Thursday, February 12, 2015

Just in time for Mardi Gras: 5 Educational Resources

What exactly is Mardi Gras? As an adult I know bits and pieces about the event from things I have read or heard over the years but only the basics, and I have never even been to New Orleans to experience it. I thought it would be fun to do a little research about this extravagant holiday.

Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years and has early ties to pagan spring and fertility ceremonies. Although it is celebrated in other countries it is first mentioned in North America in 1699 by French Explorer Pierre le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville who was camped on the Mississipi River near the present location of New Orleans. It is now more well known for its religious roots. The Roman Catholic Church permitted the festival as an event celebrated before the season of Lent. In New Orleans the festivities begin each year on January 6th, the Twelfth Night of the Epiphany.

Mardi gras is French for "Fat Tuesday". It is the Tuesday before Ashe Wednesday which is the beginning of Lent. Often Christians, especially those of the Catholic faith, give up something they enjoy leading up to Easter. So on Tuesday people are encouraged to indulge in food and drink before the fasting period of Lent.

Of course the festivities held in New Orleans, Louisiana go way beyond that. The biggest celebrations are held on Bourbon street and includes parades, Mardi Gras beads,and lots of food and drinks. The floats in the parade are extravagant and so are the costumes worn by people celebrating the event. The event even has official colors! Purple- which represents justice, Green- stands for faith, and Gold- stands for power. They were originally chosen by the King of the Carnival, Rex, in 1872. If you are an observer watching the parade you may get beads or doubloons handed out to you.The beads resemble jewels that royalty would wear and the doubloons also come in various colors, are about the size of a silver dollar, and have the krewes emblem and their theme for the year stamped on each coin.

A tradition of Mardi Gras is to bake a King Cake that has "plastic babies" inside. Whoever gets the slice of cake with the baby in it is crowned King or Queen of Mardi Gras and is responsible for hosting a party the following year. Want to learn more about the festival of Mardi Gras? Check out these great resources I found!

1. Mardi Gras Spelling List

Here's a list of words that would be great to use in correlation with any study of Mardi Gras. Another idea would to make your own list at Spelling City based on your child's grade level.

2. Mardi Gras History Videos

Here are several great videos on the origin, traditions, and food of Mardi Gras

3. The History of Mardi Gras

This site gives a more indepth history of how the holiday of Mardi Gras originated.

4. Mardi Gras DIY Ideas

From how to make a King Cake, making a Jester Hat, to a healthy gumbo recipe...this site has all kinds of neat things to make and create!

5. Official New Orleans Mardi Gras Website 

Maybe you would like to plan a trip to New Orleans? This site includes a schedule of events, tells about the parade and also has videos and historical information.

I do want to put a slight disclaimer on some of the information as it can also be a bit of a risqué holiday. I would look through some of the information and videos before showing it to your children to make sure it is age appropriate. From all that I looked at I would show it to my children but they are 13 and 15. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Confession: Things Will Not Always Go As Planned

Oh my poor neglected blog. I'm not sure I have went this long without writing here. December was a rough month and every time I think of updating my blog I think of the bad stuff that has happened so I have avoided it. I have learned over the years though that things do not go as planned and often bad stuff happens by the bucketful. I swear I was getting to where I thought I needed a steel umbrella to go outside as I wondered if a brick would fall on my head next.

totally stole this picture off the internet....sorry is a summary of the past month in a run-on sentence paragraph that will make you think this homeschool mom NEEDS an online spelling program and possibly needs medicated.(please ignore spelling/grammar/and excessive amounts of ellipses for a few minutes)

It all started one night when due to the dry air in the house with the heat on I decided to run the very noisy humidifier (note self inflicted guilt here)...meanwhile outside unbeknown to any of us some type of critter...raccoon? crazed dog? coyote? chupacabra? decides to tear a small hole in one of our outside rabbits cages, pull my bunny by it's fur through the little hole literally skinning the animal leaving it's bald body dead for Z~girl to discover the next morning. Earlier that same night (I think it was the same is all a terrible blur) hubby hears a commotion outside before he goes to bed and runs off a dog trying to tear apart our chicken coop. A week later our early bird Z~girl wakes to discover a yard full of dead chickens...6 to be exact scattered from our house to our neighbor's. These were her young chickens and somehow our 2 year old chickens thankfully remained in their own coop unscathed by the poultry violence. Results of 7 of Z~girl's pets (FRIENDS her critters go beyond being pets) being slaughtered? Anxiety attacks, depression, and an incredibly unhappy and understandably upset 13 year old. This in turn breaks a mama and daddy's heart, causes a lot of sleepless nights worrying about the rest of the chickens, remaining outside bunny coming in at night causing allergic mom asthma attacks. Oh...and the sighting of what may have been a coyote out in the yard by Z~girl yesterday. I haven't even mentioned Prader-willi syndrome and the holidays. So add in a few cups of PWS anxiety and excitement to the mix. I'm sure I have left out something. It has been TERRIBLE!! Not to mention January and the first part of Feb are hard on me due to it being my fathers birth/death month. My miscarriage eons ago in February. (1992 I think? We would have had a 23 year old by now)

The end of February brings on happiness though. The second weekend of February 15 years ago we got at a call from DSS saying they had a medically fragile infant that needed immediate placement. We didn't take him that weekend as we had weekend plans away which sounds selfish especially considering our years of infertility woes but if you consider that was the last overnight we spent was priceless. Even more priceless was that the following weekend we became parents of a most awesome A~man. The end of February 5 years after that we were awarded guardianship of this awesome boy. So I look forward to February!

PHEW....I am done with the bad stuff...I can move on with the good. Something very special did happen in December. This isn't typical with PWS but when we go to the grocery store Aubrey LOVES it. He loves talking to the people that work there and everyone ends up knowing him by name. (think of Norm off of Cheers) of the main butchers from our store got all of the people's names on a Christmas card and sent it for A and Z. So very special and I did send a letter to the store's corporate office praising the meat department and the store in general as they are awesome. Especially after our unfortunate event at a restaurant this fall. I think I will mention the awesome store which is Ingles. (no I do not work there! haha!)

Despite the crappy month I want it to teach me to look for the good in the next year...and not let it be overshadowed by the bad stuff.