SERENDIPITY

Oh! My! Isn’t it just the most glorious thing when you experience a serendipitous moment!

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I have been helping out at the preschool this week helping to get the place all spiffed up for Christmas! It really is such a joyful place to be! And, I do so love decorating with the children (and parents and teachers) in mind. So, I had almost finished and just lacked a couple of things to put the finishing touch in place. Since it was ‘Levi’ day, I decided I needed to make a run to ACS (a  certain store) before he was out of school. I also needed to pick up a gift for a Christmas Wish our Sunday School class was doing.

So off I went with my list of 4 …just 4…things. Found them all quickly and for some unknown, crazy reason…turkeys came to mind. Perhaps the adventure from Thanksgiving was on my mind, or perhaps I remembered that I usually get my favorite turkey at W M. Any way, I made my way from one side of the store to the other.

Now, I don’t know about you…but it is dangerous for me to be turned loose in ACS. I just pass by so many things that I had forgotten I needed. (I used to favor the one with the big red circle and still like it better than ACS, but that’s another story for another day. Sure do miss that store. ) Anyway, by the time I had made my way to the other side of the store, I had picked up a blanket, 2 candles, a box or two of cookies, toilet tissue, paper plates, a magazine, 2 candy bars, 2- 6 packs of Coke, 1 -6 pack of diet Dr. Pepper, 6 bottles of Fanta orange, 8 bottles of regular Dr. Pepper, a gallon of Gold Peak Tea, and a bag of white mini doughnuts and 2 containers of chicken salad and a box of Wheat Thins! Along with the 2 robes for the Christmas class, and 4 tiny trees for school…and a ‘partridge in a pair tree‘! Why there was scarcely any room for a turkey if I did find one!

I looked around and didn’t see any turkeys at all! Finally I asked a lady who was in the process of putting something out in the freezer section.  WAIT!  I held my breath and said a prayer at the same time. “Ma ‘am, by any chance would they be Jennie-O Turkeys? “, I asked. “Honey, I don’t never even look at labels…they’s just turkeys all I know.” she replied. So, I thanked her and stood back by the cheese counter and waited for her to open the box. She had to go and find a box cutter! Of, course! And, I had to pick up Levi in 45 minutes! Back she came…she opened the boxes and began heaving turkeys over her shoulder and into the freezer section. I stepped closer and ‘what to my wondering eyes should appear…but 5 Jennie-O turkeys…right there! so near!’  Then, just as fast as my heart soared…it fell to the floor. There they were…Oven Ready Jennie-O turkeys…CAJUN STYLE ! CAJUN STYLE ? Who ever heard of a Cajun Style turkey?  (Yes, I know many of you would like that!)  She turned to walk away and I asked her if that was all. She looked at me with weary eyes and said, “Nope, these 4 boxes is filled up with turkeys. But, I bout threw my back out putting those in so I think I’ll go on my break before I finish.” I decided to be bold and asked her if they were all Cajun Style. She sighed and said, “I don’t know…but if’n you want me to, I’ll check.” “I would be so appreciative, ma ‘am…if you don’t mind…”  She sighed and began opening the boxes.  First…more Cajun Style…Second…Cajun Style,  Third…Jennie-O, but not the Oven Ready.  

She opened the last box and little blue birds flew down the aisle…and the top of the store opened up to a cloudless blue sky and the sun shone brightly…I even think I may have…perhaps…possibly, heard an angelic chord or too! And, there was my Jennie-O turkey. Oven Ready. Just snip 5 holes in the top of the bag and put it in the oven and stand back and bask in the compliments! “That’s my turkey!” I said. “Well, good for you,” she said…not at all as if she really meant it. She then asked how many I wanted.  “Only one, “ I answered. “Huh, figured you want 4 or 5 way you ’s waiting around and all. These any good?” And, I started to tell her my story…but I could tell she really wouldn’t be amused…so I just said, “The best I’ve ever cooked.” “Humph, “ was all she said.

I thanked her profusely and asked if she needed any Tylenol for her back.  She had some.  I told her again how thankful I was for her.  And, then I said, “You know, I’ve searched everywhere for these turkey…for several months.  I even prayed about finding one.  I think the Lord just planted you right here in ACS today to answer my prayer!”  She smiled, “Well, to be sure, no one has ever said I was an answer to their prayer before!”  And, since the opportunity was there, I asked her if she was a Christian.  She said, “Dearie, I don’t know much about much.  I’m tired and don’t have much money and got a bad back.  I got children to feed and bills to pay.  I wonder every day about making it on to the next.  But, I’m shore of one thing…I will see Jesus one day!  He saved me and He saved my children.  And, if that’s all I ever have, then it’s fine by me!”  I said, “Wow!  what a testimony!  Not only did I find my turkey, I got an uplift to my spirit.”  I told her I would pray for her…and she said, “I wisht you would.”  Then I slipped some money into her hand and walked away.  She said, “I can’t take this.”  I said,  “It’s to buy yourself one of these turkeys…and not the Cajun Style!”   And, I quickly slipped down the next aisle.

I practically floated to the check out aisle. And, this is how I know it was a God thing that happened to me.  When I got to the checkout… I didn’t have to wait in line!!!!! I have never in the 44 years I’ve shopped at TCS, ever walked up and paid and didn’t have to wait. See they have about 25 registers, but only about 3 or 4 people working  them….strangest thing.

Anyway…come Christmas time…I’m ready. No thawing. No heat gun. No patting. No dancing with my turkey by the moonlight…she cooks from the frozen state.

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Friends, I don’t like to cook. I don’t even like to be in the kitchen. I despise grocery shopping. But, I am smart enough to know that of the things I do cook well…it’s best not to go trying to change them up. Stick with what you know. And, wait for the turkeys to finally make it to the store.  And, perhaps, if you’re lucky…the Lord will meet you there with one of his angels!

THANKSGIVING DAY…2016

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THE OWENS’ GO TO DISNEY WORLD

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*****SPOILER ALERT: MANY CUTE PICTURES!*****

We talked for over a year and we planned for several months and carefully made reservations.  We read and studied and knew just what we wanted to do…or so we thought!  We waited until we thought Levi was old enough to really enjoy it…we got that part right!  We filled our gas tanks and headed south...DISNEY, HERE WE COME!  Early on the morning of Nov.9, 2016 we began our trip.  A couple of stops along the way…and we were there….in the land of the mouse!

ears  Quickly we checked into our room around lunch time…we had passes for the first ride at 1:45!  And we made it!  Oh! it felt good to walk those streets of the Magic Kingdom again!  All the happy people, the music, the quaint buildings and more smiles than you could count!  Two more passes during the afternoon and then we made our way to dinner!

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Pirate beds in our rooms…

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New ‘BB8’ pajamas…

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The next morning we slept a little longer cause the big Mickey’s Christmas Party was tonight!  We had a nice breakfast and then hit the Magic Kingdom again!

Levi found these funky glasses at breakfast…

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Many were the times his feet didn’t touch the ground…

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The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast…then headed to the Magic Kingdom!.  Tonight is Mickey’s Christmas Party, so we want to pace ourselves through the day!  HA!  Pace ourselves?  With a 5 year old?  Didn’t happen!

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All decorated for Christmas…

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Even Levi…

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At the Christmas parade was where I saw our Levi the most animated.  With snow falling overhead and a cool chill in the air, it was perfect weather for a parade.  Once it began, it was a continual feast of lights and sounds and singing and lovable characters.  One after the other they came!  Levi would push his little body outside the edge of the crowd to keep us informed.  “Y’all its Goofy and Pluto!  Y’all it’s dancing girls!  Look it’s tin soldiers marching!  Hey!  It’s Mickey and Minnie”  First he climbed up Don’s shoulders, then a while in my lap (the wheelchair raised me up) then on Adam’s shoulders, to finally collapse in Suzanne’s lap when they were all gone!  What a glorious parade!  What Christmas joy it brought to those watching!  Delightful!dw127

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  “It is God who has given us these times of joy!”  Psalm 81:4

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Day 3 was our big day at Hollywood Studios.  Levi was looking most forward to this!  He is a big StarWars fan (along with his daddy and uncles) and he wanted to do the Jedi training!  They had to be in line at 8:00 to try and get a spot.  But Don and I didn’t.  We rested a while, then ate breakfast and joined them at the park about 11.  Levi was able to meet several of the characters and see so much of the Star Wars paraphernalia they used in the movies.  He was beside himself with excitement!

Levi with Chewbacca… dw37

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And a Jawa…

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Then the time came for the show and he was picked to participate!  What fun!  He was a ‘young padawan’…boys who will eventually learn to be a Jedi Knight.  He got to fight Darth Vader with his lightsaber!

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Oh, what a special treat!  Afterwards he went to the store and got his own costume and made his own lightsaber!  It seems young padawans are exhausted after a fierce battle with the Dark Side!

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Day 4 was Epcot Day.  This was not as much fun to any of us because there was a food and wine festival going on and the crowd was shoulder to shoulder…literally.  We couldn’t stop to see anything much in the countries area…we just got swept along with the crowds.

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A highlight here was our dinner where the characters come by and speak to all the children.  This made Levi even more excited~

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And, we came to Day 5, our last day…back at Magic Kingdom.  We rode lots of rides today.  I had promised Levi that he and I would do “It’s a Small World and “Dumbo” together and we did!    Sweet memories of riding these same rides with my boys 28 years ago on their first Disney trip…and a couple of other times since then.  He rode a few others as well.  One of his favorite seemed to be riding on my electric scooter, though!

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 Little boys and their little toys…tiny droids he made…

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On the monorail…

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With Mama and Daddy…

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With Lulu and Pa…

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We also rode over to see the cars from the movie “CARS” and “CARS2”.  He loved being able to see these in person…we have about 100 of the small ones in the Studio and at his house…

Good ole Mater…Lightning McQueen…..and Fillmore…

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And the end came on Day 6, as we packed up the cars and headed back north to Dothan.  It was a trip full of good times…one Levi and his parents will long remember…as will Don and I.  We talked of the sweetness of having a grandchild as kind and loving as Levi.  He was a trooper…never whined…never complained…even took it with a smile if we could not ride something.  However, he did not like one of the little roller coasters even though his parents were with him.  Don’t blame him a bit!

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 As I observed the crowds of folks around me at any given time…I noticed how lovely it really was.  Not just the surroundings, which were exquisite.  But, families spending times together…each making sure the others were happy.  Little ones having their parents full attention.  And parents doting on their kids…each thinking their child is the cutest in the park.  Grandparents tagging along or sitting out while the kids all rode….but remembering when these parents were the little ones  and they were the parents.  It was only a few years ago.  Why, we were all together in this same place…doing the same thing…riding the same rides…and eating mouse shaped ice cream.  Falling into bed exhausted in the evening and bright eyed and bushy tailed by morning…ready to go again!  This time our pace is slower…and some resort to wheelchair and electric scooter.  We try to placate our big children when they get weary and cross with the little ones. Cause we finally learned the secret.  That a child can’t help but be a child.  God built into them a sense of excitement and wonder and joy.  Add that natural exuberance to a place created for just such things…and you have “The Happiest Place on Earth!”  There is so much to see and so much to do (and eat and buy)…that it can be overwhelming!  But such a glorious overwhelm!  Don’t you wonder what is running through their little minds when they finally lay their heads down on their pillows?  What will they remember about such a time when they return to their homes?  (For myself and Levi…I will document our trip with this blog post, and a scrapbook for him to look at and remember)  Its been said that ‘we don’t remember days…we remember moments.’  And I, for sure, saw many moments well worth tucking away and pulling out again and again!  “Thank you, God, for blessing us with this trip!  We acknowledge that “every good and perfect gift comes from you.”  James 1:17

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QUESTIONS

A few days ago,11-7-16,  I gathered Levi from school and we picked up some lunch for he and I and Alex. As we were sitting in the kitchen eating, The following took place…out of the blue…

Levi…Uncle Alex, have you always been sick and hurting?

Alex…No, Buddy, I always had bad headaches even when I was a little boy like you. But, I got really sick when I was about 14 years old.

Levi…Well, did you tell your Mother.

Alex… Yes, I told her.

Levi…Did she do something for you?

Alex…She took me to a doctor…then another doctor…then another doctor…and we went to lots and lots of doctors…all over the place.

Levi…You couldn’t find one to fix you?

Alex…No, we haven’t. But, they do give me medicine to help me feel better.

Levi…Why can’t they fix you, Uncle Alex?

Here’s where I stepped in.

Tonja…Levi, all kinds of people get sick…all kinds of sick…and all over the world. Sometimes there is medicine to help people get well. But, sometimes there is not any medicine. Some times medicine just helps you feel better…but not get well. And, there are times that God chooses to heal people that are sick. But, there are also times that He doesn’t heal them.

Alex…That’s right, Levi, sometimes even with medicine you still don’t get well or you could get sicker.

Levi…Why did God say Alex couldn’t get healed?

Alex…Levi, God has a plan for everyone that lives. But, we don’t always know His plan. I just know that God has a plan for me. He loves me and He doesn’t plan for me to be healed right now.

Levi…But, do you have to stay sick and hurt?

Alex…yes, I do…unless God changes his mind and heals me.

Levi…then we have to pray for you everyday. Do you pray for you everyday, Uncle Alex?

Alex…yes, Levi, I ask God every day to heal me if He thinks it is a good idea.

Levi… I love you, Uncle Alex, I want you to be well. I will ask God every day. You do to, OK?

Alex…I will, Levi. I will.

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I share this with you, my friends, to tell you of the absolute positiveness I have in my heart of hearts that God is working every hour of every day…in you and me…and in little 5 year old boys and their 34 year old uncles.

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Levi has heard about Jesus forever.  He was prayed over at conception.  He was bathed in prayer as he developed within his Mother.  He was sick and nearly died the first two weeks of His life.  But, God stepped in.  And he has learned at church and learned at school and he has learned from his parents and both sets of grandparents, and his extended family.  He has been wrapped up in the love and stories of God the whole time he has been in this world.  He has heard and learned.  And, today, this question came.  Alex and I answered him as honestly and as plainly as we could.  Telling him truth in words he could understand.

May, I step out here and make a quick observation…

There will be other questions along the way.  But, a child needs to have an atmosphere around him where he can ask any questions, about anything, at anytime.  No question is frivolous.  No question is silly.  And, I don’t think any subject is taboo.  I raised my own boys with this idea…and they took me at my word.

If a child or even an older child has questions…about anything at all…there should be adults around to answer that question then and there with no hesitation or embarrassment.  Because, they will get the information somewhere.  And, who better than you?

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This exchange today at once made my heart soar with  proudness as well as break with sadness. I felt proud  of the way Alex was so gentle and careful answering Levi’s questions.  And, I am proud of the man that Alex has grown into.  He lives the life God planned for him with kindness and gentleness and grace.  But, I am overcome with sadness at what the reality of the situation of his life is.  I break in two when I think of what Alex lives with every day…what he has endured all his life…and the prognosis of the future.  I’ll tell you straight out…I’m no saint.  I hate it!  I don’t want to shoulder it and I don’t want him to suffer.  It awful for anyone to live like this.  I can say it’s not fair…but I’m not in charge of the fairness of the world.

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But, if I believe that God is who He says He is…then I believe that He does what He says He will do. My faith is not what I am feeling in the minute.  I’m human…I’m weak.  And, above my whining and complaining….I know He knows what he is doing.  He created this beautiful blond little boy to carry out a plan in our world.  I make a conscious decision to trust in His life course for Alex…even if I don’t like.  His plan for my son has everything to do with His goodness and wisdom…it does not depend on whether Alex or Don or I agree or not.

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Perhaps his job is to be an example to all of his family.  Perhaps his job is to be near to answer honest questions from his nephew. Perhaps his job is to be an encourager to the rest of our family.  He lifts me up and is always ready to help me when I’m having a particularly bad day.  He gets out of his sanctuary to see about me.  He treats me with kindness and respect and gentleness.

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Today is his birthday.  He turns 35.  He is my middle son.  He is my hero.  He is my example.  He is my sunshine.

dscn1037_1I am beyond proud of how he shoulders his life .   I love him with my whole heart.  Happy Birthday, Alex!

CATCH-UP TIME

I said to Levi last week that I needed to play “CATCH-UP” with all the pictures he and I have made lately.  “KETCHUP,” he said?  Lulu, I don’t think my Mama would let me play with ketchup!!!”

No, I’m sure she wouldn’t, but today, I’m going to play ‘catch-up’ all by myself.   We have had such a busy, busy fall…with lots going on.  And, it’s not over yet!  But I’d better get caught up, cause the next post will be a doozy!

A few weeks back, we visited the fire station….actually his kindergarten class did.  Suzanne was unable to go, so I did the chaperone thing that day….his class below

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His good friend, Lydiabp12

Of course, you know there is more than one way to walk in a line…bp17

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His teacher, Mrs. Parrish, with Laney Brooke…bp16

Two friends who he dearly loves…Lydia and Laney Brooke…bp15

Taking it all in…bp18What fun he had at the fire station…seeing our community helpers at work.  Then he came over to my house for the afternoon.  We had lunch and rested a while then he took a spin on his Razr…

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Maybe, he’s still just a little tired…bp7

Another day, he was with me…he came to me with his arms full of every single little pumpkin I had decorated with and said, “Lulu, let’s make me a pumpkin patch.”  And so we did.  Right on the table where he always eats!

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Here he is at another pumpkin patch.  He visited here with his Mom.bof33-16

And, here are the pumpkins Levi painted with his Mom and Dad at his house.  I’d tell you who they are, but I’d get it wrong.  Just know one of them is named Mike…

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We did manage to get one more swim in before fall completely moved in on us…he did, I watched!

 

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Levi and John Thomas had an art day planned for the fall season and Joy and I sat in the garage and let them go at it!  The weather was perfect.  They painted with different kinds of brushes and their fingers and made some lovely sunflowers on canvas.  Then we showed them how to make a pumpkin using fabric and stuffing and sticks from the yard.  They may not be exactly akin to pumpkins you have seen, but they were made with a whole lot of love to distribute to everyone they loved!  A few more projects, and we called it a day!  The boys are not able to be together as much as they would like, but they make up for it when they are!

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bof105Levi also picked out his costume for Halloween…and has modeled it endlessly!  I’ll wait to reveal the full effect with mask!

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I have been painting a bench for a sweet friend of mine.  I have to work a while and rest a while.  But, the boy thought he should have a bench to paint while I was working.  This is the closest thing to a bench that was a good size for him.  He has been quite diligent working on it, if not particularly neat.  Each section is a separate color and it is all his work!

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Last week, it was time for his kindergarten trip to the farm…what fun!  All 4 kindergarten classes at his school went to a farm just outside of town.   It was just lovely!  The weather was more than perfect and every child had a ball!  They learned about the chickens, saw goats and donkeys and horses and cows.  They had a little pumpkin patch with a pumpkin for every child.  There was a fabulous hayride, delicious snacks, and 4 classes of the cutest 5 year olds anywhere!

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Chicken coop…farm6

He stuck a chicken feather in his pumpkin…farm4

With sweet Laney Brooke…farm7

Feeding apple slices to Blue, the horse…farm3

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What a beautiful day!  I was so blessed to be able to attend with Suzanne and Levi.  I sat on the big front porch in a rocker while I waited for him to return from the hay ride.  If I had had a paper and pen with me, I could have written a book about the goodness of God.  Such glorious scenery!  He gave us the most beautiful world to enjoy.  Delightful animals that bring laughter and joy.  Families sharing times together.  A school dedicated to teaching each little child that God is our Maker and Designer of all.  He is the One we are to please and serve…and, such amazing children…full of fun and questions and energy and boldness…behaving just like a 5 year old should!  Oh, but God is good.  I thank Him for putting all this in my life to enjoy and teach me.

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Levi had a good friend stop by to say ‘hello’ at school one morning…sweet Ty.  They wanted a picture,too.

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And, because the bananas were just too ripe…he and I made banana bread…

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As it cooked…I took the opportunity to show him what real fun is!  Painting with shaving cream.  I planned to limit it to the orange tray, but that didn’t happen.  At first, he thought I was crazy…but then he got his fingers in and began sculpting mountains and roads and towns.  It is great to create with unusual things for a change.  He made me promise we would do that again.

 

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And, the month of October has come to an end.  How fabulous it was…so ‘octoberry’ in every way!  In the early days of November, Levi’s parents took him to The National Peanut Festival.  They ate good things, and rode fun things, and saw sweet friends!  He had a ball!  But, alas, I can’t get the pics off my phone to show them to you.  Just take my word for it!

We had one…just one …visitor to our house on Halloween…can you guess his identity?

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And a Halloween visit to sweet Laney Brooke for some special trick or treating fun!

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And, we are nearing Nov. 8…this is the kick off to our big family adventure!   We are going to Disney World! So probably, I will have lots of pictures and stories to tell when we return.

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Enjoy this wonderful Season of Thanks!

he3(Sorry this is such a long post, but I wanted to document several of these events and I have a touch of the ‘procrastination’ in me!)

ART AT FPP 10-13-16

Today the kindergarten students learned how to draw 3 simple leaves.

 

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Pretty simple for us, but not so much for little fingers.  They worked hard and made some very admirable art!  We then had the fun of coloring them by blending chalk into the watercolor paper…with our fingers of course!  Oh what fun!  Even though some used waaaay too much chalk…it was so fun to blend it around, they just couldn’t help themselves!  I certainly get that…don’t you!

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We had a great chance to talk about how every leaf is different.  They are not supposed to look the same because every artist sees them differently.   Same with our pumpkins last month.   It’s so important to accept the work that a child does in art just as it is.  His creative mind is stimulated by putting on paper what he sees in his mind.

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We should never change it or add to it because in their minds, its perfect.  Praise, acceptance and acknowledgement are wonderful tools to encourage more art.

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Then, they practiced their skill of cutting out their leaves!  All that cutting angles and curves took a little while…but they were diligent and got it done.  They then chose the perfect spot on the tree for their leaf!

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(photo bomber…Ms. Allison)

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Stop by and see out beautiful fall artwork in the lobby.  Your children are so amazing!  Compliment them on the magnificent job they did in producing such fine works of art!

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LEARNING WITH LEAVES

Levi told me he was ready to do an art project.  Hmmm!  I didn’t have anything in mind that day.  So I suggested we go on a walk outside and see if we came up with a good idea.  He loves to walk down to the  wooden bridge that covers a small creek on the road to our house.  It’s a perfect place for a little boy.  And he has loved it since he was able to walk.

We found the beginnings of fall laying on that bridge.  Leaves beginning to turn, acorns, sticks, a great rock that rolls.  He put it all into his bag.  We came back to the house and poured it out on the paper.  Then we began to touch and explore them.  UH! OH!  We discovered that some of the ones he picked up were crackly and dry.  They fell to pieces in his hand.  He said that’s because all the juice had gone out of them.  Which is a pretty good way to explain it I think.  Some were a little crinkly around the edges and some were nice and supple.

 

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I unrolled a nice piece of clear contact paper, and took the backing off.  ( You can find the clear contact paper at Michaels or HL and even Wal Mart).  We took the leaves and laid them face down on the sticky paper.  He worked carefully arranging the leaves to his liking.  Even though he was so certain he could add the rock into the design, it jut wouldn’t hold it.  He ended up making 3 collages.  One for his tree here, one for his tree at home, and one for his Mia and Papa.

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We added another sheet of the sticky paper to the top and then he commenced to rolling them as flat as he could. We used a hard rubber brayer, but a rolling pin would work, as well.Also, be sure you leave a large enough margin around the leaves that you can get a good sealed edge when you add the top layer.  It’s necessary to seal those edges well…just rub top and bottom margins  together with some force. There will be some space that won’t stick around the leaves.  That’s OK.  As the leaves dry, the paper will flatten out.   Then we punched a hole at the top…he had to tell me which was the top…and then he chose cord to make a hanger.

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How nice they look!  They would also look pretty just hanging in the window!  Depending on how you cut the contact paper…you can make lots of shapes.  They make great book or Bible markers.  You can always add in some words or a Bible verse.  Or write on it with a Sharpie.

Levi and I did this same project a few weeks ago…before the leaves started turning.  We hung them in the window in the studio and watched them as the color in the leaves faded day by day.  These all started out green…with one white flower.  This is about 2 weeks later.

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What is so neat is that now he can really see how the veins in the leaves give it its shape.  We call these leaf skeletons.

 

 

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A little later on we’ll talk about that big word ‘chlorophyl’.  [Another Lulu/Levi project]

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