Meaningful Easter

As a parent, I can’t help but be drawn into all the cute stuff around for Easter… whether it’s crafts and decor on Pinterest, the dollar section at Target, or even the Easter section at the grocery store.  All of it makes me want to build a garden, decorate eggs, and turn my old glass jars into Easter candy containers.    Finding the true meaning of Easter really does take “work.”  It’s not apparent.  This week as we tried to read the Bible every day, it felt like there was one distraction after another.  But, even that became a lesson… we talked about how easy it is to get distracted and how important celebrating Easter really is.

Our pastor has been encouraging us to pray and invite neighbors to church.  I tried to think of a way to do this with the kids in a fun way, so this is what we did…

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I had the girls collect sticks and used a little twine to make crosses.  Then we wrapped some scrap fabric around a container of fresh eggs from our chickens.  (We’ve been blessed with more than we can use lately!)  We attached an egg with the words to “I know my Redeemer Lives,” which we found on Pinterest.  On the back, we wished our neighbors a happy Easter and wrote the address and church times for our church.  The kids and I prayed over the eggs, and they were ready to deliver!  It was a very easy and non-threatening way to invite our neighbors to church.  Turns out one of our neighbors actually already attends our church — so that was a fun connection to make!  (Obviously our church is quite large and it’s impossible to know everyone.)

Do you have any good ideas for making Easter meaningful?

Easter Bread

There is one baking blog I follow because I love all her beautiful recipes… yet I rarely ever consider trying them.  Sprinkles Bakes.  She’s amazing.  But too amazing most of the time.  However, after seeing these Easter Bread rings and looking at the recipe, I actually thought they were doable.  So we tried them…

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They were not only easy, but fun for the kids!  Twisting.  Painting (icing, that is).  Sprinkles…

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You’re suppose to color the eggs before putting them in the center.  We didn’t get to that part, but they still looked beautiful.  And the taste?

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Wow.  I may not be able to wait until next Easter to make these again.  They ended up being our dinner with that perfectly cooked egg inside.  (Daniel wasn’t home, so when I suggested these be our dinner the kids were super excited!)  You can get the full recipe here.

Camping in April

Camping for just one night is a lot of work…. but I can honestly say it was worth it this time around.  Our dear friends planned an April camping trip to break-in their new trailer and invited us along.  Due to scheduling conflicts, we were only able to make it for one day and night, but I’m so glad we did!

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Though we don’t have a camper ourselves, we rented a little “cabin” with this cool porch swing.  Still no bathroom, but much nicer than a tent!  The kids had the front room with two sets of bunk beds, and we had the back room with a double bed.

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There was also a heated pool… need I say more?

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As if hours of swimming and no naps were not enough to wear them out, the kids also spent a lot of time running around, jumping, and playing tag at the playground and all along the grounds.

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Again, camping for one day was made easy by our friends who graciously made us both lunch and dinner.  How did we get so blessed?

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S’mores were about the only thing that drew the kids back from all their playing.

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Despite being exhausted, the kids still took a while to fall asleep.  Wired, I suppose… who could blame them?

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It just so happens that we were there on the night of the lunar eclipse.  With the kids tucked away, we were able to enjoy the campfire and great talks until late into the night.  In fact, us old folks who are normally early to bed made it until past midnight to see the full eclipse.  It was pretty awesome to watch.

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I feel so blessed that homeschooling and my husband’s job allow for the flexibility to experience things like this on a weeknight.  I also feel blessed by our amazing friends.  Yes, camping for one night is a bit of work… but so worth it!

Butterflies!

Right after Spongie disappeared, we were all feeling a little sad about not having our kitty around.  One day we stopped at the mailbox on our way home from the library and, as usual, we guessed whether the mail would be there yet, how many eggs the chickens had laid, but not whether Spongie would be in or out this time.  Just as we discussed how sad it was that Spongie wouldn’t be there, we were surprised with a fun package in the mailbox… caterpillars!

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Fast forward just a few weeks… (they grow FAST!)  And we have butterflies!  We’ve ordered them before, and it really is a fun process to watch.  However, it is a little disturbing, as well… (something fascinating and a bit weird about cocoons!)  Anyway, look at the picture below carefully:

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Yup… mating butterflies!  They were together about 18 hours!  (Whew!)  Anyway, today was release day!

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I was hoping they would stick around our garden.  They all flew off in different directions.  Happy life to our 5 flying friends!

No, these pictures are not from last summer… they are from yesterday!

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While our apricot and plum trees are just starting to get blossoms, our peach tree has a few ripe peaches, already.  One in particular was quite large, and I’ve had to tell my oldest every day, “It’s not ready, yet…” until yesterday!

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It was juicy and delicious and a great snack for after her swim.  But, she was still hungry.  So I peaked in the garden, again.

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The red pepper was finally ready.  I only have one child who loves them and it happens to be her, so she was in luck!  In addition to a few little garden goodies being ready early, our chickens are really coming through for us in this weather, as well!  Today we got 10 eggs… hooray!

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Amazing Race 2014

It’s been in the works for a few months… an Amazing Race surprise birthday party for my husband’s 39th birthday.  We are huge fans of the show, and I’ve been wanting to do this for years.  Assuming he may suspect a surprise for his 40th, I was hoping a year early we would be successful.  Somehow, amazingly, we were…

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We met at the park down the street.  The entire day my nerves were going crazy!  What if the children told him?  In hindsight, this is hilarious but at the time it was not… our 3rd child had a minor breakdown in the middle of the day.  Real tears.  “I can’t take this anymore; I have to tell him!”  How cute/ funny is that from a 4 year old?

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The back of our car held little boxes for each of the teams with money, water bottles, the rules, and clues.  I divided our friends into 5 teams of 4, handed out their boxes, and sent them on their way.  Then I was off…

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Here are some of the pictures from the teams while completing their tasks… I’ll post more when I get more!

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 All my printables and many ideas came from here.  I added a few of my own to make it more personal for Daniel.

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 Oh, the things I would do over again if I could… this seems to be the type of party you throw once for practice, then once again for real!  But,  in all honesty, it was so much fun.  But, I must say this… my plan was to pick up a few food items then decorate the house while they were gone.  I was gone 1 hour, and when I returned two teams were already back!  I had NOTHING decorated.  Doh!  Thankfully, I have incredible friends who had a blast on their race and who graciously helped me get things ready.  Somehow, I thought the race was far too long — turns out it was a bit too short.  In all the rush to get things ready, I didn’t get a lot of pictures of the details, but here is the overall feel:

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The last clue said make your way to Cara and Daniel’s house, (the Pittstop), where an International feast awaits you.  In case you were wondering, here is the food breakdown:

  • Chinese: Chinese chicken salad
  • Japanese:  sushi
  • Italian:  pizza
  • Swiss:  fondue
  • Korean: noodles
  • Mexican:  chips and salsa/ guacamole
  • Fillipino:  lumpia (egg rolls)
  • American:  bbq pulled pork sandwiches

And, here were the two cutest guests:

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I can’t believe we pulled off the surprise!  There were a few glitches, but it was still super.  Whenever hosting parties now, I always think back to a quote I read on this blog a while back.  She said something to the effect of, “entertaining is about the host, but hospitality is about the guests.”  I LOVE that.  Doesn’t it take the pressure off?  If things don’t run smoothly, simply smile, don’t apologize, and make the guests feel welcome.  In this case, my friends are so awesome they just jumped in and helped me get food ready and it hardly mattered that half the decorations never made it up.

Anyway, happy early birthday to my sweet husband.  I hope you know I think you are amazing, and I am so blessed to have you!  Next time we are running the real Amazing Race together!