Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Daniel's spring break

After the conference championship meet, Daniel came home for spring break. We got to have him home for a whole week. We haven't  had him home for that long since he started college. He did a lot of sleeping, visiting his high school, playing frisbee golf and visited with old friends. He also made time for some fun Abbey and Elijah time, what a great big brother!

You would think he'd be sick and tired of pools, but when Abbey told him she wanted to go to the indoor pool, he readily agreed that he would swim with them. She and Elijah had wanted to go for quite some time, but indoor pools in the winter time just aren't on my ok to do list. I don't like to be cold, and being cold while also being wet, is definitely out of the question! Super big brother to the rescue!  

They really enjoyed themselves.

They both got to practice their swimming.

a highlight was the waterside

they had some fun play time

and enjoyed having their big brother at home!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A historical pitstop

On our way home from Virginia, we decided to go to one of the few Virginia historical sites we'd never been to, George Washington's boyhood home, Ferry Farm.

There was a small inside museum displaying artifacts related to George Washington's life growing up at Ferry Farm. A lot of the items were excavated on the site. The site itself is still under construction.

A lot of the time, the kids were more interested in their gymnastic skills, than they were in learning about old George!

We learned that it was here that George was supposed to throw a silver dollar over a river, the Rappahannock River, not the Potomac.

John tried to recreate George's legendary feat with a rock.

It was a cold, blustery day, and I just wanted to get in somewhere warm!

It was a nice little place to gleam some history and take a break from the drive to get home.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

2013 CAA Swim and Diving Champions

At the end of February, John, the little ones and I traveled to Virginia to watch Daniel compete with UNCW for the CAA championship in Men's swimming and diving. The Men's team won the title for the 12th straight year.

It was a long weekend. The swimming started on Wednesday and finished on Saturday evening. Daniel got personal best times for all his swims and scored in one event. The competition was pretty stiff!

It was a lot of fun for me and John to be a part of the celebration at the end of the meet.

The whole team

The Freshmen

What could have been grueling for Abbey and Elijah turned into a wonderful, fun filled vacation, thanks to the generosity of friends of ours. Charlie and Lisa moved to Virginia a couple of years ago from Raleigh. They graciously offered to house us the whole time, and as if that wasn't enough, they insisted on keeping Abbey and Elijah during most of the swimming. (Each swimmer's family could only purchase 2 tickets.) Charlie and Lisa and their kids were lifesavers.

Abbey and Elijah were treated to many special activities. They got to tour the Sheriff's office, where Lisa works,

 and Charlie took them to the Marine's Museum. Their daughter took the little ones on many trips to the park and had several special crafts to occupy their time. They had an absolute blast!

We are so very grateful to the L. family for opening up their home and hearts to us!!

Thanks to fast swimming and good friends, it was a great long weekend.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Beautiful and Messy

Our curriculum this year provided a butterfly habitat. We ordered the caterpillars and watched the process as they grew, made a crysalis, emerged as butterflies and soared into our backyard.  I was absolutely amazed by the whole process. I think that I was much more enthralled than my kids were. They enjoyed it, but I was mesmerized by it! The wonder of creation...many, much more eloquent people than me have paid homage to it. It blew me away to watch those little things grow so fast and then miraculously move to the top and form a candy cane shape while their crysalis forms around them.

One was already in the crysalis, two others started hanging.
 They stayed in the crysalis for about a week. Then, a day before they emerge, the crysalis begins to shake back and forth. When they first are out, their wings are very small.

Watching while they emerge.

 The butterflies hang and pump blood to their wings, until full size, and then they make their descent to the bottom of the habitat... so very fascinating.

We enjoyed watching them fly around the habitat for about a week and then decided to let them go.

Throughout the process, I was constantly sharing praise of God with the kids. It was a wonderful vehicle to point to our creator. In my mind, it is impossible to think that such creation and instinct could "just happen". I also noticed a few things that could apply to us and our lives.

Of course, the well worn, 2 Corinthians 5:17, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation." analogy, was demonstrated. How completely the worm changes! The gorgeous butterfly looks nothing like the non-attractive caterpillar. He also does nothing to precipitate the change. God directs the entire process. Just like when we come to faith in Christ, he begins to change us. Sometimes the person we become looks nothing like the person we were, and we are ever so much more beautiful! We don't decide to change and then give our lives to God, he takes us wherever we are and starts molding us to what he wants us to be. This quote sums it up:
I may not yet be the man I should be or the man, with Christ's help, that I someday will be -- but thank God I'm not the man I used to be! -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Such pretty colors.
 Another observation is that this whole process is messy, very messy. The place where the caterpillars lived for a week becomes littered with caterpillar "poop", called frass (something else I learned), along with a silky web-like substance that surrounds them. It's a yucky looking mess.

Once they change to butterflies, they release meconium, which looks like blood. It came through the bottom of the habitat and onto my tabletop, it was so much.

You can see the meconium on the edge of the paper plate in the center.

The kids were quick to pick up on the less than pristine by product of metamorphosis. It struck me that life is messy. Nothing fits in a nice, clean box. People come with messy habits, painful hurts and are not always pretty with their actions. But, God can take all of our messiness and make something beautiful out of it, just like the butterfly comes out of all the icky goop. We shouldn't shy away from others "messiness", we're all works in progress.

With wings growing,  they began to hit the confines of the habitat and I decided it was time they had a bigger habitat. We took them out to our backyard, opened the top and expected them to quickly soar out of the enclosure. That didn't happen. They seemed happy to stay in their little comfort zone.

Why leave? They had food, all they had known, anyway. They couldn't imagine how much better it would be to get the food from a flower, rather than a sugar water soaked tissue. Or the freedom they missed to go anywhere they wanted.

Finally, Abbey decided to help them. She reached in and scooped one out.

Off he/she flew and landed on a bamboo leaf.

You have to look carefully, but you can see it in the middle.

Oh, how much we are like those butterflies! We enjoy our fenced in lives, oblivious to all that God has gifted us with. We're so content to drink our artificial food, because it's safe, we may miss out on the wonderful nourishment God has for us if we take the chance and fly out of our comfort zone. It may be a new ministry, it may be meeting new people or speaking up to the people we already know. We shy away because we think we are just fine where we are. We routinely miss out on the blessings God has for us if we'd just leave the habitat. We can't take advantage of the closeness to God we get when we watch Him do amazing things through us. We live bound by the "rules" of our habitat "cage", which keep us from doing things that might not make people sense, but make complete "God sense". God often chooses the ways of the foolish to confound the wise. (1 Corinthians 1:27)

I've seen all of these tendencies in my own life. I've learned from the butterflies many lessons that I'll try to remember. I'll try to make Ephesians 3:20-21 my mantra:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

No matter how messy it looks, or scary it seems! The end is beautiful...just like the butterflies.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Abbey "meets the masters"

The kids and I took advantage of our home school support group's co-op this semester, and I'm so glad we did. Both of the kids loved it and the programs offered greatly enriched them.

Abbey's favorite class was titled, "Meet the Masters". They studied famous artists and created some art of their own. Abbey's favorite artist was Van Gogh, and her second favorite was Picasso. She enjoyed creating her own version of a Picasso:

and Van Gogh's "Starry Night"

Her writing has greatly improved this year also.

This was her sheet of "y" words

Both kids love to get in touch with their artistic sides.

Painting with vegetables
I'm not very artistic by any means, in fact, I could be considered as having art-deficit disorder, but I really do enjoy seeing my kids get into creating their own art. Their creativity amazes me. I'm glad that my ineptness doesn't hinder them!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Baby Love

This little bundle is causing lots of joy around our house.

Little Miss Layne has us all clamoring to hold, feed or act as silly as we can,
in order to be graced by a beautiful little smile! 

We all take turns feeding her. (Of course, Mimi get's first dibs, but I do share)

She readily smiles for all of us, but those precious lit up eyes and upturned mouth come super easy when she's looking at Abbey or Elijah.

Before she had a pacifier, she discovered her fingers a few times.

about 6 weeks old here

She's even shared some napping time with her Papa

Such a wonderful blessing to have a baby in the house again!