Sunday, December 26, 2010

We wish you a merry CHRISTMAS!

  Dear Readers,

a blur of our tree

   I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas! We sure did. In fact, I'm quite reluctant to admit the celebration is over. I'm happy, though, to reminisce through this post.
Benjamin has been excited about
Epic Mickey all year.
It's a little less accessible than we have hoped for,
 but with a little teamwork he's doing great!




 
                                          . 
  Honestly, the whole month of December has been fantastic. Filled with wonderful Hallmark moments and decorated with Christmas cheer, this has been one amazing season. The boys were stars in Snoopy!The musical. Benjamin made the audience hoot with lines he made up! Mason sang a solo about how Snoopy didn't love him any more (he was Charlie Brown), and made many eyes shed a tear.
    Cate was in the Nutcracker this week, and was the cutest mouse and snowflake ever!    Here's some of my favorite parts of Christmas:
1. Mom and Dad took me out to eat last week just us, and that was really amazing. I also got to sneak in Cate's week by spending some time with Mom while Cate practiced.
  2. Benjamin, Mason ,and I were so blessed in that we were  able to give 13 small farm animals, a custom fit wheelchair, life-saving medicine, 4 Bibles, and 100 dollars to help sexually exploited girls to World Vision.
 3.  I worked really hard on a cross-stitched apron for Mom, and seeing her open it was a gift to me.
     One more - I got a camera for Christmas! A lot of these photos are from my camera! I think Mom is as excited as I am - I won't use hers all the time!


  So, we had a really amazing Christmas. And now we are going to Jacksonville for MSU's bowl game! Whoo hoo! I will blog later with lots of pictures and a review of the book "Oogy." Mom and Dad gave me this book about a dog who was injured in a dog fight and now has special needs, and I would love to share with you! And while I'm at it, I might share a story out of my "Sister Freaks' book from Uncle Len.
I recently learned we've been renting my sax and violin for so long
we own them! I had an early Christmas gift.
 Don't you love Christmas?
  Your Blogger,
  Claire

 P.S. Scroll down for a picture of our gingerbread house - we've started a tradition that is now my favorite! Even though it's not perfect, we had  a blast making it and the gingerbread snowmen appreciate Dad's engineering advice, I'm sure!
                                         


Santa brought lots of goodies for Cate!

    

Another one of my favorite things - making this  wonderfully unperfect gingerbread house!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gifting

Dear Readers,
 I love Christmas! The smells, the weather, the music, family, the celebration of our Savior's birth, and yes - gifts. Well, as much as I love giving and recieving gifts - I should really say THE GIFT. Christmas never fails to bring out a cheeriness in most, have you noticed?  People world-wide might believe their feeling of joy is relief in a break from school or work. Or maybe a warm cup of hot choclate or new puppy fills their heart with cheer. All these things are great, but I know the secret to good cheer at Christmas. I know why the cashier seems more perky in December than the rest of the year. Are you ready? It's -
 
                             JESUS
    Yep. Somehow, we tend to forget the HOPE and JOY and GRACE  God has blessed us with. I mean, for me, it's always in the back of my head, but when school has me stressed and I blow up at every one I see (not that this ever happens) , I'm not exactly thinking "Gee, God gave up so much for me, I could at least be nice to my poor brothers."  But at Christmas, it seems I'm compelled to hug my brothers and that bomb inside me seems to turn into a sugary batch of Christmas cookies. Ahh...I'm sure everyone around me (and you, too if I had to bet.) would rather have me  acutely aware of the love of our Savior all year - not just in December.  That will be my new year's resolution, I think.

 Merry Christmas, to all of you! Your Blogger,
                                                 Claire
By the way, I sat down to blog about my piano and violin recital, but God gave me these words instead.
 Look for that soon!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Noel in ASL



Dear Readers,
This weekend was absolutely wonderful. My wonderful  family ran all over town for me on Saturday and didn't complain once. Thank you so much all of you - you're so supportive!
After violin rehearsal,  we ran home and drove to Rosson House for Arizona Friends in Sign. We were
 signing  there in the morning and at Glendale Glitters that night.



Aren't they adorable?!





  My friend, Jamie, and I signed Frosty the Snowman as a duet. It was amazing... 
 

I'm signing "Sleigh"


I joined AZ Friends in Sign because ever since I met a girl in my third grade class who was Deaf, I have loved sign language and had a desire to serve the Deaf. This group has been really great for me to have a part in, and I love it. Our group goes to nursing homes, girl scout meetings, the fair, and others. We go to teach people who want to learn sign language and to increase the public's awareness of ASL and Deafness, as well as to reach out to the Deaf Community.  How many of you, my wonderful Readers, know sign language? It is really such a wonderful skill to have and truly a gift to give to others.
  Before I let you go, let me say one quick thing. One of my mom's friends has a Deaf friend. One day my mom's friend asked his Deaf Friend what his dreams were. He said "In my dreams, everyone signs."
  They made that dream come true on the television show Sesame Street, why can't we make it true???
  Your Blogger, (who would love to teach all of you sign language)
Claire
Arizona Friends in Sign

                                                                                     







                                                                                                     










Wednesday, November 17, 2010

God's promise: rainbows, anyone?

Dear Readers,
 Recently we were in the store Kirkland's, when I overheard a lady talking to her daughter. She was reading a decoration for sale that said something like 'It is good to have a family. It is great to have a home. Having both is a blessing." She then turned to her daughter and said, "Hmmhmm...a blessing indeed. Some people have neither." (or something like that...I was 'eavesdropping' and didn't hear it all)
  This lady reminded me to be thankful as Thanksgiving dwells upon us. I am so blessed to have a great family, home, and all of you, my sweet Readers! Thank you for reading my long blog posts and for your encouraging comments.
  When we went on a mission trip last year to Mexico, we built a house for a family that was not  big. It was not fancy.
All it was was four small walls and a cement floor. Their restroom was a deep hole next to the house with a piece of ply wood thrown over it. Yet these people were so grateful for the gift  of a home, they thought it was the greatest thing in the world.
    I hope all of us are grateful for our homes and families, but sometimes it isn't very easy to show contentment. Thoughts of  'I wish I had this' and 'wouldn't it be great if I had that'  tend to invade our thoughts.
 God put us in our situations for a reason! And whether we are standing in the sunshine or pouring down rain, we need to be grateful for the gifts God has blessed us with. There is always a rainbow after the rain, so look for it today!
 If you are very blessed and feel pressed by God to share His love today, here are a few links. Help someone else find a Rainbow in their life!
 Maria's Big House of Hope is a home for orphans with special needs  in honor of Maria Chapman. Sadly, many orphans with special needs never get adopted. Check out this site and see that these kids are truly special.  I know my mom would love to bring one of these babies home-will you?


 World Vision helps children all over the world by providing them with Bibles, nutritious food, healthcare,  clean drinking water, and child sponsorships.


One Mission is the ministry our church uses when going on mission trips to Mexico.  See pictures of the poverty - be inspired to go on a mission trip. They're amazing!


 Compassion International is the organization we use to sponsor a little boy named Moris. The impact mere letters can make on a child's life is amazing. The letters you recieve will give you a heart of gratitude.
 
      I hope you look at  these websites and donate your prayers to the recipients of these ministries.  The children at Maria's Big House of Hope, people of Mexico and sponsor recievers  need your prayers and love most of all. Being able to help another one of God's children will be counted as one of your blessings this Thanksgiving, I'm sure.                Your Blogger,
                                                                Claire




Me and Yamulet, a sweet friend from Mexico
Carolina and I work in front of our family's old home
Two Familias
            

Monday, November 8, 2010

Saddle up your horses...

LET ME HAVE THAT APPLE!

     Dear Readers,
 I was so blessed to be able to go to Wild West Days this weekend. Mom and I had talked about going, but then Cate got sick and I didn't even think about it being a possibility. But last night when we got home from Uncle Len's birthday dinner, Ms.Barb (Benjamin's physical therapist) had called and offered to take me with her and another girl, Alyssa, to the event. It was amazing!!


One of the sweet horses we met - doesn't he resemble Marki?
  We got to watch Mike Stacy's clinic first, where he showed people how to train their horses various things (that I didn't know and so enjoyed learning!) and answered the audience's questions. Ms.Barb explained the things I didn't understand and explained how to do a flying lead change, which I have always wanted to learn to do! (I will refrain from giving you all the details...my family said it's another language!) 
   After the clinic, we all walked around and Ms.Barb introduced me to several horses and their people. (I was feeding them all apples, as you can see in first the picture.)
I'm in love with Mr.Big!
   Alyssa volunteers at Luv Shack, an organization that takes in abandoned and abused horses. It is a no-kill shelter and put on the training challenge event we attended next.
  Another animal rescue group was there with some of their animals.


For a three dollar donation, you could go in the animal pen and pet them. I really loved this llama in the pen, and thought I would donate and give 'Emma' some lovin'.


so sweet...

 Emma apparently did not like humans at all. She was so sweet for me,though, and let me wrap my arms around her and rub her back. Isn't she precious??
 And look at those teeth!
 Bless her heart, she needs braces...   The next portion was the Trainers' Challenge. Luv Shack gave these trainers ninety days to train these mostly unridden horses. Well, Mr.Big only had 5 days, and another horse named Sweet Caroline had only THREE days, and she was parading around the whole time with two little kids riding on her back.



I know it's blurry, but I thought it captured Mr.Big perfectly!

Do you see the shadow?


Rodeo, anyone?
 










If you look closely, you'll see Mr.Big's trainer is balancing upside
down on top of him - about to somersault down!

So, I had  a really great day. All the horses were so great, and I learned a ton! I missed out on a day of doing laundry, too...! 

Your horse-crazy blogger,
Claire








Friday, November 5, 2010

Who let the dogs out?!



Go Bulldogs!


 Dear Readers,
 So much has happened this October...But, of course, we've had tests to study for and a myriad of other things to do - so you don't yet know about them! Fall is my favorite season, so I will (I promise) eventually blog about pumpkin patches,  signing at the fair, Halloween and all those wonderful things.
   But right now my heart is really bursting. We have just returned from Mississippi State, and packed into this last weekend was so many wonderful things and people  that I feel nearly choked up thinking about it.

We started the trip out by eating at Little Dooey's with good friends. Uncle Len had never been and
hence found it to be heaven! After that we toured the Cobb Institute of  Archaeology for Mason.
 He is planning to major in Archaeology and later go to seminary and become a missionary.
 (I wish I had it all planned out that neatly!)  The Cobb Institute was truly  amazing. We got to touch shards of pots used in Bible times, and examined artifacts from Israel. Mom wants to changs her major!
   After that one of Dad's Fraternity brothers, Pete, led us through the communications department for Mom and Benjamin. Mom  was a Communications Major, ans so she enjoyed seeing some of her old professors.
She says it looks nothing like it did when she was there,though. Macs instead of typewriters. A computer room instead of a dark room. I wonder how much State will have changed when I've graduated and take my kids there...
  We went to the Lodge, and saw so much maroon! It's nice to go someplace decked out in MSU clothes and not have people say "Are you for Michigan?"
 After that we went to eat at Harvey's (the restaurant Mom and Dad went to after he proposed) with
 our dear friends Miss.Trish, her brother Mr.Butch ,and his wife Mrs.Susan.
Here's half the table! Dad, Cate , Miss.Trish, Mr.Butch, and Mrs.Susan are all on this side!
We truly had a great time! Miss. Trish is Mom's friend and mentor, and with her we have gone to Disneyland,  and she has come to see us in almost every part of the country we've lived. We count our time with all of  them as precious!
Dad and I at Oby's - the best!

 Saturday was game day!
 Grammie drove to our hotel in Columbus to see us, and with her she brought some delecious blueberry doughnuts! (My mouth is still watering...) We were all so happy to see her- and took her out to eat at
 our favorite, Oby's, for the occasion! We had some delecious sweet tea and sandwhiches, and had a lot of hugs as well! (I promise this post will not all be about food!) I rode in the car with her on the way, and by the time we got there my mouth was dry from all the talking! I'm pretty sure her ears were numb from all the listening! 
Grammie with her kiddos!
 Now, back to game day. It was amazing! The atmosphere at Mississippi State is so great. We got to see a ton of sweet people, and by the time the ball game rolled around we had seen everyone on campus and hugged their necks, I'm sure! Mrs. Susan was so amazing and got us side line passes.
We were mere feet away as the players warmed up, and even got to pet Bully! (All I had wanted the whole time was to hold a bulldog's chubby head. I was so lucky - I got to hold Champ's!)   To end our perfect trip the bulldogs won the game!  Following are a few photos from our memory-filled trip.   Your Blogger,
                                                Claire




Don't we NEED a bulldog?

The Shraders, Champ, and his handler (I want that job!!)

                                                                               



                                                                                                              
Mom made this beautiful reminder to-
RING RESPONSIBLY!
                                                                                                     








Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's been so long...


It's been so long since I last saw my sweet friend Amanda!
 Dear Readers,
 It's been so long since I last blogged, I know! So much has happened...
  We  just went to Rochester Minnesota, our home for so many years. It was a short visit, but filled with memories that are the sweetest, reunions with the best of friends, family we adore, and fall!

Seeing Mrs.Daimer, the best principal in the world and such a sweet lady!
    It was a bitter sweet trip. It was sad to arrive 'home' and have to go to a hotel, not our little blue house. It was sad to see all our amazing friends and family, and have to leave them. But it was a very, VERY good trip. The above pictures are of the 'reunion' our friends put on for us at the Churchhill accessible playground we all helped build. I saw Amanda and her mom, Mary, which was truly a  gift.  We also got to hug Mrs. Daimer, who we have such great memories with. The blessings keep on coming! The boys' best friend's mom, Nora, came, and later we got to see Greg. Our kindergarten teacher Mrs.Hanson was there, and other dear friends as well.
  We were thrilled to see everyone! Thank you so much Laughlin family for  this amazing gift, and thank you to everyone who made the time for us. You can't know how much this touched my heart.
 

Another amazing friend. Mrs.Shelly took the time to drive from her home hours away for us. Thank you!
 We spent the day with Mrs.Shelly, which was such a blessing. Mom has really missed her, and we so enjoyed our time with her. She made us laugh and cry all in one day! Friends are such a blessing. We love and miss all of you, dear ones!

Our Aunt Sarah, Uncle Talley and Grammie
          Family. Another sweet blessing. We have great memories with Uncle Talley and Aunt Sarah, and made many more this past trip. We spent the evening with them while mom and dad had a meeting, and had the best time. We were even lucky enough to spend the next day with them, too, only this time with mom and dad. It was so much fun visiting Uncle Talley at ABC, where he works with special needs adults.  I also enjoyed learning a song on the piano with Aunt Sarah. Thank you so much for the great time, both of you. 

                               I  love Rochester, so it was such an amazing thing for us to get to go make memories there with our sweet Cate. Even though she didn't know many of the people we saw (and was quite frank about it!) she now has good memories with all our loved ones from Minnesota as well. Which, my Readers, is  truly a blessing. (Could I have used that word  more in this post?)  Your sentimental blogger,
                                                                                                        Claire

Friday, September 3, 2010

Lessons to be learned from Disneyworld (with a few good pictures!)


                    Hello, sweet readers! We are home from Walt Disney World! We truly had a great time. But let me start at the beginning...
a
Our Alligator Bayou room - photo courtesy of Mom
     Upon arrival, there was a little confusion with our room, so we  spent an interesting night in Magnolia Bend. (We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside, our all time favorite!)  The night was filled with wet floors, winding halls, messed up names, and a room on the edge of civilization (they were scrimping to call it accessible).  I won't go too much into detail, but you get the picture! We had always stayed at the lovely Alligator Bayou growing up, so thankfully we could move there the next day. There Dad claimed the beds were bigger and all our moods brighter!
    
My attempt at capturing her as we waited- isn't this the perfect pose?
  The vacation was one of the best. Cate didn't remember Disney World, so it was fun to watch her discover everything and to remember everything ourselves. At the Magic Kingdom, we went to Cinderella's Castle for breakfast with a red-headed Cindy of our own.  

   She was a bit emotional.. yes, that's really a look of crossness in the above photo. But don't those rosy cheeks and folded hands make her look like a little cherub?
   Next up ~ Animal Kingdom!
My favorite park, it's filled with exotic animals,a great area to watch veterinarians perform operations, and interesting facts you never knew. All in the jungle of Africa or mountains of Asia!

 This park has an amazing interactive parade, a thrill ride that goes backward, nature walks filled with gorillas, tigers and naked mole rats (Oh my!) and the best safari ever. My uncle went on a real safari in Africa and didn't see as many animals as we saw at Disneyworld.  We had 3 rhinos nudge and sniff our truck, (I had to fight the urge to pet them - they were that close!) A mama and baby giraffe fed   alongside us, and we (are you ready?)
 heard a lion roar! It was breath taking. It sent chills up my spine. It made reminded me that  we have one awesome God. He let out a thunderous roar once, and then sent out rough barks from the back of his throat. It sounded like he was coughing up something, and it just kept coming. My Dad believes he was telling us to stay away from his air-conditioned rock "This is MY rock. You can't have MY rock!" yes, the lions have a cooled rock to keep them up there most of the time, so we the people can see them in all their majesty.  
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This is my Mom's amazing photo - for more see her blog (the blessing counter) on the link to the right.

So, even though our vacation started out a little less magical than Mom and Dad would have hoped, we still made great memories. In fact, all that craziness at the beginning was, in my opinion, all part of the fun of vacation. There's a song by Point of Grace called "Turn up the music (how you live)". I love this song, and it reminds me not to worry about the dumb things in life, like how messy the kitchen will be after making that batch of pink cookies with your sister, but to embrace the moment and enjoy it! If I always go through life not doing things that will make the house dirty, I'll miss out on all the joys God has to offer me. If we had spent all our vacation mad about those crazy incidents of the first night, we would have truly missed out. And though it did take some time to get over it, we did, and had a great time. That's something I would like to always do, wouldn't you? Thanks for reading all this post, I know I get on my soapbox and don't step down for a time.... Until next time, my readers!
                                                                 Claire
                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                          Yes, we are the silly Shraders-           
                                                                                                                  and  proud of it!
                                                    

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Celebrating Wednesday (on Thursday)

Dear Readers,
Yesterday was a very exciting day for the Shraders! Mom and I got up early and went to the beauty shop to get our hair cut. (As you know from that photo.) I got my pony tail cut off to make into a wig for someone with cancer. This was such a rewarding thing.  It just makes me smile to think of the little girl who will get a pretty wig from my pony tail. Well, mine and a few others. It takes 6-10 pony tails to make one wig. Start growing those locks out, ladies!


 Here's the other bit of exciting news:  My brothers have just joined a theatre group that will be performing the musical  Snoopy!  Benjamin will be piano-playing Schroeder, and Mason (in a smaller role, ha) will be CHARLIE BROWN! I'm so  excited for them, and know they are excited as well.  ( Please keep scrolling...there's a little more...)
                                                                                               
Cutting it all off...

Ta Da!

 I'm at the end of this post, but just wanted to share a little bit of the inspiration for my hair. I was powered to cut my hair for different reasons than the style yesterday.

 "The king will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Matthew 25:40 (Jesus)

Wow. Pretty powerful stuff right there. This is what I did to try to show God my appreciation for all He has, and does, do for me. What will you do?
Love,
Your blogger Claire