Archive for May, 2011

Crazy….absolutely crazy!  That’s the only way I can describe the last few days!  The Prairie Family is up to their eyeballs in children’s ministry preparations!  Not only are we getting ready for our church’s Rev It Up VBS, this weekend we are helping with a Cub Scout Day Camp!  So on top of puppets, VBS posters and invitations, racing crafts, etc., now we are going crazy with space-themed projects for the day camp!  It looks like it is falling together all right, though. Hopefully I’ll get some good pictures to share in a few days.

On the VBS front, this week I have been focusing on the puppet skits.  John, Brock, and Cosette are all enthusiastic puppeteers, so I have a very good crew!  Unfortunately, their “guide” (i.e. ME) is not exactly a puppeting expert and often lacks creativity.  😦  I have spent a lot of time over the last few days trying to figure out how we could make an appropriate puppet stage.  I am finally making progress in that area.  I have a basic framework assembled. so now I just need to get it fancied up with decorations.  I am so thankful for the internet!  When I am puzzled with a problem, I can usually find helpful ideas out there somewhere, and such was the case with my puppet stage issues.  I ended up using tri-fold display boards, wooden dowel rods, and pillowcases for my main stages.  Dan had a broken TV front that we are turning into the rest of our stage.  I know…..that sounds kind of strange, but I think it’s going to work!

My next problem was trying to turn traditional Sunday School puppets into a race car team.  Ugh….the puppet that Brock wanted to use as the main character in our skits who is supposed to be the race car driver was a puppet who looked just like a pastor–white shirt, tie, and everything!  All I could do was experiment with giving him a makeover!  LOL!  After a few failed attempts, I finally stumbled across some newborn-size snap t-shirts at Wal-Mart. Fortunately, I was able to make it look kind-of like a racing suit with a few safety pins.  With the blank white suit, though, he looked more like a doctor than a race car driver, so I added some color with permanent marker and made a few racing emblem iron-ons on the computer.  That really helped him look more like a race-car driver, but he really needed a hat to cover up his “pastor hairdo.”  I found the neatest tutorial showing how to make a baseball cap out of cardstock at this link.  Using this method with a rubber band around the ears, the transformation was complete!  I think the Houston Hornet is looking pretty good!  🙂  I still have outfits to make for the rest of the crew, but now that I have a method, it should go easier.

We found out just this afternoon that we will have a second opportunity to use the Rev It Up VBS this summer.  There is going to be a pastors’ conference at a nearby Christian Center, and the people in charge are wanting to provide some activities for the pastors’ kids while the parents are in meetings.  It sounds like there will be about 30 kids between the ages of 4-12, and there might be some teenagers who will be available to help.  Dan and I have always talked about that we should take advantage of opportunities for our kids to meet other Christian kids, and this will definitely fit that bill!  The kids are all excited about it too–it gives us more incentive to do a good job since we are going to use the materials and activities twice.

So, we are making VBS progress!  Crafts are planned, puppets are well under way, posters and invitations are distributed, and several decorations are finished.  That being said, we still have a long ways to go–more decorations, game and song planning, more craft preparations, and a lot more puppetry is on our schedule for the next few weeks!

Praise God!  He is always so good, and I am thankful for every opportunity He brings to us!

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As the readers of The Prairie Family Chronicles know, our family has been very involved with the Boy Scouts of America program.  This scouting group has been wonderful for our boys–it gives them great opportunities to try new things and to meet new people while maintaining our strongly-held family values.  As the girls have gotten older, we have wanted a similar experience for them, but discovered that finding such an organization for girls that remains true to our values was more of a challenge.  Over the years we tried a couple of different programs, but for one reason or another, these programs just did not fit our family’s needs.

I was always drawn to American Heritage Girls, but knew that there were no organized troops in our rural area.  At the time I first investigated being involved with AHG, they did not have a “lone-scout” type program for families that lived where there were no troops, so I set the idea aside.  Last year, though, I learned that AHG had started such a program, and they were calling it Trailblazers.  I asked for information and was very pleased to learn that it was what I hoped it would be:  the same AHG program that is offered through organized troops applied to a family situation.  We applied to the program and were delighted to be accepted.

The girls could hardly wait to begin, and they have not been disappointed!  I can’t begin to tell you how much fun we have had working with the program! There are so many fun badges to choose from, that it’s hard to decide where to begin!  AHG really focuses on service and community involvement, and we have enjoyed projects in those areas as well.  There is a clickable American Heritage Girls category on the homepage of my blog that will bring up some of the entries that I have written over the last year about what the girls and I have been doing.  It truly has been a blessed adventure!

Well, my love for AHG has grown, and I have prayed about how to reach out through AHG to other girls.  At first I thought it would be through starting a local troop, and that may happen someday.  But, let’s just say that God dropped another opportunity in my lap that I am very excited about!  One day when I was reading some information on the Trailblazers portion of the AHG website, I noticed that they were in need of volunteers to serve as Trailblazer Support Coordinators.  I inquired more about the position, and after prayer, family discussions, etc., we all believed that this might be the direction that God was leading me to.  So, I have gone through the application and training processes, and am in the initial stages of beginning my work as the Trailblazer Support Coordinator for the Western USA.

So, what is this position?  Well, it is exactly what it says it is–a Trailblazer Support Coordinator.  I am here to assist families as they walk through the Trailblazer program.  That can be anything from answering questions, providing resources, setting up communication systems, to who knows what!  🙂  I am very excited about this position, and want to be of service in however I am needed.

If you happened to find this post by an internet search about AHG, be encouraged!  Even if there is not a troop in your area, there is a place in AHG for you!  If you are interested in learning more about the program, please visit this page  on the AHG website for more information.  If I can be of any help, I can be contacted by leaving a comment to this post, or by emailing my AHG email address at tbscoordwest@gmail.com .  That address is only to be used for AHG communication, please.  If you are already a Trailblazing family, please contact me!  I’d love to be of service to you in whatever help you may need.

So, I praise God for this opportunity, and look forward to seeing how He is going to work through it!

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For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

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I have been so proud of how Kara has been learning to read this year.  To be honest, reading has been kind of a struggle for Kara because she is such a perfectionist.  At the beginning of this year, though, Kara was only reading one syllable words, mostly with short sounds, but could sound out words with long vowels.  She really didn’t know any of the “special sounds” (i.e. blends like sh, th, br, etc.).  Well, she has done amazingly well.

I made this video of Kara reading last October in Lesson 46.  She was already beginning to show improvement!

Yesterday, in Lesson 169, I made this video of Kara’s reading.  Notice the longer words that she can now read!  Her smoothness has also improved!

So does A Beka Academy’s phonics-based reading program work??? IT ABSOLUTELY WORKS!! 🙂 And, for those who think that phonics-based reading would be boring, Kara loves her books so much that she wants to keep them. She tells me that she wants to “read and read and read!”

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Although the weather has been exceptionally cool lately and it doesn’t seem true, we only have about 1 1/2 more days of school left before summer vacation.  Kara and Luke will actually be finished tomorrow. Cosette, Brock, and John will have a few exams that carry over into Friday. It doesn’t seem possible that it is that time of year–we are still running around in jackets and long-sleeves!  I keep saying, though, that we’d better enjoy it.  One of these days (probably soon), it will turn hot and dry on the Prairie, and then we’ll be missing these 50 degree days!

We have a lot of things planned for this summer.  I have a lot of cleaning, sorting, home projects, etc. that I’d like to get finished, but I know that a lot of my June and July will be spent playing taxi driver.  That’s OK, though.  The kids are going to have a blast!

First of all, the picture for this entry shows Brock mowing the lawn.  The older three kids have gotten the “their own money” bug and have asked for jobs that they could be paid for. John and Brock are going to work together to take care of the yard, and Cosette is going to help me with laundry.  If they will be faithful about keeping up with these things, it sure will make our days go better!  So far, they are doing pretty well.  Brock especially enjoys mowing the lawn.  He is now quite sensitive about people stomping on the grass!  LOL!

We have a few goals for Scouts and American Heritage Girls.  John and Brock are going to a Merit Badge University in Nebraska in July, and there are some prerequisites that they need to complete before that camp.  We also want to encourage the boys to knock out some Eagle required badges.  That rank is within reach for John, and Brock is not far behind.  We get so busy during the school year doing school stuff that summer is really the time to work on Scout stuff.  We are hoping to do some of the hiking requirements as a family.  There are badges and awards in Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and AHG for all of the kids to earn, and that would be a major Eagle-required badge accomplished for both John and Brock.  We would like to incorporate geocaching with our hiking.  I got the boys a Geomate Jr. Geocaching GPS unit for Christmas, but we haven’t had a chance to actually try it out yet.  We did do a little bit of geocaching last fall, and it is a fun activity.

The kids are all planning to be involved with the Summer Reading Program at the Library again this year.  Last year, John volunteered one afternoon each week helping with the younger kids’ classes, and this summer he is going to do that again, but is also going to add another afternoon.  So, that should keep him out of trouble!  Brock will be involved in the Middle School program as well as the Reader’s Theater team again.  He can’t wait–he absolutely loved this last summer.  There is a new activity at the Library this summer that Cosette and Kara are looking forward to.  In addition to their regular reading/craft classes, the library staff are going to have cooking classes on Mondays for kids to learn to make snacks from around the world.  Sounds pretty interesting!

Cosette, Luke, and Kara are going to be participating in the Youth Program classes again this summer.  Kara is going to be taking some origami, weaving, and sculpture classes.  Cosette and Luke are going to take origami, acrylic landscape painting, printmaking, and jump rope game classes.  Cosette has volunteered to be a helper for some of the younger kids’ classes this summer as well.

We are not going to be involved in baseball this summer.  Instead, we bought a summer pass to our local bowling center.  I couldn’t believe it when I saw the plans that they were offering!  They had family bowling passes that were good for 2 games each day all summer long for $69.95.  (That price is for families of 5. We had to pay an additional $14.95 for the other two members of the Prairie Family.)  We haven’t really bowled very much because it usually costs us around $30-$40 per visit by the time we all bowl a couple of games and get pops to drink.  So, this is really a great deal!  Of course, we really won’t go EVERY day, but we will try to go 1-2 times per week.  Cosette and Kara are excited because they will be able to work towards completing the requirements for the AHG bowling sports pin.

So, our summer doesn’t look like it will be boring.  In fact, I am sure that it will seem like tomorrow when we are ready to start up another school year!

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Oh, yea!  Something good our way comes!

A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law asked me if we would be interested in sharing a beef with their family. We had never done this, but we always had our own meat on the farm when I was growing up, and I remember how yummy it is!  We had considered doing this before, but with the food prices going up like they are, it was pretty easy to convince Dan that this would be a good way to go.

So, we have our order called in.  Hopefully the meat will be ready to pick up in early June. We’ll see how it all comes out.  We ordered roasts, steaks, stew meat, pattied and bulk hamburger, etc.  Even though it will be a big chunk of money all at once, I am sure that it will save us a lot of money in the long run.

The Prairie Family has never had a grill, but Dan and I both had the same thought:  if we’re going to get all of this yummy meat, this would be a good time to get a grill too.  So, we got one for each other for Mother’s/Father’s Day.  We haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but plan to this weekend.

We are in for a yummy summer!

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In a few weeks, our church is going to be having our regular summer Vacation Bible School.  This year we are using the Rev it Up curriculum from Regular Baptist Press, and I think it’s going to be a good VBS!  We invited a young, enthusiastic missionary to work with the kids this summer, and my kids are already looking forward to getting to know her better.  Cosette absolutely adores this missionary and speaks often of helping her on the mission field when she grows up!

As usual, our family is going to be heavily involved in VBS.  Promotion, music, games, assemblies, puppetry, etc., are all responsibilities of various members of the Prairie Family.  It’s good for us to work together on this ministry–after all, how are the kids going to learn to minister if we don’t train them now??  I have been working mostly on organizing the crafts so far.  Soon my attention needs to turn to promotion and decorating.  Still lots of work to do…..

I have been pretty pleased with the craft guide for Rev It Up!  There were lots of good ideas, and I think they are going to work well for our small, country church with very few modifications.  Right now we are planning on doing mobiles, faux stained glass pictures, racing placemats and penants.  Our church does the entire curriculum in a two-day format, so I think these projects will pretty much fill our craft time.  If not, we’ll have some small things that the kids can choose from.

So, VBS is quickly approaching!  We only have a few days left of school, and then our summer rush will begin…..

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This weekend the girls completed the last requirement that they were needing to finish for the American Heritage Girls sign language merit badge.  They signed the song “He is Good” from Betsy Hernandez’s CD “Kids in Worship” for our Sunday morning worship service.  The pictures for this entry were taken when we practiced at the church on Friday evening.  They both did a great job; they both smiled, made good eye contact, and signed confidently.  This song worked well for a first public sign language experience because it is fairly slow and repetitive, plus it has worshipful words and narrated Scripture.

The girls have really enjoyed the sign language merit badge, and even though we have completed all of the requirements, they both want to continue to learn more.  I love sign language too–in fact, I have enjoyed it since I was Cosette’s age!  So, I don’t mind if we keep working on it from time-to-time.  Learning to sign songs is a good and fun way to learn vocabulary, so we’ll keep working on that.

In addition to the sign language badge, we are almost finished with the Bible Basics and Textile Arts badges as well.  So, it will be time to be choosing some new projects for the summer.  We have some ideas, but nothing formally selected yet.  I have other very exciting AHG news to share, but that isn’t completely ready to be publically announced yet, so that will have to wait for a future entry!  (Hint, hint–it involves helping other families with Trailblazers!)

AHG Trailblazers Sign Language

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Luke’s Bear Scout group is blessed to have an art teacher as one of their leaders.  She’s a sweet lady too!  This teacher has to be one of the most creative people I have ever met, and she loves sharing her creativity with kids.  As an end-of-the-year activity, she wanted to do some clay pottery with the Cub Scouts, and she invited my American Heritage Trailblazers to join in on the fun–and I appreciate that!

She taught the kids how to make a heart-shaped pot using the coil technique.  My kids had never done anything like this, so they absolutely were thrilled with the whole process.  I think they were most impressed by how much the kiln firing changed both the clay and the glazes.  I kept telling them that the dull colors of the glaze would come out in bright colors, but they just didn’t grasp that until they saw it for themselves.

Brock also used these last few meetings to show Luke’s friends how to make his duct tape swords. Brock has refined his techniques a little bit, and his latest creations have come out really neat.  There is a Cub Scout day camp coming up in June that has a space theme.  Brock’s swords might just have to turn into light sabers with different colored duct tape!

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John turned 14 years old on May 4.  Yes, I know:  he is really growing up!  It’s hard to believe that I’ll have a high-schooler next fall.  I love my big kids, though.  It is really a blessing to see them grow, change, and follow the Lord.

John had a nice birthday.  He has gotten such a teasing spirit when he opens gifts!  It kind of started last Christmas, and it continued on this birthday, and I must say that it adds a bit of ornery fun to the day!  An example of this is John barely peeking in a box and saying, “Ok. That’s neat.  I’m ready for the next one,” without showing anyone else what it is!  Or he’ll grab his present and run out of the room saying he’s going to save it for later.  You get the idea….

We had a funny thing happen when we took the family out for John’s birthday lunch at a local Chinese restaurant.  We were just doing our thing–eating from the buffet, chattering away, etc., when the cook came to our table and handed me the phone!  He could not speak English very well and was having a hard time understanding the address for a delivery order.  I have no idea why he brought me the phone–my best guess is that he saw Kara with us and assumed I spoke Chinese as well as English. Anyway I got the address for the guy and helped them communicate the rest of her order.  He thanked me profusely and then went back to the kitchen.  All seemed normal until we were just ready to leave when the cook came back needing directions to the house for the delivery.  Like I said, his English was not very fluent, so we did the best we could to explain how to get to the house, but since it was pretty close to where we live and we were ready to leave anyway, we asked him if he’d just like to follow us to the delivery site.  So, we drove him across town, and I am happy to report that his delivery was successfully delivered!  🙂  That made for an interesting birthday lunch!

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