Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Memory Verse Image: Psalm 141:3

My church has started a scripture memory program called MVP: Memory Verse Project.

I can remember anything longer if I associate an image with it. If I think of the picture, I can remember the words.

Here's my mental image of this week's verse, Psalm 141:3. Hope it helps you remember, too! Blessings!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rainforest Diorama Project

The reason I started my blog page was because of my daughter's rainforest diorama project.

Am I just obsessive-compulsive or do other parents stay up into the wee hours glueing sequins on cotton clouds and hanging plastic eagles with fishing line? (Don't answer that. Ha ha!)

Have you ever noticed that the science fair projects and open house displays require way too much attention span for a child to complete on his or her own? (Do I sound like Andy Rooney?)

Early into the week given to prepare the diorama, my daughter quickly became overwhelmed and distracted, and ended up playing with the supplies rather than putting together the project! She thought it was a lot more fun to paint her hands than it was to paint the box! (Let's see, six years old, six minute attention span. Sounds about right!)

Determined to "help" my first grader turn in a "decent" project, (or a pathetic subconscious desire for approval and applause on my part, you decide!), I initiated my online search for ideas. Once I googled "rainforest diorama", I found a mom in Australia's blog with the most FABULOUS step by step photos and instructions of how she and her child did their rainforest diorama project! I was so happy!

It totally inspired me, and I was so thankful to this mom that I wanted to respond to her blog. But you can't respond unless you're a member, so I had to start my own blog. Now I'm really glad I did, it's a lot of fun so far... (Now, if I can only figure out how to thank that mom in Australia.) Big Sister took all the photos so we could show our version of the Rainforest Diorama Project.

To make the "scenery" backdrop for the rainforest diorama:

1. Choose a large shoe box or a small shipping box to start.

2. Have your child paint the inside of the box in two phases. Sky and Trees.

3. First paint the sky.

We used four shades of blue for the four layers of the rainforest. Since the Emergent Layer is closest to the sun, we made it the lightest shade of blue; the forest floor is darkest, so it was darkest blue.

4. Once the sky has dried, have your child paint
brown tree trunks and green trees on the sides and bottom of the box.

To make the platform:
An adult should measure and cut a square piece of cardboard measuring twice the width as the box's bottom. This will be the base of a platform of trees that will slide inside the painted box when done. (The "stage" that will sit in front of the background "scenery" of trees your child painted).

Supplies needed:

Plastic table cover
old magazines, shipping envelopes
masking tape
plaster gauze (at craft store in paper mache section)
plastic bowl of warm water
various shades of green tissue paper
various shades of blue tissue paper
blue and opalescent glitter
gold sequins
cotton balls
glue gun & glue sticks
white school glue
clear tape
home-made bakeable modeling clay rainforest animals (snakes, turtles)
plastic rainforest animals (birds, land animals, crocodile, palm trees)
origami flowers or tissue paper flowers and butterflies
stickers of rainforest animals
1. Ball up magazine pages and masking tape them to the "back half" of the cut-out cardboard base to form a rectangular, bumpy mound of paper.

2. Roll up thicker pages (like the front and back covers of the magazine) to create an oval shape around the "front half" of the cut-out cardboard base to form the alligator pond. Add a couple of smaller balls to become pond "rocks".

3. Roll & tape short tubes around pond to become "tropical ferns".

4. Roll & tape taller tubes of different heights to become "trees". Add "branches" by taping scrunched up aluminum foil pieces or paper to upper trunk in letter Y shapes. (It doesn't have to be perfect, just have fun. It actually looks better when they're all different, like in nature.)

5. Cut plaster gauze into large an small strips. First use the large strips to cover the large areas of paper balls. Dip each strip into the bowl of warm water. Use your fingers to "squeegie" off extra water, lay the strip over the paper balls and gently blend the plaster with your finger.
Like paper mache, keep layering strips to cover the paper balls and tubes trees, ferns, rocks, etc.
6. After the plaster dries (10-15 minutes), paint it with acrylic paints. We used a mixture of browns and greens for the tree and fern trunks, and for the ground.

7. Rip thin strips of green tissue paper and glue to cover ground with "grasses and plant leaves". Crumple up and twist larger pieces of dark and light green tissue paper, tape with clear tape to attach to tree branches.

8. Paint the "pond" blue (same paint as used for sky background). When dry, paint with white glue and sprinkle with blue glitter. Rip thin strips of light and dark blue tissue paper to make a "cascading waterfall", paint with downward stripes of glue and sprinkle with glitter. Glue gun rocks into position in and around the pond.

9. Add alligator to pond. Put leoopard on land. Glue or clear tape monkeys, macaws, gorillas, etc. to trees. Put turtles, lizards on ground near water. Add snails and insects to ground.

11. Touch up paint anywhere that shows plaster.
12. Add origami or tissue paper flowers.
13. Cut top corners of box to "open up" the sky. Stretch cotton balls and glue gun to cardboard line to make clouds. Dot with sequins or opalescent glitter.

TA DA! All Done! Only five hours, and it looks AWESOME doesn't it?

Not bad for a 42 year-old first grader, eh?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pray For China

Last weekend, my husband took me to San Francisco for a lovely weekend away from the kids. (What a guy! :) We stayed at the Hyatt Grand Hotel (he used up lots of bonus points for a free night) and got the first class treatment! We went out to dinner, to a concert downtown (saw the band "Blind Melon", which was a surprisingly good show), came "home" to our beautiful hotel room with a panoramic view of the San Francisco Marina and Coit Tower. Very cool.

The next morning after breakfast, we took a walk through the city in the spring sunshine. Across the street, in Union Square, some kind of demonstration was going on. Drums were rhythmically booming in unison and crowds were gathering to see what was going on. Throngs of volunteers passed out informational newspapers to every passer-by, and banners with gory pictures of torture victims and their story, were on display throughout the square. Hundreds of people carried signs reading "FREE TIBET", and even more wore t-shirts printed with "OLYMPICS AND CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY CANNOT CO-EXIST IN CHINA."

At first, I was repelled by the disturbing photos and victim bios posted all around me. I was thinking, "Here I am on a romantic weekend with my husband, I don't want to think about this right now...I just had breakfast!" But then I started reading a poster about children being taken prisoner for any reason by the crooked government. When a "paying customer" has a need for a human organ, the imprisoned people are "harvested" for their organs! OMG!

The next posters showed victim after victim who had been burned, butchered and battered. Why? For refusing to denounce their religious beliefs. For thinking thoughts or speaking words that are not allowed. Evil. Unthinkable. Horrifying. But what can I do about it?
(More info available at )

After we left the demonstration, I continued to think about what I had learned that day. I was totally unaware up to this point that all this was even happening in the world. Now that I know, and I feel upset and concerned, don't I have a responsibility to DO SOMETHING? I started to pray and ask God why He had us go to that demonstration. What am I supposed to do? What can little me do to help these people thousands of miles away? I turned to my Bible, and there "just so happened" to be a bookmark sticking out of the pages, so I opened it at that place. My eyes immediately went to a paragraph that was underlined in the text. It read:

"I think you ought to know, brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of ASIA," [China is in Asia, right?] "We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead! And He DID DELIVER US from mortal danger. And we are confident that He will CONTINUE TO DELIVER US. He will rescue us because YOU ARE HELPING BY PRAYING FOR US. AS A RESULT, MANY WILL GIVE THANKS TO GOD BECAUSE SO MANY PEOPLE'S PRAYERS FOR OUR SAFETY HAVE BEEN ANSWERED." 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (New Living translation)

So that's the answer! Straight from God! Pray for the prisoners in China. Pray for the victimizers in China. There are people there who desperately need us to pray for their safety! Wouldn't that be cool to meet people one day in Heaven who were saved because of our prayers for them on earth?

God is so cool. I just had to share. :)

Mia Butterfly