Monday, March 23, 2015

Neighborhood Spring Celebration

I had the opportunity to chair our new neighborhood's first official major social event, the Spring Celebration. I had a lot of help from these amazing friends in this picture (and a couple of friends not pictured).  It was fun to work together with like-minded ladies towards a common goal.   Every one worked so hard and dedicated a lot of hours to make the weekend a success.  All of us are relatively new to the area and all of us want to create a neighborhood that feels like a big extended family. A neighborhood where we can create happy memories with each other, with lots of adopted aunts, uncles, and grandparents surrounding us.

Friday evening we had a wreath making class with 30 ladies from the community up at the clubhouse.  This was my first time making a burlap wreath.  I think it turned out okay, but I am excited to try some new ideas I learned from the talented women around me.  Theirs were fabulous! I need to repent of some serious coveting I did of their crafty skills.

Saturday we had egg hunts and contests for doggies and children.  I personally stuffed over 1000 eggs and over 900 more were brought by neighbors. We had 88 little egg hunters aged a few months up to teens. We divided the kids into 4 age brackets.  It doesn't look like almost 2000 eggs here, but there are!

One of the neighborhood teens "arranged" for the Easter Bunny to visit.  He was amazing!! So friendly, so kind.  The kids adored him...and so did the dogs!

Molly loves the Easter Bunny and her friend, Addy.

It was a little harder to get a pic of the boys with the bunny.  Andrew was willing to pose for one moment to appease me.

At the end of the day, as we were cleaning up, we attempted to get a few of the remaining kids to pose with the bunny.  It would have been awesome to get all 88.

My three sweet children were very serious when it came time for the egg hunts.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I like things to be"fair."  So with each age bracket, we had the children each find 12 eggs first, then return to the starting line.  Then they could all return and get as many additional eggs as they could find.  I know life isn't "fair or equal" but it doesn't mean that an egg hunt has to be a teaching moment.  It can just be fun.

The dogs dressed up for their Begg Hunt.  They were so adorable.  There was a raffle for prizes donated by local animal services and fun contests.  There was even a drive for supplies for local shelters.

Local vendors had donated prizes that human residents entered to win, too.  We even had a jelly bean guessing contest.

We had face painting.  One of our neighbors does an amazing job face painting and is practicing on our neighborhood kids, so she can do it professionally!  We are so lucky to have her!

Three area Master Gardeners came to talk with our community members all afternoon.  We are appreciative of their time.

  The Kona Ice Truck came and served shaved ice.  Pretty sure that was the high light of the day for a lot of kids!  At least the three that live at my house!

Harris Teeter donated cupcakes and cookies.  Target gave us a huge discount on a ton of popcorn.  We had sodas and juice boxes and waters!

We had free play areas set up with bubbles and side walk chalk and balls.

 And now that we have three "big" kids, even Chad was able to have some "free time" to talk to friends, too!  I miss so many things about the toddler and preschool years, but there is something to be said about being able to hold a 5 minute conversation without having to run into the street to catch a bolting two year old.

I love our new community.  I am grateful I get to help it grow and become a place I want to raise my family.  It is amazing where God will lead you, if you will let Him.  I don't remember if I have shared this on our blog or not, but I will here and now, in case I have not.  When Chad and I started searching for a new home in the area a year ago, I felt strongly that there was a specific place we were to move to.  It was a huge decision, and I know that often there are not "right or wrong" answers to a lot of questions.  Sometimes God wants us to make choices.  But I KNEW that this time wasn't one of those times.  There was a place we were to be.  I just didn't know where.  The very first neighborhood we drove into was the one we live in today.  I hated it!  I felt claustrophobic, all the homes looked alike, and the yards all had identical brown Bermuda grass.  I told Chad it looked like glorified apartment living.  He agreed.  I told him that I did not want to live in Indian Land, that the name was disrespectful, if not downright racist and I did not want to raise our children in a place like that.  I wanted to live in Waxhaw or Weddington.  So we hired a wonderful, very patient, Realtor and I spent months and months praying, researching school districts, talking to people in the area and visiting every home for sale in our price range in an 8 mile radius from Chad's new job.  Over 100 homes.  Chad kept feeling like we needed to live in Indian Land, but I refused to even consider it.  I gave him a long list of reasons why it was not the place we should be.  Then one day, after a third offer we put in was rejected, I felt the Spirit tell me very strongly that I really was not willing to go wherever the Lord sent me, that I was pridefully holding back my will.  It was hard to hear, but it was true.  There was one place I was refusing to even consider.  So I prayed to be able to let go.  I told the Lord I would live ANYWHERE, even INDIAN LAND, that I would trust Him. That I would try to have Faith.  It was the week we HAD to place an offer on a house or we would be forced to rent when our three month corporate housing ended and school began.  Immediately everything fell into place.  Through several small miracles, obstacles were removed and we were led back to the first neighborhood we visited.  The one I hated. The one in Indian Land with no yard and no basement. We walked into our new home and both of us knew this was the place.  It was not the "nicest" home we had looked at, it did not have several of our  "must haves" on our criteria list, but it is where God wanted us to be. Since then, every day, the Spirit testifies to me in small and big ways that God sent us here because He loves us and knew the wonderful neighbors He was bringing us to be surrounded by.  I love our "village."  I am sure wherever we moved, we would have made friends and been surrounded by nice people.  But this is the "perfect for us" home.  I am grateful that God continued to lead our family, even when I was stubbornly holding on to my own ideas of what would make us happy.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ryan's Baptism Invite Photo Shoot

Ryan is going to be Baptized in April in Winston-Salem with his friend Bastian.  He is very excited for his big day.

We had our new favorite photographer, Mia, take pictures of him in his new suit for our invitations. If you are local, I highly recommend her!  Or even if you aren't she is worth the drive...AND you could come visit me, too!

Oh, I adore this sweet face.  He melts my heart.  I can't believe my Ry-guy is going to be 8!!!

Look! No front teeth!


A Tale of Two Cars

This was Andrew's third and final Pinewood Derby.  He and Chad researched and planned their car for months.  After many designs, Andrew decided he wanted to do Bullet Bill from Mario.  They drew, they carved, they sanded, they painted.  They watched YouTube videos. They got the wheels and the axles just right.  They made computer plans to scale and their own decals.  The car looked awesome!  They had researched and planned this car.  It was scientifically a superior machine.  

 Then, the night before the big day, they raced the new car against Andrew's cars from Wolves and Bears.  He had won third place his first year and second his second year.  Andrew was determined to try and win first this year.  We told him that our new Pack was bigger.  That we didn't really know what the competition would be like.  That just enjoying his car and his time with his dad was all that mattered.  When he raced the three cars, the first year car won. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  Chad adjusted the wheels, still the first year car won.  He went at 6am the morning of the race and bought new graphite. He adjusted the wheels some more.   Still the first year car won.   The car they built three years ago with not as much precision, not as much research, without Youtube inspired perfect weight balance and wheel alignment.

The difference was small.  The first year car was just a nose ahead each time.  Not even a car length. But that difference was enough to Andrew.  He wanted to win way more than he wanted to use his new car.  Chad was very sweet about it.  Although he REALLY wanted Andrew NOT to care about winning and to just enjoy and race his new car, he left the choice to Andrew.  Andrew chose to go with the faster car, as I imagine most 10 year old boys would choose.

I am the Cub Committee Chair in our new ward, so I got to help with set up and planning the derby.  We had designated area for the racers to all sit together and gave them Pit Crew passes to wear.  We had a station set up for fans to make posters to cheer on their favorite racers.  We had doughnuts and fruit for breakfast.  And then the favorite among the little siblings and the Cubs, we had a Little Racers area with Hot Wheels and Tracks for them to play with throughout the morning. It worked great, and we didn't have any littles crossing the track in the middle of the races.

Andrew has been a little slow to warm up in our new ward.  He is always so focused on "following the rules," that sometimes he forgets to smile and talk to other people.  Not many people at school or at church have had the chance to see the fun, witty, and goofy side of Andrew that we all know and love.  The Pinewood Derby changed that.

He smiled.

He made up silly handshakes!

And even danced a winners' jig...yes, a jig.

Just look at those smiles.  I am tearing up just typing this.  He misses his Winston-Salem friends and cousins so much.  It warms my heart to see him let go and be himself with the other boys after 9 months.

So how did Andrew's car do? Well, he did not make his goal of first.....

 but he was very happy that he did come in second with very stiff competition.  Everyone's cars were amazing!  Seriously!

I am thinking his win was probably thanks to his crazy fans!