Thursday, April 24, 2014

Wildflowers in Ojai

Almost every year, I take pictures of the girls in the field of mustard flowers at the Ojai Meadows Preserve. Despite the drought, this year the flowers seem brighter and more plentiful. It is breathtaking!

Mustard flowers as far as the eye can see!

Check out the butterfly in the upper right corner.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Amber's NARNIA party!

By the Lion's Mane, Amber turned 11. For her birthday, we had a Chronicles of Narnia costume party, based on the books more than the movies. It was AWESOME!!! So far, it was the best theme party I've hosted. We didn't spend a ton of money, either. We handmade decorations and crafts, borrowed dishes and shopped at thrift stores. The most money we spent was on the food, and even then it was very economical. It was a family party, so there were as many adults as there were kiddos. Everyone really got into the theme and had an epic time. Below are several pictures, with detailed descriptions in case you ever want to throw a party like this yourself. Enjoy!

The birthday girl, Amber, as Aravis.
Mom (Christine) as Susan and sister Autumn as Lucy. We got all three dresses at thrift stores and garage sales.
Amber's art teacher painted the Dawn Treader on a bed sheet. We hung the sheet on the door frame of the front door and propped a huge empty frame (we got at a garage sale) against the door. We left the door open and guests walked "through the painting" into the house.
We decorated the mantle with Narnia-ish items we had already. We printed out well-known Narnia quotes (found on the internet) and framed them in frames we already had.

We displayed our two boxed sets of Narnia books.
Dad (Eric) dressed up as Prince Caspian.
We had a Narnia Photo Booth so guests could dress up and have their picture taken. We used costumes we already had and bought a few more at a thrift store.

We had 3 craft stations. This is Peter's Crown Station. We bought blank gold crowns and self-adhesive gems and let the kids decorate a crown. This was so easy!

Lucy's Cordial Station was Autumn's idea.

The guests filled empty amber glass bottles with water and added a few drops of essential oils to make a perfume (or cologne for boys).

This station was the most popular, even with the boys.

Edmund's Sword Station was also well-liked.
We cut several pieces of bamboo from our backyard and pre-assembled them by wrapping twine around two pieces to form a sword.

The kiddos used black electrical tape for the handle and silver duct tape for the sword. Papa Hodge (as Aslan) helped the kids with the duct tape.
We didn't give out treat bags because the kids would be taking home plenty of fun goodies. Instead, we labeled brown paper grocery bags with the kids' names so they could put all of their crafts inside.

Susan's Archery Lessons were the most popular with the adults. We had two Archery Contests (kids and adults). Each guest was given 3 arrows to shoot at balloons. The one to pop the most balloons was the winner! In the event of a tie, we had a shoot-off. We used 5-inch balloons and taped them to an old comforter attached to the garage door.
It's harder than it looks!

Another contest was Free the Creatures from the White Witch's Spell. We froze plastic wild animals (2 1/2 inches each) in large ice cube trays. The first one to melt the ice and free the animal was the winner. They could only use their hands. The adults also loved this game!
The food table. We borrowed pewter plates and mugs from our friend who caters weddings.

I'm not a cake decorator. This cake was easy-peasy!

I was not about to make Turkish Delight from scratch (15 steps and a 2-day process), so I cheated. Here's how I made 10-Minute Turkish Delight: I bought two boxes of Cherry Lara Bars and cut each bar into fourths. Then I rolled each piece in powdered sugar and assembled them on a pewter plate. *You have to do this the day of the party, not before, or the powdered sugar will soak in and disappear.

Mr. Tumnus' Hot Chocolate Station had cocoa and marshmallows.

It's so much fun to drink cocoa out of a pewter mug!
We had a contest for the Best Costume. The White Witch won the prize! The prizes for all of the contests were either homemade (hot chocolate mix) bought at thrift stores (used Narnia books) or from the dollar store (plastic swords).

Best party ever!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Amber's Beach Baptism on Easter Sunday

Today was one of the happiest days of my life! Not only was today Resurrection Sunday, but my oldest daughter, Amber (who just turned 11), was baptized at the beach in front of her family and friends. I don't have any pictures of the baptism because I was taking a video, but here are a few before and after shots. The video is at the bottom, below all of the pictures. Amber received a Bible from our pastor, Phil, and people were asked to write in the Bible, if they wished. This is part of what I wrote, "Amber, I am so proud of you today, not for what you did (being baptized) but for who you are (a child of God). You love God and love others so well..."

The family at the beach.

Eric and Phil about to baptize Amber.

Eric, Amber & Phil.

The study Bible Amber received, with her name engraved on the cover.

Amber's Baptism Video

Resurrection Sunday

The traditional sisters photo by the palm trees

Autumn Brooke

Amber Shea

Their reward for smiling and posing nicely is that I take a few goofy pictures of them!

Friday, April 18, 2014

What's so GOOD about Friday?

What’s so good about Friday? I was challenged with this thought recently. I know that the good part about what happened more than 2,000 years ago "today" is that Jesus died for our sins. That is good. But it does seem strange that we call today Good Friday. I mean, after all, Jesus was struck, slapped, spit upon, scourged and ultimately put to a most gruesome death on a cross for our sins...

"He is worthy of death," they answered. Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, "Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?" Matthew 26:66-67

Now I know that being spit upon is not painful, but I’ve been told it’s rather humiliating. When I was a reporter in Arizona, I was assigned to cover the Peoria Police Department and so I had a few occasions to ride along with the officers. As we drove through the city one day, I asked the officer I was with what was the worst thing that had happened to him on the job. His answer surprised me. He said he’s been shot at, hit, kicked, had every swear word in the book spewed out at him, and he’d been thrown up on. But he said the thing he hated the most, the thing that was so disgusting and degrading, was being spit upon by a perpetrator whom he is trying to handcuff.

Being spit upon is nothing compared to hanging to death on a cross, but every time I read those words in the Bible, I think about the humiliation Christ suffered, along with the pain. Just something to ponder.