Saturday, May 22, 2010

It's a Wonderful Life

The lights have been dimmed,
the props and sets are put away,
the makeup has been washed off,
and we are all reflecting
on our experience with joy and gratitude!

Our drama production of
It's a Wonderful Life
with the Jubilate Deo Chorus
was a rip-roaring success.

Following are some videos I took during the final performance
on Saturday, May 15, as well as some still shots
from that evening and some of our rehearsals.
I wasn't able to record the entire show,
so there are bits and pieces missing,
but you'll certainly be able
to see our kids in these clips!


Thursday, May 13, 2010

First Show Done

Tonight was our opening night of the kids' musical, "It's a Wonderful Life." All I can say is that these kids were amazing. The entire cast was stupendous. The crowd was roaring with laughter and absolutely loved Joshua's rendition of Mr. Potter. John crooned out his solo and nailed all of his lines--he was fantastic! Shannon was delightful in her three different roles, singing and dancing her way into everyone's hearts.

We have two more nights of performances. The kids have been told they are required to rest tomorrow and Saturday. Such a bummer, I know. Imagine homeschool children who have been assigned two days off wanting to read, write, and work on their computer graphics classes anyway! Yep, those are my kids.

I'm savoring their moment and enjoying being a drama mom this weekend! What tremendous fun. Pictures will be forthcoming, but I don't want to ruin it for those of you who have yet to still see the show.

For the family,

It's Show Time!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Today's Stickie Note

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Our little girl turns 12!

Here is a picture of the birthday girl
with her "twin," Titus Williams, on the morning
of the Baja team's departure.
You see, Shannon's birthday started with her brothers
getting all packed up and out the door
for a week of ministry in Baja, California.
Yes, Shannon's biggest gift this year
was to be an only child for nine days,
a gift that she really enjoyed.

The twins were born on the same day 12 years ago,
and we've tried to get a picture of the two of them
together each year since.
Take a look at how much they've grown in just one year!

We took Shannon and her friend Jessica Cunningham
out for dinner at Mimi's Cafe.
Here is a picture of the girls posing
in their beautiful Easter dresses.

One of the reasons Shannon likes Mimi's
is because of the mud cup desserts.
Jessica couldn't remember having one before,
so Shannon had to keep encouraging her
through each of the gross but yummy layers.
Chocolate pudding, oreo cookie crumbs,
and gummy worms--a kid's delight.

The next day, we visited Grandma Nancy,
and Shannon got to open more presents.
She was delighted with the warm microfiber blanket.

She had a great time shopping with me that week
and using the Target gift card
that Grandma & Grandpa Erwin had sent her.

Later in the month, Grandma Jodie came to visit
and gave her a precious painting
that has been hanging in the kids' bedroom
in her Morro Bay house for several years.

Birthdays are such a special time,
and Shannon is truly a special young lady.
We love you, sweetheart!

A Dinner with Patrick Henry College

On March 30, David, the boys, and I attended a wonderful evening in Danville at the Blackhawk Museum. The event was sponsored by Patrick Henry College so we could find out more about the college and offer some support since they receive absolutely no government subsidies.

The evening began with a stroll through the antique car museum. David and John loved every minute of it and took tons of pictures.

We dined on an delicious dinner catered by Scott's Seafood Restaurant out of Oakland and were surrounded by friends. It is amazing how many people in the area we have come to know after homeschooling for twelve years.

There were several speakers during the program, including Brian Sussman, a meteorologist who used to be on a local TV station and who is now hosting a talk radio show on our local KSO-AM. Brian provided copies of his brand new book Climategate which was just released on April 22, "Earth Day." How's that for great timing?

We also had the honor of listening to Michael Farris, chancellor of PHC and president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, a group we have been a member of since the beginning of our homeschool days.

Hard to believe we're actually seeing college looming on the horizon, but that's what happens when you have two students in high school. We have yet to learn the the plans that the Lord has for these children that He has entrusted to us for this time.

Here's a great video that shows highlights of our evening.


The boys and I have attended a few debate tournaments this year as part of their Intro to Debate class, which they took this last winter. We were also at the tournaments to cheer on Lydia and Abigail, who were actually competing this year as a team. The boys learned the intricacies of timing debate rounds whereas I learned how to use up every extra synapse in my brain serving as a debate judge! It required incredible brain power!! Here are the boys during the February CLASH tournament, discussing a round they had just observed.

The resolution for the STOA team policy this year has to do with environmental policy, so the intro class used that as their topic as well. During the last two class sessions the students had practice debate rounds. John paired up with Zach Cunningham to put together an affirmative plan that involved replacing coal energy with nuclear plants across the country. They worked hard for a couple weeks researching, writing their speeches, and practicing together. Joshua teamed up with Joshua Cunningham to argue the negative perspective against their case. What fun to have the two teams of brothers competing against one another!

During the last week, the two Joshuas presented their case which had to do with restricting shark fishing off the U.S. coasts. Katrina and Kaci were on the negative team.

John & Zach played negative against the Broker brothers, Sean and Eric, and their affirmative plan about cleaning up the litter on the beaches.

At the end of each debate, the class voted for which team they thought had won the round. Then they received the invaluable feedback from their amazing teacher Katie.

The final tournament before Nationals was to occur during the Baja Missions Trip, which both Lydia and Abigail were going to attend. Since the girls couldn't attend the tournament, we had a fun evening in March instead with a potluck and then a video one of the girls' rounds at the CLASH tournament. No one but the girls knew the judge's ruling, so after watching the video we all discussed how we thought the round had gone. To no one's surprise, the girls had won their event!

Future speech and debate students...

Chip Ingram

One of my favorite Bible teachers is Chip Ingram. He has a great way of teaching God's Word, and I always walk away from one of his messages with a valuable nugget of truth.

Last month Chip was the featured speaker for the KFAX Speaker's Series, and so I promptly got my ticket to the event. What a delightful evening! There was a worship team from Santa Cruz that opened our time with amazing music, and then Chip gave a message from Romans 12 about authentic Christianity and surrendering our whole lives to Christ. What an excellent reminder of what the Christ-exchanged life is all about.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers,
in view of God's mercy,
to offer your bodies as living sacrifices,
holy and pleasing to God—
this is your spiritual act of worship.
Romans 12:1

I have been crucified with Christ
and I no longer live,
but Christ lives in me.
The life I live in the body,
I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

Civics 101

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Romans 13:1-4

The kids and I took a trip down to the local Courthouse for a lesson in Civics one day last month.

While making the trek from the parking lot to the building, my 11-year-old daughter commented, “I don’t want to learn about Civics!” I responded that all citizens in this city, county, and nation need to learn about Civics. It was a non-negotiable outing for the morning.

Why were we on this mission? Because I needed to pay my fines for two—not just one, but two—traffic tickets I had received. (If anyone has read my post on gratitude, part of learning to be thankful was even for two tickets in two days!)

Upon entering the Courthouse, we were greeted by the security check, standard for this day and age. After removing every belt, watch, hair clip, pair of glasses, tote, backpack, and purse, we thought we’d be in the clear, right? Nope!

Civics Lesson #1: Itty bitty souvenir pocket knives from Mount Rushmore are considered weapons, and as such are not allowed in the building. The boys made the trek back to the car to put the offensive item away.

Civics Lesson #2: The fines for traffic violations hurt . . . a lot! Lesson learned . . . . I’m paying much closer attention to my driving, diligently obeying all “No turn” signs and completely stopping at all those red octagonal signs, among other traffic laws.

Having finished paying off the fines and getting the necessary information about the upcoming traffic school, I decided that our Civics lesson was still incomplete. The kids needed to understand a bit more about the justice system and how it works dealing with more serious offenders.

Civics Lesson #3: All court proceedings, unless otherwise indicated, are open for public viewing at any time, including home school parents and their Civics class students.

Civics Lesson #4: Excuses for why one cannot perform court-assigned community service penalties do not work with the judge! Prepare to be arrested on the spot if you try.

Civics Lesson #5: People observing court proceedings should not talk, whisper, or read books. They should be quiet and watch respectfully.

Civics Lesson #6: A lot of the courtroom business is taken up with paperwork and legalities (setting dates for hearings, postponing hearings, making sure people understand their rights, etc.).

Civics Lesson #7: The home is the learning ground for Civics.

Here’s how I later explained it to the children. Ultimately, God wants people to learn to live in a right relationship with Him and within His boundaries for their own benefit. To accomplish this goal, He has placed the parents in a position of authority to establish laws (like the legislature) for the common good of the citizenry (the family), to determine when someone is in violation of the law (like the police), and to initiate learning situations to teach the citizens to better obey the law (like the judge).

The parents have the responsibility to train the children how to live abundant lives enjoying the protective boundaries, a task that is often in contradiction to all of the family’s sinful natures. How well the parents do at their jobs and how well the children learn the lessons will greatly affect the children’s futures as well as the abundant life—or lack thereof—in the home.

We compared consequences in the legal system to those found in the home. There is community service (added chores, assuming another’s task[s] for the day), incarceration (being sent to one’s room, being grounded, having certain privileges removed), and fines (some monetary, others being goods or time submitted to the authorities).

Until a child is 18, he is accountable to the parents as the authority. However, once a child is a legal adult, he is answerable to the civic authorities. During our short visit, we witnessed adults who had either not had parents teach them very well, or they had not seemed to learn their lessons. Now, it was the Judge’s duty to administer consequences to try to help them learn. The question is. . . will they? Part of our responsibility, as citizens of both this city, county, and nation as well as of the Kingdom of God, is to appropriately respond to the correction we receive, learn from it, and, in the words of the Master, “go and sin no more” (John 8:11b).

"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:5b-11

Dates with my Hubby

When the kids were little, we tried to have our "couch" time, which basically was about 10-15 minutes each evening when David would get home from work, and we could sit and talk. The kids knew this was Mommy and Daddy's special time that was not to be interrupted. It helped us not only connect with each other on a sort-of regular basis, but it helped establish the priority of the husband/wife relationship in the children's eyes.

With our tremendously busy schedules today, setting aside time to just sit and talk is quite difficult. So many times we drag ourselves to bed and just starting talking only to fall asleep mid-conversation. There are many evenings when David is working late, or when we're running in different directions getting kids to Bible Study, swim practice, or to some other event.

Fortunately, we have found a solution for this season of our lives. On Sunday mornings, David and I meet at the Starbucks down the street from our church and have breakfast together. It's 30-45 minutes of just "us" time. It's not unusual to run into a friend and chat with them, too, but it's our time to relax, reconnect, and just look at one another. Soon enough we run off to the morning service, but for now, this is our special time just for us.

Green Smoothies

While reading through my favorite blogs one day, I came across a post about Green Smoothies. What on earth could that be? I read further and did some more research on the internet. Basically, a green smoothie is a concoction made of fruits, green veggies, and any other nutritious ingredients you choose to add which results in a delicious drink. A green smoothie each day helps us get at least three of our daily requirements of fruits & veggies. It's a terrific mid-afternoon snack, and it's becoming something of a habit around here.

Shannon loves the green smoothies and would drink the whole blenderful if I let her. John is starting to grow accustomed to them, and David likes a smoothie when I add some yogurt and omit the berries, which make the drink turn a disgusting purple color. Joshua still needs some convincing that these are actually made for human consumption.

Grand Prix

Every two years our AWANA club has a Grand Prix. The kids buy their car kits. They plan. They design. They create. After all their hard work, it's always a blast to view the amazing craftsmanship and creativity from the families on race day.

This year, David helped John and Shannon with their cars, but he also assisted the Cunningham family with the initial design and cutting for their three entries.

Shannon shows off the car she made in honor of
her pet rabbit Olivia.

Bethany displays her hot dog car.

Here's Jessica's book shelf car.

We loved Emilia's penguin car, especially since
we're from the Penguins Swim Team!

There's John's cell phone car next to Shannon's bunny/carrot car.

We also liked Priscilla's sneaker car and Emily's iPhone car.
Since the Wards always add some electronic touch
to their creations, Emily's phone actually had a ringer
which went off during the devotional.
"Would someone turn off their cell phone, please?"

Joshua chose to not have an entry this year, but gladly played
the spectator, nonetheless.

Ariel's puppy car won 2nd place for design in
younger group's contest.

Jessica's book shelf car won 3rd place for design!

As soon as we got home, the kids and David started brainstorming the various cars they can make for the next Grand Prix. We'll have to save the list and pull it out in 2 years.