School's Out For the Summer!!!

Although, the past couple of weeks your school schedule has been dwindled down to just a few classes that were left of your 5th grade curriculums - Math, History, Cursive, Spanish, and Piano - yesterday was officially the last day of your school year. :) 

You were very happy about it, and followed through on your plans to watch the third in a series of movies you've been enjoying back to back. 

You have been telling me that 5th grade felt like a month long compared to your public school experience last year, but that the finality of this year didn't feel nearly as monumental as it did in 4th grade public school. I agree. We were SO happy, sad, excited, overwhelmed, and READY to get you finished with and out of public school last year - the last day couldn't have come soon enough, and we literally celebrated (and felt a TON of weight lifted as well as freedom received back to us).

So, while there were inumerable positives to our return year of Homsechooling, we have found a downside: we finished without a bang. It was more-or-less a tiny, squealy sizzle. :)

Now, with the whole summer ahead of us (THREE MONTHS OFF!) we have very few plans and need to get cracking in seeking and following directions on what to do with our time. 
I am very excited to do… nothing,  for a while.

Happy first day of Summer Vacation! 

Fun Day #2

We started out our morning with a delicious little breakfast of peanut butter and jelly toasts with bananas and juice on the side. So yummy! 

Then you and Zach played a little. Mostly with your RC car. 
Around lunch time we headed to Culvers for lunch and desert. 

Then Sir Bounce A Lot's, as you wanted. 

You two jumped for about two hours, then home again home again, jiggety-jig. 
Zach wanted to stick around to play a little MineCraft with you. 
I returned him to his house just before dinner. 

It was another fun Fun Day. 
Now back to school tomorrow - we just have seven days left!!! :) 

Fun Day #1

You and I were supposed to go on an adventure to Madison the first two days of this week. We planned it with our friends awhile ago, but somethings came up for them and we had to cancel our trip. Neither one of us wanted to resume life as usual, so we took our mini-vacation budget, called your best buddy, and planned a couple of Fun Days after all! 

Monday, you wanted to go out for breakfast. You chose Townline for their delicious Eggs Benedict, of course. After that we decided to go to Chuck e Cheese and play ski-ball. 

You have caught on the joys of giving lately, and you have been looking for opportunities. You asked me to add $5 from you to the tip for our waitress at Olive Garden last week. God had been making it very obvious to you that He likes this giving stuff. Just after you did that, we were given a free bowl of you Dad's favorite soup to take home with us! :)

At Chuck e's, You had a bunch of tickets saved up from playing there when you were younger - somewhere around 700 to be exact. You wanted to earn tons more and find some little kids to give them to. 

This was where the first blessing from a stranger took place - before you even gave! Because God truly knows your heart before you act...
We were gifted 70 extra tokens for the price of the 80 token package! :) 

We played until we literally were tired of playing games. It was so much fun. Then you chose the family to give your 1051 total tickets to. We gave them to the mommy and she was SO surprised and grateful. She asked you if she could hug you and thanked you over and over. It made her day. And yours. :)

After that, we went to get some gifts for a friend, then to a music store to check out some sheet music and pianos. We played around, bought a worship music book for our piano, and headed out to try the new Dunkin' Donuts near our house. Once there, we walked through the open doors to be greeted by a bunch of people in training and some managers. The explained they weren't open for business yet. As in, they had NEVER opened for business yet AT ALL. :) We apologized and excused ourselves. 

This is where the next blessing from a stranger took place - the manager/owner stopped us and said, "we can give you donuts though!" Then he commanded one of the workers to go get them all! And he did. Out wheeled a 6 foot high cooling tray filled with beautiful (practice) donuts. They told us what they all were, let us pick ours, and then as I was taking out my check card they stopped me and said, "No, these are for you", refusing payment even when I pointed out that I could see their registers were up and running. So kind and sweet. These things just DO not happen to me. 

Finally, we headed home. Zach and Sophie showed up early to hang out. Sophie stuck around for about a half hour while I visited with Aunt Pam. The three of you played outside together. When Auntie and Sophie hit the road, you and Zach helped me get the net on the trampoline so you could jump together. 

Then we had a huge bonfire, 

cooked hot dogs and smores, 

and you guys trampolined into the night. 

(the smoke from the fire even blew your way, keeping you mosquito free)

When you came back in you each showered, then you watched the Fishing show you've been loving. River Monsters? Monster Fish? Not sure what it's called. 
Finally, we put the mattress from the twin bed in the toy room in your room next to your bed, and you, Zach and Yuki went to sleep (or stayed up talking forever - as your Dad and I could hear the sound of voices from above our bedroom) :) 

It was a GREAT DAY! And I can't wait to get started on day two today!  


Your First Job

So, you've been asking me about jobs. The kind that you might be able to do. Not like, odd jobs around the house. You're actually craving to get your hands on a little responsibility independent of our home and family. 

I do remember when I first had that feeling myself. I was about your age - maybe nine. I remember all the reasons, what I'd hoped to accomplish, and how it would make me feel to be able to actually work. 
I day dreamed of a paper route, because that's what kids did at 12 when they wanted a job. But our neighborhood already had a couple of kids doing the job. 
I tried my best to help out at the Boys and Girls Club where I went after school everyday. 
And I was able to babysit my cousin (with my Dad at home) when my Aunt visited from out of state.  
It felt so good!

Then one day, I won the Star of the Month award at the Boys and Girls Club. I was so surprised. This honor was usually reserved for the "big kids" - the teens who really could and did help out a lot. The ones who were mentoring and watching over us. Yet, here I was, only 9 or 10 years old, getting this prestigious award! I thought of all the things I'd done to earn that award - helping kids with homework, sweeping the hallways, cleaning under the bleachers, cleaning the glass encasements, helping in the art room… I was so proud they picked me. They put my name on the plaque on the wall above "Star of the Month", and I got to pick out a full sized stuffed Care Bear! Which was kind of a big deal back then. 

After that, the DIRECTOR of the east side Boys and Girls Club asked to see me in her office! I had never been into the offices behind the front desk before. I felt SO privileged and special. She asked me if I would like to help out in the office now and then after school. 
I knew this was pretty big stuff, and although I was a little scared that I might not be able to achieve whatever the adults needed for office work, I agreed. 

At first I just stuffed envelopes with flyers, sticking on addresses and stamps - then I learned to file papers - and finally, I was actually acting as the assistant to the director herself! 
She was so good to me. Like a mom would be. She treated me like I was important, and it made me feel great! 

It was fun to recall these stories of my past, and remember why it was so right for me to work at that age, even though there wasn't much I could do to punch a clock or get a pay check yet. I could have cared less about getting money. 
I wanted to mean something. I wanted to be respected and productive and useful for more than putting away my own laundry and earning $4 to strip and re-wax my Mom's kitchen floor. 

This is the reason I took your questions and request very seriously. I honestly didn't know what you could do, but I prayed. I asked God to bring you something. Make it clear. Open a door wide for you to work in a way that would fulfill you in that area. 

This began mid-week, and by Sunday He was all ready for you! 

You asked on Saturday night if there was anything you could do for the church while your Dad and I ran the sound and media during practice the next morning. Our thoughts were that you would just come with a book or your iPad and hang out until service. But I realized this was your heart to work, and potentially a space where God could answer the prayer for opportunity… So I told you that we could certainly ask. 

The next morning we did just that. Miss Shelby said she would certainly keep an eye out for something… and then, within minutes, she mentioned that the person who runs the lights might not be coming. I asked her if she thought that was something you might be able to do (our lights are a big deal throughout the entire service at our church). She said yes, and the next thing I know, all three of us are manning the entire production of lights, media, and sound from behind the board! 

I was so proud of you. You learned so fast and took it so seriously. You did a great job, and I'm pretty sure you felt like a million bucks after our hour and a half practice and hour service, when the whole team came back and fist bumped and high-fived you for a job well done! And what's even cooler is that you were offered the job permanently. So every Sunday you will get to man the light show, and learn the ins and outs of working for God to serve His people in ministry!!! So awesome!

God is so good.  


New Stuff

We've had quite a few changes and new things around here lately...

We put one of our TVs upstairs on the bridge for you to enjoy in your own space.
You don't watch a lot of TV. It's not really your thing.
But when you are in the mood for a movie, or you have a sleep over
and you and a buddy want to watch something,
this is the perfect spot for you to escape.

You just keep losing teeth! lol
So, your last "Daddy Fairy" gift was a mini cupcake maker.
You love to watch cupcake wars, and now you make your own!

You got your new tennis shoes for the summer. You've almost grown out of your last.
Nothing new with the color choice since the only color you will wear is neon green.
It's the SIZE that is altogether new (and a little shocking for this mom)
You had your foot measured, and had to move up to Men's sizes!!! 
No more kid's shoes for you! :) 

This newness is a dream come true for me. 
Not only have you learned to play Canasta/Hand and Foot,
but you are super good at it.
You thought out and discovered strategies from the first game we tried!
You have beaten me, legitimately - and I LOVE that you enjoy my favorite game ever! 
Now I have someone to play with besides Gra.

We bought a new couch, because the dogs ruined the last one. 
The first week we had it, we kept it covered in heavy duty plastic to deter them from using it.
They caught on very quickly and we were able to remove it earlier than suspected -
we don't really use this room anyway, unless we have guests.
It cracked me up that you loved the plastic and would lay on this couch
to read and play on your iPad all the time.

And then there's this little gem.
Daddy surprised me and got me a new car!!!
It's the same kind as the old one (who I still love) 
but it definitely has some upgrades including a sunroof - which I love. 
I mention this here because you have always been 
indifferent about vehicles, but you LOVE this car!
You want to go everywhere I go so you can ride in it. 
You love the smooth drive and the cuddly seats. 
You always say it feels like we're driving on a cloud. 
I am also pretty indifferent about my vehicles, 
but I have to admit, this is a pretty sweet ride. :)  



You have been doing so well with piano. 
Your teacher says you are a piano teacher's dream.
She proudly shares her gratitude and enjoyment in working with you.
 Your have impressed her with your dedication and hard work 
as well as your natural giftedness.

In the past eight months you have surprised us all in mastering two years worth of lessons,
and just this past week you have moved into what most students 
do in their third year of piano lessons! 
At this rate you will be entering fourth year material 
by the end of summer/beginning of your second year!
She can not say enough about how proud and amazed she is by you.
We are very happy for you that God has given you this. 

This past month you and a few friends have been playing piano
for the residents of a local retirement community.

It has been a blessing to them, but also to you.
We are especially fond of one of the residents who turned 91 in April.
We brought her a beautiful card that you made and a potted flower on her Birthday.
This touched her so much that she made it a point to share with her friends
when we were all there the next time for a performance. 
She teared up telling everyone how special it was,
and then she presented you with an art piece she made just for you.
It has a little boy fishing with his grandpa on it, 
and she spoke of how you reminded her of one of her five sons,
and this picture made her think of you. 

It was so sweet! 

I'm grateful that you are using this talent to bless others.
It's super cute when all the residents sing along with the hymns you play for them. 

Piano is not the most social activity.
But I am glad that you have it in common with some of your friends. 
You, Dax and Laken will be preforming a trio together 
at your next recital in June.

Miss Jenny and I love to watch the three of you squish together to practice. 
I love it when tiny little Laken yells "ONE TWO THREE GO!"
(As you can see puppy Beatrice tries to join you all as well)

We Live in the Woods

We have been enjoying the weather when it's nice. It's been a slow start to Spring. 
One day it will be gorgeous outside - sunny and nearing 80 degrees - 
the next day it will be 52, cloud covered, and windy. 
It's been off and on like that, but we take advantage of the good as best we can. 

We've been working on the yard - 
getting the winter sticks, branches and even downed trees
cleaned up, stacked and burned. 

You took down your first tree by hand yesterday using your hatchet axe.
Your Dad and I were pretty proud of you. 

You also helped us clean up and haul all the wood from the starters and trees 
we took down and cut up with the chainsaw. 
It's nice that you are big enough to be a help with work like this on our land. 
It's a lot easier with another hand in the mix.

Slowly but surely we are thinning and "weeding" the woods.
It's looking so nice!

And of course, we have been burning. 
You and I caught the woods on fire a little this past week. :)
You did a great job getting it under control with me. 
No panicking or freezing in the moment. 
It was a memory (and a lesson) we will not likely ever forget. 

We have burned and cleared SO much already and it's early in the season! 
I know it's not your favorite thing to do - be outside at all, really.
But it is my favorite, and I'm glad you are willing to join me and help out.

There are some things you do like to go outside for. 
Taking walks, biking, or riding your scooter...

Shooting with or without friends… 

And of course, your trampoline!
Best purchase we ever made for you.

Last weekend, we went to Grandma Donna's and Grandpa Richards.
Uncle Curt and the boys joined us for a work day.  
You all played, GOT MUDDY, and helped clear and haul 
the winter out of their woods.

Of course, you were compensated with cookies, lunch, and love. 
You also received a special card from Grandma Donna and Grandpa Richard,
thanking you for your help, and welcoming you into the family as their grandson -
which they also shared with you in words that day. 
We are very blessed to have them in our lives. 

Before we left I asked you if you said good bye to your Cousins.
You looked at me crooked and said, "Cousins?"
I was about to remind you that these boys have ALWAYS 
been your cousins, since the day you were born,
when you continued,
"You mean, my brothers." 

We are hoping the weather will get and STAY nice now that
it was so hot yesterday (reaching 84 degrees!). 

I'm sorry to say, but there is much to be done in our woods. 
Maybe by the end of the season you'll have found some 
enjoyment in being one with the land. ;)