Saturday, June 27, 2009

Baby Picture Sundays - The Heat is ON!

This is my Daddy (Papa to the kids) holding Luca at the end of Summer 2006. Luca is just 4 1/2 months old here. We were at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, which is awesome. Definitely the best zoo I've been to. I chose this pic for this week as a slightly belated honor for Father's Day to my dad. Also, at this time in our life, the heat was ON! Not only was it late August in the midwest, which means high heat and humidity, but we were also living with our parents. We had fled Florida out of fear after a job fell through. We headed home to safety, family, the known. We had 6 kids at the time and we were too far along in our life to be living with and depending so completely on family. We discovered during the 4 months we were "home" that God had meant for us to stay in Florida - the new home He had called us to. The job Nick had lined up before we came back to Nebraska got sidelined and he ended up working for them in a very low-paying position. The home we had thought we were a shoo-in for was denied us because of the size of our family. It became an impossible situation. Not only that, but at least once a day, there was some reference to Florida put in our path. It became a lesson in obedience, patience, perseverence. FAITH. Before the end of our 3rd month home, Nick had 2 job offers back in Florida. We moved from Missouri to Florida, to Nebraska, to Florida again in 1 year. God's heat was on us! We were feelin' it! Thank you, Lord for your love, patience, and trials by fire!

Also, thank You for tiny beautiful baby boys to bring joy and light in the darkest times.

Verse for the Day:
Hebrews 5:7-9
"During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him."

Domestic Diva Status

Sensual Nigella

Why rush? Life's too short. The finer things are worth the wait — and a dollop of fresh whipped cream! As a rule, you never skimp; you want the best for you and your loved ones. You have a sexy, womanly way about you and pour that sensibility into everything you do. You can be quiet and thoughtful, even a bit reserved at times. Undoubtedly, however, you really love to let your hair down and take a bite out of life!

I have to say, this is pretty close to me. However, I have only seen her show once, I think. ;)
Just a little fun on a Saturday afternoon. Find out Which Domestic Diva Are You?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Double Edged Sword

I am so excited to be an aunt again! This is my newborn niece, Hope. Her momma is my sister Holly. She was born Monday evening after a WAY TOO LONG labor, but short delivery. A big baby at 9 lbs, 6 oz, the is healthy and doing very well. The pregnancy went smoothly and there were no anticipated problems.

However, when she was born, it was discovered that her right ear is somewhat different. When I talked to Holly on Tuesday, she said, "She was born without an ear canal. They are going to run tests to see if her inner ear is developed, or not." Yesterday, they did an ultrasound on her kidneys and heart. They were only concerned about the kidneys because they develop at the same time as a baby's ears. They also did x-rays to see if there was evidence of genetic problems that could affect her ear. All these tests came back with great results! She is totally healthy. Her daddy, Michael said, "It just looks like she has a wrinkle over her ear." Now, they have to wait for an appointment with a specialist to find out about her inner ear.

Now, being an intercessor and a part of the Orlando House of Prayer, as soon as I heard those first words from Holly, I started praying for that sweet baby. In fact, I was already praying for her because of health problems my other niece had as a result of a traumatic birth. But when I found out about her ear, I mobilized! I sent an email prayer request to the OHOP missions base; I sent out emails to family and close friends; I got on Facebook and Myspace to spread the word out across the country further than I know. This baby girl, Hope is being lifted up for health, creative miracles in the name of Jesus!

Hope is a gift from God - creative miracle in herself! She is fearfully and wonderfully made. She is already a blessing to so many. And yes, it is tragic for her and my sister's family to have to deal with this, but there is another side to this. Right now, there are so many people praying for her, interceding for her, investing their heart in her, that she will always be blessed & loved!

And, personally, I am already blessed by Hope! :D

Please, when you read this, say a prayer for my little niece. You can never get too much of a good thing.

Verse for the Day:
James 5:16 "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Baby Picture Sundays - All For Daddy

Nick may not be "Superdad" but he gives a pretty close approximation. Above you can see him moments after Sabina's birth, cuddling and smiling over her. Even after a sleepless night. Even after coaching me through yet another long natural birth. Even after months of worry and stress and anxiety about this new addition to our overextended family. She was here, she was wanted, and she was so beautiful.

This is a not great picture of Nick holding Luca about half an hour after he was born. We were recovering in one of the bedrooms of the birth center; a peaceful moment in the evening with our adorable new son. Nick was my hero that weekend. I was in labor for about 2 and a half days. We walked the streets by our house, visited the birth center a couple times, counted and measured contractions. Then, when the labor finally kicked into high gear, he donned his swimsuit and climbed in the birthing tub with me. He cradled me from behind giving me the support and strength I needed.

I don't think I could have had 7 kids without him. ;)

I am truly and overwhelmingly blessed by Nick aka SuperDaddy.

Verse for the day:
Psalm 127:3-5
"Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Personal Seven Flames

In Revelation 4 we get a peek at the throne room of Heaven. It's majestic and awesome, and according to verse 5, "seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." I was astounded and amazed, wondering about these seven Spirits. For years I've contemplated this and the question resurfaced when I was pregnant with #7, Sabina. Then, just a few months ago, Pastor Carlos was teaching a Word-heavy message (as usual- he's awesome) and read out Isaiah 11:2, "The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of Wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." Say, what? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7... That's it!

And what, exactly, are those seven flames - seven Spirits - doing burning constantly? Giving light? God is Light! I turn to 1 Peter 1:6,7 for the answer: "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Those flames are testing, purifying us- burning away sin, doubt, ignorance! They also give light to US! They burn in our hearts so we can know and love and worship God! They give warmth and purity to us. Those 7 lamps are unceasingly lit in the Throne Room so we can find our way Home.

I am so blessed to have my own personal 7 flames. Antonio, Rocky, Cecelia, Keliah, Carlo, Luca, Sabina. They reveal the heart of God to me in ways that I wouldn't know without them, exposing my heart to the Seven Spirits of God. They test me to expose sin, doubt, and ignorance. Then they burn it away by their warmth, pure love, amazing wisdom and innocence.

Little ones, burn brightly, but slowly so that I am not consumed by this fire, but joyfully find my way Home.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Another Page in Mom's Scrapbook

Keliah has graduated from Kindergarten! It's a good thing, too, because she's been telling me for a month that she's ready for first grade. Here's the cutie girl wearing her A/B Honor Roll medal. Her teacher said it was difficult assigning grades since normally the kindergarten report cards all have S, N, and U for satisfactory, needs improvement, and unsatisfactory. Keliah had S all year, but kind of messed up on one of the last testing things where she, for some weird reason, wrote half the numbers backwards. 21 for twelve and so on. I think she was bored of this same ol' stuff and decided to shake things up a little. ;)

This is Keliah with her teacher Mrs. Hardesty whom Keliah was pleased to tell me is a Christian. She did a great job with the class; they are reading, writing, adding, subtracting, the whole shebang. Remember when all you learned in kindergarten was your letters, colors and numbers? Oh, and how to share. Of course, back then it was only half a day or 3 days a week.

It was fun to see Keliah with her class. They sang 3 songs with motions for us. The favorite was "Never, never Play with Fire."

The Star Citizen Award is given to students who have shown excellent citizenship during the entire year. This is teacher's choice.

Keliah also got an A/B Honor roll award certificate.

And her Certificate of Achievement for Kindergarten Completion. What an exciting event for Keliah, who was only too happy to go home with us after the reception. She had the great fun of chilling out, reading a book on the couch while the little kids took a nap. Just before her brothers and sister got home from the end of their school day.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Graduating with Honors

I am now the parent of a middle-schooler. What? That's right, last Thursday, Antonio officially graduated from elementary school with honors. Since we were unsuccessful in our hunt for a babysitter, I got the honor of attending the ceremony. It was a thrill as we raced to the church where the ceremony was being held. I dropped Antonio off close to the entrance so he wouldn't be too late, and hunted for a parking place. I climbed the grassy hill back toward the entrance, pushed through the straggling crowd, presented my ticket and was overwhelmed by the full church. There were many people that stood through the 2 hour ordeal. I was lucky, since I was on my own, to find a spot in the middle somewhere. It was really hot in there. I was excited and surprised to see Antonio's name on the program for leading the Pledge of Allegience; he got this honor because he won the school's Tropicana Speech Contest a couple months ago. What a thrill to hear his voice over the microphone as we all stood to recite this precious Pledge (the picture I snapped was somewhat less thrilling.)

I won't bore you all with the details of the ceremony, because it did drag out as we listened to 8 classes worth of names called for many honors and then the actual presentation of their "diplomas." I was disappointed to learn that my cell phone didn't get service in there, so I couldn't text with Nick about the goings-on. I know, it's terribly rude, but I was on my own and wanted to share! There were some very special moments as the principal shared her message, the librarian read a poem, and best of all - the kids sang "I'm On My Way" by Phil Collins as their class song. My favorite part was catching up with Antonio afterwards and hugging him hard.

He was homeschooled for kindergarten and 1st grade, went to 4 elementary schools, and now has graduated from 5th grade with 11 awards. I could not be more proud of him. I'm excited to see his growth in the future as he begins the adventure of secondary school as a homeschooler in the prayer room. God has His hand on Antonio!

This is Antonio's 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Colwell. Yes, she is too young to be leading a class of tweens, but she did a really good job this year. Especially by recognizing what a great kid Antonio is! ;)

The first medallion is for completing all three goals for the first 9 weeks of the Read, Believe, Achieve program.

The second is the A-B Honor Roll award for earning all A's and B's on their report cards during the school year.

This is the Presidential Excellence Award (including pin) for students who carried a G.P.A. of 3.5 or above for all of 4th grade and the beginning of 5th grade.

This award is for participating in the production of the WGLE new show each morning during the school year. Antonio was actually a part of the news crew at his last school in 4th grade, and loved it so much that he volunteered to be a part of the 1st news crew of Grassy Lake Elementary. He confessed to me that, at first, he knew how to run everything better than the teacher/sponsor.

Here is the certificate for A/B Honor Roll. How great are my kids?

The Star Citizen Award is for students who have shown excellent citizenship during the entire year in their classroom - it's teacher's choice.

Reading Excellence Award is for students who score 1 or more years above grade level on their S.T.A.R. test.

Math Excellence Award is for scoring 1 or more years above grade level in math on the S.T.A.R. test.

Star Patrol Award is for 5th grade students who were part of STAR patrol (or safety patrol) during the school year. Antonio was excited to tell me about his 4th grade intern he was training up for next year.

The FCAT Achievement Awards for Reading and Mathematics are for 5th graders who scored an Achievement Level of 4 or 5 on Florida's state standardized test.

And this, dear ones, is proof that Antonio Canuso completed 5th grade and graduated from elementary school on June 4th, 2009.

Can I hear an Amen?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rocky's Moment to Shine

So, this is what I did last Wednesday morning:
I went to an hour-long awards ceremony for the 3rd Grade at my kids' school with my 3-year-old and 20-month-old. It was not a fun or pleasant experience. It was one of those trials by fire I talk about. The kind that is refining and purifying you as a parent and person. Sabina didn't want to stay in the stroller and Luca didn't want to stay by me at all or even be quiet. He even attempted to play with his dinosaur on the body of the mom in front of us. I controlled the chaos by taking a few trips to the bathroom, water fountain, and lobby of the school. But it was all worth it to see Rocky walk across the stage to accept his awards and for Luca to squeal to go see "My Rocky."

After the ceremony, we were invited to go upstairs to the classroom for a reception and readers' theater presentation. Thankfully, they started with snacks so Luca was able to settle down to the business at hand, and Sabina only managed to get chocolate on her fingertips and mouth. Is it really gross to suck the chocolate off your toddler's fingers?

This is most of the class presenting "Charlotte's Web." Rocky read the part of the farmer, Mr. Zuckerman - as represented by the character tied around his neck. It was pretty good, actually.

Rocky got this awesome Accelerated Reader Trophy
for completing all 4 of his AR goals this year! This is
really an amazing accomplishment for an unmotivated reader.
I guess he found his motivation!

He also made the A-B Honor Roll for the year. This sweet medal will be a keepsake and plaything for years to come.
Another certificate for the scrapbook as well!

The Math Growth award is for students who showed over 1 year of growth in math in the S.T.A.R. test.

Math Excellence award is for scoring 1 or more years above grade level in math on the S.T.A.R. test.

The Sunshine Math Superstar was awarded for scoring 30 or more in the classroom competition that consisted of advanced math Sunshine tests.

The FCAT is Florida's standardized tests that the schools and teachers are measured by (not to mention the students). Rocky was awarded awards for outstanding performance in Math and Reading! That means he scored an achievement level of 4 or 5 on the tests. (Actually it was a 4 - I'm so proud of him!)

All in all, "Rocky" Ryan James had a great year; I have to give a special shout-out to his teacher Mrs. Stepien who came back to teach after having a baby the 1st quarter. Thanks so much!

Tomorrow I will recount the thrilling adventure I had at the 5th Grade graduation ceremony!

Verse of the Day:
Psalm 14:2
"The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God."

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Baby Picture Sundays - Nothing Comes Between Me and My Calvins

I thought this was a pretty funny theme this week. Especially since the only person in our family who ever had CK jeans was Nick (Daddy); I got a great discount when I worked at the Buckle right before we were married. But, the idea is to show the sweet little jeans on the sweet little kids, so here we are! This is Luca (age 19 months) in his adorable Levi's jacket he got to wear maybe 3 times. Not a lot of call for jackets in central Florida while it fit. Not to worry, the jacket got a new home with a new baby boy last fall.

This is a kinda funny picture of Sabina (age 14 months) in the lap of her Great-Grandpa Huffer for the first time in January. She is wearing the cutest pair of Betsey Johnson jeans someone gave her. Note the bleached-out hearts on the knees and bands of magenta faux-fur. I suppose they, too, will find a new home this fall. Ah, well to everything there is a season.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Crazy Busy Week!

It has been a crazy busy week. The last week of school. The week of award ceremonies, class parties, fun days, graduations, teacher appreciation gifts, and class presentations. The first grade award ceremony was on Tuesday. I couldn't attend, but Cecelia came home draped in glory!

This award is for students who have shown excellent citizenship during the entire year in their classroom. It's a teacher's choice award. Cecelia tries to be nice to everyone, even mean little boys who torment her. Like her brothers.

This is for students who earn 30 points or more on the classroom competition that involves completing a Sunshine Math Superstar test. Those were challenging! Cecelia excels in math, she was even selected for advanced math class this year.

This trophy is for students who have met their individual Accelerated Reader (AR) goal 3 out of the 4 nine weeks. AR is a great reading program in which they take short tests on books they've read to earn points. We were all impressed with the sparkly trophy!

The medal is for honor roll. She got all As on her report cards this year. There was a small mix-up so she got the medal for A/B honor roll. Still awesome!

I am bursting with pride. Cecelia really worked hard this year on her math, reading and writing. She is an amazing little girl! I did get to go to her class ice cream sundae party, that was pretty fun. Who knew vanilla ice cream could turn so many funny colors?

Stay tuned the next few days as I regal you with other tales of elementary school honors!

Verse of the Day:
Ephesians 5:8,9
"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)"