Friday, July 1, 2011

Easy 4th of July Centerpiece

This afternoon, my sweet husband came home with a bouquet of roses!

Tucked inside the bouquet was a single American flag.  

It was the inspiration for a quick and easy holiday centerpiece.

While I would have loved to have had some greenery or giant yellow sunflowers to tuck in (my arrangement is a bit sparse), I used only what I had on hand.

Wishing you a safe and happy 4th of July Weekend!

We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.
William Faulkner

Vacation Bible School 2011 (Hometown Nazareth)

Happy July 1st!

With the "official" arrival of summer, we've been busy bees around here, thus, my lack of blogging. Sometimes, blogging just has to stop so that "life" can be "lived"!

What have we been up to?

Vacation Bible School, swim lessons, a trip to the movies, a strawberry festival, and a major basement overhaul...throw in two sick kiddos (the boys) mid-week and it makes for jam-packed days with lots of craziness! 

First up...VBS.

This year, our Parish chose Hometown Nazareth, Where Jesus was a Kid from Group Publishing, Inc. for our VBS program.  This was such a fun, dynamic, and hands-on program for our kids!  I can't say enough good things about our program this year, so I'll let my pictures speak for themselves!

Ms. Andi teaching the hand motions to "Big House" by Audio Adrenaline.

Ms. Allison and Baby Eden teaching the hand motions to "Beautiful One" by Chris Tomlin.
My sweet, sweet Kindergarten/First Grade Class!

My sweet boy (red and white stripes) in his Preschool Class.
We did a four-day program, Monday through Thursday.  Each day's theme centered around Jesus' life.

Day1:  Jesus had a family...we do too.
Day 2:  Jesus had a name...we do too.
Day 3:  Jesus had a home...we do too.
Day 4:  Jesus served others...we do too.

In addition to classroom time, where the children learned the day's Bible Verse and lesson, they rotated through three different stations:  Mary's House, Fun & Games, and Marketplace.  (My favorites were Mary's house (ahem, I named my daughter after our Blessed Mother!) and the Marketplace.  I'm a girl that loves to shop...not so much into games!) :)

Each combined grade-level was named after one of the 12 Tribes of Israel.  Benjamin's preschool group was Tribe of Asher; Mary's K/1 group was Tribe of Levi.  I was her teacher.  :)

At Mary's House, children heard from Mary and her Cousin Elizabeth about the Immaculate Conception and birth of Jesus as well as about John the Baptist; they learned about Jesus as a baby being presented in to the temple as well as a hurried flight to Egypt.  The children also got to smell frankincense and myrrh.

My girlfriend, Corey, from my Women's Bible Study group played Mary.  She was perfect for the part.  So soft-spoken, she kept the kids enthralled.  Is it any coincidence that her last name is GRACE?!!!

My little crafter LOVED the marketplace!  With a limited budget we could not do all of the available crafts, but we offered quite a few.  Mary especially loved the Bead Bazaar and Olive Oil Shop.  Benjamin loved the Carpentry Shop and the Rock Quarry.  All the kids enjoyed "paying" for their craft with authentic-looking shekels (coins).

Presenting their "rocks" that from their dig to make into jewelry.

At the carpentry shop making sheep.

Making a Tzedakah (charity) box.

Bead Bazaar

Creating Olive Oil hand scrubs.
On the last day, the kiddos took home their cross carabiners which had their mini Bible Verses attached as well as their "Jesus Loves Me" backpacks (which I forgot to photograph!  They were white cotton with the words "Jesus Loves Me" written in many different languages.  The kids used fabric markers and crayons to color them in.  They were very cool!)

Unfortunately, my little ones were so very sick on our last day (Thursday).  Benjamin ran a fever up to 104.8 (scary!) and Luke (11 months) up to 103.1.  Cool baths and Tylenol helped, but my two littlest ones were miserable.  I had to miss the very last day (thank you to my good friend, Erin, for picking up and taking Mary to VBS) and so I didn't get a chance to say good bye to my Kindergartner/First Graders.  :(

All in all, it was a great week, even with a couple of sick kiddos!
Kindergarten/First Grade VBS Class 2011
Hope that all has been well with you over the last two weeks.  I look forward to blogging a bit more regularly!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer Solstice

There's something magical about the longest day of the year!

To celebrate this year's summer solstice we let the kids stay up and catch fire flies (or lightning bugs as I called them growing up).  Their light show is mesmerizing.  Like a fire works display put on by mother nature. 

The little ones ran around the yard with nets (from a board game) and mason jars with lids.  Unfortunately, we had little success actually capturing any fire flies, but we sure had fun while we tried! might need to run!

Off on an adventure...


Going in for the capture...

Sorry about the blurry photos.  I was playing around with my camera settings and trying to us the manual setting.  Clearly, I have some learning to do!  :)

It's been a busy week...Vacation Bible School, swim lessons, ballet, etc, AND the two little boys both came down with fevers.  A minor viral infection, I 'm sure, but it sort of knocked the wind out of our sails and required a bit of extra TLC from the momma this week.  Hope to be back to blogging regularly next week.

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

{Semi} Wordless Wednesday (1) Father's Day at the Fire House


Father's Day at the Fire House (2011)

Daddy, We hope your Birthday and Father's Day were extra special this year!

Mary Catherine, Benjamin, & Luke

Our oldest, Mary Catherine, LOVES photography.  She's owned TWO kid cameras which have both failed her!  I have begun to allow her to use my Canon DSLR.  It was a bit nerve-wracking at first, but she really is very responsible and always wears the camera strap around her neck.

Here's a tour of Lenexa, Kansas Fire Station #3 through the eyes of an almost-7-year-old.  Girlfriend's got potential as a photographer!

I'm linking up with Flip Flops & Pearls for {Semi} Wordless Wednesdays!  Feel free to hop over and join us!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Weekend in Wisconsin

I am joining up with Susan over at A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday.  Please feel free to click over to visit other fascinating and beautiful outdoor venues. 

Last weekend, my husband was able to take Friday off so that we might travel to Wisconsin to visit his grandmother.  Armella is 88, soon to be 89, and lives completely independently.  In fact, I think she has more energy than I do.  She's a petite thing...maybe 4'11" tall and 90 pounds, if that!  But she's got "cold living" down to a science and I swear it is what keeps her going!  (Did I mention that she takes her neighbor, Albina, to both church and the grocery store on Saturday nights?  Yes!  And Albina is 98...and lives on her own as well!!!)

Fortunately, the heat wave in western Wisconsin snapped and we were welcomed with cool, refreshing temperatures.  Almost downright cold!  Which is a good thing since Chris' grandmother does not have air conditioning in the house!

We decided to take full advantage of the beautiful weather and took the kids hiking.  Although it was cool and overcast in the morning, the sun finally shone in the afternoon.  We visited several sites and locations in both  Prairie Du Chien, WI and McGregor, IA situated on the upper Mississippi River.

First stop...the "Welcome to Wisconsin" sign.  This travel stop is located right on the banks of the Mississippi River welcoming visitors from Iowa.

Welcome to Wisconsin!

Next stop...the Lady Luck Casino.  Now, I promise you that we did not take our three kids to do some gambling...or eat buffet...

Giant paddle wheel at the restaurant.  The actual casino is on a river boat.

...rather, we wanted to get their pictures taken on the giant pink elephant!

This elephant has been around since my husband was a child!

Luke isn't sure what to think!

We also took the kids hiking at two different parks. First, we went to Pike's Peak State Park in Iowa.

"In 1673, the first white men to see what is now Iowa, explorer Louis Joliet and Father James Marquette, reached the mouth of the Wisconsin River and beheld the great, unknown river now known as the Mississippi. After the Louisiana Purchase, the government sent Zebulon Pike in 1805 to explore the Mississippi valley and select locations suitable for military posts. Pike recognized the park site as an important, strategic point, and an excellent location for a fort. The government agreed on the vicinity but selected the prairie around Prairie du Chien (now Wisconsin) for the fort. Several years later, Pike was again sent westward by the government and named Pikes Peak in Colorado." 
Pikes Peak State Park
The confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers

Next we visited Effigy Mounds National Park.  Sacred burial mounds, a replica bald eagle's nest, and a trip to the gift store made this hiking trip complete!

Eagle Scout Project
Sunday arrived and found us returning home.  But our trip through the state of Iowa would not be complete without a quick stop in Strawberry Point. And yes, they do have an annual strawberry festival!

I hope you enjoyed our brief tour through eastern Iowa and western Wisconsin.  The upper Mississippi River communities are quite quaint nestled along the river banks, and I encourage you to plan a trip at least once in  your lifetime to see these majestic river bluffs and powerful Mississippi.