Monday, August 26, 2013

Art & Sensory Mini Summer Camp - Camping Out!

"Deep meaning lies often in childish play."
-Johann Friedrich von Schiller, German Poet

The past two weeks of camp were, by far, the best yet. I think it was a combination of some of the kids being more familiar with each other and just the chemistry of the entire group together.

My little guy added some stress work excitement when he decided to drop his morning nap which typically lasted the entire camp day. The added layer was made worth it when I saw how great the older kids were with him--they were patient, gentle and willing to share. And when I saw how much fun he had, I was happy he got to join.

The favorite theme this week had to be Camping Out. Here are just a few of the photos from the day's activities:
We created a bird's nest using our small pool, a brown tarp, grocery bags cut into strips and our Easter eggs. My two assistants, Hunter and Emerson, helped me crinkle the strips to make them look more nest-like.
Our outdoor cooking consisted of cuts of grass, bits of fern, sticks and soapy water that we called Grass Slime.
The kids painted with marshmallows on skewers and used colors associated with a fire; red, orange and yellow.
The favorite activity of the day was the homemade pond. All of the kids, regardless of age, played hard collecting the bugs, frogs, glass beads and pebbles with their hands and nets and inspecting it all with their magnifying glasses. 
I wrapped our big birch tree in bubble wrap and although I tried to encourage the kids to paint with their hands, the paint brushes won out. 
My little guy couldn't get enough of the bubble wrap texture and slimy paint on the tree. 
The kids enjoyed reading books together in the tent and roasting marshmallows during story time.  After eating our snacks we went on a nature walk to gather materials to add to our painted tree mural. 
(Hunter noted that certain leaves smelled different.)
(Emerson got excited that the leaves matched her outfit. 
Her Southern grandparents are smiling right now.)
We ended the day by playing fireside games and cooling off with shaving cream and colored ice paint in the shape of nighttime stars.
It was an awesome end to the summer camp series and we're looking forward to doing it again next year. 

The best part about doing camp? Moments like these....

 The worst? Clean up. 

Actually, I take that back. When your clean-up crew looks this good, it makes anything easy....
More photos to come soon from the rest of the weeks' fun....

"Just play.  Have fun.  Enjoy the game."
-Michael Jordan

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Art & Sensory Mini Summer Camp - PJ Party & Yucky Fun

"Play is our brain's favorite way of learning."
-Diane Ackerman, Author

Camp has continued to be the highlight of my summer and we just completed another great week. 

A number of the kids have gotten to know each other in past weeks and it was nice seeing them interact with each other by helping and inspiring new ideas.

These are just a few of the photos of the fun we had...
The kids painted a mural of a bedtime classic, Goodnight Moon, drawn by Kathleen using paintbrushes and pink foam rollers. (I can't even hear the words Slumber Party without remembering foam rollers!)
They could also design their own Pajamas using crayons, construction paper shapes and glitter glue.
We drew lots of beds on the driveway with chalk that we used for a fun listening game with the kids.
Snack was sweet potato pancakes in the shape of bears and a "Tucked in Tight" snack the kids created using a graham cracker for the quilt (later decorated with icing), marshmallows for the pillows and animal crackers. After tucking in our animals we sang some goodnight songs before eating them (this was a practice in patience but they all did well).
This was most of the kids' first time doing a potato sack race and they loved it! We also brought out some big balls to roll and throw around (thank you so much Sara for these!)
The kids enjoyed telling each other about their beds and the stuffed animals that keep them company at night. 
 We sang songs and read bedtime stories. 
I started laughing and was actually amazed at how all of the kids began yawning and laying down as Kathleen read Goodnight Moon. This was the end result and no one told them to do this...
Another day this week we let the kids get extra messy with lots of fun materials and tools to explore.
It usually takes the kids a few minutes to get acquainted with the messy textures but its not long before they are experimenting with the various tools and mixing the different colors and materials.
One of my favorite childhood memories is making mud pies in our family's greenhouse so I knew this would be the ideal way to end our messy day.
The kids had the option of adding colored and scented conditioner to their pies and also glitter.
Looking forward to sharing more photos soon...

In the meantime, you can check out other camp days by clicking on the following:
Art & Sensory Mini Summer Camp - Part 1
Art & Sensory Mini Summer Camp - Candyland

"A child loves his play. Not because it's easy but because it's hard."
-Benjamin Spock, American Pediatrician 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Gift

Nearly six months ago I found out something that made my heart full. I had a permanent grin on my face knowing that what Dave and I hoped for had come true.

Unfortunately, not long after I learned that the perfect plan I had for my life was not what I had envisioned. My happiness felt sucked away as I was faced with days of news and decisions that would forever change me and has definitely proven to test my strength.

Before finding out what really lie ahead for us, I had come up with what I thought was a fun idea to break the news to everyone and had Kathleen help with the photos and artwork for it. 
Very shortly after the concept seemed silly given the situation.

I spent nearly three months thinking about how I wanted to share our news with others. I knew that I wanted to stay true to my festive spirit but also knew it was important to let those close to us know the truth.

I finally came up with an idea to share our happy news but also let those we really care about in on the challenges that we'd be facing but in a way that felt right for our family.

I mailed our close friends and family a package with a photo and small wrapped box enclosed.
 Inside of the box was a letter with photos:

Sometimes you receive a gift that you never expected.
A few weeks ago we received news that we weren’t expecting.  
With time, it has become a gift we weren’t expecting but are now anxiously awaiting.

Our baby-to-be has Trisomy 18—he or she was created with an extra special something--and, although this disorder has been defined as “incompatible with life”, we know that God has a plan and a much better definition.

It is a gift we have yet to unwrap and may never see the full intention of God for giving it to us but we feel truly blessed that He trusted us to carry this special creation.

We ask for your support and prayers and know that by being there for us you will also be part of a miracle.

We are full of hope and joy waiting in anticipation for what’s to come because our family has a whole lot of love to give this baby for as long as we can.

Hearts full,
Dave, Brooke, Hunter, Emerson, Cash and baby-to-be Menoni (due December 13th—also Hunter’s birthday!)

"Some bloom for a whole season, some bloom for a day.
But would a gardener even think of pulling out his daylilies
because they last such a short time?"

–Mother Teresa* 
Dave and I know that we have many challenges ahead of us and the mountains look steep. 
We feel relieved that we're not hiding anymore and have the support of our family and good friends to help us make the journey. 
Amid what we're facing we feel blessed. We are so thankful for every phone call, text, card, gift and prayer. This is what keeps us going because we are determined to climb every mountain and come out the other side stronger people knowing greater love than we ever have before.

"For I know the plans I have for you.
plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

*Aleisa-Thank you for sharing this quote with me. You made me see our unexpected gift in a whole new light and for this I'll be forever grateful.