While getting ready to teach my last art class, Levi and I decided to make a sample at home before I taught the project to the children at school.
I taught the children how to draw a valentine heart shape. Then we covered the back of the drawing with bleeding tissue paper. This kind of tissue paper oozes lots of color when it is wet. The children used valentine colors and covered their papers. We saturated them with water. The next day, the tissue was dry…and all the lovely color had transferred to the heart. They then cut them out.
I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of the rest of them, but here is Levi’s. I love to frame children’s art, And, it’s quite easy. I just bought a cheap frame from Michael’s and backed his heart with a piece of scrapbook paper. Makes such a pretty picture! And, oh how special a child feels when they see their art framed and put in a place of honor. Change it up with the seasons….or just start a seasonal grouping of art work through the year!
I love this…happy heart…happy color…from my happy valentine! (Another Lulu/Levi project)
Yesterday was the last day of Levi’s Christmas Vacation. Today his school starts back. We had plans to go to a movie yesterday with Pa, but Levi decided he just wanted to stay here and play. Fine with us!
After his breakfast, I showed him a project I had found on the internet, and he was anxious to get started. It was a Star Wars thing. We sat at the big table and worked together. It required some concentration. (This is BB8..in case you don’t know such things…a good guy droid…from Star Wars.)
So, I began talking to him and asking him some general questions. He was in a talkative mood and happy to answer. I had some extra paper nearby and I scribbled his answers as we talked.
Here, then, is a look inside his mind yesterday.
Now you are in Kindergarten. Is is harder? Just a little…but I do good work. Except when I make noises out loud. My teacher does not like that! (We’ve discussed that with his teacher several times! Levi says he doesn’t mean to make noises…they just slip out!)
What do you like to do the best at school? play outside.
Who are some of your friends? Laney Brooke, Lydia, Slade, Ty, Jackson, Cal, Vance and lots more. I have lots of friends!
Tell me about your teacher at school? My teacher is so kind. And, she loves hugs, too! (We love you, Mrs. Parrish!)
I know you like to go out to eat. Can you tell me some of the places you like to go? I Hop, McDonalds, Chick Fil A, Blue Plate, China Wok.
If you could only choose one, which would it be? Chick Fil A. (And, the playground there propels it in to first place!)
What is something fun you have done with your parents lately? We went to movies and saw Star Wars Rogue 1. Uncle Alex went too. That was fun!
Anything else? We went to Callaway Garden to see the pretty lights at Christmas!
What do Mom and Dad do that makes you laugh? Tickle me.
You like to visit with Papa Clyde, don’t you? I sure do!
What is it that he says about you? He tell me I am a clever boy! I am, too!
Tell me what you do on a really fun day. It’s when my Daddy is home and he and I play and go to Toys R Us and have fun!
Tell me about spending time with Mia and Papa (other grandparents). I like to play with their dog, Buddy. (A Jack Russell terrier). We exercise. I like to ride the tractor with Papa. Sometimes, I drive! They have berries for me to pick sometimes. They’re so good! I shop a lot with Mia. She buys groceries every day! And, she cooks good, too! Uncle Brian swims with me.
What is something fun you do with Pa (Don) . I like to go to Dothan Powersports with him. I have my own office and I like to work at my desk. Then we ride my motorcycle and sometimes we go on trails by the railroad tracks. I like Pa’s good breakfasts he fixes for me. I help him, too!
OK. Well what do you and I do that is fun? We do art together anytime I want to. And, we make things. You like to play with me and I like it when we sing together. Lulu, you are kind. And, you take good care of me. And, you make me and John Thomas a Boogaloo Camp! It’s the best fun! We like to play in the pool when it gets hot outside!
Did you go on any trips last year? I went to Disney World…YEA!!!. And, I went to the beach a lot. I went to Louisiana to see my cousins. And, Boogaloo Camp, too!
What did you like best about Disney World? I liked the Jedi training. And, next my favorite was It’s A Small World. I love Disney World. Can we go again? I already know what I want to do!
What makes you laugh? Funny jokes. And, I like to make funny pictures on your phone! Then you laugh, too, Lulu!
(He’s right! He’ll confiscate my phone and without my knowing, he’ll make pictures of different people and put silly hats on them or glasses or some such nonsense. Sad thing is, I have not a clue how he does this!)
Do you like to sing? Yes, I do!
What do you like to sing? My favorite is the Star Wars music…but I can only hum it because it doesn’t have any words. I like the songs I sing at school. Some are funny. And, I like Christmas songs, too! I go to choir at my church. Oh, Yeah, I like the jazz CD you have that I can hear all the instruments, too! (He and I are learning about instruments and the differing sounds they make.)
You love books. You have lots and lots of them. What are some of your favorites? The Little Blue Truck, The Pout Pout Fish, and every book I have is my favorite! (His Mom has read to him every single night since he was a few months old. It has paid off big time. He really appreciates books and treats them as treasures! Smart Mom.)
I know you and your Mom read every night. We do. We read some of my books and then a Bible story. Then we pray.
What is your favorite story in your Bible book? When Jesus dies on the cross to save us. He didn’t stay dead. He lives in Heaven.
Are you a happy boy? Yes I am!
Why are you happy? I do fun things. And, lots of people love me! Do you want to now what makes me sad?
I like being with my Mommy. I like it when she is out of school and we can be together all day. I really miss her when she has to go back to school. I cry sometimes when we talk about it.
I can sure understand that, Levi. Your Mommy takes good care of you and does lots of things with you. But, you know what? Mia and Lulu are sure glad we have a chance to take care of you while she works! You’re a fun boy to be around!
What do you think is the prettiest thing God made? Animals and birds. And, people. People are beautiful. I would not even be on this earth without God.
What do you know about God? God is strong. He has power to protect us. He loves us.
You have a big family. What does your family do for you? Let’s count how many there are. I think there is about a hundred. And 4 pets. I like them, too. They all take care of me and do fun things with me.
And, suddenly, the mood was broken. He finished his project and was off to do what little boys do. And, I was left to clean up the art supplies we had used. I often wonder what goes through the mind of a child. Today, 1/3/17, I know. It’ll all change as he grows, but what a sweet reminder of what was in his heart today!
*****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!
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!
Pirate beds in our rooms…
New ‘BB8’ pajamas…
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…
Many were the times his feet didn’t touch the ground…
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!
All decorated for Christmas…
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!
“It is God who has given us these times of joy!” Psalm 81:4
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!
And a Jawa…
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!
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!
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.
A highlight here was our dinner where the characters come by and speak to all the children. This made Levi even more excited~
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!
Little boys and their little toys…tiny droids he made…
On the monorail…
With Mama and Daddy…
With Lulu and Pa…
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…
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!
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Today is his birthday. He turns 35. He is my middle son. He is my hero. He is my example. He is my sunshine.
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
Taking it all in…What 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…
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!
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…
We did manage to get one more swim in before fall completely moved in on us…he did, I watched!
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!
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!
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!
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.
Levi had a good friend stop by to say ‘hello’ at school one morning…sweet Ty. They wanted a picture,too.
And, because the bananas were just too ripe…he and I made banana bread…
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.
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?
And a Halloween visit to sweet Laney Brooke for some special trick or treating fun!
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.
Enjoy this wonderful Season of Thanks!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A little later on we’ll talk about that big word ‘chlorophyl’. [Another Lulu/Levi project]