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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Open Windows of Heaven

I'm not sure how to format this post, so I'm just writing it as a journal entry. I don't have time to polish this one, so you get the pleasure of reading it in its raw form. (Lucky you! Okay, I'm totally sarcastic there.)

Yesterday I made the long drive into our old stomping grounds in Round Rock. Oh! It was so nostalgic to drive the streets where we used to live! The familiar sights flooded my mind with fond memories. We really loved that town and were happy to have a chance to revisit. We had a full day of errands ahead of us.

We dropped off our van at the Toyota service center. We've had a couple of problems with our van and wanted to check it out in the hopes that the repairs might be covered by our warranty. The electrical system was having issues, and so was the fuel tank. There was a $112 diagnostics fee, but the if the repairs were covered by warranty then we wouldn't have to pay anything. It was a bit of a gamble, since we had to have a mechanic diagnose the problem before we could find out if it was even going to be covered.

I was not interested in hanging out with four children in a tiny repair shop waiting room, so we loaded up a stroller and walked a couple of blocks to the local movie theater. I thought it was such a clever idea to pass our time watching a movie rather than being bored in a sterile waiting room. I also thought it would reflect better for the repair shop to NOT have several energetic or noisy children mingling with a dozen other customers.

We met up with some dear friends (fondly called the Herdpeople) from our previous congregation and enjoyed a movie together. It was SO delightful to catch up on each others' lives and share joy in our accomplishments over the past two years. I love the special kinship that is forged between sisters in Christ. It was such a special time for us.

After the movie, we returned to the service center to get a status update on the van. The receptionist located our vehicle, and it was waiting in a parking lot. What?! I asked why on earth it wasn't in the shop, and she explained that they have a unique way of prioritizing their work. Owners who wait onsite get their vehicles serviced before owners who just drop off a vehicle. They estimated that I had a 5 hour wait time left.

Oh, I was sorely disappointed to hear this. I had just wasted two hours attending a theater, and we don't usually splurge to go to movies. I related the news to Teresa (who had driven us over to the shop from the theater) as I climbed into her vehicle.

As we began to drive away, and she said, "You know, that is really bad customer service if they didn't inform you upfront that dropping off a vehicle would increase wait times. You drove an hour just to get here in the first place, and you have four children with you. You were being thoughtful by taking your children off-site. Now two hours of your time is wasted, and the money you wouldn't have normally spent at the theater is also wasted. This isn't right and they shouldn't treat you like that. You should go talk to a manager and ask them to bump your vehicle to the front of the line."

I agreed with her, so we flipped a U-turn and drove back to the shop. I did speak with the manager.

For 30 minutes, actually.

He was very nice about it all and apologized for the inconvenience. He also offered to waive our diagnostics fee even if we didn't choose to have the repairs done. I didn't expect that offer at all, and expressed my sincere gratitude for his kindness. Our van had been moved to the shop and was being looked at while we spoke, so there was no forecast yet of the repair costs.

I assured him that we only wanted the repairs done if they were covered by the warranty and asked him to call and confirm any work orders before executing them, then departed.

Two hours later I was notified that our van was ready. That was much faster than I expected, so I assumed they had found the problems and not done the work. When I arrived to pick up our keys, I was directed to the managers office again.

After welcoming me back, he shared the discovery of our problems. The electrical panel needed to be replaced, and that would cost a whopping $800 for just the parts. The fuel tank had a foreign object in it that needed to be removed, and that work was priced at just above $100.

The bad news was that our warranty had just recently expired, and these services were no longer covered.

With a resigned heart, I thanked him for the diagnosis and tried to explain that we would not be having the repairs made. Before I could say more than two words, he said that they had already done the work and the van was in perfect order again.

Oh my. 

Luckily my jaw didn't hit the ground, but my heart did skip a beat. My mind was racing a bit wondering why on earth they hadn't called me to confirm any work orders. How could they have possibly misunderstood my directions?

My mind ran through a priority list of where I would have much rather spent $1000: Sarah's orthodontic work, or repairing our garage, or replacing our ancient AC unit who has been struggling on its last legs for 2 years now.

Before I could say anything, he smiled and said, "Don't worry. We are taking care of everything. We called the Toyota headquarters and received a new free part for your electrical system. And I'll take care of paying the mechanics for their time. We wanted you to know that we value you as a customer and want to take care of you. We apologize for the misunderstandings this morning and really wanted to make things right. We really felt like helping your family."

I couldn't help myself. I quietly teared up as I tried to express my sincere appreciation for his generosity. I never ever expected something like this to happen. I felt so humble and so grateful.

After wiping my eyes, I spoke. "I don't know if you are a religious person or not, but I want you to know that you answered my prayers today. I have been praying over our finances and our vehicle repairs. I can't tell you enough how thankful I am for your generosity!"

The managers eyes were wet, and he said, "I am a very religious person. I pray every day and I felt like the Lord wanted me to bless your family in this way today. I am touched to know that this service answered a prayer. Thank you for sharing that with me, and may God continue to bless you."

I felt the Spirit there, in the mechanics shop, and both of our hearts were touched.

I thanked him profusely as I exited the building and collected my van. My van was even freshly washed, so it looked like new.

(That's not quite the end. There is another part to this story.)

When I returned to my children, I asked them, "Do you remember when we worked so hard on the Fourth of July and made a lot of money? Do you remember how I felt like I should donate a lot of it to the Lord to use in helping His hungry children in other countries? Do you remember talking about how hard that was for me and how tempted I was to keep it and use it for our house repairs or our summer vacation costs?"

Three heads nodded quietly in the backseat.

"Heavenly Father has truly blessed us with more than we gave Him! The prophet Malachi says, "Prove me  now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it." This verse was perfectly illustrated in our lives today. The Lord worked a miracle and blessed us with repairs that cost more than the amount I donated to Him. This is a perfect example of His promise. When we give anything to the Lord, he always blesses us with more than we had in the first place."

I bore my testimony that I knew the Lord was watching over us and was pleased that we shared our material blessings with others who were struggling to survive. I testified that He was aware of our needs, and was able to use another righteous person to answer our prayers. I shared my gratitude for the manager, and emphasized how important it is for us to be in tune to the Holy Spirit so we can be instruments in the Lords hands in answering prayers of people around us. 

It was a beautiful and powerful teaching moment for my children. I am still humbled by this marvelous gift. 

The Lord is so generous with us in so many ways. I feel keenly my inadequacy and don't feel like I truly deserved this gift. 

I hope to be worthy of these blessings as I strive once again to be a better person. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Random Updates

Yikes- there's so much going on I always feel like I"m behind schedule on this blog! In a quick slew of stories, here are the updates on our farm:

1- We have officially decided to home school Sarah again. She is simultaneously ecstatic and relieved, and I am gearing up for the upcoming school year. We've been researching several curriculum options and hammering out a game plan. We've chosen to do an online math course (since that's my weakest subject in teaching home school) and boy am I looking forward to that! Our enrichment classes include: Spanish, Painting with Acrylics, and Guitar. We found some fantastic online guitar lessons (she's already practicing guitar each day for 30 minutes with this course) taught by professional musicians through video instruction. So far it's a winner in my book. It's a big motivator that she wants to be like her favorite music artist, Taylor Swift. We also found several free instructional Spanish programs online, and I'll be teaching the art class. That brings me to #2.

2- I'm teaching two weekly art classes at our local library during the fall semester. We have a large home school community out here and there's been a lot of encouragement from them to teach group painting lessons. So I am. The local library (which is the COOLEST library ever- just in case you wondered. Small-town librarians who know everyone by name are worth their weight in gold.) is hosting each class onsite. It works out perfectly well- the library has story time and craft time the same days I teach art. This allows younger siblings to be entertained while older students attend my class. There is also a playground right next to the library, so there's plenty of space for kids to play. I'm looking forward to this new experience. Sarah will be attending one of the classes for her Art elective each week. During the other class, she will be either entertaining Diego in the library or doing school work at home while he naps.

3- The Fourth of July was a doozy of a work day. It's always the busiest day of the year for me. This year I hired Sarah and Matthew to work the booth with me. Sarah was the line manager, so her job was really important. She would talk to people in line, find out what patterns people wanted,.and group them according to color choice so I could line up several people and paint them all at once. She would also lay out the glitter tattoo supplies with a stencil, glue, brushes, and glitters of the customers choice so everything was within hands-reach when I was ready for them. She was amazing at this job and surprised me several times with her work ethic. She did way better than any teenager I've hired in the past. She was confident and assertive and 'in the groove' for 12 hours in the Texas heat! I was so impressed I gave her a raise on her hourly wages. Twice.

Matthew also did a fantastic job at money-handling for me all day. His love of math was very useful here and he worked very hard. With Sarah and Matt doing the busy-work, I was free to just paint all day long. I'd line up children and paint them all at the same time. At one point we had 12 little girls getting butterfly masks, all lined up in my tent getting painted simultaneously. Parents loved this setup and took many pictures to share online. Score! Several customers were also impressed with our efficient system and tipped the children extra.

It was a very long, grueling day that went from 6am-11pm. But it was so successful. We had several prayers answered that day. For starters, I only had 5 hours of sleep the night before due to a cranky baby. And I had migraine symptoms starting early in the morning. Boy was I worried! I really needed to be on top of my game that day, so I fervently prayed for the Lord's help so I could be healthy and have enough energy. The day was marvelous and proceeded without a glitch. I was busy the entire time (No chance for even a bathroom break all day! Yikes!) and broke my previous festival records. We brought in over $100/hour during the entire festival! Thank goodness! Now we can finance our travel to the Kingsley family reunion next month in Delaware.

Nathan and the younger boys came to the festival to visit us in the afternoon. He came bearing gifts of frozen treats- oh baby was that perfect! He's so thoughtful! They stayed to watch the performances and the fire works show, then Nate made breaking down the booth and cleaning up trivially easy. He also offered to assist a nearby vendor who was working alone. The guy gave Nathan more than a case load of local honey! There's GALLONS of premium honey in there! This was another answer to prayer. I had been asking the Lord to help us find thrifty ways to improve our food storage. This box of honey represents well over $100 of product. We feel extremely blessed to say the least.

After the fireworks show, the kids and I made our annual trek to an IHOP for a midnight meal. We were exhausted (remember, I did a 16-hour work day, STANDING all day in 105 degree weather with only 5 hours of sleep!) but enjoyed this traditional way of ending the Fourth of July. This was the only picture we caught of the entire day:

Don't we look just lovely?!

This number on the updates list has gotten a bit out of control and is very long-winded, so let's move on.

4- In my efforts to move away from big-brand breakfast cereals, I recently started experimenting with granola recipes again. ( This was a bit scary...I've never had granola turn out well in the past.)

But this year it worked! I finally found a recipe I love and can modify however I want for different flavors/textures. I've made six huge batches of granola so far with the following winning combos-
Raisins, coconut, oats, almonds, sunflower seed
Dried blueberries, coconut, oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds
Dried bananas, coconut, oats, almonds, cashews

(Can you tell how much I LOVE coconut?! It's in everything!)

We all really love this granola and eat it for breakfast with milk or sprinkled on granola, or just plain. It's super yummy and really healthy and tastes like a special treat.

Next on my list is:
Dried apples, cinnamon and cloves, oats, almonds, coconut, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds (I can just imagine the nice autumnal flavors!)
Dried bananas, oats, almonds, coconut, dried pineapple, dried mango, sunflower seeds, coconut oil

5- Yeah....and now it's midnight. I'm up entirely too late. The kids and I stayed up to play several card games together, with a giant bowl of popcorn in the middle of the table. After they went to bed an hour ago, I started researching home school textbooks and time ran away with me. We have a busy work day scheduled for tomorrow- with lots of projects around the property to work on (installing water lines to the chicken coop, cleaning up the property outside, repairing water lines to the goat pasture, and doing several miscellaneous repairs around the house....oh, and making bread.)

I hope your weekend is absolutely lovely!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Late night Date night

Today my husband called  me on the phone and asked me to catch the 4:45 train heading into Downtown Austin. He said he'd meet me in transit, then we'd continue to the last station where we'd have a date night. Everything was a surprise and I had no idea what to expect. What a fun way to start a date!

It was so fun to have a date with the unknown. 

First off, we headed to an upscale sushi restaurant. This was my first time ever visiting a sushi restaurant. (I adore sushi, but we always either buy it at our local grocery store's sushi counter or we make it at home.) We  happened to arrive during Happy Hour (which made the sushi affordable in the first place!) so we ordered a couple of appetizers and sushi rolls to try. Oh. My. Gosh. This sushi was absolutely delicious! I more fully appreciated the art of sushi-making after tasting these tempting morsels. It was really amazing, and I savored every mouthful with a smile on my face. It's interesting to note how good food can powerfully affect my mood. 

We walked around the corner to a fun oil and vinegar store. The entire place is lined with rows and rows of gourmet vinegars and flavored oils. It was such fun to taste everything and marvel over the intense flavors. Some of my faves were mango vinegar, maple balsamic vinegar, and dark chocolate balsamic vinegar. It was such a treat to mix our own flavor blends and test them out (chili oil and mango vinegar taste AMAZING by the way). We indulged in buying beensy bottles of white truffle oil and dark chocolate balsamic vinegar. We wrapped them carefully in paper and stowed them in my purse for the rest of the night. I am salivating just thinking about them!

Next on the list was a stop to a modern haberdashery. We had a lovely time admiring all the different styles and trying them on wishfully. I'm so tickled hats are coming back into fashion, even if they are expensive. They just look so classy. I did need a sun hat to protect my face when I work outdoors on our farm, so we found a lovely pink hat with a wide floppy brim in the clearance section. It's perfect. My old straw hat was two years old and is finally biting the dust after years of use. I'm delighted to have a washable hat now. 

With a hat bag in tow, we strolled up Congress Avenue to the Hideout Theater in time to catch a rendition of Shakespeare's, "Much Ado About Nothing". The acting troupe did this show with a modern twist and it was jaw-droppingly funny. The new interpretations were absolutely hilarious! Nathan and I had such a lovely time and are looking forward to another date night there in the future. 

After emerging from the theater, we headed to a live music scene to catch some jazz performers. This was interesting. It was in a downstairs bar, which had a very low-light, moody feel with red candles providing the only illumination. The building was packed, but we managed to find some seats. The only seats we could find were on the front row, next to the saxophone player. The music was engaging and it was fascinating to watch the musicians improvise onstage. 

Even though I love jazz music, this place was terribly bothersome. The atmosphere was too 'dark' feeling and I was pretty uncomfortable the entire time. My discomfort had nothing to do with the wooden chair I sat upon- it was entirely spiritual discomfort. This is not the type of place I like to linger, but I couldn't put my finger on what exactly was bothering my soul about it. 

Even though I felt uncomfortable, I felt like I had to stay a little while because we had paid the cover fee to enter in the first place. After listening to music for about 30 minutes, Nate and I agreed to go. I was shocked to discover how elated I felt when we walked towards the door. It was the oddest thing- as if my soul had been chained and oppressed and now was finally free to frolic and fly away. It was an incredibly light and happy feeling to leave this place. Emerging onto the sidewalks outside I felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief. While we strolled back to the train station, Nate and I discussed our experience. I still couldn't define what had bothered me so much about the location, but I didn't need to hammer down all those little details to learn a lesson. The lesson itself is hard to define. I learned that even if I'm not even drinking alcohol, bar scenes don't feel 'right'. I'll not choose to visit one again. (Although you might think I should have learned that lesson the last time I visited a bar- dressed as a zombie during a zombie crawl. I had hoped it would be a better experience this time with  my sweetheart at my side, but the oppressive atmosphere was disappointingly the same.) I learned -again- that environmental settings can powerfully affect the Spirit (and lack of it). 

We caught the midnight train back home and arrived back to our little farm after 1:00 am. All in all, it was a very adventurous date night full of new experiences. I really loved exploring new places with my hot husband and holding hands everywhere we went. It was a life-enriching night for sure. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Saturday run-down, two days late

This morning we slept in until nine. That's pretty unheard of in this house....but we DID stay out for an uber-late date night last we didn't get home until close to 1am, and didn't get to bed until almost 2 am.Crazy, I know. I'm getting old and late nights don't work for me as well as they used to a decade ago.

Today Nathan and Daniel worked together to help a friend move into a new house (hurray for friends relocating to the countryside!). While they worked, I took Diego into town to pick up our order from Bountiful Baskets. (Haven't heard of Bountiful Baskets? Look it up in your area! It's great! We love getting a large box of produce for $25!) Today we also added a crate of peaches and another box of plums onto our order. I'm looking forward to peach jams, peach smoothies, dehydrated peach fruit snacks, and peach cobbler. Mmm!

I love the sense of community at this place. The produce truck pulls up and all the volunteers band together to unload pallets full of produce boxes. Then we helped divide everything into baskets. Diego was trying so hard to be helpful, carrying a basket down the line to collect veggies. While we waited in line to collect our produce, Diego quickly became bored. So when he found a stray piece of broccoli on the sidewalk, I started doing magic tricks with it. He'd wave his little fists over my hand and say, "Abra Dabra!" We made it disappear into thin air and reappear from his ear or his bellybutton. He loved it, and time passed much more quickly.

On the way home we stopped at the farm supply store to pick up chicken food. Our farm supply store is so eclectic...I always intend to do a blog post all about it, but never remember to take a camera along with me.

Right at the front door is a large watering trough full of baby chicks for sale. Diego loves to stand on his tiptoes, peek over the edge of the container, and wave hello to the 'chickees'.

When we brought home the chicken grains, Diego loved helping feed the flock. I call to the birds and they come running to us from every corner of the property: flying over fences, descending from tree branches, leaping over tufts of grass in the meadows. It's really fun. Diego loves to thrust his hands deeply into the large sack of grains and throw them exuberantly into the air. It's his favorite chore to help with.

For lunch we headed into our little town to enjoy lunch with several friends at our local diner. This little nugget is a-MAZE-ing. People drive all the way out here from Austin to eat at this place. That's saying a lot, since there's really not much else to do in our town other than this. Dahlia's has wonderful food with a small-town, rustic atmosphere.

There's also an outdoor play area for children, which makes it really appealing for us. While we wait for tables, we "Toss Washers" outside.

While we waited, Diego found the resident cat and decided he was happy to just hang out with it. 

This evening our family all worked outside together for over 4 hours. The children raked several large piles of leaves (including a massive pile that was born by combining 5 other piles....this was their fort the rest of the evening). I used several wagon-loads of leaves to mulch our fruit orchard while Nathan constructed another raised-bed for our veggie garden. Then we worked together to move 6 wagon loads of dirt into the new garden bed. Sarah was a darling and repeatedly brought out ice water for us (it was pretty hot and definitely over 100 degrees while we worked).

While I watered the orchard with a hand-held hose, the kids played water games with me. I taught them some games from my childhood. It's called "Water Doors", and it's a game I have fond memories of. I spray the water in an arc to create a 'door', and the kids try to run through it without getting very wet. To make things more fun, most of the 'doors' are opening and closing rapidly, which happens when I flick my wrist to make the arcing water move. So they have to time their run just right, or they'll get sprayed. It's really fun and makes watering the trees much more pleasant. Our pomegranate trees both have fruit, and so do our jujube trees. As a girl from Idaho, it seems wildly exotic to me to have my own pomegranate trees.

As the sun set, we moved our work to the pasture. After watering the goat herd, I tried to segregate the does from the boys. Bringing buckets of alfalfa pellets, the children helped feed our pregnant does, who are named Rosemary and Paparika.  It was really neat to watch Paparika's sides move as her babies kicked. We're hoping to see little kids in late October.

Anyway- there's our Saturday wrap up!

Reading is Magic

I've been looking for ways to share my talents to improve the world in little ways. After a lot of thought, I decided to branch into educational magic shows, where I can use humor and magic to teach a positive message. 

Last month I spent a lot of time writing an educational magic show for schools and libraries that would encourage kids to read more. Here's the official description of my show from the library entertainer's directory: 

Sunny Blossom's high-energy silly magic show is full of physical comedy, crazy costuming, and large doses of audience participation. She has entertained at corporate events, schools, and private parties. Her educational magic shows cover topics such as reading and anti-bullying. Her "Reading is Magic" show encourages children to read while taking them on silly adventures through several books in all the genres of a library, teaches students how to take care of library books, and encourages them to broaden their literary horizons.

My first public performance of the "Reading is Magic" show went really well. The audience was marvelous and participated very well. 

It was hosted outdoors on a hot day, so I wasn't able to wear my hat and wig....I need to find something more lightweight to wear on my head on situations like this. Ah well- I'll fix that soon.

Check out some glimpses of the show in action:

I use a trick with beensy scarves to lay out the rules for behavior in a silly, engaging way. It involved a game, lots of laughter, and a surprise trick ending. 

We explored several types of books, with magic tricks to accompany each one. We went through fiction, nonfiction, fairy tales, chapter books, reference books, poetry, biographies, and recreational books. 

The audience really loved the magic coloring book, and it's such a funny act to perform. It's full of audience participation and giggles. I'm surprised how long we can stretch this trick out. The kids just LOVE erasing the colors over and over again, then helping me magically color the pages back in. 

Of course I use lots of gag wands that all do something silly. Here is a glimpse of the 'broken wand' during our Fractured Fairy Tales part of the show. Every time I hand it to my helper, it breaks and the audience laughs. I 'fix' it and hand it back over and over again, then it refuses to work for me at all. 

I dress up my helpers with costumes whenever possible, which is loads of fun for the kids. Here is a shot of my helper dressed as Prince Charming to help Cinderella get to the royal ball. 

This is a glimpse of my Vanishing Milk trick. It's really funny, and the kids LOVE the costuming for this one. 

Pictures just don't convey much. You can't see how funny it is, so I'm sharing a video clip of the act performed by a different magician, the famous Silly Billy.You can see the act here:

The show lasted one hour, and I had a fantastic time performing it. It's so fun to be silly onstage and make kids laugh. Once they start laughing, it's really easy to make them laugh again. The energy from the audience is really invigorating and it takes me back to my high school years when I performed in plays and in Competitive Drama. This is WAY more fun than competition drama since the judges are easy to please and are eager to adore you. 

Even the big kids were laughing and enjoying themselves. I even had a couple big teenage boys eagerly volunteering to help in the show, so they came up together for a silly act where we pump water out of a boy's elbow. 

The worst part was choosing a helper from the audience for each trick. I wish I could include everyone onstage, and feel so bad for the kids who don't get picked. This is part of the reason why I include large amounts of audience participation where the entire audience gets involved. They all throw pixie dust at me, or wave their fingers to help with the magic, or yell out answers when I'm bumbling onstage and messing up a story. 

For example, during the Cinderella story, I mess up details in the story and they correct me. I say things like, "And who came to save the day? The Easter Bunny appeared in the garden with his magic wand and waved it in the air-" The kids interrupt with giggles and yell out, "Noooo! It was the Fairy Godmother!!!" I smack my forehead and agree with them, then say, "That's right! The Fairy Godmother appeared, waved her wand, and said: Scooby-scooby-doo!" The kids shriek in laughter and yell out, "Bippidy-boppidy-boo!". 

The entire show is full of fun script like that where the kids are participating. It's really fun and they love it. 

Any time I do a public appearance, I bring lots of simple prizes to pass out to the audience if they can tell me the magic words from my facebook page.  I always post a magic phrase on the site for audiences to find. It's a fun way of advertising my party services and the families love getting a prize to keep as a memento of the show. 

After the show I had a huge line of kids eager to whisper the magic words to me. Several families asked to take pictures with me and many kids waited in line just to give me a hug and say "Thanks for the magic show! I loved it so much!"

I had been so stressed about this show, even though I've performed for several large groups. This was the first time doing my "Reading is Magic" show and a couple of the tricks arrived so late in the mail that I didn't have time to practice with them in private before going onstage. That could have been a humiliating disaster. Whew! There was no colossal failures and all went well.

The librarians were very generous with their praise and compliments after the show, and encouraged me to pursue this branch of my business more aggressively. They claimed I was more polished and more funny than any other magician they've hired- that is SO encouraging!

They are putting my info onto a state-wide directory of performers for all librarians to access. They are also including a great review of the show. I'm so thankful it went well and I'm even more thankful for their help in spreading my name around to other libraries.

Really though, all the credit goes to the Lord. I'm trying really hard to not let the praise go to my head and inflate my ego, and I'm trying to find ways to serve the community through these performances.

Anyway, it was a great day, and I was SO relieved that the show was well-received.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Last Days of DI Summer Camp

Yikees, these are long overdue! 

Here are the glimpses of our last two days of Summer Camp.

The girls finally had their turn with the power tools. They did such a great job building their projects.

The boys and girls both spent another day finishing their candy dispensers after taking home the pieces and sanding them thoroughly. 

The tire swing was always a big hit during the lunch break, and the kids begged Nathan to push them really high each day. 

The kids enjoyed painting their finished candy dispensers. There were lots of creative ideas happening here. 

Each team made stick puppets for homework, then wrote a story to incorporate all the characters. They enjoyed presenting their puppet shows to each other.  

We played lots of outdoor games, including this fun one. It's called, "Giants, Wizards and Elves" and is basically a fun twist on the "Rock, Paper, Scissors" game. 

After rescuing the imprisoned bears from the evil dragon the first day of camp, the kids took the bears home to dress up however they wished. The creative costumes that came back were delightful! There was a suit and top hat made entirely of paper, dresses sewn with care, a king with a beensy toothpick sword, a tribesman with marker war paint and a spear made from a skewer, and lots of duct tape clothing of various sorts. It was SO neat to see what the kids created. 

We played fun group games like "Bang!" during recess time. 

There was also a fun challenge where teams tried to throw Cheetos onto a team member's head, which was covered in shaving cream. They thought this was super fun.

Next we had shaving games. The kids smeared shaving cream on their faces and 'shaved' it off with a wooden popsicle stick. This was super fun, and of course ended up as a a big shaving cream war. 

We played lots of parachute games in our meadow.  

Teams worked together to design and build a statue out of cardboard boxes and other materials.

The boys decided to build a Creeper from the Minecraft game, then they added elements to turn it into a Creeper of Liberty.


 One of the team races was a water-balloon challenge. Students had to move the water balloon to the finish line without touching it with their hands. These are some of the ways they solved that problem:

For the next race they had to move it with two people touching it, but neither one of them could use their hands. 

We learned lots of neat things this week and had a good time making new friendships. We met really amazing kids, and are really excited to spend the upcoming year working with these kids on our competitive DI team!