Final Christmas memories post for the year

Now that I’m home and have internet connection I can write the remainder of the posts I have to write for last year and such.


One thing I discovered after Sam died is an appalling tendency in my photo taking to concentrate on the kids, and not get pictures of the adults as much.  I’m trying to fix that trend, so I made sure to get at least one picture of each adult.



The most hilarious present was for Princess.  Her Nana had put all of her presents in one big bag almost the size of her.  So after she’d emptied it out, she spent the rest of the morning hiding in the bag and then popping out to surprise us.  It was quite fun.



Oh, and I love this shot of the tossled bed head as she went through her stocking and discovered her ornament from Santa, a nativity picture.  Isn’t that just the sweetest?

Local Christmas memories

With all of the grandparents and aunts and uncles in short driving range we get to celebrate 3 Christmases.  At the time of this writing we’ve had 2 of them (with my family and our own celebration).

So, I give you photo evidence of the chaos that ensued, and Aunt Tara was kind enough to take pictures that day, so I’m actually in pictures!


The highlight for the kids was seeing Aunt Jenn open the presents for “Baby C” as they are eagerly awaiting the birth of a new cousin.  The most amusing part for the adults was watching my Mom eagerly wait for everyone to open their presents so she could remember what she got them.


I love that the kids were so excited about what they were giving other people.  They were very impatient for me to open my presents from them, and it was fun to open them and see.



Princess was super proud of finding a nativity night light for me, “It’s special because it has baby Jesus.”



We got a lot of laughs out of Mom’s wrapping this year, she decided to use newspapers to continue an old family tradition, but since she didn’t get the newspaper she was limited to what came in the mail.  So, I got a young black man on one of my presents, Princess had guns from Academy………..  Not that our unique brand of wrapping is much better……..


I hope everyone had a good Christmas, I’m about to leave for Dallas to see Jeff’s side of the family.

Christmas story bracelet

Little Wonder Days did this adorable bracelet for her kids for Christmas, and I loved the idea and knew I had to use it for my Sunday School class.  She used beads she had on hand, but since I only had various shades of red and clear beads I had to go out and buy mine, so it’s slightly different than hers.




White- for the angel who came to Zechariah and told him his wife would have a baby.

Blue- for Mary who believed what the angel told her and trusted God.

Brown- for Joseph who was going to divorce Mary, but stopped when an angel told him to trust Mary.

Grey- for the donkey Mary rode to Bethlehem because of the Roman decree.

Gold bell- for Jesus, the bell rings to remind us to tell everyone of the Good News, and it’s gold because Jesus will wear a gold crown.

Star- for the star that appeared above Jesus.

White- for the angel that appeared to the shepherds to tell them of Jesus’ birth.

Green- for the shepherds who ran to see the newborn babe.

Light purple- for the magi who traveled so far to see the baby Jesus.

Yellow, purple, and red- for the gifts the magi brought.  Gifts fit for a king.


Merry Christmas to all of you, I’ve no guarantee I’ll be posting again until after Christmas, I have a wonderful Merry Christmas post I’d like to write, but I don’t guarantee it.

So, just in case:


Merry Christmas to all!

When Santa Lost his Ho Ho Ho!



When Santa Lost his Ho Ho Ho! is a seriously cute book about Santa not being able to laugh.  Santa and all the elves spend days trying to figure it out, and the letters start pouring in from worried little kids.  Finally one child saves the day in a most adorable way.





After reading a book like this what can you do, but write a letter to Santa?  Now I need to make sure they get mailed………


The boys predictable wanted Imaginenext toys, their absolute favorite right now, and Princess wants Barbie.

They all tried to cheer poor Santa up with humorous pictures, and I think they would have done a pretty good job if the guy had lost his “ho ho ho.”



And then we proceeded to decorate our presents.  This year rather than paint and then wrap, I opted to wrap them and then let them stamp with red and green stamp pads.  Then we went through my scrapbook papers and cut them up and glued away.  Next step to teach them about ribbons!



Oh and here’s some proof that all is not always well in our household, I don’t remember what made him mad, but boy was he mad about something.

learning laboratory at mama smiles

Family Christmas Tree

I was going to include a picture of this book cover, but the image from Amazon was horrid.

Family Christmas Tree– Basically this story uses a family talking about getting their tree to cover different traditions and how our tradition of a Christmas tree came about.


Of course, I read it to them because I knew we were decorating our own tree that afternoon (sneaky me).


No amazingly great pictures because my camera battery was dying.  Superman is the one with the moose.  He was so happy to find that moose in the box of Christmas stuff where it accidentally got packed last year.


When do you get your Christmas tree?  I like to get ours the day after Thanksgiving, but circumstances conspired against me this year and we had to wait a few days.

Advent Calendar part 2


We’ve completed the first few days of our Advent project.  The kids happily search through the Christmas tree to find the day’s activity and box.  It’s a bit of a challenge because some of the numbers are on there as words, and they don’t know all of their number words yet.  So, this has been great practice.


Day 13- Solomon, God said Solomon’s wisdom would be greater than the sands on the shore.  Make “sand pudding.”  I don’t have any extras with this one because I have no movie or book in particular for it at this time.



Day 14- Elijah, God kept his prophet safe even when all else seemed to be against him, and Elijah was able to show others the mighty wonders of God because of this.  Same for this one, for some reason there’s not a lot of movies about Elijah, which is a shame because he has some great stories.



Day 15- Esther, God used Esther to keep His people safe so that His BIG Plan could go forward.  Make the princess pretty using markers and glitter and whatever else you have.  Watch the Veggietales: Duke and the Great Pie War.  If my kids had an amazing attention span and were older we could watch “One Night with the King.”  I highly recommend that movie if you have any interest in Old Testament history, or want to watch a true romantic movie.  It is wonderfully made.



Day 16- Nehemiah, God used Nehemiah to bring His people back to Israel, so eventually His Promised One would be born where God promised.  Build a wall like Nehemiah did, try to keep others from knocking it down.  Again no movie, another sorely under represented figure in animation and books.



Day 17- Zechariah and Elizabeth- play charades.  I also loved the idea from over at Fantastic Five of making edible peanut butter and HONEY play dough (get it because John ate honey), but since I’m making this for others as well I didn’t want to include something their kid might potentially be allergic to.



Day 18- Mary and Joseph, got told Mary and Joseph beforehand about Jesus’ coming.  Create a song of praise like Mary did to God.  As a side note I opted to go with the traditional colors for the Nativity figures and just paint them solid.  Therefore Mary is blue for purity and mercy, Joseph is brown for humility.  Many thanks to Nicole from Tired, Need Sleep for helping me figure that out.



Day 19- Journey to Bethlehem– play the game.  We’ll also read “Donkey’s Dream,” a very cute story that is beautifully illustrated about the donkey carrying Mary to Bethlehem.  He dreams he is carrying many different things that are all names for Jesus or come from Catholic imagery (this is my memory from reading it last year, it’s not one I’ve read zillions of times).


Day 20-Shepherds, while reading the story eat your candy canes that look like shepherd’s crooks.  I painted the shepherd figures green for their traditional color, but couldn’t find what it is supposed to represent.  Any ideas people? Any Godly Play people know?  Maybe life or growing?  I’m planning to read Crippled Lamb, if I can find my copy.  I think it might technically be my Mom’s……..  So maybe at her house.



Day 21-Magi, the magi are painted yellow to represent wisdom or preciousness (maybe, anybody know for sure?).  I included popsicle sticks to make a star and decorate it to hang on the tree.  I’m thinking of teaching the boys how to make this, because I’m a glutton for punishment.



Day 22- Simeon and Anna, I love this part of the story and it is so rarely included when we teach it.  We tell about the shepherds and the magi, but we leave out these two simple people who waited their whole lives.  In that vein we will each have a cookie place in front of us and have to wait 5 minutes to show us how hard it is to wait like Simeon and Anna did.



Day 23- Flight to Egypt, Dixie cups in a Pringles can.  I’ve made my kids eat a lot of Pringles recently.  The cups are to stack to make a pyramid.  How big of a pyramid can you make?


Here is part 1 of the Advent project

Here are the updated Advent printables (including a master list of what to do each day).


I meant to get this up before December 1, but I quite literally finished all of these on December 1, and I already had posts scheduled and I haven’t had time to sit down and write until now………  All right, I’m off to start school for the day.  We’ve already gotten our Advent acitivity for today done.  I quite literally got out of bed and they pounced on me saying, “We have to find the 5!”


We PlayKatie's Nesting Spot

Christmas traditions: buying presents for your sibling



For the past several years we’ve had a Christmas tradition of taking one kid out at a time to do their Christmas shopping.  We make a fun outing of it, letting them choose a place to eat, and getting things they usually don’t (desert).



This year we’ve done our shopping early, because Jeff took Batman to work and he got his shopping done the other two desperately had to do that as well.  But Jeff got sick, so he couldn’t do that, instead I took Superman and Princess out on the same day, but different times.



It’s fun because you get to see their different personalities as they choose for different people.  They all have a plan and are quite sure they know what they want to do.  I don’t always understand their plans, but it is interesting to see for me.





We do the same thing for birthdays, and I love to see how much they love each other.  These past few weeks I have been so thankful to see how well they play together.  It’s really helped that it’s cooled down and they can go spend hours outside.  I do mean hours.  My neighbors must think I’m crazy, my kids are always in the front yard playing.  What is it about front yards?

Advent Project part 1

So, I showed you my plans and pictures of bits and bobs that I had completed, but I’m going to show you step by step and pictures of what it looks like completed, because I figure there’s got to be quite a few of you who are visual learners.  Also, my plans are still revising as I go along.

Supplies needed for days 1-12: cardstock, 6×9 manila envelopes, small boxes to hold peg people, plastic animals, green felt, pipe cleaners, green fabric, popsicle sticks, blue paper, peg people (3 men, 4 women, 2 babies, 1 boy, and 1 giant [I get my peg people from Casey’s Wood Products]), acrylic paint (for peg people, could use markers)
Day 1: Creation- 2 peg dolls for Adam and Eve, and various small plastic animal toys from around the house, and a fat quarter of green fabric (could also be a sheet of felt).  Additional activities: watch What’s In the Bible DVD 1, part 1.  Potentially also play with the Creation bean bags.

Day 2- Fall of Man- felt leaves with pipe cleaners for the fig leaves, a small “fruit” made from beads and pipe cleaners, they’re going to make a snake from play dough for acting the story out.  I hot glued the beads on to make it “more” child friendly, but it’s still not the best for little guys unsupervised.  Also watch “What’s in the Bible DVD 1, part 2.”

Day3- Noah- play Memory or Go Fish with the cards found for this game (I printed two copies of the each page) and act out the story using animals from Day 1, and the 2 new peg dolls.  Watch “Veggietales: Noah’s Umbrella.”

Abraham game
Day 4- Abraham- Abraham’s Journey game and act out the story using the peg dolls.  Watch “Veggietales: Abe and the Amazing Promise.”
Day 5-Isaac- ram craft from Little Blots.  I currently don’t have any random extra stories or videos aside from one I wrote.

Day 6-Jacob, Jacob’s ladder craft, read the story of Jacob and Esau.
Day 7- Judah,  act out the story with popsicle sticks.  I’m planning on emphasizing Judah’s growth from planning to sell Joseph to making himself responsible for Benjamin’s safety.  Also watch “Veggietales: The Ballad of Little Joe”  or listen to the Adventures in Odyssey.

Day 8- Moses, since I want this also to be the story of God’s Redemptive history, I’m including people not specifically in Jesus’ lineage.  We’ll act out the story of God acting to save Moses as a baby.  Afterwards we’ll watch “Veggietales: Moe and the Big Exit.”  Or possibly “Prince of Egypt.”
Day 9- Rahab-make a red bookmark by braiding yarn.  Thanks to Annette for this suggestion!  We’ll watch “Veggietales: Josh and the Big Wall.”

Day 10- Ruth- We’ll build an obstacle course and go through it in pairs, like Ruth stayed with Naomi.  We’ll also watch “Veggietales: Duke and the Great Pie War.”

Day 11- David- Read the story and act it out with the peg dolls.  Then we’ll watch “Veggietales: Dave and the Giant Pickle.”
Day 12- King David- Read the story of David bringing the Ark back to Jerusalem.  Make crowns for ourselves and decorate them.
And here are the printables I’ve created so far for this project, I have a small paper for each day that goes in or on the container, the dolls for acting out Judah’s story, and the angels for Jacob’s ladder.
Advent Printable(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();
And that is all I have done to show in pictures.  I’m hoping to get the rest of it all finished tonight/tomorrow to share on Saturday.  I’ve changed my original plan somewhat.  Tightened up some parts, and added in some others.We PlayKatie's Nesting Spot

Advent season

This year I am going to try and be more focused in our plans for Christmas and the Advent season, and towards that end I have a plan.

Hopefully the plan will go well.


Day 1- God creates the world, play a Concentration game using cards from Adam Names the Animals. For other things we have done with Creation, go to: Creation book part 1(follow the link trail), Creation book 2, Creation game.  This is going in an Altoid tin, I’ve altered somewhat……  Mainly gluing scrapbook paper all over it.

Day 2- Adam and Eve peg dolls, along with a snake and a garden of Eden play mat (also known as a handkerchief colored with sharpie and food dye). The idea is from Our Country Road.
My plan is to use the play mat for the others days in general.

Day 3- Noah, I’m still debating on this one.  The kids are advocating for another play set and an ark……  You know another one.


Day 4- Abraham, Sarah, and baby Isaac, story of Isaac as the promised child.

Day 5- sheep- tell the story of Abraham offering Isaac as a sacrifice.

Day 6- Jacob’s ladder.  I probably will put the supplies in to do this craft.  Now to figure out how to do that……..

Day 7- Joseph and Judah, since Judah is the one who is in Jesus’ line, I’ll probably emphasize how Judah offered to be responsible for Benjamin.


Day 8-Moses in a basket- to show how God is keeping Israel safe even in the worst times.

Day 9- Rahab and the spies (one of 4 women mentioned in Jesus’ line, including Mary).  I’m still debating on what I’m going to do here.  I don’t want to do an endless line of peg dolls, but at the same time the kids love them.

Day 10- Ruth Boaz and probably Naomi- another of the women in Jesus’ line, I find it interesting that most of the women mentioned are not actually Hebrew.

Day 11- David and Goliath- more peg dolls

Day 12- David as king, probably the story of David and the ark of the covenant- make crowns

Day 13- King Solomon- King Solomon and how he asked for wisdom

Day 14- Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1:5-25)

Day 15- Mary (Luke 1:26-44), Mary nativity doll

Day 16- John born (Luke 1:57-80)

Day 17- Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25), Joseph nativity doll

Day 18- Journey to Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7), board game from Living Waters (printable)

Day 19- shepherds (Luke 2:18-20), shepherd nativity figures, possibly drummer boy

Day 20- magi (Matthew 2:1-12), magi nativity figures, maybe frankincense and myrrh

Day 21- Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)

Day 22- Anna (Luke 2:36-43)

Day 23- escape to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-18) pyramid puzzle or stacking cups

Bolded items I’m still debating on what will go in those particular boxes.  My plan is to wrap them in individual boxes and hide them all over the house with numbers on them.  I deliberately ended it on the 23rd because I’ve found for us that Christmas Eve and Christmas tend to be fairly busy so I don’t want to try and plan a special event that we won’t be able to do.  I’d rather finish it up early and just read stories on the last two days.

Over at Tired, Need Sleep she also has a great Advent calendar which I’m going to print out for my Sunday School class.  I also have a ton of ideas over on my Christmas board and my Advent board.

Linking over to: Ten O’Clock Nativity Post