Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Green Belt!

I am very proud to announce that Adam has earned his GREEN BELT in Karate! This is a very big deal for him. He and Ray were "stuck" on orange belt for many months. They both took the fall off and then Adam decided to return to Karate and work hard to pass to the next level. At our dojo (Kelly Muir's Excel Karate System, formerly known as "Team Karate Center"), beginner skills must be completely mastered before moving on to the Intermediate level which begins with green belt. Adam set this goal for himself and worked very hard to get to this level.
Last week he took a skills test. Here are some pictures from that test ----
He was very serious and intense throughout the test.

Adam got to lead one of the drills.

My favorite part of the test... the testers had to spar with some of the black belt students.
Adam did not seem at all scared to face off against this giant guy!

After the test..... a successful group!

At the end of his class on Tuesday, Adam officially graduated to green belt.

He now gets to wear a black gi. (He actually got his a bit early because his other one was WAY too small.) The most exciting part for Adam is that he got....

So, don't mess with our little ninja!
We are very proud of him and we hope he will continue to work hard in Karate.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring Things

It's FINALLY Spring! It FINALLY looks and feels like Spring around here!  After the brutally long winter, a terribly taxing tax season, and a super-sacrificial Lent, we are definitely happy to be experiencing the warmth, life, light, and joy of Spring. We're singing lots of Alleluias and enjoying renewed energy. Check out some of our favorite sights and sounds of Spring -----
These crocuses only stayed for a few days. Now we've got beautiful daffodils and tulips.
Helping with the Cub Scout clothing drive.
We cleaned out our closets and sent extra clothes off to those in need.

We found the Easter Bunny at Kroger! Woo hoo!

The Kroger Easter Bunny sent us on a scavenger hunt around the store....
and then gave us lots of cool treats!

Adam scored a goal last week.... and the Vikings actually won!

Our awesome expanded edition swingset!!!!
First Communion Preparation!
Adam will join us at the Table of Jesus in less than three weeks!
He's working hard to prepare.
It makes this joyous Easter season so special.

And our FAVORITE part of Spring.......

.... we've got DADDY back!
Tax Season is OVER!!!!
In this picture Jon's doing his "happy tax day dance!"
We all celebrated when Jon came home on the 15th.... before midnight!
It always takes a while for us to transition back to "normal" family life,
but we sure are happy and proud of Daddy!

Adam is sporting a new black gi for his karate class.
He has made great progress this Spring and will test into a new belt level on Thursday!
It's so great to be able to send the boys outside to run and play at recess time, to be able to take walks, sit on the porch swing, open up the windows. Thank you God for SPRING!

Monday, April 21, 2014

String Art

Check out our string art masterpieces! We had tons of fun designing, nailing, and weaving them.

This is Adam's "diamond block" (from Minecraft).

Ray's "Creeper" (from Minecraft)

My cross with a heart (NOT from Minecraft)



Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
Happy Easter!

We've just returned from a beautiful visit with Jon's family in Michigan. It was so awesome to spend Easter weekend with them this year. We had a wonderful celebration. Here are some pictures from Easter. More updates coming soon.

The Easter Bunny found us in our hotel!

Pure joy!

We fond all of these eggs hidden around our hotel room!

Ready for Mass

After Mass

May you experience the joy of the Risen Jesus and celebrate for 50 days!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Culmination of Astronomy Study

We spent lots of time this winter studying Astronomy. Leading up to our planetarium visit we reviewed what we've learned and we constructed models of the solar system.
Jon and Ray worked on this styrofoam kit we purchased from the craft store.

Adam and I worked on a kit recently given to him by his Godmother.

I'm amazed at all we learned. We still have this fun kit (also from Adam's Godmother) to explore sometime soon.

Adam's First Communion Preparations

Adam is preparing to receive his First Holy Communion on May 10th.  We've been studying at home and working on a First Communion scrapbook. This past weekend was busy and grace-filled for Adam in his preparation process.
In Adam's Catechesis of the Good Shepherd class there are nine children who are all preparing for First Communion. His amazing teacher organized and led a beautiful retreat for these children at her home on Friday afternoon.

The children spent the afternoon praying and working on several activities. They planted plants, made candles, and baked bread. They reflected on Scripture passages and remembered their Baptisms.

They each individually renewed their Baptismal promises and received white garments.

They lit their candles and sang a beautiful song about the Light of Christ.

These are such beautiful and holy little ones. We are so privileged to know and grow with them.

Adam really enjoyed the retreat and got a lot out of it. Here are the items and work that Adam brought home ---

On Sunday morning we attended the First Communion of one of Adam's classmates, our friend Julia.
It was a lovely celebration. It was extra special for me as it was at St. Philip Church, where I worked for eight years and where Jon and I were married. I was flooded with memories of all the classes I prepared for First Communion. I prayed for all of those children (who are now grown) and really enjoyed visiting that wonderful community of faith.
Later that day, Adam and I attended his First Communion retreat at our own parish, Saint Matthew. This was also a great experience, completely different from Friday's retreat. We rotated to several stations throughout the afternoon.
Liturgical Bingo ----
This was really neat! The DRE made bingo cards with picture from our church, including our priests and deacons. I was impressed by how much Adam knew (and discouraged by how little so many of the parents knew).
Banner Making ---

All of the supplies were cut and ready for the children to assemble banners that will mark their pews on their First Communion day. Adam chose a palette of "blue on blue" and we enjoyed working together to make his banner. Check out the elaborate ribbon extensions on the bottom!

Recess ----

Can you spot Adam in this picture?

Should I be worried that this was his favorite part of the day? ;) It's fun for homeschool kids to get to run around with 8,000 peers on one small playground. And, yes, he was the only child wearing a suit coat to the retreat. He refused to change after Mass. He calls it his "cape."

Story Time ---

"The Caterpillar Who Came to Church"

Bread Making ---

Table Prayer Song ---

At the end of the retreat the parents prayed a special blessing prayer for the children and then the children performed the "Table Prayer Song" with hand motions.

Adam had practiced with a video online, but was still nervous to be on stage. He thought he was being tricky and got at the very back of the line of kids as they went on stage. He thought they would put him in the back. However, they ran out of space and stuck him here ----

...right in front. He did a great job, though! I was very proud of him.
This week in religion Adam is working with our Mass kit and practicing the names of the various vessels and other items used at Mass.

Ray helped him out this morning.

These weeks leading up to First Communion are so sweet and special. We'll continue reading, studying, working on the scrapbook, and preparing for the celebration. Most of all, we'll be praying for and with Adam. It can be easy to get wrapped up in preparations for a big day. But the reality is that Jesus is inviting Adam to come to the altar and receive Him not just once, but over and over again throughout his life. Eucharist is such an important part of our Catholic Faith and our family life. I want Adam to understand and appreciate what a great and awesome Gift the Body and Blood of Jesus will be in his life. Please join me in praying for Adam during these special days.

Finally, on a lighter note..... Preparing a boy for First Communion is so much less fun than preparing a girl. No frilly dress, white shoes, veil. We have a suit that Carter and Ray both wore for their First Communions. A few weeks ago I had Adam try it on. He looked in the mirror, squinched up his face, and said, "Well, it's OK, but I really would like to have a light blue suit." I explained to him that light blue suits really aren't in style now. He told me he doesn't care about fashion. ;) Can't you just picture him in a light blue leisure suit with a frilly shirt and cummerbund? We did find him a sort-of-light-blue tie.  He will be quite handsome!