Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Post

It's been a very busy fall season for us with lots of adjustments and lots of activities needing to be squeezed into our everyday life. And although it's been positive and fun for the most part, I'm thankful for the pause the Thanksgiving season offers us, forcing us to slow down and savor the little moments (oh, and the morsels of goodness, too).

As I mentioned back in March or April, I started a personal list of things I am thankful for after reading Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts.   I envisioned being way past number 1,000 on my list by now...but the fact of the matter is, I've been adding to it rather slowly. I apparently need to cultivate a thankful heart. Or maybe I just need more than 24 hours in my day or a personal secretary to jot down my thankful thoughts while on the go.  Whatever may be the problem, it's great to have a holiday like Thanksgiving to get me back in the mode...and to get a chance to sit down and write.

# 174 Thoughtful household gifts that offer daily reminders of the ones who gave them to me
# 175 Brielle's 'team' of educators
# 176 New-ish family traditions

Yes, I know...still just in the one hundreds. I'm actually a little ways past these numbers...but still pathetically off-the-mark. Of course, there are plenty more things for which to be thankful this Thanksgiving Day...more eternal gifts and such...but these come with pictures, and so I thought I'd post them here.

#174I feel like everywhere I look these days in this house of ours, I spot a sweet reminder of a friendship. It seems like everyone was in cahouts for my birthday this year because I received many gifts I would want to have out in plain sight all the time. 

There are these pretty and unique vases that always cheer me up...

There's a sweet put-a-bird-on-it mirror I now use almost daily to check my scarf on my way out the door....

There's a printer/scanner/photocopier I don't know how I did without before...

There's a pile of 'officer horse' manure on top of our garden soil I keep looking out at from my kitchen window...with a smile on my face as I think of how it got there...

And there are many other "little reminders of loved ones" not as much in plain view, but just as thoughtful. I'm especially thankful for these when I am so busy in the day-to-day and need to get jarred from my self-focus to remember a friend. Perhaps my friend needs a call...or maybe I should be praying for them? And honestly...it's just nice to be reminded that there are people out there who care about me too.

By God's grace, we aren't on our own in raising and educating Brielle and Isaiah. Though we appreciate all the input from loved ones and godly teachers that Isaiah gets, we are especially thankful for the team God has put together for Brielle.

There's Mrs. A. (last year's K teacher) and Mrs. Lundy (her current 1st teacher) from Cor Deo:

There's Miss Molly from Kaiser and Mrs. Belisle from Hiteon for speech:


 There's Isaiah who teaches with patience and most often, by example...

.and let's not forget Mr. Wachsmuth, who's a genius at making math fun (still need to get a snapshot of him in his  'teacher garb' knocking on our front door, ready for a session with his youngest pupil):

Although I know I'm never really alone in this enormous task of educating our special girl, it's nice to know there are regular, visible and tangible collaborators whose hearts have been weighed with a real concern for her success in the world of academics. There is also a team of family members and close friends who pray for her regularly..and for all that, I am super grateful!!

We've been trying out new family traditions the last couple of years and it's been kind of fun to change things up. 

There's the once-a-week homemade pizza night (still haven't pinned down which night quite yet as I'm finding making pizza is actually pretty easy and convenient and works for me in a pinch):

There's the family "urban harvesting" that happens about every other weekend from Sept through early November. During these weeks, the entire family is on the lookout for unharvested fruit trees within a certain radius near our house and if we find a tree, we go knocking on doors and ask permission to harvest the fruit that would otherwise go to waste. I know some people would be mortified to do something like that. For my family, it's this awesome treasure hunt! Isaiah recently made a list of all the harvest-able trees in the area. I realized it was all worth the time and effort when Papa let us make apple cider from the many apples we harvested! Here are some pictures of our harvest of prized pears near the school Andrew used to teach at.

There's the birthday card display that goes up on our game closet door for about a week. Brielle loved to add her birthday cards to it!

Andrew wasn't as thrilled about the whole idea, but he did laugh when he saw I put his school teacher picture right smack in the middle. ;)

Finally we come to the newest adopted tradition, the Thankful Tablecloth for our family Thanksgiving brunch. For the last few years, Andrew has organized a Flag Football (Turkey Bowl) game on the morning of Thanksgiving. He and his buddies play early in the day so they can get back to their families to help get ready for the Thanksgiving meal. Meanwhile, I prepare a late breakfast and after Andrew and Isaiah have showered, we sit at the table for our more intimate Thanksgiving meal. We discuss what we are thankful for and pray and finish our time at the table with writing out our year's most prominent thankful thought on the tablecloth. Next year, we'll pull out the same tablecloth and add that year's thankful list. I might even get around to stitching over the writing to make it nicer (big might).The plan is to do this many years to come, Lord-willing.

And that's the end of my 2011 Thanksgiving post.
Thankful for you and praying for hearts full of thankfulness before God as we approach the end of the year.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Brielle's Swim Party

When Brielle asked for a swim party for her birthday, she imagined it  taking place in our own backyard ....so you can imagine how she reacted when she looked out one day and realized that the pool had been taken down. What?!!?? I assured her that we never intended on having her swim party at home...and that her guests wouldn't have wanted to swim in our pool in November (when it was hardly warm enough for most of the summer). I told her we'd find an indoor pool somewhere to rent out. And we did. We rented out the Tigard Swim Center and it was a super idea--totally worth it!

The party started out in the pool center's classroom where we had light refreshments and cake.

I made this banner and silhouette of the girl in honor of her b-day.
The ideas came from a book I received on my birthday from Ashley Carlson.

I made the fondant from scratch for the first time It wasn't easy but rewarding!

Girly decorations for a a girly-girl!!

Guests of honor: Josie, Laura, Lydia, Jillian, Cambria, Macy, Kaiah, Izabell, Raquelle.

It was important to eat healthy snacks a bit before the big dessert!

Lydia sat on the lucky chair and got a prize: colored bubbles!!

Time to blow out the candle and dig in!

Brielle HAS to lick the candle!

All that work is about to be destroyed..but that's the point. Cake is for eating!!

The girl got spoiled with such awesome presents!!
The party then got moved to the swimming pool. My friend Jenn and I cleaned up the classroom in less than 10 minutes and I felt like I was off the hook for the rest of the party! Although there was plenty of preparation done beforehand, it was another super easy kid party with very little clean up and very little time feeling 'on party duty'!!

As I close, I want to express my thanks to God for His amazing provision...that we would be able to do this, that it ended up being less expensive than expected due to the classroom being mildly cluttered upon our arrival and the classroom fee being waived, that my friend Diane would happen to be at the pool and would offer to help me set up before the guests arrive, that Judy Kile--one of the honored guests' grandma--was the only ONE person from the Tigard Swim Center who could book this event for me (which helped make it go as smooth as it did), and that so many guests were able to make it. I know it's just a birthday...but for Brielle, it's a really, REALLY big deal! We're talking about the girl who asked me a little before 7 a.m. on her actual birthday how come she hadn't received calls or presents from anybody yet, how come it was 'business as usual' as we drove to her break-of-the-dawn speech therapy session...basically, how come the world hadn't stopped turning on account of her birthday! Of course, she already HAD opened our present the moment she'd woken up, but she must have been half-asleep still when she did. :)  To quickly dissipate any doubt in her mind that she is special to us, she received three Godsent phone calls from Daddy, Gran, and her faraway Aunt Dee within the hour. The rest of the day and weekend felt like one big birthday celebration!

...He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist... 
 Acts 17:25b-28a

I'm so thankful that He's intimately acquainted with our ways and that He's not far from each one of us. I am amazed that He would have thoughts about us that are too vast in number to count (Psalm 139:17). And in light of those Scriptures, who am I to say that He couldn't possibly care about a little girl's 7th birthday party (-ies)? I honestly think that He's meeting her at her level and I've decided to do all that I can to have her see His hand in her life so that she would love Him....because He first loved her.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Soccer Days

After several seasons of not playing fall soccer, Isaiah got back into it this year. I don't think he'd say it was fun to be playing catch up a lot, but I think it was a good experience. He had a great coach who focused a lot on teaching them not only skills, but character. On the last practice, the parents got to play against the boys and it was a lot of fun. I had forgotten how much I love to play soccer!! I hope Isaiah won't give up on soccer because it's such a good, health-promoting sport!

Band of Brothers in Action

A couple of weeks ago, Andrew taught a band of brothers about the use of the tongue and the use of a compass.

Oh but first...there was a little throwing of the football.

And then the lesson began in our garage.

After that, the outdoors became the classroom

 The Band of Brothers was divided into four groups, each with a map and compass in hand to go find a treasure Andrew had planted at 4 different destinations about a mile away from our house. One of the groups' picture didn't turn out...but here are the other three.

After the groups left, Andrew and Brielle got on their bikes and headed down the different routes to spy on the trekkers.  

Every group found its treasure and headed back, all arriving within minutes of the other groups. Although they had a good time learning how to use a compass, they were quick to get back to throwing the football.

It was another successful Band of Brothers' session. Awesome work, hubby!