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Thursday, December 13, 2012

How we do Christmas

I LOVE the Christmas season!  I think it gets more and more meaningful and fun as the kids get older!  

Here is what we are doing this year...

We kicked off the season in November by participating in Operation Christmas Child.  The older two each packed a shoebox for another child their same ages. This year I remembered to print tags online so we can track what country our boxes are delivered to! It will be exciting when we get that email! Next year Carter will be old enough to understand more of what's going on and help pack a shoebox as well.

As you probably already know, each night/afternoon this year we've been doing an advent activity from our calendar, and we are LOVING this tradition.  I like that I can secretly switch the cards around sometimes if I'm feeling too lazy for what was originally assigned.  These have been a fun way to keep the meaning of Christmas simple and true.

I also wrapped all our Christmas books that we hadn't seen since last year and  each night we open and read a new book.  Some of them are even library books and those are numbered for a specific date so they can be opened and returned.  And a couple of them are actually nativity puzzles, just for a fun surprise, cuz we love doing puzzles!  

After we open the Christmas book, we also read a few stories from the Jesus Storybook Bible, starting all the way at the beginning. Every story connects to Jesus and is perfect to read again this time of year, reminding us why we NEED a savior, why we are so thrilled that Jesus has come!  The kids LOVE these stories and beg me to keep reading, saying with great excitement how they "love the Bible!!"  

As for actual Christmas and presents, we don't do Santa so we actually haven't even been talking about presents AT ALL.  But this year for the first time I am doing "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read" for each of the kids.  So I FEEL like I'm really only getting the kids one main present and even that one isn't extravagant.  We fill stockings with little things and on Christmas Eve they'll each get a new pair of slipper jammies. We rarely buy actual jammies for jammies, we do a lot of tshirts and sweats, so new jammies is special.  

And that's it!  But so wonderful!! 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Don't save it all for Christmas

These lyrics say sooo much of what's on my heart at the holidays...  Don't let it stop just cuz Christmas is over. "Find a way To give a little love everyday Don't save it all for Christmas Day"  So as we head into the season, don't go stressing, trying to shove everything into these few short weeks. Celebrate Jesus, enjoy the truths of what this season is about. And remember, you've got EVERY day to share love and to share Jesus and to share the hope that is in your heart.

Dont' Save It All for Christmas Day

Don't get so busy that you miss
Giving just a little kiss
To the ones you love
And don't even wait a little while
To give them a little smile
A little is enough

How many people are crying

Some people are dying...
How many people are askin’ for love

Don't save it all for Christmas Day

Find a way
To give a little love everyday

Don't save it all for Christmas Day

Find a way
Cause holidays have come and gone
But love lives on
If you give on

How could you wait another minute

A hug is warmer when you're in it
Oh Baby that's a fact
And saying "I love you's" always better
Seasons, reasons, they don't matter
So don't hold back
How many people in this world
So needful in this world
How many people are praying for love

Don't save it all for Christmas Day

Find a way
To give a little love everyday
Don't save it all for Christmas Day
Find a way
Cause holidays have come and gone
But love lives on
If you give on
Give love…..

Let all the children know

Everywhere that they go
Their whole life long
Let them know love

Yeah, and give a little love everyday

Don't save it all for Christmas Day

Find a way
Cause holidays have come and gone

Don't save it all for Christmas Day

Find a way
To give a little love everyday

Don't save it all for Christmas Day

Find a way
Cause holidays have come and gone 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Christmas Calendar

The idea started brewing last year but at the time I just couldn't find what I was looking for, and I ran out of time to get it together before Christmas season began. So here I was again heading into this year and collecting some new ideas of what I wanted to make.

A Christmas calendar. 

With pockets that include a daily family Christmas activity. 

Instead of a countdown I decided to make it forward like a calendar. Countdowns are tricky to keep track of what day you're on, and this will make it easy to continue if/when we miss days.  I don't want to put the pressure on to do something EVERY SINGLE DAY, because with that adds stress and guilt and that ruins the season faster than anything. But it's there for us to TRY to do every day.  To make fun family memories.

Besides mini photo books, I'm also in love with sewing felt.  It's so quick and easy--you don't have to worry about edges and hems. It's like paper crafts but instead of gluing you use the sewing machine. These were inspiration, but too much work in my opinion.  Too much detail for my skill level.
this was last year's idea

And here is what I created.  Though I still need to add the word Christmas at the top area somehow. Not sure what I want to do with that. But at least it's ready for use.

I put this completely together in part of an afternoon. Super easy and quick. It's just simple and functional but that's my style.  The scrap I cut off of each row so it fit the black piece was just the size I needed for the hanging tabs at the top.  Here's a peek at what some of the cards are in each pocket. There are tons of ideas for these on Pinterest. But this is what I thought was a good mix of serving others, learning the true meaning of Christmas, and simple holiday fun.

I got out my pocket calendar so I could see what we have going on each day and placed the cards in pockets accordingly.  Can't wait for December to arrive!

P.S. The Christmas Board Game is THIS.
And the Christmas dice game is something like this:

Update: And here is the finished product!! Hooray!  I'm already getting a few new activity ideas for next year... like doing Advent candle lighting and reading on each of the Sundays, or picking a common carol and studying the lyrics or doing copywork with them, or decorating the tree in portions, starting with lights and gradually adding and learning about some of the symbols we put on etc.

Fall ABC Book

I've been doing some mild crafting lately and one thing I'm beginning to love more and more are small photo books.  Something new I want to try doing with the kids each season is to make a photo ABC book, and together if possible on our photo walks.  We have our list in hand that we write up in advance, and it's like a scavenger hunt as we look for each item.  Here is our first book.  Not all the letters are complete but I left open spots so we could come back to them later.  Here are some seasonal alphabet books to help give you ideas of what to include for each letter.

MOST of the pictures I took myself but there were a few I just found via Google because they were not things available at the time (ie cider donuts, frost, Thanksgiving)

These are some of our pictures, but I strongly encourage you to make this an adventure to do WITH your kids. They especially love the pictures with THEM in it!  =)

 You can download the book cover here.  Just cut out and glue onto construction paper.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Holiday kindness

Thanksgiving and Christmas. The two times of the year to be thankful and generous.  Or so it seems. I don't want to spend this season being bitter, but it really REALLY irks me that it's the only time of year we are intentional about gratitude, and being thoughtful and giving to others.  I LOVE seeing friends' thankful posts each day on Facebook, but can it PLEASE continue throughout the year? I LOVE that at Christmas people share cookies and give little gifts to neighbors and teachers and pastors and everyoneandtheirdog, but can it PLEASE continue throughout the year?  I love that people clean out and are generous with their time and money and quick to volunteer but can it PLEASE continue throughout the year?  Otherwise it all seems utterly meaningless.  What can we do to challenge ourselves to give thanks and think of others year-round?  Be intentional, make time, make it a REAL part of your life, not just a season.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

First world problems.

Pinterest. It's so great right?  We want our homes looking great and organized but lately I've been wondering where it stops???

Revamping closet doors because they're boring or "ugly" looking. 

Covering thermostats with fancy decor.

Jazzing up air vents.
Hidden storage so we can have even more STUFF hidden in every nook and cranny!

 Hiding washer and dryer so we don't even have to LOOK at them!

Pinterest is GREAT for learning how to save money, be resourceful, stretching our creativity, be healthy, and provide tools for training and teaching purposes.

BUT man oh man, many other things are such first-world problems!  How many people could we reach and help if we instead used some of those same effort and resources toward those who are struggling to even live??

What are we doing getting lost in details that seriously don't even matter?  Organization is good, healthy and natural is good, saving money is good, but fancy is just not necessary. 


Friday, November 2, 2012

Makeover project!

I didn't realize how long it's actually taken for this project to be brought to completion until I looked at the dates on my BEFORE pictures! (March!!)

So here's the story...
we've been wanting a second nightstand in our bedroom.
I'd seem some ideas on Pinterest.

I happened upon this free desk out on the consignment store's sidewalk.

I rearranged car seats and heaved the desk into the back of our car and brought it home and took it on as my own personal project.

Kevin helped me with the beginning steps though. We ran it through the table saw, cutting off the desk portion, and then flush-cutting the remaining parts.
I did some sanding on the laminate top and hauled it upstairs to see how it looked so far.

And there it sat for months and months and months apparently. Cuz now it's November.

Next I did a couple coats of primer.

I knew it wouldn't match the current woods, so I wanted something just altogether different and chose to paint it 2-toned. It was going to be the wall-color on the drawers and a "something darker" for the base. The "something darker" turned out to be a pinker shade than I was expecting... Is paint EVER the shade you were actually expecting???  And the wall-color for some reason was hard as a rock in the can, even though it had never been opened. So I instead used a similar color from the bathroom paint.  Replaced the hardware and ta-da!
The top handles are a slightly smaller size I couldn't find, so I might add ribbon as handles? Or not. Who knows.

A mostly-free project I consider complete!

As for the extra drawer we cut off on the desk part, I plan to paint it purple, back it with fabric, maybe add a shelf in it and hang it on the wall for Hannah to put some little knick-knacks. A combination of this pinterest inspiration:
and this one:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The power of positive thinking.

All of today's Love Dare was really good today, so I thought I'd share the whole thing, because everyone can benefit from the power of positive thinking. And honestly, I encourage you to read the whole book, because so far, it's very good!

Day 7: Love believes the best.  "[Love] believes all things, hopes all things." 1 Corinthians 13:7

In the deep and private corridors of your heart, there is a room. It's called the Appreciation Room. It's where your thoughts go when you encounter positive and encouraging things about your spouse. And every so often, you enjoy visiting this special place.

On the walls are written kind words and phrases describing the good attributes of your mate. These may include characteristics like "honest" and "intelligent", or phrases like "diligent worker," "wonderful cook," or "beautiful eyes". They are things you've discovered about your husband or wife that have embedded themselves in your memory. When you think about these things, your appreciation for your spouse begins to increase. In fact, the more time you spend meditating on these positive attributes, the more grateful you are for your mate.

Most things in the Appreciation Room were likely written in the initial stages of your relationship. You could summarize them as things you liked and respected about your loved one. They were true, honorable, and good. And you spent a great deal of time dwelling on them in this room... before you were married. But you may have found that you don't visit this special room as often as you once did. That's because there is another competing room nearby.

Down another dark corridor of your heart lies the Depreciation Room, an unfortunately you visit there as well. On its walls are written the things that bother and irritate you about your spouse. These things were placed there out of frustration, hurt feelings, and the disappointment of unmet expectations.

This room is lined with the weaknesses and failures of your husband and wife. Their bad habits, hurtful words, and poor decisions are written in large letters that cover the walls from one end to the other.  If you stay in this room long enough, you get depressed and start expressing things like, "My wife is so selfish," or "My husband can be such a jerk." Or maybe, "I think I married the wrong person."

Some people write very hateful things in this room, where tell-off statements are rehearsed for the next argument. Emotional injuries fester here, adding more scathing remarks to the walls. It's where ammunition is kept for the next big fight and bitterness is allowed to spread like a disease. People fall out of love here.

But know this. Spending time in the Depreciation Room kills marriages. Divorces are plotted in this room and violent plans are schemed. The more time you spend in this place, the more your heart devalues your spouse. It begins the moments you walk in the door, and your care for them lessens with every second that ticks by.

You may say, "But these things are true!" Yes, but so are the things in the Appreciation Room. Everyone fails and has areas of that need growth. Everyone has unresolved issues, hurts, and personal baggage. This is a sad aspect of being human. We have all sinned. But we have this unfortunate tendency to downplay our own negative attributes while putting our partner's failures under a magnifying glass.

Let's get down to the real issue here. Love knows about the Depreciation Room and does not live in denial that it exists.

But we choose not live there.

You must decide to stop running to this room and lingering there after every frustrating event in your relationship. It does you no good and drains the joy out of your marriage.

Loves chooses to believe the best about people. It gives them the benefit of the doubt. It refuses to fill in the unknowns with negative assumptions. And when our worst hopes are proven to be true, loves makes every effort to deal with them and move forward. As much as possible, loves focuses on the positive.

It's time to start thinking differently. It's time to let love lead your thoughts and your focus. The only reason you should glance in the door of the Depreciation Room is to know how to pray for your spouse. And the only reason you should ever go in this room is to write "COVERED IN LOVE" in huge letters across the walls.

It's to move into the Appreciation Room, to settle down and make it your home. As you choose to meditate on the positives, you will learn that many more wonderful character qualities could be written across these walls. Your spouse is a living, breathing, endless book to be read. Dreams and hopes have yet to be realized. Talents and abilities may be discovered like hidden treasure. But the choice to explore them starts with a decision by you.

You must develop the habit of reining in your negative thoughts and focusing on the positive attributes of your mate. This is a crucial step as you learn to lead your heart to truly love your spouse. It is a decision that you make, whether they deserve it or not.

Today's assignment was to make a list of positive things about your spouse and a list of negative things.  There is different purpose and plan for each. At some point during the day, pick a positive attribute and thank your spouse for having this characteristic.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Katie {Senior}

My friend Nikki has a teenage daughter and she was my first senior pictures! We did a morning session and an evening session, hitting spots all over the area.  GORGEOUS girl, so it made it easy and fun! We came out with a zillion photos but this is a collection of my FAVORITES.

Katie wants to be a photographer so I made sure to encorporate that

Katie loves these wild sunflowers, so I was super excited when I found this spot. Actually, I fell in love with it BEFORE I knew she loved these flowers!