Tag Archives: service project

Storybook Day with Gracie

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“The more that you read,

the more things you will know.

The more that you learn,

the more places you’ll go”  – Dr. Seuss

Today was a smashing success!

After much planning Gracie completed her National Honor Society service project requirement for her upcoming junior year. To keep her membership in the National Honor Society active she is required to log a required number of service hours each year, a required number of tutoring hours, and one large service project in which she displays the character attributes of service and of leadership as she leads her peers in the service project she has planned.

When pondering what to do for her big service project she considered many possibilities but decided that she wanted to do something that tied into her future career goal in the area of education. Grace has a passion for teaching, and a passion for books. As a child who struggled with learning to read before being diagnosed with Dyslexia, she knows the joy that comes from finally breaking through the wall of illiteracy and discovering the joy of reading.

She is now a book lover, and although she still struggles with Dyslexia she has learned how her brain learns. She hopes to take that personal experience into her future workplace as a special education teacher.

She is a firm believer in the quote by Frank Serafini:

“There is no such thing as a child who hates to read. There are only children who have not found the right book.”

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So when considering what to do for her National Honor Society project she decided to combine her love of children and children’s literature and plan a “Storybook Day.” She wanted to share with the children from church some of her favorite books!

Offering some of the other young women at church the opportunity to complete one of their personal progress 10 hour projects, she organized the girls into teams of two to plan a craft or activity that corresponded to a favorite children’s book. Two of her co-op buddies also came to help out for the day.

After putting out sign-up sheets at church she ended up with 13 kids at her Storybook Day, not as many as she had originally hoped for but what ended up being a perfect number.

On Friday Grace spent the day preparing for the activity. She went shopping for the food needed for lunch. She stopped at the Dollar Tree to buy treats for the goody bags that she was sending home with each child. The items in the goody bags corresponded with each of the books they were reading to the kids.

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She made name tags and a sign-in sheet.

She set up the stations for the different activities and decorated the chalkboard in honor of the activity.

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By the time the sun set she was ready for the day ahead. She even had time to paint her nails to match her story for lunch the next day:

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The other young women arrived by nine the next morning to help finish setting up and then the children began arriving at 9:30.

The kids played on the McDonald’s Play Place while the girls waited for all the kids to arrive. At 10:00 they began the day with their first book:

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The kids sat on a quilt in the yard to listen to the story and then did an apple or tree craft that tied into the story.

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The next story they listened to was:

rainbow fish

Following this story they made rainbow scales like the fish in the story by decorating clear plastic cups with Sharpie markers and melting them in the oven until they became a “fish scale.”

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The next story was:

harold

Molly helped plan the activity that followed this story. Using purple yarn she created a “Harold and the Purple Crayon” drawing around the yard. The kids each grabbed hold of a paperclip attached to the yarn that they pulled through the maze of twists and turns to reach the end.

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This story was followed by:

curiousgeorgepartybags

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This book ends with Curious George and his red balloon so it only made sense that the activity that followed included water balloons! The kids loved participating in the water balloon games which quickly evolved into an old-fashioned water balloon fight.

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Then it was time for lunch. Gracie took charge of this part of the day with great plans in mind. The book she planned for lunch was:

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Lunch was a plate of some of the foods featured in the book. To add to the authenticity she used a straw to cut caterpillar holes in the watermelon and strawberries. The swiss cheese came pre-poked. 🙂

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While the kids ate lunch Grace read the book.

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Lunch was followed by dessert, of course!

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For dessert the kids enjoyed chocolate chip cookies while listening to this book:

if you guve a mouse

At the end of the day the kids had about 30 minutes before parents were due to return so after packing everyone’s goody bags with their completed crafts the young women organized the kids into games. It was a perfect end to an already “booked” event.

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A lot of work went into this very special day and I think the whole family felt a bit of relief when it went off without a hitch and ended successfully. Grace was grateful to all the girls who came to help and for the many hands that made her load lighter.

After a long day it is now time to say goodnight…

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“Goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere.” – Goodnight Moon

Case Closed!

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My “littles” are easily thrown by change. They get nervous and anxious by a change in routine, new experiences, and the unexpected. They lived lives of uncertainty and high anxiety in their early years, as they weathered the scary road of abuse and foster care. The result of those years of uncertainty is that we always have emotional fallout whenever there is change. Something as small as a change in the time we have lunch can cause major anxiety and acting out. So when a BIG change in routine and predictability occurs

I brace myself knowing that we will have emotional fallout.

I left for my scrapbook weekend knowing that I would pay for my  absence when I returned home.

But it is ok.

Now knowing and anticipating that result makes dealing with it easier. Knowing why we deal with those results makes me more understanding.

I have two little boys who have lived lives in “fight or flight mode” for so long that any change, even good changes, send them into a hyper alert state.

The weekend away was needed and such a blessing. I left knowing that I’d pay for my absence on the other side, but it was well worth it.

When I returned home the payback began. Like a puppy traumatized by the experience of being left alone, I too was punished for leaving. The boys acted out…

Ozzie with emotional testing and Tyler with naughty behaviors.

The first incident occurred the night I arrived home. Grace was off to take a shower when she stepped back out of the bathroom and asked,

“Who cut their own hair?”

Nobody fessed up. Everyone denied their guilt. My silly boy didn’t realize that it didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to solve this mystery. The chestnut locks that littered the bathroom sink could only belong to one child…Mr. Tyler.

We called him over, examined the damage, and discovered that he had “cut” his hair with his sister’s razor, leaving a few lovely bald patches in the center of his head.

Oh the joy of parenting! 😉

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 This incident led us into the perfect timing of a new commitment on our schedule:

Trauma support group on Monday nights.

Our adoption agency just started a new support group that we have been invited to attend. It is set up for families who have adopted traumatized or abused children. Monday was our first meeting. We arrived at the church where the support group is being held. The first 30 minutes were spent eating dinner together. They provide dinner at each meeting and this past Monday they served Pizza Hut pizza. It was a treat to not have to cook!

Following dinner the kids were taken into one room where they had games and activities planned, while the adults went into another room. The adults are taking part in a 6 week parenting course on abuse and trauma.

It was a wonderful meeting and everyone had a good time.

 Tuesday was Molly’s birthday and in addition to celebrating our special girl we also had to get ready for a bake sale. On Wednesday, at co-op, we had our annual bake sale planned to raise money for Make a Wish. The kids were all in charge of making things for the bake sale and then pricing their goodies at .25 or .50 each. They brought their spending money and bought treats too. All the money raised will be donated to the Make a Wish foundation.

This is a favorite service project that the kids always look forward to.

Tuesday the kids raided my kitchen and began baking. Tyler and Rusty worked together to make Steeler cupcakes.

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On Wednesday we arrived to discover a plethora of treats. Everyone had put much time and love into raising money for this special cause. During the third hour the bake sale opened and the kids began making their purchases. By fourth hour the sugar was coursing through their veins…

making 4th period music class with Tyler an extra bouncy experience. 🙂

The bake sale was a huge success! This small group of kids baked, sold, bought and in the end

raised $104.41 for the Make a Wish foundation!

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 While at co-op Molly received a birthday surprise from her dear friend Chessa. Chessa made this hat for Miss Molly. Isn’t it darling? Chessa is very talented!

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We are in the midst of “March Madness” at 21st Century Cyber Charter School (Rusty and Gracie’s school.) To make things fun the teachers set up a little competition to see whose students have earned the most points with their school work. Every week the students of two teachers compete and the winning class moves on to the next round. Rusty was thrilled to show me that his class under Trisha Miller was one of the final two. There is one round left with the winning class walking away with some fun prizes.

I think Rusty will be working extra hard this week. 😉

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Beware of little boys and unsupervised electronics.

The evidence of Tyler’s guilt was found on Molly’s iPod last night. He claims he never touched her iPod without her permission but thanks to some top-notch detective skills he was caught.

(I swear he thinks I’m as dumb as a rock!) 🙂

The “proof” we discovered on her device:

Ahh, brought down by…

 “The selfie!”

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Case Closed!

 

Everyday Moments

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“Moments are the Molecules that make up Eternity.” -Neal A. Maxwell

Often my blog posts revolve around a trip, an experience, or an event. I find myself waiting until something “big enough” happens to justify a blog post when in reality the majority of our days are full of beautifully ordinary moments. Here is a compilation of some of our everyday moments…

The moments that make up our life.

Our bunnies have done it again. No matter how many lectures we give, or how much time we invest in separating the boy bunnies from the girl bunnies we continue to get baby bunnies. 🙂 Not that it is a bad thing. The kids like taking care of the babies and they like the money they can make at auction when they sell the grown babies. The dead of winter just isn’t the most ideal time to have new babies…but ideal or not, they are here!

And the kids are loving them. 🙂

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Hide and go seek has been the game of the month at our house. It is one of the few games Tyler and Ozzie can play well together with little fighting. I suspect it may be so successful due to the large amount of time the spend APART from each other while playing the game. One hides, one seeks…the amount of face to face time is minimal.

Tyler prides himself on being the best hider in the family…often to his own detriment. We have had more that one experience of seeking out a hiding Tyler, calling for help because he hid so well, in such a tight spot, that he found himself STUCK! I have been part of more than one search and rescue mission this past week.

Here he is getting into position…

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This week Tyler lost another tooth. Loose teeth don’t last long at our house. As soon as it begins to wiggle the boys are on a mission to get it out. Tyler spent all day yanking and pulling in an effort to get it out and under his pillow before bed. His hard work paid off and he was eager to see what the tooth fairy would bring.

Bedtime came and Tyler decided to write a letter to Florence, our tooth fairy. He had questions he wanted answered  so he wrote a note and left it under the pillow with his tooth. As I tucked him in, he informed me that Florence would answer his questions with a pink pen. I asked how he knew that. He informed me that pink was our tooth fairy’s favorite color. Preparing him for the possibility of disappointment, I told him that maybe she just carried a blue or black pen. “No,” he responded, as he patted my hand reassuringly, “She uses only pink pens.”

(Any guess what I spent my evening doing?)

Well, what do you know…Tyler was right. She came, she wrote, and it was a pink pen! She also left him her usual dollar coin. 🙂

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At the beginning of January, Grace and Molly came to me looking for ideas. They had decided that together they were going to set a personal goal of performing a service project for others each month in the New Year. We sat down and made a list of possible service projects. From there they narrowed down their list and made a plan for the year. They decided February’s service project would be free babysitting. They made these fliers to hand out at church on Sunday. They were thrilled to receive multiple calls this week from couples wanting to take advantage of their service.

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This past Thursday was date night. Every Thursday night is my grocery shopping night. A few years ago, in an effort to make grocery shopping something more enjoyable, Toby and I turned it into date night. We would grocery shop, run errands and then go out to dinner and enjoy one on one time without kiddos. When Tyler moved in we could no longer go out with Grace babysitting, so for a while I just shopped on my own, until God put an idea on my heart… Rather than waste that time performing the mundane task of grocery shopping  on my own I realized that time could be utilized for bonding one on one with the kids. Since then Thursday night has evolved into date night with the kids. Every five weeks they get to go grocery shopping with me. They are a big help and they enjoy the benefits of getting to pick the cereals, fruits, and snacks for the week. Afterward they get dinner out. They get to pick the restaurant. The only rule is that they must pick a place where we can both eat for a combined total of $10.00. Last week was Ozzie’s week and he chose to take advantage of Pizza Hut’s dinner box deal for $10.00. What a deal!

We have found Aldi (where we grocery shop) and most restaurants are dead on Thursday night. This was true for Pizza Hut. We were the only ones dining. Ozzie and I played a game as we waited. He could ask me anything about my childhood he wanted to know and then I would take a turn asking him about his past. It was a chance to let him open up about his past and share his memories in a non threatening way. It was also a special way to bond…

Hopefully we will eventually reach the point with the boys that Gracie can babysit and Toby and I can reclaim our date night. But for now this is a pretty good Plan B. 🙂

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On Friday night Rusty and Toby  joined the boy scouts for a winter campout and fun winter activities with other scout troops in the area. The low temp  for the night was 4 degrees…Brrrrr!

But even with the cold temperatures Rusty had a great time!

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The weekend is only half done. Tonight I sit at home with the two little boys, nursing my sore hip that I somehow threw out of whack, while Toby takes the big kids to an ice skating activity with church. Tomorrow is another full day with church and Super Bowl party with friends,

all while we brace for the possibility of 6-8 more inches of snow.

Some days it feels as though time is passing so quickly

as one moment rolls into the next…

but I am grateful for each moment, whether thrilling or mundane…

for these moments truly are what make up our Eternity.

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