A Different Christmas Countdown

December 06, 2012 | | 1 comments

It can be hard to remember the reason for the season when you are putting together your umpteenth tray of cookies for yet another cookie exchange. With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it's easy to feel a little empty by the time it's over. Have you ever had that kind of depressed feeling the day after Christmas?  A little holiday hangover?

My oldest child is getting to the age where he really understands that Christmas means lots of fun new things... That said, I don't think it's bad for my kids to want things and be excited about presents... the Christmas season is magical!  However, I also want to strive for just as much excitement about the greatest gift we have ever received, Jesus! 

This year, while we are counting down the days to a tree full of presents, I also wanted to count our blessings and the numbers of ways we could bless others.  If you spend any time on Pinterest, you have probably seen the "Random Acts of Christmas Kindness" concept - basically an advent calendar of daily kind actions instead of candies or small gifts.

Yes, it is a little (or a lot of) extra work for me.  It is requiring some personal sacrifice (late nights baking, "staging" trips to the grocery store for the sole purpose of returning a stranger's shopping cart...) but the right amount of planning ahead has made it not so daunting.

The most important part was planning ahead and making it realistic for us.  I made sure that the activities were age appropriate and actually fell on a day where it was possible for us to accomplish that particular task. 

I know it will be difficult for a 4 year old mind to grasp the full significance of the "gift of self" during this holiday season, but these activities are opening up so many opportunities for little conversations about how MOST of the world lives.  Not everyone has snacks in the cupboard and a playroom full of toys. Lots of people live hungry.  I am constantly reminding him (in a nice way) that we don't get to buy something for ourselves today, that Santa will take care of him on Christmas day, and so we need to help others have a good Christmas too.

Here are some tips to make this happen this year (It's not too late! Love and kindness has no expiration date)!
  1. Make a list of possible activities and/or a list of all the people you could bless (teachers, coworkers, neighbors, public servants, etc... EVERYONE likes to feel appreciated and acknowledged).
  2. Plug your chosen activities into a calendar, making sure to put the activities on a day where you can actually do them - account for sports schedules, work, and other extra curriculars.
  3. Make a to do list of all the things you need to do up front to make sure the activities happen, what supplies do you need? what treats do you need to bake? etc.
  4. Plug your to do list items into your calendar (set aside time to bake, or write notes, etc.)
  5. Shop for your items and get crackin'
  6. Make these activities a priority each day!
  7. Watch blessings abound!
We are only a few days in (we started on the 4th), but it has been so amazing to watch my child take joy in bringing joy to others!

November 2012 Highlights

December 05, 2012 | | 2 comments
I know we are almost a full week into December already, but here is a roundup of posts from November!

We made some super hero sack puppets!

We needed somewhere to actually use our puppets, so we made a DIY hallway puppet theater.

I shared our new family photos.

Since we are in a season of Thanks, I made a list of 100 blessings in my life.

And finally, I shared a mini-tutorial on how to use a coloring sheet to make some custom artwork, and I gave a little tour of my boy's CARS bathroom!

Kidtastic Bathroom + An Art Tutorial-ish

November 27, 2012 | | 2 comments

I remember the days when I swore I would never buy my kids "licensed crap"... but I underestimated just how strongly kids can feel about a character in a show or a movie. The movie Cars is one such movie for us. The day has arrived where we have Cars pillow pets, pajamas, blankets, toys, movies, dishes, shoes, toothbrushes, can openers (not)... the list goes on!

Sounds silly, but one of the things I was most excited about in our new house was that the boys would have their own bathroom.  I wanted to surprise them with something fun that was just for them, and that I would never do for a guest bathroom... so I decided to go with a subtle-ish Cars theme.  Instead of stocking up on a Lightning McQueen shower curtain, soap dispenser, bath rug, toilet bowl brush, etc. I just picked a few small items with characters, and played off the color scheme.

I only used three actual Cars themed items: a Lightning McQueen bath mat, LMQ soap dispenser, and bath towels. For the shower curtain, I used a red and white "rugby striped" curtain that coordinated.  I love the shower curtain because I feel like it will work for a zillion other themes when they boys are done with Cars (nautical, cowboy, sports, etc.).

Finally, I created custom artwork of Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater.  I call this a tutorial-ish because it isn't completely step by step, but it gives you an idea of what I did.

I started with coloring sheets of each character.

I cut out the largest shape, then I traced it onto my scrapbook paper and cut that out.

After I had the largest piece (Mater's body), I went back and started cutting out the smaller parts of mater (whites of the eyes, tires, etc.)

I worked methodically through each piece of mater, layering and gluing. To finish, I pasted him on a larger piece of scrapbook paper and put it in a frame that I had.

This was time consuming, but it turned out cute!

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