Monday, 16 April 2012

Viking Invasion!

 This weekend, once more, Scotland was invaded by vikings! Um, except they were mainly Scottish vikings and a couple of Canadians too...OK, so what I know about vikings could probably be written on the back of a very small postcard. But I do know that small boys (and their dads, so it turns out) just love them! And so it came to pass that for my youngest son's birthday party, that our garden and house was filled a horde of erm, really rather cute, no, apparently I should say, ferocious vikings.

And a dragon. Because what are vikings without dragons? And because T just IS a dragon. Of the smallest, generally sweetest, kind.  For years now...

So after gearing up with some felt helmets - which came together surprisingly swiftly - I may do a wee tute if life allows...wooden shields (made by the Chief himself) got decorated and named with runic letters. Wooden swords all round, then it was time for a bit of viking training - led all too convincingly by the Chief himself - soon had everyone roaring around the garden.

A bit of blind fold viking dressing...

No wonder he looked rather grumpy...

Then to the feasting! They each made an edible shield (that's pizza to you and me).

For fans of Cressida Cowell's books of 'How to Train your Dragon' can you spot Hiccup and Camicazi? And Toothless of course...

The Chief proved (once again) to be a million times better at cake decorating than me.  Me: "Can you make me a dragon?"  Him: "No problem" And so it proved to be. No flames, other than seven candles but it was all devoured...

Vikings welcome any day!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Easter Crafts

Happy, happy Easter! I love Easter days! There's always such a sense of anticipation - spiritually, obviously for me, but also perhaps that sense of spring, that the year has turned, of being the right time sow seeds, enjoy a few days of's all about being re-created and re-creating.

On Saturday after the all-too-necessary evils of a bit of housework, and with my husband away for the day, the boys and I had a very creative day. We started with some wonderfully smelling beeswax candles, made in eggshells (following inspiration from Explore and Express and a tutorial from Magic Onions). The boys cut the wicks and J tied them onto bamboo sticks. T poured the wax pellets into an old baked bean tin (impromptu bain marie) and inspected their melting progress in a slightly overfull steamer.

Then we moved from melting wax to melting chocolate - a rather more popular choice - to make some little nests on a spoon - simple and fun - and with lots of tasting and chocolaty fingers along the way! We popped them in the fridge, while I told the boys the final part of the Faces of Easter Story.

 We headed out to the garden and woods to get all we needed for our Easter garden, which turned out to be quite an installation on our kitchen table! I was surprised but pleased that they enjoyed arranging the flowers, which J especially did very well. he also found the big rock to close the tomb. T put his clay bird in pride of place. Our wheatgrass has grown very well!

Finally, it was time to eat the wee nests, which were a big hit. It was a great afternoon, after all the activity of the last few days.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Getting ready for Holy Week

The week ahead is usually one of the busiest - and best - of the year for me as I prepare for Easter with my family and also in our L'Arche community.

 Today the boys and I started on our Easter garden. We have been adding a stone each day of Lent to a big plate of 'wilderness' that also contains a wooden figure of Jesus and a bare twig. We used the plate again, with a layer of compost in it and placed the stones neatly to make a path to the 'tree'. There is golden star on it - my youngest put it there earlier in Lent - today he reminded me, saying it was there because God is watching - oh how his words touched me...

We sprinkled on some wheatgrass seeds, watered them and then covered them with the bare dust - hopefully we'll get some green shoots for Easter! We also used some airdrying clay to model a tomb, using a big jar to hold the shape We'll remove it when the clay is dry. T had the idea to beat the clay with the back of a teaspoon to make a rocky texture - it looks good. We'll add that in to the garden on Friday. Then on Saturday we'll take time to add flowers and other plants, and who knows what else might be suggested. T has already made a bird from clay.

The little bean we planted  - that reminded us of a curled up baby - has sprouted and shot right up. I love how the green growth has pushed it's way straight out of the dried out dead looking husk.A little resurrection right in front of our eyes - from the baby bean.

In L'Arche this week, we meet for one of the most important events of our year. We very rarely celebrate Communion or Eucharist in our community, as we are so very ecumenical and it has never been easy to find a way through the questions surrounding different interpretations of Communion. However, what we can do, as most L'Arche communities in the UK do - is celebrate a simple form of the Passover meal, miming the story (if anyone is interested I can email a simple script)and sharing the basic elements of the liturgy and meal. It is a quiet meal, set to the background of music. Afterwards it is followed by footwashing, a sign of mutual care and love. My boys have been able to participate since they were young, and will do so again this year. It is a beautiful  moment in the life of our community.

On Good Friday we will walk together around our garden at L'Arche, miming a simple Stations of the Cross. You can read about it here.   The words and prayers are based on the book The Story of the Cross, The Stations of the Cross for Children by Mary Joslin. I was given this book and it's a good one in opening up this practice to non-Catholics, in a simple, helpful and well-illustrated way. We will finish with TaizĂ© prayer around the cross. The children enjoy the walking with others, the mimes - especially the soldiers - usually their Dad is one of them! Many others join in as the other people on the route, with simple costumes. Various people will be asked to say the prayers, so in this way, there is a part for everyone, to draw us all in together. In past years this has been very profound.

Other books I like for this week are the fabulously illustrated The Easter Story by Brian Wildsmith and The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt. I'm looking forward other ideas for marking this week here.