Monday, July 25, 2011

American Girl Moments

Near the entrance Atira sat down for a photo of her and Nikki to remember their special day at American Girl.

WOW!! What an incredible day! To begin to tell the tale of this most amazing, fun filled day, I must first back up a month ago, to Atira's 11th birthday.

Atira wanted nothing more than to have her birthday party at the new American Girl store opening up in a nearby city, however it was not planned to be opened until mid July...much too late for her party. Thankfully, her creative grandparents came up with the idea of giving her a lunch date and moola to spend at the store when it finally did open, which thrilled her to her toes! The plans were in process. We jumped on the internet and made our reservations, for 4, a birthday girl, two grandmas and one mommy and now we just had to count down the days!

Atira made the time go by faster by sending out a joke a day to her friends and some family, we enjoyed our conference and camp and then finally...oh finally, the day was here! After a night of waking up three times because she thought it was morning, she finally arrived at the day we were going to American Girl!

Per her request, both the grandmas and the mommy were dressed up for this festive occasion. We headed out an hour early, just in case.....we did not want to miss our reservations or be stressed if there was traffic. As it turned out, we flew down! We were also immediately blessed with an incredible parking spot! We made our way in, Atira and I were holding hands, I could just feel her excitement building, it was such a fun moment. Finally, there we stood...right in front of "AG"!

One of her first stops, the book department! Not THE first stop...just one of them!

We entered and I turned to watch her take it all in. It was precious. She stood there, staring around her at the array of books and dolls and pretty colors, she finally achieved a dream of hers, to go to an American Girl store. We briefly looked through the classic dolls section, then bee lined over to the books (that's my girl!). Then we decided to leave grandma at the books and make a dash to the back of the store and return to grandma so we could get a quick overview of everything there. Oh, what fun...and I should mention, that "dash" turned into a very sidetracked little jaunt.

Finally, her other grandma arrived, hugs all around, let the fun begin! We had about 15 minutes to spend before our reservations, so we enjoyed some browsing time together. Then it was time for lunch. Good thing too as Atira was only able to eat half an apple for breakfast, she was so excited, by this time however, she was really hungry and needed some fuel for the upcoming events!

Lunch, was....well, overall wonderful. We had an incredibly dingy waitress, who made far too many mistakes. Thankfully, true to American Girls high customer service standards, they came through and helped make our event memorable and fun. After several errors on the waitress' part, we were offered 50% off of our bill and a certificate offering us lunch on another visit, for ALL FOUR OF US! WOO HOO!!!! We were all overjoyed and thankful....especially for the opportunity to come back another time all together!

Since this event was in celebration of her birthday we opted for the birthday package, of course! Atira is here wearing her crown and sipping on her strawberry lemonade.

And here is Nikki wearing her birthday crown, also sipping on her strawberry lemonade! ;0) Oh, and notice the nifty chair that hooks to the table for the doll!!

The birthday girls! Oh, and Atira also had a sticker she wore through the story saying it's her birthday, which of course had the employees giving her lots of happy birthdays as we shopped around.

Her appetizer, yummy fruit kabobs with fruity yogurt dipping sauce, yummy!

Nikki's lunch, Atira couldn't let her girl go hungry you know! So she made this bitty burger out of her big one and even cut off pieces of fruit to share with her. I don't believe I saw her share any fries though...hmmm.....

And since it was her birthday, of course there was singing and clapping and these incredibly darling little ice cream cones!! I am going to have to figure out how recreate these little babies at home. What you do not see pictured is those little glass cups are half filled with sugar sprinkles that the cones are held up in, Atira would eat a bit of ice cream, then dip, eat, dip, eat dip. You get the idea, right? She was fully loaded with sugar by the time we left the table.

So, of course we had to capture the incredible features throughout the ENTIRE if you happen to have to go potty while shopping, and you need to take your dolly with you....well, they offer doll hooks to place your doll on, in each stall! They have thought of everything here! Cracked me up.

Lunch is over, LETS SHOP!

We made our way to the back of the store, after all we wanted to tackle this place logically, right? At the very back is! Atira opted to have her dolls hair done as well as have her ears pierced, seriously, she had her ears pierced. This lovely young lady was incredible! She chatted with Atira about her dolls, books, and we even found out she was also home schooled! What a sweet young lady, it was a pleasure to get to meet her. She also gave us tips on taking care of the dolls hair ourselves. Now, check this out:

They place these mirrors above the stylists so you can see what is going on with the back of your dolls hair while you are on the front! ACK! :)

This photo is nothing more than evidence of my shoe fetish...ridiculous. Also, incredibly cute! This is the little shoe department! I just loved it, little shoe boxes all lined up, and shoes on display, come on, that is really cute, right?

Oh, the final moments....the decision had to be made, which dolly was coming home to be apart of our family? Atira and Nikki looking at the potential girls....and finally, she broke. My little princess, started crying. She couldn't decide, it was just too much. :*( I was holding her and talking to her and then...Grandma Sheila stepped in and offered to give her one doll early as a Hanukkah gift, that grandma! Atira was practically overwhelmed by this as well, two dollies, each from one of her grandmas?! TOO MUCH!! Little sweety, she was so thankful and excited all at once. What a tender and grateful heart she has.

So, in the end, Atira had a wonderful day, as well as this mommy and the grandmas. It was one filled with memories, laughs and tears. The best kind of day. Atira came home with two dolls a few new outfits and some accessories, but more than that she had a special day with some of her favorite people celebrating her precious life given to her by a God who loves her.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

God designed moments

Our fabulous group of friend at the Love for Israel conference getting a shot with Brad Scott. Notice the beautiful hand painted mural of horses behind us. The theme of this years conference is "Discerning the Times".
Jordan is in the black shirt and hat on the center right and Atira is in the pink shirt just to his left. This is during the Aviad Cohen song We Delight. The dance leaders invited all of the youth up to dance together to this fun song!
Another shot from a bit further back of the kids dancing. There were over 400 people in attendance at the conference this year....way more than we expected with todays economy! What a blessing!

This is a picture of the children of the conference being covered by their fathers tallits (prayer shawls) as the men pray blessings and protection over them. I love this moment, so beautiful, and such a beautiful picture of what our Heavenly Father does for us.

On to the story....

WoW! I recently posted on facebook that life is incredibly exciting, especially when God is in charge. This statement is so incredibly true. Each year our family anticipates a Hebraic Roots conference called Love for Israel. We have attended the conference since the first one 6 years ago. Each year has been more of a blessing to us as we grow learn and meet more and more incredible people, many of which we have become quite close with. This year with Scott's layoff our big goal was to be able to afford the conference, without using credit cards, which, with God in charge is not a difficult desire! We sold our Wii gaming system on ebay making enough money for the conference, lodging and gas! So, we registered and were ready to go!

In the meantime there was another event being planned, a camp called Youth for Yeshua, which began on the heels of the conference. We had known about it, wanted our kids to go, but that was definitely not in the budget, so we dismissed the whole idea. A few days before we were leaving for conference Atira received an email from a good friend of ours, AJ AKA Mrs. Noah, encouraging us to register the kids for conference that there were two scholarships available and we should use them!! Scott and I agreed and the decision was made, we were off to Canby Grove Camp after our conference for several more days of teachings and fun! YAY!

What an incredible week this has been. Our time at conference was incredible. We enjoyed the company of some amazing friends bunking in with us, Tim & Jen and of course Jeff & Patti ran the childrens program and our friend Terri made the journey down with us as well. The weekend was filled with laughter and tears, moments of awe and precious, tender time in the presence of our Abba. The list of speakers was top notch, we heard from Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries, he runs a congregation of 700 down in Tacoma, WA. We also enjoyed the teachings from Bill Cloud of Shoreshim ministries. Bill travels the globe teaching the Hebraic Roots of our faith. Finally, my favorite speaker as well as Jordans, we had the opportunity to hear Brad Scott of Wildbranch Ministries. To see Jordans face when he comes out of a session with Brad teaching is priceless. His face is practically glowing, grinning from ear to ear and thoroughly charged and excited ready to rehash all that he just learned! I wish I had a camera to share that beaming joy, thankfully it is imprinted in my memory banks, I will always treasure it!

We moved on to Canby Grove Christian camp on Monday morning, we love that place. Beautiful 80 acres with cabins on one side and a lodge overlooking the river on the other. There is a pool and fields to play, canoeing available as well. The kids had a wonderful schedule. They started their mornings off with worship dancing led by our friends the Calderons. Then came the main reason we were there, Brad Scott...again! He was the main speaker and that was our biggest motivation in attending. The afternoons were filled with a variety of options from art classes to a tallit (prayer shawl) making class, canoeing, capture the flag and swimming. The kids had a blast! In between times we enjoyed amazing meals by the kosher chef employed by the camp (which was such a blessing to us!) eating the most delectable meals...we were truly spoiled! Scott and I enjoyed quiet time taking walks together around the camp and visiting with new friends and old.

One of the amazing things about this, if Scott was not laid off we would not have qualified to take the kids on scholarship to the camp, nor would we have had the money to do it or the time because he would have been working. We really felt that God had this schedule all planned out for us and we are abundantly blessed!

During our time at the camp we enjoyed some time with Brad Scott and we have asked him to come on board and help us to mentor Jordan in his Hebrew and biblical studies. As Jordan has grown we have seen that he has a dynamic view of both the language and the Word and we want to encourage and nourish this gift. Brad was more than happy to help us, giving us book titles for Jordan to begin reading as well as a few authors as well. Jordan will also further his Hebrew studies using Brad's Breisheet study guide, which we will begin this fall. We will stay in contact with Brad, especially Jordan who can contact him with questions and when he wants to discuss concepts he has been covering. We are really excited about this and look forward to seeing where the Lord takes this in the future!

The kids at Canby with Brad Scott

So there sums up our incredible week, all planned by the hand of God. We could never have made this happen on our own, and it was truly incredible and memorable. Scott and I were given precious time with our children, away from television, computers and telephones. We played, laughed and studied together as a family. Truthfully, we didn't want to come home, but it was time. We are so thankful for this week and truthfully happy to be home again. We are more aware of how incredibly and unpredictable life can be, especially when you leave God in charge and listen to His leading.