Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Baking

Today I made our Easter cake using a friend's idea. It's an empty tomb cake!

And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled the boulder back and sat upon it.His appearance was like lightning, and his garments as white as snow. And those keeping guard were so frightened at the sight of him that they were agitated and they trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, Do not be alarmed and frightened, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, Who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen as He said [He would do]. Come, see the place where He lay. Matthew 26:2-6

Here's Laura's instructions for how to make it:

You make a regular chocolate cake and pour the batter in a bundt cake and cook according to the recipe. Take the cooled cake and cut it so that you have 2/3 of the cake on one side and 1/3 on the other. Take the larger piece (2/3 of the cake) and put it in the middle of a cake plate so that it looks like an arch. Put the smaller piece(1/3 of the cake)also standing on it's ends like an arch, behind the larger so that they look like a cave. Buy a large Peppermint Patty and use this to cover the front of the tomb. Ice the cake with chocolate icing to look like dirt and then color some coconut green to put on the cake plate to look like grass. Then on Sunday you can roll the stone away and see the empty tomb. I always put a piece of a napkin inside the cave for the grave clothes. I also put a little sign on a toothpick that says HE IS RISEN and place the tooth pick in the cake next to the opening.

She also sent these instructions for making Resurrection Biscuits which we are going to do later on today. The marshmallow represents Jesus' body, the biscuit (we've used crescent rolls if you don't have biscuits) represents the grave clothes, and the butter, cinnamon, and sugar represent the oil and spices He was anointed with. After they are baked the grave clothes are empty!

Resurrection Biscuits:
Take the biscuits from the "Grand Biscuits" you buy in the can. Have each child flatten their biscuit and give them a large marshmallow to put in the center of the flattened biscuit. Wrap the dough around the marshmallow taking care to close off all the seams. Dip the biscuit in melted butter and then roll in cinnamon sugar. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake according to the directions on the can. When they are done, the biscuits will be round and hollow inside.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Around Our House

Easter is not about colored eggs or bunnies or cute little yellow chicks. But I like all those things any way. So here are some pictures from around our house of our "spring" decorating:

The baker's rack...

Our table...

Shelf decor...

The view out my balcony door...

Fridge art by Ryland and Jathan...

Today we did talk about the true meaning of Good Friday and Easter. Tonight and tomorrow I'm hoping to do some snack crafts thanks to a couple of ideas from our on-campus homeschool coordinator. Pictures of those to come!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Keeleigh's New 'Do!

Keeleigh is my rock star. She's so creative and artsy and loves reinventing her style constantly. Her room is a perfect reflection of her (current) personality. The walls are magenta, the furniture is black, and the bedding is rainbow zebra print. Right now Keeleigh's nails are painted bright blue and her socks don't match. And today she got to add one more facet to her colorful personality. We've dubbed it crazy hair.

Here's a before shot:

And here she is perking up after the foil was placed in her hair. Inside that foil chemicals were bleaching her hair out preparing it for the next step!

Can you see what color Keeva is applying there? Yep, purple!

After the purple she put some blue chunks on top and voila!

Keeleigh is even cooler than before!

About two seconds after this picture was taken she ran outside just beaming ready to show off her hair to her friends! So glad she likes it. Rock on, sister girl!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Keeleigh Gets Crafty!

First we gathered some colorful t-shirts from the SWAP shop and Keeleigh cut them into strips.

Then she used her hula hoop to weave them together.

It took a little trial and error to get the tension just right.

But before long at all Keeleigh had a super cute rug for her room!

Now I want one! So feel free to donate your old shirts to us! = )

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Blessing the Mess

Recently a friend posted on her blog about the differences between some "showcase" homes and more shall we say "lived-in" homes. = ) Technically my apartment is a showcase home. When potential students visit the seminary our home is one that they tour to get an idea of what the living space is like. I'm happy to say that usually people love the way our home looks. I know it's not because we have a lot of fancy, expensive stuff (my SWAP shop furniture collection is growing, after all!) but more likely it's because I've made it a place that I love. I am not afraid of color--just ask my purple couch. I also lean toward the country side of style which always feels nice and homey. But style won't get you anywhere on showcase housing day if you're house is messy so with three kids and counting, it's a good thing I know how to clean up and FAST.

More than one person has asked me, "Is your house always this neat?" My answer is always a resounding, "NO." Today I thought I'd be brave and offer, as my friend, Michelle, did, some photographic evidence. So here's a shot of my bathtub after the boys had their bath yesterday:

No, we hadn't been to the beach--just the playground! My boys (and Keeleigh, too!) are dirt magnets and I'm okay with that. If it means they aren't wandering off into the street or around the building out of my sight, I'll happily let them dig in the dirt while I connect with fellow moms. That means that we take lots of baths while supper cooks and that if you're barefoot in the hall to the bathroom that evening, you might feel the gritty sand under your toes.

The bathroom certainly isn't the only area that gets messy. I could have photographed Keeleigh's room or the crayon marks on the homeschool table or the cornbread skillet that has been sitting on the stove for a couple of days because I just haven't gotten around to washing it. Am I a naturally messy person? No. If I lived here by myself, this place would be pristine. I might even attempt waxing the floors instead of "sharking" them frantically once a day. But it's not just me--I am blessed with a family. And ever since I took a student wive's class led by Dr. Rhonda Kelly (our seminary president's wife), I remember her words to us on the subject of cleaning up after others in our house: Bless the mess. When your child bumps into you and the cereal bowl on your lap tumbles and milk gets all over you and the (purple) couch, say, "Thank You, Lord, that I have this child to clean up after!" Because many, many couples don't. When you pick up your husband's clothes and towels off the bathroom floor for the one millionth time (I'm assuming some of you do this, not that I would know from personal experience or anything), say, "Thank You, God, for giving me this loving, hard-working man to help care for." Because there are so, so many lonely people and broken homes out there.

No, it's not always easy and it can become quite frustrating but thank God for these little trials every day (second?) when I must choose between getting stressed or blessed. And oddly, the more challenging it becomes to keep things clean, the more children there are running around messing up the perfection I'd like to pretend we live in, the easier I'm finding it to chill out. I know that some day my children will be grown and I will have clean floors for days on end. I won't find random sticky spots and I won't step on tiny, sharp toys. I'll never worry someone will color on the wall and I will always have the laundry caught up. And you know what? I bet I'll miss these days. So for now, I'm going to "bless the mess." The bath toys don't seem to mind so why should I?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Audubon Insectarium

Ever since Jathan discovered that people eat animals he's been asking exactly which animals are suitable for eating. "Do we eat birds?" "Do we eat wolves?" "Do we eat sharks?" And so on and so forth throughout the entire animal kingdom. He finally asked, "Do we eat bugs?" I mentioned that, yes, some people do eat bugs and that maybe we could visit the Insectarium so that he could try a tasty, tasty bug.

Yesterday we finally go to go! After church we hit Popeyes where everyone devoured their chicken. BTW the one on Canal is cool because it's cafeteria-style and you can choose your items ala carte meaning if your child wants two biscuits then by golly, she gets two biscuits! = ) Jathan cracked us up saying, "This is so good. Good, good. I love chicken! I am so full!" Ha ha.

After Popeyes we headed to the Insectarium, where the kids were absolutely enthralled to look at different insects for the next couple of hours. We saw big, menacing-looking beetles and smelled bugs that reminded me of shampoo. We oohed and aahed over gorgeous butterflies (Keeleigh and her friend, Olivia, stood still for at least 15 minutes waiting for one to land on them). Some of us--everyone but me!--ATE chocolate, cinnamon, and sugar-coated bugs!

It was so much fun!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My Prayer for Peace

This morning the kids and I did something a little different. We visited an unveiling ceremony at a Buddhist temple to get a look at a 4-ton Jade Buddha. This particular Buddha is the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace and was carved out of an 18-ton jade boulder found in Canada. It is on a world-wide tour and has already been viewed by millions of people. According to a Times-Picayune report, "The purpose of the tour is to inspire joy and give people around the world, regardless of their religion, the opportunity to reflect upon the meaning of peace."

There were some opening comments (in Chinese and English, thank goodness!) and then the Jade Buddha was dramatically unveiled amid clanging bells, firecrackers, and the oohs and aahs of the crowd.

After the unveiling they released balloons and pigeons which in some strange way felt spiritual. Sitting there amongst amazed people some of whom had devoted their entire lives to this, I could definitely understand how people could feel like Buddhism is a viable religion.

After the balloon and pigeon release, young Buddhists presented flower offerings to the statue. They all looked very lovely and I could tell who the proud parents--the flashing cameras gave them away.

They also set off a whole lotta firecrackers which Jathan was no so impressed with. He kept looking out for the dragon which Jackie had said might be there. No such luck, however, with the dragon!

At the end of the ceremony, there were prayers and chanting. They were praying for Universal Peace (maybe aliens are fighting in space wars?) and also for the victims of natural disasters such as Katrina and tsunamis. Their prayer was that these "wandering souls" would be able to be reborn into a better world. As they chanted and chanted and chanted Ryland curled up his sweet little head on my shoulder and I closed my eyes and thanked God for him. My prayer for peace was a little different than theirs.

I looked around at all these devout followers promoting peace among religions, praying for wandering souls and I was overcome with a sense of sadness. "Yes, Lord," I prayed, "They do have noble intentions and kind hearts. But how I wish they knew that good intentions isn't the ticket to being reborn." In John 14:6 Jesus is recorded as saying, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through Me." John 3:36 says, "He who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

There is a great divide between us and God: "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) Jesus stands in that great divide and bids us to cross into the presence of the Lord. (1 Timothy 2:5, 1 John 5:11-12) We can't be "good enough" and we'll never get "close enough" to meeting the standard which God sets in His holiness. The Law showed us that! There was a NEED for Jesus or God would not have willed Him suffered and die.

The peace that I prayed for today was that the Holy Spirit would stir in the hearts of all these people that they might know true peace. "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).

I sat there looking at the beautiful Jade Buddha overlaid with gold, surrounded by gorgeous flowers and colorful banners and I knew that it couldn't compare to Heaven.

Yes, we should pray for universal peace but not we chants and clanging bells and maybe not even with words but with that groaning of the Holy Spirit within us crying out for the salvation of the lost...those truly wandering souls who have, not an endless number of eternities to transcend to rebirth, but one short lifetime to decide whom they will serve.