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Saturday, December 24, 2011


Santa lives at the North Pole.
JESUS is everywhere.

Santa rides in a sleigh
JESUS rides on the wind
and walks on the water.

Santa comes but once a year
JESUS is an ever- present help.

Santa fills your stockings with goodies
JESUS supplies all your needs.

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited
JESUS stands at your door and knocks
and then enters your heart.

You have to stand in line to see Santa
JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

Santa lets you sit on his lap
JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is
"Hi little boy or girl, What's your name?"
JESUS knew our name before we did.
Not only does He know our name,
He knows our address too.
He knows our history and future
and He knows how many hairs are on our heads.

JESUS has a heart full of love.

JESUS offers health, help and hope.

Santa says "You better not cry"
JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me
for I care for you.

Santa's little helpers make toys
JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts,
repairs broken homes and builds mansions.

Santa may make you chuckle but
JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

While Santa puts gifts under your tree,
JESUS became our gift and died on the tree.

It's obvious there is really no comparison.
We need to remember WHO Christmas is all about.

We need to put CHRIST back in CHRISTmas.

~ found HERE

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Santa" Letter

This is Elis' Santa letter he wrote at school:
After reading a whole packet of Santa letters with kids saying "I want, I want, I want" I had Eli write a letter to God, thanking Him for what we already have. He did most of the spelling on his own, but some words we helped him sound out. (thocs = thanks)
 He's such a sweet boy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday Meanderings - Dec. 19

Bible Study... done with No Other Gods, want to go back to my chronological Bible reading

Memory Verse...  John 3:30
"He must become greater; I must become less."

Husband Encouragement...
♥ Tidy house. 
♥ Fresh towels.
♥ Bake goodies.
♥ Light schedule.

Train Them Up...
* Be more focused and less distracted with computer things.
* Reading the book Going Public
* Read-aloud book: The Nutcracker. Keeping a list of some of our new vocabulary words so we can review them.
* Christmas packet for Hannah. And at the new year I want to start weekly letter work. Need to figure out what I want to do.  There are a LOT of super cute packets n such out there, but it's also a LOT of ink and printing and prepping for skills that are REALLY basic.  It's cutesy and all, but doesn't seem necessary to me. So I'll pick and choose.
* Homework practice with Eli: He now knows a whole list of sight words. I want to practice chunking bigger words with those sight words and doing rhyming words with other sight words.
* Night time potty with Hannah - I got a new package of pull-ups for Hannah (she still wore them at night and soaked them) but was too lazy to bring them inside (they're still out in the car), so I asked Hannah if she wanted to try panties in the night. And guess what! she stayed DRY all night! And two days in a row now! So we'll keep trying that!
* Get humidifier set up in Carter's room.
* Also want to do this Christmas lesson along with another one that reinforces our views on Santa.

Personal Goals...
- Set afternoons as my "quiet time". Stop TRYING to do it in the morning and then starting my day feeling like a failure when I "sleep in" instead.

New Habit of the Month...  {december}
*  Turn computer off at night.

MUST Do... 
* Prepare teacher gifts.
* Buy stocking items (notebook, pencil, toothbrush, treat, book?)
* Take kids shopping for each other. (Wasn't especially planning this but Eli said he wanted to get Hannah a barbie. We're not going to DO Barbie, but one is fine)
* Wrap presents (I've done NONE so far!)
* Finish wrapping our last few Christmas books we've been opening each night.
* Get last final gifts for Kevin's family.

Zone(s)... master bedroom (still in progress) Been sorting out of things to give away out of our house and it feels so good! Sheets and towels and clothes and toys, it's so nice to not see everything so stuffed full!

Menu - 
M - Pizza Hut (for school fundraiser. I goofed on the week so we went last week too)
T - Cauliflower Soup
W -  ham and white sauce over rice
Th - taco soup
F - ?
S - ?
Su - ?

* Just preparing for Christmas and doing fun family activities!! Love this week!
* Saturday night - watch The Nativity movie as a family
* Playing brass with the hymns Christmas Sunday (we'll practice on Thursday).
* Kevin works Christmas weekend so we'll celebrate next week as a family and New Year's weekend with extended family.

3 things I'm thankful for today...
1. Traditions. Love making memories.
2. Reading with kids. One of my favorite things about parenting.
3. Some military friends are returning for the holiday. One has been in Afghanistan for several months and will have to go back for another 6 months, but I'm so thankful that family of 9 gets to see Daddy again for a couple weeks at least!! =)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thoughts for the coming year.

My main goal: to live in the PRESENT.

* Less computer time.
* More reading.
* Less time in my phone.
* More time playing.
* Less girls nights.
* More dates with my own husband.
* Less time on techy gadgets.
* More family time.
* Less time sitting on the couch.
* More time being diligent with house work.

Several months ago I was appalled when I saw a young toddler watching a small portable DVD while waiting at a restaurant table. I mean REALLY?!  I see all sorts of kids with their own personal Nintendo DS wherever they are! We now have phones with internet and we check email or text or whatever while waiting at a stop light or at the doctor's office or at dinner with OUR OWN FRIENDS. We have vehicles with movie players, TVs at treadmills, news screens at gas stations. Can any of us really just SIT and BE anymore? Do we adults have attention span to focus on ANYTHING?! And what are we teaching our children when we allow them to fall into the same trap??! *Heavy sigh* When our kids were infants I refused to use those toy bars that strap to the car seat handle, toys that strap to shopping carts, or buy suction toys for the high chair.  I'm all about having small toys in a bag for when they're absolutely needed, but right from the beginning I didn't want our kids to think they needed entertained 24/7.  I want to instill in them the ability to SIT, to be creative, to play imaginatively, to observe their surroundings, to love books, to love art, music, family time. It starts when they're young and it continues to today. I also know that sometimes when the kids are really getting crazy and out of control, that's when they need something structured, an activity like water colors or play dough or a board game or just going outside.

So in those moments when  you normally would get restless, instead of getting on those techy gadgets, make memories and laugh with your family!

While You Wait...

For frozen pizza to cook...

At a restaurant...
...play I Spy or search for certain shapes. (little ones)
...make up a story going around the table, each person adding a sentence at a time. (older ones)

At an airport (or a city bus stop though most of us really don't do that in our daily lives)...
...make up stories and names of the people you see and where you think they might be going.

At the doctor's office...
...plan ahead and bring a small tote of books and have children look quietly at them if there are not already toys provided in the waiting room.
... if you're alone, bring a book or magazine for yourself and enjoy the moment to read.

* What other ideas do you have for creating fun family memories out of a moment of boredom?
* How do you limit kids' time on techy gadgets?
* How do you limit YOUR time on techy gadgets?

Friday, December 9, 2011


I can't bear the thought of throwing away a whole pot full of soup from last night, nor can I give away any food that's not my best, so my crockpot is STILL sitting on the counter completely full of soup that clearly can no longer be eaten.

And I tell you this, because being real here is what I'm all about.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

*A pause from your regular programming...*

Just want to say I am so MAD.  Like so mad I just sent the kids to bed at 7pm. No prayers, songs, or anything.  And Hannah DID actually nap today so 7 was a full hour early.  Sometimes they just walk around DESTROYING everything.  Not really intentionally. Of course not. It's just in their nature for it to happen. All the time.  Like dump bitty pieces of K'Nex stuff all over Carter's pack n play. And totally bust a large picture frame holding a giant handmade gift from a friend we're no longer in contact with really.  And throw nicely rolled up washcloths all OVER the bathroom.  And constantly, all day long, every single day toss the Fisher Price nativity pieces all over the house. And immediately grab the paper off the printer causing it to instantly wrinkle before I've even had a CHANCE to get it myself even though I'm sitting right there.  Christmas books are everywhere. We've recently moved the living room rug and now it's all bunched up and never lays right and I can't physically put it back under both couches alone, so it continues to look like crud every day.  I have a crock pot FULLLLL of soup I didn't like!  And now what?!  SO ready for today to be over with!!!

Christmas: Here I Am to Worship {Re-post}

Posting this again because it's still on my mind this year...

Originally posted 12/25/10:

After our Christmas dinner tonight, and while waiting for our pie to come out of the oven, I sat down to the piano, something I don't do often anymore, to play some Christmas songs.  I was hoping to come across a song or hymn that's not usually sung at Christmas that would fit perfectly, for tonight this was it.  This part of it anyway.  "Here I am to worship, Here I am to bow down, Here I am to say that You're my God. You're altogether lovely, All together worthy, all together wonderful to me...."  I picture myself in the place of the shepherds and wise men and all those that came to worship the new King, and now here I am to worship the babe who came to save the world!

Here I Am to Worship

Light of the world
You stepped down into darkness.
Opened my eyes, let me see.
Beauty that made this heart adore You
Hope of a life spent with You

Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that You're my God
You're altogether lovely
All together worthy,
All together wonderful to me

King of all days
oh, so highly exalted
Glorious in heaven above
Humbly You came
To the earth You created
All for love's sake became poor

Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that You're my God
You're altogether lovely
All together worthy,
All together wonderful to me

You can listen to the full song here.  May you all have a wonderful, WONDERFUL Christmas!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Meanderings - Dec. 5

Bible Study...  Last lesson of No Other Gods, also reading Isaiah 40

Memory Verse...  John 3:30
"He must become greater; I must become less."

Husband Encouragement...
♥ Tidy house. 
♥ Fresh towels.
♥ Bake goodies.

Train Them Up...
* Eli might earn a prize this week with his chores.
* Lots of books.
* Be more focused and less distracted with computer things.
* Do the "my place in the world" project with the kids.

Personal Goals...
- Set afternoons as my "quiet time". Stop TRYING to do it in the morning and then starting my day feeling like a failure when I "sleep in" instead.

New Habit of the Month...  {december}
*  Turn computer off at night.

MUST Do... 
* MOPS - postcards, lesson, activity packets
* Figure out what/if I'm going to do for Christmas cards this year
* Prepare baby gift.
* Get curtains hung and move the living room rug back.
* Continue working on my give-away pile.
* Send mail to prayer partner.
* Order photo prints.
* Start thinking about Kevin's birthday next week???

Zone(s)... coat area (we're on coat overload right now as we're in between seasons and everyone has a fall coat AND a winter coat hanging up PLUS Kevin's work coat AND my purse where Carter can't get it)

Menu - trying several new recipes this week! yumm...
M - salads, oranges
T - hot dogs, potato salad
S - in the morning, French toast muffins
Su - TBD

* Tuesday MOPS planning meeting
* play date Wednesday
* Friday evening are both kids' Christmas programs
* I'm going to see The Nutcracker with my SIL and other girlfriends Saturday night!  =)

3 things I'm thankful for today...
1. Celebrating my niece's 1st birthday over the weekend.
2. Christmas. What a wonderful time of year!
3. Heat. Remembering this time last year when we were without heat for at least a couple of months!

This year

... We are not doing the Jesse tree and devotions. Not that I don't like it or that we won't do it again, but I'm just trying to simplify and pear down activities that cause me to feel stress or like a failure if we don't get to it each day.  

... We ARE opening a new Christmas book each night.  I totally stole this idea from my friend Amanda after we visited her house.  Instead of bringing out the stack of Christmas books with all the other Christmas decorations, I wrapped each one in tissue paper.  (THAT took longer than I thought it would!) And most every night we open a new book.  The kids haven't seen them since last year, so it's a fun surprise to open each one.

... I don't have ANYTHING figured out for Christmas cards or letters!  I LOVE you all, but I kinda just don't feel doing them this year!  Anyone else like that some years???

... The kids are having loads of fun playing with these cards I pulled out again from last year! This time we did tricky patterns so instead of it just being the picture itself, it was detail like animal-person-animal-person, or blue background-red background etc

What are your traditions for this year??

Friday, December 2, 2011


More than a month later I finally completed my own challenge of getting in the picture and got out my tripod and camera remote so I could capture storytime on the couch. And there's me honestly not caring one bit about that basket full of laundry waiting to be sorted (It's still sitting there actually. Oh wait, no, I carried it upstairs at least.) and just enjoying my babies. My Bible is still sitting on the arm rest of the couch and there's a stack of work books, papers, and pencils waiting for when Eli gets home from school.

 Trying to do the hold-the-camera-out-and-take-a-picture method, but I always ALWAYS fail at.

And both kids  (Eli was at school)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Family Christmas Board Game

I wanted to make a little Bible trivia game about REAL Christmas facts and the Biblical meanings of traditional Christmas symbols such as the candy cane or Christmas tree.  If you answer your question card correctly, then you move ahead.  I made several of the questions multiple choice for little ones, but if you have older kids you can delete the answer choices and just leave it for open answer.  Use dimes for your game pieces and place small stickers on them to tell whose is whose.

DOWNLOAD and print on cardstock for durability:
Game Board
Question Cards
Answer Sheet with Bible references

This is a pretty short game, you can probably easily play 2 or 3 times through.  I played it with Hannah to make sure I set up the game right and you didn't finish in only 2 turns or something, and it was pretty fun!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Kids Responsibility: Earning Rewards

Alright, here I go again with another CHART and reward system that I hope I can keep up with and will last for more than a week!  We've been doing this a couple weeks now and so far so good!  

Goal: encourage kids to take self-initiative and have good attitudes with their chores and extra things around the house

* Complete morning routine without any reminders-- get dressed, make bed, jammies away, (pull up away)
*  Complete bedtime routine without any reminders-- jammies on, clothes away, teeth brushed without arguing about who's tooth brush goes where
* Clean your room.
* Clean the play room.
* Help put things after dinner.
* Do any extra chores.

This does NOT include things they should already be doing anyway:
* Any chore they are already assigned for the day.
* Taking plate to the sink after a meal.
* Good attitude.
* Anything I have to TELL/REMIND them to do.

Kids can earn 1 coin for each thing on list one.  They can then use their coins to "buy" rewards from reward chart.  They can save up to earn something bigger or they can use coins right away and buy something small.  Doing this is also a fun introduction to money and the concept of spending or saving.
big plastic coins
These are some rewards I came up with, trying to add variety so it wasn't ALL food-related, but really you can create your own.

5 COINS: 1 small piece of candy
10 COINS: extra book at bedtime, 1st for the day (first choice on where to sit at the table, which plate to use, served first, where to put toothbrush, etc)
15 COINS: buy 1 pack of gum that only you get to eat, stay up an extra 30 min at bedtime
25 COINS: buy a small toy ($5 or less), small ice cream cone, free dessert pass ("on a day when you did not eat all yoru dinner, you may redeem this coupon to still receive dessert"), chocolate milk with dinner for a week
35 COINS: pick out a new book at the store, go to lunch with mom

So far this has especially been motivating to Eli and in 2 weeks he's already earned 14 coins! Most every day he'll do his morning routine and clean his room (or at bedtime) all by himself.  And occasionally he'll clean up after dinner.  It's so exciting to see.  And I realized the other day, you know, it's fine if this isn't what motivates Hannah, though she does do it too. She has 5 coins.  It's fine if they end up having different systems, each child is different.

Awhile back I'd tried to a coin-in coin-out system.  Good behavior earned coins, bad behavior lost coins. But it was just too complicated for me when it came discipline time. And honestly the kids do a whole lot more to lose coins than earn them. So after a break from that and rethinking, I came up with this, and for now it works!

Photography: The Martin Family

I photographed each of my friend Nikki's kids, and now finally I got to take their whole-family pictures!  =)  This was a HARD photoshoot, being the most # of people I've ever done.  And not only that but three of the kids are teenagers (or almost), one special needs, and two preschoolers.  So we couldn't go all silly with it because of the older kids, but still I had to find a way to get the little ones to cooperate.  Thankfully the weather was gorgeous for us!  In the end I LOVE what we got.

This one was supposed to be a "cousins pic" but the little cousin refused to be in it, and the dog kept being in the way, so I had Katie set the dog nice so at least it looked good if it was going to be in the pic! 
And now for the couples pics I ALWAYS try to get in.  

true friends let you take pictures of their butts! lol

 Lesson learned: if you're going to have people lay in the grass, make sure to bring a sticky roller so there's not grass on clothes in later pictures. I had to edit off a lot of grass off of Phil's sweater in these pics! In the moment when we were trying to wipe off his sweater I said Oh don't worry about it, I'll Photoshop it out! Little did I know how NOT fun it would be to do that! lol

trying out the silhouette setting on my camera--it's awesome! the sun was the same here as in the previous picture, but totally different look!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Photography: The Brown Family

The end of October I took family pics for my brother and SIL. We don't have a lot/any parks around us (other than playground parks) and we're not a big city so we don't have urban photo spots with cool doors or walls. So all week I was really hunting for a place to do this photoshoot.  One of the nearby parks we DO have was already closed for the season. BUT right OUTSIDE of the park is a cemetery and up the road is a secret trail that is "private property" but we just used the outside of it, and right by the road were some hail bales, so I went with that! Holly wanted a country/fall feel so I tried to deliver!  These are some of my favorites from the day...