Something So Big

Friday, December 30, 2011

God's Princesses

We had a Princess Party last night!
 See the girl rolling her eyes in the center of the picture? That's the Princess who's marrying our Pastor!  YAY for Carol!!
 Our "sisterhood" of Sunday School moms and daughters gathered together for a little bridal shower before the Big Day (which is next weekend).  For some reason, nobody wants to have their picture taken while they're eating. ;)
 After supper, it was time for the games.  Oh, how I love party games.  This time it was Bridal Mad Libs and Design-a-gown-with-tissue-paper-and-tape. You know that one, don't you?
Diane & Amy design the perfect gown for Alli
I was amazed at how detailed the groups were about adding all of the little things that make a bridal gown special.  Veils, ruffles, trains, bouquets...
Maddy, Sara, Paige & Devany
 even a tissue paper garter belt and shoes!  The bride-to-be was good about wearing the "princess tiara" that my daughters had constructed for her. 

Carol, Felicia, baby Mercedes & Shelly

We read our "mad libs" about a girl's dream for her wedding, as each bride strolled down the aisle.  Shae even had a train-bearer!
Shae & Devany
 The littlest princesses wasted no time in getting into their "real" princess garb.
Kate, Wynne & Sara
Carol, I think you have a new wedding party, eager to assist!

Carol with Sara, Wynne, Alli, Shae, Ruby & Felicia
  Then it was time for "Find Your True Love".  I borrowed a bunch of Headbanz (one of my personal game favorites), and my girls helped me make "couple cards".  I think Rapunzel and Flynn Rider finally found each other!

Wynne & Lonna share a hug
 We are so lucky to have a new friend in Carol!  And we couldn't be happier for her and Mark D.!

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.--Proverbs 31:10

While He's On "Vacation"

Mark likes to "relax" with woodworking these barnboard "gallery" frames for the kids!

 Each child got to pick out the frame they want and can add/change their displays at any time.  It's in their hallway upstairs by their bedrooms.  I sorta wish we had more room downstairs for them!
 Oh, and this was just a "little project" he took on the day after Christmas.  Three days later, the twins' Christmas gifts were complete:  loft beds/desks!  Shae loves her "new room"...
 ...and so does Paige!  I mean, who WOULDN'T?  I insisted on wood stain over paint, as I believe the girls can take these with them to college one day.  (I don't want to talk about that one day just yet.)

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. --1 Corinthians 14:26 ESV

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Tympanoplasty is not a Musical Instrument

Tympanoplasty #1 was in August 2009.  A few weeks later we found out that it was not a successful surgery.  The large hole in Cy's left ear drum (probably caused for a severe ear infection) did not repair.  So the local ENT referred us on, and that specialist referred us onto a pediatric otologist, the "best in the business" we were told.  We were told to wait a few years, so here it is 2011 and time to give it another go.
Cy had his second tympanoplasty on December 1 at the American Family Children's Hospital in Madison.  That is an excellent facility with top-notch staff all around.  We would highly recommend them!
The surgery took 4 hours, and it took another 4-6 hours for Cy to fully come out of the anasthetic.  It's so hard to see your active, healthy boy slowed up, quiet and not hungry!  But Cy was strong through the whole ordeal.  We are so proud of him!!
 This first picture was taken on Day 2 post-op.  Time to finally take off the half-headgear!
I took off the dressing and have been applying ointment to the two incisions and drops to the ear canal ever since.  This next pic is, again, Day 2 post-op.
 Day 4.  Some of the red is the packing that was placed inside the ear canal.  We canNOT touch the packing, as it is there to keep the grafted tissue on the ear drum, in hopes that it will grow onto the drum and repair the hole.
 In the meantime, Cy has not been able to participate in phy. ed or his basketball season.  Not a fun thing for an active 11-year-old boy.  But the blessings coming out of it are that: 1) Cy gets to come into my classroom (a few doors down from his room) and check in with me, and 2) Cy has been able to get one-on-one band lesson time with the music teacher.  He's starting to learn guitar now, something we've been wanting to do for a few years now!

This is Day 20 at the elementary Christmas concert.  The swelling has gone way down, and the stitches have dissolved.  As of this writing, Day 26, some of the packing has dried up and fallen out of the ear, which Cy reports as "a relief...I can finally hear better again"!  Imagine going through that muffled feeling for over a MONTH!  Like I said, Cy is a real trooper.

We don't go back for post-op appointment with his surgeon until January 18.  We're hoping he gives us a verbal "okay" to return to p.e. and basketball in the coming weeks (over the telephone).  It's amazing how quickly a body heals!

The Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting …--Psalm 100:5

It's a Beaut, Clark!

 Mark and I took a liking to this little number.  The wooden vine growing up through it was the clincher.
I love this man.

I can't believe I get to live with these people sometimes!

 Our new wood pellet stove (in its first full season) and the family Christmas tree 2011.  I changed it up a bit by putting the red garland on vertically this year.  I kinda like it;)
No broken windows or sap! ;)

Three Brags

Ally has a beautiful soprano voice and sang a solo at the middle/high school Christmas concert a few weeks ago.  Being the teenager she is, she didn't tell me about the solo.  I had to hear about it from her choir teacher!
Another place where Ally excels is in band.  She has been first chair trumpet the past 2 years in her own band, and this year she was among the other 7th-8th grade students from our town who got to rehearse all day and perform with the conference honors band.  It was a great experience for her.  I played trumpet into college, and I can appreciate the practice she puts into it. 

Brag #2 - Our son was chosen, along with one girl, among his classmates to read their essays at DARE graduation on December 5.  Cy is a good writer (although he usually doesn't sit still long enough to write much), and he read with confidence and expression that night.  Plus the subject of his writing was important--I sure hope he keeps that pledge to stay out of alcohol and drugs!

Brag #3 for the day:  Shae qualified for the elementary (grade 1-4) spelling bee!  This is something that she had made a goal of hers, as last year she sat in the audience and watched her twin sister compete.  I was also proud of Paige for being happy for her sister.  (Paige was an alternate this year.)  Shae made it all the way to third place (going out on "mischief") and was so excited to receive a certificate and medal!
Way to go, kids! ;)

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.--Colossians 3:17

One for the little boy who lives down the lane...

 In our colonial studies at school, I have been trying to stress to the kids how difficult daily life was for the people in the 1600-1700s.  Lucky for me, my cousin Peg came a few weeks ago to share her knowledge of wool and spinning with the children!

Peggy is a retired schoolteacher herself, and she did an excellent job of engaging the kids.  She set up stations for the kids to participate in, after demonstrating how to spin yarn on her spinning wheel.  It looks like a relaxing activity, but I'm sure it wasn't easy to do for hours on end!
The first station she had set up for the kids was a table full of different kinds of sheep wool, goat hair, angora fur...even the hair combed off of an Alaskan musk ox!  Peg buys most of her wool from local sheep farmers.  She also had some wonderful hats and scarves that she had knit.
The second station was wool washing!
The third station was carding the wool, not an easy task.
The last station was spinning, using a drop spindle.  This was the hardest task of all.
Hopefully the students will remember that there once was a day where you couldn't go to a store and buy your clothes off the rack!
  Thanks for the lesson, Peggy!

The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.--John 10:3-4

Our Rock and Refuge

My favorite part of the Christmas season is the Sunday School program.  I just love working with the kids to create something magic out of the Christmas story, which really doesn't need any "magic" added to it, at all.  But it's fun to see how the kids pull together, amidst the chaos of the season, to slow us down for an hour and remind us all of the Reason for the Season. 
Pastor Mark and Nate were great about accompanying the kids on "I Will Call Upon the Lord" and "The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock". 

 Before the play started, we had an "open mic" time for any of our S.S. kids who wanted to sing or play an instrument.  Ally sang "We Three Kings", and...

 Paige, Shae, and Wynne sang one verse of "Silent Night" a cappella.  It was good practice for them!

 The play was called "Our Rock and Refuge", with several references to God as our Rock.  Jesus is prophecied throughout the Old Testament as our sure foundation.

The boy playing Joseph even brought along his new sister to play Baby Jesus!
Shae played Jesus as a boy (kinda like last year).  Here she is in a scene with her father, building a stone wall.  (Remember, they used whatever building materials they had on hand...which for them would have included lots of basalt stone.)  It was kind of poignant because she asked her father "Why would the builders reject the Chief Cornerstone?"
Jesus as a man was portrayed by Cy.  He even drew himself a fake beard!  Cy did a pretty good job (except for the cue cards).  Peter and the rest of the disciples were asked "Who do you say that I am?"  Of course Peter did not hesitate to say "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God."  Jesus responds, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." (Matthew 16:18) 
You can't talk about the Rock without singing "The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock"!  Not your standard Christmas music, but definitely appropriate for the subject we were studying.
 We ended with Aaron Shust's "My Hope Is In You".  It was a powerful ending, and a reassurance that He will be with us through drought and storm.  "The peace that passes understanding is my song, and I sing my hope is in you, Lord!"
 This could have been our Christmas card picture?  If not for the blotchy gray backdrop.  (pathetically painted last year by yours truly)!
Blotchy drop and all, it was still my favorite part of Christmas!

Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your

truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in

you all day long.

– Psalm 25:4-5

6 Events, 5 Days, and a Root Canal

Last week was rather busy.   I mean, busier than usual.  It started out with Monday at school, where the 3rd graders had a special guest, their favorite tutor from 2nd grade--Jake B.!  Jake was a high school senior last year and is a private in the army right now.  He came back from Georgia for the holidays and surprised the class with a lunchtime visit.  They were just a little excited to see him!
Monday was also the day that the kids presented their big colonial projects to their classmates...and Tuesday we took the show on the road!  Here's the "Colonial Village of 1711" out in the hall, a "living history museum" open for tours!
Each of my students was given over a week to research, report, and create visual aids describing a colonial occupation. Everything from cooper (Ally in the purple, at right) to tanner (way down by the exit door)!

Paige was the housewright/carpenter.  She did a great job of researching the various facets of her job, and she & I built a little wattle-and-daub miniature house for the museum.  Did you know that the early colonists didn't build log cabins?  Oh no, they didn't come until the Swedes started settling the New World.  (See how much we learn in elementary school!!)  Anyway, be sure to ask Paigey what daub is made out of. ;)
Shae was the village apothecary and doctor.  She understood that this is like a pharmacist, but she also took on researching the various medical practices that a doctor did at that time, like blood letting (YIKES!).  Shae made a jar of homemade cough syrup and gave out spoonfuls to willing tourists.  It was actually pretty good and sort of like the home remedy my mom uses!

Later that afternoon, I slipped down to Dubuque for the second half of my lovely root canal. About as fun as you would imagine. Let's just say, the 2nd time around was shorter and less painful, with no blurring in my left eye due to the Novacaine! For which I am very grateful.

By 5:00, I was back in town helping the No Strings Attached puppet group set up. Our middle school youth group fed the puppet team (about 20 people) and set up chairs/mats in the elem. gym. We were hoping to piggy-back off of the parent group's Santa's Workshop that night, and I think it worked. Look at the great turn-out!

"A Camel Called Donkey" was the production of the night.  It was pretty good, and NSA always does a nice job with their music/soundtrack/production.  I was grateful for them donating their time, with all proceeds going to the Alexander family.  Between the Santa's Workshop and the puppet show, we raised over $200 that night!
 Later that evening, Wynne vomited.  Hooray for the Holiday Flu! NOT.  Anyway, the next day was the rehearsal for the big elementary Christmas concert that evening.  Poor little Woots missed her first Christmas concert.  She cried and cried and cried.  Sigh.  I reassured her that we would have a little concert at home and listen to her belt out "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" and the like.  She is so fun to listen to, especially when she's improvising.  I think she would make a great jazz vocalist.  You should have heard her go on in different keys with "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" yesterday.  When she doesn't have a formal audience, she kicks it!  (Gee, I am not biased at all.)

But my other enthusiastic singers were a joy to listen to and watch.  Paigebird...
and Shaebird.  And again, I am not biased at all in my opinion that the 3rd graders sang the most on-key and strongest of all the classes.  Not biased at all!

 Their last number was with those boom-whacker things.  They make different sounds (due to their different lengths/diameters).  It was kind of a sports-themed holiday tune to rock music.  Cool beans!
 Cy's class was the oldest....and after subbing in there on several occasions, I have a special place in my heart for the fifth graders.  They opened up with a jazzy spin-off of "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" called "Grandpa's Gonna Sue the Pants offa Santa".  I know, not very sacred, but a fun tune to hear/watch!  They acted it out with pizazz!
Rudolph (Cy) and Santa (Nate), the defendant!
 The entire K-5 elementary school (minus several flu victims) sang the traditional finale, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".  Mrs. Sturmer did a great job with all of them!
Finally it was the last day of school before Christmas vacation!  We had a good (Crazy) day at school and finished up with a home basketball game for Ally that night.  Marla and her kids brought good luck as we posted our first victory of the season!
The next night, Christmas Eve Eve, was mintmaking time with my sisters' families.  We used to do this faithfully every year when the kids were all little, but it's been a few years since we gathered to make and dip mints.  Julie is the leader of this project, and we are lucky enough to participate in the yumminess!  Kaycie was back from college, and it was good to just get together and relax with family. 
 If mintmaking can be called "relaxing".

 Cy said, "These taste just like York Peppermint Patties!"  and they really do.  It's an old family recipe which I shall not divulge at this time.
 A jam-packed, frantic-yet-fun week!
HelpfulNot Helpful

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. --Philippians 4:6-7 ESV