Something So Big

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Springtime Activities

Springtime is actually one of the least busy times of our year.  I think that's why Mark and I love it so much!  The kids aren't in sports right now, so there's no running around to various events...just after-school weightlifting, piano lessons, and occasional softball games (which Ally attends as a manager for the high scool time).  Now that my spring graduate class is over (thank you, God)...I am almost feeling not overwhelmed right now!  More time to focus on springtime chores at home and actual intelligent, unrushed lesson planning!  (what is that?!) 

In early May I had the 8th graders planning a Middle School Day.  It was an afternoon of fun educational workshops/activities focused around a certain theme.  This year instead of adults planning it, I had the KIDS plan it.  Our theme was Brazilian culture.  The keynoter was the man in the middle of the picture, Dr. Mike Bottrell sharing his jiu jitsu techniques and ministry to Manaus, Brazil.  Jiu-jitsu is a highly disciplined leg wrestling form which is helping to discourage Brazilian kids to avoid drug (cocaine) use.  Mark just had to know what this 56-year-old man does to train for this intense sport, so here he is sharing some warm-up stretches (with Tanner C. on the right)!
Ally and 3 boys ran Brazilian games.  Ally put together a very impressive slide show to demonstrate the background and procedures of the games...

 ...then it was out to the athletic field for a rousing game of quimada!  (They also played another game and made Carnival masks.)
Guilherme and Davi came over from UW-Platteville to share about their lives in Brazil.  My family had the privilege of taking these young men back "home" to their dorms after school, and they were so polite and easy to talk to.  It was fun learning about life in Brazil, and Wynne didn't miss a beat in her conversation with Davi from the back seat!
A few days later, Mark and Cy were off to Wyalusing for the 6th grade outdoor ed. experience.  Here's Cy preparing to send Spencer off in a mean game of croquet!
 Parents/family night includes skits and cheers from each cabin group.  Cy was a part of Hunter and Logan's team of "Black Mambas" ssssssssss!  Their skit was Best Skit award for their upside-down-man.  I liked their cheer, too :)

Nate, Cy, Blake, Konner, & Spencer W.
 Mark helps with trails, orientation, games, and archery.  Oh, and building big campfires.  And probably a lot of other stuff (especially crowd control).  Two nights, three days, lots of fun, lots of laundry.  Tiring but rewarding!

Father and Son with a photo-bomb by Spencer

On Saturday, the girls and I took a quick trip up to the Henry Vilas Zoo before stopping into Kyle and Mary's apartment for his graduation from UW-Madison Law School!

Mandatory photos of the Prairie Dogs--always a good time!
Congratulations to Kyle on all of your hard work ... now we have a lawyer in the family!!
Sunday was the last day of Sunday School and also the 170th birthday of our church.  The kids did an interpretive dance to "All This Time" by Britt Nicole...

followed by 1st Grade Bible Presentations to Brady, Wynne, Bri, Kate, and Malaina.
(Somebody's just a little excited about getting a brand new Bible that she can read all by herself!!)

 Then it was time to recognize and encourage our 6th grade SS graduates:  Hanna, Maddy, and Cy.  Cy, as you can tell, really dressed up for the occasion.
 One last God Rods performance for the school year...
 ...and a historical re-enactment of the last 170 years at our church!  (Cy was Pastor Mark, Shae was 1950s girl...
 ...Paige was the first female pastor in the 80s....(or was it early 90s?)...

 ...and Wynne was a pioneer girl (whose silver strapped sandals are an anachronism.  Look it up - I'm an English teacher again, remember?).
 It was fun.  The scary thing is that most of those costumes are from my basement stash.

We are so blessed to be a part of this church family ... and of our great families and community/school!  Lots of good learning experiences for young and old.

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.--Proverbs 1:5

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

I wish I had more time to write, but it's Sunday night and time to get ready for the next work week.  In the meantime, today marks 3 special occasions:  our goddaughter Claire's birthday (Happy 15, Claire!), my 5-year blog-i-versary (I'll post more on this later), and Mother's Day.  Yesterday I had the luxury of spending 4 hours at a Mother-Daughter event with my mom, sister, and her mother-in-law.  It was at a local retreat center and gave us all a chance to pray together, reflect on our roles as mothers, daughters, and children of God.  
It hasn't been an easy year for Mom.  In late February she slipped on the ice and broke her ankle.  After surgery, she spent several weeks laid up and had to rely on family and a personal care worker to help her get around.  Being the caregiver most of the time, this was not an easy thing for Mom to do (asking for help).  The nights I spent with Mom, I would take a daughter or two over with me to spend time with her, have bubble baths in her downstairs tub (!), and practice reading.  

Almost 3 months later, the cast is off, the wheelchair's gone, the boot is off, but her foot is still swollen and needs wrapping.  Mom can't walk as quickly as she'd like to, and there's pain and sleepless times, but she remains steadfast and an example of strength to her children and grandchildren.
Mom, you are the strongest and most loving woman I know.  Happy Mother's Day!
Love, Amy

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Faith Places

Sometimes God takes you through tough stuff.  Ally's had that kind of a year.  Last month, she talked about it as she gave her testimony of faith on the day she was confirmed.
Pastor Mark has taught these young people for two years about God's story in the Bible, the doctrine of the Christian church, and--most importantly--how Jesus is calling each one of us to have a personal relationship with Him.
We are very proud and in awe of our little girl.  Who's not so little anymore!
Did I mention that Ally has been put on a restricted diet for 6 months?  Stomach issues = take out the gluten, dairy, corn, rice, tomatoes, soy, peaches, pineapple, paprika, cumin, etc etc. The first 5 are tough to avoid in foods, let me tell you.  I could make it my full-time job to research and prepare decent foods that don't have these things in them.  (Did you know there are 14 different gluten wheat proteins in foods nowadays? Most of which are killing some of our kids' guts. Including Ally's.)  Anyway, we hired a local high school girl who happens to be a great baker/decorator to make these gluten-/dairy-free cupcakes.  They tasted AMAZING...thank you so much, Rylie!  They made Ally's special day even MORE special!! (Because when you haven't had desserts for a couple of months, a cupcake that is safe for you to eat is a REAL TREAT.)

It was a treat to have Ally's grandparents and great-grandma, as well as her godparents, aunts, uncles, cousins there to celebrate.  Grandma E. broke her ankle in late February and was able to walk into church on her boot cast.  And look at our youngest cousin....
What am I, Grandma, #34?
Hi, Joseph!  (age 10 weeks here, I think)
And perhaps the highlight to a great day for Ally....SOFTBALL with cousins!! It's been a long winter, and so with a hint of sunshine, the kids made their way to play their first game of the year.  Usually they get to play on Easter weekend, but not this year with all of the snow/rain/cold.

And since I am so far behind on this poor blog, here are pictures of another faith place...Sinsinawa Mound chapel.  Isn't it glorious?  The twins were part of a multi-school choir who met on Monday, April 15th to practice with a  guest conductor.  We were treated to a concert that evening.
Shae has a pony tail and Paige is singing (with much expression, guess you had to be there) right next to her. The sound in there was awesome!  Great job, singers!
One more shot of Confirmation Sunday.  The confirmands with their parents and godparents.  We are blessed to have loving people who pray for us and go on the faith journey with us.  Thanks to Uncle Greg, Aunt Marla, and all who have influenced Ally & impacted her faith!  I think she has a lot to teach us about her own faith story, and I look forward to what she will teach us in the future!
“May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.” --Colossians 1: 11-13

Makeover Mavens

 Wynne decided on a "Spa Party" for her 7th birthday.  She helped me make a butterfly cake.  (Because butterflies are part of the whole spa/relaxation experience, right?  Work with us here.)
 Kate & Sara, our Sunday School buddies, and Aubrey, a school friend, joined us on April 20th for the Spa Party of the Century.  After unplanned "play time" (what is that? do we really let kids just PLAY anymore?), we had a fun lunch.
 Big brother crashed the party for some cake. ( I think he ate the rest of the cake by early evening.)
 Ally was the ultra-helpful party planner.  She figured out what spa-type activities the girls could do, put together a shopping list and helped get little items for the shindig, designed the flip-flops, and did their "pedicures".  She did an awesome job!!  Thanks, big sister!!
Dollar store flip-flops and ribbon from the craft bin = $4 of fun!
Paige helped with the "manicures"...

I don't think there's a room in our house that doesn't have fingernail polish spilled somewhere.  (Not just from this party, either!)
 Ally taught the girls a quick-dry tip:  dip your newly painted fingers in icy cold water!  Brrrrrr!
Ally made 4 different flavors of lip gloss (researched on  her new favorite site, Pinterest).  Made with Kool-aid packets, vaseline, and coconut oil.  They smelled and looked wonderful!  And I tried the strawberry; works great!
Wynne and Aubrey relax with their facials.  After all, a seven-year-old has sooo much stress in her life.

Last but not least, tree swinging and climbing.  Fresh air is the best makeover ingredient there is!