Planning Your Fourth of July Outing

2008-07-03-playgroup-and-fireworks104I somehow neglected to plug in any information for the 4th of July into the Summer Fun Guide — sorry about that!  Basically I usually look at the Washington Post guide.

I will tell you this — we have been in NoVA for 7 years and have not had a bad experience with any show we’ve been to — the only disappointments have been torrential rains.

  • We have gone to the daytime event at Claude Moore Park several times and it is a lot of fun, even on days when it is outrageously hot. 
  • We have watched fireworks in Leesburg at Ida Lee Park at least twice and they put on a great show. 
  • We went to Vienna once, when JavaBoy was a wee baby and I would say that was my least favorite of all the shows, but it wasn’t bad.
  • We watched the fireworks downtown (DC) from the rooftop of a friend’s condo and they were terrific — but we had the convenience of not being amongst the crowds on the ground, so I can’t say what that experience is like.
  • The fireworks at Fairfax High School are fantastic — parking looked like a bit of an ordeal, we only lucked out that year b/c I had a handicapped hang tag due to my foot surgery a week earlier.  But it was a really great show and we will probably brave the parking/shuttle bus scenario in a year or so when we think JavaGirl is up to it.
  • Often local country clubs have their own fireworks shows and you can see them from outside the country clubs — and many of them do them on the third of July — check them out!

I would LOVE to have people comment about the shows they saw this year and their reviews so I could incorporate that into NEXT year’s summer fun guide!

Summer Fun Guide is HERE!

For the past two years I have put together a Summer Fun Guide for my church’s women’s group (with the help of two wonderful women — thank you Cheryl, and Jami — as well as content input from lots of other women) and we have circulated it via a Word document in print and email.  It has been unbelievable to all of us how far and wide this document has circulated, as people I know tell me about how they received it from the sister of a neighbor of a friend of a cousin of friend of a someone who belongs to their pool.  Never underestimate the power of the Mommy Network!

This year, I have put it up on the blog, as a page rather than a single post, so it’s easier to find — if you look at the top of the screen, you’ll see tabbed pages, and there is a tab that says Summer Fun Guide — so even after this post falls off the page, you’ll always be able to find it.  Here’s a link as well.  By putting it online, I’m able to update it as I find new things throughout the summer.  AND  you can add comments if you know of new things!

It takes a lot of work to put this together, and it is a true labor of love.  I ask just two favors of you: please forward it on to your friends, and please leave a comment if you enjoyed it.  Comments help me know it’s worth doing and comments are the “currency” of the blog world when I try to look for sponsors or partners or later down the line, advertisers.  It’s a tangible way for the outside world to see people are actually reading this stuff!  ; ) 

I will try to put the Fall Fun Guide (last year was the first year) online as well when that rolls out.

Enjoy!  Spread the word!

Easter Treats: Resurrection Rolls and Cookies

Not only are these treats yummy, but they are a great hands-on way way to drive home the story of Easter. Each treat ends up hollow, representing the discovery of the empty tomb — younger children will be amazed by the transformation. I do not know the original sources of the recipes, not even where I received them as I just had them as files on my computer.  UPDATED May 30, 2014: An alert reader informed me she’s learned that this recipe was first published by Wanda Long in Home Life magazine. After some research, I found this link from a blogger who says she is Ms. Long’s daughter. Although recipes are technically not able to be copyrighted, I always try to give credit where it is due, and wanted to provide the most complete info I know how to. THANK YOU to my reader for alerting me to this info!

Resurrection rolls - ready to go in the oven.

Resurrection rolls – ready to go in the oven.

Resurrection Rolls
Each item represents how Jesus’ body was prepared for burial.

·     Large marshmallows

·     Melted butter

·     Sugar/cinnamon mixture

·     Can of crescent rolls

  1. Open can of crescent rolls and separate into triangles. The rolls represent the linen wrapping used in covering the dead.
  2. Dip and roll one marshmallow (representing Jesus’ body) into melted butter. The butter represents the oils used in anointing the dead body.
  3. Roll the marshmallow in the sugar/cinnamon mixture. The mixture represents the spices used in burials.
  4. Place the marshmallow in the center of the crescent triangle. Fold and pinch the edges tight. Put each crescent-wrapped marshmallow on a slightly greased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake the rolls as directed on the package. The oven represents the tomb.

When cooked, the marshmallow melts leaving only the puffed crescent roll.   This demonstrates how Jesus rose from the dead. All that remained in the tomb were the linen wrappings.

My family thinks these are the most amazingly tasty treats!  Absolutely sugary and something you can only eat in moderation, but incredible!

Fresh from the oven -- you can see one of the hollow tombs.

Fresh from the oven — you can see one of the hollow tombs.

Resurrection Cookies

Resurrection cookies, ready to go in the oven.

Resurrection cookies, ready to go in the oven.

These are basically meringue cookies, which the original set of instructions did not explain so I did not know until I saw the final result!  I recommend pre-reading the passages in case you decide you need to edit some for the age of your audience and you may decide to read from a children’s bible instead.  You may also want to mark the pages of a bible ahead of time and nominate someone to be the bible reader or maybe take turns reading from the bible.  This is a great activity for Saturday night before Easter.

You need:

  • 1 cup whole pecans
  • Mixing bowl
  • 3 egg whites
  • Wooden spoon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Bible
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  • Zipper baggy
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Wax paper
  • Cookie sheet
  • Tape

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Place pecans in the baggy and let the children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the Roman soldiers.
Read John 19:1-3

Let child smell the vinegar.
Put 1 tsp. into mixing bowl.
Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink.
Read John 19:28-30

Add egg whites to the vinegar.
Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life for our life.
Read John 10:10-11

Sprinkle a little salt into each child’s hand let them taste it then brush the rest into the bowl.
Explain that represents the salty tears shed by Jesus followers, and the bitterness of our own sin…
Read Luke 23:27

So far the ingredients are not very appetizing.
Add 1 cup sugar.
Explain that the sweetest part of this story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him.
Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16

Beat with mixer on high speed for 11-15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed.
Explain that the color white represents the purity in God’s eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus.
Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3

Fold in broken nuts.
Drop by tsp.onto waxed paper-covered cookie sheet.
Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus body was laid.

Read Matt. 27:65-66

Put cookies sheet in the oven.
Close door and turn oven OFF.
Give each child a piece of tape and seal the door.
Explain that Jesus tomb was sealed.
Read Matt. 27:65-66

Go to bed!

Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight.
Jesus followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed.
Read John 16:20 and 22

On Resurrection Morning open the oven and give everyone a cookie!
Notice the cracked surface and take a bite.
The cookies are hollow!
On the first Resurrection Day Jesus followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.
Read Matt. 28:1-9

He Has Risen!  Hallelujah!

(Unfortunately I do not have an “after” photo of the cookies — I guess we ate them too quickly!)



The horror, the horror

Okay, I jest.  I need a little levity these days.  But have you SEEN them?  It is just wrong, so wrong, I nearly had to shield my young children’s eyes when we saw them as we turned the corner.

Orange PEEPS.  What is this world coming to?

You know, there was a time when PEEPS were just yellow.  And the world was good.  And we were happy with our yellow PEEPS.  Apparently they were also pink and white — but I was a deprived child who didn’t know this at the time.

Then came purple, and I raised an eyebrow.  And then blue.  Really, this is all too much.  I love my PEEPS in their bright yellow sugar coats, with their beady little brown eyes. Looking so perky.  Nothing like opening that package, eating a few of them, all fresh and squishy, then letting the rest of them reach just the proper amount of staleness so they are crunchy on the outside, but still gooey on the inside.  Granted, once you start biting their little heads off, they all taste the same, but to me, the yellow ones are still the best.  And then maybe pink.

I just won’t even discuss the bunnies.

When they came out with PEEPS for Christmas, Halloween, and Valentines Day part of me thought, “Hooray, I can enjoy them other times of the year” and another part of me thought, “How dare they?!  They have defiled my favorite Easter candy!”  (Notice that I never said I refused to EAT them.)

But there’s just something wrong with orange.  I mean is orange really even a spring color?  Perhaps I’m overly suspicious of orange, living with a Florida Gator — those Gators try to sneak blue and orange into everything.  I get the pinks, blues and purples, but ORANGE?!?!  That’s just wrong, plain wrong. 

Now that chocolate mousse flavored PEEPS bunny… that’s another story.  Mr. Easter Bunny, you can feel free to bring me some of those — just for the sake of research, of course.

Sorry for the long absences — launching a web site for work — which should be launched  just before Easter, so SEND PEEPS!  Then I can blog with abandon in a sugar-fueled frenzy (unless of course,  you send the sugar-free ones — who knew?!  There are so many things I didn’ t know about PEEPS — until I went to their site.)  I have so much to blog about… so little time to blog.  But I’ll be back to regular blogging soon!!

PEEPS are a registered trademark of the Just Born Company.

Celebrating February — A Month’s Worth of Fun

I just love holidays.  Give me a reason to celebrate and I’m already looking for coordinating cake pans and polishing the silver.   JavaBoy definitely follows in my footsteps and JavaGirl, still too young to realize that every day is NOT a party, is always along for the ride.  So imagine my bliss, when I discovered a sitethat lists all the bonafide national monthly/weekly/daily observances (a few are international) in the US.  Some are for serious topics, but many are downright silly.  I love how most of them make you delve into topics you might now have otherwise though of — from the serious issue of being role models for parents who may need training in order to learn how to be better parents to their children (to prevent a history of generations of child abuse) to the silliness of pancake lore.  Go to the holiday site for the full listing of days, but I’ve extracted some of the ones that intrigued me and some links (some are the official sponsors of the holidays, some not) and listed them below.

February Monthly Observances

  • Bake for Family Fun Month – the thought here is that the family that bakes together, makes great memories together — how true!  Check the site out for recipes and more cooking resources.
  • Library Lovers Month– have you visited your local library lately?  If not, go today and remind yourself how much fun it was to use that library card.
  • National Bird Feeding Month – February is the hardest month for birds to sustain themselves — help them out!
  • National Laugh-Friendly Month – Sponsored by a local company, this is part charitable effort, part changing-the-world one laugh at a time.  I believe the world always needs more laughter.
  • National Parent Leadership Month
  • National Time Management Month – you know, just in case you still haven’t bought your 2009 calendar…
  • Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month — yes, it is, and yes, it is a real problem — reportedly millions go missing each year, at a cost to retailers.  Some become “property’ of homeless, but some are just the result of pranks.  Help out — return your carts to cart stalls and if you see a wayward cart in the parking lot, roll it on in to the store or stall. 

February Weekly Observances

  • Random Acts of Kindness Week: 11-17 — This link will take you to an entire ORGANIZATION devoted to RAKs that includes downloadable calendars with suggestions of things to do several days of each month to be kind, i.e. pulling the weeds out of a neighbor’s yard.   Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all took the time to do that?
  • Great Backyard Bird Count Week: 13-16
  • National Pancake Week: 22-28
  • American Crossword Puzzle Week: 27-3/1

February Daily Observances

February has a lot of food-related (especially sweets) holidays… hmm, wonder if that has something to do with Valentine’s Day… or all those resolutions we made on January 1?

  • Susan B. Anthony Day: 15
  • National Gum Drop Day: 15
  • Chocolate Mint Day: 19
  • Northern Hemisphere Hoodie Hoo Day: 20    I kid you not, the way to celebrate this day is, “At high noon (local time) citizens are asked to go outdoors and yell “Hoodie-Hoo” to chase winter and make ready for spring, one month from now.”
  • Clam Chowder Day: 21
  • Introduce A Girl to Engineering Day: 21 
  • Single Tasking Day: 21  try it – you just may like it! 
  • Apparently on the 24th all we can think about is stuffing our faces:
  • Inconvenience Yourself Day: 25  A day to switch our perspective on things.
  • National Chili Day: 26
  • International Sword Swallowers Day: 28 — let me know if you run into one — a sword swallower I mean, not a sword.
  • National Tooth Fairy Day: 28
  • Open That Bottle Night: 28  The idea is that whatever bottle of wine or bubbly you’ve been saving for “something special” — tonight is the night — open that baby up and enjoy!  Sounds good to me!