Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Royal Wedding?!?!

Okay, I remember when I was a kid getting up early to watch Princess Di get married. So I really haven't been following the events of this wedding, but I believe that I will be getting up early tomorrow morning to watch the events unfold. So will you? Will anyone else be joining me to watch history happen?  I guess it is that "oh I'm not a princess but it is neat to watch a real one become a princess." So will you be up?

"The Tiny Seed" by Eric Carle

Ages 4-8 Kids' BooksI love the Eric Carle books for their great stories and illustrations. Today we read "The Tiny Seed" which is a most appropriate book for my boys because each year they plant sunflowers! But today I saw 2 new things in this story. First, was that as I read it Garrett was worried about the tiny seed and he was upset when it died and the new seeds took off.  We talked about the life cycle of many things and that this is the way God made plants to work. (I could have gone really deep and explained that it will happen to us too, but I didn't.)
But the other thing that I saw was the similarity to the Biblical story of "The Sower" found in Luke 8.  The first seed got too hot, the second got too cold, the 3rd drowned, etc. But this was very similar to the story which I hadn't picked up on before.

Anyhow now that we have this story fresh in our mind, we will be starting our sunflower seeds so that when it finally dries out around here the boys can move them outside to their "Sunflower House."  This was an idea I found in a book over 10 years ago and we have been hooked ever since. In one corner of our garden, the boys will layout their "house." Mainly a rectangle with doorways (places where they haven't planted seeds), this gives them a place to dig during the summer, plants to take care of on their own and they are always amazed by how tall the sunflowers get. Robert has now taken to reading the seed catalogs when they come in to find what variety will grow the tallest. So here is a great story to read and a fun activity that will grow all summer long and then in the fall, you can collect the seeds, or just leave the heads outside and watch the birds eat the seeds right from the heads. But I know that we will be starting sunflowers here in the next few days.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter at Our Place

Checking out the Loot

Garrett hunting for eggs. It's rain or shine here!

Easter at our house was a little crazy, but school is back in and things have gone back to "almost" normal. Garrett went to the Easter Egg Hunt in Salem, but Robert didn't get to go this year because he was weighing in his pig for his 4-H project. We spent Easter morning at Sunrise service with my family and Robert & Andrew got to help cook breakfast again for the Easter breakfast. (This has become a "big" thing for both boys & Papa too!)  We then came home, found our Easter baskets and then went to church at our church. Then we went to Gary's parents and had lunch with his family. We did get to spend some fun time with Josh, Katy, Elizabeth, Laura Ann & Conrad while there, plus we went and visited on Monday too! It was a busy break, but the kids had a good time and anything to fill in the time of an Easter break that was 90% rain was helpful!
(Thanks Aunt Caren for our suits! They looked great!)

Lego Kids Fest

Do you have a Lego KID? Then you might want to take a look at what is coming to Pittsburgh! The LEGO'S Kids Fest is coming June 17-19th. This looks very cool and exciting and mind blowing of what people can build with Lego's. So here is the information about where and when, just check this link for ticket info and everything else!
This might be a fun thing to do with Dad for Father's Day if he is a Lego fan!

A few discounts

I know that everyone is looking for ways to save a little bit of money. So here is a coupon that is worth while Sign-up for the Dunham's rewards card. They will send you an email each week. So far that email has contained a 20% off coupon. Which is great if you are purchasing sports equipment or shoes or clothing there. Just wanted to share this great little tip.
Here is the link if you are interested:

* This is an unsponsored post

Friday, April 22, 2011

Empty Tomb Biscuit

This is an activity that I used several years ago, but I brought it out again this year to remind my boys what the real meaning of Easter is. Here is a list of supplies that you will need.

1 can of refrigerated biscuits
1 large marshmallow per biscuit
cinnamon and sugar mixed together (about 1-2 tsp of cinnamon & 1 cup sugar)
1/2 stick of melted butter/margarine
baking sheet

You can read the Easter story from several places Matthew 27-Matthew 28; Mark 15-Mark 16; Luke 23-Luke 24; John 19-John 20. When I did this with the boys yesterday, I read through parts and pieces. But here is how it went.

Putting the marshmallow into the butter
Jesus taking on our sins
Each please take a marshmallow. This represents Jesus. It is pure white and without sin. He hasn't done anything wrong.  Then please put the marshmallow into the melted butter and cover it in the butter. The butter represents the sins of the world that Jesus took for us. Jesus (marshmallow) has the sins(butter) of the world on it and was crucified. Once he gave up his final breath, Joseph asked to have the body. It wasn't prepared properly, but they most likely had some spices and quickly wrapped his body.

Adding cinnamon and sugar
Jesus' dead body with all our sins having the burial spices applied

Please take the sin covered body of Jesus and cover it in the burial spices. The cinnamon and sugar represent the spices.

wrapping with biscuit
Wrapping in the burial cloth

Now they wrapped his body in stripes of material. The biscuit represents those stripes of material. Now make sure that all of the body is covered and that the seams are sealed.

Putting into oven
Placing the wrapped body into the grave.
 Now you will place the body into the grave, represented by the oven. (You will cook these according to the directions on the tube, but about 12-15 minutes.)  Then ask the children to check the grave clothes, because Jesus has risen from the grave. (Actually the marshmallow has just melted into the biscuit) These make great little treats, but also a wonderful time to spend with your children and answer their questions about the events that lead up to Easter morning!

Robert said that he remembered eating these before, but he didn't remember the meanings and he was glad that I included him in doing this activity again. So I guess it is worth rerunning some of these learning hands-on activities! 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday, I am wondering what you all are doing to include Christ in your Easter week and Celebration's? We received palms at church and Garrett and I talked about how the crowds would have been waving the palm branches and placing their coats on the road. We have a set of Resurrection Eggs, which gives 12 items to help the kids understand Easter a bit better. Last year, I hide the eggs and set the GPS unit  locations for each egg in order. This made it that we were in nature and we would stop and read the reading for each egg once we had found it. Between eggs we could discuss different elements of the Holy Week.
So I hope that you are finding ways to include Christ into your Easter Week and hopefully if things don't get too crazy around here, I will be able to share what we are doing, but I know that this is going to be a busy!!! week.
Happy Easter Week!

Egg Production - Ag Minute

With this week being Easter week, I thought it most appropriate to discuss eggs this month for the Ag. Minute. Eggs are produced from layer hens in several different ways. There are caged hen/layers, there are cage-free hens/layers, there are free range hens and there are organic hens. I will touch on each of these production practices.

Caged hens/layers- these hens are placed usually in pens that house several chickens together. They are then placed in rows and the birds are allowed to roam within the cages. These hens receive feed and clean water on a regular basis.

Cage-free chickens - these hens are kept in large open buildings where they are permitted to roam throughout the "barn." These birds lay their eggs in nesting boxes.

Free range chickens - these chickens are the ones that roam through the barnyards and lawns of owners. They lay their eggs in a location that they feel is safe.

Organic birds - these birds' diet has no pesticides, antibiotics or other chemicals added anywhere along the food chain. They are cage free or free range birds in most locations and are allowed to roam at their own will.

For pictures of several facilities Sauder's from Pennsylvania has a great page with a camera view available under the animal care section, cage-free chickens. Check out more chicken information here:

With all the hard boiled eggs that are around, it is a great time to do some egg dissection with the kids that may not be quite as messy. You can compare a cooked egg and an uncooked egg. If you want to know the parts of an egg, check out this worksheet that also provides an answer key.

To see a brief video about poultry & eggs, check out this You Tube video. This will let you see a little bit of the housing and production.

Oh and don't forget that different breeds of chickens provide different colored eggs. When dying your eggs this year, try a dozen of brown eggs too. They make the colors more intense and deeper in color!

Regardless, we will use a pile of eggs for Easter Egg hunts and decorating them. However you get you eggs Enjoy them this Easter!!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ukrainian Eggs

Well, with the Easter Season upon us we had a great opportunity yesterday to not only learn a little bit about family cultures of Gary's family, but also a craft or art. We went to Nanny's house and learned how to design an Urkaine Egg.  Robert, Garrett and myself all made an egg. Then Garrett decided that was enough for him, but Robert was really into it. "Can I make another one?" "Can I come back tomorrow night after school?" Learning to color thing in reverse was a little difficult unless you stop and think about it, but our eggs turned out fairly well and we learned how this art is done and had the opportunity to try it out.  Steady hands was not our strength, but I'm sure that with practice, we would be much better at it!!! Check out our eggs:

Robert's egg #1

Robert's egg #2

Garrett's 1st egg (both sides)

And I tried my hand at it too!

Start with a dot!

Garrett's dot creatures. Can you find the pig and maybe a bunny?

The other day I challenged Garrett to think about drawing things and what things are made from. I gave him a sheet of colored dot stickers (the kind you use to price things at yard sales). Then I asked him what we could draw around it to make it into something. Or how could we hook them together to come up with creatures. He & I had a good time thinking about what we could draw and how to combine them together.So see what you can come up - here are ours!

Robert's Soccer Season

Since my computer crashed about the same time as the end of Robert's soccer season, I'm just now getting things taken care of. Robert had a great year! He had several big plays where he ended up with scores out of it. He had 3 goals in one game! (He was having an excellent day) I' m amazed at how much these kids have improved over the years, and how much faster the game moves in comparison to when they started! Robert had a great coach and he is looking forward to next season!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Inexpensive Organizing

I have been trying to catch up on some email and blog readings so I'm a few days behind, but tonight I was reading Jill Savage's blog from yesterday. Jill is the founder of the Hearts at Home organization and yesterday she was discussing how to organize toys and children's items! Here is a link to her comments and the discussion

As I read the discussion I was amazed at how many of us rely on plastic storage bins of some size and then baskets. Yet, there were a few comments on the price of those organization items( to which I agree can be expensive!) So today here are a few ideas of ways to use things that are already around your home or neighborhood for storage.

Oatmeal canisters - (I have more of these available since I started making our own granola bars) but these work great for refrigerator magnets at our house. The boys have also made them into silos for their farms but that is a different post.  The lids are easy enough for kids to get on and off and you can take the label off and draw or trace what is inside.

Frosting containers - These have worked great for Robert's small lego pieces. They have also worked for crayons for in the car - the container fits into the cup holders (depending on the car). I actually found colored pencils and the mini markers fit into them too so if traveling, you can offer different writing items.

Ice Cream buckets - Oh the uses!!! but they come with lids that can be covered with paper and contact paper with pictures of what is inside or take permanent markers and draw right onto the side of the bucket. Matchbox cars, tractors, playing cars, art supplies, etc. What can you put into an ice cream bucket?

Frosting buckets (from the local bakery) these are 2 1/2 gallon buckets that can be washed out and are ready for use. This is where the bulk of the matchbox cars are kept at our house. Dress up clothes, Thomas the Tank engine trains can be kept in these (most of the track doesn't fit). I'm sure that Barbie doll or American Doll pieces would fit well in these too!!! Oh and the play food!!!

Yes these are all recycled, an most of them round, but they stack well and the kids can get them opened and it is inexpensive!!!! What more could we ask for???

Monday, April 4, 2011

Can't judge a book by it's cover- Children's Sermon

Before I explain the children's sermon, there is a little bit of background. Our pastor announced 3 weeks ago that he and his family have been reassigned churches and that they will be moving this summer. Last week, it was announced who had been appointed to our church. Since the announcement, there has been questions about the new pastor and his family. I hadn't worked on children's sermon very hard this week, but for some reason I wasn't worried about it. Saturday night around 10:30, it came to me and in about 15 minutes, I had everything pulled together. My mom had presented a Children's Sermon similar to this over 20 years ago and that made it all fit together easily.

(Prep work before church- I took my Bible cover and removed my Bible and found a book close in size - it happened to be a cookbook and put it in the cover I also have a Bible that is pink with a brown stripe and a notebook that is very similar but is blue with a stripe - I took all of these with me to church on Sunday)

I welcomed the kids and asked how they were, then I said that I had something very important to talk to them about. I asked one boy, who I knew could easily accomplish the task, to look up Matthew 7:1 using my Bible (and I handed him, my Bible cover with the cookbook inside) He unzipped the cover and flipped it open and then I got this very stunned look. I asked him if he had the verse and he said "no- it's not here" Of course it is , I replied. "No this isn't a Bible it's a cookbook" "Now that can't be - it's in my Bible carrier, of course it is a Bible, let me see" (To which I look at the boy and said April Fool's since it happened to be so close to April 1st) I then talked to the kids about how they all knew that it was a Bible carrier and they all knew what should have been inside, but it wasn't. Then I held up my 2 striped books and asked which one of them might be a Bible. After a close look they found the correct book. We then read Matthew 7:1-2 - "Do not Judge, or you too will be judged...."

I explained that we were going to have a new pastor and (very sarcastically) "oh the things that I had heard" "I heard that he rides a motorcycle and you know what that means - we will have a Black Leather Sunday where everyone has to wear leather."  "or do you know what else I heard, I heard that he likes to hunt, which means that he won't be here the Sunday after Thanksgiving because he will be at hunting camp." And about that time, the one of the girls spoke up and said "We aren't suppose to judge". (I was so excited that she had picked up on this!!!) I answered you are correct, and that is what I want us to remember, that if we are going to judge the new pastor and his family by what they are wearing or by what they enjoy then we need to remember that maybe they might be judging us the same way. So when we get to meet our new pastor and family, we need to remember to not judge the book by it's cover but take the time to get to know him and learn about his heart and his love for Jesus.

We then closed in prayer.