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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Weekend Work!

Were we ever busy this weekend!  It started Saturday morning with some weed pulling.  Yuck!  I hate weeds!  So does everyone else in my family, but I figured if we worked together, it would go rather quickly, and it did!

Dave and I then headed to the dump and then over to Home Depot to get the materials needed to upgrade our playset in the backyard.  We had already replaced the swings, but wanted to add a larger sandbox (that wasn't under the playset), add a floor to the bottom, a climbing wall, and new canvas for the roof.  What an undertaking, but well worth it! 

Almost ten years ago we moved into our house, and wanted to get a playset for the kids, but it was September, so we waited figuring there wasn't much time left to enjoy the outdoors.  The following spring, I was driving home and came across a playset on the side of the road.  It needed some new swings and a canvas cover for the roof, but looked otherwise sturdy.  Dave stopped later and paid the man who was selling it $200.  We invested about $100 for swings and another $30 for the canvas.   In the time we've had it, we replaced a toddler swing and the canvas cover.  With Daniel and now the new little one coming along, we figured it was time to upgrade the playset again, and hence, our work began. 
This gives you a good view of the sandbox.  Nice and large!

We started with the sandbox -- it measures about 5' x 6' - - which is large enough for kids to sit in and play.  It took 15 bags of sand to fill it.  It is inviting and the kids love it (even some of the bigger kids couldn't resist getting in!).  The boys helped with lifting the heavy bags of sand and adding them to the box.

Here is the climbing wall and disc swing.
Next, we added the floor to the bottom of the playhouse.  That took the remainder of our Saturday.  The floor covers up some weeds and makes the bottom look better.  It also gives the kids a place to pretend.  Perhaps I will add some canvas "walls" that can be removed to make it more "tent-like." 

On Sunday, after Mass, Dave started on the climbing wall.  Jenna helped him measure.  (We had removed a sliding pole and ladder to make room for the wall.)  Then he worked on getting a new support beam ready for the canvas roof, which he and I did together.  (I had to sew the sides up, but that was easy!  I lucked out and found 54" outdoor canvas on the sale table for $8/yd -- normally $20!)  Afterwards, we removed the bolts for the toddler swing (we are moving it to the swing set, next to the three swings), so that we could add the disc swing.  I think that is Jenna's favorite part! 
Finishing touch was to bring up the cement bench so that
Mommy can sit and observe.
Daniel has been outside these past couple of mornings, playing in the sand and on the playset.  Now he never wants to come inside!   The roadside find has continued and will continue to be a family favorite for the foreseeable future!  Thanks to God!

God Blesb

 PS - - Did I mention that our "to-do" list is yards long?  I hope to tackle the gardens next - - both the flower kind and the vegetable kind.  Hopefully, the weather cooperates this weekend!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter Story Wreath, Stations of Light cards and box - OH MY!

I love the Easter season!  It's as if the Church is dressed in her very best - - all white and gold!  I also love the celebrations and feasts during Easter -- and how lucky are we that the Easter Season is 50 days! 

I also love having a little one in the house to keep alive traditions that might otherwise fall to the wayside with big brothers and sisters.  How many teens want to hunt for Easter Eggs?  Perhaps if the eggs were more well-hidden?  Having a little one also means we can keep up with the crafts of the Easter season.  I follow Lacy's blog - - Catholic Icing -- and have found this free printable Easter Story Wreath -- much nicer than the one from Oriental Trading!  Her site also led me to this one that has printable cards for the Stations of Light with suggestions for making a Stations of Light box (similar to the one for Stations of the Cross, which I had made for the kids several years ago).  The cards are lovely and you can use them to make three part Montessori cards, too!  I have just the box - an extra blank pencil box that I can store the cards and items in - - I just have to come up with some creative ways to obtain or make the suggested symbols.

I also enjoyed making this Ascension scene for our home prayer table - just beautiful!

Now, I have to find some activities and crafts for Daniel to do!  Soon, he will be helping me more, but until then, I get to have fun coloring, cutting and gluing!

God Bless!

Happy Easter!

About a week before Easter, I found this lamb mold cake pan for 50% off at JoAnn's.  I've never worked with cake molds before and was unsure of how it would work out.  I chose to use a pound cake mix to make the cake and made a double batch, just in case one wasn't enough.  I am not sure if one was enough - - I baked the extra batter.  You have to make sure you fill it to the rim of the pan.  Then, make sure you tie the pan (alternately, you can probably use those silicon rubber bands).  Once the lamb was done, I removed the top side and let it cool for about 15 minutes.  Then I placed the top side back on and turned it over and removed the bottom side and let it cool until completely cooled.  Then I lined the bottom mold with plastic wrap replaced the bottom mold, turned the cake and lined the other side, wrapped the cake with plastic wrap and stuck it in the freezer until Good Friday.  (Sometimes it is easier to ice a frozen cake.) 

On Good Friday, I iced the platter that I was going to set the cake one (recipe for icing here).  Removing the cake from the pan, I centered it on the platter.  I started with icing on the face and then put the remaining icing into an icing bag with the right tip and swirled on the icing to look like fleece.  I colored some icing black for the eyes and mouth.  I also colored some coconut to look like the lamb was laying in the grass.  Finally, I used a skewer and piece of paper to make the flag and sprinkled some robin eggs around the base.  Transporting the cake to Grandma's was a little tough - - but it survived unscathed and was enjoyed with a topping of strawberries on Easter Sunday!

We also brought some filled plastic eggs for an egg hunt.  I am sure that if we didn't have Daniel, this tradition would probably be put aside, but having a little one, keeps these traditions alive.

For table decorations, I made this Easter Candy boquet.  I was inspired by this project that was posted at Skip to My Lou.  I used a mason jar instead of a can, allowing the contents to peak through.  The cross pops were made from Jolly Ranchers following instructions found here at Catholic Icing.  Be sure to check out her Easter countdown to Pentecost calendar and all the other fun stuff!

God Bless and hope you have a Blessed Easter Season!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Geography Day!

Geography Day was a huge success, thanks to the families that participated.  Our family was able to experience and learn about Australia, Ecuador, France, and Germany, as well as what we learned about Japan! 

Here is a picture of our finished project board.  It included the carp that Alex made for Children's Day (a national holiday celebrated in May).  We had a lot of fun learning about Japan.  I asked the kids to please choose a country that had "normal" food next time!  We will see where that will lead us - - Andrea commented that we should just do a tour of Asia, since we've done China (quite a few years ago) and India already!  Hmmmm!  We just have to see where our interests take us.

Thanks for traveling with us!

God Bless,