Saturday, June 16, 2012

Music Recital

For the past 8 weeks or so, Holly, MaKenna and Caleb have been doing their music lessons in a new way.  MaKenna had been taking violin lessons and Caleb was learning acoustic guitar when our teacher/music minister asked if we were interested in doing something different.  He was interested in putting together some groups of kids of various levels, instruments and ages and teaching them how to use their instrument to work together as part of a group.  It sounded like an excellent, real life opportunity to us, so we agreed and Holly hopped on board.

Caleb's group was 4 boys - a pianist, drummer, electric guitarist and Caleb on bass (new for him).

MaKenna's group was a pianist and 2 violinists.

Holly's group was a little different.  It had a pianist (Holly), acoustic guitarist and electric guitarist.  However, their group was different because they actually wrote the music and lyrics for their song and then recorded them into a track which they then played and sang with - so cool!

Well, after lots of hard work, practice, lessons, practice, extra practice and more practice, they culminated all of their efforts last week in one big recital at our church with other children who have also been taking lessons.  Here are some photos from the evening, with my commentary!

All of the kids in the program

James - our music minister and the kids teacher

Christina, Charlotte and MaKenna playing Pachelbel in G


Corbin, Jack and Holly playing How Wonderful You Are - their original song

David, Caleb, Zach and Junior


MaKenna, Charlotte and Christina

Caleb's group - with Zach, David and Junior

Holly's group - with Jack and Corbin

My kiddos with James

Relieved that it is over!  Can you tell Caleb has grown again??

James created this awesome display with each of the kids pictures and left chalk for friends and family to leave messages - such a great idea!

The front of his display with the motto for the recital "Dream Big. Play Loud."

Signing the display

Another view

Close up of Caleb's comments

Holly and MaKenna's comments

Loved this one:  "The DeVore's Rock" =)
We had an amazing evening and were so blessed to be a part of this program.  Can't wait to see what happens next!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

Happy Mother's Day!  I pray that all of you have had an amazing and blessed day with your families.  I am so thankful for my children - my reason for being able to celebrate today with such joy.  The three of them make being a mom easy, joyful and blessed.  Being a mom has been the hardest, most rewarding and best thing I ever did with my life, other than give it to God and get married...  =)

In honor of Mother's Day, I decided to share a few quotes - from my kids and from the internet - that you may understand or appreciate or that will just make you laugh!  Enjoy!


You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool Mom.
- Unknown

"Mother, can you please ground me from video games and movies until I get my room cleaned up?" - Caleb, age 12


"Train up a child in the way he should go;  even when he is old he will not depart from it." -Proverbs 22:6

"When I grow up, I just want to be a mom like you." - Holly and MaKenna (from ages 4 til now)


No influence is so powerful as that of the mother.
- Sarah Josepha Hale

"Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:" - Proverbs 31:28


"Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs... since the payment is pure love."
- Mildred B. Vermont

From all of us to you... Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Relay for Life

This past weekend, our kids had a great opportunity to practice their musical talents at a local Relay for Life event.  Four weeks ago, their lessons changed from being taken alone to merging with a group of similarly leveled students to make small ensembles and prepare them for a recital.  It has been an exciting experience for all of the kids, not to mention the adults involved!

When we first got there, MaKenna got together with her group... Charlotte, another violinist and Christina, a pianist... to practice and warm up - on the bleachers!

The girls, ready to play:

Meanwhile, Caleb's group met on the stage to tune up, set up, and look like the cool band that they are!  What a neat experience for these young men. 



The guys are:  Zach on drums, Donald on Keys, Caleb on Bass/Acoustic and David on Electric.


Tuning, almost ready to play.  James (our music minister and the kids instructor) makes the final adjustments:



The girls ready to go:


After their set, the girls relaxed:

Then, Holly, Kenna and I enjoyed a walk to the top of the bleachers - which my kids have never done!  We were able to watch the sun set, feel the cool breeze and listen to more great music.

I am so thankful that my kids have the opportunity to express themselves musically and for the people who invest in their lives to help them on their journeys as God leads the way. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"Back in the Saddle"

Coming back to blogging after being gone for so long is almost as challenging as getting back on a horse after you've fallen off!  The desire is there, but so is the possibility of falling again.  There's a little fear mixed with excitement.  So, every time I've come here in the past few months, I think of all the things I want to share and then feel overwhelmed trying to put it all together, so I leave doing nothing... Oiy! 

Well, no more!  Today, I am getting back on the horse and going to do what I can do - no more, no less!  I thought it fitting to jump back on with my horse theme by sharing one of the newest and most meaningful things that we are doing these days... volunteering at a Hippotherapy location nearby called Freedom Ride.

Wikipedia gives the definition of hippotherapy as:  "a form of physical, occupational and speech therapy in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to provide carefully graded motor and sensory input."

We discovered this opportunity last year when looking for ways for Holly to volunteer to fulfill scholarship requirements.  After taking her to an orientation, we decided that it was so amazing that we all wanted to join her and have been there since October.  We go to the barn every Friday from 7:45 to noon and here's an idea of what we do while we are there...

We start each week by turning all of the horses out from their stalls to the pasture - one of my favorite parts of the day!  We've learned how to put on fly masks and halters, lead them out, release them and then watch them hurry out to that yummy green grass awaiting them!

Holly turning out Ivan

MaKenna turning out Little Bit

Holly and Ginger
Caleb takes any horse out and brings them back in, but he loves the minis especially!
The minis - Joey and Marshmallow - with Dusty

At 8:00, classes start and last 30 minutes each. We tack up each horse for their class - saddle pads, bump pads, saddle, stirrups adjusted,  girth tightened, reins attached, etc. (I never knew that I would even know what all of these things were, let alone know what to do with them!)  Each class needs a "horse handler" (to lead the horse and rider) as well as two "sidewalkers" (who spot the rider as their needs demand - either ankle hold or arm over thigh or both).
Our first class is a little boy about 6 or 7 with disabilities in the autism spectrum, basically non verbal.  He rides Image, the pretty paint in the picture below.

Any time classes are going on and one of us is not in a class, we are cleaning stalls.  Caleb is still considered a Junior volunteer (until he is 14), so he is unable to work classes.  He has perfected tacking up the horses, grooming them (including picking their hooves, currying, brushing, etc), leading them to and from pasture and, yes, cleaning stalls.

Caleb getting Lucky ready for class, with Bella behind them

Confession:  I love to clean the stalls.  Is that weird??!!  I love the horsey smell of the barn, but I also love the feeling of entering a stall, seeing the mess, and conquering it!  There is such a peace when I am in there, all by myself - the quietness makes me feel like I am in my own little world.  I spend my time in each stall thinking, praying and relaxing in the rhythm of my work. 

Cleaning the stalls includes:  Removing all manure and urine, sifting through the shavings for hidden "treasures", smoothing out the shavings and adding more as needed, refilling their water buckets, cleaning their feed bins, adding fresh hay and cleaning their salt blocks if needed.  It takes 20-30 minutes per stall, depending on how messy the horse is, and we have 9 stalls.

All the while that stalls are being cleaned, there are classes going on, so we rotate around - cleaning stalls and working classes.  Our second class is a girl about 23 with (I think) severe autism, non-verbal.  She is so happy, though, and squeals in delight when we trot with her!

 Next up is a woman in her 30's who has cerebral palsy - highly intelligent and verbal, though hard to understand.  She is one of my favorites!  I just love her attitude, her sweet spirit and her attention to detail - she is not afraid to correct you if you do something different than she wanted!  Recently, channel 6 came and filmed her class for a news report promoting Freedom Ride:


Our 4th class is another woman with CP, in her 40's or so.  She is verbal, but VERY hard to understand, and very intelligent. We help each of the riders mount:
 Heading out to start the class:

Both of these women are so sweet, just trapped in bodies that don't cooperate.  There is one other class, but we are usually not needed to work it, so I don't know much about her except that she is very verbal and easy to understand but with a lot of physical disabilities.

Each student has different things they are working on, based on their age, experience, disability and needs.  It could be as basic as following directions to hold the reins or as advanced as two point trotting.  We do many obstacle courses with ground poles, weaving poles, bridges, barrels for figure eights, stop boxes, etc.  There are often tic tac toe type boards made on the ground for the riders to get to and toss balls into, or sometimes they will play basketball with a goal on the fence.  These are just a few of the things we do on any given day!  The goal of it all is to build the student's confidence while challenging and strengthening them, as well as ease their disability.

I can't even begin to explain how meaningful this has been for the kids and I.  Interacting with the horses is amazing.  The people at the barn with us on Fridays (one other volunteer, the barn manager and the instructor) are incredible.  The students are inspiring.  The work is life changing.  Watching my kids interact with people of various disabilities and ages, with no fear or intimidation, is priceless.

Caleb and Image
It kind of makes me think about the whole "socialization" issue with homeschoolers.  How many 12 year old boys do you know who can interact with all of these ages and disabilities with confidence?  One of the instructors has a son with severe physical disabilities.  He is hard to understand, drools, can't control his arms and legs, etc.  Caleb takes time every week to talk to him and spend time with him and this young man just loves Caleb.  If that is "unsocialization", then I'd rather my kids be unsocialized any day.

MaKenna in the pasture, leading a horse in

I don't know how long we will be there, but we have no plans to stop our volunteering any time soon!  Fridays have become one of our favorite days of the week, thanks to this awesome place.

Horses out to pasture = pure beauty!
Well, thanks for reading along!  Hopefully, now that I've taken the plunge and hopped back on, I will keep up a little better.  =)