Monday, December 29, 2014

Preparing for New Years!

It's crazy to think that New Year's is just a few days away.  2015 will be here and a whole new list of goals, dreams, and aspirations will start fresh and new.  Here are two things that we have made in the past to add something a little different to New Years Day!

First up is the Rice Crispie Champagne Bottle dessert.  Inspired by PS I Made This {on the left}, ours didn't turn out too horrible {on the right}!  It sure did taste yummy!  
In 2013 we celebrated by baking homemade fortune cookies and writing personalized fortunes for inside them!  The whole process was easier than I was expected, they were delicious and super cute!

We will be staying in this year munching on Chex Mix and little smokies wrapped in crescent rolls!  Hope your New Year's is fun, safe and spent with the ones you love!  

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!  

Wishing that you remember the true reason for all of the festivities and the giving of gifts.  Hoping that you steal away a few moments to reflect on the greatest gift we have in birth of Jesus.  What a glorious day it is, indeed!

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus;
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 
rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And he found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father!
Philippians 2:5-11

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hands Down, The Best Christmas Tree!

If you have read our blog over any period of time, you know that I am huge fan of hand crafts.  So it should be no surprise that this hand painting has got to be my favorite of all time!  

Using a 16 x 20 canvas from Michael's and an array of Martha Stewart paints, our family Christmas Tree was created!  For the branches we used Benjamin's hands first, mine second and Winston's for the top section.  Lulu's paw is our star!  She was a trooper and very patient while we rolled paint on her paw and cleaned her up.  The canvas was looking a little bland and it needed more pizzaz, so using two different sizes of sponge circles, Winston went to town adding color and sparkle!  

I foresee this being one of the decorations I look forward to unpacking each Christmas season!  It's not everyday that all four of us get to create art and leave our mark together.  A life long treasure!

Here is a list of the Martha Stewart paint colors that we used:
Seaweed, Green Curry, Granny Smith, Pollen {All Satin}
Glitter Lemon Drop
Metallic Gold
Satin Chipotle

What is your favorite handmade Christmas decoration? 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Truth in the Tinsel Advent: Day 9 & 10

Day 9: Joseph
On this day we read the Scripture and talked about how Joseph was a good man!  We again used the little wooden people cut outs I found at Michaels, sticky-back foam and some stickers for embellishments.  Winston made sure Joseph had a hat!
Day 10: Dream
On this day we talked about how an angel appeared to Joseph and said, "Do not be afraid!"  When Winston heard this he exclaimed, "Mary! Do not be afraid!"  

I deviated from the suggested ornament on this day because I felt it was a bit out of Winston's skill level.  For our alternate pillow activity, I folded together a scrap of fabric and sewed it on two sides, leaving one side open.  Our Red Bag for the day included the piece of material and tons of cotton balls!  
Winston's job was to stuff the pillow and man oh man did he ever!!  Once it the pillow case was as full as possible, I hot glued the sides shut.  Voila!  A pillow for our good man, Joseph!

Truth in the Tinsel Advent: Day 7 & 8

Day 7: Song
The set of verses for this day was Mary's Song.  Winston and I talked about how Mary sang as a form of worship and praise.  Our key phrase for this day was "Holy is his name!"  We had already talked about how Mary was to name the baby Jesus so it seemed fitting that he learn that His name is Holy!
We did the exact craft that was suggested and Winston loved gluing sequins all over the CD.  

Day 8: Sun
For this day, we made our sun out of card stock and sticky-backed foam.  Winston enjoys putting stickers on things and it gave us a break from glueing.  Don't want to wear a good thing out!
Our phrase during this craft was that Jesus is the Rising Sun!  We taught Winston to move his arms over his head like a rising and setting sun.  I know I say this almost every post, but it truly is heartwarming to hear his sweet little voice say these Truths.  And its amazing to me that he recalls what we talked about in previous days.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Truth in the Tinsel Advent: Day 5 & 6

The next few days we pretty much stuck to the suggested crafts and had fun doing it!  It has been such a joy to have this intentional time with Winston each day.  I cannot say how glad I am that we decided to do Truth in the Tinsel

Day 5: Mary
By this time in the Advent, Winston now knows our routine: read a story, open the red bag for a craft!  He does a great job sitting and listening.  I try to make it an active learning time having him repeat key verses back to me.  Our emphasis on Mary was that she asked Gabriel, "How can this be?!", that she was to have a son and name him Jesus, and her response to Gabriel was, "I am the Lord's servant."
Peering in his bag for the day!  We normally do our crafts in the afternoon.  This particular day was jammy day at school!
I found these cute little wooden figures at Michael's.  To make Mary's clothes we used sticky backed foam.  Winston said her legs were naked so we made some leggings for her.  He also wanted some sequin.  Our Mary turned out a little jazzier than I anticipated, but hey, he was proud of her!  Here he is giving her some shoes.  :)

Day 6: Mary & Elizabeth
Our main talking point for this day was that Mary and Elizabeth both had babies in their bellies that jumped for joy!
I normally don't let Winston color with markers.  I'm more of a crayon and colored pencil lady when it comes to him coloring pictures.  However today was a special day and we busted out the trusty Crayolas for some coloring.  He remembered that Mary was pink and purple from the previous day so her outfit was repeated!  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Truth in the Tinsel Advent: Day 4

Day 4: Gabriel

Day four is Gabriel and the suggested craft seemed a little out of Winston's skill level so I found an alternative that turned out to work really well for him and what he loves to do!  

On this day we emphasized that Gabriel appeared to Mary and said, "Do not be afraid!"  We also talked about how Mary would have a baby boy and his name was to be Jesus.  The very same Jesus that was the Light of the World!  As we put our craft together I like to repeat what the main points of the Scripture for that day are and ask him questions like, "Who did Gabriel appear to?"  "What did he tell her?"  "What is Mary to name her son?"  It's so cool to hear him say the answers and be able to recall what we talked about in previous days!  

In our red bag for the day was:

  • Three different types of doilies, each a different color and size {large silver, medium red, small white} to allow Winston to choose what color angel he would like to have.
  • A circle, precut from peach foam
  • Googly eyes
  • A gold pipe cleaner
  • Sequins for embellishment
  • Glue
Each time Winston opens a bag, we looks inside with excitement and exclaims, "Oh, Wow!"  He chose to use the silver doily for his Gabriel.  While he picked out what color of paper he wanted, I cut the doily into three triangles, making one a little wider.  The wider piece we used for the body and the other two pieces were for the wings.   

We glued the doily pieces to the paper, glued the googly eyes on to the head, drew and mouth and then glued it onto the paper.
Winston needed a little bit of guidance on where to put the glue.  On his first try poor Gabriel's head was going to be floating off of his body!  He gets very serious when it comes to matters of glueing.  
After Gabriel's head was attached, Winston then carefully picked out exactly what sequins he wanted and knew specifically where he wanted them to go.  Once he was done, I cut the extra paper off, glued on a halo and voila!  A beautiful Gabriel!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Truth in the Tinsel Advent: Day 2 & 3

Day Two: Crown & Kingdom
Since this day involved some painting, we broke our craft time up into two sessions.  We read the Scripture for the day emphasizing that God is a MIGHTY GOD (making our arms show our muscles) and the Prince of Peace (setting a crown upon our head with our hands).  Winston was eager to get the items out of the bag and was thrilled when he saw the paintbrush!  He decided to paint his crown green.
After he finished painting, we set the crown aside to come back to later in the afternoon to add sparkles to.  Winston loved squeezing the glue and putting the sparkles on the crown.  Like with most things, he was very specific about what color he wanted where!  
That night during dinner when we were talking about our day, Winston told Benjamin that he had made a crown, that God is a Mighty God and the Prince of Peace!  He also remembered that it is Jesus who is the Light of the World!  

Day Three: Zechariah
This day was a little more difficult of a concept for Winston to grasp.  He was more enthralled with gluing than anything else!  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Truth in the Tinsel Advent: Preparations and Day 1

About mid-Novemeber my Mom asked if I had thought about getting Winston an Advent calendar.  Up until that point I really had not given it much mind.  I knew that I had pinned a few Advent type things to do with him when he was old enough but hadn't done back to look at what I saved.  

I did some research and rediscovered the Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands. I looked at blogs of others who had done it, watched the videos on the website, and did a quick hashtag search on Instagram.  I liked that each day Winston and I would have a craft to do together that told the wonderful story of Christmas!  Each day we would read Scripture, make an ornament and talk about what we were making and why.  I shared what I had found with Benjamin and we agreed that he was at the right age to start this tradition.  

I purchased the ebook, did a quick scan through all of the days and realized that there were a few of the activities that were a little outside of Winston's skill level.  During one of Winston's naps, I printed out all of the pages and started making notes on what we could do unchanged and what I would need to find alternative ideas for.  Knowing that Winston's favorite craft activities are painting and gluing, I intentionally looks for solutions to include both of those things.  As I went through each page, I wrote down what supplies we would need to make the craft a success.  Then I took inventory of what I already had and created a new list of items to get at our local craft store.  All of the items I needed to purchase I got at Michaels.  

Knowing that its easier to have everything already together when we sit down to make the craft and because I want Winston to get the most out of our time together, I put together bags for each day that contained the items we would need.  There are a few days where the Truth in the Tinsel curriculum provides templates for a few of the ornaments.  Cutting out the templates ahead of time guarantees that Winston won't get bored or loose interest in what we are to focus on for that day.

What really excites me about the Truth in Tinsel is that it is specifically geared for intentional conversations with toddlers about the birth of Jesus and all of the wonderful events that accompany it!  I also love how the crafts given are guidelines and that you could adapt as needed to make it age appropriate!

First Day of Advent
I was quite thrilled when first day of Advent rolled around.  I was ready and so excited to start sharing the Christmas Story with Winston!  All three of us went to the craft room for craft time.  Benjamin opened the Bible and started reading the first set of Scripture for that day.
This picture warms my heart for so many reasons.  The first passage was a longer one to read but Winston did a good job listening.  Then we let him open his bag.  He was so excited to see what was inside!
He was eager to help tear the tissue paper into little pieces and even more pumped to use the glue stick!  He was very specific in where he wanted each color to go.  After he was done, we turned off the lights in the room and Winston said, "Dark in here!"  We explained that how a world and life without Jesus was dark, like the room.  Then we took a flashlight and shown it through the ornament he had just made.  Winston said, "I see!!"  We explained how Jesus is the Light of the World and later in the evening when we asked who the Light of the World was, he answered, "Jesus!"
This is an example of the bag and what was inside for Winston to make!  I was thrilled that Day 1 was a success!  My prayer through this holiday season and trying to be intentional with Truth in the Tinsel that that Winston's heart would be tender and soft to hearing the wondrous story that is the gift of Jesus' birth.  That he would start learning truths about the character of God and the Goodness that He gives, about the greatest gift that He gave us in His Son.  My prayer is that I would be sensitive to Winston's understanding of the Story and make this a meaningful yet fun activity each day.  

My plan is to share our ornaments, the ones that we did by the book {like the first day!} or the ones that I have modified for a two year old!  

What traditions do you have with your little ones?  I'd love to hear!
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