April 30, 2010

My "First Real" Job!

So.  I've been busy.  Much is changing.
I received a phone call on Tuesday last week from the senior pastor at my church offering me a very part-time role in our children's ministry department as part of a team of three people working with the K-Gr 5 age group.  I can't even begin to tell you how shocked and pleased I was/am!  I graduated from Canadian Bible College in 2003, not quite sure how I planned on using my degree...  Should I go on to do more education?  A masters degree?  Should I be a pastor?  Should I work towards a teaching degree?  What should I do?  Before graduation I had worked in Hinton at a church as in intern in the student ministries department.  I had always really enjoyed working with teens, but while I was there I heard from several individuals on more than one occasion that I should consider working with kids, as they seemed drawn to me.  I was resolute in my calling to work with teens, so I dismissed the idea.  Then, I fell in love and married a youth pastor.  Pre-children (our children I mean), I really enjoyed working alongside Jeremy, supporting him in his ministry area, and building relationships with girls in his youth group.  But, I also started to take on leadership roles in kids ministry.  And, I was pretty good at it.  I really enjoy the creativity requirements, and the joy that comes from seeing a child's innocent interactions with God.  Their approach and understanding of God and Jesus is refreshing and challenging at the same time. 
That being said, I have felt a call to working in children's ministry increasingly over the past seven years.  Even in periods where volunteering in that area has been difficult (ie. when I was having babies!), I felt God opening my heart and pouring ideas into my head, and giving me opportunities for relationships with other families and leaders in this ministry area.
I am so excited to see how God has honored the desire that He placed in my heart, the calling that His voice has spoken to me.  I am thrilled to be working as part of a team, as I see that being key to maintaining a balance between work and family.  And I finally get to put to good use my degree.  I have certainly used it over the years as a volunteer and mother, and support to my husband's ministry space, but I am SO excited to have my "first real" job... a job that directly correlates to the four years I spent at CBC, and the money $$$  that I spent there on my education.

April 20, 2010

Fancy Nancy Party Part 4 - Details and the Party Itself!

Aria's 4th Birthday party with a Fancy Nancy theme was divine (that's a fancy word for great).  We invited seven little girls to come over on Saturday from 1-3:30 (right during Roscoe's nap time, so I wouldn't have to worry about him, and could just focus on the girls).  All the girls came wearing fancy dresses and accessories.  They were SO well behaved and quiet, and really into all the different activities that we had planned.  My husband and I had decorated the basement playroom with strings of white lights, and flowers we had drawn and cut out, and balloons.  I drew a big welcome sign for the front door to set the mood.  It is now on Aria's bedroom door!
First off, we made a construction paper fan.  The girls used the same jewels that we had used for the invitations to decorate their fans.  I also had some princess stickers on hand and markers.  I let them decorate the paper first, and then folded them up and stapled the end.

Then the girls spent time playing with the toys, and dressed up with some old costume jewelery that I had from when I was younger.  When they started to dress up, Aria and I handed out feather boas to each of the girls that we had found at the dollar store!  They were a big hit!
And since we were all dressed so fancy, we sat down to read a couple Fancy Nancy books!  The girls chose "Fancy Nancy" and also, "Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy".  Some of the girls hadn't read the books before, and they were a huge hit!
After that we played Stick the Jewel on the Tiara aka pin the tail on the donkey.  And then it was snack time, present opening, cake and then time to go home!  Aria had such a good time, the girls got along fabulously, and I had fun too!  I was wiped by the end.  It was great having Jeremy and his parents there to help and take pictures.  But even though we were so tired we went to bed around 10pm that night, the smile on this little girls face made it all worthwhile.  I can't believe my baby's four!  Happy Birthday Aria!

Fancy Nancy Party Part 3 - Cake

So, we got a bit of a hot spell here on Friday... and thus, my fondant didn't perform as I intended it to.  I also couldn't find a butterfly cookie cutter, so I improvised with a heart shaped one that I used to create both wings.  The butterflies ended up larger than I intended, but no biggie.  Fondant and heat are not friends, so I didn't even attempt to do the butterflies on sticks, and instead used some ones that I found at the dollar store.  I think they look pretty neat.  Here's the sketch of my plan...
 And how it turned out in the end!

April 15, 2010

Fancy Nancy Party Part 2 - Invitations

Aria loves to do anything crafty, so this year it was really fun to get her to make the invitations.  We went to the dollar store and bought doilies and jewels with stickers on the back (way easier than trying to glue them all individually!), and Aria decorated all the butterflies by herself.   We borrowed the idea from Fancy Nancy herself, from the book "Bonjour Butterfly".

Lately she's been drawing pictures for everyone she knows on post-it notes.  Its really neat to see how she is gaining more control over how she can colour and draw.  She tries REALLY hard to stay in the lines when she is colouring, and when she draws, she tries to draw things (like a smiley face or a pig) instead of just scribbling.  My baby's growing up!  Its crazy to think that in a year and a half she'll be starting kindergarten!  Where has the time gone?

April 14, 2010

Fancy Nancy Party Part 1 - Marshmallow fondant

So, the countdown is on.. Aria's fourth birthday will be upon us in a matter of only 4 sleeps!  And the big party in only 3 sleeps!  Foolish me, I took both kids shopping with me today to pick up some groceries and some last minute items for the party.  I came home with a splitting headache that only went away after I got the kids in bed this evening.  But, I did accomplish my goal for the evening: to make up a batch of marshmallow fondant to decorate the cake.  I used this recipe last year on a Dora cake, and everyone loved the fondant-look, but enjoyed the taste of it so much more than a conventional fondant.  I must admit, I am inspired by such shows as "Ace of Cakes" and "Cake Boss".  So we're doing a much more grown-up looking cake this year, but one that will be exquisite (that's an even fancier word than beautiful) and posh (that's a fancy word for fancy)!  Oo la la!
(Aria's 3rd Birthday Cake... my first fondant attempt)

Marshmallow Fondant
1 package (400 g) of mini marshmallows
4 Tbsp water
1 tsp flavor - I used imitation coconut because I couldn't find a clear version of vanilla, and I like to use just white fondant and I thought that dark vanilla would make it kind of beige.
1 bag (1kg) of icing sugar
1/4 c crisco (works much better than butter for this)
1. Place crisco in a bowl to the side for easy access
2. Place marshmallows in a bowl and microwave on high for one minute to start melting.
3. Add water and flavor to hot marshmallows and stir.  Slowly beat in icing sugar, one cup at a time.  Keep one cup of sugar for kneading.  ***This is VERY sticky***
4. Rub hands and work surface liberally with crisco.  Knead "dough" until smooth and slightly less sticky, using reserved one cup of sugar to dust work surface and "dough".  ***I snickered at these directions I found, because as if marshmallows and icing sugar aren't ever going to be sticky!***
5. I added the color at this point, because I wanted to have several different colors.  I divided the dough into portions relative to the amount per color I thought I would need, and then mixed in the color.
6. Spread some crisco on a piece of plastic wrap.  Wrap plastic around the fondant, and then cut another piece of plastic, and double wrap the fondant.  This ensures that the fondant won't dry out.  Then, stick it in the fridge.  I've read that you can store the fondant this way up to two weeks.  That's planning REALLY far ahead in my mind, or maybe its a way to save leftovers for use on something else later.

When you go to use the fondant, grease up the work surface and your hands and rolling pin first.  Then use CORN STARCH to dust the surface.  It makes the whole rolling it out step WAY less frustrating.  I had a friend suggest rolling the fondant onto wax paper, so that you can just flip the rolled out fondant onto the cake and peel away the paper rather than carrying the fondant, and hoping it doesn't tear.  Use a little bit of water if your fondant does tear on the cake, for minor repairs.

I'll post pics of the cake later, after the party's done!  Enjoy!

April 2, 2010

Easter Plans

Okay, so I've got some Easter activities planned for Aria and I.  Last year, we started a couple traditions that I'd like to continue this year: decorating hard-boiled eggs (of course), and making resurrection cookies! 

So, for the eggs... I just finished hard-boiling a dozen eggs (good thing we like egg-salad sandwiches, and deviled eggs - if I find the motivation to make them!).  I put them in a pot, covered them with water, stuck them uncovered on the stove, and brought them to a hard boil for one minute.  Then I removed them from the heat, covered them and let them sit for 18 minutes.  After the timer went off, I put them in the sink and ran cold water on them to cool them quickly.  Now I need to stick them in the fridge until we're ready to colour them.

My favorite and I think prettiest way to colour them is with food colouring, oil and vinegar.  Pour some 1 Tbsp vinegar in a bowl, add a splitch (is that a word?) of vegetable oil and a couple drops of food colouring.  Top up the bowls with water.  Make up a couple different colours in a few different bowls.  Then place an egg in a colour, roll it around with a spoon, remove the egg, dry it with a paper towel, and dip it in another colour....  You get this very pretty marbled effect.  The vinegar does the job of setting the colour so that after its dry it shouldn't rub off on your hands.

The other thing I'm going to do with my daughter tomorrow (Saturday) is make resurrection cookies.  This is a really cool way to walk your child through the events of Jesus' journey to the cross and the tomb, so that they can experience it with their senses, and have it explained at a level they can understand.  I struggle with knowing how much to say to my 4 year old about the how and why of Jesus' death and resurrection.  He died because he loves us, but she doesn't even really grasp what death is!  At preschool she's been learning the song "God's not dead", and it is so cool to hear her walking around the house singing "God's not dead, NO! He is alive!"  Yes, he is alive, and that is SO exciting!  He conquered death!  He's bigger than that!  And he chose to humble himself so that he could show me the incredible depth of his love for me.  I am so blessed.

Anyways... the cookie recipe is as follows...

Read the whole recipe before beginning.  Try to do together Saturday night before Easter Sunday.

You need: wooden spoon, Bible, zipper baggie and tape

1 cup whole pecans
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vinegar
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place pecans in zipper baggie and let 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 each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. vinegar 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 vinegar. Eggs represent life.
Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.

Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl.
Explain that this 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 c. sugar.
Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know this and how to belong to Him. Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16.

Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 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 teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet.
Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Read Matt. 27:57-60.

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

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 Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie.

Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty! Read Matt. 28:1-9