Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Today I Choose...

We are defined by our choices, and today, I choose to seek out and savor moments of grace.  I choose to live in light of eternity; I choose to treat my body like the temple it is. I choose to believe the best of others; I choose to be present with and for my husband and my children. And today I choose to believe that I am enough.

Wow, people, I really dropped the ball on this, my Lent choices.  It has been almost 4 weeks since my last "I choose" post, and, I'm not sure if you noticed, but Lent ended.  Whoops.  I wasn't quite done. 

I'm not sure what happened, other than regular, real life eclipsing my happy little insulated blogosphere.  I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again, that it is not physically possible to do in one day all that I would like to accomplish.  It just isn't.  And when that happens, it becomes necessary to decide which of my to-dos will take priority and which can wait for another day...or week...or maybe another decade. 

I tend to view my inevitable omissions as failures.  When it becomes clear that yet again I will not get around to folding the laundry or cleaning the bathroom, or whatever, the negative self-talk begins, "you're so lazy.  Why can't you ever catch up?  What's wrong with you?  You're worthless."  I say some really mean and nasty things to myself, and the worst part is, I believe it.  I tell try to tell my nasty, mean self that I'm doing the best I can with the time, responsibilities, talents, and gifts I've been given, to which my self snarls, "well, your best is Just. Not. Good. Enough."

I know you're gasping in disbelief right now, because that, what I just typed, is shocking.  Whatever demon it is that insists that I am not good enough will not, will not be quiet.  And so, today, with God's help, I choose to be gentle with myself: to speak kindly to myself.  I choose to forgive myself for my inadequacies, my mistakes, my failures and omissions, my imperfections. 

The other day, a good friend encouraged me with these words: "[do] the best [you] can with God's strength each day, He'll fill in [the] holes."  She is a wise woman, my friend.  And so today, I choose to believe that, not by my power, but through God's grace, I am enough. 
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Easter weekend

We decided to do our family Easter egg hunt on Saturday this year.  I have mixed feelings about that.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Since Sunday was looking like a better day weather-wise, we decided to do our big meal on Saturday, and since we needed to stick around home to baste (which ended up not happening anyway, because Hubby was out digging and I took a nap), we decided to orchestrate the hunt on Saturday afternoon.  But it just wasn't the same as waking up on Easter morning, and rushing out before Worship to find the clues and do the silly tasks.  Oh well.... 
Bubby found his next clue!

We had a gorgeous day on Sunday, which is a good thing, considering that today it's cold, windy, and rainy--we can use our sunny Easter memories to sustain us until it's warm again (which, on a day like today, seems like it will never be).  Oh yeah, and the weather forecasters are using that 4-letter S word again.  What is up with those weather forecasters? 
We decided to go for a hike on Sunday.  What a beautiful day to be out and about.

My boys decided to climb down into a pothole.  Bonus points if you know where this is!  Triple bonus points if you've climbed in there, too!

I'm not sure why I didn't get more pictures of people climbing--a healthy percentage of our hike time was spent climbing, so much so that my parents (whom we had dragged along with us) both said they enjoyed, not the hike, not the geocaching, but the climbing.

 We almost lost a couple of the children over the edge into the river.  Whew! Tragedy averted.

 I wonder how many folks over the years have taken pictures in this very spot, not knowing that a geocache is hidden mere feet away.

 Yes, that is what you think it is: a big patch of the S-word. 

Happy Easter, everyone!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Science Fair

Well, Science Fair season has come to an end, with Code-man's successful study of sugar in soda.  If you don't want to bother to look at the nutrition info for the sugar content of your favorite soda, Code-man can hook you up.  Oh, he can't tell you how much sugar is in there, but he can tell you if it has more or less than Sierra Mist, Dr. Pepper, or Mug Root Beer.  And he made a really nifty model of glucose.  And now he knows that sugar is just carbon with water attached to it.
Our school's science fair went PC this year, forcing the children to do all of their typing at school for uniform display board appearance, and not giving out ribbons--we assume because it made the kids who didn't get a ribbon in past years feel bad.  The lack of ribbons made Hubby feel bad--why didn't they take his feelings into account, huh?  Code-man's presenting to his classmates today, and I think he'll get the judges' comments and scores today as well.

We don't really need the judges scores, though, to know that Code-man did a great job and is an awesome scientist :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Resurrection Rolls

Camp Scarlet was in full swing again this morning, even though Scarlet was dragging!  First, we worked on surprises for our moms.  I suspect that some of the moms will be more surprised than others.  Talk about it not being worth it to set up and clean up a craft project for such a short time of actual crafting.  The kid that I helped get started first was done before the third kid even started.  So after I spent a really long time cleaning up from that one (including washing one kid's clothes (yes, the yellow paint came out of her black pants)), the kids were already waiting to do another project.  The planned Easter egg hunt was scrapped due to snow (and lack of preparation on my part), and sidewalk chalk wasn't an option (again, due to snow), so we made Resurrection Rolls. 
I used this recipe from Blessings for Life, but the recipe is posted, with slight variations, in many different places online (just run a search.  If you use swagbucks for your search engine, you might win prizes :).  They're really yummy, and the kids were amazed...not sure if they quite understood why I kept talking about Jesus, but they were amazed :) I'll be commenting in this color

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients:
Crescent rolls (instead you could use bread dough, rhodes rolls, or sweet roll dough)
Melted butter
Large marshmallows
Cinnamon
Sugar

Give each child a triangle of crescent rolls. The crescent roll represents the cloth that Jesus was wrapped in (I read first, then gave them a crescent roll).

Read Matthew 27:57-61

1. Give each child a marshmallow. This represents Jesus (you can say that white represents Jesus' purity or sinlessness).
2. Have him/her dip the marshmallow in melted butter. This represents the oils of embalming (don't skip this step--the fat helps the marshmallow melt, and also gives the cinnamon/sugar something to stick to).
3. Now dip the buttered marshmallow in the cinnamon and sugar which represents the spices used to anoint the body.
4. Then wrap up the coated marshmallow tightly in the crescent roll (not like a typical crescent roll up, but bring the sides up and seal the marshmallow inside.) (Make sure you seal the roll very well, so the melting marshmallow can't escape).  This represents the wrapping of Jesus' body after death.
5. Place in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. (The oven represents the tomb - pretend like it was three days!)
6. Let the rolls cool slightly. The children can open their rolls (cloth) and discover that Jesus is no longer there, HE IS RISEN!!!! (The marshmallow melts and the crescent roll is puffed up, but empty.)

Now read Matthew 28:5-8 (I paraphrased the first few verses of chapter 28 for context, then read 5-7 with my injected commentary/translation for 3 year olds)

Explain: At the tomb, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary saw an angel, who told them not to be afraid. No one had taken Jesus' body, but He Had risen from the dead! The angel told the women to go and tell the disciples what they had seen, that Jesus had risen from the dead. They were so excited, they ran all the way home to tell the disciples the good news! He is risen from the dead! Alleluia!

(I stopped the explanation here--I was losing them, and I figured they got the main points)

After that Jesus appeared in person to Peter, then to the 12 disciples and after that, to more than 500 people. Jesus' appearance to eyewitnesses, those who saw Him with their own eyes, would give support and prove that Jesus rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).

By rising from the dead, Jesus proved once and for all that He was the Messiah, the Savior of the World, the Chosen One, and the Lamb of God. By dying on the cross and rising from the dead, Jesus did what no other had ever done before. As both God and man, He overcame sin, death, and hell. And now because of what Jesus has done, these things no longer have any power over those who believe in Jesus and allow His Spirit to lead and direct them. Rather than being slaves to sin and death, Christians ( those who love and believe in Jesus) are free to obey God and do good ( Romans 6:17-18). The Bible says in John 8:36, "If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed."

However, we will only obey God if we listen to the Holy Spirit our helper. He enables believers in Jesus to do the right thing. It is important that we read the Bible (God's Word) because one of the ways the Holy Spirit helps us obey God is by reminding us of what He says to us in His Word. God's Spirit will never go against his Word. In fact, when we read God's Word, we are listening to the Holy Spirit. Of course, you won't always do the right thing; the Bible says this ) 1 John 1:5-10). But that is why we need to continue to confess our sins knowing that God forgives us, based on what Jesus did on the cross. This is also a reason we need to spend time with other believers in Christ so they can encourage us in our faith.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More spring flowers

In spite of the fact that there's another 2 to 4 inches of snow in our weather forecast (and, by the way, this has already been the 4th snowiest winter on record for our area), we've been seeing signs of spring everywhere.  Well, everywhere inside, that is.  That's because we're making our own!
 Those colorful things up there ^ are supposed to be flowers.  Bubby got a little happy with the paint and the glue and the "sparklies" (which is what we call sequins around here), but you can kind of see flowers in an abstract way, right?  We used the bottom of 16.9 oz water bottles to make the petals and used the caps for the centers.  Then I drew in some stems.  We got this idea from my crafting hero, Valerie--her family used 2-liter bottles.
 Once again, I felt the need to show you what I really had in mind.
 Here's another little something we got from Valerie.  First, we used water colors to paint some coffee filters (as I've mentioned before, we might as well paint on them, because we're sure not going to be using them for coffee) and allowed them to dry.  Then I cut them into flower shapes--to make them symmetrical, I folded the filters first, then scalloped the edge.  Next, I taped the flower shapes to our storm door and painted some grass, stems, and a cheery sun.  Shhh...don't tell Hubby that I painted on the glass.  Valerie assures me that it'll come off, but after the crazy crayon fiasco, I'm wondering if I was wise to take her word for it...
If you're not as brave (or crazy) as me, and don't want to paint your windows, you can do what I did on our front door.  I just used green construction paper to make a stem and a couple of leaves for Bubby's flower.
 Hey!  Guess where I got this idea from?  You're right!  My good pal, Valerie, although she's a much better artist than I am.  Those are supposed to be spring flower buds, the tree is supposed to be a branch, and the whole thing is supposed to be rotated 90 degrees...but it looked better this way.  You can check out Valerie's colorful spring branch here.
 When Camp Scarlet was in session a couple of weeks ago, the kids made these "stain glass" crosses (I came up with this idea all on my own :-)  I cut some purple paper in 1" strips and formed a cross shape on clear contact paper (it was easy to get everything lined up square because of the grid printed on the paper backing).  The kids stuck small (about 1") squares of colorful paper and tissue paper inside, then I covered the whole thing with another piece of clear contact paper.
And this cute little guy is made from Bubby's footprints.  I got this idea from my nephew's day care center, although I gotta say, after having done this with 2 kids, I'm not sure how they managed with however many kids they had!  The kids just thought it was the funniest thing that I wanted to paint their feet.  Oh, and it tickled, too.  We just cut a piece of green paper for the body and glued it down, then I drew in some antennas, although I was trying to get the kids to agree to pipe cleaner antennas.  And of course, no butterfly (at least no butterfly made in this house) would be complete without sparklies. 

So, it really doesn't matter what the weather is like outside: snow, rain, sleet.  Winter can do its thing out there, because we've got enough spring in here to hold us until the weather finally decides to agree with the calendar.

By the way, I find it deliciously ironic that the paper snowflakes that I haven't taken down yet are located on the window directly across from the wall where most of our flowers are "blooming" :-)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Recent photos

You know, catching up is really quite difficult--because while I'm trying to catch up with past events, things just keep happening.  Oh well...trying my best :)
One of the semi-local businesses I follow on Facebook posted this as their status this morning: "Too much snow to picnic but too little to ski! How about a movie?"  That's right.  We woke up today, Saturday, April 16, 2011, to measurable snowfall.  This is not unheard of in our neck of the woods: in fact, Hubby informs me that our average April snowfall is 3 inches.  However, on the heals of the winter we just had, with above average snowfall (top 5 or 7 of all time), it seems like a cruel joke.


Yesterday was Logo's class "Author Party."  Each of the kids read several of their stories to us--Logo and his group did a great job!


Just in case you can't read it, the sign says,
"DANGER
HIGH WATER
KEEP OUT." 
(As you can see, Bubby wasn't too intent on following the rules this day.)  We don't have record high water levels this year, but high enough.  Based on what I know about this park, I'd say the water is at least 10 feet higher than usual.  On the left the place where we sat to watch fireworks in February is under about 3 feet of water.

The Fleet: Hubby informs me that we have room for at least 3 more boats up there :)

Maiden voyage:
Hubby's kayak doesn't smell like wild cherry lifesavers anymore. 
Now it smells like the Apple River (still fruity, so I guess that's a plus :-)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Your game begins in 3-2-1...

So, did you watch Minute to Win It on Wednesday?  Mark your calendars for next week, people.  Just to review, on Minute to Win It, contestants compete in challenges of increasing difficulty using common household items or office supplies. Each challenge must be completed in 60 seconds or less.

Hubby spearheaded the game portion of Logo's Minute to Win It birthday bash, and he did a great job coming up with games the kids would enjoy and be able to do.  It was such a relief to just hand that part of the evening over to him--I manned the camera, and got to try a couple of the challenges, too (seriously addicting--one feels an overwhelming compulsion to keep trying until one succeeds).

LEVEL 1: Defying Gravity
In Defying Gravity, a contestant must keep 3 balloons up in the air for 60 seconds.  Try it--it's harder than it sounds.  Hubby modified it for 8 year olds by having them work in teams of 2.  None of the teams made it past 20 seconds, but they sure had fun trying!

LEVEL 2: Egg Roll
In Egg Roll, contestants must must fan two or three raw eggs with a pizza box into a pre-determined zone on the other side of the stage.  The eggs, not being perfectly spherical, tend to go in unanticipated directions.  We used empty plastic Easter eggs and pieces of cardboard.

LEVEL 3: Nose Dive
 In Nose Dive, the player must transfer five or six cotton balls, one at a time, from one serving bowl to another using only petroleum jelly on the nose. 

LEVEL 4: Ruler of the World
In Ruler of the World, the contestant must guide a marble down a yardstick so that it comes to rest in a hole on the ruler's far end. It must be held for three seconds.  This is harder than it looks!  We didn't have a yardstick, so Hubby improvised.  A couple of the kids succeeded.

LEVEL 5: Rapid Fire
 In Rapid Fire, the contestant must shoot rubber bands to knock a triangle stack of six cans completely off a platform.  Hubby modified this game by having the boys work in teams of two to knock 3 cans off a table.


LEVEL 6: Caddy Stack

In Caddy Stack, the contestant must stack three golf balls on the table. The stack must remain in place for three seconds in order for the contestant to complete the challenge.  Our party guests only had to stack two golf balls.  Code-man's friend, Ize-man, was one of two successful competitors...guess who the other one was!

LEVEL 7: Face the Cookie
 In Face the Cookie, the contestant, using only their face, must move two Oreo cookies individually from their forehead to their mouth.  For our contest, we asked the boys to try one cookie.  Wild Thing was one of about half of the boys who completed this challenge successfully.  I could not do this to save my life...but that didn't keep me from trying...over and over again...and eating my failures :)

LEVEL 8: Sticky Balls

The contestant must roll marbles down a table to stick five of them onto double sided tape at the very end. Roll too soft and the marbles won't reach their destination; too hard and they will fall off.  We used...what else?...duct tape.

The boys waiting patiently for their turn.
From left: MC, Peanut, Thing 2, Hay-man, Wild Thing, Bri-guy, Ize-man
What was really great about this whole concept is the kids didn't really care if they were able to successfully complete the challenges or not--they were just having a terrific time trying, and cheering each other on. 

Only one of the boys ended up spending the night, and this was a very good thing.  Wild Thing ended up staying awake most of the night; he was up until at least 4:30 a.m., which is the last time I heard him.  Reminded me of the not-so-good-ol' days about 8 years ago, when Logo was the one keeping us up.  Later on, Hubby commented that he was trying to decide if it would have been better or worse to have more boys sleeping over.  Personally, I can't see how it could have been better to have even more boys not sleeping in our house.  I haven't talked to WT's parents to see if he fell asleep on the ice at hockey practice that day, but WT's dad didn't seem too surprised when we informed him his middle child had been up almost all night.

And so, the party came to an end, and our middle baby is officially another year older.  Happy Birthday, Logo!

For a list of most of the Minute to Win It challenges, you can go here (wish I had found this one before the party--it would have been helpful).

For video blueprints of the challenges, you can go to NBC's website.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Logo's Level 8 Birthday Challenge

My middle baby is 8 years old!  How did this happen? 

For his 8th birthday Logo (aka MC, aka KK), decided he wanted to throw a Minute to Win It sleepover party.
The Invitation:
The exclamation points are MC's addition--I would never use that many exclamation points for a single sentence.
I didn't know how many of the boys would be ready to spend the night at a friend's house, so we made the sleepover portion of the festivities optional.  Stay tuned for the reason that this was a really, really good decision.
The pizza:
That's Hay-man, Wild Thing, Thing 2, Carter, MC, Bri-Guy, Hubby, and Bubby
Wow, were those boys loud!

The cake:
Not my best effort, but at least it fit the theme (that's a stop-watch, just in case you couldn't tell)
Those boys were especially loud during the singing of the birthday song.  I honestly didn't know that 7 boys could make that much noise (and believe me, I've heard some noise--this was...exceptional).
The payoff:
Just look at that expression.  Logo was, quite simply, thrilled to be the object of so much love and attention.  His smile made all of the planning, all of the preparations, all of the kid wrangling, worth it.

Y'all are going to think our household is obsessed with reality/game shows.  But seriously, if you have never watched Minute to Win It (at 7 p.m. Wednesdays on NBC), you're really missing out.  Contestants compete in challenges of increasing difficulty using common household items or office supplies.  The catch?  Each challenge must be completed in just one minute.  It's terribly exciting to watch, and almost impossible to resist trying the challenges yourself, once you've seen them.  Before you know it, you'll be throwing a Minute to Win It party of your own.

Up next, the games...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Globetrotting

Wow, has it really been almost 2 weeks since I've blogged?  What happened?  Well, I'll tell you.  Or maybe I will, if I get the time, which, at this point, seems unlikely.  Case in point: it's already more than an hour past my bedtime and I've just started this one post.  Looks like my brother's going to win for sure this month.

So, have y'all been watching The Amazing Race this season?  Flight Time and Big Easy of the Harlem Globetrotters are back globetrotting again, competing in a race around the world.  Since we've been rooting for them on the Race each week, we were excited to have the opportunity to attend a Globetrotters game earlier this month.  Before the game, we headed over for a picnic lunch at Minnehaha falls.
The game was great fun--we had a terrific time.  I was a little disappointed that Big Easy wasn't playing that day, but I loved watching Flight Time.  I may be biased, but in my opinion he was the most fun to watch. 
Warm-ups
 After the Globetrotters trounced the Washington Generals, and we witnessed several four-point baskets, we stopped by Target Field, where the Twins play, to check it out.  Who knew Target Field would be so close to Target Center?  Well, it makes sense, I suppose.  It's really amazing how they snuck an entire baseball stadium into a developed metropolitan area--it's just plopped right down in there.

 Well, that's one.  And it's only an hour and a half past my bedtime...
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