Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The post that wasn't

I didn't like what I was typing for the last 20 minutes so I erased it.

This is the post that you are left with.

And this picture of Adam's Christmas gift from the kids, which consequently had nothing at all to do with what I was writing.

It reminds of me Melissa's gift for Ruthanne. I wonder if she and Adam are getting the same thing.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advent, how I've failed thee!

 I said on Thursday that I had not been feeling well. I am the sickest I can ever remember being in my life! I have battled a fever that will not go away and a terrible cough since Thursday. Thankfully, that fever is hanging around 100 today and the scale had good news for me this morning, too! Since I haven't felt like eating since Thursday I have lost the final 7 pounds I needed to get back to pre-pregnancy weight!

Anyways, I haven't even thought about Advent other than the guilty feelings of not being able to do it. The girls asked this morning how many days there were until Christmas and I really didn't know. I'm even going to miss our church Christmas program tonight. =(

Besides my being sick, my husband was laid off from his job on Friday. How's that for a Christmas bonus?? We are really not sure what happens from here, but we are confident (and this really isn't trite at all) that this is for the best. Our girls don't know that Daddy no longer has a job. Should we tell them? With the little bit of snow we are having today plus the cold temps it wouldn't be at all unusual for Adam to be home from work tomorrow so I don't think they'll even notice that he is here.

Ideas? Opinions?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Advent Activity - Candy Canes Part II

I have been sick today. It's really no fun. At all. I spent most of the day lying on the couch while the girls played quietly. When Adam got home he brought dinner and zicam and I went to sleep. After a short nap we watched a couple videos. Unwrapped - Candy Canes from the Food Network left us all dying to go to the Spangler factory for a tour. Too bad its sooooo far away.

After the videos it was time for another nap for me but my sweet husband helped the girls to make peppermint bark. He said they loved it! No picture though, I was asleep. =)

We also talked more about the shape of the candy cane being representative of Jesus, The Good Shepherd. We read Psalm 23. I'm guessing tomorrow will be day 3 of candy canes if I'm still feeling down. I found a great Candy Cane unit study at Homeschool Share with lots of printables.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Psalm 23

Happy Advent!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Advent Activity - Candy Canes

This morning we went to see a performance of The Nutcracker. We had a great time and it was an AMAZING show. The girls' ballet teacher and teacher assistants were in the show so that made it extra special for them. To tie in an Advent lesson we discussed candy canes today. I'm sure there are plenty of candy canes to be had in the Land of Sweets!

We history of the candy cane. The girls were ready to hand of a candy cane to Haden after learning that they were originally sugar sticks used as pacifiers! After sometime a German candymaker bent the stick to make it resemble a shepherd's crook. We talked about what a shepherd used his crook for, how he gently brings in a straying lamb just like Jesus gently draws us to His side. Then we talked about the symbolism of the candy cane.

White for the pure, sinless life Jesus led on earth.
Big red stripe for the blood that He shed on Calvary.
Small red stripes to represent the stripes left on His body from the scourging of the Roman soliders.
When turned upside down the candy cane looks like a letter J - for Jesus!

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5
We spent a lot of time talking about Jesus, the Great Shepherd. We read The Crippled Lamb, by Max Lucado. I cry every single time I read that book. More on that another day, but it speaks a message that is very, very near to my heart. If you don't own it, you should.

For a craft they made candy cane reindeer.

And for dessert they made Peppermint Pretzel Melts! Firstly, they are delicious! We also read The M&M Nativity Legend (combining the nativity from yesterday with candy canes today!). You can find a recipe and printable at My Computer is My Canvas.

The M&M Nativity Legend

As you hold these candies in your hand and turn them you will see
 The "M' becomes a "W", an "E" and then a "3".
They tell the Christmas Story, it's one I'm sure you know.
It took place in a stable a long, long time ago.
The "E" is for the East where the star shone O so bright.
The "M" is for the manger where the baby Jesus slept that night.
The "3" is for the wise men, bearing gifts they quickly came.
"W" is for worship, an angelic choir praised His name.
So as you eat these candies, or share them with a friend,
Remember the true Spirit of Christmas and never let it end!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Advent Activity - The Nativity

This is my favorite Advent activity so far!

This morning we spent some time reading Luke 2 and talking about the events therein. My girls know the story inside out and outside in. I love it! We talked about some of the prophecies of the Old Testament pointing to His birth and how that very familiar story was not the first time He was mentioned in the Bible. I have a small nativity scene set up on our entertainment cabinet (buffet, center, piece of furniture ... I'm never sure what to call it) that the girls are always playing with. Everyday it has changed in some subtle way. The shepherd has his face in Joseph's arm pit (I don't know, I really don't know!), the baby Jesus is facing Mary, He's turned away from Mary, the cow is in front, the cow is in back. At any rate, I love to hear them tell the story over and over.

After our lesson the girls went to painting for the silhouette nativity scenes. You can find instructions and a template HERE at That Artist Woman.

Kennedy's Silhouette

Aubrey's Silhoutte

Last year's and this year's silhouettes, Kennedy's on top, Aubrey's on bottom

One thing the girls look forward to more than anything each Christmas is reading through and opening the boxes of What God Wants For Christmas. The past few years we have read a different part of the story for 7 days leading up to the surprise of what God wants for Christmas. The girls have done it enough to know now what is coming next so this year we changed things up a bit. We had a scavenger hunt. I used the clues from HERE for our search. They LOVED it!

Clue #1 -- We were looking for the angel Gabriel. Where would you receive a message?

The mailbox of course! Inside was box 1 and the next clue.

Searching Adam (the one who fills the parenting role) for box 2 (Mary) and the next clue.

Searching for box 3, Joseph, in what we use to plan our course ...

So glad the rest of the clues are inside because it was SO cold outside! Now onto box 4 - baby Jesus had to rest his sweet, tiny head in a manger, but where do we rest?

Thank you baby Raigan for taking such good care of baby Jesus and the next clue! Box 5 was housing a shepherd somewhere that provides light ....

Found it! Box #6 was a gift among gifts ....

Aubrey spied this one before we made it outside so I had to hide it a little better before they got to it.

There it is! One of the wise men! And for the last clue we were to find what God most wants for Christmas!

Why, us of course! Box number 7 was hidden in front of our big bathroom mirror!

After finding all the boxes we read the story to go along with each box and set up the nativity scene.

"What God wants is you - the one He created!

'Me?' you ask. Why is this so?
'I cannot wrap me and put on a bow!'
No you cannot; but what you can give
Are the choices you make in the life that you live.

God wants you to know Him and love Him within,
And this is called worship, an offering to Him.
To do this, trust Jesus, who died in your place
When you didn't deserve Him - that is called grace.

Pray now and offer your life and your heart.
Say, 'Jesus, I need you. I'd like a new start.
Forgive me today for the sins I've committed
So one day in Heaven I'll be permitted.'

When you pray this decision, the heavens rejoice
That you have made worship of God your life's choice.
God wants you to know Him, so choose every day,
To love God and thank God and give Him all praise!"

Taken from What GOD Wants for Christmas by Amy L Bradford page 22-23

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent Activity - Wrapping Gifts

Tonight we read about the history of wrapping Christmas gifts. In Germany the children recieved wrapped gifts called "Christ-bundles." The bundles often contained sugar plums, apples, nuts and something educational like a writing tablet or books. They were tied up with ribbon, and as a nice little add-on (you know, sometimes we tie in an ornament or other little trinket) there was a reminder to be a good little child all year long - a "Christ rod." Both girls agreed that they were happy not have that as one of our traditions!

In American tradition it was always more thoughtful to make a gift. If you had to you bought a gift, but to make it more special you would wrap the gift nicely in brown paper often decorated with dried flowers or a clipping from a magazine.

I asked the girls what the very first Christmas gift was. Kennedy was happy to announce that it was baby Jesus! I asked if this gift was wrapped. Aubrey shouted "He was wrapped in wash cloths!" You know, swaddling clothes, wash cloths - same diff, right?

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling
clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:7

That is what Christmas is all about! God sent us the gift of His Son that very first Christmas. He came as a man so that we could better understand him! He has walked where we walk. He has been hurt and He has been sad and He has been poor. He could have come as the King that He is but He humbled Himself for us!

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,
and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man,
he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Philippians 2:6-8

Tonight we wrapped some gifts for the girls' cousins. We didn't have any Christmasy gift bags so I made  a couple drawstring bags with Christmas material I used to make PJ pants for Kennedy's very first Christmas! I just winged these bags; they are really easy and quick to make. You can find a great tutorial HERE on Made. Another easy activity would be to "make" wrapping paper with stamps/crayons/stickers/etc with brown paper (ie - grocery bags).

The girls are calling these "Santa Sacks." They not only make great (reusable!) gift bags but would also make a great gift! Here is another bag I made a while ago to house the counting bears. 

Happy Advent!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Advent Activities - Outdoor Lights

Since we've been out of town this is a two part post.

Thank you, Thomas Edison - you clever guy, you! Inventor of the light bulb! I wonder if he ever imagined how far the light bulb would go?

President Grover Cleveland flipped the switch to light up the first White House Christmas tree in 1895! Soon stores followed suit attracting costumers with their dazzling displays and then neighborhoods began to be all aglow!

One of our favorite things to do around Christmas is to go for a drive and see which house is the most lit up. Pigeon Forge & Dollywood were well lit for Christmas so that made the search easier this weekend. Down the main parkway through Pigeon Forge are lights for the 12 Days of Christmas. I thought it would be fun to have the girls' picture taken by each day for an upcoming Advent activity but it was too cold and rainy to do that with 2 very tired little girls.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16

Today we made luminaries from paper sacks. I cut out the letters to spell JOY and the girls used the snowflake punch to make little snow flakes around the top of the bag. We haven't finished getting our outdoor lights up yet due to technical difficulties so this little project made our front porch seem a little more Christmasy this evening. Fun, easy & quick!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Advent Activity - Lights on the Tree

Do you know the origin of Christmas lights on the Christmas tree?
According to The ADVENTure of Christmas, legend has it that in the early 1500s Martin Luther was walking through the dark forest one night when he was overwhelmed by the beauty of God's creation. The stars danced like little lights through the trees. He went home, brought a tree in from the forest, put it in his living room and tried to explain the awesomeness to his family but they just weren't getting it (I'm paraphrasing just a bit). He gathered some lit candles and placed them on the tree. I'm assuming his family got it. Isn't it amazing what God uses to remind us of Him?? He made those trees and those stars and He made it mighty pretty!

We are on a mini-vaca in the Smokies. Everywhere you turn here you are reminded of God's glory! What a beautiful little spot on earth! How kind of God to allow us to enjoy His creation with Him!

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Psalm 19:1

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent Activity - Let it Snow!

We were busy today. Lots to do, little time to do it in. I didn't want to let an Advent day slip by so I kinda came up with something quickly in my head. I had been promising to paint the girls' nails with a new paint pen I picked up on clearance at Justice the other day. Awesome. Have you ever used one? I may never go back to a bottled polish again.

Anyways  ... the color is blue and I thought it would be cute to paint white snowflakes on their nails. That's where my Advent idea comes in. In the Bible we learn that through Jesus' death on the cross, which is the reason that he came to earth as a little baby, we can be whiter than snow.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Isaiah 1:18

Happy Advent!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent Activity - Christmas Trees

We started our Advent celebration today (I know it officially started on Sunday but I'm still getting used to this whole Advent thing!) using The ADVENTure of Christmas. We usually skip around in the book and do whatever is convenient for the day. Today we talked about the Christmas tree. We focused on how the tree represents Christmas ... how it points to the cross which is the entire reason behind Christ coming to this earth in the first place.

I Peter 2:24
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye are healed.

We talked about how the triangle shape of the tree represents the trinity - The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. We talked about how we should be like a tree that points toward heaven and should, by example, be pointing others to heaven (insert massive dose of conviction here).

The we listened to O Christmas Tree and read The Legend of the Three Trees.

I bought cranberries with the intention of making cranberry play-doh, cranberry jelly & cranberry bread. But, let's face it, no one in my house is going to eat cranberry jelly or bread. We still could have made the play-doh but I found a better use for our cranberries.

To incorporate a bit of science into this activity we made ornaments and garland from our cranberries to hang on the evergreen trees out front for the birds. The ornaments are made from floral wire. I shaped a star, heart, wreaths and candy canes and the girls threaded the berries onto the wire. While they did that I strung the cranberry garland. Some of the berries were squishy which led to juicy being squished out onto their hands. They tasted it but neither girl cared for it. We also got some good counting in as we made sure the garlands had an evenish number of berries.

Don't let that pretty sunshine fool you. It is FREEZING out there!

(Yes, I am aware that I need to remove the fall pumpkin decor from the banister!)

Happy Advent!