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!

Homeschool Field Day – Part 1

I am so absolutely over-the-moon excited (and as exaggeratory as ever) to share the following post with you.

Two reasons.

1. My sister-in-law, Amy, is a self-taught photographer whose talent and expertise is growing by leaps and bounds, and this post proves it. And…

2. Speaking of Amy, everything I share in the next week or so concerning this Field Day is 100% dedicated to her. I don’t know if you’ve had the chance to stumble across our First Annual Cousin Show, which showcases the theatrical play the children in our family put on in the backyard. (If not, you simply must! Spit spot!). Well, that night was my doing, a whimsical and old-fashioned event dripping with childish sweetness and innocence. It was my sentimental heart and all the love I contain for our children and music and theatrics bottled up in a 30-minute show, and I was bursting at the seams once the evening was finished and called a success…

On the other hand (but somehow likewise?), this Homeschool Field Day is all Amy. Adventurous. Vintage. Athletic. Brave. Outdoorsy. Capable. Awesome.

As different as we are (I’m a singing bookworm and she is an athletic mathematician), we share a brain when it comes to parties and events and beauty and homeschool, and we have a shared love for antiques and treasure hunting. While I’m a mix of Victorian/English Manor/farmhouse, she is a mix of cottage/retro/farmhouse – but we absolutely speak the same shopping/decorating/partying/farmhouse language. My Mom thinks we’re nuts (and now probably you do, too), even as she often forks over the dough to fund our “creativity”…but she always loves the finished product, and just happens to be our biggest fan.

But I’ve got to say…Amy took it up a notch with this Field Day. I was in awe at the finished product and went from being her co-host to her humble apprentice as she stepped boldly into the role of Jedi-master event planner. I was speechless when I saw what she had accomplished, but mostly, I was so deeply thankful for this day she handcrafted for the children in our family and in our church.

Why? Because just like I mentioned in my posts about the theatrical play, sometimes us homeschoolers have this fear that our kids are going to miss out, that their life will not be as complete or even as fun as ours were growing up…

Do you remember those amazing Field Days at the end of each elementary school year? You’d be drenched with sweat, surrounded by your friends, eating your delicious sack lunch with a sweatband on your arm and a side ponytail atop your head (complete with a scrunchie that matched your sweatband). Your heart was racing with fear that you might mess up in front of your schoolmates and trip during the relay race, and you seriously thought everyone in the bleachers was watching you…but when you crossed the finish line, your fears were replaced with childish triumph as you accepted that little satin ribbon with the gold-foil lettering. It didn’t matter if your friend won “1st place” in an event and you won a ribbon that said “Way to go!” What mattered is that your teacher wrote your name on the back of your ribbon, you got to hang it on the bulletin board by your bed, and life was pretty much perfect.

Amy, with all of her hard work and generosity (and aided by our amazing friend Chrissy who has the heart of a servant and the work ethic of a frontierswoman), gave our kids a day just like that and then some. And by the way, she is pretty pregnant and it was pretty hot out there.

Here’s how it went down….

At 9:50 a.m. on June 14th, the 1/2 acre lot next to our house on the hill lay quietly waiting for the participants of our 1st Annual Homeschool Field Day to arrive. The scene was vintage athletic perfection, and the air was electric with excitement and anticipation. Take a look…

I had only two contributions to this party: This giant poster that Amy and Chrissy hung on the shed, and the background music. {Perhaps I’ll share our playlist if I can figure out how to do so!} I had not made a giant banner like this since my cheerleading days, so I was a little rusty, but I’ve got to say, it felt pretty good to be back in the saddle again, even if I didn’t have enough paint to do bubble letters…
We are YOUNG, We are STRONG, We are FEARFULLY and WONDERFULLY Made!!! The perfect theme for a Homeschool Field Day with a Biblical worldview, if you ask me…
Amy made this super-simple (but super-cute!) banner out of construction paper and twine (and since I know Amy so well, I know how much it is going to bug her that the red piece of paper lost its staple. Blame in on that blustery Oklahoma wind, NOT Amy, okay?).
And I should also go ahead and point out that Amy  has the best penmanship in the world, even when she is using chalk. And her mathematical brain easily drew up this chart that would have taken me a couple of hours to come up with…
There were 9 classic Field Day events for our 11 participants, ranging from 2- to 8-years old. 
See? Told you Amy was great with chalk.
Oh yeah, I forgot that I had a 3rd job: bringing the water. Surprise, surprise, I used my Martinelli bottles again…
I bought these wooden dumbbells at an antique store in Jenks, Oklahoma, when Gideon was a toddler. They weren’t dirt cheap, but then again, they weren’t too awful expensive…and when you see what Amy did with them in Part 2, you’ll agree that they were worth every penny.
So I know I mentioned my  love for those special satin prize ribbons with gold letters on them. But LOOK at what Amy made…
When I saw these ribbons, I almost cried like a baby at Field Day, in front of God and all 11 participants and their family members.
Brightly colored hula hoops…
and buckets of jump ropes and softballs were the “accessories” to Amy’s Field Day decor.
And an obstacle course (only partly displayed here) beckons the children to experience for the first time what fun can be found in organized athletics.
And here, in my opinion, is the highlight of Amy’s Field Day preparations: She made a t-shirt for each participant and had it waiting for them on our “clothesline” (or old crusty grape arbor. Whatever). The sight of these shirts blowing in the breeze also made me want to cry. No I’m not pregnant. Yes I am a sentimental nutcase. And I really, really love Amy.
So…this is what was waiting for us at 9:50 a.m. right outside our office windows. Just WAIT until you see what fun we had when the clock finally struck 10…
Part 2…coming soon!

The First Annual Cousin Show – Part 2

First shared at Mrs. Gore’s Diary on May 15, 2012

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{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.

 

The First Annual Cousin Show

First shared at Mrs. Gore’s Diary on May 15, 2012

I am in a directorial afterglow.

Let me explain…

Since we built our home 2…maybe 3…years ago, I’ve had this dream.

There would be a wooden stage in the side yard with heavy curtains on a pulley-system where the kids could don costumes and put on shows for us. We would laugh and applaud and they would bask in the beauty of growing up at home, where everyone gets a good part and stage fright is unheard of.

Well that dream partly came true this past weekend, and my heart has been singing since the final act.

There is a shed on my parents’ property that adjoins our little acre in town – you might have noticed that it shows up in lots of our gatherings and photographs, as it provides a perfect rustic backdrop for pretty near everything. A couple of months ago, my Dad poured concrete on one side of the shed, with future plans to convert it into a solar kiln for drying lumber. Seeing this open-on-one-side covered pavilion-like area, I fell in love and decided it would provide the perfect stage for our first homeschool play — until, of course, I get my real stage built.

I started planning our show with my children and my nieces, and we scheduled our first practice…

And then I found out my Dad was planning to enclose the concrete slab the next weekend with walls.

Gasp!

In dramatic Mrs. Gore fashion, I put in a desperate plea to postpone this enterprise, and by jinky, to my utter surprise…

it worked!

But Daddy gave me one week.

One week to prepare for and perform our first show.

I was initially skeptical, but then I got brave and we carried forth with our practices and our plans.

And then it started raining on the morning of the show and kind of continued all day and I became skeptical again (and maybe freaked out a little because I’m a super-geek).

And then I got brave again and said “You know what? We are going to do this thingy.”

Before I could change my mind, with the help of my husband and brother Jerry, we loaded all of our supplies and props up into the pick-up, drove them through the yard in the rain, unloaded everything in the shed, wiped all the rain off of the wood and then, in dramatic Mrs. Gore fashion, I asked to be left alone…

My eyes roamed the large slab of concrete surrounded by three walls. It wouldn’t be how I had envisioned it. The audience wouldn’t be sitting on haybales in the grass facing the shed. But they could sit under the roof with us in the farmhouse chairs Amy sent up the hill to me. The curtain wouldn’t be draped across the large beam at the front of the enclosure. But what luck! There is another beam right inside here that we could use! The snack table couldn’t sit on the outside of the shed, beckoning our guests. But there is a perfect little spot right inside the entry that is just the right size for the table…

Alone in the shed, light rain hitting the metal rooftop, a utility broom in one hand and a dream in my heart…magic happened. When the children arrived for their dress rehearsal, and their eyes landed on their performance area, their special props set neatly on wooden beams or hanging from rustic hooks, their feet screeched to a halt, their eyes lit up and their mouths dropped open in delight and wonder. And I remembered why I had set out to do this “play” in the first place.

It turned out to be one of the best nights of my life.

Wanna know why? Because sometimes us homeschooling mothers worry a little that our kids are going to miss out. That they won’t have moments like we did growing up where they will unexpectedly bloom a little and their chins will raise up a little higher and they will stand a little taller because they did something so brave and extraordinary.

But in our little shed in the backyard, four little girls and a little boy, surrounded by a tiny group of people who love them unconditionally, put on a show and made people laugh and applaud and…they bloomed. Right in front of my eyes.

Those same eyes are already filling with tears at the memory of our night. Perhaps I should have been a director.

Or perhaps I am right where I’m supposed to be, putting on plays in the backyard with a 7-year old, two 5-year olds and two 2-year olds…

Tomorrow, I’ll share details and photographs! Stay tuned!!