Monday, December 30, 2013

Redeeming Mondays with Writing Prompts

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Mondays have never really bothered me. Hey, don't get me wrong, I love Fridays and the weekends, but I consider myself a lover of Mondays, too. I like getting back on schedule and being productive. As a homeschooling mom, being fond of Mondays is a plus. However, it can kinda dampen your spirit just a bit when your kids approach Mondays like zombies who've eaten slugs for breakfast.


I know I shouldn't let other people's behavior/attitude affect my own, but when 3 expressionless, unenthusiastic kids are staring back at me, I feel as if Dementors are sucking the cheer right out of my soul. Okay, so I am a tad dramatic. :)

When the Writing Prompt light bulb struck, I thought my kids would balk at first and think it a terrible idea. But, I was WRONG! They loved it and look forward to it every Monday. In fact, when I first introduced the idea, they were disappointed that they had to wait a whole week for the next writing prompt!

Here's how Monday Writing Prompts work for us:
  • After Bible time and our read-aloud, I reveal the writing prompt topic for the day.
  • My kids write the topic on their papers and then write whatever they want as long as it relates to the topic.
  • They write for about 15 minutes and have to stop when I say times up. I try and give a one minute heads up.
  • They take turns reading out loud what they wrote. I do not grade their papers, but they do file them in a folder.
*Here's the real kicker - I have to participate, too! This makes it super fun, especially for the kids.

I can't tell you how wonderful this addition is to our Monday homeschool routine. Mondays have been redeemed! I am amazed at how creative and different each child's writing is. I will treasure these writings way more than any school assignment, and honestly, without the stress of grammar and grades, their creativity just soars.

I love how their personalities shine through their writings as well. I favor personal narratives, my oldest has written fiction and even a poem, my middle child always adds in humor, and my youngest likes to describe things.

Making my kids wait an entire week builds anticipation which keeps their interest levels high. To spice up writing prompt time even more, I let the kids take turns picking topics. And the one picking the topic CAN'T tell what it is until everyone has their pencil in hand ready to write.

Topics we've come up with so far:
  • Apples (mom)
  • Bucket List (mom)
  • Snow (Oldest son -14)
  • Christmas Desserts (Middle son - almost 12)
  • LEGOS (youngest daughter - 8)
In another post, I am hoping to share some samples of our writing. :)

If you need to spice up your homeschool Mondays, I highly recommend Writing Prompts!!!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Homeschool Christmas Tea Party

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Little girls and tea parties just go together, however, I consider myself a bit crazy in the head for planning a homeschool tea party in December. It turned out so beautifully,though, and the girls had such fun. Thank you to my awesome friend for hosting the tea party at her house and thank you to all the moms who brought such yummy tea party foods and helped with crafts. So glad to be sharing this homeschool journey with you all. :)
Mother and daughter before the tea party. I was so happy that I was able to buy Shiloh a fancy dress for the occasion. The dresses at Target were pretty and reasonably priced. :)

The table was set to perfection! The girls couldn't wait to sit down and enjoy the food. They were so patient and well mannered. This was Shiloh's first time to taste specialty tea - she chose a blueberry flavor.

The girls were treated to Etiquette 101 in the form of multiple choice questions, some of the answers being quite humorous. And, of course, the girls took some time out for free play. The girls who were so quiet at the table definitely let their hair down during this time! ;)

Each girl made an ornament to take home. Hopefully, every year when they hang up their ornaments they'll remember the lovely tea party.

The girls really seemed to enjoy themselves. It made all the stress of planning entirely worth it. Lots of mother/daughter memories made for sure.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Is For Sinners!

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I am pleased to have my very talented husband as a guest poster today! Be blessed as he shares what to do when chaos crushes your high expectations for Christmas.

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior. Titus 3:5-6

I love Christmas.  I mean, I really love Christmas.  My most cherished childhood memories all revolve around Christmases spent in a light brown, stucco bungalow at 444 Angelus in Memphis, TN.  When it comes to how Christmas ought to look and feel and taste and sound, my sweet grandparents set the bar extremely high!  

With each approaching Christmas season, the fondness of Christmases past flood my mind, and I'm determined to recapture some of that Memphis magic!  In my mind, if things are done just right, Christmas can be perfect and maybe - just maybe - I'll feel a little bit of the wonder once again. 

And so, I resolve to make it happen!
I resolve to get my shopping done early, while at the same time resolving not to focus on the giving and receiving of gifts. I resolve to not overspend, yet I resolve to be generous. I resolve to make time for everyone, while also resolving to make sure not to overextend myself. 

I resolve to allow for moments of sacred intimacy with my Maker and quiet reflection upon the indescribable gift He gave, but then... 

Before I know it, Christmas has come and gone in a whirlwind of packages and bows, casseroles and cookies, receipts and returns, carols and conflicts. 

Nothing fits right. Nothing works right. Nothing hooks up without a $20 doohickey from Radio Shack. 

Nothing bridges the disconnect caused by time and distance.  Nothing eases the strain of that relationship that no longer fits any of the traditional molds. Nothing hushes the whispered thoughts that I don't belong, and worse, that I'm unworthy of belonging. 

Nothing satisfies. 

And I'm left with feelings of disappointment and guilt...and maybe even shame. 

How dare I be ungrateful for the crummy gifts I got! How dare I be insensitive to the time demanded of me by my hyper-extended families! How dare I become obsessed with my decorating and schedules and parties and giving and getting and eating and eating and eating! How dare I forget Jesus during the celebration of His birth! 

If I might be so brave as to confess to you, a couple of days ago I was beginning to feel all of the aforementioned bad stuff, wondering why my best-laid plans were failing, why relationships are so complicated, and why I couldn't be a "good Christian" for Jesus on His birthday when it hit me: 

That's why He came - that's what Christmas is all about! Because we needed Him to come down and do what we could not, not even for one day out of the year! 

So the next time I mess it up big time, the next time I sin, the next time Christmas isn't everything it ought to be, the next time I let the events of the season overshadow the emergence of the Savior, I'm not going to burden myself or anyone else with false guilt or unrealistic expectations. I'll just go to God, and then I'll thank Him for Christmas, when He accomplished everything I couldn't and paved the way for reconciliation with Him through the gift of His Son.  

If you have an extra moment, feel free to download the song "Every Knee" written and performed by my husband. You can also follow him on SoundCloud.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Merry Christmas!

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To my wonderful family, amazing friends, and dear readers: MERRY CHRISTMAS!

May the One through whom everything was made shine His light in your life and give true peace that passes understanding this blessed holiday season! Praise God for sending the Word who became flesh and made His dwelling among us, a bunch of messy sinners. Praise God that we can be reconciled to our Heavenly Father through Christ's sacrifice. Amen!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Will the Journey Ever End?

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We've waited a whole year for this!! Another Hobbit field trip. And this time two lovely ladies were added to the mix. :)

What a fun time we had! If you'd like to trace our Hobbit/LOTR Journey to the very beginning, like when Mullin and Lincoln were just little tykes, click here.

Until the next movie . . .

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Looking for an Inexpensive Santa Beard?

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Just a quick tip: if you are looking for a Santa beard and don't want to break the bank, my middle son found one at The Dollar Store. :) It has an elastic band for securing to your face, and it fits my son well. He says the mustache "hair" makes his nose itch a little, but what beard wouldn't? All in all, it was a win purchase for some holiday dress-up fun!

The beard could also work for dressing up as an old Hobbit or Gandalf for the upcoming movie, The Desolation of Smaug! Only 2 more days and we will be taking a "field trip" to see it. :D

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December Makes Me Tired

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The 11 months of anticipation always makes me forget how December nearly drains the life out of me. The decorating, shopping, planning, wrapping, baking, merry-making, and all other holiday-related happiness ON TOP of regular mom life - laundry, cooking, cleaning, homeschooling, errand-running, working a sort-of-part-time job, spending time with children, and spending time with hubby - well, it all makes me wish I could pull a Rip Van Winkle.

One minute, I'm soaring over the moon with extreme Christmas cheer, and the next minute I'm crashing in the corner with some serious bah humbug blues. I have to say, though, that this year I am handling the stress of the holiday season so much better than in past years. I truly am mellowing even if it isn't as fast as some would like. ;)

Really, I DO love everything Christmassy! What's not to LOVE about glitter, lights, tinsel, and tons of sweets? Sometimes all of the holiday hoopla gets to be too much.

And when that happens . . .

I know it's time to get away with a steamy cup of Christmas Cocoa, turn up some sweet Christmas music (the real kind, not the fluffy rockin' around the Christmas tree kind), and dwell on the sacred meaning of the season. No better way to revive and refresh my spirit which leads to worship instead of weariness. Worship Way is a far better place to stay than Wits' End!

December makes me tired, but Jesus gives me strength.

Praise God for Emmanuel, our true source of peace, love, joy, and goodwill toward men.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Adorenaments ~ A Christmas Tradition

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For 10 Christmases now we've been enjoying Adorenaments, a Family Christmas Keepsake from FamilyLife. My oldest was 4 years old when we started the Adorenaments tradition, thanks to one of his grandmas. He's 14 now. *Sigh* The time really does fly by THAT fast!

What are Adorenaments exactly?

Our Adorenaments Keepsake includes 12 beautifully illustrated ornaments that each represent a particular name of Jesus. Each ornament contains Scripture and a story pertaining to a name of Jesus.
A soft cover devotional book is also included. There are 12 devotions - one to go along with each ornament. A Keepsake boardbook, like the one shown in the above picture, comes with the set so you can display and store your ornaments.

Adorenaments (the old version) celebrate 12 names of Christ: Immanuel, The Door, The True Vine, The Giver of Living Water, The Light of the World, and more. It's a great way for you and your kids to really focus on the true meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate this holiday. It also shows that Jesus is far more than just a cute, little baby in a manger surrounded by cows, sheep, donkeys, and wise men.

I usually bring out the Adorenaments around the first of December and use them during our morning devotions. We do one ornament per day, and my kids take turns picking the ornaments (we go in order), reading the Scripture, and hanging them on our Memory Tree. I also read the accompanying devotion from the book.

My kids look forward to it every year. If you'd like to start this tradition in your family, too, check out the links below. The first one is the old one - the one we have. The second is the newer version which is a bit different.


Adorenaments work for us!
Linked to WFMW

*affiliate links included in this post.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Personal Testimonies of Faith ~ Teela

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This testimony happens to be very special to me. It's my mom's. :)

I remember my mom telling me one time that before she came to know Christ as her personal Lord and Savior, two Christian women and their families lived on either side of her. I am so thankful for the two women God strategically placed in my mom's life during a time when she stood at a crossroad. I am thankful for their presence, their prayers, and the part they played in leading her to Christ.

I am thankful, too, for the domino effect, as it was primarily my mom who God used to lead me into a saving relationship with Jesus. :)

Teela's Testimony
I was raised Lutheran. My father was raised Lutheran and my mother was raised Catholic. She became Lutheran when they married. My parents were very active in church. My father was Sunday School superintendent, my mother sang in the choir, and they started a "couples club" at the Lutheran church we went to in Waterloo, Wisconsin.
We always went to church, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School every summer, and we were in the Christmas plays. We prayed as a family at every meal and before bed. Our mealtime prayer was "Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let this food to us be blessed." Our nighttime prayer was "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." We also said the Lord's prayer every night.
When I was 26 years old, I fell away from church for a while. When my oldest daughter was a year old, I started taking her to Grace Community, a non-denominational church. I thought I was a Christian growing up because of all the things we DID. But it was at Grace Community Church in June 1978 that I came to know Jesus in a very personal way.
I traded my religion in for a relationship.
I learned that it wasn't performance and rituals that made a person a Christian but a relationship with Jesus. Jesus became a part of my heart that day. That has made all the difference in my life. Jesus is my Lord and Savior, he's my best friend, and he's the lover of my soul.
He died for me that I might live, and I now have eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, praise God!

 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast. ~Ephesians 2:8-9


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