Sunday, February 26, 2012

Capital of Egypt

While riding in the van this weekend, Jon was asking the boys about some things we've been studying in our homeschool. He was quizzing them about Ancient Egypt. He asked, "What's the capital of Egypt?"

Adam enthusiastically responded, "E!"

He was right! We all had a good laugh... and then talked about homonyms and Cairo.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pinewood Derby

Last Saturday Ray competed in his first Cub Scout Pinewood Derby.

He began working on his car several weeks ago. He and Jon paid a visit to our very talented woodworker friend, Mr. Dave.

Dave helped Ray cut and sand his car.

Next, Jon made several trips to the hardware store to get a bunch of I don't know what. He puttered and tinkered with that car A LOT. There were weights, drills, glue, and graphite involved. Fortunately, he had some tools and tips from his brother-in-law (another Dave) and his own experience of working on his Pinewood Derby cars as a kid. He is very proud of the fact that his car won the Pinewood Derby one year.

Let me just say I had NO IDEA how involved this whole process would be!

Ray painted his car and I helped him with some touch-ups.

Jon attached the wheels and tinkered around with it even more.

Finally, the big day arrived! We all headed to the church hall for the big race. Ray was very proud of his car and very excited to race it.

This next picture shows the highlight of the day (for Jon at least). When the official weigher guy weighed Ray's car, he declared it to be PERFECT... exactly five ounces. Yeah!

Here's Ray with some of his den friends.

The official certificate and badge ---

Waiting for his turn to race ---

And they're off.....

Now let me just say that Ray's car - which he named "Red Lightning" - was not exactly a successful racecar. As a matter of fact, it never won a race or beat a single competitor. It wobbled clumsily down the track. I won't show any pictures here of the long faces (Ray's and Jon's). However, we learned some good lessons that day.

First of all, I was so proud of Ray. He did not cry or have a tantrum. He truly enjoyed the racing. His main comment was that he couldn't believe all the work he did didn't pay off. Later, after we left, he was very sad for a while. We talked a lot about how we have to try some things many times before we experience success. Ray decided that he definitely wants to make another car and compete again next year.

Second, I learned that we are part of an awesome Boy Scout Pack. I was so very impressed by the way this event was run. There were no brackets or trophies. The Pack Leader was an excellent announcer, encouraging all of the boys, using humor, making the event quick and fun. He called up the boys one level at a time. After everyone got a chance to race, he declared it to be "open racing time." All of the boys just kept lining up and racing and racing and racing. At one point he did call up some of the fastest cars and have them race each other. None of the boys was made to feel bad. They all had a great time.

Third, this Pinewood Derby thing is more competitive and important to the dads than the boys. It was very funny to see some of these guys doing last minute preparations and watching these races so intensely. It took Jon a few days to process the agony of defeat. He is still analyzing where he went wrong with the weights, etc. The leader joked about having a legacy race next year.... having all these dads bring the cars they've saved since they were kids. Very funny!

It's hard to see your child experience loss/failure, but it's important for them to experience it and be guided through it and learn from it. Today I asked Ray how he was feeling about the Pinewood Derby and he said, "I pretty much forgot about it, but I am glad I get to actually play with that car now."

Bosco Boys Club - "Self-Control"

The Bosco Boys Club met on Fat Tuesday. We started out playing with Hot Wheels and Twister.

 Then we played some games designed to practice this month's virtue: SELF-CONTROL!

We marched to some fun New Orleans Jazz... and won Mardi Gras beads!

We played "Go Wild... and Freeze!"

We played "The Giggle Game" ... trying to make each other laugh.

The boys really loved these games.... and their behavior was the best ever this month!

One of the moms made a yummy "King Cake" for snack.

We had a really good discussion about Lent and the sacrifices we were planning to make. This tied in so nicely with our discussion of self-control (which is a PERFECT virtue for little boys to practice). We also shared the story of Saint Augustine. The boys were very interested to learn about how Augustine lived a wild, unholy life and then changed his ways completely. We gave each of the boys a Saint Augustine holy card and a Lenten Path calendar.

We ended our meeting by playing "Keep the Balloon in the Air."

This was our best meeting ever! It's awesome to see these boys becoming friends and to see how much they are enjoying these gatherings.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Goodbye "Alleluia"

Today we enjoyed celebrating Mardi Gras and preparing for the beginning of Lent.

We sang lots of Alleluia songs and made Alleluia prayer cards. We had a festive and yummy pancake and sausage lunch!

Ray set the table (and took this picture) ---

Daddy is our resident pancake expert, but I took on the job today (with the help of my friend Aunt Jemima).

Mommy's special Mardi Gras ingredient: SPRINKLES!

Some masked Mardi Gras revelers ---

We had a great time celebrating Mardi Gras with our Bosco Boys Club in the afternoon. (Pictures and post coming soon.)

After dinner, we went down to the park to find a branch for our Lenten Jesus Tree. We came home and set up our prayer corner for Lent.

After working so hard to prepare it last year, it was great to be able to pull our our box of Jesus Tree ornaments and be ready to go!

Each day during Lent we will read a Bible story from Jesus' life and hang an ornament on the tree. We will also be praying the Stations of the Cross, making personal sacrifices, eating far fewer sweets and much more fish, and participating in the "40 Bags in 40 Days" challenge (in which we'll donate 40 bags of stuff from our house to people in need).

It's awesome to experience the liturgical year over and over again as a family. Each year the boys are able to enter more deeply into the sacred mysteries and celebrate them more fully. Each year Jon and I learn and grow right along with them.

This year I really wanted to teach the boys more about the ritual and symbolism of the ashes on Ash Wednesday. Before bedtime, we gathered around the fireplace and sang some final "Alleluias." Then we burned the several palm branches that we had from previous years. The palms are blessed and should not be thrown away. They are ritually burned each year and the ashes are used to remind us that "we are dust and to dust we shall return." We are going to put the ashes on our prayer table as holy reminders of this during Lent.

What started out as a prayerful learning experience became a bit crazy. (Jon was not home for this whole ash burning thing. He was working late.) When the palms began to burn, the boys were scared. The fire alarm went off and there was more smoke than I anticipated. We opened all the windows and were fine. But we'll definitely do this outside in the future. What started as a prayerful ritual ended up being a long conversation about fire safety and insurance. ;)

Best wishes to all of you for a fruitful and holy Lenten season.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Staying Up "Late"

Last night after prayers, Ray plopped himself on our bed and with great dramatic flair asked:

"Good grief, is there ANYONE besides us still up at this crazy hour?"

The time: 8:11pm

He was asleep by 8:13!

Friday, February 17, 2012

And What Did YOU Do Today?

This morning we were up, dressed, and ready to head to Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.... and the phone rang. Class had to be cancelled because several families were attending a funeral and/or sick.

So we did a bit of schoolwork here and then we headed to COSI, our local Science Center. We met some friends there.... and even celebrated one of the boys' birthday with a great chocolate cake at lunch time!

The highlight of the day for the boys was participating in "Gadgets Cafe." We worked on a team with our friends and we got to open up an old computer and completely tear it apart! Now THAT was fun!

Aren't the goggles great?

Adam pulled all of these little knobs (?) off the control boards and brought them home in his pocket. He plans to build his own Mario game with them. ;)

Check out these smiles!
Why does destruction make them so happy?

I was so impressed by how the six kids worked together on this. They were all so excited and fascinated by the insides of the computer. (I was too!) It was great to see their concentration and listen to their observations!

Of course on the way home we had a BIG talk about all the things that they ARE NOT allowed to take apart at home! :)

A few more pics from COSI ---

Riding on a buggy in "1898"
We even got to lift a car!
It was an unexpectedly fun day!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day Fun

Valentine's Day seemed crazy to me... my head was still in a fog from my cold. It snuck up so fast! I still have valentine goodies to deliver to my godchildren! Anyway, we did get some cute cards out to our family members near and far (although I didn't get a picture of them) ... and we got some great ones in the mail! We exchanged cards and little gifts at breakfast (again, no pictures). We did some fun school work and had a little lunch party and valentine exchange with some friends. Here are some pictures ---

Estimating with candy hearts

Candy heart patterns

Candy heart graphing

Trying to get valentine treats from the claw machine

A sweet lunch with friends

Exchanging Valentines

Becky read Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda and then we did some mosaic crafting.

 Later in the afternoon, the troops were restless. I casually mentioned watching a Magic School Bus showand they all instantly plopped down in front of the TV.... and the moms had a few moments to visit and relax. ;)

I got flowers and a little bear from my sweetie.

Ray came up with this craft after we read about Saint Valentine.
He later rolled it up in a scroll and put it on our prayer table.

Although it seemed busy and chaotic, Valentine's Day was a great reminder of how blessed we are with such wonderful family members and friends.... with whom we practice Christian love day in and day out. May we grow in love for one another... and for all.