Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Pictures

Lydia has been wanting one of these for a long time and was very excited to finally get a purse to color.

Littlest Pet Shop - always a big hit

Perler beads - definite favorite

Both the girls got a decorate your own Littlest Pet Shop

Sparkle shoes and Twinkle Toes! (Thanks to a great clearance price this mama found)

Read along princess books and cd's

Look and find style book - very magical

More LPS

Emma can't be left out of the coloring fun

Gifts from Mana and Hoppy - Little Ponies and LPS

Lydia wants to learn how to sew so we are starting with this kit

Final Product

They did a great job - Lydia really does have quite the artistic eye
We had a simple and very blessed Christmas.  We are not huge gift givers and toys are not the way to my girls heart.  Quality time and the touch they both crave are far more suited to crafts and games than toys.  My Christmas gift this year was the tree you see in the background. Justin surprised me one day and went to Sam's and got it for me.  I love it! Justin and I rarely get anything for each other so it was a really nice treat.  Hope you had a fun Christmas and that you have a blessed new year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Learning Fun

Here are just a few snapshots of some of the fun learning activities we have been doing around here this month.

Alphabet soup - yummy!

Boy, look at ALL that snow.
Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your hair. Obviously we like dress up around here!

Now Mary, that's more like a pastor's kid, right?

Another, older version of Mary.

Not sure about this one....she said she was a cowgirl. Lasso and boots?

Roll and Build a Nativity from 2 Teaching Mommies.

Nativity Word search

Nativity timeline from 2 Teaching Mommies

Alphabet match, upper lower case

close up

Color words candy cane matching. Emma could read them all!

Day 20 of our Christmas fun days, decorating an ice cream cone tree.

Always some dramatic flair.

Notice: not all ideas to be an out of the box teaching mama lend themselves to good results. Dry erase markers on our fridge did not go well.

The math problems were answered correctly but the result on the fridge seems permanent.

Several different home remedies later and it is still there.
Be blessed!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Family Fun

PJ's are a must when we snuggle in for a movie or a good book!
Our family is so very much enjoying our celebration of Advent with some really fun activities thrown in. Last night we had family movie night and the movie of the night was "Snow Buddies". The girls loved seeing the cute little puppies and lets just say that Justin and I suffered through it for the sake of our children.  Not what we would consider quality entertainment here folks.  Other than that it was a fun way to spend a night with my favorite people in the world. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

December Fun

Here is the final list I put on the pull out cards in my homemade Advent calendar.  So far, the girls are having fun and I am pleased with the way they are listening when we do our Jesse Tree devotions.  Really feeling the peace and calm this year for the Christmas season.

1 - Tree Decorating
2 - Family Movie Night (FMN) - Rudolph (with special Rudolph chapstick from Target dollar spot)
3 - Serve meal at the Union Mission
4 - Decorate Christmas Canvas Bags
5 - Christmas Shape Tracers
6 - Window Clings (2 from Target dollar spot and Nativity set from Christmas Walmart Clearance last year)
7 - Color Bookmarks
8 - Jesus - paint over his name with q-tips
9 - FMN - the library has several good Christmas picks
10 - Paint Ornaments
11 - Dress Fancy for dinner tonight (even mommy and daddy)
12 - Hot Chocolate Treat
13 - Coloring book fun
14 - Nativity Puzzle
15 - Happy Birthday Jesus activity book
16 - FMN - library again
17 - Bake something yummy for neighbors and deliver
18 - Christmas bookies in PJ's
19 - Legend of the candy cane with craft
20 - Legend of the Christmas Tree - decorate ice cream cone Christmas tree
21 - Legend of Saint Nicholas with Santa craft
22 - Nativity craft
23 - FMN - Small One (my favorite from childhood) and The Very First Noel
24 - Make Birthday Cake for Jesus - Christmas Eve church service
25 - Christmas Celebration!

I found so many great ideas this year when searching the web that I have a folder full of ideas for next year already! I really am grateful to so many online communities that provide such great resources for free. Someone else's hard work is making it easier to focus on what is most important and do it in a creative way. Blessings!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent Celebration

We began our Advent Celebration last night with a family worship time.  We sang together and Lydia read the Bible reading for the first Jesse Tree ornament.  It was a wonderful time and it is my prayer that this time together will really focus our hearts on the reason we celebrate.  Jesus! Blessings to all of you during this season.

Jennifer Wilson - You are the advent calendar winner. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Christmas Advent

Now that you have taken a look into how our family is celebrating a Thanksgiving Advent of sorts I wanted to give you a sneak peak into our Christmas Advent. Each day in December leading up to Christmas we have a special activity planned.  Some are simple crafts, others are baking adventures and we also have some service projects in the mix too.  I made another simple calendar like I did for Thanksgiving and have the slips of paper with each activity written on it as a count down to Christmas.

I love spending time together as a family and I know that by planning out different activities for us to do together not everything will go according to my plan.  That's O.K.  (or at least I am learning to be ok with it.) I want my husband and my kids to want to be at home more than anywhere else in the world and for me that means taking time to think through how we can spend time as a family and planning fun activities.

Thanks to the internet I have no lack of ideas to fill 24 days with great Christmas ideas.  I have some friends that have a few really great ideas.  Check out how Lorrie and her family celebrate Advent.  Also, check out this great idea that Ashley and her family did last year.  In addition to all the fun activities I have planned we will be using Jesse Tree devotionals each night as a way to bring our attention to Christ's birth as the reason for the season.

I love spending time all year gathering supplies for the activities we do in December and hope that you feel inspired to  spend some time connecting as a family and sharing in the joy of the Christmas season.  If you would like to win a handmade (by me) advent calendar please leave a comment and I will enter you in the drawing.  The contest will end on Friday, November 25th, 2011. Please leave a way for me to get in contact with you so I can send it to you.  Thanks and many blessings to you!

Here is a picture of the advent calendar you could win if you leave a comment.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gratitude Attitude

"Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren't satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other." Ann Voskamp, one thousand gifts

The sin of ingratitude, dissatisfaction and discontent are nothing new.  They have been around since the Garden of Eden. Teaching the next generation to be grateful is also not a new idea but it is a practice that I believe to be of the utmost importance.  I know that I get whiny, ungrateful and discontent regularly and I need an attitude adjustment in my life before I lose all sense of the blessings I have in my life. 

Our society does not encourage gratitude.  Entitlement, self-importance and independence yes, but not gratitude.  It is my belief that gratitude goes beyond just good manners, although that is important and a great place to start. Gratitude is at the heart level and that is where I truly want to reach my children.  My life and the lives of those around me are so much easier when my kids have good behavior and show good manners but that is not my highest goal.  I want my girls to understand that to bring glory to God they need to have a deep gratitude in their lives that is much deeper than just their words and behaviors.  This is the only gratitude that can weather the storms that life has to throw at them.

In my post yesterday I talked about how we have been spending time over the last month learning how to control our whining.  This month we are trying to focus on the heart by practicing gratitude.  I made a simple Thanksgiving advent calendar which we will use.  Each night at dinner we will each say and then write down at least 1 thing we are thankful for that day.  It is a simple practice and doesn't take much time but will hopefully help our family focus on all the blessings God has given us and teach us to be grateful people. 

A simple canvas, chipboard letters and scrapbook paper. I am sure it could be more crafty but it will work just fine as it is.  This i placed right above our kitchen counter where we eat.

It is my desire to see my children grow to honor God through living grateful lives in a society that desperately needs it.  So, now it's your turn, how do you encourage gratitude in the children in your life? How could or has the practice of gratitude made an impact in your life? 

 Today's gratitude: That I have I have children who are enjoying a quiet rest time right now as I write this.  Selfish or not, it is definitely something for me to be grateful for today. How about you?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pennies for change

Whining.  A word connects all parents to one another.  Some possibly understand it more than others but I don't believe anyone escapes it entirely.  All it takes to see that whining has always existed is to look at the Israelite nation and all the trouble their whining, mumbling and complaining got them.  Last month I wanted to take a time out in our family to see the effects of whining and having a grumbling spirit. So I set up a pennies for change area in our house.  Anytime we found ourselves grumbling, whining, or just having a negative attitude we placed one of our pennies in a jar.  At the end of the month we would be able to spend the leftover pennies in the "Mommy and Daddy Store".  Both girls, mommy and daddy participated and then at the end of the month the girls spend their rewards in our "store". 

We spent time talking as a family about the various consequences and benefits of living a life free of grumbling and complaining.  The store experience is a great teaching moment to allow the girls a concrete understanding about how there are rewards when we follow God's ways.  Even when we don't always see the rewards He gives us here on earth He does reward us. As the girls get older it is our intention to phase out the reward based system and operate more on an intrinsic motivation but it works for us in this phase of life right now.

This activity definitely had a good impact on all of us.  It is helpful for me to see how much my attitude needs to be surrendered and submitted to God. I may not always verbally complain but my sighs and my inward spirit are not always in the right place.  This activity drew that out big time!

Our pennies and jar. 

Lydia's rewards. She had a great month and learned to internalize her own self monitoring.

Emma's rewards.  She is still learning not everything is about her.

Mommy and Daddy store open for business.  (Better stocked than usual as we just got a scholastic book order back.) Most of the store is filled with dollar store, yard sale and thrift store finds.

I believe that when it comes to correction and discipline it is not only important to stop certain behaviors but to replace them with correct and God honoring lifestyle habits.  Stay tuned tomorrow for what we are working on as a family this month!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 31 prayer - Finishing Strong

Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. 1 Corinthians 9:24-26a

Dear Lord, as this month of prayer for my daughters ends I know it is not really over.  I will continue to come before You with requests on their behalf and desire for You to lead me as I pray according to Your will for their lives.  I pray that Lydia and Emma would run for the prize, that they would not get sidetracked by the many distractions surrounding them.  Help me to teach them to live with a view of eternity and guide them to be disciplined in their lives when I am not able to be there. I pray that they would not measure their days as sucessful as the world defines sucess but as You define it.  I pray that they would run their whole lives for You and that they would follow hard after You.  Refine me and help me to pour out my life for my husband and children so that in the end I may not be disqualified but that I would finish strong.  Thank You Father, for this precious month of joining thousands of other women praying for the beautiful girls in our lives.  We know that You hear our prayers and we eagerly await the work You are doing as a result of our petitions.  I love You and pray that You would give Lydia, Emma and myself a desire to know You more.  Amen.

If you want to read the rest of the 31 days of praying for our daughters check out the MODsquad blog.  I did not post my prayers everyday but I did prayer.  I was very blessed as a result of this challenge this month and hope that you too prayer for your children and special kids in your life.  Blessings and thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fall learning #1 - apples

Here are the fall activities we did over the last month.  Great fun learning and growing together.

10 Apples up on top

Apple measurements (they even got to measure mommy!)

Apple Science - Jar 1.Clean apple cut and placed in jar. Jar 2. Apple cut rubbed with our hands (germs) and placed in jar.

Roll an apple tree

Roll and apple tree

Monthly memory verse: "A man gathers a crop from what he sows." Gal.6:7

Fall sensory bin

Parts of an apple

eraser stamping parts of an apple
  • Mr. Putter and Tabby Pick the Pears
  • The Giving Tree
  • Apple Fractions
  • The Man who Sold the Shade
  • Mr. Peabody's Apples
  • Apple's, Apple's, Apple's
Recipe: Fill a crock pot with cored and sliced apples, squirt of lemon juice and 1/2 c water and let the crock pot do the rest.  Mash or use an immersion blender for the consistency you like.

Homemade applesauce and apple butter. Yummy!

Fisrt Snow

First snow of the season! Of course it wasn't enough snow to do much of anything with but the girls still enjoyed going out.  I chose not to put them in all their winter gear but regreted the decision as soon as they both slid and fell down.  Oh well, live and learn.

When do you usually have your first snow? What is your favorite snow activity? Thanks for reading.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Stolen Moments

I was recently talking to a friend of  mine who is homeschooling her kindergartener.  She said it feels like this is a stolen year that so many people don't get.  I loved the thought and can totally relate to the idea of stolen moments with our kids.  Being a stay at home mom I have had and continue to have stolen moments with my girls.  Despite a few evenings out with friends, a Bible study or two and a handful of retreats I have been here for every moment of my kids lives.  I will always cherish that. 

The question that I have though is, how do we continue to have those stolen moments when we send our kids off to school? What happens if you are a working mother? How can we ensure we still have moments that are special, unique, or should I say "stolen" in the midst of busy lives?  I am far from an expert but I would like to suggest 3 ways that help me experience those special stolen moments.

1. Plan for them. There is nothing more special to my husband or my children than when I plan a special date, project or time with them.  I love finding inspirational ideas for creative things to do with my kids from other parents, blogs I read and most importantly just watching my girls in action.  I love seeing where their imaginations and passions are and then planing something to specifically match their interests.  This is probably my favorite way to create memories and have special moments with my family whether as a whole or as individuals.

2. Make them part of your routine. I know it may seem ridiculous to say you can plan or make special moments happen, but in my experience, you can.  One activity our family regularly participates in is what we call word box. Often times when we eat dinner together (yes, we eat together every night) the girls will request we play word box.  I found these great conversation questions and we all go around and answer the question.  I realize this may not sound much like a special moment but let me remind you , kids say some pretty funny things.  I wish I could say I was really good about writing down, blogging or scrap booking their funny answers but I am not.  I do like to think that the lasting effect of those moments is greater than my inability to document them! The key here is to evaluate the things you already do in life and see if you can't come up with a creative way to build in memories.  If you are in the car together, eating dinner, bath time, homework, bed time, these are all great times to build in moments that draw you closer to each other and to God. We don't always have to look for ways to add to an already full schedule we can just capture the moments that are just part of the life you are already living.

3. Recognize and revel in them when they happen. One day last week Lydia was up and ready particularly early and we had an unexpected moment together as a family.  Rather than our usual running around and trying to get out of the house on time we had a fun dancing time in the living room.  I am sometimes uniquely aware of how quickly my girls are growing up and on this particular morning I was totally present and engaged.  Justin was walking through the room with his ipad and was listening to something (as he often is) and I just started to dance with Lydia.  Justin turned it up and began dancing too.  Then Emma joined in and we had such a fun and refreshing time together.  It only lasted about 5 minutes but they were a special and for me "stolen" few minutes. I can think of nothing greater than living with the ability to recognize, cease and revel in these unplanned times.  I defintely lean heavier towards the first 2 ways but God often surprises me with the unexpected moments just to keep me humble and expectant. 

Our families are worth fighting for. Our husbands and our children need to know how much we love them by showing them how we love them.  I hope you find some ideas you can use in your own life to steal away some moments with your family in the upcoming week.  Please feel free to share what works for you in your family and what some of your favorite moments are.  Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 18 Prayer - Quiet

Lord, the world around us is busy and hectic. We live in a fast pace society and one that is very loud.  Everyone and everything is clamoring for our attention.  I pray that Lydia and Emma would learn how to discern Your voice above everything else in their lives.  I pray that as they see me regularly spend time in quiet with You that they too would desire to have quiet in their lives.  As they get older and the world tries to plug them in more I pray that they would learn how to quiet themselves and unplug; that they would learn how to hear from You and know Your still small voice.  I pray that You would teach us as a family how to listen to Your voice and follow You in the secret and quiet places.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Scarecrow Pete

I love all things fall! For some reason my creativity abounds more in fall than any other time and my crafting comes out for my kids to enjoy.  This month we have been focusing on all things fall and we read the book Scarecrow Pete by Mark Kimball Moulton. It is an incredibly cute book about how a boy makes a friend in the garden and how his friend Scarecrow Pete helps him learn to love reading.

Supplies you will need:
  • small mason type canning jar with lid and ring
  • small square of off white cloth
  • small amount of batting
  • fabric paint or markers
  • hat, nose and necktie for scarecrow

I really don't think I need to explain how to make the craft as it is pretty self explanatory and if you have any crafting ability, believe me when I say you can do this one.

I printed out a bunch of bible verses to put inside and each day we will take time to read one.  During the month of November we will write on a slip of paper something we are thankful for and put it inside Pete.  Overall it was a fun craft, a cute book and it is my prayer that the greatest book of all makes a permanent mark in my kids lives. Thanks for reading.

I am linking up to stArt at A Mommy's Adventures and Kids Get Crafty at Red Ted Art.

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