4th of July (For The Children!)

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Celebrating each holiday with our children has brought so many fun and amusing memories. Our little town of Monument has one of the biggest 4th of July parades of any in the United States. Many years, our children would decorate their bicycles to ride in the 2 1/2 hour parade. Candy is thrown to the rowdy audience, fire engines play their sirens, mini-autos and clowns drive in circles through the entire parade, and soldiers are remembered.

A fair filled with booths of aromatic scents, fragrances of grilled barbecue beef, sizzling, fried funnel cakes, of pink and purple cotton candy, greasy brats surrounds the parade route so that eating is a near possibility at any moment.  All of us pink-up with  sunburn every year, no matter what precautions we have taken.

Later in the cool of the early evening, we gather with the same friends each year for a huge pot luck picnic and we anticipate all the food and antics for weeks ahead of time. Finally, all of us, 25-35 people, trek down to our local Palmer Lake and watch the fireworks sparkle in the sky while being reflected on the lake’s shiny water. Many wonderful memories! This year, we will forego the firework because of the fires, but we will celebrate living in friendship and make fun of the whole evening.

The 4th of July is a wonderful opportunity to bring family together, relax, create new traditions, and have a great time. One common issue with holidays is when our little ones used to have little attention spans. Planning  advance helped me to  make sure that there would be many child-friendly activities even at our adult get togethers.

Craft for Children: 4th of July paper garland

What You Need: red, white, and blue construction paper, scissors, glue, string, ribbon, or twine (color of your choice), hole puncher (optional), star template (optional)

How To: There are a few different ways you can modify this craft to make it age appropriate for your child. If your children are older, you can have them use scissors to cut out the stars, then they can use a hole puncher to place a hole at the top and bottom of each star. They will weave the string through each star, creating a fun, colorful, festive garland that can be used to decorate your party! Children love being a part of things. Crafts make them feel like they are contributing to the event (and it is tons of fun!).

Remember that cutting out perfect stars can be a frustrating task. Consider printing out a template in advance that your children can use as an example. If you have younger children, cut out or print out colorful stars in advance. Allow them to glue the string to the stars, rather than tying and using a hole puncher.

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The New Favorite Treat: 4th of July Marshmallow Kabobs
What You Need: 

1 packet red jello,

1 packet blue jello,

lollipop sticks, marshmallows

How To: 1. Place each jello packet into it’s own small bowl. (The jello should be JUST the packet. It will just be dry colored sugar.)
2. Dip each individual marshmallow extremely quickly into a bowl of water.
3. Roll each marshmallow into a color.
4. In the order of red, white, and blue, place your marshmallows onto the lollipop sticks.
5. Serve these to all the children at your 4th of July soiree!
Nutritious Alternative: If you want a healthier choice at your 4th of July event, use your lollipop sticks and instead of doing the colored jello, do your red, white, and blue by using strawberry slivers, marshmallows, and blueberries.

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May you have a wonderful 4th with your families!  Try these fun, child-friendly ideas to insure that every little one at your event makes memories they will never forget!


Fillers, spillers and thrillers–subding my deck!

Geraniums–a great choice for my mountain home in a very large antique copper pot

In Genesis, God tells us to “subdue” the earth. This word has gone a long way to give me vision in my home–really it has.

I am wired, designed, crafted by God with the abilities, the intelligence, the skills to overcome disorder and to bring a mark of his artistry to my home and life. It is one of the greatest pleasures granted us.

To rule over something in such a way as to bring order, beauty, productivity. To know that it is a grace and glory of a woman to civilize and bring life and excellence in society. I am a purpose-driven sort of girl and if I have a reason why I am doing something, then it gives me more fuel for the fire, so to speak to accomplish something. To me, this is one of the fun parts of my calling.

Truth is, I love flowers and roses. However, my mountain home has resisted me having a  green thumb. Not a lot of great soil. Too cold. Rock and stone just below the surface of my 7250 elevation home. Resistant in every way.

Small pots of flowers at every little table on porches and back deck–these grow better!

Over the years, I have begun to outsmart this resistant earth to my subduing efforts after many attempts. I am often amazed at what little input I sometimes need to do things differently. I love flowers but I don’t necessarily have a gardener’s intuitive skill. But, Joy, seeming like an only child, because she doesn’t have a gang of kids with her like my older ones did, loves to garden–in spite of the fact that our dirt is plant and bloom resistant.

Pink Mountain Roses in a deep pot! Almost beginning to bloom.

I found that my roses are not prolific because of the infertile ground and rock and cold. So, planting them in pots, only high altitude variety, has begun to work well for me. You cannot see this, but I have 6 buds on this bush just about to bloom–I am a happy girl to see life beginning to thrive on my porch.

I felt like I needed some more professional input on how to master this mountain!
So, I asked a friend and her daughter to join Joy and me for a garden demonstration about how to plant professional pots a couple of years ago.
We all had so much fun–but the desired effect was so much better than what we used to do.
I used to go to Wal Mart, Home Depot or a little natural garden near us and buy some flowers and then pot them according to what appealed to us. But at this demonstration, they taught us a 3 point outline to make great pots for your porch or deck.
Joy’s favorite pot!
It has a fern in the middle as our thriller and 3 kinds of purple and pink flowers for fillers and again, some ivy to spill over the side, which, in the past few days has started growing a lot and spilling even more.
First, pick a THRILLER–this is a tall or dramatic plant that stands up above all other plants to give your pot a dimension–something that stands out and gives the pot some height.
Second, give your pot some FILLERS–those flowers and plants that will take up space or spread–pick a color theme that you will follow throughout your porch or area.
Third, give your pot some SPILLERS—these are those plants that will spill over the side to give dimension.
We were also told to get really big pots so that the water could be retained longer and so that it would not all evaporate on a hot day and have to be watered again.
This is a much more beautiful pot than it looks like in this picture. The purple plants are the thrillers, then two read plants fill out the pot–geraniums and the other tall red plant–can’t remember its name; and some ivy spilling over the side.   It has a fern in the middle as our thriller and 3 kinds of purple and pink flowers for fillers and again, some ivy to spill over the side, which, in the past few days has started growing a lot and spilling even more.
Every night, when it is not too cold, we have been eating on our front porch or deck. All of us feel so happy to be surrounded by flowers and also tiny blue lights that sparkle when the sun goes down.
I am still not a great gardner, but slowly over the years, I have had much pleasure in learning to subdue and master the cultivating of my own sort of mountain garden.