Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Blessings 2011

Due to Michael's National Guard schedule, he was gone a good chunk of April, so we decided to stay home for Easter this year instead of visiting family. It was so relaxing and I felt like we really got to focus on the true meaning of Easter with the kids.  Using the timer on my camera, we managed to get one good shot of all of us smiling. A test in patience to be sure!The day before Easter, Hailey dyed a dozen eggs for our Easter egg hunt.
While we don't do the whole Easter Bunny thing, when the kids woke up Easter morning, they discovered that mom had filled their baskets with all kinds of games, books, videos, plastic eggs filled with loose change, and one Lindt chocolate bunny. The Resurrection eggs are in the center of the table to remind us of the gift of eternal life Jesus gave us by dying on the cross and then rising from the dead. I've always read the story to them, but this year, I let them tell us the Easter story after each egg was opened. I was amazed at how much they remembered.  
My sleepy heads, just before diving into their baskets.

Just before church, we had a photo shoot in the backyard. Hailey loved her dress. So grateful for beautiful hand-me-downs!

Josiah was looking spiffy in his shirt and tie. Oops, forgot to tuck the ends of his clip-on under his collar ;)

Best friends.

After a wonderful Easter service at our church, I hid eggs around our backyard and they hunted them just before it started to rain.

After giving him a little talking to, Josiah did a good job, letting Hailey have a chance. I was proud of him. 

After the hunt, we played games all afternoon and had a low key dinner. We got Josiah this new game called "Hog Pile". It was a lot of fun. After dinner, Michael started teaching Josiah how to play cribbage. He seems to really like that game, too. 

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter and were able to reflect on God's greatest gift to us. He has risen indeed!

God Bless,

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kid-friendly Passover (Seder) Meal

I couldn't find a child-friendly Seder Meal in our area, so I decided to get brave and do one myself. I've only been to two Seder meals and it has been a long time since I went. Although we are not Jewish, I really enjoyed them and thought they were very meaningful. I wanted my kids to have the same experience and see if my family would want to make this an annual tradition. I also thought it would be a good homeschooling experience as we learned about the Jewish culture. We just finished up studying about the Hebrew Exodus in our family devotions so I thought it would help make the story come alive for them.We decided to make the meal just for our family (since I didn't know what I was doing), but before the meal started we had some friends over for a play date. All the kids had fun making matzo ball soup. Riley (pink shirt) helped me set up the meal and make the haroseth (apple/nut mixture). I went on-line and found a relatively simple Seder meal ceremony with the traditional recipes. It was a lot of prep work, but it was worth it. I definitely made some mistakes, but you live and learn. I definitely need to find a ceremony with more modern English. 

Here is the plate that goes at each person's place setting. It has parsley, horseradish and haroseth, along with a bowl of salt water.

Here is our completed table just before we started.  Technically you are only supposed to have 1 egg on the platter, but everybody wanted one, so I just went with it. Josiah wanted to dress up, so I let him wear his bathrobe.
Ceremonial platter with lettuce, horseradish and haroseth and boiled eggs.

The mother is supposed to wear a white head covering and begins the ceremony by lighting the candle praying. The kids and I drank grape juice while Michael had wine. I need to get a prettier pitcher or carafe for both next year.

The father is to read the ceremony. The kids did very well! The whole thing took us about 2 hours.

Michael ceremonially washes his hands.

Hailey dipping her green herb (parsley) in the salt water.

Hailey waits for Michael to uncover the unleavened bread (matzah). Then she asks the four questions as to the meaning of the Passover.

Michael lifts the lamb and tells us about the paschal lamb.

Josiah's face after tasting the bitter herb (horseradish). I was proud of him for trying it.

After a several glass of wine/grape juice, matzah and more ceremony, we were able to eat the Passover meal. I started us out with matzo ball soup and then served herb rice with a green salad and of course lamb! Our family loves lamb and I'm so thrilled we were able to have some leftover for the year to use in this Seder meal.

Hailey decided she wanted to wear a white head covering.

Michael really started to get into it, too, and went and got his old army stocking cap to act as a skull cap. Michael is explaining to Josiah the meaning of the different parts of the ceremony in this picture. 

Hailey is finishing up the Seder meal with some homemade matzah. I made it out of whole grain graham flour and it was awful. I think I'll buy matzoh meal next time.Josiah, holding his cup up for the final blessings.

We definitely learned a lot. There are some things I would do differently next time to make it go a little smoother. Even though it too 2 hours, my family all said they wanted to make it an annual tradition. I'm so glad we were able to teach the kids about the Jewish culture in such an interactive way. I felt we were able to honor God's chosen people. We were able to explain that because of Jesus, God "passed over" all of us who have chosen Him as our Savior. We have eternal life with Him because we believe in Son and by His GRACE we are saved! If you haven't ever participated in a Seder meal, I would highly recommend it. You will be blessed! Now  we are looking forward to Good Friday and Easter. 

God Bless,

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tartan Days

Our rural community sported a a "Tartan Days". Despite the cold (and spitting snow), there was a good turn out of spectators. We decided to treat it as a homeschool field trip. It generated a lot of conversation.
On the way there, Josiah asked me about kilts. I told him they were sort of a test of manhood for Scottish men. When we got out of the car, he started rolling up his pant legs (he was wearing cowboy boots). I asked him why he was doing that and he said he wanted to be a man, too. Sorry buddy! Well now he wants to get a kilt in the worst way. This sent me on a family history search to see what tartan(s) we were authorized to wear. So far, I've found two. We were blessed to have Weston-McEwen High School's "Highland Band" come over to give us a mini-concert. We enjoyed listening to "Scotland the Brave", "Amazing Grace" and other famous Highland tunes.  

I shot this using the "vivid color" mode on my camera since it was such a gray day. I wanted the colors of the kilts to really pop. Here is a picture of the bandmaster.Pipes and drums.

The man in the middle was the band leader.

Now Josiah wants to play the bagpipes, too. Oh boy!

I like the way the pipers all had little flags flying from their pipes.

They even had a Highland dancing demonstration. It was very pretty. I was thrilled that I was able to shoot this just as they were leaving the ground on their tippy toes. Talk about luck with the timing!

Tartan Days was a prelude to a much larger event that will be happening in this area. The Celtic Society is putting together a full-on Celtic Festival at the end of August. It will include Highland games, vendors, food, music and such. Really looking forward to attending. Maybe by then Josiah will have a kilt to wear ;)


Monday, April 18, 2011

Hangin' with Tedd Arnold

Does anyone recognize this art work? This is Tedd Arnold, the famous children's book author and artist of the "Fly Guy" series, "Green Wilma", "Parts", "Huggly" and more. My step-mom has been corresponding with him for several years. She was sending him "Fly Guy" inspired books written by my nephew, Marcus. Being the "git'r done" kind of gal she is, she figured out how to get he and his wife to travel from New York and speak at the rural school where she works. The day before his presentation, Ted and his wife, wanted to meet the whole family and see the ranch where my folks live. There are nine grandkids all under the age of 12, so this was a brave request indeed ;) 

They came to the ranch for dinner. Diana had helped put together a "goodie" bag for them with samples of food from the area. They loved it! Hailey insisted on helping them open everything. 

Here is a picture of Tedd and his wife, Carol, with Dad and Diana and all the grandkids. The Arnolds had these t-shirts made especially for each of the grandkids. Pretty cool that these are the ONLY t-shirts out there like this. Very special indeed.

Tedd enjoyed talking with my nephew, Marcus, who has written 16 of his own Fly Guy books, complete with illustrations. Tedd honored him at the presentation and Marcus got to hang out with him some more the next day.

Some of the kids showing Tedd all of Marcus' "Fly Guy" books around the table at the ranch. Patient guy!

The next day, Tedd did a presentation for Dufur School. He did a great job. It was so much fun, watching him free-hand so quickly.

He talked about the things that inspire his books. His children, even his children's favorite pets are in his books. 

He also showed us how he brainstorms his characters through art. It was very interesting. There was a scalpel and a lot of tape used in the making of this character that turned out to be...

"Green Wilma"!

In the space of about 2 minutes, Josiah made a friend who was in 1st grade (same grade he is in). I thought that was neat. He and my nieces and nephews did very well during the assembly. I was really proud of them, because it was a completely new experience, since all of them are homeschooled. 

Anyway, thanks again to my step-mom, who made Tedd's visit possible. We made some new friends, and famous or not, they are great people. Very down to earth. I think we'll be adding more Tedd Arnold books to our collection...


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Josiah's First Riding Lesson

We were able to go to the ranch last weekend. We finally had time for a riding lesson for Josiah. We put him on my dad's miniature horse, Baker Man. It's a short drop should anything go wrong. Josiah put on his "too big" chaps and his cowboy hat (which later almost got him bucked off when it flew off and landed on Baker Man's bum), and headed to the coral with Papa.
Dad showing him how to rein, stop and start.
After the incident with the cowboy hat flying off and startling both the horse and Josiah, I had a little talk with him about not shouting even when you're scared. So he took care of that problem by filling his cheeks with air so he wouldn't scream every time things got a little dicey. All I can say is, it may have looked funny, but it worked! Yeah, another victory for teaching him to control himself!
I love how serious he looks here as he's talking to Hailey about his experience. One time he looked at me and said (oh so seriously), "Yep, it's a good day for a ride". It cracked me up, since we never even went out of the corral, LOL.
I was experimenting with the camera and trying my hand at a foreground shot. I thought it was kind of cute.
I took this picture so you could see the difference between the size of a miniature horse and a regular horse.
Hailey got to sit on Lightening all by herself with Papa near her. She thought she was hot stuff, let me tell you ;)

Hailey got a turn being led on Baker Man by Papa. I love this picture because I also got Josiah rubbing his sore bum just after he got off. He rode for about 2 hours. Not bad for a first-timer. Dad and I rode for cows the day before. I only rode 3 hours and I thought I was going to die that last hour. I used to ride all day long bareback and it never bothered me. Oh the joys of getting old.
I took this picture of Hailey in the barn, just fiddlin' around. I thought she looked so darlin'. 

Here is a short video of Josiah riding Baker Man and Hailey sitting on Lightning. You can tell how much fun they're having. There is a lot of wind noise, so I apologize ahead of time.



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