Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ken and Judy Adopt!

Yes, it's true. Being a grandparent does not prevent one from being a parent again. Meet KITTY CAT Loyd, the latest addition to our little nest in the country. Kitty Cat adopted us early in July and it was a match made in cat heaven-- for all of us. He seemed to know and be agreeable with the "ground rules" for our house as soon as he moved in.

This cat can rightfully claim to have Nine Lives (catfood, that is). And we wouldn't think of imposing on him to share.

Kitty Cat, meet Bigfoot. Oops, I don't know if that's Ken or Judy. But we've both got big feet and like to play footsie.

Kitty Cat had much to explore in his first few days with us. Such as our photographic capabilities. Such things are very important to a cool cat who wants to be always in the know and on the cutting edge.

He's quite a little gentleman, seemingly knowing when to keep those razor claws retracted. He really doesn't have to discipline us very often.

He investigates some of our comfy, cozy, and lofty perches. Many ideal spots for cat naps in the Loyd dwelling.

A cat that is secure with his place in the family feels free to "let his hair down." He knows that our couch is his couch. And you can pretty much substitute anything else we own for the word "couch."

We decided Kitty Cat was the best name for this kitten since that's what Brianna and Claire are learning to call furry creatures of his species. His name may be rather generic, but his personality is one-of-a-kind. Brianna is accustomed to walking or crawling under my legs, but it's a new experience for anything to walk under her legs!

Kitty Cat is fascinated with the grandbabies's array of toys. Which by default, are part of his feline domain. He may be figuring out how to make music like the girls. Or wondering if these colorful critters are edible. . . .

Bri decides to introduce some of her favorite books to Kitty Cat.
And as you can see, storytime is a huge success. Kitty Cat likes books just as much as Brianna and Claire. Technically, Kitty Cat is their youngest uncle, but we won't try to explain that one.

Claire readily notices the family resemblance, but the tail presents a mystery.

Claire thinks Kitty Cat's toys are pretty neat. But not as good as hers, of course.

Even a young, naive kitten knows better than to let a little girl dress her up like a baby and put him in a stroller. But just wait a few weeks.

Kitty Cat passes the "Meet and Greet" with flying colors. Claire's opinion means a lot to us.

Kitty Cat has uncanny balance and loves to show off his skills. He's a good-natured, laid-back, user-friendly Tuxedo Cat (Judy came across the latter info in a newspaper article).

Kitty Cat is totally in favor of educational toys such as this dump truck. Let's just hope one of the babies doesn't transform it into a guillotine. Such is the nature of their creative little minds.

Judy has done a masterful job as Kitty Cat's surrogate mother. The only time we wonder if he has memories of his real-but-absentee mommy is when he softens up this plush, silky afghan. But mostly he just snuggles with us. Or crawls under the bed. Whatever.

Brianna is very considerate. She cautions us not to wake a napping kitty. Sh-h-h-h-.

But surely one little soft finger touch wouldn't wake him up.

And surely one little soft love tap could only cause him to have sweet dreams.

Awwww. Isn't that sweet? Welcome to the family, Kitty Cat Loyd.

Friday, July 23, 2010

VBS at Beulah Hill, Part III

Well, this is it. It took me from Saturday till Monday to load my final 12 VBS photos, but it looks like I'm gonna make it. Not sure how many of my readers have stuck with me through this waiting game, but I promise a little more variety in the next couple of blog posts-- if I can download pictures!

If you have watched many old western movies, you know that every western town had a "hoosegow" or "calaboose" where lawbreakers were routinely locked up. That is, if the town had a sheriff or marshall who could round up the varmints. Well in our old west VBS the rec director (Mr. Ken) decided it might be a good idea to "lay down the law." Here, Dalton shows off our outdoor jail cell for anyone who might get too frisky on the playground. (Not really-- this is our storage place for mops, propane tanks, and firewood. I'm a benevolent sheriff of the rec area)

These three lovable rascals-- Thomas, Nicholas, and Joshua-- are in search of adventure. No hoosegow for them. Even though they're "kids," they are not like Billy the Kid.

Candace assists Ashley with the challenging stilts. Luckily, I exceeded the weight limit and didn't have to embarrass myself by trying!
When you have more Hot Wheels cars than you can count (or ever dreamed of), what better to do than have a Demolition Derby! WHEE!

On the other hand, some unique children, when left to their own devices, display a sense of order many adults lack. Thomas has a system of arranging these cars which exhibits highly developed organizational skills. Could he be the future computer programmer or economic wizard that saves us all from disaster? Or perhaps he's just be happier working with NASCAR.

Nobody needs to make up games for Ashlyn. Here, she is lovingly feeding her baby birds (just because we can't see them doesn't mean they're not there). And that may look like pinestraw, but she assured me it was hay. When it was time to go in she tenderly ran back here to gather her babies.

At the noon hour everyone was ready for the special lunch-- 25 pizzas provided by Bob Newcomer of Bob's Pizza. Everything from single toppings to Bob's famous 'Round the World. This crowd may look patient, but you should have seen them three seconds after the blessing!

In fact, it took all my willpower to stand back and take this picture instead of elbowing past some folks to break in line.

Even the table settings reflected our cowboy/western theme. I just wonder if someone borrowed that boot from our pastor.

Speaking of whom, meet my pastor, Dr. Curtis Barbery. If Roy Rogers was King of the Cowboys, Pastor Barbery is King of the Old-Time Gospel Preachers. And you won't find him without a pair of boots!
The fitting end to the day was a worship time in which the children shared all the songs Jim and Marcie had taught them.

Then, a timely evangelical message that even the youngest children could understand was offered by Pastor Barbery. I believe it provided the mortar to bind together the scriptures and lessons the children had studied all day. These children are very dear to the pastor, and he has often related that it is largely for them that he continues to preach well beyond typical retirement age. And we adults are thankful for that, as well.
All in all, it was a great day of VBS. Dozens of other VBS's have already taken place or are continuing across our county, and even the nation, and I pray that much spiritual fruit will abound wherever the laborers are presenting the gospel.
I feel sure many of my readers have positive memories of VBS experiences in the recent or distant past. I think VBS is a summer tradition that should be cherished, even as we explore new ways to make it helpful to families and relevant to our children.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

VBS at Beulah Hill, Part II

This post was a week in production, so it ought to be really superior, right? Nah. Because of a glitch Blogger has been having "with a small subset of subscribers," I have been trying since LAST Saturday to load the 13 VBS pictures that comprise this blog. Oops. Did I say thirteen?

Uh, anyway, I got the last 3 downloaded last night and I'm about to fill you in on some more fun at the Circle J ranch two weeks ago.

Here's me, Cowboy Ken. Not my saddle-- I don't have a horse. It is my hat, but I only wore it in the air conditioning-- too hot outside. Some cowboy, huh?

Here are my good friends Hannah and Steve. If Steve's name was Steves, both of these names would be palindromes, which I love. There is no more faithful worker or trueblue friend than Steve. Like me, he's a big Carolina fan. He takes good pictures, too.

As my recreation activities continued outside the church, I detected a spy. But a really nice spy. It was Lauren, taking some photo (maybe videos, too) for the church blog. To see her pictures of VBS and a lot of interesting info about our church go here: Beulah Hill.

Dalton (right) teaches his new friend how to make the zip slide really zoom. This is a way to build up your arm muscles while having a good time. No pain, no gain.

It was a hot day, and sometimes the best activity is just hanging out with a friend in the shade. That's something Jessie and Ashley would agree with.

Three of our fearless adult leaders. Greg and Tim taught the 10-12 year-olds and Renee was co-director along with Karen. Karen, how did you elude my camera. Just like the Lone Ranger.

Linda and Pat assisted creative children in the craft area. There were some yummy snacks across the hall. Uh, that's what somebody told me. : )

Hannah was the only person I saw who could keep her balance on this bouncer. Way to go, Hannah! (Maybe only people whose names are palindromes [reversible] can do it.)

Kelly and Hannah's class takes a breather from some active play. Do we all look like we're draggin' a little bit?

When a jump rope turns into a DEADLY SNAKE it suddenly becomes more fun for Ashlyn.

When it becomes a POISON RIVER, filled with poison, crocodiles, and piranha, it attracts jungle adventurer Nicholas, too.

These guys are all experienced with inventing great parachute games, like running under when your color is called, or bouncing objects high into the sky.
Occasionally some kid who's too tall gets stuck under the parachute.
But it wasn't ME. Maybe you can guess the Mystery Person.
Well, I have one final blog post planned for VBS (before it becomes ancient history). It will only have TWELVE pictures, so maybe it will come off as planned. I've already decided that if I have trouble posting pictures, I'm going to proceed with some strictly TEXT posts until the problem is corrected. And there goes my readership!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

VBS at Beulah Hill, part I

Beulah Hill Baptist Church's annual Vacation Bible School was a one-day affair this year. We've had good success with this abbreviated but intensive strategy. Our theme was The Circle J Ranch-- "J" for "Jesus." Get it?

After opening assembly our classes scattered to a variety of activities. Jim and Marcie taught the cowpokes a variety of songs in the comfort of the sanctuary. They would later share the songs with all of us at our closing ceremony.

Greg and Tim had the youth class. Their ingenious first lesson had the class marching around the church building like the children of Israel marching around Jericho. "Getting tired?" Greg queries. "Well the Israelites got tired, too, but they were obedient to God and persevered, winning a great victory.

While some of the classes were away, I peeked at their cowboy theme decor. Yup, pardner, that's a real saddle. My horse? Well, it's in the shop. Somebody said the Gang That Couldn't Build Fences Straight had been here. But to me it looks pretty authentic-- fer paper. After all, in the old west they couldn't run to Home Depot for fencing.

This campsite was complete with campfire. Just needed some coyotes and maybe an Indian attack.

I figgered this wuz the bunkhouse. But I never saw nobody that had time fer a nap.

Cowboy altar. You can get real close to God out on the prairie, sleepin' under the stars. Or wherever else you might happen to be. He's right there, ya know.

My faithful sidekick Chipper accompanied me and helped lead the VBS pledges. After years of doing theme-appropriate attire in my school class, now he goes with me to daycares, nursing homes, the hospital, libraries, and such. For today, he was nicknamed "Buffalo Chipper."

(About 3 people got the joke-- did you?)
Cowboy stuff adorned the sanctuary altar, too. I love the figurine in the middle that has a small child sitting on the saddle in front of the woman. That's how our children learn best, and it exemplified the spirit of VBS.

Because I was in charge of recreation, most of my pictures center around the outdoor activities.
Here's a simple, fun game of strategy called Hunker Hawser. It's a two-person tug-o-war that doesn't rely on strength. Your clever use of the rope can trick your opponent into falling or touching the ground. Dalton, who assisted me all morning, and Jackson demonstrate the advanced techniques required.

Ashley demonstrates real style with the jumprope.
She may need to try out for the Bouncing Bulldogs (see my recent Transplant blog post).
Some of you surely recognize Judy's dependable truck in the background. For today, it was a "packhorse," toting my vast arsenal of play equipment and games.

Emma is the junior stilt-walking champion. In fact, no one else can come close to her skill. You'll see the senior champion in an upcoming post.

Kendall has mastered hula hooping in both traditional and non-traditional styles. Hard to believe how easy that once seemed, but when I try it now, the hoop twirls about three times between my waist and the ground. I can still spin it on my arm or fling it for a boomerang, though.
Besides Hunker Hawser, traditional tug-o-wars were popular with the oldest class. They tried a couple with boys against girls, but found it a little more interesting when they started choosing teams, seeing how different combinations competed.

When they were starting to get blisters, I thought the time was right to introduce "Man Overboard." This is a game I invented when I was teaching, and you can easily play at home, with a handful of players, about ages 9 to adult. Take some old sweatpants, stuff them old socks, rags, t-shirts, or what-have-you. Have one of the stronger players fling the "Man" high into the air. As it hurtles toward the earth (or "ocean") players try to catch (rescue) him before he touches the ground.

What I love about this game is that it's non-competitive, but highly motivating. There are no points, no winners or losers-- just action and fun. Younger kids can certainly participate. They may not be able to throw the "body" very high, but love to try. And they may not succeed in catching it, but they'll make the effort. Their greatest danger is getting trampled by the enthusiastic older kids. I'll probably blog about some more fun cooperation games in the future. They're so valuable and cultivate all the right things.
Thus ends my first blog post about VBS. I plan two more (though has given me a hard time loading pics lately). If you've seen enough, politely skip those. I'll be on to other topics of general interest soon.