October 24, 2014

Help For The Reluctant Learner …

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That face.

That is the face he makes every day when I say, “Let’s do some learning!” Some days he lays down on the floor and kicks and screams. Other days he yells out, “I don’t want to learn! I’m nver going to Kindergarten!”

It is a struggle every single day.

One of the reasons we didn’t put Owlie in Kindergarten this year was because he is a reluctant learner. He has little to no desire to learn letters, read sight words, count to twenty or try to rhyme. It’s a little frustrating, honestly.  It’s hard to tell whether or not he is truly struggling with the learning process or just being the most stubborn five year old on the planet. Often when he finally relents and works with me, we have fun and he does great, taking pleasure in his accomplishment.

I’m putting out a call for help today. Do you have any fun ways to help small children learn? What has worked for you with your kids. Retaining information seems to be a problem for my boy. Any thoughts or tricks you have to help us would be appreciated.

October 23, 2014

The Night Time Hair Dresser …

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You can always tell when Owlie has had a very, very good night’s sleep because he’ll wake up with a new do from the Night Time Hairdresser. This morning he caught this backhawk in the shadows in his room. He couldn’t figure out why his hair was sticking up so severely. Finally he came to the conclusion that one of his stuffed puppies must have licked his hair while he was sleeping.

While he was eating breakfast I broke out the camera because I wanted to capture his new do. I got a few shots from behind, but when he saw that I was photographing him, he wasn’t pleased with me and kept hiding his head. I finally told him, “DO NOT look at me!” That did the trick! He was giggling and happy to look right at me because he knew I didn’t want him to.

Yep, I’m a smart momma! Awesome hair day!

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October 20, 2014

What A Difference A Year Makes …

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You may remember a year ago when I went off on a little rant about the High School’s Homecoming dance. If not, you can read that here.

I floated an idea for a “ComingHome” dance as a possibility to a friend who has a leadership position in our church community in Loudoun County after last year’s experience. She was in complete agreement with me that there was a need for an alternative activity for our kids who don’t want to attend the school dances because they’ve gotten so bad.

It’s been a year in the making and I am so happy to write today that this weekend my kids attended the first Mormon Homecoming Dance in our county and they had a BLAST! The dance, which started out as Coming Home, quickly earned the nick name MoHoCo. Kids at school started asking, “Are you going to MoHoCo?”.

We challenged Hannah and Chris to invite some of their school friends who don’t go to our church because we knew they would also have a great time at a dance that was, simply put, a better, cleaner environment than what the school offers. They took us up on the challenge, inviting groups of friends.

It is not an easy task for a girl to come to a dance like this because there was a dress standard that was enforced. Dresses had to go to the knee and cover the back and shoulders. Does that sound like an old fashioned standard to you? Not to me! It was completely refreshing to see so many girls in dresses that were age appropriate. I am so sick of seeing teenaged cleavage and thighs! I looked at these girls and couldn’t help but think how beautiful they were, not because they were showing off their bodies, but because we could see their true beauty! It was refreshing.

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One of the friends Hannah invited was our neighbor Alex. These two have been buddies since Kindergarten. He showed up completely dapper in a suit and bow tie. It was AWESOME! We had fun shooting some silly pictures in front of our house before heading over to our Bishop’s house where I helped host a dinner for thirty-five kids before the dance.

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Chris took a darling girl from the Cross Country team to the dance. I was so impressed when her mom called us to double check on the dress standard. She had found one dress, but it didn’t meet the standard, so she found another one which was really beautiful. Chris has taught himself to hand tie a bow tie, and insisted on finding one to match her dress. Pretty cute, that kid of mine.

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He also invited two other friends from the Cross Country team. None of these kids go to our church. All of them had a fantastic time at the dance and said it was better than any school dance. Chris felt an especially great amount of pride since he was in charge of the music for the dance. He has worked for weeks to find music that is good to dance to and also has clean lyrics. Do you have any idea how hard that is to do? Several people told the DJ that it was the best music they’d heard at a dance (church or otherwise) in a long time.

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There were about two hundred kids at the dance. I think next year it will be held in a bigger venue and more kids will come because they are going to hear how great it was from the kids that went this year. I am so relieved that my kids have a place to go with their friends for Homecoming and that they never have to step foot in a school dance again.

Yay for Mormon Homecoming! Yay for kids who have high standards! And yay that last week is over because it was one of the busiest and most stressful I have had in a long, long time.

October 9, 2014

The Inquisitive, Imaginative Knight . . .

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He is at a magical age. He loves to play with his imagination all day long. One minute he’s a ninja turning some serious moves in front of the mirror in my bedroom. The next minute he is an astronaut fighting aliens in space. He sings little songs to himself and tells funny jokes that only he gets. It is my favorite time and I am really glad that we are spending it together.

He has also started asking the really good questions. “Mom, why did got make us have feet?” “Momma, what is that pink stuff that’s keeping my eyeball in my head?” “Mommy, do you ever wish you were a koala baby so you could be inside your momma’s soft pouch?” “Mom, could Jesus make it so you aren’t allergic to dogs because then we could have a puppy?” “Mom, how do they make those little lights that make up the colored circles in the stop lights?” “Mom, I don’t have to like green “venchables” now because I will like them when I am big so I will grow, right?” Every question is so sincere and so funny.

My Mom and Dad gave him a plasma car for his birthday after he fell in love with one at our reunion in Arizona this Summer. It sat unused in the garage for a month because it was too hot out. Now that the weather has cooled off, he is on that car every single day, zooming up and down the side walks at breakneck speeds.

Big C was outside with his camera last week while Owlie was riding the plasma car, this time a rubber sword in hand because of course he was a knight on a very fast horse. I love these captured moments so much. They are a great representation of who this boy is right now: determined, with a fierce concentration and a zeal for life!

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Arrgh!  He is a mighty warrior!

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And don’t forget – a complete and total rascal! He’s growing up so fast. But he still has a firm hold on my heart.

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October 7, 2014

The Best Part of Friendship …

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Have you discovered what the best part of friendship is yet? I have! It is being able to meet a need for a friend. It is giving the gift of your time, compassion, service and care simply because you love someone so much!

My friend Susan is a perfect example of true friendship. She falls under the category I like to call “Need Meeter”. She senses the needs of others. But what sets her apart is that she then does something to meet those needs. She is always checking in on me, asking what she can do for me. She leaves delicious Honeycrisp apples on my doorstep because she knows I love them and have been going through a rough time. She comes to watch my kids – MY kids – at their sporting events. She lets me ramble on and on about nothing because I like to talk and she listens so intently. Just because she is wonderful that way.

A few weeks an idea popped into my head of how I could meet a need of hers and I got excited because I always feel like I am on the receiving end of her love and attention but never the opposite!

Her beautiful daughter, Christina, is leaving for to serve a mission for our church next week. I thought it might be fun to capture some pre-mission pictures for Susan and Christina. I set about pinning photo ideas and Sunday morning we headed out to yet another perfect Virginia photographic location to snap a few shots on what turned out to be the most beautiful Fall day.

I will never get tired of old barns and their crazy awesome wood.

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Or grassy fields lined with trees and fences! (That’s my kids’ cross country course, btw)

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Christina is going to be an amazing missionary! She’s got the feistiness of an Italian and the sweetness of a daughter of God rolled into one. I can’t wait to watch her grow as she shares God’s love with the people of Nevada.

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What a treat to spend the morning with Susan and Christina! Hannie B. came along as my assistant. We are a good team. Go meet a friend’s need today – it will feel GREAT!

September 26, 2014

Finding A Talent …

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Tonight our church congregation is having a talent show. Immediately upon hearing this, I thought about how great it would be to sit back and enjoy a bunch of other people sharing their talents – even if it meant multiple kid piano numbers and twenty girls singing “Let It Go” from Frozen.

Then a brother in the congregation cornered me last week and mentioned how he hoped I would share my photography talent with others. I was confused. What talent? And how do I share something I don’t think is a talent?

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He asked me to go through my photos and find some that I could talk to the audience about, explaining what I saw to be worth capturing in a photograph. This led to a week long journey of pouring over photos. I have a lot of photos!

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I am not a trained photographer. I don’t have much technical knowledge. I don’t know how to use Photoshop and I’m sure that much of what I do with the photos I take is just wrong. I am still learning about my camera, lighting, balance, etc. I am really just a big fat faker!  But I do love capturing moments and seeing things a little differently.

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I have chosen twenty photographs to share tonight and feel the best way to describe my “talent” is that I am a photographer of candid moments and unexpected beauty.

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I’ve posted a few of the photographs I will share tonight here on the blog today. Many of the pictures I will share tonight are of my children or other people’s children. Others are natural in inspiration, like this awesome stormy sky and white barn in Hume, VA.

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I love taking pictures. It brings me joy. I do it often and try to get better at it each time I pull out my camera. I guess that makes it a talent I am working to obtain. I may never have the knowledge or equipment that other people do, but I am glad I am capturing memories and seeing the glory of God in so many different ways.

And I’m really grateful I don’t have to get up and sing or dance in front of an audience!