband played the Easter a few times when we first started dating and were married.  According to my mother, it is when she first remembers seeing Mr P at church.  I'm sure that the reenactment of this Holy Night will bring me to tears not just because it will be so personal with my "son" in that role, but because it will remind me again that Jesus was God's Son, too.  He knew what would happen that Night, He knew the "cup" that Jesus would have to suffer.  God knew too that the Cross was the only way.  He did it all for me.  Wow! 
I'm praying that this week, more than ever before, I will appreciate and wonder at the Father's love for me (and you) that He would allow His one and only to die on a cross!  That's Amazing Love.

I'm so grateful.  Aren't you.