Archive for the ‘Days to Celebrate’ Category

Not much longer!

Here’s what my kids did for the big Valentine’s party this year.  (They’ll go to a huge party with about a billion other homeschool kids.  They will play games and eat snacks and pass out Valentines to the other kids their age and they will come home talking in really loud voices about all the fun they had!)

Bubba made her valentines with a little construction paper and yarn!

Gus stamped to her little heart’s content:

Little Man was very interested in the idea of making a potato stamp.  He drew the heart on paper, cut it out of the potato.  He stamped.

I love the way these turned out.  He also made his box by stamping all over some brown craft paper, then wrapping a box with it.  Simple but classic!

And Dimples, he got a box of valentines at the big box store and proudly signed his name to every one of them!

Hope your weekend is sweet!


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The Big Project

The kids finished their big project on Christmas Eve and revealed it to the family on Christmas day, and so I present to you:

the angel

the shepherd and his sheep, Mary, Baby Jesus, Joseph and the donkey, three wise men and their camels and gifts

I’m sure you can’t tell, but each of the wise men has a different crown and a different gift. 

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The gifts are all wrapped and under the tree.

We’ve been talking about and celebrating the best gift; we are so, so thankful for Jesus.

The cookies are all baked!  (And boy did we bake and bake and bake . . . . These are my new favorite – dark chocolate peppermint, though we’re going to have to do some tweaking to get them just right.  I’ll let you know, if I come up with the perfect recipe!

The kids are still working on that nativity scene.  Gus is looking for just.the.right color!

Little Man is just downright silly; he wore his hat/beard almost all day!

Aren’t these so cool – my sister made them for us girls!

We’ve done plenty of monkeying around!

We’re super-duper thankful that it’s warm and cozy inside, because they are saying we might just have a white Christmas!

From our house to your house, Merry Christmas!

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the holy family

It was about noon on Monday, and one of the kids looked at me and said, “So are we going to do school today?”  I just laughed as I realized that I’m not sure that I ever told them that we weren’t doing school, and I thought momentarily about saying something like, “Yeah, you’ve got a lot to get done, and it’s late . . . you better get busy, so you can get it done before bedtime!”

That day I did about a million of those little things that I’ve been wanting to do for weeks and weeks but just haven’t gotten to.  My desk is wood; I had forgotten.  There is a floor in my master closet; it’s been a long time since I had seen it.  I also mopped the floor – all of it.  I have visions of cleaning my pantry dancing in my head, and I wonder what have I come to that cleaning my pantry is the stuff of my dreams.

One of my favorite things that has happened during this break is my children have (of their own accord) taken on a project.  They are making an entire nativity scene out of those melty beads.  They’ve made people and animals and a manger and just about everything else you can think of that might have anything to do with a nativity scene.  They have worked literally for hours on it.  The only input I’ve had is using my mad ironing skilz.  They haven’t asked to watch television or play on the computer or Wii.  I should maybe worry about their mental health; instead I’m just going to keep gazing at my reflection in my shiny floor.

I believe this is a shepherd with a couple sheep and the star.  I think the gray animal is a donkey; I’ll have to check on that with the artists.

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Last week, I had the worst birthday ever known to mankind, maybe.  It involved getting bad news, a vomiting child, a major disappointment, cleaning up after the child, learning to take apart the drain stopper in the bathtub and sink, having to re-arrange my day, and several other minor mishaps.  The day was anything but what I had planned, but I am sure I will look back and laugh about it.  As a matter of fact, I did laugh while telling a friend about it today.  My birthday has sort of become a family joke; it seems like something crazy is always happening on “my” day, and it’s relatively close proximity to Christmas threatens to make the celebrating just more of the same anyway.  I sometimes joke that I’m going to move it to June, because we need more holidays in June.

Later this week we will celebrate Jesus’ birthday, which in stark contrast to mine was everything that it was supposed to be.  It was prophesied and waited for for thousands of years.  It was a day that was an utter turning of the tide of mankind.  While that day looked nothing like many thought it would, it was everything it needed to be.  And on that day none were disappointed.

I am so thankful for:

271.  a babe in a manger

272.  submissive Mary who carried the hope of the world and treasured it in her heart

273.  obedient Joseph who set aside his pride

274.  glorious angels who declared truth

275.  humble shepherds who hurried to see

276.  a whole world that must have breathed a collective sigh of relief, though their savior was not what they thought he would be

277.  the star that shone

278.  humble beginnings

279. unbelievable endings  (Because let’s not forget:  He came not to be born but to die a savior.)

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It was 20 degrees outside when we walked around to our neighbors homes to share the fruit of our day’s labors.

But the pans were still warm, so it didn’t seem too bad!

We delivered five pans of cinnamon rolls to our neighbors.  We have two pans left on the counter – one neighbor wasn’t home, and one pan will be for our breakfast.

When we came in from our deliveries, we sat down and ate the baked “ends,” those parts of the roll that are a little misshapen and not good enough to give as gifts – what fun!


The kids also spent much time today lamenting the in-edibility of the icing on their gingerbread trains.  Because cinnamon rolls and catching up on three days of the chocolate advent calendars wasn’t enough; they needed MORE candy!


Bubba has a new poetry memorization assignment coming, but I think we are going to ignore the books suggestion and memorize “Twas the Night Before Christmas!”  I remember memorizing it as a kid.  I don’t remember why, I just know I did.  I’m excited for her to do it . . . and she’s excited too!


Any opinions are appreciated.  I have some great helpers for the co-op class that I “teach” on Fridays.  I wanted to make them all a little thank you gift.  I was going to give them handmade soap, but I’m sort of a chicken . . . I’m new at this soap-making gig, and not all of my bars are very pretty.  So that leaves me sort of last minute looking for a gift.  I was thinking of making cinnamon honey butter . . . but I don’t know that I’ll have any time to bake anything to go with it.  So can I just give a little jar of the cinnamon honey butter?  Or should I come up with something else or wake up at a crazy time to bake something . . . oh, we all know that won’t happen, so don’t suggest that!  (wink, wink!)

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advent – (noun) a coming into place, view, being

One of the things that I love about Christmas is that while December 25th is the day, the whole month just seems to be a joy.  I enjoy preparing the gifts, baking like a madwoman, preparing for family to celebrate around our big table, and all of the other fun; I enjoy the anticipation.

We celebrate advent with a wreathe and candles and devotions on each of the four Sundays before Christmas.  It is always a sweet time for our family.

But we also have an advent calendar with little pockets, purchased by my grandma for our family a few years ago.  There are twenty-five pockets, one for each of the days of December until Christmas.  We have done different things with this calendar.  Some years I’ve just dropped little candies into every pocket.  Some years I’ve made special notes for the kids to read each day.  Some years I’ve filled each pocket with a slip of paper upon which is written a fun activity for that day . . . boy, was I tired that year!  (Apparently there is such a thing as too much fun!)  This year I decided that every day before Christmas we are going to do something to serve someone else.  I’m super excited, and I can’t wait to do the activities with the kids . . . and to see their response.  I don’t intend to tell them that there is a “service” theme going on; I think they’ll just enjoy the activities . . . maybe they’ll even get the idea that service is just a way of life.  (Wouldn’t that be great!)

Here are some of the ideas that we are going to use this year:

  • our church collects gifts for the elderly who don’t have family or friends that come visit them in their nursing homes.  We are participating in that effort; several days on our calendar are taken with completing our part of that project.
  • praying for specific people who are away from family or in need this season.
  • sending small care packages to missionaries that we pray for regularly and family that live overseas.
  • sharing Christmas greetings and goodies with neighbors.
  • sharing some of our financial resources with organizations that we appreciate
  • praying for the children who will receive the Operation Christmas Child boxes that we packed way back at the beginning of November!
  • serving our family by cleaning our house (so we will be better suited to host family at Christmas)
  • giving gifts to teachers

And just the other day I read (in a comment here) about a family who  intends to do something for a family with a deployed dad/husband for each of the twelve days of Christmas.  I just think that is the greatest idea and am wishing that I had thought to do that for our neighbors who had a deployed member last year!

Hope this gives you some inspiration!  Happy first day of December!

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A Few Gift Ideas

Here are a few fun ideas for this gift giving season; each of these organizations uses their money to better the lives of others.

Light Gives Heat – I have their classic necklace, and it is one of my favorite pieces!  I can wear it with tons of stuff – as a necklace or bracelet, and the colors are bright and fun.  I also love the fantastic selection – more than just traditional beaded necklaces, they have lots of great designs!  Last year, just after Christmas, they had a sale on their classic necklaces; I was able to buy a bunch of them.  We used them as Mother’s Day gifts and as teacher gifts.  We got a great selection of colors, and every single person that got one has loved them!

147 Million Orphans – My husband has one of their caps, and I just love to see him wear it.  I also love the idea of supporting a worthy cause by the purchase of the cool paper bead necklaces!

3 Seams – I’m wishing that I had a little girl to buy for!  When you buy an adorable dress here, one goes to a little girl in need!  What a sweet idea!

Bright Hope International – A dear friend works closely with this ministry, and has recommended their shop a few times.  I always forget until I have all of my shopping done, but perhaps you can find something fun there!

Compassion International – I love, love, love this tee!  I think it would be a great gift for a mission-minded teen or pre-teen.  As a matter of fact my husband might just be getting one, but don’t tell him!  I also really like the Global Food Crisis shirts with the word “please” printed in different languages.

Watoto Children’s Ministry – Recently the kids and I were able to see the choir perform; it was such a blessing to our family!  Dimples has told me multiple times since that he wants to grow up and dance and sing like “those people from Uganda!”  The kids begged me for a cd after the concert; we bought Mamba Sawa, and we all love it.  This would be a fun gift for a child who loves music!  At the concert they were also selling some gorgeous bags, but I didn’t see any of those online.

(Just for the record, I have no connection with any of these ministries; these are simply places that I know of that have some – in my opinion – great holiday gift ideas and endeavor to serve others well.)

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TeeHee!  I actually do have a few more things to buy, but the rest is all done.  I even have a few presents wrapped!

Why am I telling you this?  Is it because I am just plain mean and like to gloat?  . . . Well maybe, but no!

Really!  I shared that, because I want to encourage you!  There is just a little more than a month until Christmas; according to the number of catalogs and flyers that have been arriving at my house, the shopping season is upon us.  I’ve even taken note of the before-Black-Friday sales and am adjusting my timing, posting this before Thanksgiving instead of after (where I really believe it belongs).  Today’s post is actually a partial re-post from a couple of years ago, but it is one of my favorite Christmas traditions . . . because it helps me stay sane during this holiday that can get way out of focus, if I am not careful!

And when it comes time for gifts, we have yet another tradition.  Years ago I read an article called, “Begging for Myrrh.”  It just made sense to me, and right then and there I decided that we would give our children three gifts for Christmas every year.  The idea of buying three gifts takes away some of the temptation to go crazy and blow our budget by buying everything my children say that they want.  The ideas given in the article (some the child wants, something to support his spiritual relationship, and something for his body) also offer some balance to our gift giving.  We don’t wrap the gifts in their coordinating color as the article suggests, but we stick to the general categories.  The exception to that rule is that our “myrrh” gift is usually all sorts of stuff for the kids bodies – an outfit plus something sort of bath gel or special soap or a new leotard that is needed for gymnastics and a new outfit or a robe and slippers.  When the kids get older me might buy perfumes  and such, but that just isn’t appropriate for our young kids.

This year most of our spiritual gifts took the form of good books with character lessons or good spiritual content.

We also give our children an ornament and a stocking full of smaller, fun items.  Each year the stocking includes a few coupons for things that don’t have any monetary value:  30 minutes of television time, 30 minutes of computer time, getting to pick lunch or dinner . . . the sorts of things that kids love but don’t get to do all the time!

Here’s hoping this gives you a few ideas; there’ll be more shopping ideas tomorrow!

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O, October!

October has long been my favorite month, made even sweeter by our wedding anniversary!

I finished my day’s duties wishing that I had something really fun to look forward to this weekend.  The calendar is full of soccer games and a birthday party and more than a little cleaning that needs to be done around our house.  But then I got home and looked at the calendar and learned that my husband has a comp day on Monday – weekend salvaged!!!

I’m SO excited!

And just now I decided that we are going to have a “First weekend of October” celebration – mostly just a reason to be silly and have some fall fun.

Here’s what I have planned:

  • candy corn (must have candy corn, maybe for breakfast . . . no just kidding . . . )
  • (we’ll have) pumpkin-walnut pancakes for breakfast with maple syrup
  • a trip to a local park that always has leaves on the ground, it seems
  • leaf rubbings with big, fat warm-colored crayons
  • maybe a little hike or a bike ride!
  • a picnic lunch (note to self: pray that the weather is good!)
  • maybe we’ll take a book and read on a blanket (?)
  • we should take the camera and take some fun pictures of all of us together
  • afternoon trip: to the pumpkin patch to pick our pumpkins (Is it too early?)
  • s’mores after dinner (here’s hoping that after the perfect weather, it cools down so we can have a fire in the fireplace!)

And all of that made me think that we should make caramel apples to take to our teachers next week!  Yay!

Can you think of anything else I must add to our Fall Fun day?

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