Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Why Camp Barnabas is So Special

While Gess has Down syndrome, she is pretty high functioning and has attended our local church camp with me going as her counselor. She could participate in most things, it was pretty much a week of her tagging along and trying to be a part of the crowd. That's her every day life. People are warm and welcoming, but after a few minutes of conversing with her they are back to their own conversation and she struggles to keep up or moves off into her own space. They aren't mean and it's not their fault really, it's just life. They are at a different pace and a different communication level. It's tough, but she adjusts and never complains.

Then there is life at Camp Barnabas where suddenly, for just one week, her world turns upside down. For that week friends go hand in hand together as one. You want to do a ropes course but happen to be in a wheelchair? No problem! Camp Barnabas can hook you up - literally!  There is nothing they won't help you do! No one stops and stares, gets impatient, or criticizes you. Instead you are celebrated! You are wanted! Everyone takes time to get to know you. YOU! You are why they are here. No one tells them "no you can't." You now get to decide what to do!

This, to me, is why Camp Barnabas is so special. It's for this one fact. For one week Gess gets to live as if she didn't have special needs. That's a gift you can't give in a box! Thanks Camp Barnabas for working so hard to make that dream come alive!

Camp Barnabas is a Christian camp and there is no better way to share the love of Christ than to accept everyone just as they are. That's what they do at Camp Barnabas! To learn more visit their website or watch this movie explaining the difference that it makes in the lives of everyone who goes, camper and counselor alike.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Making costumes

Gess is going off to Camp Barnabas this summer. It is an amazing Christian camp for people with special needs. This will be her second year going. Every day they have a special theme party for which you dress up. This year's themes are Super Hero Showdown, Noah's Ark Water Park, A Knight's Tale, & Blast From the Past.

I will start with the most complicated costume we made.
Noah's Ark Water Park

Gess loves learning about dinosaurs and realizes they were actually on the ark. While this sounds unreal to some of you, when you understand the average dinosaur was the size of a sheep and know that God didn't have to choose the largest of them all to be on the ark, you get it. They were there!  So she wanted to be a dinosaur. I found this simple and fun DIY Paper Dinosaur on Pinterest. Using the paper as a template I hot glued the paper pattern to green cloth. I actually glued it in the wrong place so it doesn't go over Gess' head, but I felt this would work as it was. We got her stuffed lizard out so she could take him along and actually be 2x2. He doesn't spikes on his head so it was even better. What do you think?

Super Hero Showdown

Gess recently informed me that Superman was her favorite super hero so we went and a bought a Superman T-shirt, cut up an old red t-shirt utilizing the sleeves to help tie it in front and grabbed some blue shorts. Ta da!  Superman, or woman anyway!

A Knight's Tale

The best we could find at thrift store was one that might fit a peasant lady at the time. We got a scarf to go over her head. She may not look like royalty but she sure is cute!

 Blast From the Past

This one was easy. Every year Gess is a part of a local fashion show and this year she got some really wild looking pants. They reminded me of the 70's - my generation. So here she is in her 70's get up with things we already had around the house!

Friday, June 5, 2015

I'm down for a bit due to surgery

I have struggled to keep up with my blog but I haven't been quite frank about why. I have had some medical issues that require surgery. That's all I am comfortable saying publicly. Today, as you read this I will be under the knife - the first time ever for me which makes me nervous. My pastor has a joke he likes to share about the difference between major and minor surgery. He says its minor surgery when its for you and its major surgery when its for me!  Well, I have watched my daughter go through some pretty major stuff, so I know mine isn't on that level but still, it isn't something to take lightly either.

I hope to be up and around enough to write in a week or so. I was hoping to have some blogs scheduled so my down time wouldn't seem to stark but that just didn't happen. I haven't had the energy and what energy I did have was spent preparing my household and family members that I take care of to be ready in my absence. My house is clean and ready. Ladies from church are providing some meals and my daughter will be looked after by her brother. All is ready and now its time for me.

I must rest and get better. Hopefully I will feel like writing since I won't be able to do much else for awhile. No driving for sure!  Please keep me in your prayers and I will try to check in when I can. Thanks for faithfully following. You are a blessing to my me!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Summer Math - Cooking

Since Gess has special needs we really focus on life skills math. So this summer, instead of just doing "math" we are making sure we do fun stuff that involves math. Part of that includes cooking!

Gess loves to help in the kitchen but now that she is almost 14 I am trying to make sure she starts doing things more on her own. This summer we are focusing on following a recipe. To help with that I got her some easy to read measuring cups and spoons.

I really don't like the plastic ones because I know that the numbers will wash off soon but stainless steel ones are hard to read.Still, these will work for now. I think I will order the Cake Boss ones soon as they look really easy to use.

So far we have baked some cakes. I tried to really let Gess take control of that one!

The only thing I did was help her scrape the batter out of the bowl and even out the pan once she poured it in. I was very proud of her. Oh and the cake was so good I caught her sneaking some of it.

Then she helped me make the batter and filling for my Blintzes that we made to celebrate Pentecost (Shavuot). We used the recipe from Food Network - Blueberry Blintzes but I used raspberries instead. This was my first attempt at making them and I was thrilled with the results!! The helpful tips from the recipe really work!

 Anyway, we will be doing a lot more cooking this summer. It will be a fun way to practice math and reading by learning how to follow a recipe. To help a child with special need I use utensils easy to read and use, print out the instructions in a large font so it is easy to read or have her use a magnifying glass. Either way we have fun and the food is, as my little chef would say, "quite tasty!"

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Summer Reading Has Begun!

We signed up for our summer reading program again.  This year's theme is Every Hero Has a Story. Gess is now in the middle school challenge where she only has to read 10 books, but they have to be from the J, YA, or A section. She selected several books but started with a Young Indiana Jones book. She was thrilled they had one in a font size she can read!  Her reading is excellent but she can't read books with normal small print.

I also signed up and have to read 10 books. Adults can read from any section but I try to make my own challenges. This year each book must be a different author, but I am not sure what other limits I might set. Anyway, I started with The Auschwitz Escape. I have been wanting to read that since it released but never got around to it.

We started reading right away and are already several chapters in. Hubby came in and took our picture!

I didn't like putting mine away last night, too much was happening!  What are you reading this summer? Have you signed up for your summer reading program yet? What's your goal?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Shavuot, Pentecost, & Feast of Weeks

All these names can get sort of confusing. What you need to know is that those 3 titles mean the same thing! 

“You shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks, that is, the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year." Exodus 34:22

Feast of Weeks is, of course, our English term.
Shavuot is the Hebrew word for weeks.
Pentecost is the Greek term used in the New Testament, but it is the same holiday that is observed above. Pentecost literally means fiftieth for The Feast of Weeks was to occur 50 days after the Passover.

You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths.‘You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD. Lev 23:15-16

Christianity celebrates Pentecost Sunday as the day the disciples received the Holy Spirit but while this year Pentecost or Shavuot does happen to fall on a Sunday, that is not always the case. Shavuot is always 50 days from Passover and Passover always begins on the 15th of the month of Nisan.

So enough with the dates and the names, lets get what to this holiday is all about!

The counting began for us the day after Passover. Jews call this the counting of the omer. We used barley to count the 50 days but I confess we failed to do this daily. I often had to catch my calendar up!  Each day (when we remembered) we would say "Today is the ___ day of the Omer" and glue on one piece of barley. Others use a path up a mountain to celebrate the giving of the Torah and say a special blessing.

The Feast of Weeks was one of the 7 appointed observances of the Lord given to Moses.

"Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts." Lev 23:2

Leviticus 23:15-22 tells you about the Feast of Weeks but other than explaining what you are to sacrifice and commanding that you not work it doesn't really say what you must do to celebrate it. We do know that the disciples observed it for in Acts 2 they were in Jerusalem observing Pentecost when they received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Jewish tradition has this day set aside as a day that commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. The focus will be on learning the 10 commandments and some will even stay up all night studying the Torah. 

What I find fascinating is the connection between the giving of the Ten Commandments and the giving of the Holy Spirit. Remember, when Moses came down from the mountain he found the people in rebellion against God worshiping a golden calf.  Moses called all those on Lord's side to stand with him and they slew those who rebelled. They lost about 3,000 men that day

And that day about three thousand men of the people fell. Exodus 32:28

Yet, on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit fell upon his people, Peter preached the gospel identifying Jesus as the Messiah. At the end about 3,000 people were saved.

So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. Acts 2:41.

As many souls that were lost in Exodus were restored at Pentecost!  What a beautiful restoration! So, while I don't see an exact command in Scripture to celebrate the giving on the Ten Commandments on this holiday, there is a connection I find compelling and I will start adding that into my celebration. We actually never celebrated the day of Pentecost at our church anyway, so even that is new to us.

Here are some resources that aided us in our celebration of the many facets of this special day.

The first is a great video from Buck Denver asks What's in the Bible. It explains what happened on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Their web page What Is Pentecost has this video, the history of Pentecost and some coloring pages.

To learn about the Ten Commandments we decided to read them from Scripture and watch a movie. I think Gess chose Prince of Egypt, but I might put in the original Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston myself!

I would recommend memorizing them. We have done that already so we simply reviewed them. I shared how we went about Learning the Ten Commandments a few years ago. We used these visuals from Living Waters.

My church also taught them with motions. Here is Gess doing them!

A fun song Gess has on her Go Fish Guys DVD Superstar is The Ten Commandment Boogie.

Another Jewish tradition is to read the book of Ruth during the holiday. The Feast of Weeks is also the Feast of Firstfruits and that is when the Barley is harvested. The book of Ruth certainly takes place during that time!  The fact that it was a beautiful picture of redemption gives it yet another connection to our redeemer and the gift we received from him on Pentecost!  We read that this morning.

This is our first year celebrating Pentecost but it certainly won't be our last!  I look forward to finding new ways to celebrate in the years to come.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Piano Recital Number 3

It was Gess' third year at piano and her recital was last weekend. She enjoys playing and does fairly well. Her biggest challenge is the rhythm of the song. She knows where the notes are but doesn't necessarily hold them the right amount. Her teacher works well with her and I am glad for the experience. Reading music is a great thing to learn!

Here was one of her songs: Spaceship to Mars


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