Archive for June, 2012



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Our summer is definitely under way!  We have been running like crazy to different programs, classes, and such.  A lot of these things seem to be crowded into June, and then things will slow back down (a little).

Cosette, Luke, and Kara have all been involved with the summer youth classes at our local Methodist church.  I can’t believe what all they offer there and how inexpensive it is!  Some of the activities they have already enjoyed include making Arctic-themed dioramas, constructing box kites, making a variety of crafts using buttons, using Shrinky Dinks to decorate jewelry, printmaking, and origami.  In one of the classes that Luke and Cosette are taking, they are in the process of making a huge tin man using vegetable cans–now if that is not unique, I don’t know what is!  This was Cosette’s second year of being a volunteer helper for several of these classes, and I know she enjoys that.

The kids are all involved with the summer library programs.  John is again helping with the elementary-aged children on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Brock and Cosette have enjoyed the middle school program during which they are in the process of putting together stop-motion animation projects.  This was Brock’s last year in Reader’s Theater, and Cosette’s first.  That is always a big highlight of our summer.

Dan went with Luke to Webelos camp the last few days, and, boy, was it hot!  I guess they had a good time, but it was around 110 degrees each day they were there!  It sure has been stifling here on the Prairie!  I hope this isn’t a foretaste of what July will be like……

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Bug Zone VBS


Well, we made it!  Another VBS is in the books, and now it is time to recover!  🙂 No, really we had a very good VBS.  We go to a small church, so we had a small VBS, but we have had very good reports from the kids that came, and I think it will be remembered as a good time of learning, fun, and fellowship.  One of the things I enjoyed most about this year is that it seems like the workers pulled together.  I think friendships among the adults deepened, and that is worth a lot.

We did have a few “technical difficulties,” but God is faithful!  He always is there to solve problems when we put our trust in Him instead of ourselves.  Our biggest problem involved one of our laptops.  That crazy thing just would not load our files like it should have!  It worked fine at home, but when we needed it, it would just lock up.  Today’s technology is great, but maybe we depend on it too much.  Without that laptop, we had no words for our songs, no pictures for our puppet show, and no pictures for my missionary story about Lottie Moon. Boy, was that frustrating!  We did baby that laptop along and got it to work the first night, but it just wouldn’t load at all for our Saturday all-day session.  We had, however, asked my nephew if he would come help us on Saturday with our water balloons, and he is quite a computer guy!  When he showed up, he volunteered to go back home to get his laptop.  We got it hooked up and it worked beautifully for the rest of the day.  My nephew is a hero, and God sure used him to solve a crippling problem!

Other than the computer issue, things went so smoothly.  We had a wonderful group of kids that were nothing but polite, helpful, enthusiastic learners–what a blessing that was!  The weather couldn’t have been more perfect either.  It wasn’t too hot or too windy for our outside games, and that is unusual here on the prairie during mid-June!  We have had many reports from the families that attended that the kids “had a blast” and felt at-home in our small VBS, and I am so thankful for that.

You know, it’s easy to get discouraged and think that our little programs are insignificant.  But God has taught me something this year.  When we are weak, He is strong!  His perspective is different than ours, and He can work in wondrous ways when we let Him.  I’ll admit that I have wondered if all of this work is a waste of time, but God has corrected me on that.  When I saw several people come to church this morning just because their kids had a good experience at our country VBS, I was humbled.  I am sorry that I did not see it as He saw it, and I thank Him for working despite my weariness.  He is truly a good God, and I give Him praise for all He did this year in our little Bug Zone VBS.

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This weekend is our church’s VBS.  I’ve kind of lost track of how many years this will be for the Prairie Family directing these things, but it’s probably at least 12.  This year we are doing Regular Baptist Press’s 2012 VBS, Bugzone: Transformed by our Big God!  Its focus is on how God transforms lives, and, of course there are the usual components:  crafts, games, stories, songs, snacks, etc.  This year we are adding a new feature to our singing time:  I am going to tell a missions story about Lottie Moon.  Our church has a real missions focus, and I think that is good to include in our VBS to help pass this value on to our kids.  All of the Prairie Family kids will either be students in the VBS or volunteers.  John will be helping with the sound–which is no small deal in this VBS!   Brock will be helping Dan with games.  Cosette is helping me with the singing.  All five of the kids are doing the puppet skits again this year.  They put a lot of effort into this area, and they do a great job!

So, the past several weeks have been spent in preparation for this event. Making stages, planning games, practicing songs, working through puppet skits have all been on our agenda.  Now my basement is full of Bug Zone stuff–it will be good to get it out of my house!  🙂

We are praying for a good turnout, but are becoming increasingly aware that there are many activities fighting for kids’ participation.  There are literally activities in the community every day of the week that include crafts, snacks, songs, and such, and that affects how families prioritize their time.  Dan and I have been discussing these matters at length.  Sometimes we wonder if we need to switch gears to be more effective in our ministries.  VBS is good–but it sure does take a lot of time and is over so quickly.  Maybe with some imagination and prayer, we can better evaluate how to reach the kids of our area after this year’s VBS is over.  There are definitely needs to be met, we just need to figure out how best to go about doing that!

In the mean time, 2012 is a BUG ZONE!  🙂

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“Kara Pop”

When I want a real treat, I know where to go!  Kara makes the best pop in town!  Now I know what you are thinking:  how hard is it to make a pop?  After all, you just put ice in a glass and pour out of a two-liter, right?!  That may be true, but no one–and I mean NO ONE–makes a pop like Kara!  I don’t know what makes hers so great.  Maybe she uses just the right ratio of ice to cola, or maybe she has a secret touch.  Whatever it is, I can tell you that her sodas are spectacular and so refreshing!  The whole family knows that a “Kara Pop” is a special treat, and they are always made with a lot of love and served with a great big smile!  Who knows??? Maybe Kara will grow up and run a soda fountain!  I bet she’d have lines out the door waiting for her special drinks!  🙂

Kara Pop Collage

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Summer Chores

I am happy to report that this summer the kids have done really well doing their household chores! We had a pow-wow at the beginning of our break during which we discussed the fact that it would be really helpful to me if they would learn to do some of the household chores–especially during the summer. I spend a lot of my time during those months taking kids hither and yon, and if I am to get any special projects done in between my “taxi service” runs, many of my regular household tasks just get put aside.  So, we worked together to get a system in place, and so far, it has been working great!

I made out five chore charts that they mark off after they complete each task. There is also space for me to mark off that I have checked and approved their work and to list any comments I may have.  If they do a good job all week, they get paid a certain amount.  A “good job” includes doing the job well without being reminded and with a good attitude.  The pay is adjusted if there are any problems, but so far, the kids have all done exceptionally well. I have found that if I take the time to show them exactly what I want done for each particular task, it works much better.  Maybe in the past I have just assumed too much, I don’t know.

I also have discovered that I can give optional “bonus jobs” that the kids can do for extra pay. Believe it or not, I have actually had several of these jobs done and done well too!  So, each week I am listing one that each of my kids can choose to do in addition to their regular jobs.

Another thing that is working well is that the job sheets rotate each week.  That way, all of the kids are learning all of the jobs.  And if they get a job they don’t particularly like, it will only last a week and then they will get a new list.

So here is a summary of my job charts:

Chart 1: Make bed, feed the pets their morning food, take out the trash with person 2, vacuum upstairs

Chart 2: Make bed, feed the pets their afternoon food, take out the trash with person 1, vacuum downstairs

Chart 3: Make bed, sweep kitchen floor, clean the table, clean the kitchen sink, clean the hallway mirror

Chart 4: Make bed, clean the bathroom by the kitchen including the tub, toilet, sink, counter, and mirrors.

Chart 5: Make bed, clean the bathroom by the bedrooms including the tub, toilet, sink, counter, and mirrors.

On the charts, I have the steps for each job and which days they need to do which jobs.

In addition to these jobs, John and Brock are helping with the mowing; Cosette is helping to put loads of laundry through the washer and drier; and Kara and Luke help to sort our mountains of laundry each day.

So, I am proud of how my kids are working.  It has made a HUGE difference in our home and helps me to be able to focus on the many other special projects that we have going on.  (There will be future posts about those projects!)

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(I wonder what the secret is that Kara is telling to Luke!)

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We were delighted when our local bowling alley decided to offer the summer family passes again this year.  We had bought a pass last year and had enjoyed it so much that we had hoped that they would offer it again!  This is really a great deal!  A family pass is $69 for a family of 5, with additional members an additional $15, and is good for up to two games per person every day from May 1 through September 3.  Of course, every day is a bit much for us, but we do try to go at least once each week, and that more than makes the pass pay for itself.  It really is a fun outing that gives us a break from our usual routine. So here is a slideshow from our bowling expedition this afternoon:

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