Thursday, December 29, 2011

Play it again, Mama: Age Appropriate Chore Lists

Savoring the Training Period

Lydia peeling cucumbers for Mama

As my kids get older, I find that life gets a little less crazy and a little more chaotic.

What does that mean?

Well, there is less diaper changes, but still loads of laundry.  No more nursings, but a lot more dishes.  Bigger blocks of entertaining themselves, but bigger messes when they're done.

And while I choose to be a homemaker, I don't believe that God has called me to be a maid, a cook, and a chaueffer.  Although there are days where I feel like it.  My kids are part of this family and as such, we share the workload.  I would be doing my kids a disservice if I didn't train them to pick up after themselves.

Notice I used the work "train."  I think some parents get discouraged when a chore isn't completed to their standard.  They give up and take the work back on their own shoulders.  However, we are meant to "train" our kids.  We can't expect them to do the job perfect the first time or even the fifth time.  And we certainly can't expect them to do it without guidance.  Rather, we are there to help them learn the skills they will carry with them into adulthood.

As all kids and families are different, these lists are meant to be a guideline.  I've written them up as much for me as for you.  I need this reminder as well that my kids are "in training."  Remember that it's not an exhaustive list.  Feel free to adjust, add, and subtract as you learn what fits your family.  And know that at first introduction, chores will not be well received.  But in the end, the delegation of jobs will benefit everyone in the family.

A few things to keep in mind as you embark on this journey:
*Be encouraging.  Encouragement will go farther than condemnation.
*Include your kids in what you're already doing.
*Remember to work alongside your kids in the training period.
*Don't give up!  Parenthood is a marathon, not a sprint.

1-2 years
Handing mommy items to put away, put in dishwasher, etc.
Pick up toys with assistance
Learn to say "please", "thank you", "excuse me"
Help pick up room (toys, make bed, pick up dirty clothes)
Wipe off furniture
Help clean up their messes (spilled milk, etc)
Throw away diapers, etc.

2-3 years
Take laundry to hamper, help sort laundry
Take dishes to sink after meals
Wipe down table and chairs
Help putting away laundry
Bring stuff in from the car
Weeding and helping in the yard with guidance

3-5 years
Learn to make bed
Get own drinks
Learn to dust
Learn to vaccum
Learn to set table
Water plants
Mate socks and put away laundry
Help with meals
Feed pets
Get the mail
Put away silverware (knives and sharp objects excepted)
Sweeping with a small broom
Wiping down sink area

6-8 years
Loading and unloading dishwasher
More extensive sweeping
Learning to fold laundry
Make bed
Help younger siblings with tasks
Responsible for readying backpacks, library bags, etc. before leaving
Handwashing dishes
Wiping down toilet area
Take out the trash
Wash the car with assistance
Learning to do laundry with supervision
Continue helping with meal prep
Learning initiative

9 years and up
Take care of room on own
Progress to yard work unsupervised
Take initiative on one meal a week
Tackle more difficult cleaning projects
Contribute to family conversations and decisions
Take on small jobs in and out of the home

Additional Resources:

I love this idea for older children. Titled "You Work Hard for your Misbehavior," this mom mixes consequences with grace.

Other good reads on chores:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Play it again, Mama: Savoring your Marriage

I love my husband.  This past summer we celebrated our 10th anniversary and I'm continually amazed by how quickly the time has flown.  And how much patience he's shown in that time.  My prayer truly is that I would love him as much as he loves me and find new ways to Savor our marriage every day.  That's why we took the 52 First Dates challenge last year.

In the spirit of Savoring Your Marriage, here's a few simple ideas you can do today:

*Pray for your husband.  The Lord can help him in ways you never could.
(I'm hoping to put together a post on this in the future).

*Call him in the middle of the day just because.

*Leave him a note in the car to find on the way to work.

*Greet him with a kiss when he comes home.

*Hold hands.

*Dress for him.  Even if that just means throwing on some jeans instead of those baggy sweatpants.

*Prioritize your time with him.  Don't leave him with the scraps at the end of the day.

*Be a good listener.

*Praise him in public.

*Think of him when planning your schedule, menus, etc.

*Appreciate and verbally thank him for all he does for your family.

*Be his biggest cheerleader.  Even when you don't agree, cheer on his dreams.

How are you Savoring Your Marriage today?

Book List 2011

2011 has been a great year of reading.  I was delighted to read a variety of books I normally wouldn't have picked up.  And even more delighted to discover there are some fantastic authors out there.  In case you're wondering what I've been reading, here are the books I finished off in 2011.

Book List 2011

Christian Living:
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore
Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas (see review here)

Bringing up Boys by Dobson
Bringing up Girls by Dobson
Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson (see book club here)

Homemaking and Nutrition:
Fit Kids by Eileen Behan
In Defense of Food by Michael Poland
Practical Homemaking by Pat Ennis (see book club here)

Additional books read:
Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right On The Money
Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman
Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas (see review here)
Love Wins by Rob Bell
The Naked Mom by Brooke Burke
Large Family Logistics by Kim Brennamen (see review here)
Adopt without Debt by Julie Gumm (see review here)
The Cause within You by Matthew Barnett
It Ain't All About the Cookin' by Paula Deen
Love You More by Jennifer Grant (see review here)
Transforming Discipleship
Praying for your Future Husband by Tricia Goyer and Robin Jones Gunn (see review here)
Scent of Water by Naomi Zacharias (see review here)
Stained Glass Hearts by Patsy Clairmont (see review here)
The Harvest of Grace by Cindy Woodsmall (see review here)
The Christmas Note by Donna VanLiere (see review here)
When Heaven Invades Earth by Bill Johnson
The Mission Minded Child by Ann Dunnagan
The Mission Minded Family by Ann Dunnagan
Dreaming God's Dreams by Bill Johnson
Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Makin' Goals 2012

For the past three years, we've posted our goals for the new year.  Sometimes silly, sometimes serious.  It's that whole "New Year, New You" attitude.  Cheesy, I know.  But I love it!  Notice I said goals, not resolutions.  Resolutions are temporary.  Easily forgotten.  Once broken, they're abandoned.  Goals are different.  Goals are long term.  They require vision.  And once we fail, so what?  We pick up and try again tomorrow.

So this year, let's do something different.  We're making goals.  Life changing, broken into steps, try again tomorrow goals.  And we can do it... together!  The first week of January, we're going to post our goals and work through them in 2012.  Come back Jan 3rd to post your goals and blog hop with us.  Then return each month as we post our progress.  Let's work toward a "New Year, New You" in 2012.

So put your thinking caps on and come back here on Jan 3rd to link up with us.  Here's the details:

Carnival Information

If you would like to be involved, post your 2011 Goals on your blog, including a link back to my blog and a link to the Carnival post. Focus should be on how you plan to improve you nutritional intake in the next year.

Please feel free to spread the word about the carnival.

Tips for Making Goals
1. Make your goals achievable. Start with something small that you can change this month, then another for next month. Don't write down goals that are so daunting you don't even attempt them.

2. Make goals that you are willing to commit to. If you have no interest in sprouting seeds, leave that for another time. This is not the time to make goals simply to impress other bloggers.

3. Develop a loose timeline for achieving some or all of your goals. Do you want to achieve one a month or just incorporate all within the first 6 months? 

4. Share these goals with others. Here's where the accountability of blogging comes in. You're sharing with all of us the changes that you are purposing to make in your life. Additionally share with someone in your real life. Ask them to keep you accountable as well.

5. Understand that these goals are a work in progress. Habits are not changed overnight. These goals are meant to be working goals, working toward a better you in 2011.

You ready to get started???

Monday, December 26, 2011

Play it again, Mama: Birthday Balloon Wreath

What a fun festive addition to any birthday!
After all, what says Birthday more than Balloons?

A Birthday Balloon Wreath!

A few months ago, I saw this one and knew I had to make one.
But could I make it more frugal?

Here's what you'll need:

72 count bag of balloons (maybe more to fill in the sides)
Wreath from (from Dollar Tree no less)
Birthday Ribbon (another Dollar Tree find)
Glue gun

Fold the balloon in half top to bottom.
Then quarter the balloon to a point.

Hot glue the tip and layer balloons around the wreath.
Layer about 3 across,
tucking and gluing as you go.

Tie a bow from your ribbon.

Wrap the ribbon loosely around the wreath
and attach the bow!

I love how colorful it is.
And what a great way to celebrate the birthday person!
Just a little something extra to make the day special!

How do you make birthdays fun?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Play it again, Mama: Tomato Soup Bar

Fall has become my favorite time of year.  Not only are the leaves changing, but the weather is perfect for afternoon walks and outdoor fires.  There's something sweetly nostalgic about this time of year where the world slows down, families gather over popcorn and puzzles, and the earth prepares to rest.  

With the blustery weather, our meals change too.  Back in August, I was trying to prepare an exhaustive list of my family's favorite meals.  My husband and I put our heads together, but no matter how hard we tried, our thoughts kept turning to warm soups and stews. And this is one of our favorite's: Pioneer Woman's Sherried Tomato Soup.  It's quick, rich, and a thousand times better than Campbell's.  Think you don't like Tomato Soup?  Think again!  You'll love it!

Last fall while my husband was working nights, the kids and I started a new tradition for Tomato Soup night.  We made a Tomato Soup Bar.  What's that?  You start by whipping up a batch of your favorite tomato soup.  And then you serve with it a full array of tasty toppings.  Pictured here, we have cheddar cheese and crispy goldfish crackers.  Some other favorites have included fresh Parmesan, soda crackers, and scallions.  Other ideas would be:

Jalapeno peppers (I'm dying to try this one)
sour cream
fresh basil
crunchy onions
roasted garlic
toasted biscotti

I hope you'll enjoy this quick, fun dinner as much as we do.  Happy Soup Season!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

May the Lord remind you how to love as He loved!
And may you love those you find yourselves surrounded by today!

Next week's posts will include some of my personal favorites from years past.
I combed through the archives to bring you a variety of great finds.

I'll be back to regular posting in early Jan.
I have all sorts of new topics planned for us including:

*Letters to our daughters: preparation for life
*Building family values into our every day lives
*Hospitality in the Home ideas
*Menu planning and what if your plan fails
*Dreaming with God
*Book Club link-ups
*And a phenomenal book to read together!

Have safe travels and enjoy your holidays!

How are you celebrating Christmas?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday, Lydia!

To my Baby Girl on her 4th Birthday!

My dear Lydia,
From the moment you came into my life,
My days have been fuller, 
And more joyful!

Your tender personality
has brought soft words and loving kisses
into our home.

I am forever grateful
for the gift you are to our family.

I love you!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My 2012 Reading List

This year has been an amazing journey of remembering how much I love to read.  All good writers are wide read.  But for a time I forgot that.  This year I refocused on how much I love to read and it's been so refreshing.  To take my eyes of my blogroll for awhile and actually read a book with pages to turn... AMAZING!

As the year turns, I hope to do some reading with you, my readers.  I love the interaction we get when we read together so I'm excited to pull out some of these books and do a few book clubs this year.  And I'm also hoping to inspire you as well.  Inspire you to read, inspire you to think, inspire you to grow.  

This is what my book list looks like for 2012:

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp--I read this one last year, but it's so rich.  Definitely worth a re-read.

Made to Crave by Lysa Turkerst--With the weight loss journey I'm on, I'm excited to see her take.  

Kisses for Katie by Katie Davis--I don't know much about this one, but the reviews have been incredible.  I can't imagine so devoting my life to these children.  Anxious to read this one.

Crazy Love by Frances Chan--Again, don't know much about this one, but it's been recommended several times.  So I'm excited to pick it up.

God's Story, Your Story by Max Lucado--This one has been in my Kindle for awhile.  Seems to fit along well with the idea of Stewarding Our Stories.

Attachment Focused Parenting--Comes highly recommended for adoptive parents.  Very different philosophy from how we raised our birth child so we'll see.

The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman--I see more and more every day how different my children are.  Hoping this one will put my in the right perspective for more effectively communicating love to my children.

Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas--Loved how Sacred Marriage challenged my perspective and looking forward to the same from this book.

Reluctant Entertainer by Sandy Coughlin--Sandy's blog is exceptional and I'm excited to read her book.  Challenging the way we look at hospitality and friendship.

Every Body Matters by Gary Thomas--I have this one set to review at the beginning of the year.  Again, it fits into where the Lord has me in taking better care of myself and excited to learn more about his philosophy of taking care of spirit AND body.

Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp--I read this about two years ago and it absolutely reshaped the way I look at parenting.  I'm excited to read it again for fresh insight.

And I know there will be more to come!  I already have one author committed to offering some books for an online book club.  Are there any on this list we'd like to read together? 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Love and War {Review}

Although Jon and Staci Eldredge are both well-known authors in the Christian community, I must admit that I had yet to read any of their work.  So I went into this book a little blind.  But I certainly wasn't disappointed.

Writing as a team, the couple explores the topic of marriage as it relates not only to our relationship with our spouse, but also our relationship with God.  The Eldredges explore how our earthly marriages correlate to our marriage with Christ.  They are able to paint the picture of how God is using marriage to reveal himself to a lost world.  Our marriages are fighting in a world that is designed to tear us apart.  Our expectations and preconceptions, from a very young age, are so lopsided that we're missing the design for marriage that God intended.  However, He loves to us as imperfect people to reveal his plan of salvation.  And our marriages are a part of that.

The authors are right upfront about the war our marriages are fighting.  The enemy is not our spouse.  The enemy is Satan as he seeks to steal, kill, and destroy.  He'd like nothing better than to see us fail and he uses every tactic at his disposal.  There are many moments in this book where I found myself saying, "Yes, we had that argument last week" or "Uh huh, that's exactly what bugs me at the end of the day."  But the authors always bring us back to a united front with practical insight into every day struggles.

I was delighted with this book.  Refreshing, easy to read, and highly relatable, the Love and War is a book that I will recommend again and again.

*Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books.  All opinions expressed are mine.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

GIVE a Bracelet this Season and Feed a Child

What if you could give a gift this season that would impact TWO lives?  What if you could wrap a present that would GIVE to a loved one AND to a child in need?  What if for the cost of one gift, you could also feed a child for one full week?
GIVE Jewelry is providing you, ...all of us..., with that opportunity.
Give Jewelry is a sustainable movement to provide food for children in orphanages throughout Indonesia. The vision is simple: every bracelet purchased directly benefits kids in need. So no matter what type of bracelet you choose: friendship braceletscharm braceletleather braceletbeaded braceletcuff bracelets or any of our other bracelets, you’re really choosing to make a difference. 
Friendship Bracelets, charm bracelet, leather bracelet, beaded bracelets, cuff bracelets and more… With every bracelet you purchase, Give Jewelry provides one week of nutritious food (that's 21 meals!) for a child in need.

Join the movement:

When you make a purchase from Give Jewelry to set in motion the “1 Bracelet-1 Child-1 Week of Food,”  write “Robin" in the comment box to receive a free Survivor Purple Cancer Awareness Bracelet or Pink Breast Cancer Awareness bracelet in the comment box upon checkout.  This is being provided for you as a special gift for making a difference.

So as you're doing your last minute shopping this week, or in the weeks to come, think about how you want to spend your money.  Do you want to spend it in the mall on that last minute sweater?  Or do you want to spend it making the difference in the life of a child?

Remember 1 Bracelet-1 Child- 1 Week of Food.  You too can make a difference!

Monday Muddle

Hey everyone,
How was your week?  Can you believe it's the last week till Christmas?  I'm in shock.  And a little bit busy!

Last week found us traveling again for another funeral.  The later part of this year has been rough for our family.  So we are greatly looking forward to the hope of Christmas.  Kids stayed with Grandma while my husband and I went to his grandpa's funeral.  It's been such a blessing to have grandparents who love our kids.  And for us to reflect on the legacy of our own grandparents.  The trip was quick, but it gave us a chance to reunite with distant family and refocus our priorities and relationships.

This past Saturday we also threw a 4th birthday party for our daughter.  Her birthday is the 21st so every year we throw a party the weekend before Christmas.  It was a blast seeing her play with her friends from the YMCA and school.  I love how her personality is coming out and seeing how she interacts.  Our little house was full of pink and laughter.  I promise to share more soon.

The rest of our weekend was filled with church, another party, a meeting, and lots of family in our house.  Our house may be small, but we're always happy to have it filled with family and friends.  So now it's Sunday night and I'm busy in my kitchen (often the place I'm the happiest).  Shortbread cookies and carmel corn are on the to-do list.  Changes are on the horizon as my twitter followers know.  So I'm filling my house with the warm smell of the holidays.

Our menu for the week:
Monday--potluck at small group-- taking potatoes and a green salad
Tuesday--pea soup and bread
Wednesday--(Lydia's birthday request) hamburgers, tater tots, salad
Thursday--taco salad
Friday--homemade pizza
Sunday--Christmas dinner

Projects I'm working on this week:
Finish shopping and wrapping
Baking for Grandma
Shortbread cookies
Moose Munch
Peanut butter cookies

Posts coming up this week:
A couple of reviews
2012 reading list
Lydia's birthday post
An opportunity to GIVE this season
Christ-centered dialogue
and more!

How was your weekend?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Soft Molasses Cookies

Join me as I'm guest blogging over at Pocket Full of Pink today. I'm sharing my Grandma's Soft Molasses Cookies that we make every year at Christmas. You don't want to miss this one. So come on over and say hi!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hospitality in the Home: Warm Beverages

As the holidays approach and our busy-ness kicks up a notch, opportunities for hospitality abound.  Whether it's a ladies tea, family visiting for the weekend, or just a group of carolers stopping by, our days are filled with moments meant to be shared.  And what better way to extend hospitality than with a warm beverage.

I keep a special spot over my oven stocked with herbal teas, hot chocolate, spiced ciders, and flavored coffees.  You could also add mulling spices, juice boxes, sparkling ciders, flavored waters, and more.  Stock your tupperware canisters or keep a rubbermaid box for the occasion.  Finish it off with some hot and cold cups, a marker for names, and some candy canes for the mochas.  Perfect for blessing those unexpected guests.

How do you prepare for unexpected holiday guests?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Muddle

Wow!  This Monday is a  muddle for sure.  Birthday party coming up this weekend, the last minute crunch for Christmas, and the usually parenting adventures of a Mama.  As if our past four months haven't been crazy enough, my husband's grandpa passed away yesterday morning as well.  It was quite a blow as we were planning a New Year's trip to see him.  To say that the second half of this year has been hard would be an understatement.  I've been telling everyone that it's hard not for us to just wish 2011 away.

So in the midst of everything, this has been a crazy Monday.  My husband left last night to be with family and I'll go down later.  The kids and I had a rare treat of In-n-Out burgers last night, then gathered around to do some science.  Both my kids love experiments so we filled our evening with bases and acids, and chemical reactions.  It was fun!

Well, this is what our menu looks like this week:
Monday--Tomato soup, grilled cheese
Tuesday--Spaghetti and green salad
Thursday--Potato soup
Friday--Homemade pizza
Saturday--Out for Lydia's birthday dinner
Sunday--Staff meeting, birthday party, going crazy!

Projects I'm working on this week:
Finishing pinata
Finishing hair bows
Finish planning birthday party

Posts coming up this week:
Ready hospitality idea
Writer's Workshop
A yummy recipe
Christmas at our house
and more!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Flower Hair Clips

*Originally posted Oct 2010

A few months ago while I was searching the internet, I came across these Fabric Flowers Sew Mama Sew.  I was blown away by how simple and yet stunning they really were.  I mean, really?  Who came up with this idea?  They are amazing!

Needless to say, I loved them and bookmarked them immediately.  I knew I wanted to make some for my daughter.  But I kept putting it off and putting it off.  I don't sew much and with all the other hobbies I have, I just don't have time to learn.  I thought they looked really pretty, but since I don't sew, I was afraid they would be a bigger job than I could handle.

Boy was I wrong.

If you can thread a needle and sew a basic stitch they are so doable.  I took me about a hour to put together four of them.  And really the majority of the time was spent figuring out the first one.  

I found the trick to be that when you're folding and adding the extra stitches on the back, make your stitches bigger.  If they are too bunched in the center, you won't get any dimension.  Make the line longer and the stitches a bit wider.  Perfect.

I added a basic clip to the back of each with hot glue and instant hair clips for a little girl.  These came out very boutique-y.  Put together two or three sets of these and you have the perfect gift for a niece or friend.  You could even add a trio to a larger clip.

I love them and am already thinking about who else I can make them for.  I only spent $3 on material and have a TON left over (I bought 1/4 yard each instead of 1/8 yard each).  The clips come in a package of about 20 and can be bought with a 40% off coupon at your local craft store.  Frugal and elegant,... now that's my kind of gift.

What are you crafting up this week?

We have Winners!

Finally drawing winners for the Mixed Bag Designs Giveaway!  And our winners are:

#1--Piper (I need your email; contact me)

#12--Headmistress, zookeeper


Hey girls, I'm sending you an email right now.

Thanks to everyone who entered for making this giveaway a huge success!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Clutter Busting Christmas Presents

It's unbelievable that Christmas is only 17 days away.  For some of you, you may be feeling like "Big deal.  Seventeen days is an eternity."  For me, however, I know that 17 days is going to pass like the blink of an eye.  December always finds us so busy; I have a hard time keeping it all straight.  And presents?  I've hardly had time to think about that.  So while a friend and I were brainstorming usefully gifts, I thought I'd share me list with you in case you're in the same spot.

Looking at our list this year, I really wanted to purchase gifts that would be useful and not just add to the consumer pile.  I still like blessing our family and friends at Christmas, but rather than buying another CD, I like to search out those items that they'll really use.  Hope you find this list helpful!

In the kitchen:
*Glass dishes--I love cooking with glass.  And with high quality items available, you won't be throwing these out like some of the cheaper items on the market.  These can be personalized as well if your recpient is big on entertaining.

*Pastry blender--Just a small thing, but this on packs a huge punch.  If you're buying for a baker, they won't underestimate the value of this gift.

*Garlic press--One of my favorite tools in the kitchen.  Pampered Chef sells a great one, but you can find them other places as well.  Great for cutting down time and money.

*Local roasted coffee and honey--Support your local businesses by purchasing a local roast coffee.  Then stop by the farmer's market for some raw honey.  Giving two ways by supporting your local farmer's.

*Homemade vanilla--An inexpensive and easy item, the quality of homemade vanilla is unbelievable.  What a great addition to any kitchen!

Going green:
*Microfiber clothes and homeade cleaner--I found a package of these clothes at a local discount outlet and love them.  They don't leave streaks on my windows and can be laundered for use again and again.  Please with homemade cleaner, you can control the substances that come into your home.  Be sure to include the recipe for a refill.

*Homemade laundry soap and reusable dryer sheets--We love our homemade laundry soap.  My favorite feature is that it's fragrance free.  Being inexpensive doesn't hurt either.  Pair it with some homemade dryer balls and you've got a great eco-friendly gift.

*Reusable Lunch baggies--I'm dying to make some of these.  What a great gift for a niece or nephew, or stocking stuffer for just about anyone.

*Recipe a month club--Plan 12 meals to deliver to the recipient, one a month for an entire year.  Now that's a labor of love.

For the gym rat:
*Homemade Yoga Mat Bag--I want one of these.  Next year, I'm making one!

For the book lover:
*Books on CD--My kids love listening to books on CD in the car.  And Mama loves it too.  It makes those long trips to Grandma's so much easier.

*Chapter books for older kids--I don't consider books to be clutter so as my children grow I'm excited to add chapter books to our collection.

*An e-book for the Kindle or Nook--Inexpensive and definitely a clutter buster, there's such a variety of e-books available.  Purchase a gift certificate and allow the recipent to choose their own.

For kids:
*Homemade Playdough--There are so many recipes out there.  Start with a basic and a pumpkin pie recipe, and go from there.

*Family memberships to a local zoo, museum, theater, etc.

What are you shopping for this Christmas?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Memories

Christmas is a time of remembering for me.  It's a time of waking up.  It's a time of centering.  And it's a time of returning to what's important.  So who would guess that my favorite ornaments are those that remind me of family?

When I was growing up, my grandma loved creating.  Now you know where I get it from.  She came from the generation where life inspired creativity.  Didn't have what you needed?  Didn't have the money to buy new?  Figure it out!  So she's always been a creative lady.

One year she decided to start painting Christmas ornaments for all us grandkids.  Some years the girls got one style and the boys another.  Some years, we all got the same time.  They were mostly ceramic ornaments, but since creativity abounded with my grandma, you never knew what you were going to get.  Each year these ornament were a special gift that communicated time and presence from one special grandma to her grandchildren.  These are just a few of my favorites:

Mama and Baby Unicorn

Sweet Girl Praying

Santa Mouse Snoozing in a Music Note

These are some of my most prized possessions and each year is a remembrance of my grandma.  It's a small token of her love that keeps on giving.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Creative Holiday Treats

The web is full of fun Christmas ideas this time of year.  Here are just a few of my favorites:

Monday Muddle

Wow!  Where did the weekend go?  I feel like the days are flying by and I don't even have enough time to grab ahold and hang on.  This past week, my kids finished up their fall semester gymnastic and did a performance.  Could I really pass up a chance to show how cute they are?

Lydia, in particular, has really come a long ways this year.  She was in a much older class and held her own.  And got a little braver as well.

This past Saturday, we went home for a memorial service for my uncle.  It was very private with just family, but very much so needed.  We had a family picnic at his place, with the kids running around and the rest of us enjoying each other's company.  Before we were done, we scattered my cousin and uncle's ashes and the kids let balloons go with messages for both of them.  It was sweet.

So while we mourn, life marches on.  Christmas is fast approaching and we have a birthday party to plan as well.  I'm twisting my brain in knots trying to keep it all straight.  Lydia and I started her pinata today. Messy work, but hilarious with a three year old.  Excuse me... almost four year old.  Before I sign off for now, here's a few things you should know:

The Mixed Bag Designs Giveaway ends today.  Hurry to get your entry in!

Our Menu this Week:

Yogurt and fruit
Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins
Gingerbread Waffles

Peanut butter and jelly sammies
Green salads
String cheese, fruit, carrots

Monday: Baked Potato Bar
Tuesday: Beans and cornbread
Wednesday: Tortellini and salad
Thursday: Tomato Soup and grilled cheese
Friday: Parm Fish, cabbage salad, and broccoli
Saturday: Pizza and salad
Sunday: Pasta e Fagoili for lunch, Pumpkin Pie cake for dinner potluck

Molasses cookies
Dipped pretzels

Projects I'm working on this week:
Parenting prayer cards
Finishing 6 hair bow sets
Strawberry Pinata

What's going on in your world?
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