Friday, February 28, 2014

Lent calendar completed!

It took way longer than I had expected, but I've finally got a plan of Lenten activities (one each day) laid out. Here's the list of preschool appropriate and family activities:

We are actually starting on Monday, March 3rd by planting some hyacinth bulbs we will force and making a countdown chain on the 4th.

Ash Wednesday: Create this Lenten Prayer Pot.
March 6: Start praying at bedtime.
March 7: Create this fish mobile.
March 8: Create and begin to fill a Lenten Alms Jar.
March 9: Create a home altar.
March 10: Trace hands. Discuss service as "giving a helping hand. "
March 11:  Make a wooden cross. Read John 19: 17.
March 12: Bake some goodies for our sitter.
March 13: Begin praying in the morning.
March 14: Create these sacrifice beads.
March 15: Make a crown of thorns. Read John 19: 2. Added crown to family altar.
March 16: Make rainbows with cotton balls and colored puffs in honor of St. Patrick's Day.
March 17: Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with Shamrock crafts.
March 18: Sift small rocks from large rocks. Discuss how big sins stay with us longer than small sins and emphasize the importance of asking forgiveness.
March 19: Make soft pretzels. Read Matt 26: 17-19.
March 20: Start praying at evening meal.
March 21: Use purple water to transfer with eye dropper. Discuss importance of purple in liturgical calendar.
March 22: Introduce the silence game and discuss importance of listening to God.
March 23: Make these kits to hand out to homeless on the street.
March 24: Make this stained glass cross.
March 25: Attach correct clothespins to liturgical color wheel.
March 26: Create this Lenten rosary.
March 27: Create the base for our Jesus Tree.
March 28 and 29: Make ornaments for Jesus Tree.
March 30: Decorate Jesus Tree.
March 31: Create and discuss these Life of Jesus printables.
April 1: Make this seashell cross.
April 2: Create puppets and tell the story of Daniel in the Lions' Den.
April 3: Take bulbs out of closet.
April 4: Visit the conservatory to bask in the beauty of God's creation.
April 5: Visit a nursing home.
April 6: Make and decorate a dove, a symbol of peace.
April 7: Bake hot cross buns.
April 8: Use these printables to tell the story of the loaves and fishes.
April 9: Create these Easter rosary books.
April 10: Prepare and eat a Passover meal.
April 11: Create this torn paper art.
April 12: Make this footprint donkey and handprint palms in anticipation of Palm Sunday.
April 13: Make paper Palm leaves.
April 14: Create an Easter garden.
April 15: Make cupcakes or cookies for Daddy's work friends.
April 16: Create this cotton ball lamb.
April 17: Wash children's feet. Discuss significance.
April 18: Make these Easter story cookies.
April 19: Dye Easter eggs.
April 20: Easter mass and egg hunt.

We are also hoping to have one of our priests over for dinner (now scheduled for the 29th) as well as one of our church friends.

Hope this gives you some ideas for Lent. If you have a tradition your family enjoys for Lent, share it below.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Preparing For Lent

Lent starts March 5th this year with Ash Wednesday. Since we are Catholic, I make an effort to honor this time in some way. My general goal is to be a better person by the end of Lent. This year that will manifest as a reduction in screen time for me and the boys.

I'll admit, this has generally been my big failing as a parent. I grew up with TV on in the background and have continued that habit as an adult. Even with all the information that shows screen time hurts a child's development, I still have it going. I convince myself it's not that bad because it's exclusively PBS shows and we stream from Netflix so no commercials. But this is just me rationalizing a poor choice, and it ends now. Starting Ash Wednesday, we will only watch one hour of TV per day and eliminate all other unnecessary screen time.

Just saying that is kind of scary. This means I'll be spending a lot more time as play mate to my toddler rather than focusing on the baby's needs. In order to do that I'm relying on some fabulous websites for ideas of things to do: Nurturestore, Pinterest, Play At Home Mom, Gift of Curiosity, 1+1+1=1, and The Artful Parent among others.

I'll allow myself to update this blog daily to stay accountable. I'm giving up Facebook, except for 30 minutes on Sundays. I'll use my phone only to converse with people or take pictures of all our fun. 

The key for success is planning,  I feel, so I'll update you over the next week or so on my plans.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Monday, February 10, 2014

Night Trains at Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum

I love Groupon. They ran a buy one get one for Night Trains which let us get in for $10.00. Honestly though this is worth paying full price.

The Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum is located in the same general area of St. Paul as the Como Zoo, in a former railroad repair building. Its main exhibits are on the 2nd floor of the larger of two buildings. Night Trains is held in an annex of sorts titled the Toy Train Division.

I decided since we were here mainly for three year old Dino man that we would go straight to the toy trains and skip the rest this visit. This worked out well. We doesn't an hour and a half watching the toy trains wind through various cities,  towns, farms and even an amusement park. There were also six Thomas trains that kids could run with a switch, as well as three Brio train tables set up for the kids to play with.

Dino Man first headed to a room just off the entrance and wanted to immediately be picked up so see could see everything. There were three separate train dioramas in this room.

In a larger room further on one could find six or eight more dioramas, the Thomas trains and the Brio train tables. A repairman also worked on and off through the evening in their repair shop.

The clientele was overwhelmingly boys, but a few girls were during the trains with fervor as well.

By far my favorite was the amusement park with an electric Ferris wheel and roller coaster. Judging by the crowd gathered round it was a popular favorite.

I was able to nurse the little one over by the play train tables, and didn't get any weird looks which was refreshing. I was a spectator to some interesting parenting choices, but I'll save that for another blog.

Overall I would highly recommend checking it night trains or after February 22nd, the regular daytime trains. It's definitely worth your time.