Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Best Gift Ever!

I wish you and your family the best gift ever,

a gift that is available to all,

personalized just for you,

will never wear out,

will never grow old,

will never leave you or forsake you,

gives you help in your time of troubles,

fills you with peace,

gives you wisdom,

always loves and forgives you,

gives you joy,

cleanses you,

comforts you,

gives you abundant life on earth,

and ever-lasting life in paradise!


This gift is Jesus!!!



Merry Christmas!


Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sharing the Joy!

I'm sharing some toddler Christmas joy!

video

Monday, December 21, 2009

Have you Ever Prayed over a Load of Wash?

It's Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have NOT been doing (but really have!).

Around here:

My 2 year old did NOT somehow go pee-pee on his beloved stuffed Big Duke last week.

The one he has to have to go to sleep every night.

And the sidekick Big Duke that looks just the same does not work as a replacement. Bring the identical stuffed bulldog, just a little newer, to my toddler and you'll hear, "THAT'S NOT BIG DUKE!"

And so my situation with the peed on Big Duke was a tricky one.

I've never washed Big Duke before. He was a fairly cheap stuffed animal and I've always been afraid he wouldn't survive the wash.

Right before I snapped this picture, as I pulled the knob to start the load, I said a prayer for mercy and that God would bring Big Duke out okay.


Praise God he survived not only a trip through the washer, but the dryer, too!

Just in time for nap, Big Duke was slightly cleaner looking and MUCH better smelling!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

If I were a Christmas cookie . . .

It has been such a busy last week with all kinds of different things requiring my attention.

In fact if I were a Christmas cookie right now, this is what I'd look like:


But I do intend to slow way down and just enjoy starting very soon.

I vow to at least once in the next 8 days go an entire day without getting out of my jammies!

Speaking of jammies, this picture of my kids from Christmas morning 2 years ago brings me such joy!


They are such an amazing gift!

Now excuse me while I go attempt to glue my head back on with massive globs of icing!

Find more Friday Funnies at Homesteader's Heart, Finer Things Friday at The Finer Things in Life, 7 Quick Takes Friday at Conversion Diary.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thankfully I said "yes"!

Today when my 3 kids asked if they could play with play-doh I really wanted to say, "no".

I had 13 reasons to say "no": 1. It was too cold to do it on the outside table which is where they usually do it because of all the mess. 2. I had just a few hours earlier vacuumed and mopped the white floor 3. We had out of town guests for the previous three days that had just left, this is the kids' last week of school before Christmas which brings all kinds of busy-ness, and these two things combined to make me very tired by the time 4PM came around today.

And reasons number 4. through 13. : I was enjoying my spotless floor and wasn't ready to see it go!! (Imagine that statement repeated over and over.)

But thankfully God took over my mind (if not yet my attitude), I gritted my teeth, and said "yes" in a voice that was definitely closer to a sigh than enthusiasm at the activity.

They played, I put in huge effort towards digging dried-out Play-doh out of the inside of Play-doh tool and was finally successful!

I was trying to have a good attitude, saying some prayers for God to help me ignore the mess rapidly forming at my feet.

But, seriously, He would have had to strike me with blindness to be able to ignore this!

But still, when the kids finished I was feeling a little of the coveted good attitude about the mess and instead of complaining about it, I was able to say, "Okay, let's get out the little brooms and dustpans."

And we all began to clean up.

A few minutes into the cleaning up my 6 year old suddenly stopped and said,

"I know what a family's for -- to work, play and love!"

Now I certainly did not plan that lesson, but I am so thankful that somehow from the Play-doh play and cleaning up he got that message!

And to think how close I really came to saying "No!" to the Play-doh today!

And in case I have not made it clear, this was all God, not me. I didn't want them to play with the Play-doh.

And to emphasize the importance I place on this revelation from my son, check out #5 from this list I posted nearly a year ago!

Find more Thursday Thirteen here and Thankful Thursday here.

Chocolate-Peppermint Bark

I love this recipe for Marbled Mint Candy!

For my kids' teachers I contribute to the class collection that goes toward a gift card at a store or restaurant the teacher likes and then I give them this candy for a personal touch gift.

What I love about this candy is that it is super easy to make -- literally 3 ingredients (it doesn't get any better than that recipe-wise!). It comes out so pretty (even with my limited decorative baking skills) that it makes an attractive gift. And as my 6 year old says, "It kinda gets stuck in your teeth a little bit, but it tastes really good!"

Here is what the finished product looks like:

Each year I change up what I use for packaging, but I really like the cellophane gift bags I ended up using this year. I had some small white cardboard cupcake boxes left over from my daughter's party a few months ago. I cut the top off and left the box open inside the sealed bag to allow the candy to stick out the top, but the bottom and sides of the box protect the candy from being broken.

Find more Christmas recipes here.

Photobucket

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

She cut her own hair!

My little 4 year old girl loves crafts. The other morning before preschool she insisted she needed to make some stuff. She got out the construction paper, the tape, and asked me to get the kid scissors. None of this was unusual. Crafting is a daily or twice daily occurrence around here. As I unloaded the dishwasher she brought me various crowns and bracelets she'd made. The rate at which she produces crafts is actually pretty amazing!

Then I took the toddler upstairs to get him dressed. As I headed upstairs I told my daughter to come too so she could get dressed. She said she just needed to finish her craft. I said, "Okay, but just a couple more minutes."

I headed upstairs and a couple minutes later as I was brushing the toddler's teeth, she brings me this:

Since I was in the midst of the toddler teeth-brushing and I'd already looked at and praised more than one craft already that morning, at first I just kinda glanced at it.

Then I did a double-take.

"Is that hair?!!!!"

"Is that your hair taped on top of the little white paper?!!!"

"Did you cut your own hair?!!!"

The answers were yes, yes, and yes.

I think I knew this day would come. I've heard enough kids-cutting-their-hair stories that I knew having 3 kids it was inevitable that 1 of them would do it at some point.

Thankfully she didn't cut off much, she has long hair, is probably due for a haircut anyway, and you can't really tell unless you're looking for the spot!

So I ask, am I done?

Or is it like the Chicken Pox where if you have a mild case you could maybe get it again?

Just in case, I did deliver a long lecture filled with all the reasons we only let Ms. Sarah cut our hair with extra emphasis on just how long it takes hair to grow and that if she made it look funny, then it might just have to look that way for a while.

I must say, though, I do appreciate that she's already scrap-booked the event for me!!


Find more Wordless or Wordful Wednesday.

Monday, December 14, 2009

When Did We Forget?

Let me set the scene before I show you the picture.

I am in the kitchen baking, baking Christmas treats for the neighbors, my kids teachers, and for the relatives we have coming into town the next day. I am not content to bake one thing, so I do three separate baked treats, interspersed with changing over loads of laundry. My husband is raking leaves, tons of leaves to be cleaned up and bagged in the backyard.

Our two older kids had been helping outside and then suddenly they decided they needed a break, so they drug their little outdoor chairs onto the lawn, begged Mommy for the "special treat that is Sprite",

and they sat,

enjoying the bit of sunshine,

enjoying the break from work,

enjoying having someone to take a break with.


Now when was the last time my husband and I drug chairs out onto the lawn and just sat and enjoyed?

Um, never!

Kids understand how to relax, how to enjoy.

So, when did we forget?



This post is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge.


Check out Gratituesday and Tuesdays Unwrapped.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Caught Red-Handed

It's Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have NOT been doing (but really have!).

Around here:

It was NOT me who let my children do this last week!


If you wonder what it is they are NOT doing, check out my post here and you'll understand.

Only this year, it was wet outside on the day I wanted to do this little activity, so I did NOT decide to just put down some sheets and do it in my kitchen, my kitchen with white floor and white cabinets (well, formerly white floors and cabinets)! I am NOT that crazy!

Oh wait, maybe I am!!!

And the Mr. Clean eraser is NOT my new best friend!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thoughts

7 Things I'm Thinking Right Now (Thursday Night):

1.
My kids are 6, 4, and 2 years old. Do you think I can wrap some presents this weekend, put them under the tree, and they'll stay wrapped until Christmas? Since having little kids I haven't done much early wrapping mostly due to my procrastinating ways but also for fear they'd unwrap it all as soon as I jump in the shower! But this year as I reflect on the previous 3 or 4 Christmas Eves and all the staying up late with last minute wrapping, I am actually contemplating starting earlier this year! Wouldn't that be a finer thing?

2.
Since the mom who is coming over with her kids tomorrow afternoon for a playdate also has 3 kids, I don't have to have my house perfectly picked-up. She'll totally understand some crumbs on the floor and toys out in the playroom, right?

3.
Since when do I base my household cleanliness standards on the number of children the woman coming over has? Since right now!

4.
I wish my dryer had a remote control. I dry nearly all our clothes on low and even with the supposed "moisture sensor" the dryer always finishes with the clothes still too damp, so I have to restart it at least once, occasionally twice. How cool would it be if I could restart it with the press of a button from my spot on the couch huddled under a blanket due to the 40 degree temps we're having tonight?! Okay, that sounded really lazy, I know. But I'd trade my TV remote for a dryer remote. I watch so little TV that my dryer is used tons more!


5.
What exactly is this spot of goopy stuff in my hair and how did it get there?

6.
Does this mean I need to wash it tomorrow? Man! Tomorrow was not supposed to be a hair-washing day as Fridays are the day I have to take my daughter for her allergy shot at 8AM. So, my daughter, the 2 year old, and I have to be dressed and out the door by 7:45AM.

7.
Hmmm, Toddler wore warm jammies to bed tonight. I wonder if I could just take him to the allergist in his jammies and then with the time I save dressing him I'd have time to wash and dry my hair in the morning! If he were 8 months old I could totally get away with that, but at 31 months maybe not! At what age does it become socially unacceptable for a child to be out and about in their pajamas?

Just wondering! Happy Friday!



Find more Friday Funnies at Homesteader's Heart, Finer Things Friday at The Finer Things in Life, 7 Quick Takes Friday at Conversion Diary.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Imagine!

Do you ever wonder just what exactly the shepherds saw that night?

Luke 2:13 says, "Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,"

"A great company of the heavenly host"
!

Imagine! Really, it's hard to even imagine, isn't it?

Don't you just wish the camera phone existed back then and someone recovered from their fear and shock long enough to snap a picture?

And then if one of the shepherds had a blog and could post the picture from the WI-FI at Starbucks on the way to see Baby Jesus.

Actually, you know what God? It's better your way. Really, I'm thankful we don't know all the details.

It's better to just imagine!


Find more Thursday Thirteen here and Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

#1 Sign It's Time to Potty Train Your Toddler

You walk upstairs and find a diaper and pants. You did not take off the toddler's diaper and pants. Your husband did not take off the toddler's diaper and pants. Your 2 older children did not take off the toddler's diaper and pants.


Then you actually catch the toddler in the act of taking off his own diaper!
My daughter started doing this when she was 23 months old. I did 2 cycles of cleaning up #2 that had been spread on more than one surface in my house before I potty-trained her at 24 months! It was either potty train her or figure out a way to duct tape the diaper on!

But the problem is that a few previous attempts at potty-training my toddler have not gone well, which is why he's made it to 2 years and 7 months old and still wearing a diaper when his big brother and sister were potty trained months earlier.

Take my advice and if your kids' preschool offers a special lecture with a guest speaker, an expert, even, on potty-training, don't skip the lecture because you have potty trained 2 children already and feel you know all you need to know in order to train your 3rd child. Don't do it! Or your 3rd child will be like mine and destined to go to college wearing a size 19 diaper!


Find more Wordless or Wordful Wednesday.

Ways to Teach your Kids the True Meaning of Christmas

  • I tell my children over and over that we celebrate Christmas because it is Jesus's birthday. Kids really relate to the idea of a birthday. We bake a cake for baby Jesus on Christmas Eve and sing "Happy Birthday" to him before we eat it on Christmas Day. The gifts we give him are the presents we buy for kids in our city who otherwise might not have presents at Christmas.
  • Have a Nativity Scene the kids can play with. Ours is the Little People Nativity. (I am not at all compensated by Toys R'Us, they just happen to have the best price I've seen on this, so I'm linking you there.) It is my favorite Christmas decoration to bring out every year! As your kids play with it, talk about the story of Jesus's birth.
(our version here is minus the angel on top, I took the set with me when I taught the preschoolers at our church last Sunday and somehow didn't get home with the angel. Thankfully there is a little blessing called Ebay and a new angel is in the mail to me as I type this for 99 cents plus shipping! Watching a roomful of 4 year olds play with the nativity all morning was more than worth that!)
  • If your own church does not put on a Christmas program for kids, check out other churches in your area, many do really great, free performances especially for children that can help illustrate the true meaning of Christmas.
  • Watch the Dr. Seuss - How the Grinch Stole Christmas/Horton Hears a Who movie. When it ends you can have some great discussion with your kids about why the Whos in Whoville were still joyful even when the grinch had stolen all their gifts, decorations, and food. Talk about how the best gift of Christmas is Jesus and that can never be taken away.
  • Even decorating gingerbread houses can be a way to point to Jesus's birth. We do some sort of gingerbread creation from a kit each year. This year we did a small village and turned one of the houses into a manger scene. The animals are animal crackers, the manger is 2 pieces of Cracklin' Oatbran cereal stacked, and Jesus? Well, He's a gumdrop. I hope He's not offended!
Here's the whole village:


  • Read quality children's books that reflect on Jesus's birth. Our favorite:
  • On Christmas Eve our kids open 1 gift each that is new Christmas pajamas (makes for adorable Christmas morning pictures). We then snuggle up with them in their jammies and read the Christmas story from the Bible, Luke 2:1-20.

***I am an Amazon.com affiliate, so should you click on either of my 2 links (for the book & the movie) and purchase from Amazon, I will receive a small amount of the sale. Any proceeds will be donated to Children's Hopechest. Their purpose is to attempt to restore wholeness to the brokenness that is orphanhood.

Find more Works For Me Wednesday tips here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

On the Trail of Jesus

"Would you help me find the baby Jesus?" the shepherd asks my family and me. "Sure!" we reply.

The church has set up a make-shift Bethlehem town. We ask all over -- at the baker, the weaver, the work-working shop - and they've all seen a man with a very pregnant woman on a donkey. We follow the trail and are finally led to the inn.

The innkeepers tell us, "Yeah they came here, we didn't have any room left. Every room in town is full because of the census. But we felt bad since she was obviously about to have her baby, so we said they could stay in the stable out back. They're out there now."

And so we head outside and there they are in the stable. "Mary", "Joseph", "Baby Jesus", an angel, and a donkey.

This is our 2nd year coming to this church tour and I love watching my kids the moment we find "Baby Jesus". The look of amazement on their faces is priceless!

Even though I know what's coming when we head outside, I can't help feeling awe myself when encountering the manger scene.

My boys showered the donkey with much love and pats, and my daughter got to hold "baby Jesus".

And then we headed inside for some hot chocolate and a cookie.

BUT FIRST we stopped off at the massive bottle of hand-sanitizer and ensured that the whole family got a thorough cleansing.

Don't get me wrong, I realize the importance of washing your hands after petting animals, and I'm glad the sanitizer was there. But the idea of encountering "Jesus" and walking back in to douse ourselves with hand-sanitizer just struck me as funny.

Then I started thinking how often we do that in regular life.

Encounter Jesus here on earth but then it feels a little messy so we immediately go lather up in the hand-sanitizer. And then from the safety of our comfort-zone we can reflect on the "moving sermon" or great quiet-time.

Tom Davis has a book called Red Letters: Living a Faith That Bleeds and the "red letters" he talks about are Christ's words as they are printed in most Bibles. But his point is how many Christians don't seem to really take these words to heart.

When Jesus tells us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44), show compassion for sinners (Matt 9:12-13), deny ourselves and follow him (Matt 16:24), become servants to others (Matt 21:26-27), do for the least (Matt 25:45), or show mercy (Luke 10:37) I believe we are at first in awe of the message, but then we close our Bibles or drive home from church.

And rather than letting that uncomfortable God-wants-me-to-do-something-different feeling settle into our very being, we start washing it off, diluting the message.

"Well, that wasn't really a message for me in this stage of life." "God knows I serve him." "I give my time and money already." "That person doesn't want me to show God's mercy to them." "I can't allow my son to play with that boy, his family is not Christian. Think of the influence!"

And on and on it goes. We sip our hot chocolate and walk further and further away from the uncomfortable smell and cold of the stable.

But Jesus was not found in a sterile hospital room or even a hotel!


This post is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge.

Check out Gratituesday and Tuesdays Unwrapped.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Not Used to This!

Another Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have NOT been doing (but really have!).

This pretty much never happens where we live, so
this was definitely NOT the scene in my backyard on Friday!

The wonder of it all
!


And wanna see some Southern snow shoes?

And those are not even the fleece-lined variety of Crocs (crocs Toddler/Little Kid Mammoth Clog), either! Talk about wet socks inside those snowy Crocs!!

The toddler has recently been doing a thing where when I tell him something like, "Be careful eating those noodles, they're hot." He
replies with, "I wike (that's toddler for 'like') hot!" Well, when he started to climb up our playground ladder in the snow, I said, "No, don't climb up there." When he asked, "why?" I said, "Because it's wet and slippery." To which he did NOT reply, "I wike wet and slippery!"

And Tuesday? It's NOT suppose to be 72 degrees again!


And I'm NOT so glad, because one day of wet coats, gloves, hats, socks, shoes, and pants multiplied by 3 kids and then multiplied by each time they wanted to go outside is just too much for me and my washer/dryer to keep up with. My rarely-used-winter hat definitely goes off to you Northern moms. How do you do it?!!!
Seriously, I want to know because one 24 hour period of keeping up with 6 small gloves in addition to my own every where we went just was too much for me to handle!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fake Snow, Real Snow, and Christmas Trees


1.
I think I've hinted before that I live in the tropics, well, I don't exactly see the equator out my back window, nor do I see palm trees, but still, winter is mild and if it drops much below 50 degrees we feel like we are freezing!!! So what does our small town holiday festival do to celebrate the season in a place like this? Create a little yard of man-made snow and then our children wait in line to play in it!


2.
Oh yes, we do!!! And here's a picture of my poor, winter-deprived daughter contemplating just what exactly to do with the "snow"But hey, my son was successful in creating a fairly decent snowball!

3.
Now, usually around this time of year I hear several of my fellow topic-like region dwellers complaining that, "It doesn't feel like Christmas!" Because it is 75 degrees outside. And I can assure you I am never one of those people! I have absolutely no problem celebrating Christmas in my flip-flops, because you see the cold and I, we do not really get along. But this year is different because y'all, it is cold!! There may even be snow tomorrow, extremely rare in our parts and this early in the season it is unheard of! My only solace is that chances are it will be back in the 70s next week!

5.
Anyone have little kids and a Christmas tree? Yeah, it's fun isn't it?!! Whoever decided on the tradition of a Christmas tree obviously was not a mom with toddlers. I mean seriously, let's set up a tree in the middle of the living room, decorate it with sparkling lights, shiny balls, and toy-like items, and then expect our toddlers to leave it alone for a month!

I do stop short of employing the idea I've heard of placing the Christmas tree in a playpen for its protection. Instead we usually just decorate the top of the tree with the breakable ornaments and the bottom with the non-breakables and kid-craft ornaments. It makes for a beautiful two-tone look and works great until one of your kids gets a little too crazy with ringing a bell on the lower half of the tree and pulls the entire thing over, thus breaking even the high up breakable ornaments! I believe that was Christmas 2005 for us, or was it 2006 -- who can say?

6.
This year I didn't supervise quite as much as I should have when my kids were decorating the tree and allowed some glass balls to be hung low down on the tree. The green ball in this picture met its demise the very next morning!

And do you notice in that picture how there are about 7 ornaments all on the same branch? Kids don't get the idea of "spreading them out"!

7.
But oh, the true joy of having little ones around during the magic of the Christmas season! Completely worth a glass ball ornament casualty or two or fourteen and a funny looking Christmas tree!

Find more Friday Funnies at Homesteader's Heart, Finer Things Friday at The Finer Things in Life, 7 Quick Takes Friday at Conversion Diary.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

13 Things I Learned in Disney World


  1. Princess Jasmine's costume (from Aladdin) looks much more revealing on a real-life person than it does on the animated girl!
  2. If you and your 3 kids pack into one row on the Dumbo ride you'll never forget those 2 minutes as long as you live -- in a good way, though!
  3. Fast Passes are your friend!
  4. The monorail is nice but doesn't actually connect all the different parks. Somebody needs to look into expanding that thing!
  5. Mickey's Magical Express is awesome -- you check your luggage at your home airport and it magically appears in your Disney hotel room in Orlando a few hours later!
  6. If you have a child that is scared of the sound of fireworks, the shows are most enjoyably viewed from the monorail, simply leave the park right after the really cool light-up parade, but before the fireworks show is due to start, and enjoy the quiet fireworks for the ride back to your hotel!
  7. I have a new-found respect for the ordeal those characters go through to sign autographs while in their costumes. Poor Pluto had to balance the autograph books on his nose while signing!
  8. The spinning tea cups ride is even more fun when you ride it with your little girl than you remember it being when you were a little girl.
  9. I will never forget the grin on my toddler's face when Mickey Mouse kissed the top of his head!
  10. Getting to the park right when it opens is the way to go. We had absolutely no wait for the It's a Small World ride!
  11. Mickey Mouse shaped waffles really do taste better than non-Mickey Mouse shaped waffles!
  12. There is a store at Downtown Disney that has some of the coolest Mr. Potato Head parts I've ever seen! If you are a 6 year old boy, you will know this store as the one where you can build your own lightsaber.
  13. The princess sparkles from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique are potent and require more than a few shampooings to remove. Also, they seem to multiply and before you know it, every item in each one of your suitcases is sparkly!

Find more Thursday Thirteen here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Let Your Kids Make the Wrapping Paper


Wanna know a Christmas tradition that works for me?

Letting my kids make the wrapping paper.

I use the white rolls of butcher paper we already have, roll it out across my back patio, give the kids large red and green ink pads and let them go at it, stamping their hands and feet all over the paper.

I am a reformed perfectionist so I really try not to care if it doesn't come out looking anywhere close to perfect, but I do coach the kids a little on spots they miss stamping.

It is a tradition, a craft, a kid activity, a way to get the kids involved and excited about gift-giving, and saves money that would be spent buying the store-bought paper! And the butcher paper is actually thicker and stronger than typical wrapping paper which is a plus if you need your gift wrap to stand up to packing and traveling!

This picture is from 2 years ago. Last year's pictures are, ahem, yet to be cataloged. Yes, I am 15 months behind on my pictures! So for all of you who ask how I do it all, just know I don't do it all. In fact today my breakfast dishes didn't get done until 1:15PM!

If you look closely at the picture my daughter is putting a green hand in the red stamper and yes, that is a testament to how reformed of a perfectionist I am! If the idea of that really drives you crazy and you'd like to minimize the chaos in your own household then you can just use one color of ink pad.

In case you were wondering about my son's head-wear in the picture, it is a Native American headpiece he made at school in honor of Thanksgiving and then wore around for weeks after (hence the flopped over state of the lone yellow construction paper feather)! He is our costume-kid!


Find more Works for Me Wednesday and Wordless or Wordful Wednesday.