Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Heavenly Zoo

Happy Pentecost Sunday! We celebrated the seventh and final Garden of the Good Shepherd party today (using this sticker/Bible activity). I had a nice little menu planned up, but it really is crazy around here with less than two weeks to the big move. So instead of various animal-related foods, we instead had little "animals" enjoying some homemade ice-cream!

"Then I thought, 'I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days like the phoenix." ~Job 29:18

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Oh! What a Beautiful City!

I am so slow in posting this! There is school to finish, a baby to be fed, a portfolio to gather, and packing to be done after all! We celebrated the sixth Garden of the Good Shepherd party this past Monday (using this sticker/Bible activity). I described a little of each symbol as I presented it to the kids outside because I had misplaced the little booklet. Thankfully I found it - under the Easter storage bin on top of our little red cabinet - of course. Our house is a little topsy turvy at the moment... But now, for our party - enjoy!

Oh! What a Beautiful City!
Symbols to use: crown, the city gates, bride and groom, temple, Alleluia, throne

The Decor

Originally, I was going to decorate up a fancy table and chairs, but the kids wanted to eat al fresco so our "fancy" turned into a picnic, our thrones into beach towels. The kids had been playing in the sprinkler because of a very hot, summer-almost August kind of day! Instead of beautiful music playing in the background (the Alleluia chorus by Handel), we instead listened to God's wonderful creation - and a lawn mower.

The Drink

Shirley Temples - this is a first for me, and the kids. Pop is just never an option in our household (ok, except for my husband who is addicted to Diet Dr. Pepper - yuck!). The one time we let the kids have a sip Skipper hated it but the other two loved it (a little too much). However, these were a huge hit with all three, and I'm just glad it's a once-a-year-kind of thing.

The Meal

A peanut butter bagel "crown" with M&M and Hershey Kisses for jewels. Needless to say, this was a HUGE hit. Too bad for poor Critter though who was suffering still from a little stomach bug.

Gates of Heaven - using Swiss cheese blocks (a new kid favorite) and gluten-free pretzel sticks. Critter was the only one who got into building a gate, and he did a good job!

Bride and Groom strawberries. I know you have the whole dark/white chocolate fancy strawberries, but this did the trick just fine. And, it makes me wonder, how did strawberries gain their romantic status?

The Dessert

Originally, I was thinking of making some kind of crown pudding (using coconut milk, yum!) but in the end with a stomach bug coursing through and it being a light lunch without my husband, I skipped out. The kids had enough treats in this meal anyway, right?

And, while the kids had a pretty kid-scrumptious meal, I was partial to my own little "piece of heaven" - spaghetti squash with marinara sauce and a fresh, raw kale salad straight from the garden with a splash of oil and champagne vinegar.

Don't forget to check out the other parties over at Catholic Cuisine, who I am sure all posted in a much more timely manner than myself!

"I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride dressed for her husband." ~Revelations 21:2

Friday, May 18, 2012

Big News

At least for our little family, and one reason I have been so quiet lately (other than a baby who does not want to sleep!). We have decided to move a little further north (though still in-state) to live nearer to family. This is doable since the kids are homeschooled and my husband works from home, but mostly because a farmhouse rental my grandparents own now sits empty. We are moving in so we can attempt to sell our current home.

I am excited to live nearer to family, but it was a difficult decision for me as there is a great group of women here that I have come to know, many of whom homeschool and are Catholic. The Catholic homeschool group is large and active here. Now I will find myself in a rural area with a small faith community. It will definitely be a change, but I am up to the challenge!

I have many school-related posts to put up, let alone anything else, but over this next month, I have a feeling I will be very quiet as we pack up and settle in.

This farmhouse has history with me. I grew up just down the road, and as a young girl, one of my first friends lived in this house. My grandparents rented it even then. This house has been lived in, you know?

Here are a few pictures. It is not a big house as some farmhouses can be, but it works for us. And, according to my grandma, it is the oldest house in the county. Neat, huh?

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Gardener Plants Paradise

Wrapping up the fifth week of Easter... Today we had our fifth Garden of the Good Shepherd party (using this sticker/Bible activity). This week was tricky. The Bible readings and sticker placing was random, and the meal, though planned, was pretty much thrown together. We have had a lot going on here, but that's for another post! So, here you go, our little party (done today because we were out of town this past weekend and I wasn't prepared enough to take it on the road!):

The Gardener Plants Paradise
Symbols to use: tree of life's leaves, tree of life's fruits, tree of life's flowers, palm tree, owl, olive tree, roses, lilies

The Decor

Simple tablecloth with my Mother's Day/Birthday flowers (I was doubly blessed this year). These had to stand in for the lily since we did not get to our handprint lily craft.

The Drink

Lemonade... Nothing to do with the theme, but it went well with our light lunch menu. I had wanted to find some kind of palm tree umbrellas to add, but never found any, and then was going to print some and add to straws, but that did not get done either! So no palm trees for this party.

The Meal

A pb&j owl sandwich with cucumber slices and olives for eyes (and a carrot slice for a beak). This was super cute, and the kids just loved it!

The Tree of Life's leaves (the lettuce), fruit (at its base), flowers (star-cut cheese), the olive tree (making up the tree of life's trunk). Wow, fun food is a good way to entice kids to try food. Only my oldest ate most of his lettuce, but they at least all tried it, woo-hoo!

The Dessert

My experimental birthday cake, using this strawberry cake recipe (and adding some substitutions) along with this cashew cream cheese icing. I tried making it look like one large rose by running my finger round and round. The icing was incredibly soft so I snagged this picture right away, but by the end of the meal, it was dripping down the sides of the cake and pooling. It did not affect its taste though, which was good - not awesome but at least decent.

Don't forget to check out the other parties over at Catholic Cuisine!

"The Benefits of Finding Wisdom... She is a tree of life to those who grasp her, and those who hold her fast are happy." ~Proverbs 3:18

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Nature Walk

Elisa, over at Elisa Loves, decided to host a weekly garden party, showing off what's growing in each of our neck of the woods. While Elisa has far better photography skills (I have none!), I thought it would be fun to join up. This past Sunday, I walked around the house to see what was happening, and was pleasantly surprised by what I found. It was such a beautiful day to play outside, but between the bright sun and Miss Z in my arms, my photos are worse than normal, haha! Be inspired... Link up... What's growing in your yard?

Catnip in bloom. My cat likes this herb, fresh or dried. This herb sure grows easily (it is a mint after all!), but it is easy to keep pruned - and still looks nice when you do.

Pretty lilac bloom - much prettier than this photo shows. Mine are a purply-pink and smell oh so good!

First greenery in the garden: onions, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and some lettuce and spinach starting to sprout.

Our weigela bush out front in bloom. This bush is nice. I love its loose form and multiple blooms.

English thyme. I love herbs. Love, love, love them. I am not a huge thyme person for my food, but to grow it? Heavenly! It smells wonderful, looks great, takes a beating and still grows beautifully. It grows so well I need to trim it multiple times throughout the growing season.

An early bloomer. It only grew about three inches tall before popping out. A splash of bright orange always gives me a smile.

Looks like a maple tree is trying to take root behind a front bush. The little "weed" on the right is such a pretty little thing - delicate heart-shaped leaves with small, buttercup-like flowers. The best thing I love about this plant is that it is edible.

I will have the kids take a walk with me, and snap a few pictures themselves for a future post, but this time around I enjoyed a little quiet walk.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hands-On with Jupiter

Ok, I have put off Jupiter for too long now. The planet is cool and all, what with the huge, 300+ year old storm (the great red spot), and the fact that the planet is so large, full of gas, and has 60+ moons. When it came to the hands-on activities, however, it was overall a bust - for me, not the kids. I think mostly I did not want to make the edible Earth/Jupiter planets to compare the sizes and layers. I mean, it was not difficult to throw together, but the items used kind of disgusted me. But again, no complaints from the kids! The coolest thing, in my opinion, was the computer game I found where the kids could launch a comet at Jupiter, and by changing different aspects (speed, angle, size of the comet or the mass of the object the comet is heading toward), they saw how the comet's impact was affected.

Without further ado, here is what we did:

Storms on Jupiter

First we watched a very quick video on You Tube of the Great Red Spot, and watched how the storm moved. Then we did this Storms on Jupiter activity. Using cornstarch and water, we created a simulation of the appearance of Jupiter's atmosphere. Dragging a spoon through the dish moved the water in a similar fashion as the storm on Jupiter.

Hurricane Tube

With Daddy's help, we made a hurricane tube, or as my husband says, a tornado tube, to continue with the weather theme. Still, the kids loved turning the bottle upside down and spinning the water to see the funnel at work.

Jupiter as Protector

Jupiter is like a mother to Earth because it protects us. From what? From comets, meteoroids, and other space rocks that could potentially hit Earth. With its large size and heavy gravitational pull, it can easily do this, and that is also why it has over 60 moons to date!

First we watched a short video of pieces of the Comet Shoemaker Levy colliding with Jupiter. Next we headed to this site to pelt Jupiter with a virtual comet (click on the link for Planet Impact!).

Jupiter's Layers

The last topic I wanted the kids to learn about was the difference between a gas planet and a rocky one. After completing a worksheet about gas vs. rocky planets, we created an edible Earth and Jupiter to compare both sizes and layers. 

One last thing I want to try is taking a look at Jupiter through our telescope to see if we can find a few of Jupiter's larger moons. Apparently they can be seen by binoculars or telescopes at home. They look like smaller stars orbiting around Jupiter. To do this, though, we need a clear night and one where the kids are up a little later so it will have to wait just a bit.

And now, we are ready to move on to Saturn, one of my favorite planets - the rings and diamonds of course! 

A Luau Party

The end of the school year seems so close, especially since Monday was our last Academic Enrichment Program (AEP) class. This has been such a wonderful experience for us this past year. I know I have enjoyed it, and so have my kids!

To celebrate the last day, the group's main coordinator put on a luau for everyone (thanks Katie!). I think Miss Bear was mostly interested in the snacks, but there were some crafts and games for the others. I am sad to see this year end, but I know next year will have just as many surprises and adventures as this one.

Scratch-off fish craft and decoration.

Sporting a lei and holding a certificate of class completion.

Skipper won this jar of shells by guessing there were 90 shells in it. He was so excited!

Miss Bear just had to take a picture!

The snack - food is always so important to kids!

Balls of fun!

And of course the limbo with some fun island music.

Have a happy summer, friends!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

First Friday: May Crowning

We have continued meeting with other families for First Friday activities. After early morning Mass, the kids have a late breakfast followed by some kind of activity related to the month. With it being May, we of course chose to do a May crowning.

After snack, the kids colored this coloring page of Our Lady of Fatima since that feast is fast approaching. I gave the moms a baggie of flower stickers to take home so the kids could "earn" flowers for Our Lady by saying prayers, doing kind deeds, etc.

Then we headed over to the house of one of the families to crown their outdoor Mary. Beforehand, I had made a crown using silk flowers and floral wire by popping off the flowers from the stem and threading on the wire. I think it turned out nice.

Once at the house, we processed from the front of the house to the back and sang Immaculate Mary and Hail Holy Queen. The youngest three girls placed on Mary's crown, while the rest put flowers in a vase by Mary's feet. After, we prayed a Hail Mary, and then the kids ran around to play.

It was simple and very nice. I have really enjoyed meeting together with these ladies and their children over this past year. Our summer plans are quite simple - weekly Friday Mass followed by prayer and play at a local park.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Wind and Sea Obey Him

Here we are, the fourth week of Easter. Today we had our fourth Garden of the Good Shepherd party (using this sticker/Bible activity). The kids really enjoy placing the sticker on, and they most certainly have enjoyed the foodie parties! This week I was not quite as prepared as the last few so I had some last minute changes, but I think it worked! Check it out:

The Wind and Sea Obey Him
Symbols to use: boat, mast, sail, net, fish, barbecue, leviathan

The Decor

We laid out our casual tablecloth and the boys added some blue "water" paper napkins and then searched the house for some sea themed toys. I laid the leviathan in the middle of the toys.

The Drink

I completely forgot about this! I had some Ocean Spray cranberry juice chilling in the fridge for the occasion. I guess we will have to enjoy it with breakfast this week!

The Meal
The leviathan appetizer: raw peppers with a cashew sour cream ranch dip (and some other cut-up veggies off to the side).

Fish-shaped cheese to put on the burgers (the barbecue).

Here is our net (some saran wrap over half of the fish).

And our boat (with sail and mast). The kids thought this was fun to play with, but my husband and I enjoyed eating it the most. I used Daiya cheese on mine and skipped the sour cream, but my husband indulged in the heart-ahem-healthy side. The mast and sail was a toothpick with a triangle paper flag glued on. Easy peasy - and helped the kids at least try the potato skins.

The Dessert

No picture for this one. Again, mental lapse. Initially I meant to make up some blue jello with Swedish fish and a cool-whip "net" but time slipped away, and instead the kids had some Superman (i.e., multi-colored) ice-cream, which actually worked out. As Skipper said, "I'm eating the land now." (The ice-cream was half-melted so the sea was the liquidy part around the firmer "island." Pretty clever!)

Don't forget to check out the other parties over at Catholic Cuisine!

"How varied are your works, Lord! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, great and wide! It teems with countless beings, living things both large and small. There ships ply their course and Leviathan, whom you formed to play with."  ~~Psalm 104:24-26

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pinterest - What's Your Take?

Ok, I know many of you "pin" ideas and love Pinterest. And I know there were some legal questions awhile ago. But what I want to know is why you love (or don't love) Pinterest, and if you do love it, what do you love about it, and what would you change if you could?

By the way, I actually do have a Pinterest account that I mostly use for school ideas, as well as recipes and liturgical ideas, but I am still unsure how I feel about it long-term.

This question also came about when my husband and his friend said they didn't get it. His friend had never even heard of it. Both were more than a little frustrated as both are computer programmers (good ones too!) and could not believe it brings in the revenue it does - no ads, looks sloppy, and I am sure a few other items that would go over my head. My husband in particular is annoyed with the boom in social sites like Facebook and such. The latest craze is Instagram, where you take a photo, apply a filter, and share with others via a social network like Facebook. He thinks it is crazy how "awesome" this app is when you have been able to use photo software to do the same thing for ages.

I digress... Back on topic... What's your take on Pinterest?

I never expect comments from my readers and am always glad to hear from you when you do, but this time I really do want input to share with my husband and his friend! :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

4 months

... and a few days! With two weekends out of town and a busy week of regular stuff, I am a little late on posting these pictures. I cannot believe it has been four months! On one hand, I cannot imagine life without little Miss Z, but was it really only a few short months ago that she entered our lives?

While she can be a bit fussy, and does love to be held 24/7, she really is a good baby. She is healthy, growing well (17 lbs at the doc visit), loves to interact, and check out what is going on around this crazy house. Once she can sit up will be an even better time I think since that is all she wants to do right now!

And, for the baby in all of us:

Sirius in the Jumbo seat. Crazy cat!

I love Miss Bear's smile.

Miss Bear tries and tries to wear the baby clothes. She finally found a onesie to pair with her skirt. This actually was her "pjs" for the night.

Play or Work? Hmm... that's a tough one!