Mrs. Gore Likes: Hearthsong’s Deluxe Platform Swing

This past weekend, we arrived at my parents house to find a surprise hanging from the trees.

Last year, my Mom had experienced one of these swings at my Aunt Susan’s house, and she just couldn’t stop talking about how much fun it was and how amazing it was and how badly she wanted to find a couple…

so we sat down one afternoon last month and finally purchased them.

And now I finally get her enthusiasm.

Without further wordage, I present to you the Platform Swing from Hearthsong, the FUNNEST SWING I have ever…swung…swang?…swing-ded?…from.

For reals.

p.s. the following photographs are candid and genuine and were not taken for this blog post; rather, they inspired this blog post! Special thanks to my sister-in-law, Amy, for capturing the fun!

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When you first load up, you have no idea how great it is…

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and then you find yourself screaming your face off in delight!!

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You can swing with your friends…

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or quite alone (and go REALLY high!)…

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you can swing if you’re young…

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you can swing if you’re old(er)…

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and, if you’re anything like us, you can swing all. day. long.

At some points, the kids were swinging high and laughing shrilly, and at others, they were lounging hammock-like, just staring at the trees.

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But just between you and me, I’m convinced no one loved the swings more than I did…

When I backed into one and laid down, I was expecting it to be fun, but I had no idea how awesome it would be. One of my quirks is that I react really loudly on amusement park rides and during those interactive 3-D rides; thus, when my Daddy pulled me back in this swing and let go, the following words came bellowing out of my mouth: “OH MY GOSH, I’M FLYING!! I’M FLYYYYYIIIIIIIINNNNGGGG!! I FEEL LIKE A GIANT BABY! I’M LIKE A GIANT BABY IN A CRADLE! THIS IS SO MUCH FUN! I LOOOOOOOVE IT!!! I COULD DO THIS ALL DAYYYY!!!!!”

Glad no one was around with a video camera.

And I can’t WAIT until I can cozy up on one of these with a good book and a long afternoon of nothin’. I’m convinced such a day is in my future!

Anyhow, by the end of our second day with the swings, my mom and I agreed that this must be the closest thing to flying that a kid (or an easily impressed adult) can ever feel.

They aren’t cheap, but if your summer budget allows, hurry! Buy one! And if it doesn’t, start saving up. You won’t be sorry!

Find yours by clicking on the picture below:


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A few more things: Do your research before hanging. You need a very sturdy tree with big, sturdy limbs, or something very secure to hang it from, and hardware to hang it with. Also of note: We’ve only had ours for a weekend. I cannot attest to how long they will last, or how many injuries might come from them or how soon we’re going to stretch them out with our (my) postpartum girth. I’ll let you know…

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About “Mrs. Gore Likes”: This blog is not a money-making endeavor, but since I enjoy sharing resources, I signed up to be an Amazon Associate, wherein I have the ability to share products and books and receive a small commission from anyone who shops at Amazon through my links (even if they don’t buy the actual product I shared). This outlet hasn’t allowed me to hire a cleaning lady or anything, but it has been fun to contribute to the family budget, even if it is only $10 a month. (The first month I made a whopping $3.47!!)

That said, I NEVER share anything that I don’t actually have in my home. And then I NEVER share anything that I don’t truly love and use. It is a matter of personal honor that I don’t dangle things in front of your eyes that will entice you to spend your hard-earned money; I want my blog to be a place where you come for rest and humor, not to find more stuff that you don’t really need.

But occasionally, I am so enthusiastic about a product that I feel it would be worth sharing. You’ll see those products and books show up in my Facebook news feed.

And then, even less occasionally, I come across something that just blows me away and I am so geeked out about it that I have to write a 600-word glowing review and share photographs of us enjoying it, whether it is from Amazon or not.

Enter “Mrs. Gore Likes”.

And if you hung in with me through that laborious explanation, Amazon should give YOU a commission!

The Day I Sold My Soul for a Sandwich

"The Day I Sold My Soul for a Sandwich" by Mrs. Gore

It all started with a sandwich.

Grilled ham and cheese with a side of potato chips, accompanied by a cold can of Dr. Pepper.

I just needed 20 minutes.

The morning had been challenging, but I was proud of myself for maintaining an upbeat attitude and tending to the children with a patient heart, even though one was feeling under the weather, one was grouchy and whiny, and one was a boy with 50 hands and a penchant for the dramatic.

Oh! And I can’t forget the one that was kicking me from inside my belly. There was that one, too.

Here, Betsie (not sick) is crying because she WANTS to take medicine. Rebekah (sick) is crying because she DOESN’T want to take medicine…

Girls!

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If I could just join my husband in the living room and regroup over my sandwich and some Jimmy Fallon, I knew I could handle the rest of the long summer day without snapping.

Speaking of long summer days, what is UP with long summer days? At 8:00 p.m. when we start bedtime, my daughter always asks “Why are we going to bed when it is still morning?!” And I’m like “Morning, my dear, was at least 3 days ago…”

Anyhow, my sandwich.

I wanted to spend some alone time with it and treat it right. The baby kid was still safely tucked inside me and the grouchy kid had gone down for her nap…

that left two kids, the slightly sick kid and the boy-kid.

So when my son asked if he could play with his camo war paint, I felt I had struck gold. “Yes!” I answered brightly, “but you have to do it on the porch.”

The kitchen erupted in cheers and, after retrieving 3 tubes and one palette of paint from the craft cabinet, two sets of feet scampered out of the house.

“Take your shirts off!” I yelled, right before the door slammed, leaving my husband and me in utter silence.

Us and my sandwich.

We proceeded to eat our lunch and every once in awhile the children knocked on the living room windows to show us their progress.

Gideon painted a beautiful necklace on Rebekah. I clapped from my chair and gave him a thumbs up.

Next, he painted his belly.

I gave an exaggerated laugh and waved to show him I thought it was super funny.

Then Rebekah came and showed us her completely painted legs. They were bright green, just like the Incredible Hulk.

I genuinely laughed this time. “That’s pretty awesome…” I said to my husband, so happy the kids were having fun…

and that I was eating my sandwich.

But just as we were finishing and Mr. Gore was preparing to return to his office, Gideon stuck his head inside and said “You know what would be perfect? Some feather hats.” He looked at us expectantly, and before I knew it, Mr. Gore and I were crafting Indian-type headdresses out of construction paper and tape. The kids were in and out now, gingerly opening the screendoor with their painted hands. I don’t know how many times I said “Watch out!” and “Don’t. touch. anything!” Every five seconds, at least.

Finally, we joined them on the front porch to give them their headdresses. They looked pretty fierce and were so pumped…

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So you know what happened next…

Visions of a summertime blog post started dancing merrily through my head: “Surviving Summer: How to Keep Little Kids Occupied While You Eat Your Sandwich”.

I would fill it with brilliant ideas for making it through these lengthy days, complete with anecdotes and action photos and everything! I ran to get the camera for the first idea on my list: give your kids war paint and let them loose. While you eat your sandwich.

That’s when I noticed the doorknob felt funny. Looking down at my hand, I noticed that it was covered in paint.

“Well that’s not cool…” I thought to myself.

I looked around me for the first time.

Our completely white front porch was a war zone.

Paint everywhere.

“Oh man…” I muttered.

But I needed to snap those pictures, so I decided to deal with it later. I followed the kids through the yard, taking unscripted pictures of them prowling in the grass like sneaky warriors, hiding next to a tree from passing cars…

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“Well, this might have been kind of messy, but it was fun,” I decided in my head. Totally worth it.

But as I walked back into the house, I looked more intently at the damage they had left behind. Tubes of messy paint were lying on a white blanket I had drying on the porch rail. The white door was covered in handprints, as were all five white rocking chairs, and camo footprints on the concrete showed me just how many times they had come in and out of the house.

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I sighed.

And I started to admit that maybe this hadn’t been the most brilliant idea after all.

But then I saw my little warriors sitting under a shade tree, talking and laughing, and I changed my mind again. Yep. Worth it.

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But then I had to change my mind again when they came to the door five minutes later, whining and saying they were ready to wash the paint off.

No stinkin’ way, I thought.

It was at this point that the genius-that-is-Mrs-Gore remembered how difficult it had been to remove this paint from Gideon’s face the last time he’d used it…and it had just been on his face, and I had been smart enough to supervise his application.

Today, however, their entire bodies were covered in paint, thickly, from head to toe.

You know, because I had been eating a stupid sandwich.

Sighing again, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to get a head start on the clean-up. Then maybe I could let them watch a movie until their little sister woke up from her nap.

And this, my friends, is how the rest of the day went (and keep in mind that, in my 3rd trimester state, bending over to administer ONE bath to ONE kid pretty much exhausts me)…

  • I emerge from my air-conditioned cave, barefoot, in my maternity leggings and tank top, and start hunting for a water hose.
  • I finally find it clear on the other side of the house and across the gravel (ouch!) driveway.
  • I turn on the faucet and get sprayed in the face with water shooting out of either side of the hose.
  • That’s when I remember my expensive camera is still around my neck.
  • I return to the backyard and walk straight into the spray from the sprinkler that is apparently hooked up to the waterhose. Camera still around my neck.
  • I react like I’m getting shot. (I don’t like to play in the water…)
  • The kids crack up. I tell them to play in the sprinkler and wait for me.
  • I go inside, dry off, put my camera up and retrieve a bar of soap.
  • I return to the backyard. Both kids are gone. Rebekah is screaming in the front yard that she “can’t find me!!”.
  • I yell for them that I’m in the backyard.
  • Gideon joins me and I start lathering his body with soap. Rebekah is still screaming. She obviously can’t hear me.
  • Gideon immediately gets soap in his eye and starts running through the yard like a madman, screaming shrilly at the top of his lungs. I chase him with the hose, trying to wash the soap out of his eyes. He runs away from me while begging for me to help him.
  • I catch up and start spraying him in the face. He stops crying, mostly because he can’t breathe.
  • I leave him the hose and run to the front yard to find Rebekah. She is now screaming IN THE HOUSE, dripping paint and water everywhere, and all I can think is that, if she wakes up the baby, I will lose my cool.
  • I drag Rebekah out of the house, through the frontyard and into the backyard where Gideon (whose eye still hurts) has taken up running and screaming again.
  • I go ahead and lose my cool anyway and start Mommy shrieking that if they don’t calm down and learn to listen I’m going to “wear them out” when we get back in the house.
  • I realize that that is the first time I’ve ever said “I’m going to wear you out” and that our naive family has moved into the legit realm of the parenting world. Old-school, yo.
  • I look up and see that our neighbors are enjoying their afternoon on their front porch.
  • I start laughing and skip a little so they’ll think we’re having fun.
  • I scrub the first layer of paint off of each kid as Gideon continues to wail about his eye and Rebekah hysterically laugh/cries like she does when she doesn’t want to be in trouble.
  • I realize with a sinking heart that they’re still very green and brown and black.
  • I dry them off and carry them to my bathtub, warning them that if they move, play, or touch anything, they will die.
  • I start using wet wipes to clean their faces. Another layer comes off but…
  • they’re still green and brown and black.
  • I leave the bathwater running while I dash to the computer room to google “how to get face paint off”.
  • First answer: wet wipes. Next!
  • Second answer: baby oil or cold cream or butter. I don’t have baby oil or cold cream.
  • I retrive a softened stick of butter I happen to have on the counter.
  • I return to the bathtub, tell Gideon to stand up and I start greasing his body down with butter.
  • The kids crack up.
  • I’m not laughing yet. Mostly because I’m using dairy products to get my kids clean. I didn’t see this one coming.
  • Rebekah tries to lick Gideon’s leg because she “loves butter!”
  • I continue to scold them for screaming like “banshees” in the backyard and tell them the police might have come. Rebekah reminds me that I was “screaming like a witch.”
  • She is right.
  • Another layer of paint comes off, but they’re still covered in it.
  • I dry them off with dirty beach towels, put them in their swimsuits and banish them to the front porch.
  • I try not to look at the crime scene that is my master bathroom.
  • I call Mr. Gore and instruct him to come home with baby oil, shampoo and popsicles! A.S.A.P.
  • I hang up the phone and hear Gideon crying. He got bit on the finger by a turtle in the yard. Of course he did!
  • I retrieve alcohol and cotton balls and a bandage and take care of his finger.
  • Rebekah falls asleep on the front porch.
  • Betise wakes up upstairs.
  • Mr. Gore comes home from work for the day and I immediately burst into uncontrollable tears. “I just can’t do it all!” I wail.
  • Mr. Gore starts feverishly cleaning the house.
  • I retrieve Betsie from her bed. She has taken off her wet diaper and dropped it in the floor and is naked and crying.
  • I take her to the rocking chair and we cry together for 15 minutes. Well…I do.
  • I get Betsie dressed and we go downstairs, our tears wiped away.
  • I scrub all of the paint and dirt out of my tub with the heavy-dutiest cleaning agent I have.
  • I put Gideon back in the tub, slather him down with baby oil, and watch in wonder as the last of the paint wipes off. Then I fill up the tub and scrub him like he’s never been scrubbed before. He’s clean!!!
  • I dry him off. He apologizes for “being mean” and I say “me too”. We hug and make up.
  • Betsie comes into my room. She’s naked again. I put a pair of training panties on her.
  • I fetch Rebekah for her bath. I slather her down with baby oil and wipe the remaining paint off of her.
  • Betise climbs onto a stool next to me and tries to climb into the tub with her sister. She is naked again. I use my body to block her path, and she starts playing the drums on my backside.
  • As I fill up Rebekah’s tub, I take down her braid and notice that I missed something. Her hair is streaked skunk-like with green and black paint. Perfect!
  • I wash her hair with my shampoo. Paint pours into the water like I’m rinsing out a sponge.
  • I rinse her hair, drain the water and clean the tub again.
  • I wash her hair again. Paint still pours into the tub. I rinse her hair and the tub again.
  • I wash her hair again, this time before filling up the tub. No more paint.
  • I fill up the tub again and scrub her down. She’s clean!!! But the tub is somehow dirty again.
  • Betsie comes back, still naked, and starts making fart noises by blowing on my calf with her mouth.
  • I dry Rebekah off, give her some more Tylenol for her renewed headache and glance at the clock…

Inexplicably, it is 5:30 p.m., and even though I still need to clean the house, take a shower, powerwash the porch and make supper, I confusedly emerge from this agonizing time-vortex of summertime horror a little sadder, a lot wiser, very grouchy and…

starving.

I’ll take anything but a sandwich.

Mrs. Gore Slips and Slides (and pays for it the next day)

A couple of weeks ago, after a full season of photographed birthday parties and social gatherings, wherein our clothing was carefully chosen and our hair was meticulously groomed, I made a total departure.

Total.

Departure.

No cameras and no other adults around, I made an unprecedented decision, and wearing my super-awesome matronly swim dress…from you guessed it, Dillard’s (complete with “waist cinchers” and “hip slimmers”)…I spent the afternoon playing on the Slip n’ Slide with my children and 3 nieces.

It was my 2nd time ever to “play” on a Slip n’ Slide.

If I haven’t told you 54 times already, I am the baby of the family, as well as the only girl. Thus, by the time I had arrived in the Slip n’ Slide stage of life, ours was all ratty and tatty and had been slightly eaten by mice in the garage. When we did pull it out for birthday parties, it was teeming with reckless pre-teen boys, and my timidity and fear (and good common sense!) kept me safely in the house with my Mama.

That’s why I was 22 years old before I ever had the opportunity or the inclination to partake in any kind of  Slip n’ Slide fun.

{would this also be a good time to confess that I never learned to ride a bike? No? Okay. Some other time.}

My cousin’s elementary-aged boys were visiting that summer, and although my parents were hosting them, it was my job to keep them entertained during those long summer days in the middle of nowhere. Setting up a fancy new Slip n’ Slide my Mom had purchased just for them, I watched them make a few runs, and then, in a moment of spontaneity and perhaps a bit of unfulfilled childhood longing, I thought I’d finally give it a try.

Their cheers for me echoed through the distance as I made my stance and set my eye on the target. “Go!” I yelled in my head, and my legs began to run toward the long, yellow plastic runway, crunchy heat-scorched Oklahoma grass breaking underneath my bare feet with every heavy step I took (I’m dense in more ways than one). Reaching the Slip n’ Slide, I lunged, and jumping into the air, I flew

and landed with a thunk, flat on my stomach, the rain-thirsty Oklahoma ground beneath me as rock hard as my skull.

The same skull that I could feel my brain rattling around in as I laid there on the Slip n’ Slide in acute discomfort, vowing never to come near one again.

But it’s true…time has a way of healing all wounds…and Momnesia has obviously made me an absolute lunatic…so when I saw my kids suiting up to go play in the water at my Mom’s house this summer, some kind of madness overtook me. I felt young. I felt spontaneous. I felt charitable, and I didn’t care one whip if my hair got wet or if my cellulite made an appearance.

The kids stared at me, aghast, when they saw me come outside in my bathing suit, not because I was huge or weird looking or an uninvited guest, but because…I was a grown-up.

“You’re swimming?!” my 8-year old niece, Abigail exclaimed, a smile of disbelief lighting up her face.

“Yes!” I replied, with a laugh, which was soon echoed by all the kids as they gathered around me, the novelty of having someone who usually sits in a rocking chair while they swim dare to venture across that secret boundary that keeps kids in the pool and grown-ups comfortable and, most importantly, dry.

“Come on!” they shouted in a cacophany of young voices, 5 sets of hands pulling me toward the Slip n’ Slide.

But I needed to buy some time. Stagefright had set in and I wasn’t ready yet.

“So how do you do this thing?” I asked tentatively.

They gladly demonstrated, each child explaining to me the hows and whens of the Slip n’ Slide, and before I knew it, ready or not, it was my turn.

I stood in position and stared at the obstacle before me. Gee, it looked like fun with its runway of sprinklers on either side and the little pool at the end surrounded by a soft, inflatable ledge …

But it was so far down on the ground. And I felt so stinkin’ tall, the Goliath of the party…no, scratch that….I was the more like the big dumb giant on “Mickey and the Beanstalk”…

“How do I get from here to there?” I calculated in my mind.

But then the encouraging chants of the Lilliputians around me did their magic, and I was off like a retired racehorse, running…and praying…and positively flinching at the thought of having my brain rattle inside my skull like it did 8 summers ago.

Well…the result of my fear and over-thought resulted in a truly sad display of old-lady Slip-n-Slidery, an awkward slide/fall/lying-down/roll that eventually landed me at the finish line, freezing, exposed, and perhaps bruised…but I had done it, and my brain was still resting comfortably inside my spacious skull. As the children swooped down next to me on the Slip n’ Slide, a well of laughter bubbled up from my soul, and mingled with their happy giggles.

“Help her up!” Abigail said, and I felt those 5 sets of hands on my bottom, hoisting me up like I was truly ancient. It amused me to realize exactly how old these kiddos thought I was…and didn’t I feel the same way about my own Mom until I had children of my own?

I took a moment to glance at the expressions on the faces of my own children to gauge what they were thinking of their silly Mama, and what I saw there completely made my day: Gideon was obviously excited, a huge smile lighting up his entire face. But Rebekah’s smile was one of pride and a little bit of wonder, and I noticed that she kept sidling up next to me to hold my hand and partake in the fun right alongside me.

This observation must have spurred me on, and the childish mentality that had overtaken me that strange summer day said “That was fun! I wanna do it again…”

And so I did.

Over and over and over again.

Sometimes I ran and slid with the kids, sometimes I performed alone while they cheered for me, sometimes I stood and threw them down the runway like little rocketships, and finally, I just sat down on the Slip n’ Slide and, instructing the kids to grab my wrists and my ankles, allowed them to pull me all the way down to the end.

I can’t recall ever having so much fun swimming in my entire lifetime of memories.

But there are 2 morals to this story:

1. To my dear young ladies who feel self-conscious in a swimming suit, there is a bright future ahead for you – someday (sooner than you think), you’ll be flopping around on a Slip n’ Slide like a beached whale and won’t care a bit about all your wibblies and wobblies. Because no matter what you look like, you’ll be the most popular girl at the party.

2. The Biblical truth of reaping and sowing applies even to Slip n’ Slides. In this particular instance, the sowing was full of unparalleled excitement and joy; the reaping, however, was 100 degrees of painful. Meaning, I had my fun on Slip n’ Slide Day…but I couldn’t move for 3 days afterward. Pain. Muscle soreness. Headaches. Aches ALL over. Ouch.

Thankfully, there was no permanent damage, and my ego was soaring so high from the sowing that I was able to keep my temporary pain in perspective. But once I was able to move again, I mozied back over to my comfortable rocking chair on swimming days, especially after it was pointed out to me that there there is an age recommendation on the Slip n’ Slide box: ages 6 – 12. So that explains it.

I suppose my Slip n’ Slide days are over.

Now maybe I should see about riding that bike….

Homeschool Field Day – Part 3

You’ve seen the decor of my sister-in-law Amy’s Homeschool Field Day (Part 1).

You’ve seen the weigh-in and the “photo shoot” (Part 2).

Now who’s ready to PLAY?!

From the obstacle course to the sack races to the tire roll to the foot races to the long jump to the tug-of-war, our 11 participants poured their hearts and their full tanks of childish energy into their first Field Day experience, so that by the time all 9 events were completed, their hair was sweaty, their faces were red (especially Miss Sunday’s) and their little tummies were soooo hungry!

This is where my Mom came in, generously preparing a yummy lunch (corn dogs, chips and fruit) for the children to enjoy outside and a super-yummy lunch (her famous chicken salad on croissants) for the grownups to eat inside. It was such a beautiful day, from start to finish, and it brings me such joy to share the following photographs with you; most of them (the best ones) were taken by Amy herself, further proof that my beloved sister is a superwoman!!! How I love and admire her, and I will never forget this day we shared together in June 2012.

Gotta stretch first!

Amy started off the events with a super-fun obstacle course that the kids just loved. Here, 2-year old Jackson tackles the tires before moving on to the rest of the challenges…

Kate bravely steps over the hurdle…

Rebekah trips over the hurdle…

Gideon CONQUERS the hurdle (and consequently, loves this photograph of himself)!!

Next, the 4- and 5-year olds line up for the sack race…

the competition was FIERCE!

Here is the precious 2- and 3-year old division…

Rebekah (the biggest and the oldest in her category) wins, as the older girls watch with delight; this group of preschoolers was definitely the crowd favorite!

Then it was time for dear friends Abigail and Katy to compete against one another in their age division, but there was a lot more giggling than there was competition – they love each other too much!

Fun + Forever Friends = Field Day 2012

Time for the Long Jump!

Kate gets a little help from her Daddy…

(p.s. and there is our great friend, Chrissy, who helped make this day possible – thanks, Chrissy!!)

Jamie (and her ponytail) fly across the yard…

Gideon (with a captive audience) displays interesting form…

Gabbie LEAPS like a pro…

and Abigail sticks her landing like a future Olympian.

Then the kids were split up into teams for a good old-fashioned game of tug-of-war…

Team Abigail…

versus Team Katy (only partly pictured here)…

My favorite part about this game was that no one ended up crying when it was over! Smiles all around (thank God).

About halfway through Field Day, my Mom sent out this wagon full of fruit and the kids took a much needed water and snack break…

Rebekah, not surprisingly, focused on the strawberries.

Amy planned several races for the day, beginning with an individual sprint that she timed and then recorded on each child’s information card for keepsake purposes. Here, little Anna runs with all her might to get a good time written on her card!

Mr. Gore challenges our son, Gideon, to a race (be still my heart).

When it came time for the competitive foot races, Amy asked me to set up my camera at the finish line for a photo finish…

while she set up facing the finish line. So I think we can safely say it…Abigail won this race.

Here she proudly accepts one of the 3 coveted medals with a GOLD STAR on it.

Isaiah won in his category…

and Rebekah won in hers. I thought this was a great thing for Amy to do, because while every kid got a medal at the end of the day for participating and doing well in a particular category, they also learned with these gold-star medals that you lose some…and you win some. But not everybody wins. Important lessons happen on Field Day, folks.

Then it was time for the 3-legged race, proof that some things are just timeless. What was fun for Anne and Diana and the schoolchildren of Avonlea is still fun today! How about that?!

Kate and Jackson were definitely the last to cross the finish line during the 3-legged race, but they sure had fun getting there…

Ribbons were handed out to everyone for participating…

and then we posed the children for one last group photograph.

and then…finally…lunchtime!

(That’s my Momma, everybody).

The kids attacked the food.

No, seriously. ATTACKED it.

Sigh. Our first annual Field Day was officially over…

And so we thought that called for a celebration. Water balloon fight!!!

Amy had a silver tub full of water balloons and sponges waiting for the children once lunch was over.

And when the water balloons were long gone, the tub made for a great swimming pool…

Dear God, may days like this be branded upon our memories, for truly they are only possible through your love and grace. What blessings are found in the traditions that we share with our families and friends!

Once more, a special THANK YOU to Amy for creating this day for us, to Chrissy for helping from start to finish, to Mom for a wonderful lunch and a ton of hard work, and to all who participated and came to cheer on our competitors. We can’t wait until next year’s Field Day! (Especially Gideon, who constantly asks me “When is Field Day again?” before we go over the looooong list of holidays we must trudge through before summer is here once more).

And, as ever, thank you, dear readers, for revisiting all of my special days with me. I hope in the future you have the opportunity to host a Field Day in your own backyard – unless you have a super-Amy in your life, it might look a lot different than ours, but…you get the gist. All you need is some energetic kids, some good weather, a little creativity and a lot of hard work…and the fun that follows is almost 100% guaranteed!

Homeschool Field Day – Part 2

At 10 o’clock a.m., our First Annual Homeschool Field Day began! (see Part 1 here).

But before I continue, I’d like to take a moment to share a few thoughts on “homeschool” events. One of the greatest beauties of homeschooling is the freedom and the flexibility that comes in the curriculum, in the scheduling, and, in this instance, the event-planning. There is lots of inspiration and much advice to be found on the subject, but there really is no handbook on “how to create a successful homeschool.” Because that’s the point, isn’t it? To craft a system and a school that meets the needs of your particular (and, in our case, peculiar) family and to fit into your personal lifestyle? For example, we performed our “First Annual Cousin Show” with just our family because the music and drama teacher (ME) is not equipped to handle anymore “performers” at this stage in my life, and the same is true of the homeschool parties my Mom hosts for us (add any more kids to the mix and Grandmother will soon go bankrupt!); however, it just seemed fitting on this day to include our friends. Some of these friends don’t go to our church, and some don’t homeschool, but what we have in common is obvious: love for one another and for each other’s kids, and a friendship that is unified by the blood of Christ. All that to say, there are no rules to days like this, except for one – have fun and glorify God – and after that, anything goes. I encourage you to host a day like this for the kids in your circle, whether you are a homeschooler or not, because, frankly, this was FUN.

So let’s get to the good stuff!

Before we competed in any events, Amy (in a stroke of genius!) chose to start things off in an old-school official manner, just like the old days in P.E. class:

Each child was measured…

weighed…

 and then photographed, standing on an old-announcer’s-type box and holding the antique dumbbells. After Field day, Amy printed off each participant’s photograph and attached it to their information card as a special Field Day keepsake. I can’t tell you what a treasure this is to me!

I especially love how each child’s personality is seen in the following photographs.

First, Katy, fun-loving and sweet…

then Abigail, daring and funny and athletic…

then Gideon, silly and excited and (doting Mother alert) PRECIOUS – (by the way, he was asking when the next Field Day was the minute this one was over)…

then Anna, sweet and tender and day-dreamy…

then Isaiah, enthusiastic and energetic and totally in Field Day character…

then Gabbie, a shy but bold girl (see how she ducks her chin but still manages to look straight into the camera?) who loves nothing more than being with her friends…

then Jamie, with the face of an angel and the personality of an imp…

then Rebekah, finally 3 years old and beyond excited to be included in the big kids activities… 

then Kate, who is impossible to describe in one line. So just LOOK at that face, would ya?…

then Jackson, who can easily be described in two words: All. BOY. …

and then our tiny little friend, Izzy, who weighs about as much as those dumbbells. Please take a moment to appreciate her accessories and her silver sandals, which is our sassy little Izzy in a nutshell…

and although he and Baby Betsie were too young to participate this year, we had to take a quick picture of the heavyweight champ of Field Day 2012, Baby Grey. I think I die a little every time I look at the following picture…

But let’s get this Field Day started, shall we?

Ready…

Set…

GO!!!!

Let the Field Day fun BEGIN.

Part 3…coming up next!

Pin the Tail on the Donkey Goes Patriotic

I told you yesterday I’d share the details on our “Pin the Star on the Flag” game…

First, let me apologize. Our flag was wrinkled from being in storage and I simply did not have time to iron it. Next year I promise I’ll do better.

Which leads me to my next point: this flag has been around for several years now. I had purchased the supplies when Gideon was just a little thing, with plans to make this game for him and his cousins to enjoy. But I’m a procrastinator sometimes, and as that 2008 Independence Day drew near, my flag was still just a bag of felt in a Hobby Lobby bag.

That’s where our amazing friend, Yamei, stepped in.

As we sat around my Mom’s table and chatted and drank coffee, Yamei (a gifted seamstress) transformed my supplies into a giant American flag, one that has lasted for many years and continues to delight the children in my life.

This year was our best yet. Since we didn’t get the chance to actually play this game last year, Gideon had no memory of it, and was so taken by its novelty and fun.

So here’s my wrinkled flag: 

This is completely made of felt fabric, by the way. The stars were traced onto the fabric using a cookie cutter, and once cut, we added a velcro backing to it. Super easy. Super cheap. Super fun.

We’ll let Gideon demonstrate our game, although I’m sure you all know how to play Pin the Tail on the Donkey!

He was WAY off after being spun around and around and around, and eventually tried to pin a star on his Papa – he got so tickled when he realized how far he was from the flag, and his laughter and unbridled joy just made my day…

Perhaps next year you can make your own Pin the Star on the Flag game!

Or just buy the stuff and have Yamei over for coffee…

The First Annual Cousin Show – Part 2

Before looking at these pictures, you really must read the preface! That’s an order! Click here to obey me.

~

So like I said yesterday, the night of our little homeschool play was one of the best of my entire life. I don’t know what it was, really…but the timing, the ambiance, the nostalgia, the simplicity…it all came together to create a beautiful night for our family. It took place just last weekend, but a sweet warmth already washes over my soul when I think about our show in the shed…

Take a look.

6:30 sharp. Gideon and Abigail brave the May shower to walk across the yard to our secret dress rehearsal in the shed.

No mud boots on the stage!

Twizzlers for our audience…

and lots of cookies…

Snickerdoodle, anyone?…

And a program listing our recitations, songs and nursery rhymes…

The guest table, safe from the rain, featured chocolate chip, oatmeal and snickerdoodle cookies, along with Twizzlers, paper bags of popcorn, and lemonade. Easy to prepare, and no napkins, forks or plates required.

My Daddy peruses his program. He doesn’t often come “to town”, but he’d do anything for these kids. Even postpone construction on his solar kiln so they could have a show! (If you read the preface to this post, you know what I’m talking about. If you didn’t, I really don’t know what I’m going to do with you. Rebels…).

Here is a photograph of the full program. All of our numbers were based off of the Wee Sing Nursery Rhymes CD that came with our Sonlight P 3/4 Curriculum. It was so easy to invent little skits to go along with the nursery rhymes, and it really  helped the children to understand what the nursery rhymes were about. I highly recommend this CD and accompanying booklet. Click here
to find it at Amazon!

Betsie enjoyed her program, too. Literally. She ate a good portion of the top left corner sometime during the show.

“Curtain” rising…

I seriously thought these kids were going to burst with excitement…

 

First up was Anna Ruth (5 years old), reciting “One Misty Moisty Morning”. Anna, our otherworldly little daydreamer, is especially gifted at theatrics and was a dream to “direct”.

And I loved seeing how proud her big sister, Abigail, was to watch her do well.

Gideon couldn’t contain himself. His recitation of “Peter Piper” was…interesting…

and precious.

And then the amazing Abigail recited “Betty Botter”, a tongue-twister that she memorized in TWO DAYS. Would you like to hear it?

Betty Botter bought some butter, “but,” she said, “the butter’s bitter; If I put it in my batter it will make my batter bitter, but a bit of better butter, that would make my batter better.” So she bought a bit of butter, better than her bitter butter, and she put it in her batter, and the batter was not bitter. So t’was better Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter.

Twisty, yes? And she performed it to perfection.

As we do a quick set change to prepare for our nursery rhymes segment of the show, Gideon sneaks a peek at the audience…

We started with Mary (played by our very talented Miss Sunday who wanted ALL the leading parts), who had a Little Lamb with fleece white (oopsie…or black) as snow…

and everywhere that Mary went the Lamb was sure to go…

it followed her to school one day which was against the rules; it made the children laugh and play to see a lamb at school!

Next, Mother Abigail sang “Lazy Mary will you get up? Will you get up? Will you get up? Lazy Mary will you get up? Will you get up today?”

(When I told Anna she would be playing Mary, she exclaimed in delighted surprise “Oh good! Because I really AM lazy!!”)

“No, no, Mother, I won’t get up, I won’t get up today!” Anna sang in reply, before snuggling back down on her pillow to return to dreamland.

And then it was finally Baby Kate’s turn (At the end of every scene, she would jump up and say “My turn! It’s my turn!”). She practiced so hard all week and received rousing applause after her act. Seriously, how could she not?…

There was a Little Girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead…

When she was good, she was very, very good…

but when she was bad, she was HORRID!

a group singing of “6 Little Ducks” between our nursery rhymes…

followed by Jack and Jill…

then Miss Muffet (watch out for that spider!!)…

then Humpty Dumpty…

then Little Bo Peep and all her hiding sheep…

and finally (my personal favorite) Georgie Porgie, kissing the girls and making them cry!

And the super secret special finale, a performance of The Beatles’ “Love Me Do” for their Grandmother as a fun Mother’s Day surprise.They sang this one with gusto!

“Pleeeeeeeasssse?! Love me do!”

A dance party to end our First Annual Cousin Show!

~

It was so precious to watch the kids relax at their tables and chairs afterwards and enjoy their snacks. Their eyes were alight, their smiles were BIG, and well…my heart was bursting.

Brother (with a mouthful of Twizzlers) and Sister, proud of their accomplishment and happy to FINALLY raid that snack table!

I like to think that Kate and Rebekah were discussing their favorite part of the show, but who knows? They’re best friends, though, that’s for sure! (when they’re not duking it out…)

I am so very proud of my little actor and actresses. They made this Mama/Auntie one happy lady! (and everyone say ‘hi!’ to our friend Joe in the background!

I hope you’ll try putting on a special show in your backyard, whether you homeschool or not. Any way you slice it, this is good (and educational) old-fashioned fun.