Saturday, January 30, 2016

How to Make Snowman Poo

Here's an easy treat we make occasionally. We've chosen to call it snowman poo. 

You need:
20 oz Oreos
8 oz cream of cheese
white almond bark (Or something similar)

1. Crush the oreos.

2. Beat the cream cheese until smooth

3. Add the oreos to the cream cheese and mix.

4. Roll into 1" balls

5. Refrigerate until chilled.

6. Melt the almond bark. We did this is a frying pan so it would be easier to roll the Oreo balls in the almond bark.

7. Refrigerate until chilled. You can blend them smoother than ours, and roll them in more almond bark to have a nice white coating, but these are kid made, and this is how they look kid made :)

This is how the  perfect ones look.

And there you have it. Snowman poo.

What fun or interesting foods or snacks do you make that we could try? Leave me a comment or recipe below.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Sarah: Dealing with Change

There's a lot to learn from Sarah and you can find out what lessons she teaches us the next few Fridays on this blog. These devotions are from The One Year Devotions for Girls Starring Women of the Bible with some bonus features added.

This picture is from a preteen reader's room.

Dealing with Changes
     One day Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai (his son Abram’s wife), and his grandson Lot (his son Haran’s child) and moved away from Ur of the Chaldeans. He was headed for the land of Canaan, but they stopped at Haran and settled there. Genesis 11:31
     Abraham and Sarah, then called Abram and Sarai, lived in Ur of the Chaldeans along the Euphrates River in what is now southern Iraq. This was an important city in the ancient world. If you picture the people of this time as uneducated and living as cavemen, think again. Ur was a flourishing city. It was the center of culture, power and wealth. It was at its peak of power in Abraham's day. Abraham was probably a very educated man, and Sarah most likely had all the luxuries of life.
     Abraham's father, Terah, decided to move the whole family from the thriving town of Ur to the land of Canaan-- a land very different from Ur. The family packed up and said goodbye to their home and all they knew. Then they set out. But for some reason, Terah stopped halfway to Canaan in the village of Haran in what is now southern Turkey, and the family remained there.
     Sarah's life took a dramatic turn when she left behind the art, culture and thriving businesses to follow her family. The Bible doesn't say much about this move, but we can guess that it was hard for Sarah to leave her life in Ur to become a traveler and then reside in Haran. Yet she accepted it, and the family stayed there until Terah's death.
Thinking it Through:
            Changes aren't always easy. Sarah had to leave behind a bustling city for Nowhere Ville, yet the Bible doesn't mention her complaining about the changes.
Are you known as a complainer? Or do others know you as someone who handles changes and challenges well. The next change you face, remind yourself to be a bright light by not complaining (Philippians 2: 13-15). Instead, ask God to help you trust him to take care of him no matter what changes come.

In four weeks I will be giving away a copy of :
Each time you leave a comment on a post about Sarah, I will enter your name into the drawing. So you can have your name in the drawing multiple times. USA mailing addresses only.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

14 Days of Kindness

Remember back before Thanksgiving? Everyone was filled with holiday cheer. Facebook status feeds were filled with people posting one thing they were thankful for each day. But now the holidays are past. People have lost their holiday spirit. Instead they are discouraged by the weather. Or the after-the-holidays bills. Or health or family issues. No one is posting what they are thankful for now.

It's that way every year, and that's how our 14 days of kindness started. We don't do it every year, and some years it's only seven days but it's always the first week or two of February when the weather is bad and things are gray and gloomy.

Basically we pick a group of people such as janitors, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, Sunday school teachers etc., and we do something for them. For example, this year we are kicking it off on February 1st by making taco soup for the cafeteria workers at Kaleb's school. There is no cafeteria worker's appreciation day like there is for teachers, secretaries etc.  We will probably do something for Jasmine's and Kayla's on other days. 

The kids have been working on crafts in preparation for our 14 days.

I'll share the different crafts and acts of kindness we are doing for the 14 days when the time comes.

Why not join us? You don't have to do crafts or make anything grand, a simple handmade greeting card or act of kindness such as doing a chore for someone may be all it takes to brighten someone's day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Owl Always Love You

The kids and I decided to make edible owls, but we weren't sure exactly how to do that. But since it's more about the experience than the finished product for us, it gave us lots of together time to experiment.
We started by making an from a cupcake. We used:

chocolate frosting


We frosted the cupcake with chocolate frosting. We made the ears from frosting too. We broke the Oreos open and stuck on brown M&Ms for eyes (we had to use a dab of frosting in a tube for "glue") and an orange M&M for a beak.

For the second owl we used:
graham crackers
Reeses cups
candy corn

Cut the ends off of two Reese cup for wings. The rest of the Reese cup becomes the owl. Since there are only two wings, one owl will have wings and one won't. 

Remove the Reese cup from the paper. If some of the chocolate pulls off like ours did, put the Reese cup in the refrigerator or freezer before removing the candy from the paper.

Place the Reese cups on graham crackers so they just hang off the bottom. Cut a large marshmallow in half for each owl. Place them above the Reese cup on the graham cracker.

Put the owls in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Press the Owls more firmly onto the crackers while the chocolate is soft. Press a candy corn between the marshmallows onto the chocolate for the beak.

To make these for Valentine's Day, just substitute pink candy for the nose and make a card that says, Owl Always Love You. Leave one at each person's place at the table.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Interview with YA author Bryan Davis

If you read Christian fantasy, then Bryan Davis is a familiar name to you. 

Since the first book in the Dragons in Our Midst series was released in 2004, Bryan has been a popular and prolific fantasy author in young adult fiction with more series following Dragons in Our Midst including Oracles of Fire, Children of the Bard, Dragons of Starlight and Echoes from the Edge.
Bryan's first series
Today Bryan answers questions about his latest book Beyond the Gateway (Book #2 in The Reapers Trilogy), his writing and his life.

Beyond the Gateway is a Dystopian/Supernatural novel

How did you choose the title Beyond the Gateway?
In Reapers (book #1 in the trilogy), the Reapers have always thought the Gateway was a safe passage for the souls they carry there. Yet, they learn that it is fraught with danger. Perhaps the souls are going to a place of torture that empowers the tyrant who rules the world. Therefore, the Reapers have to go Beyond the Gateway to learn the truth. The major drawback? Someone has to die to go there.

How would you describe the book to someone in a text message? 
Reapers guide souls to the afterlife ... they think.

Who is your main character and what problem does he face? Phoenix is a Reaper who guides souls to the afterlife, but he learns that the Gateway—the passage to the afterlife—is not the safe avenue he thought it was. He teams up with Shanghai and Singapore (two female Reapers) to learn the truth, a journey that takes them to places more dangerous than they ever thought possible.

What might draw someone to your character? 
While most Reapers just want to do their job, that is, “Go ahead and die so I can reap your soul and go home,” Phoenix cares about the people in his city district. Even though medical help for the dying is forbidden, he smuggles medicine to families at the risk of his own life.

What prompted you to write this book? 
In the movie “Empire of the Sun,” Jamie is a boy who risks his life and health time and time again to help others survive in a prison camp. I wanted to write a character like that in a dystopian setting that has supernatural hooks.

What makes your book stand out from other books like it? Although dystopian is a popular genre, few have a bright light of hope in the story. What hope can be more uplifting than paradise?

What is one thing you learned from writing this book? 
I learned that I enjoy writing in first person point-of-view.

About Bryan
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
I wanted to be a professional athlete. If not that, then Batman.

Do you still want to be that? 
If Batman can be 57 years old, then I’m still okay with being Batman.

When did you know you wanted to be an author? 
As a way to get my kids excited about writing, I wrote a story with them, that is, they gave me creative input. That process led to a full-length novel, and it ignited a passion in me to write.

Did anything unusual or funny happen on your journey to becoming an author? 
Yes. Many times. Here is one story -

What books have influenced you most? 
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), Joan of Arc (Mark Twain), Till We Have Faces (C.S. Lewis)

What’s the most times you’ve read a book and why? 
I have read To Kill a Mockingbird about ten times. It is rare to see such a heroic father figure (Atticus Finch), and I enjoyed the author’s ability to reveal deep truths through the eyes of a little girl.

What are three unusual things about you your readers might not know? 
  • I have never tasted coffee. 
  • My books were rejected by publishers and agents more than 200 times. 
  • My favorite food for breakfast is broccoli.

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done? 
I participated in a pro-life protest, and, even though we were all peaceful, I was arrested and spent three days in jail.

Here are some pictures of more of Bryan's adventurous moments.
Bryan has visited 49 of the 50 states on book-promotion tours (every state but Hawaii). This year he drove all the way to Alaska. He normally drives between 20,000 and 25,000 each year so he might be coming to your state in the future.

Do you have life philosophy? Favorite verse?
  • Faith leads to confidence. Confidence plus talent plus hard work leads to success. 
  • “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

What advice would you give a teen who wants to be a writer? Exercise patience with story development. Don’t rush it. Let your characters lead readers through the story world without dumping information. Go to writers conferences, and read my writing blog –

Do you have questions for Bryan? Leave them in the comments section below.
This first series of Bryan's is good for preteens as well as teens. 

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Are You Wearing a Mask?

Have you ever worn a mask? You pull it on no one can see the real you. You become Elsa or a Ninja or a character from Star Wars. It's all in good fun.

The kind of mask you wear to disguise who you are is a real mask. But
sometimes we wear other kind of masks—pretend masks. Masks that hide who we really are.  We do that by pretending to be someone we aren’t. 

Why do we wear pretend masks? It might be to please others or be popular. It might be hide our pain or to disguise our fears or our failures.

Maybe someone has discouraged you. Maybe they said something you made wasn’t good. Or they laughed at an idea you had. Maybe they made you feel like your best job wasn’t good enough.

You pretended that it didn’t hurt by putting on a mask that told others that you didn’t really care anyway.

Or maybe all of your friends like to shop and you’d rather be in sports. 

Or they want to talk about boys, but you want to make something. 

You don’t want to be left out or have peers not like you because you prefer other activities. So you pretend to be the kind of girl who likes to shop and talk about boys, when really you’d rather play a game of soccer or put together a model. Or maybe others in your family are loud and funny, but you are quiet and would rather read a book.

Do you ever feel like you are wearing a mask? That you’re pretending to be someone you’re not?

Here’s the thing. God sees behind your mask. He knows what you are hiding from. He sees down to the real you. 

God created you to be unique and special. He made you exactly the way he wanted you to be, and he loves you just the way you are. Psalm 139:14 says, Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

God wants you to take off your mask. He wants you to embrace the person he made you to be. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 

Only when we are honest can we live out the plan God has for you.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

No, it's not snowing here. But that didn't keep us from making snowmen--the marshmallow kind.

Edible crafts are sometimes the most fun because you can simply eat your mistakes.

Our snowmen aren't perfect because they were kid-made--and kid eaten--and that's the best kind.

You need:
Cupcakes--overfill them a little so you have large rounded top
White frosting
An assortment of candy for decorating your snowman

We frosted the cupcake with extra at the front to make it look like the snowman was melting. We placed the marshmallow near the back of the cupcake and slanted it to give a melting appearance. We used a toothpick to hold it in place. On this snowman we used nerds for buttons. 

We used a small tube of Cake Mate Writing Gel to draw on the arms and hands.

We used writing gel to give our snowman blue eyes.

This snowman has a piece of candy corn for a nose. You could also use a small jelly bean, half a m&m, or other candy of your choice. We used frosting to attach the nose.
We gave him a starlight mint hat.

And a Peel and Pull scarf

Everyone made his or her cupcake a little different

Kaleb's snowman has m&m buttons, a jellybean nose and Oreo hat. 
Jasmine made a three marshmallow snowman.

She added coconut flakes for snow.

Ty made a three marshmallow snowman too.

He gave it a fruit roll up scarf.

We had another family over on New Year's Eve and we made snowmen again.


Josi and Josiah

Do you wanna build a snowman? It's easy enough, just get out the marshmallows and get started.