Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shawnee Lake Swim Beach

This week we visited the swimming beach at Shawnee Lake for the first time. I've always been a little afraid of lake water so this was a day to stretch myself, especially since I was the only adult involved. I was very impressed and a little sorry that we've been missing out for so long. The beach is very reasonably priced at $2 a person, and 3 and under are FREE. The place was busy enough, but not so many people that we didn't have enough room to roam around. Gabe absolutely loved the slides. They have two slides to choose from and practically no wait in line. He spent the entire afternoon alternating between the two.



The only downside to the slides, you must be a certain height to participate. I know it's for the safety of the kids, but try telling that to a two year old little brother. Zech was deeply disappointed that he could not ride the slides, or jump into the fun pools at the bottom. For awhile it was just torturing him to watch Gabriel having so much fun.

Gabriel said the long slide was not as much fun as the other one, but that really didn't stop him from repeatedly trying it out. He enjoyed running back and forth between the two.



Once Zech finally realized he couldn't play on the slide, he was determined to have his own afternoon of swimming bliss. He loved that he could just walk into the water, splash and kick his feet, and just about do whatever he wanted there.



The swimming beach is quite large, and we were able to spread out as much as we needed to. This spot was fun for Gabriel because of the overhead sprinkler. You can't really see it very well in a picture, but it's a lot of fun to run under or just play in.



After Gabe realized Zech really wasn't too interested in playing with him, he figured he was off the hook and could run back over to the slides. They were definitely the highlight of his experience at the beach.



My mother and I switched kids for the day, so I had Mikaela in place of Ariel. She was not feeling like take a swim, but seemed to enjoy just sun bathing. I thought she might be getting hot and need a little cool off.


One of the great aspects of swimming in the lake is the MUD! You can get as dirty as you want, and then just run over and wash yourself off. There's no need to try to keep everything clean. Mikaela started a mud fight with Zechariah, and he thoroughly enjoyed himself.




As our afternoon was coming to a close, Zechariah discovered his freedom in the water. He was thrilled to find that he could just walk and walk and walk. He didn't have any fear of the water getting deeper or covering his head, he just thought the ground would always be there for him to walk along. I had to rescue him a few times and every time he would just go back and do the same thing. I was amazed at how little he feared the water. Normally he is so timid, but this time he was like a little warrior going out to fight with the water.


After many rescues, I decided the fun had ended and we needed to head home for a nap. The swim beach was a very nice addition to our summer fun, and we will probably be scheduling another trip out there with dad before the summer officially ends.

Life is so good, and I love what we are making of it!

Priceless

its tough being little

Saturday, July 10, 2010

God is WOW

Recently one of the youth at our church used this phrase in describing the awesomeness of God. God is WOW! I completely agree with him. Sometimes God is so amazing that you really can't even put it into words. You are just left with the awe.

This afternoon Ariel and I were due for a girl date. We had been apart while she was at camp all week long, and I needed some time alone with my daughter. It didn't have to be something big and elaborate, just something the two of us could do. We decided it was time for a shopping trip to the mall.

I needed some new hand soap for the bathrooms, and I love to shop at Bath and Body Works. They were having their buy 3 hand soaps, get 3 free sale. The perfect time for us to go. Before we went into the store, we got a coupon for a free lip balm with the purchase of $10. So right away we knew we were going to get some great deals.

As we were standing in line at the register, Ariel noticed this anti-bacterial hand soap in the shape of a cute little duck. Immediately she knew she had to have it. We checked the price and it was only $6. She was calculating how long it was going to take to work for that $6. Every Saturday we have a few jobs the kids can do to earn a dollar at. Ariel had already done her job this morning so she figured she would only need another $5. We were discussing whether or not I could find some other jobs around the house for her to do maybe this week, because she just had to have that duck! She also voiced a little concern because there were only 3 ducks left, what if she didn't get the money fast enough??

When it was our turn at the register, the lady told us, "I've never seen this happen before. The lady in front of you wanted you to have this duck. She left me $7 so you could buy it." We quickly turned around, tears in our eyes, wanting to know who this lady was? I saw no one, and didn't even remember who I was waiting in line behind. God is so WOW. We were both just overwhelmed with emotion. I started crying. I couldn't help myself. Here is a woman in the store, she has no idea who we are, but she wanted my daughter to have that duck. She must have heard our conversation and wanted to be a blessing to us. Ariel said she's going to keep the duck forever, and named it "Blessed," because that's exactly how we felt.

Now that probably was one of the nicest things I've had happen to me in a long time, but God wasn't even finished yet. The lady at the register rang up our items, including the duck, and our free lip balm, and then went on to say, "You're really going to love me, because I have a coupon for you too. You can choose one of the lotions or body washes from our Signature Collection." My original reason for shopping at Bath and Body Works was to look for a matching lotion to go with some Suave body wash I had bought at Walmart the week before. I loved the scent and on the bottle it said it was compared to Bath and Body Works. But when I checked it out, it was $10.50 and I just didn't think I could spare the money. It's so easy to buy things when you need them, but it's hard to buy yourself something just for the fun of it. I didn't think it was necessary, so I talked myself out of getting the bottle of lotion. So when that women said I got to choose one for free, I about started sobbing at the counter. How could God be so good? Sometimes it's just beyond my understanding. I was able to see that he would want to bless my daughter, but even to go so far to give me something special too? God is so WOW!

When Ariel and I finally left the store with all our goodies, we were in awe, just plain shock and awe. We brought along some coupons we had for free Chick-Fil-A ice cream cones. When I gave the coupon to the man there, he informed us they were out of cones, and would it be okay if he just put it in a cup? We told him of course that was fine. I mean how can we be choosey when it's free? That man found two cups and proceeded to FILL THEM UP. We were supposed to get small ice cream cones, but these were extra large cups. Ariel and I ate half of our cups and couldn't even finish them!

We serve such an amazing God! He never ceases to amaze me!

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Ephesians 3:20 (The Message)

God is wow
Thank you, God, for today! You have done more than I ever could have imagined for myself, and I am grateful. You shower me with your love, and my cup overflows with your blessings. I love you, God!

Ariel's Back!

We are all full of smiles here, Ariel's Home! It seemed like the phone call would never come, but finally we heard the news. Ariel was 40 minutes away from home. We all rushed into the car, and headed to the church. We took up a good position so we would be the first to see the bus come driving down the road. It brought tears to my eyes, knowing my daughter was finally back. I couldn't wait to get that first hug and hear the news of what happened this past week.

Gabe couldn't wait to see Ariel too. On Thursday afternoon he told me he just couldn't walk by Ariel's door anymore. If he opened it up and saw that the room was empty again, it would make him too sad. He missed her so much!



We weren't left waiting for very long. As soon as the bus came to a stop, Ariel yelled hello out the window. She had some very exciting news for us too! She didn't even wait to get out of the bus to tell us her good news. "I spoke in tongues at camp!" It was so overwhelming to hear those words from her. I just knew that God had become real to her in such a big way. I can remember when I was just about her age, the same thing happened to me.

My family was very close to each other, and sometimes we would all gather in the living room and have a prayer meeting. We each could take turns saying what we wanted to pray about and my family would pray together. I can remember for a long time my request was always that I would be able to speak in tongues and be baptized by the Holy Spirit. We had lots of meetings, and it never happened for me. It was late one night, when my mom and dad were tucking me in to bed and saying my bedtime prayers with me, that it finally happened. I was so excited, I could hardly sleep that night. At that time my family cleaned the church building and the next day was a cleaning day. I wanted the world to know what happened to me that night. Before we left for cleaning I made a sandwich sign to wear. I didn't want anyone to miss out on my great news. My sign hung on the front of me, and the back of me saying, "I'm baptized in the Holy Spirit" The only people at church that day were the pastors, but they were touched by my enthusiasm. The next church service we had, I got to go in front of the whole church and share my news with everyone.

It was a very empowering experience for me, and I am so grateful that my daughter now understands my joy. It still today makes me cry; I'm so excited for her. I hope that she never forgets this day, but I pray that she will continue to seek God and praise Him for what He's done, and is doing for her. It's not just meant to be a one time experience, it's meant for a lifetime of praising Him.

"Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does. Give yourselves to the gifts God gives you. Most of all, try to proclaim his truth. If you praise him in the private language of tongues, God understands you but no one else does, for you are sharing intimacies just between you and him. But when you proclaim his truth in everyday speech, you're letting others in on the truth so that they can grow and be strong and experience his presence with you."
1 Corinthians 14:1-3 (The Message)


We planned a special "Welcome Home" party for Ariel. Gabriel was the mastermind behind the party which made it even more sweet. We filled the living room with different colored balloons, and rented a bird movie, "Up" to watch with our pizza. After the movie was over we all shared some chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, Ariel's favorite. Then the kids all got in their jammies and had a sleepover together on the pull-out couch.

We love you, Ariel! I'm so glad you're home!!!

It feels so good to all be together again. I pray that we all can remember just how important each of us are to one another.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dragon Times

If you haven't already guessed, I love themes! I like to give theme gifts, and I LOVE to plan theme days. This week we have been looking for special things to do each day while Ariel is away at camp. I didn't want Gabe to feel like he was missing out on anything, so we both put our heads together and came up with some fun stuff to do. On Monday we travelled to the library and found lots of new books and movies. Gabe was especially excited to find "Dear Dragon" books, one of his favorites to check out in kindergarten. We went through the whole entire shelf and took home every "Dear Dragon" book they had checked in.

We've been having a lot of rainy days lately, and that can make summer fun interesting to plan. We tried to be creative and come up with a fun rainy day activity. We started off the morning reading all the library books that Gabriel checked out. He has come a long way with reading already, and was able to make it through every single book without any help from mom on sounding out the words. Impressive!

dear dragon books




Zech just couldn't resist blowing raspberries at his brother.
He thinks he's pretty funny!



What an accomplishment! Gabe finished all his library books and worked up quite an appetite. He had the idea to make dragon food for lunch. We both came up with different parts of the yummy dragons. The eyes were made of yogurt covered raisins, and the spikes were triangles of bread. We added a few pretzel legs, and a body of rice. It was very good! Gabe even said the dragon turned out much better than he imagined.
dragon food rice

To complete our Dragon Day, we all checked out "How to Train Your Dragon" at the movie theater. It was a very cute film, and held the boys attention quite well. Zech only got restless for the last 30 minutes, but still managed to stay pretty quiet so mom didn't miss much of the movie.


We were happy to have our friend, Rachael, join us for the movie!


It was a very dragon filled day!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Traveler

It's an exciting week for our family, Ariel is off to camp. I think the excitement was much more Ariel's than the rest of ours. She was going off on an adventure, while the rest of us are left with a hole. We may try to go about our normal business, or we may try to fill the void with new things, or activities, but it doesn't change the fact that there is something big missing. It's my daughter, and nothing can replace her. I think it's always good for parents to be separate from their children, it helps them not take them for granted, and it just reminds us all of how much we need each other. God has blessed us greatly, being a family that loves each other.

I know Ariel is having the time of her life right now. She's off to church camp, playing games with her friends, spending her hard earned money at the snack bar, losing sleep staying up late talking, worshipping God and drawing closer to Jesus. I pray that even at the young age of eight, this will be a life changing experience for her. I can't wait to have her come back home to us and hear all about the wonders that happened at camp this summer.


After dropping Ariel off yesterday morning at the church, we all drove home just a little bit sad. We kept busying doing fun things together, but Ariel was still missed by all of us. Before going to bed last night, I found this card sitting on the computer desk. I just had to share it here, and we mailed it to the campground for Ariel to see. Gabriel just might have missed his sister most of all. They spend a great deal of the day arguing with each other, but it's very nice to know that when it really comes down to it, they love each other so much.

Translated: Dear Ariel, I hope that you have fun but
I miss you really really really really really really really
really really really really really really really really
much. I am sorry that you got
bit by that tick and that you can't
go on the zipline or the blob.
So cute! He must think she's sleeping in a tent at her camp!

Saying goodbye was not easy for any of us. I just pray that Ariel is having the time of her life, and that's she's forgotten all of us here. I don't want her to be homesick, I want her to have fun.




When I ask Zechariah where Ariel is at, his answer, "no, bus". He believes she's going to spend the entire week on the bus we waved goodbye to. And I bet when it's over we still won't be able to convince him differently. We'll go to pick her up at the church on Friday, and she will get off of the bus. Maybe Zech is the one who has it right!


We love you, Ariel!
I pray that your trip goes safely and is full of adventure. I pray that you will grow closer to God and all your friends.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things

We were getting ready to drive away from the house when Gabriel says to me, “Mom, can you just stop? I need to tell you something.” I turned around, with a smile on my face, waiting patiently to drive away, “Okay, Gabriel, what do you need?” And he says the sweetest thing, “I just want you to know how glad I am that you’re in my life.”

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rainbow Day

This is another example of just how much we have fun together. Life is meant to be full of flavor and enjoyed, not just endured. It's meant to be shared too. The people in your life have a huge impact on you, you just need to make sure they're making the right impact. My friends build me up, and encourage me so much. I pray that I in return have opportunities to build them up and bless them back.

This summer we chose a rainbow for our theme day, a promise of God's love for us.


"When the rainbow appears in the cloud, I'll see it and remember the eternal covenant between God and everything living, every last living creature on Earth." Genesis 9:16


rainbow day
We started the day off with the color RED. We treated our Rainbow Day a little bit like a scavenger hunt. We were on a mission and that mission was to explore all the colors of the rainbow. Some of the colors we found in the house, some outside in the backyard, and some as far away as our car took us. It was a lot of fun and we had a different activity for each color.

For RED we made homemade playdough! I've included the recipe too, in case you'd like to try making some of your own playdough.
• 1 cup water
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 1/2 cup salt
• 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
• Food coloring
• 1 cup flour

1. Combine water, oil, salt, cream of tartar, and food coloring in a saucepan and heat until warm.
2. Remove from heat and add flour.
3. Stir, then knead until smooth. The cream of tartar makes this dough last 6 months or longer, so resist the temptation to omit this ingredient if you don't have it on hand.
4. Store this dough in an airtight container or a Ziploc freezer bag.

red play dough recipe

If you couldn't guess, Ariel made this cardinal!



My mother's handiwork

It's time for YELLOW, my favorite color. Our mission took us all the way to the backyard this time. We relaxed a little and shared some frozen bananas together. They make a wonderful, nutritious snack for a hot day. Much better for you than a popsicle too! They are very simple to make. You just need to peel the bananas. Cut them in half, and then dip them in some lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Add a popsicle stick to it, and freeze. It's easier to freeze them on a cookie sheet first, then you can later put them in a ziploc bag and they won't stick together. Very Yummy Treat!




GREEN
, another one of my favorite colors! This time we took a few minutes to draw with some sidewalk chalk. We tried to come up with as many green things as we possibly could think of. There are green grapes, trees, dinosaurs, snowmen?, leaves, frogs, turtles, watermelons, flowers, apples, and even green spiderwebs.







I believe Mark is working very intently on a green frog.


Now for some reason BLUE, was the kids favorite thing. I would think they might grow tired of swimming, but no. Swimming is a classic activity for children, that never gets old.




After working very diligently on our colors all morning, we took a break to stop for lunch. We tried to incorporate all the colors of the rainbow into our food. This is what we came up with, a very tasty meal, colorful, and very kid friendly. And if you couldn't find it, no, we are not missing blue. The plate is blue!

rainbow lunch

For the color PURPLE we had to go as far as our cars could take us, to the playground. I don't know how well you can see it from the picture, but the ground is even purple here!






We all got back in our cars, and headed home for a delicious, tasty, cool drink, ORANGE Julius. I found this recipe online, and it was WONDERFUL. If you're ever in need of some cool refreshment, this will do the trick for you.

6 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
10-15 ice cubes

1. Combine all ingredients except ice cubes in blender.
2. Blend for about 1-2 minutes, adding ice cubes one at a time.


orange Julius recipe
We were very fortunate to have our friend Michelle with us on her birthday. Gabe whispered in her ear that this whole day had been a surprise party just for her. So sweet!


A RAINBOW birthday cake!

She did a great job of blowing out all her candles, didn't miss a single one!


We finished all the colors of the rainbow, and decided the fun should not stop there. Now it was time to put them all together! The kids ran around through some rainbow colored smoke bombs!



rainbow crayons
This is a great idea if you have lots of old crayons that the kids no longer want to use. You can recycle those short little crayons that are too small to grip, into a new RAINBOW crayon.


And what a beautiful picture you can make with your new crayons!

I think what made RAINBOW day just perfect, we all went to the backyard to make our very own rainbow. It was a success!! We adults were much more impressed than the children were! All you need is a sprinkler or hose with a fine mist, and a bright sunny day. Then you have to put on your rainbow eyes, and find that Rainbow.
What a beautiful reminder that God gave us!

Before everyone went home, we took another Rainbow photo, since some of our friends weren't there in the morning for the first picture. Don't we look colorful??

rainbow party
Now it's a beautiful day, so don't let it get away from you!

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