Sunday, July 23, 2017

Bracelets for a cause

Sydney wanted to do something to honor her GiGi, so she asked if we could make bracelets. She initially wanted to sell them for hospice. However, she later changed her mind to sell the bracelets to benefit a woman from our church who is going on the World Race, a mission trip of 11 countries in 11 months. Sydney has been working really hard on the bracelets, which are available for free-will donation. She has been so involved in all aspects of the process. She came up with a "business name" - GiGi & Me Bracelet Works. She helped me design the tags and she made the bracelets. She has already sold several and given the money to Melissa for her World Race.

Sydney just fell in love with Melissa this summer. They even showed up to VBS dressed alike, and Sydney enjoyed that a lot! Melissa does so much for our youth at church. She's always volunteering the traveling to help the children and youth. She's an amazing woman, and we are blessed to know her.

Here are a few samples of bracelets Sydney has made so far. If you are interested in getting a bracelet, let me know. I can mail them, as well. They are free-will donation. Sydney wanted anyone who wants one to have one, despite cost. Melissa will be selling the bracelets, as well. So if you want to support Sydney's efforts and also help Melissa on her World Race, contact me, Sydney or Melissa. You can also make a donation directly to Melissa through her blog.

Many of the bracelets have either a charm of angel wings or a butterfly. This is to honor my mom, Sydney's GiGi, who liked angels and butterflies. It's a little extra touch.

Melissa is amazing! Here is a video explaining her mission trip. It's a pretty compelling video. If you are interested in learning more about her and her trip, go online to her blog here.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Hope Camp 2017

This was Sydney's second year of Hope Camp, a program for grieving children. She was very excited to go back this year.

They do many activities throughout the week.

One special blessing was that Jennifer and Jude got Sydney after camp a couple of days so I could work. They had a lot of fun stuff planned!

Sydney just loved spending time with Jude and Jennifer!

The camp has a lot of crafts, which opens dialogue to the kids to talk about their feelings and loved ones.

The second to the last day the kids got to partake in the rain gutter sundae and putting their thumb prints on the annual art piece.

The last day the kids got to do a snowball fight!

They also had a photo booth, which Sydney really enjoyed! I have to say thanks to the volunteers and staff for taking photos each day. It was so nice to see what the kids did each day!

The volunteers and staff are amazing! The kids got to sign their shirts the last day too. Sydney told me that the organization and building that had the camp was her "happy place." She feels so loved and supported there. We are so blessed to have this support system in our lives.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Wonderland Park

In the spring we bought tickets to Wonderland Park through a fundraiser at Sydney's school. The nice part about that was we could use them any time throughout the summer. We had a particularly trying week, so instead of staying home and being frustrated, we decided to use our tickets! It was a great evening of fun! Sydney was, of course, so excited to get to go!

She rode many more rides than she has in the past. She even did the big pirate ship with her dad more than once. She loves riding with her dad. It's a special time for them. Since it was a Thursday evening, the park was not at all busy. It was so nice to not wait in lines.

I even did some rides this year! I usually stay on the sidelines, but not this year. This was Sydney's first time doing the grown up bumper cars, and she loved it. I was in another car bumping them and taking pics!

As I said, we had a great time with our Sydney! Sydney and I rode a water ride four times, and were absolutely soaked! She talked her dad into another ride once.

Of course we had to hit up the kid classics, too.

One big accomplishment for Sydney was riding the Himalaya! She rode it two years ago and cried and screamed the entire time. I thought she might enjoy it now that she's older so I somehow convinced her to try it again. Well, she loved it! She rode it three times, and kept her arms up every time. She was so excited and proud of herself!

It's always fun to see the park at night. We enjoyed the view from the Farris wheel before we went home.It was a great way to spend the evening! We had a great time as a family, and went home happy with many memories.

Friday, June 23, 2017

VBS 2017 - 41:10 All Access

I can't say enough good things about our church and its Vacation Bible School! This was our first VBS at our church. They go ALL OUT for VBS. It's an outreach for our community, and reaches hundreds of kids. They decorate for weeks to make it the most fun and inviting event they can imagine! This year's theme was an amusement park. The entire church was decked out! We have an amazing children's staff and volunteers. They create the VBS from scratch. They come up with the verse, the theme, the stories, the skits and the decor. This year's VBS was call 41:10 All Access. It came from Isaiah 41:10:

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

We weren't up there much to help decorate, but we did go up one evening. It was fun, and John got to hang with Matthew from our Life Group. They are so goofy!

The first night was VBS shirt night, and she was joined by her friends Jude and Klara. I was helping with crafts, so that's what most of my photos are of. This first night we colored boomerangs.

The second night was Tacky Tourist Night. It was so fun!

That night was our most ambitious craft, which was a windchime.

The third night was Crazy Hair! Sydney wanted a fidget spinner in her hair, so we did our best. John donned a mullet wig and I went crazy with a blue mohawk of sorts.

That night's craft was a decorated sticky note holder. We got some extra time with Shaina that night, and the teen girls kept picking on John and his hair!

 The fourth night was International Night - to dress up like someone in another country. John absolutely surprised us by renting a kilt! Shaina and I matched, but with different inspirations. She was from France and I was a gondolier from Italy! Sydney did a Japanese look, while Klara went for Denmark with the Little Mermaid.

There was a Gondola Ride decoration, so I had John take my photo for fun!

 One awesome thing about VBS was volunteering with our friends! Nick was a bear for the children's skits, and Shaina helped support our volunteers. Nate led the 5-year-olds through the stations, and Meagan worked in crafts. It was so nice to get to know people in our church better.

 That evening's craft was a yarn wrapped cross. We had fun with the kids each night!

 These are some pictures our friend Melissa took. Melissa, Sydney and Sawyer all matched on International Night! I loved the candid photo of Klara and Sydney, as well.

 One surprising benefit of volunteering was how good it was for our marriage! John worked out in the parking lot, but could come after the drop off and before pick up times. He was so great about being involved, dressing up and coming to help in crafts. We had fun together! We came out of the week so happy and more in sync!

 The last night was irregular from the other nights. There was a short program and slide show recapping the week for the parents. Then, we went outside for a carnival of sorts for Family Night!

  There was all kinds of carnival food and activities!

 We didn't get to see Ava much during the week, so it was a great time to catch up. Sydney felt strong for climbing the very tall rock wall!

 Sydney was also excited to knock our youth pastor in the dunk tank, although she had some help from some teens who pulled the bar in the back.

 Sydney was most thrilled to get to jump. She did a few back flips, of which she was very proud!

 Throughout the week, the skits featured several characters. These volunteers put hours into rehearsing, getting ready and performing for our kids. They even got ready and made an appearance at the Family Night! It was a great VBS, and we are honored to be a very small part of it!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day 2017

This Father's Day was pretty relaxed. Sydney and I made a big breakfast for John. He wanted my mom's homemade cinnamon rolls, which was torture for me to not eat. He and Sydney loved them! We spent the morning with John before he went to work. We are so blessed to have John in our lives. He is an awesome father and husband. He loves us so much, and is always there for us. I'm so glad that Sydney has a dad who is very involved and a big part of her life!

One of my favorite photos of Dad and me from my childhood.
People keep asking how I am doing when it comes to losing my own dad. Right now I'm still doing very well. I missed not cooking for him on Father's Day, but I got through the day with no problems. I miss him and love him so much, and was blessed to have such a fun, loving dad. He was far from perfect, but he was mine, and I'm ever so grateful!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sydney at 6 1/2

Sydney, at 6 ½ you continue to amaze me. You are simply a ray of sunshine. You are hopeful and caring. You have a beautiful smile and big heart. You are also a very supportive person! You have been encouraging me in my journey to get healthy. You cheer me on and build me up. It means so much to me.
You love to learn and read. You continue to push yourself in reading and grammar. You love to read me bedtime stories at night, and refuse to let me help you through a book.

You are a little fashionista! You enjoy putting outfits together, and accessorizing. You enjoy designing outfits with your fashion plates. Sydney, you are so hard on yourself. You strive to be the best, and make us or your teachers proud. I’m learning that this is just a big part of your personality. You are a high achiever, and expect others to strive to achieve, as well.

Making desserts for the family.
Cooking is one of your favorite things. You are determined to keep learning and gaining skills. You are cooking with us more and more. Your goal is to be on Chopped Junior on the Food Network when you are 8. You are not deterred by the fact that most of the kids are
older. You have a goal, and you are determined to work toward it. You also dream of having a farm when you grow up. You want to grow and raise your own food and cook it for your restaurant.

Sydney and her amazing friend Ava
You are a wonderful friend. You want everyone to get along and be happy. You have a loving, giving spirit. We love you so much! You are just a joy to be around. You are funny, smart and creative. You love music and art. You are still so compassionate and caring. I'm blessed to have you as my daughter. You have been through a lot in your life, but you persevere. I love that about you so much. While I have always used compassionate as a word to describe you most, I think you also have a knack for perseverance. 

Favorite thing to learn in school? Music

 What are you most looking
forward to in first grade? Writing better sentences

Favorite book? Little Ree
Ready to work outside with her Dad!

Favorite animal? Penguins
Favorite food? Real rice that's not cauliflower :)

Favorite color? Pink and purple
Favorite place to be? The reading nook in my room or the pool
If you could go anywhere in the
world, where would you go? London or Hawaii
Favorite thing to do with Mom? Cuddle
Favorite thing to do with Dad? Swim & working outside
What do you want to be when you grow
up? Farmer & Chef

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A quick trip to the frontier

For a while I've been wanting to go to the Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Oklahoma. Some time back, John scheduled some time off for the first weekend in June, so we decided that would be a good time to go to the Merc. It turned out that we closed on Dad's house the day before our little vacation. What a way to celebrate this new chapter in our lives!

That Friday we drove to Stillwater. It's a town in Oklahoma I've never visited but always wanted to see. We spent some time at this great little children's museum. Sydney is very into being a farmer, so the farm section was perfect for her!

There were so many fun stations, and Sydney had a blast playing around.

We then went to Eskimo Joe's for dinner. This is an icon in Oklahoma, and we were so excited to visit. The food was fine, but it was so much fun to just be in the atmosphere, and soak up the fun of being there.

After dinner we were able to get some fun time in the pool at the hotel!

The next morning we were up bright and early to go to Pawhuska!

The Merc was so fun! We had a great time looking around, and taking it all in. Sydney is a huge fan of Charlie, the basset hound PW writes about in her children's books. When he died she was very upset. She enjoyed seeing the section dedicated to him, as well as cowgirl stuff and eclectic household items.

My favorite area was the upstairs bakery. It was quiet and cozy. I could have stayed up there for hours. Sydney enjoyed watching the bakers at work.

John and Sydney enjoyed some goodies from the bakery, while I just rested and soaked in being there.

When we left the Merc, we were able to drive out to the PW's ranch land to take a tour of her lodge, where she films her Food Network Show. It was absolutely beautiful!!! We loved seeing the wild horses, as well.

PW's real house was nearby, and it was amazing to just take in the scenery. It was an overcast day, but it was still just breathtaking.

Sydney had brought a book with her, and wanted to carry it around so she could see what was the same as in the book.

The lodge was amazing. Sydney met a new friend, as well!

A picture of PW and Charlie - Sydney was smitten with the lodge right away.

We were able to walk all around the lodge, including the guest rooms. This particular room is where PW gets ready for her shows. Sydney made herself quite at home.

Sydney so very much loved sitting at PW's makeup table. She said she felt like a celebrity!

We had a great time looking around and seeing the kitchen, where much of the show is filmed.

It was crazy to see all the items and food she has stored there. Sydney was just mesmerized.

There was a guest book and paper there to leave notes. Sydney insisted she write one herself. She wrote "I'm your biggest fan! I love you!"

We are so blessed to have John who is so patient and loving. He had a great time, as well and never once rushed us. He enjoyed seeing everything too, and was so happy to his favorite girls happy!

Sydney fell in love with one of PW's dogs. She spent quite a bit of time petting it and making sure it got a lot of belly rubs.

One of my favorite things was driving on the dirt road! It may seem silly, but it was just very fun and therapeutic for this former country girl.

We then went to Oklahoma City for the night. We got to the hotel on Priceline, so we were stuck with whatever accepted our bid. We got a good deal, and the hotel was very new and nice. We felt like we weren't cool enough to stay there! The entire first floor is a museum, and Sydney has fun exploring.

We spent some time in Bricktown, where John got to go to Bass Pro Shop, one of his favorite places.

We then went to the Melting Pot for a fun treat! This was the only meal where I cheated on my meal plan, and even at that I was very careful. It was so fun and Sydney just loved it so much. She just went nuts for the dark chocolate for dessert.

Sunday morning none of us were ready for the trip to end. So we wasted time where we could, including Whole Foods to get some things on my eating plan that are not easy to find at home. It was a great trip, maybe one of the best we've had. It was just what we needed to relax and reset!