Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lent Begins

Lent is upon us, and I always have trouble deciding how much "stuff" I want to try to pack into it. On one hand, it is a time to sacrifice and simplify, but on the other hand, it's a time to prepare ourselves for Easter, and the best way to really bring home the concepts of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving is to make them real and tangible to the kids. It is a time to step up our spiritual "game" and be more deliberate in our walk with Jesus. So I made a "path" to illustrate the days of Lent for the kids. I had actually started it last year, but I didn't have time to finish sewing on all the pieces, so it waited (and I almost forgot about it!) until this year, and it was finished just in time for Ash Wednesday.
We'll move the pink felt heart each day as we move closer to Easter.
Here's a close-up of Holy Week.
Something new we did was "Bury the Alleluia," and Ellie thought it was pretty cool. I saw the idea at Catholic Icing, along with TONS of other really great Lent ideas (Check 'em out!). I bought little chip board letters, and Ellie arranged them to spell "the word we do not say during Lent." After she spelled it out, she placed them in a box which will reside on the top shelf of a bookcase until we can open it and rejoice on Easter Sunday.
We also did this cool "trick." We talked about why Jesus died on the cross, that he stripped away our sins, like the paper pieces being ripped away, and then ta-da! The cross, the symbol of His Love, is all that's left.
After dinner, they were really wound up and not on their best behavior, so we had to calm the munchkins with some coloring pages that I got from Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure. It's free, comes to your inbox three times a week, and you get coloring, audio, videos, and other great resources. I haven't checked out the videos yet, and I don't want to go nuts with too many things to do, but we are going to start listening to the stories of the lives of saints in the car on the way to school.

Of course I have other crafts and Stations of the Cross activities planned, but it's all going to be spread out, and I am not afraid to cut anything if it becomes too much. Lent should be transformative but not stressful! I'll share as we do them.

I hope you have a blessed Lent!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Conversation Hearts

Ellie had her class Valentine party today, and I signed up to make the cupcakes. I had seen on Pinterest that if you combine a can of soda with a box of cake, you get moist yummy cupcakes, so I had to try it out. I mixed strawberry soda with vanilla cake and chocolate cake too. Not bad, but they seem a little... Smooshy. Too soft. Need more texture, more bite, more crumbs... So I probably won't be making soda cupcakes again. Good to know, though, if you're in a pinch and ran out of oil or eggs. 
I looked on Pinterest for unique ideas for decorating the cupcakes, but nothing really stood out to me. I mean, how many ways can one reinvent the heart? 
So I made fondant conversation hearts to top the cupcakes. Simple but cute. Fondant because it tastes better than real conversation hearts (just a little), and because I could customize them. 
I got creative with the messages, since technically it is SAINT Valentine's (Feast) Day, and Ellie goes to a Catholic school...
And when she comes home, I'll find out if they were well-received!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Anthony's Construction Party

We only had a small family dinner for Anthony's 2nd birthday, but that didn't mean I wouldn't decorate and have fun with the party theme. 

The Decor
The groundhog "photo booth" made its reappearance. Last year he wore a sombrero... This year a construction hat, of course!
Paul was the decorating committee, and I think he did great!

The Food

The Birthday Boy (he ended up with 3 of those shirts by the end of the night).

The Fun
I wrapped empty boxes in brown packaging paper, and the build/destroy games were endless. Who needs toys when you have cardboard boxes?!

The Gift Opening

The Cake & Singing
He was so happy to finally get to take a bite out of his dumpy.

Now it's time to brace ourselves for the Terrible Twos!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Anthony's Construction Birthday Cake

It's Anthony's birthday! We celebrated this past weekend with a small family party, but that didn't mean we would skimp on the cake! He's really into construction vehicles, so it made sense to go with a construction theme. 
Piecing together the dump truck. 
Inspector Anthony checks out my progress. 
Once the dump truck was done, I got to work on the excavator. 
And the construction site cake. 
The vehicles needed drivers. 
And finally the scene was complete. 
The back. 
Anthony drives the snort. 
Groundhog drives the dumpy. 
Aerial view. 
Birthday boy loved it!