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Thursday, June 27, 2013

A blessed bout with a bad stomach bug

Diego plays on our homemade car rug while I stay in bed.

Today I am sick in bed. No fun at all, but I do feel so blessed today.

This illness is forcing me to slow down instead of busily catching up on housework and projects. As a result, today is turning out quite lovely even though I am nauseous and exhausted.

In particular, I'm so thankful for my kiddos.

Sarah and Matthew and Daniel are all independent enough to take care of their own needs, and they are such great helpers with Diego. They fed him breakfast and took him outside to play this morning.

I looked out the window and saw all three boys valiantly sword-fighting some tall weeds, swinging thick sticks for swords. Diego had been armed with the best weapon on the team: Matthew's beloved homemade wooden sword. I could hear them exclaiming, "Hey dragon! Take that! And that!" as they swiped at the swaying leaves. Their giggles and victorious shouts traveled easily across the field to my ears.

Later they ran inside to my side, gasping for air before speaking with glee, "Mom! We found a birds nest! And the speckled eggs are only one inch tall! And would you believe it?! They're hatching right now!" They were so happy to share this joyous discovery with me, describing every detail.

They have now sworn to protect the site from cats and help the mother bird by catching bugs to leave near the nest.

My heart is happy and I am content- what a special childhood it is to grow up in the country!

Today Matthew gave Diego his first piggy-back ride. Diego loved it and would quietly say, "Whee!" as Matthew carried him throughout the house.

Sarah put on some of our favorite upbeat music and hosted a dance party. They all taught Diego silly dance moves and made him laugh. It was great medicine to watch this silly performance.

Later the Big Kids were all working on their wooden candy dispensers from DI camp. They were busy sanding all the edges (100 strokes per corner!) while Diego watched. He eagerly joined the fun, clumsily rubbing the sandpaper on Matthew's project while the Big Kids laughed in delight.

Today I'm staying in bed sipping iced ginger ale, wishing the toilet wasn't quite so far away. We've become great friends today. :(

The piles of dirty dishes, muddy floors from dirty campers, and piles of laundry can continue to wait.

I'm actually really thankful for today. I appreciate the opportunity to connect with my children and enjoy their silly antics. Being trapped in bed makes great bonding time since the kids can come talk to me and have my undivided attention for hours at a time.

Even on bad days like this, life is so beautiful!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Destination Imagination Summer Camp

We had a very busy and very fun-filled day, and BOY are my feet ready to be iced! While plantar fasciaitis and summer camp don't make a good mix, we still had a wonderful time today!

Here are some glimpses of the day:

Activities included team-building parachute games outside and water relay races with wet sponges. Then we had each team make up a team name. The girls are called "The Beautiful Bubbles" and the boys are known as "The Poisonous Pillows".

We learned how to use power tools this morning. Man alive! I have to give a huge shout-out to my sweetheart! 

Nathan took time off work this morning so he could be here teaching children how to use power tools. He spent hours with them building candy dispensers. 

Now he's working until 8:00 at the office to make up the missed hours. I can't thank him enough for his help!

Wednesday he's repeating it all over again. I feel so blessed with his service! How lucky am I to have a hubby who supports my crazy antics. 


Here's a shout-out to Laila, one of our Camp Counselors (in the pink hat). She was SO helpful all day being my "Go-fer" and floating helper for the special needs children. We loved having her here!

A glimpse of Vina, another one of our Camp Counselors. She's worth her weight in gold, folks! She's the group leader for the boys team and she did such a great job!


We also played lots of ice-breaker games to help kids know each other better. They mingled and giggled a lot. Then we learned basic acting skills as we played Charades. 

Here is a glimpse of another Camp Counselor, Rebekkah. The girls really loved her!

Next we learned how to use hot glue guns safely while constructing a creative statue out of cardboard boxes.

The Beautiful Bubbles really loved this activity and took such pride in their work. They designed a statue that plays on the words "Destination Imagination". Their statue takes them to a destination and is fueled by imagination.

It's a car with Pogo sticks instead of wheels. The exhaust cloud says, "Imagination" and they fitted the interior of the car with purple seats, a steering wheel, and a colorful keychain. It's still a work in progress, but they came really far in only 30 minutes. 

Several teddy bears were imprisoned by a terrible dragon and isolated on an island surrounded by a lava lake. So the kids designed and built creative boats to ferry bears safely across the lake. 

Later this week they are designing and building costumes for their bears before taking them home to keep. The bear they rescued went home with them today. 

It's a great group of kids!

The kids seemed to have a great time. I heard several of them say they couldn't wait until they could come I suppose that's a good sign. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Today in 30 minutes

I'm not very good at writing the little things that happen each day, so today I'm giving my self 30 minutes to write about our day- then stop. It is what it is.

This morning I spent an hour working outside in the (relatively) cool morning before the children woke up. It was very peaceful and relaxing to haul hoses across our (really large) front lawn to the fruit orchard. I counted 8 (EIGHT!) pomegranates growing on our bitty little trees. I can't tell you enough how excited I am to have home-grown pomegranates. 

Our jujube trees are also putting forth fruit, and boy howdy am I excited, even though I have no idea what jujubes taste like. When we heard how amazingly well jujubes grow in central Texas, we decided they were no-brainers on our farm. We'll teach ourselves how to like them. Theoretically. We tried that with okra years ago, and we harvested literally BUCKETS and GALLONS of okra Every. Single. Day. 

All summer. 

And I learned I'm really, really not a fan of okra. It took us years to get through one summer's okra harvest. 

So. We'll see how jujubes float our boat. I'm crossing fingers. 

I'm pretty busy getting everything ready for summer camp, which is happening next week. At my house. 

Yeah, I might be a little crazy. 

Anyway, we have 20 kids coming over Monday morning bright and early to have all sorts of adventures. 

They'll be here all day, learning how to use power tools (Yup. We're using circular saws to cut wood for crafts. Power drills don't sound as exciting next to a big saw, do they? Poor drills.) and building catapults (two different kinds!) and launching home-made rockets. Sound fun yet? I'm also teaching them acting skills and helping them build costumes out of recycled materials like fused plastic bags.  

We'll be playing WAY more team-building games than anyone in their right mind would agree to do (involving giant parachutes, water balloons, Cheetos flying through the air, rescuing imprisoned teddy bears, and LOTS of water games). 

We'll see how it goes. You might need to come rescue me by the end of the week. I should probably be really uber-stressed about camp....but surprisingly, I'm not. 

While I've been busy prepping for camp, Diego has been /charming/. 

Check it out. This is my favorite Greek Yogurt converted into facial hair and hand lotion. 

Right after I cleaned him up, he played outside and discovered the lovely charcoal in the fire pit left over from when we made s'mores last night. To his glee, he discovered that charcoal draws WAY better than sidewalk chalk -and would you believe it?!- it even draws on the house and his skin! I found a black little creature having the time of his life. And so it was that he had a second bath today.

Sarah and Matthew were blessed to go swimming next door with a friend, while Daniel stayed home and wailed to the world about the unfairness of life. In an effort to console him, I ditched my duties for an hour and we chilled out on the couch playing Mario Kart together. He creamed me of course, but he was giggling and having a great time, with perceived injustices quickly forgotten. He has the most contagious giggle!

I've also been working on my entertainment business all day, designing new business cards and working on an official website (because, let's face it, a Facebook page just isn't professional enough). After running through mazes of technical jargon way over my head, I was about ready to gauge out my own eyeballs rather than deal with website development again. Luckily I'll be able to swap services with friends to fix this problem-o. A fairy party with all the bells and whistles for them (a few hours of face painting, a magic show, balloon twisting, party games, and craft time with a gift for the birthday girl) and one basic website for me. Fantastic!

Packages have been arriving all day as I prepare for the July Fourth festival. It's the busiest day of the year for me. (I hear you saying, "Wha-?" in a confused sort of way.  Yeah, evidently Independence Day is synonymous with Americana body art to openly display a patriotic spirit. /Shrug./  Works for me!) This is the most grueling work day of the year for me: with a 15-hour work shift in the blazing summer heat of Texas, bending over ALL DAY to paint faces. But- the pay is great.  It's amazing what grandparents will pay to indulge their Littles on such a fleeting staple of childhood celebration. 

It's like Christmas, getting a new package every day this week. I"m stocking up on patriotic glitter tattoo stencils, new face paint colors, snazzy balloons for twisting, and new magic tricks. I'm rubbing my hands in glee over the magic tricks. I can't wait to use them in a magic show! SO fun! I'm learning that performing magic shows are WAY more interesting to me than balloon twisting. 

Sarah and I made a really late-night run to town to pick up all the camp supplies on our list. The grocery store was virtually dead (it was almost midnight after all...) which made it a really low-key shopping trip for us. At the store was a family with two tired little girls up waaay past their bedtime. They were so ready to go home, and the parents were equally frustrated. 

I whipped out some nifty Mardi Gras beads from my pockets and quickly twisted beensy little poodles for the girls to keep. Problem solved. The girls left my side skipping and carefully cradling bright purple poodles one inch tall. The parents shot me grateful parting glances and thanked me. The poodles are SO cute and will never pop like a balloon dog. I carry these beads everywhere now- you never know when you'll come across a cranky child needing a bit of sunshine. 

It's been a very busy and very happy day. Tomorrow is even more crazy. First thing in the morning, I load my car with party supplies before heading into town to pick up a friend. I'm taking her to the temple in San Antonio- her heart needs the powerful peace and hope that only the Lord can give to a grieving heart. After a session there, I'm racing back up to our neck of the woods to change out of Sunday best clothing into my clowning costume. I'll be heading directly to a Mad Hatter birthday party to perform a silly magic show and face paint dozens of gorgeous darling girls. The party ends just in time for me to drive across town and kidnap a friend for an evening girls' night. Whew! 

Ah! Time's up! Have a lovely night! Mwah!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Miss Holly Honeysuckle

I finally took some pictures of my fairy character for parties. Sarah was so obliging to snap photos for me this afternoon.

The costume is still a work in progress, but here's what I have made so far:


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pantry Raider

This is what I found in the kitchen today.

Diego has been learning that he is a creature of action, able to independently make things happen. Sometimes it's really cute. Like today. I just couldn't be mad. I mean,  just look at him- he's trying so hard to get the last snack out of that darn container. His body posture is so indicative of this struggle- his back arched just so, head tilted far back, and chubby tummy sticking out. So cute.

He is saying the cutest words. "Deek doo" is how he says 'Thank you". "Dah-yo" is "Daniel".

When I hear his beensy voice say actual words, my heart feels tugged. It's so fun to watch him learn and grow.

At prayer time he gives the simplest little prayers with his chubby arms folded snugly across his chest. He says "Hevly Fada (Heavenly Father), Deek dee foh food (Thank thee for food.) Pea bessit (Please bless it.) Name Cheesah Kise (Name of Jesus Christ), Amen." When he reaches the end of the prayer, he says "Amen" triumphantly with a flair of his arms, then he giggles, "Diddit!" (I did it!)

He loves to read. For five minutes or so. That's okay, I don't mind reading the same first 10 pages of  "The Cat in the Hat" every day until he slides out my lap to play. Some day he'll hear how it ends.

He's very active, but very happy and enthusiastic in a contagious way. He's always so excited to go somewhere, it doesn't matter where. He marches away with a sense of purpose, swinging his arms and looking for something new.

Today we went to the library for an educational show about science. The audience was riveted on the performer, except for Diego. With great joy he discovered the rocks under his shoes (we were in an outdoor pavilion) were the perfect size for little fists to throw. He'd squeal "whee!" and throw the rocks high in the air and watch them fall from the sky.

When that became boring (after a good long 15  minutes or so) he set off to explore the fields adjacent to the pavilion. We found all sorts of wildflowers and bugs and  -Gasp! Would you believe it?!-  more rocks. Diego was so surprised and delighted to find more rocks this far away from his stash in the pavilion. It was pretty funny to watch his reaction.

Sometimes I get tired of following him around, keeping him safe from his own ignorance. But I hope to always remember his thirst for adventure. I hope he never loses this excitement in discovering new things.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Balloon Jam

Matthew arrived home from Cub Scout Day Camp all sweaty, muddy, and smelling of repeated applications of sunscreen. Instead of resting, I whisked him away for a Mother-Son date. We had been looking forward to this date all week.

We drove into Austin for a Balloon Jam, where we met several pros with amazing talent and learned all night until our heads popped. (Pun totally intended).

(Quick side note: Matthew has been learning balloon twisting for the past month so he can do party entertainment as a high school job rather than working a stereotypical fast-food job. (Even though I used to manage a McDonald's restaurant in college, I am adamant that my kids will never work in fast-food.) He's already accompanied me to a party to get experience with clients. He has the funnest clown costume. Oh, I forgot to mention his birthday party. Remember the Messy Party? Matt dressed up in his costume at the end and twisted balloons for all his friends. They thought it was the coolest thing ever. Wowzahs, this is a big tangent. Let's get back on track.)

So. This outing was a nice excursion to pump up our twisting skills.

It was such a great evening to learn tips and tricks from experienced professionals and get inspired by their creativity. I have such a long way to go in my ballooning skills, but I felt very encouraged by everyone there.

Check out some twisters at work:

By the end of the night the floor was carpeted with balloons. It was such a sight!

The energy was great and I was touched by the generosity of a few of the twisters who mentored me all night and offered invaluable advice. They were so patient in explaining the 'boring basics' to me and helping me grow. I felt like a sponge soaking it all up! Thank you so much everyone for helping me learn!

Matthew was pleased to meet a couple other kid-twisters at the Jam. He had worried he'd be the only child there. Matt was really impressed with their skills and felt empowered in his own twisting attempts. 

Here are Matt's favorite balloons from the night. He managed to fit them all in the backseat of our car to bring home. 

I really love this Air Guitar. -smirk- What a fun balloon for boys! 

It was such a fun night for the two of us, and we stayed out entirely too late (especially after a long hot day at cub scout day camp!). We were really exhausted by the time we crawled into bed, but it was totally worth it.

We eagerly look forward to the next Balloon jam, and didn't mind getting up at 6am the next morning with only 6 hours of sleep for another day of Scout Camp.