Archive for July, 2013


This summer our church has been having a Patch the Pirate Music/Drama club.  In the past, we had focused our efforts on VBS, but we decided to try something different this year because our church is out in the country, and we thought if we offered something a little more unique, it might draw in more kids from the surrounding area.  The Lord led us to the Patch the Pirate clubs, and it has been a wonderful experience.  A lot of work, but a wonderful experience.  And, we have had a great group of kids!

I will post more about our club in a future post, but for this entry, I wanted to write about the puppet portion that the Prairie Family kids have been doing.  It has been quite a jump from our simple VBS puppet presentations to what we are doing this year!  The kids have been performing the Patch the Pirate musical entitled Incrediworld.  This has taken a lot of imagination for costuming and covering all of the parts with puppets, but the kids have been very diligent to work on it each day, and the kids who are coming to our club are enjoying the puppet presentations.

Our puppet rehearsals can get pretty silly at times.  These are two video clips of the kids rehearsing.  The first one is a more “serious” portion of the program where the granny puppet is explaining the Gospel.  The second clip features Brock as Behemoth the Dinosaur.  Something magical happens to Brock when he puts on that crazy dino puppet.  It is quite a sight to see!

Of course, the kids use puppet stages for the actual performances.  Brock’s dinosaur has a silly dance that he made up to another song.  I am trying to talk him into letting me get a video of that, and if he agrees, I’ll post that in a future entry!

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Uh….Lookin’ Good???

Every summer the kids and I have our annual eye exams.  As you can imagine, this is no small event since only one person in the group does not wear glasses!  So, our eye doctor’s office gets pretty *busy* for an afternoon as they cycle through all of us.  They’ve economized the process the last couple of years by letting those who are getting new frames work on picking those out while others are getting their exams done.

Picking out frames is a very frustrating thing for me to do for myself.  I never find anything that I like more than what I already have, so I usually just stick with my old ones.  🙂  It just seems like everything I try on makes me look silly, too old, etc.  The kids, on the other hand, LOVE trying out this and that.  My girls would both choose the wildest, most colorful frames that are in existence if I’d let them.  I’ve actually gotten to where I do let them try whatever they like, and unless it’s horribly expensive or overly outrageous, I’ll pretty much go with it.   I have found that they do a pretty good job of picking glasses that look good on them–whether they’d be my first choice or not!

Kara especially loves choosing frames.  In fact, she just loves putting on anything and everything that is in the shop!  This year we actually TRIED to find something that would look bad, but everything just is too cute on her pretty face!  Now, I must admit that in the picture for this entry, those 80’s styled frames are probably not the most flattering ones ever on her or Brock, but they do look cute anyway!

To prove my point, here is a collage of Kara putting on a variety of frames–even ones that were way outrageous.  I think you’ll agree that they all actually look pretty good!

Glasses Collage

Of course, the ones in the big picture of the collage are a JOKE–but if they look good on anyone, it would be Kara!  We thought the two pairs of plastic frames on the side of the collage were pretty bold on the display, but, wow, they look fantastic on Kara!  I would look absolutely ridiculous in glasses like those, but they are sweet on her!  Unfortunately, she can’t wear plastic frames without the special nose pieces because her pretty Asian nose just won’t keep them up!  😦

I couldn’t believe all of the big frames again!  Last year when we went to pick out frames, all of the glasses were very narrow rectangles.  Now they are getting rounder and big again like the middle bottom picture in Kara’s collage.  I don’t know what to think about that…..I guess everything old is new again?!

So, the kids will all sport new frames when they come in.  Of course, I will keep my old frames with new lenses.  I did take a risk, however:  I ordered my lenses in a different shape.  Whew–hopefully I won’t look too crazy!

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Church Dinner

Church Dinner Collage

On the first Sunday of each month, our church holds a carry-in dinner.  It is definitely a highlight for our family.  I have enjoyed it over the years because it gives me a chance to try out new recipes knowing that no matter how it turns out, it will get eaten!  🙂  My kids have picked up on that, and now I rarely have to make anything for the meal because my kids do all of the preparation!  In fact, right after one month is finished, they are already planning who is going to make what for the next month!

To help the process along, I put recipes that I think might work (or I’d like to try) on my Pinterest board.  With all of the yummy things I see posted on Facebook these days, I never run out of ideas for sure!  Then the kids can browse through those recipes and find what they’d like to try.  In July, John, Cosette, and Kara all wanted to take something, so I told them to make a main dish, a side dish, and a dessert.  Kara made a wonderful Chili Dog Casserole that tasted just like something that we’d eat at the State Fair!  John made a Deli Pasta Salad that he had made once before for our family.  It is delicious–and it only gets better after it sits in the refrigerator for a day or two!  Cosette made a very easy, but complicated looking Ice Cream Sandwich Cake.  The layers in this dessert make it look like someone has slaved for hours in the kitchen when, in reality, it goes together in a matter of minutes.  It tastes as wonderful as it looks, and, believe me, not one bite was left to bring home from the church dinner!

I’m glad that my kids think that cooking is fun.  I sure think it is fun to try new recipes and cook old favorites as well!


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Every year I try to make some special cookies to take with us when we go to our local fireworks display on the Fourth of July.  In the past, I have made Pillow Cookies, which are kind of a combination of a chocolate chip cookie and a brownie.  The kids always beg for these cookies, but they really are a mess to make, and usually end up taking me most of the day to put together.  So, this year I almost had myself convinced that we’d be all right just taking some pop cans to enjoy and forgetting the cookies….until I saw this new recipe!

I found the recipe for Patriotic Sandwich Cookies on Mommy’s Kitchen website.  They still took awhile to put together, but they were definitely easier than the Pillow Cookies.  The kids were so disappointed that I had not made the Pillow Cookies,  but I told them that their disappointment would quickly fade when they tasted these yummy treats!  Boy, was I right!  Now the kids all agree with me that these are my new July 4 cookies, and I know they will be begging for them next year.  The filling is soooo yummmy.  It did make a lot of filling, though.  Next time I make this recipe, I will double the recipe for the cookies, but make a single recipe of filling.  I think that should be about the right proportion.

Actually, there is no need to save them for just July 4!  Using seasonal cake mixes and sprinkles would make these fit any holiday really.  So, maybe they’ll make a comeback before next summer!

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When we were signing up for summer activities, Kara wasn’t sure if she wanted to take swimming lessons or not.  I reminded her, though, that she has always enjoyed swimming lessons.  Also, she had passed level 2 last summer, and I really prefer if my kids complete at least through level 3 so that I know that they can swim well enough to enjoy it.  So, after some coaxing, she decided to sign up after all.

When the time finally arrived, she was ready–especially when she found out that her lifeguard was a friend of hers from church!  All hesitation was long forgotten, and she went to each lesson with gusto!  When her lessons began a couple of weeks ago, she could swim, but she was definitely not a solid swimmer.  Now, two weeks later, she is swimming all over the place using different strokes and going off the high dive with big smiles every time!  🙂  I am so proud of her–she always tries her absolute best and is so happy about it.  She is so bubbly, and, believe me, people notice!  This is what another lifeguard wrote on her evaluation sheet today after her test:  “She is a great swimmer–never said ‘I can’t,’ or “I don’t want to.’ Great teaching her!”  That’s my girl–love her dearly!

Now Kara is all excited to go to level 4 next year–especially since another of her special church friends is ready for level 4!  We’ll have to try to get them in the same class!

(By the way, the video at the end of this entry is her first time going off of the high dive.  When given the opportunity to go off a diving board, she immediately ran to the high dive and went right off!  She wasn’t scared a bit!)

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This summer Luke signed up for an activity class called “Museum in a Box.”  We really didn’t know what to expect this project to be, but it ended up being a very good learning experience for Luke.

At the first class session, the instructor explained what artifacts are and how they are sorted, identified, and displayed at a museum.  She then gave the kids an assignment for the next session along with a big, empty box.  Luke’s “homework” was to come up with something that he’d like to display in his box-sized museum, and find 7-10 objects that could be used in his display.  The instructions said that the box could be about anything that the child found interesting.

It took us a few days to help Luke come up with a subject for his box, but once we figured that out, he was very enthusiastic and ready to go!  He decided to make his box about musicals–especially about his experience being in Paint Your Wagon last spring.  So, we sorted through some of our memorabilia from the play and picked out some of our favorite pictures of Luke in the performance to use in his box.  I still wasn’t quite sure how all of this would fit into a box museum, though!

At the next session, the teacher showed the kids how to label their items, and Luke came home with all of his items and a blank box.  He said he needed to have it finished by the next session.  I asked him if the teacher had any suggestions about how to  assemble the “museum,” and he said, “not really.  We’re just supposed to do whatever we think looks good.”  Hmmm……

So, we started out by painting his box, and then we started arranging and re-arranging everything in it.  As we started gluing things in, I could begin to see that this little project was going to turn out very, very neat–much better than we had imagined!  By the time we had everything in the box with their labels, Luke was so pleased with how his box turned out.  He could hardly wait to go to the last class session to share his box!

This really was a neat experience for Luke, and he learned a lot about how to make nice displays.  Every experience like this helps with future projects, and, believe me, there will be many, many display-type projects for Luke in the years to come with A Beka Academy!

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Grandad’s Violin


This violin belonged to my mother’s dad.  We really don’t know the story behind it because we are pretty sure that he never played violin.  I remember seeing it as a young girl, and I really wanted to learn to play it.  By the time I was probably in the 5th or 6th grade, I was able to begin taking violin lessons, and this was the instrument that I began on.  At that time, however, I had little appreciation for anything “old,” and found it frustrating to play–mostly because its pegs didn’t fit very well and made tuning it very, very difficult.  So, by the time I was in high school, my parents bought me a new violin, which is still the wonderful instrument that I play today.  This precious older instrument got put into a closet and pulled out from time-to-time to show my kids, but it certainly wasn’t played on any kind of regular basis.

When John decided to portray my childhood violin teacher, Mr. Beck, at the Museum Camp this summer, he thought it would be neat to use my Grandad’s violin as a prop, and it seemed like a good idea since he and my Grandad were contemporaries.  When we opened up the case, though, my heart sank!  A large crack had developed in the violin right under the bridge going back towards the chin rest!  That settled that!  That violin wasn’t going anywhere!  John used my violin as his prop, and that fit his character as well since Mr. Beck was the one who helped me to pick it out.

Dan and I had always considered having Grandad’s violin fixed up into playable shape, and this new crack settled that the time had come (had probably passed!)  We had no idea how much it would cost, but we decided to pursue it.  I am happy to report that we were able to get it repaired for a very reasonable price, and although it’s not as good as new, it certainly is playable.  In fact, John is using it almost every day as he practices his lesson.  That’s good for it–instruments really need to be played so they don’t deteriorate!  The shop was able to seal up the crack and actually found other places on the violin that needed to be re-glued.  They also replaced the tuning pegs–yeah!  It’s not impossible to tune now!  🙂 They put on new strings and re-haired the bow as well.

So, now we have this heirloom violin as a useable instrument.  We will play it with loving care.  I really need to get a humidifier for it–that will help prevent further cracking.  I must say that it is neat having something like this now that I do appreciate “old” things!

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This year’s Reader’s Theater portion of our library’s summer reading program was truly a highlight of our summer.  My kids have always enjoyed this activity, but this year was extra special.

Back at the beginning of the year, the children’s librarian had asked John and Brock if they would be willing to write the script based on a mystery game that the library purchased called Misadventure in Topsy Turvy Land.  The library had used a similar format for several years for an adult dinner theater, and the librarian thought that if one of these mystery party games could be adapted for reader’s theater, it might go over well.  Well, we had never been to one of the dinner theaters, nor had we ever even heard of mystery parties, so we definitely did not have any preconceived ideas about how to go about doing this!

Basically, what the boys did was take the very basic outline provided by the action cards for the mystery party and developed the ideas, characters, and plot lines into a Reader’s Theater script.  I didn’t know how well this would go–to be honest, I had visions of nagging and nagging to get it done by the deadlines given to us.  Oh–one other detail–the librarian didn’t want us to know the outcome of the mystery because she didn’t want that information to influence the writing or character development.  So, yes, the boys wrote this script without knowing who the “bad guy” was going to turn out to be!

The boys really surprised me.  Not only did they do a good job, they did it with enthusiasm and perseverance.  We kept right on schedule, and they did an excellent job giving each character an interesting personality and fun lines.  When we reached the end of the writing, I knew they had hit a home run on this project!  I did a little editing here and there, but it was mostly just making substitutions for repetitive words.  The work really was their own, and they enjoyed seeing their work brought to life at the performance a couple of weeks ago.

The actors were all middle-school aged.  So, Luke and Cosette were both thrilled to be able to be in the cast.  Each actor portrayed two different characters in the play.  Cosette was the White Rabbit whose pocket watch was stolen and Meedle Mum, a carefree twin who liked to play all day.  Luke played the Crazy Cap Maker who was really a nonsensical ornery kind of guy, and the Scarlet King who was the husband of the mean-spirited queen of Topsy Turvy Land.

This was such a good experience all around, and I think the audience enjoyed the performance.  At the end of this entry, I will post a couple of videos and a slideshow of this neat event.  (Oh, and here’s a headsup:  the boys might get another opportunity to write another script for the library in the very near future!  Exciting!)

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Flag Raising Collage

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CCC Collage

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