Fireflies: June 2013         

Jun 28, 2013

Even "Fish" love MARBLES!

At four years old, grandson Judah is the "fish" in our backyard pool. He jumps, dives, cannonballs, flips and begs to be thrown in upside down. That day the only way I got him out of the pool was when it began to thunder and an afternoon shower sent him scurrying into the back porch. Although he was disappointed, he quickly became interested in the small bag I set down and opened on the floor - its contents rolling out with bright colors everywhere. Judah was mesmerized!  Marbles! 

After a few tries at "flicking" his thumb, he had it - he was ready to shoot. We giggled and shot marbles all over with great delight - until the shower stopped. Then my little "fish" was back in the pool.  But I'm keeping the marbles close by for the next rainy day...

Why not purchase a bag of marbles for your child(ren) and begin a new tradition of playing "Ringer"!

View How to Play Marbles on Howcast

The first person to shoot in a game of marbles is determined by lagging:
  1. Draw a line on the ground.
  2. The players shoot at the line from 10 feet away.
  3. The player closest to the line goes first.
The Game
  1. Draw a ring (a large circle – usually about 5 to 10 feet across) and put 13 marbles in it . The marbles should be in a cross and spaced 3 inches apart - or may be placed randomly.
  2. Each player shoots in turn from outside the circle, trying to hit a marble out of the ring while keeping his shooter inside the circle.
  3. If the shooter has a miss, his turn is over and he picks up the shooter.
  4. If the shooter has a hit but the shooter also rolls out of the ring, he keeps the marbles that rolled out and his turn is over.
  5. If the shooter has a hit and the shooter stays in the ring then player shoots again from the place where the shooter stayed.
  6. On each new turn a player shoots from anywhere outside the ring.
  7. The one who collects the most marbles wins!
Mary Byrne Kline

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Jun 26, 2013

Gratitude: Remembering

Remembering those who have gone before us

Last month, my Dad would have turned 76 years old. We lost him in his battle with depression when I was 11 years old. He has been gone now for almost 22 years. It is still surreal to me to believe THAT many years have passed and yet there are days where I feel like the pain is still so fresh. I miss him everyday and wish so badly that my husband and children had known him. 

In this struggle, I was asking God to show me a special way to help my family learn more about him so that we could begin a new tradition of remembering him. As moms, most all of us have seen Disney's Tangled. There is the most magical scene in the movie where Flynn Rider takes Rapunzel out in a boat to see the lanterns lit and lifted off in honor of the lost princess (which happens to be her). The combination of the beautiful song and the glow of the lanterns gives me chill bumps and brings me to tears every time. I believe this movie started the intrigue with the Chinese lanterns and I have noticed many people using them for wedding and birthday celebrations since. I decided this would be a wonderful way to celebrate my Dad. Instead of sending off a lantern on the day he passed away, I chose to do this on his birthday, May 13th. In wanting to remember the happy memories of his life, this seemed to make the most sense.

That evening, my husband helped me gather all five of our children. We walked out onto the sidewalk in front of our house and looked up at the night sky. I told the kids that today had been their Granddad's birthday. I had a picture with me so they could all see his face while we were talking. We talked about how loving and kind he was and how much he would have loved playing and laughing with all of them. I told the children we were going to start this new tradition of sending off a lantern in his memory every year on his birthday to help us remember him and to thank God for his life. 
Amanda Hampton

As the lantern lifted off, I said, "Happy Birthday, Dad!" And I spoke out loud my prayer of thanks and gratitude for my Dad's life…the legacy he left in me, my sister, and our children. I want his spirit to live on and I pray my children are able to know the amazing good he did in this world. The little girl that still lives inside of me needs to know that my Dad's life, even though it ended so tragically, was remarkable and is worth celebrating. 

Thank you, God, for my amazing Dad…who would've made the best Granddad around.  


Jun 24, 2013

Kids in the Kitchen: Watermelon Wigglers


After living in Alaska and having a lack of fresh produce for three years, the boys and I are making up for lost time.  A bright, green watermelon is a staple in our cart these past months.  The boys can't get enough of it and well, I just happen to think that there are few things more adorable than little barefooted, sunkissed boys sitting on the porch attempting to spit watermelon seeds into the yard (most of the seeds end up in their laps).  Oh how I love those sweet and sticky little faces!  

For this month's "Kids in the Kitchen" craft, we decided to pay tribute to our summer obsession, the watermelon.  

I had made blue Jell-O in orange peels later last year and decided to revisit that fun treat.  After a few adjustments, we had these cute little watermelonesque treats, which by the way lasted less than a day before the boys (Daddy included) slurped them all up.  

All you need for this recipe is:
  • Limes

  • Boxes of Jell-O (we used 3 and that made just about the perfect amount we needed for our bag of 12 limes)

  • mini muffin (cupcake) baking pan
  • bowl to mix up the Jell-O
  • measuring cups

Step #1:  

Cut the limes in half.

Step #2:  

Squeeze the juice out of the limes (we froze ours so we could make "key lime" pie sometime soon)

Step #3:

After the juice has been removed from the halves, scrape out the pulp and the pith and you should be left with nice cleaned out limes like the ones below.  Note:  I found the easiest way to scrape them out was to flip the lime inside out.

Step: #4

Prepare the Jell-O according to the directions for the Jigglers variety.  We did a combo of flavors using 2 boxes of strawberry and 1 box of watermelon.

Step #5:

Arrange the cleaned out, juiced limes in a mini cupcake pan (like below):

Step #6:

Mix the boiling water into the gelatin for the recommended amount of time.

Step #7:

Once the gelatin has completely dissolved, pour into the prepared limes in the mini cupcake pan.

Step #8:

Let the Jigglers set at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.  Proceed to cut them in quarters.

We couldn't resist so we cut some eensy teensy little watermelon slices and added some "seeds" with our black edible marker.  You also could put mini chocolate chips in them for seeds if you prefer.

Author: Rachel Skvaril
Sugar Artist

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Jun 21, 2013


When I gave my 2 oldest grandsons the new box of jacks, they both looked at me quite puzzled. “What are these?” they asked.  I dumped the contents on the sidewalk and began to bounce the small red ball and pick up jacks. Their eyes grew big and they immediately were squealing, “I want to play!” “Let me try!”  After a few quick rules, Tyler and Evyn were hooked! They even begged to take the jacks home with them when it was time for them to go home.  Here are some simple rules to help you get started in enjoying your own game of jacks.

Playing Jacks: You throw the ball into the air … pick up one jack … then catch the ball after it bounces one time. Continue picking up the jacks one at a time. When you have collected all the jacks, throw them again and start picking the jacks up two at a time (twosies). When you get to threesies you have to pick up the three sets of three first, then pick up the left over jack. Continue on until you are at tensies. You can then declare the winner as the first one to tens, or go back down again to onesies.
Your turn continues until you either: miss the ball, fail to pick up the jacks, move a jack, or drop a jack that you have picked up. Your turn is then over and the next person goes.

- If after you throw the jacks and two (or more) jacks are touching you can either leave them, or pick up the jacks and drop them to spread them out.

Who goes first
Throw the jacks up in the air and trying to catch as many as possible with both hands together (your palms have to be face down - thumb to thumb). Whoever catches the most jacks goes first.


Black Widow
You have to play from ones to tens without missing. If you miss then you have to start again at ones.

No bouncies

Go from one to tens without letting the ball bounce before you pick up the jacks.

Double bouncies

Pick up the jacks and then catch the ball after it bounces twice.

Cherries in a basket

Cup your hand and throw the ball with the opposite hand. You have to then place the jacks in your cupped hand - one through tens.

Pigs in a Pen

Place your hand slightly cupped on the ground with the side of your hand resting on the ground. Then throw the ball with the opposite hand and slide the jacks into the “pig pen” ones through tens.

Over the fence

Place you hand on the ground straight and you have to place the jacks on the other side of the “fence” - ones through tens.
Mary Byrne Kline


Jun 19, 2013

CHALK One Up For Summer!

Summer is in full swing and at my house, that means lots of outdoor time.  One of our favorite activities is drawing with sidewalk chalk.  For this month's post, my family decided to make their own.  

A friend had sent me a link to this recipe at Playful Learning's blog.  We more or less used the same quantities.  Here is a list of s supplies you will need for this project:
  • cardboard wrapping paper tube
  • wax paper
  • masking tape
  • tempera paint
  • plaster of paris
  • scissors
  • blade (to cute the cardboard tubing into segments)
  • mixing bowls (we used plastic cups)
  • paint stirrers (we used disposable chopsticks)

First, have your honey or some other adult, cut the tube into even sections with your blade.

Cut some pieces of wax paper.

Roll up the wax paper pieces and insert into the tubing.  You want to have a nice barrier between the cardboard and the chalk mixture.

Secure the wax paper with masking tape.  Cut additional wax paper to cover the bottom of the tube and secure that as well.

Now, the fun part.

You are going to mix 1/2 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of paint.  

We also used an assembly line of sorts to keep things organized.

We did 6 colors so needed 6 mixing container.  We found it easier to put the water and paint in the cup (bowl) first, and then mix in the plaster of paris.

You will need to mix in 3/4 cup of plaster of paris.

Mix well!  After the colors are mixed, pour each chalk mixture into a zip-top sandwich bag.

To keep our tubes from falling over, we taped them all together in a big clump.

 Clip a bottom corner off the bag and squeeze colored chalk into the prepared tubes.

Let dry at least 24 hours.  Some of our colors are still not completely dry and its been about 36 hours but this is probably due to the humidity.

After the chalk has dried completely, tear off the cardboard tubing and wax paper and there you have it.  Your very own sidewalk chalk!

Author: Rachel Skvaril
Sugar Artist

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Jun 6, 2013

CLIP Review: The Sidewalk Rescue

Author:  Hazel Hutchins
Illustrator:  Ruth Ohi

Remember the awe you felt when Burt, Mary Poppins and the Banks children jumped through the sidewalk chalk drawings and into the delightful land of make-believe?

Well, believe it or not the very same thing 

has just happened to Josie!!

Just as she drew a beautiful picture on the sidewalk, she jumped inside to pick the flowers and that's how it happened. Her sister Morgan ran inside to tell her parents and soon it seemed as though everyone had become involved.  In order to stop the gigantic lion chasing Josie, mother grabbed the chalk and drew a boat for Josie to escape down the river. "Help!" cried Josie, as she headed for a waterfall! Now father quickly snatched the chalk and swiftly drew a large hawk, whose enormous talons carefully lifted Josie safely from the rushing water.  Can the lady next door walking her dog save Josie when the hawk drops her? And what about the mail carrier and, oh goodness, can the electrical worker draw something to save her from a shark?

I strongly suggest having some sidewalk chalk on hand after reading this exciting story, full of imaginative thrills. You'll have fun coming up with your own sequence of adventures once your child begins drawing outside. Take pictures and make your own story of your child's Sidewalk Rescue!
Mary Byrne Kline

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Jun 5, 2013

Poem: Summer Stargazing

[Verbal Communications]
Author:  Marilyn Singer
Illustrator:  LeUyen Phan

Read poems to your children...often.   Better yet, memorize simple poems together.   Memorize this poem so that you are prepared to recite it the next time you look up and see the heavens lit up with stars.   Recite Stargazing by Marilyn Singer and then begin giving each star its own name...


Looking at the summer stars
is our latest game.
I like to count them one by one
while Dad gives each a name.

He says it's so much better
than trying to count sheep.
We make the stars our very own
before we fall asleep.

This poem comes from Singer's book, 

A Stick is an Excellent Thing.
Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play

Deni Corbett

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Jun 3, 2013

Reflections: NO Quitting!

The Byrne Sisters
As a kid I could hardly wait to flip the calendar to June - lazy days of freedom lay ahead. Lemonade stands with nickels and dimes rolling in, hours of jump rope contests, hopscotch competitions, marble wars and bike rides until the street lights would come on.  My sisters and I would sit in bed, giggling and talking, deciding the best way to spend the next day. Which activity should take priority? Who would get the jump rope with the best handles? Did we have enough chalk for a really big hopscotch pattern on the driveway? Had mom bought Kool-Aid or lemonade for us to sell?  We'd chatter until our snickering gave us away and a stern "Girls, get to sleep!" caused us to finally settle in for the night.

There were, however, two unforeseen flaws in our perfect summer plans. Chores and boredom. I don't recall the chores assigned to either of my sisters, but I clearly remember mine. Daddy gave me an old dull-bladed knife, actually an old butter knife, and sent me outside to rid our entire length of sidewalk cracks of weeds. Holy cow! Did he know how much sidewalk we had and how many weeds were growing in all those cracks? Figuring about 3 sidewalk squares per day,  I'd probably finish when I was 50!

The Byrne Pet Parade
Boredom came after about a week of playing the same games, especially when my older sister bailed to be with her friends. That's when IT happened. My friend Maria and I came up with the most wonderful idea. We would create a club. Not just any club. It would be a nature club. We would call it Explorers Of Nature! My deftness with the butter knife became almost magical as I attacked the sidewalk weeds with a newfound energy.  Maria and I had a club to manage! As the older and "so-much-wiser" of the group, we took weekly turns being President and Vice President. My little sister, Barbie was relegated as "Member".  She wasn't too happy about this, especially since she was given all the duties we didn't want, such as sweeping the section of the basement where meetings would be held, serving us our Kool-Aid and being last in line when we went on nature hikes. Her grumbling caused us as Officers to come up with our only E.O.N. rule - "Members can only quit 2 times in each meeting!" Barb was not happy, but agreed.  I was President the week of the animal parade and got to be first in line. Barbie had to follow me.

It was quite a summer.  With our green and white E.O.N. flag on a stick and armed with my trusty butter knife, the three of us spent many long hours roaming through fields, among trees and backyards investigating bird nests, anthills, bugs and we even found an old buried book about Abraham Lincoln. Little Barbie trudged along behind, never quitting, even when we'd sneak ahead of her.  To be honest, she was the bravest one when it came to digging anything up or daring to touch anything.  I learned a lot from her even then.

My sisters and I are only able to get together about once a year now. But when we do we still stay up late giggling and sharing about when we were kids. And we still argue about who got the jump rope with the best handles most of the time (it was Lynda). I still complain about having had to dig sidewalk weeds. And dear Barb always reminds me of her plight as the only member of the E.O.N. club. But amidst that laughter the three of us grow quiet. For you see, I not only learned about bravery from my little sister on those hikes, I also saw her spirit that wouldn't quit.  That "No Quitting" spirit is still remarkably alive in her today.
The precious memories of childhood games, dreams, even chores have a way of staying with you for the rest of your life. This month we are focusing on ways you can experience outdoor joy with your children as you play hopscotch, jump rope, or play a game of marbles. Perhaps you may even be inspired to create your own chapter of the Explorers Of Nature club! Rip the calendar page off - it's June!
Mary Byrne Kline

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