Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Day in the Life...March 2014

Every time I have ever considered doing this, I have not for some reason or another. Either the day ended up not being "typical" or I got too busy to record the day or it was a terrible day, etc. I decided that waiting for a "normal" day may never happen...So here it is. A Day in the Life...


8:08 wake up. Well, not on my own.  A little one climbed in to snuggle. After a few minutes I force myself up, check email and FB, do my quiet time and get ready for the day.

8:55 Call J, get her dressed, brush her teeth and maybe be slightly loud enough in the kids bathroom to wake the sleeping E. C is up, dressed, room is cleaned and he is playing quietly in his room. Love that kid.

8:58 Remind E that her room is a wreck and shouldn't ever look like that.

9:00 Start Breakfast. Strange multitasking -- scramble eggs while cutting C's fingernails over the kitchen garbage.

9:11 Call from the husband-- "Morning, are you downstairs?" (yup, checking up on me-- trying to start the day downstairs by 9!) ;)

9:20 Eat breakfast.

9:30 Bible. Read from Egermeier's Bible story book about Moses and the Burning bush, catechism questions from Big Truths for Little Kids, and character cards from We Choose Virtues. E: Mom, what is rowdy? C: Are we rowdy? Me: Ummmm....yes? ;)

9:55 Table chores (C is on vacuuming, and E is on wiping the table this week. J pushes in the kitchen chairs.)

10:00 "5 Minute pick-up" Everyone picks up everything they can and put it away for the duration of 5 minutes. I clean the kitchen.

10:05 E practices piano. C starts on handwriting -- copying words. J: Can I play an activity? (she has certain toys and games she can only play during school time). I tell her in a few minutes when I am done cleaning up from breakfast. The shiny new Sonlight catalog is sitting on the island taunting me...

10:06 Looking out the glass door, J declares it is great weather to go camping. (There are black clouds and a storm is brewing.) C- "You know what I don't like about camping? Packing." Me "focus C. J, leave C alone to do his school work.

10:08 More discussion about camping. Me "C, focus. J, shhhh!"

10:10 Camping talk continues. OK, need to take the kids camping apparently. Me "C, focus. J, shhhh!"  Give J a job to do. J: "Mommy, can you get me an activity?"

10:11 C "I am almost finished with this book! Oh wait, maybe not." Me: "C, focus. don't flip pages, stay on the one you are on."

10:20 I finally get J an "activity" (Memory) and join C at the table. I ask C to pick 3 letters on his page he thinks he should redo. Handwriting is completed and we move onto math.

10:30 E finishes piano and joins us at the table. C "E, I am already on my 3rd thing!" Me: "C, focus!"

10:31  E "oooh, I like this handwriting page! I get to color!" C "Lucky! that's easy!" Me: "Focus!"

10:40 E moves onto spelling. She is working on Lesson 18 of Rod and Staff 4.
I say "Focus, please" at least 40 more times.

10:48 J: "Mommy, can you get me another activity?" Of course she wants one that is not opened yet- Zingo Numbers. I pass that shiny Sonlight catalog on the counter again...

10:53 C finishes math. We start reading. All About Reading Phonogram flashcards. After 2 cards, C yells "WAIT!" and leaves the table for a drink of water. C bounces on the bench while answering and calls out the sounds in voices. He will need a break soon. He's answering in opera now...

11:10 E declares she can't do anymore spelling on her own. I ask her to move onto math while I continue working with C.

11:19 spent the last 10 minutes finishing reading with C while helping J clean up the activity that she decided she didn't want to do.

11:20 off to the the couch so C can read a book to me. He is reviewing and reading easy books for confidence and fluency since we just completed All About Reading 3. He is currently reading Mouse Tales.

11:25 J joins us on the couch in my lap, and C reads to us both.

11:30 J and C go take a break. I face a sad E who is frustrated and needs help.

11:44 Finish spelling with E (she had to finish yesterday's as well) and help with math

11:58 Have a chat with E about attitude. Threaten the rest of the day in her room if she can't get it together.

12:10 E's math is finished. Call C back to the table to continue.
C thinks he is a fly and the glass door is a fly trap, and flings himself onto it. Whatintheworld?!? Send E off to read. Negotiate that she can read one chapter now and one while waiting for her sister at gymnastics. C gets distracted and starts playing the pencil drums. E walks around and after being unable to find a quiet place comes back for direction. I send her to the back porch. C shares how he really wants a real drum set. I help E who disconnected the lock on the glass door. C is back to drumming.

12:15 I do a Writing with Ease lesson with C.

12:20 I ask C to write his name and date on the paper which sparks him to go change the block calendar and bring it to the table to copy.

12:21 I remind C that only the M in March is capitalized, I erase the A-R-C-H and he writes it again-- in lower case.

12:22 I bang my toe on a chair and squeal to which C giggles and J rushes out to see what happened. C is back to drumming.

12:23 First Language Lessons with C. C marches around the table while quoting Mr. Nobody. J pipes in from the other room to join in the recitation.

12:26 Ask Caden to put his drumstick err pencil down.

12:32 Finish language. While I get out spelling, C starts drumming again. This time with 2 "drumsticks." I confiscate the unnecessary "drumstick."

12:35 Erase a messy word -- the pencil he has doesn't have a good eraser, I am forced to return the other "drumstick--" with a warning for its use.

12:38 E finishes her reading and comes in. I instruct her to begin her writing.

12:42 C jumps up to leave the table. When I ask where he is going he says to the bathroom. I ask him to come back and finish the word I just called out. He does, begrudgingly, while dancing around.

12:44 Me "did you wash your hands" C nods. Me  "with soap?" He shakes his head, and I point back to the bathroom.

12:45 Back to spelling. E needs to do a narration and asks if she can tell it to herself. I offer her my phone to do it as a voice recording that I can check later. C is now performing a concert on the bench. "Focus."

12:52 J comes in with some pieces for her magnetic dolls house and screws, I ask her to put them on the counter for another day. She is now singing in the kitchen.

12:53 E: "J!" J turned out the light in the dining room while E was in there. J assures her it was the Tickle Monster. C says she is like the Boy who Cried Wolf.

12:59 I let spelling take too long so we could "finish the step." I am now frustrated and he asks to go play to which I agree. E comes in to see how much she needs to do. I work on writing with her.

1:04 E is still staring blankly at the page and I threaten bodily harm.

1:05 I inform her that her time is running out and if she does not complete her school work before we have to leave she will not be going to gymnastics today. <insert weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth>.

1:08 I ask the littles to play a little quieter.

1:14 E finishes writing. I start making lunch. C and E clean off the kitchen table. I ask J to clean up the Legos. I pass that Sonlight catalog again...it taunts me.

Is it seriously only 1:15???

1:20 J comes in crying because C stepped on her. I ask, "Why were you lying on the floor? I thought you were cleaning up the Legos?" She informs me that C told her to lie on the ground and he then proceeded to step on her. I call for C. C comes in with his head down proclaiming he is the "worst." We have a chat about mean choices and he is told after school he will spend some time in his bed before free play. He apologizes to J.

1:25 sitting down to lunch. J "I thought we were going to have something fast like peanut butter and jelly?" Me: "This is what we are having if you want to eat." I use lunch time to get online for a few minutes. I consider taking the Sonlight catalog and hiding in the bathroom, but instead I set up the laptop for science.

1:40 E and C do table chores and I take J to read a book and put her down for a nap. I go to put up a load of laundry only to realize the load of towels has been in the wash too long and needs to be rerun.

1:45 E and C get started on science. I come down after a few minutes of cuddling with J and help them with the experiments. My fingers are now red from food dye.

2:10 We finish and clean up from science. I direct the kids to clean up the few toys left out from the pre-lunch clean up.

2:13 Settle on the couch with our current read aloud: The Story of Eli Whitney.

2:14 J starts crying. I go up to check on her. She heard a noise. I assured her it was just the washing machine or the bathroom fan. She insists it was the sound of a flip flop. I cuddle her for a minute. She is still scared. I pray with her and kiss her goodnight.

2:18 Back to the couch to read.

2:35 finished two chapters. C is sent for quiet time to read in his bed. E goes to gather her things for gymnastics this afternoon, change, and play for a few minutes. I finish cleaning the kitchen.

2:42 I finally sit down with the Sonlight catalog. Get distracted by email and FB.

3:00 Tell C and E to clean up and get ready to go

3:05 Wake J to go to gymnastics.

3:10 Attempt to leave the house. E "What do I have for break (for tonight at gym)?" Me: "You can have a granola bar." C "I want a granola bar! Can I have a granola bar???" J "I want a granola bar! Can I have a granola bar???" E "What can I have for snack now?"  Me: "Have a couple of pretzels." C "I want a pretzels! Can I have a pretzels???" J: "I want a pretzels! Can I have a pretzels???"

3:15 snacks procured and we are now late for gymnastics. On the way to gym we listen to the States and Capitals CD.

3:35 At gym E and C each do 10 minutes of Xtramath.org and E reads a second chapter finishing her book. C then plays for the remainder of the time and E stands around annoying me who is FINALLY getting to look at that Sonlight catalog.

4:45 Finish gym, have a chat about behavior at the gym with J, leave E for her practice (5:00-8:30) and head to pick up my new glasses.

5:50 Home. Finally. I start dinner, and send C to take a shower.

6:00 Put the pasta on, set my phone timer and race upstairs to give J a shower. Finally get a chance to switch those towels in the dryer and get a load of laundry up.

6:12 Back down to work on dinner. C and J play upstairs.

6:30 eat dinner and clean up (kids do table chores and I clean the kitchen).

6:50 J asks to play a "game" because I didn't get a chance to do "school" with her this morning. I agree. We do All About Reading Pre-Level lesson "E" and a page in Handwriting Without Tears Preschool book.

7:10  She doesn't want to be done so we do some counting on the abacus.

7:17 J is distracted by C who has set up Candy Land at the table. I am free while they play. Woohoo! Time to crash on the couch and do some blogging.

7:45 Have the kids clean up and head to ready for bed.

8:00 Bedtime for the two littles! I work on some emails...

9:00 E and hubby get home, eat dinner

9:20 Send a very tired gymnast upstairs to get ready for bed.

9:36 R prays and sings with E

Done. Done. Done. 

I get to sit and continue planning curriculum for next year . . . or maybe read a book! I have laundry to fold and things to clean...but yeah, no, thanks.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Break- a character reality check

We are on spring break, and it has been an eye opening experience.

My husband is out of the country, and while it certainly is so much easier at my children's current ages than it has been the last few years... temporary single parenting still isn't "easy."

One of the major reasons we homeschool is to build Christian worldview and godly character in our children. As homeschoolers we are faced with our children's character flaws, personality quirks, and attitudes, day in and day out. Being around our kids all day can often be overwhelming and the tendency to overlook becomes a challenge. Public and private school friends, the physical time you have to identify and address those character flaws is less. As Christian parents we have a huge responsibility.

Whether you send your children to school or homeschool, routine and busyness often forces us to push forward to the next thing and often rush right over that character issue that should have stopped us dead in our tracks.

Spring Break is a pause, a comma in the routine. We get to spend time with our kids, to enjoy them -- or not.

By Wednesday of this week, as I walked into church, I changed up the routine and dropped off my youngest at nursery first. Why? I was done. I wasn't sure she would physically survive walking upstairs and back down ...or maybe I wouldn't. As I said to one of the volunteers, "all of my buttons are broken. Nothing left to push. All broken." 

Deep breath.

With my husband out of town and no school routine, I decided we would embrace spring break and try to do a fun activity every day.

On Monday after a trip to Sky Zone (a trampoline park) and a lunch at Outback, I almost lost my mind when my kids yell from the back "Ice cream! Can we go there?!?"

My kids are great kids...but they can be selfish, ungrateful, greedy . . . just like any kid. But just because all kids  (and adults!) possess these traits, does not make it ok. In fact, it is sin.

But honestly, I am often too busy to even see so many character issues in my kids, let alone take the time necessary to correct them. Character training is hard work. And time consuming. And often painful.

Spring break and other changes in the routine allow us a window into the character of our kids -- a character reality check.

It's Friday, and you know what? I like my kids more today than I did on Monday. It's been a little bit of character boot camp around here, but there is less screaming...less fighting...more gratefulness. And for that, I am grateful. We still have lots of work to do, but I am embracing opportunities.

Next week brings back the routine, and I look forward to that, but I am thankful for pauses that allow us to enjoy our children-- truly enjoy them-- and allow us to take the time to assess how we can help them be more like Christ. Embrace every opportunity to invest in the character of your children.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Involving Your Children in Ending Modern Day Slavery

In just a few minutes my kids will be waking up and readying for the day. Today will start as a normal morning, however, we are going to have a talk that will change that. Today I plan to introduce my children to the topic of Modern Day Slavery.

Today, February 27, is the day chosen by The End It Movement to shine the light on modern day slavery.

My kids are 8, 6, and 4.

The themes of forced labor and sexual exploitation are a little too heavy for their little hearts aren't they?

No. It will be a hard discussion, a painful one, but it must be had.

 Raise awareness, raise compassion, raise action.

And honestly, the theme is not as foreign to them as you would think.

We have had the "stranger danger" talks. The awareness of risk is known.

However, beyond that, my children know the stories of the Israelites in Egypt, and the story of Joesph sold into slavery as a boy... slavery is not unknown to them. Today, I will just bring it a little closer to home.

I didn't plan to share this with my children today. I did plan to participate in the End It Movements awareness campaign of marking my hand with a "red X," but I assumed I would share very little about that with my children.

The Lord had other plans. I have been up for hours reading and scouring the internet about how to teach your children about modern day slavery.

First, The WHY.

Why would I share this with young tender hearts?

It is real.

27 million ya'all. 27 million modern day slaves across the globe. That is staggering. It cannot be ignored. It is happening in our own neighborhoods. We cannot deny the reality. Ignoring it won't make it go away. We need to be praying. Our kids need to be praying. We need to be doing something.

Awareness reduces risk

We are all familiar with telling our kids about risks like kidnapping or "bad touch," telling them the real words for body parts to increase detection in cases of abuse. Human trafficking and slavery is no different. I have heard testimonies of young girls rescued from slavery to only then realize they were a victim. I want my children, in age appropriate ways, to know the risks. To be aware. Being aware and cautious, having your eyes wide open, reduces risks.

Awareness produces Compassion

It is my hearts desire to raise children passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus was consumed with those in need. Everywhere He went he healed the sick, made the lame to walk, and the blind to see. He had compassion. Awareness of modern day slavery will open our eyes to the reality, the need, and in turn stir in us a compassion for those in need of rescue.

Compassion produces Action

Knowing is not enough. William Wilberforce once said, "You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know." True compassion stirs action. We need to pray for these precious children of God. We must research what we can do. It may be a small part, but we must play a part. 

  • Research products and companies entrenched in slave labor
  • Find local, national, and international organizations fighting modern day slavery and join them. Volunteer, give. 
  • Raise Awareness
  • Like International Justice Mission and End It on Facebook to be kept aware of what is going on and how you can help. 

How to tell our children about modern day slavery:

  • Be age appropriate. If your child doesn't know what sex is, you won't go into the details of sex trafficking. Know your kids, their maturity, and what they can handle. 
  • Keep it simple. Don't overwhelm them. Share enough to understand, but not too much at once. Be discerning. 
  • Children, Home, and Family. These are themes children of all ages know and understand. Tell them about slavery from a perspective they will understand. 
  • Use real stories. Share with them one of the many survivor stories online. This makes it real, and also let's them know there is hope. Be selective, and share what you think is enough but not too much. For young children, this can be a face and a name along with "was a slave. She was forced away from her family. She wasn't allowed to go to school or play. But someone helped her get free." 


How to Talk to Your Kids About Modern Day Slavery is a great article by Simple Homeschool that outlines how to tell kids of each age about modern day slavery. 

5 Tips for Teaching Your Kids About Modern Day Slavery offers some practical tips on how to help parents involve their children in the fight against slavery.

Modern Day Slavery by Numbers is very informative on the facts and reality of the situation.

End It Movement

International Justice Mission

Today, as for me and my family, we will take a stand against injustice. We will mark our hands with a red X as a symbol of our families fight to raise awareness, compassion, and action for those without a voice. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dealing With Doubt...

The Cave.

That's what I have labeled it. -- My emotional hideout.

It started months ago . . .some unfortunate circumstances. An emotional crash.

I have spent months picking up the pieces.

At one point my wonderful counselor husband threatened when I expressed my desire to re-enter the cave, "No! I have put scorpions in the cave. No going back."

Every time I think I am taking a step forward, something happens and I end up back at the entrance of the cave.

Self confidence. Gone. Self Doubt. Welcome.

I have doubted my ability in everything.

My ability to be a good wife.

My ability to be a good mother.

My ability to homeschool.

My ability to be a good friend.

My ability to be Christlike.

I have struggled. No. I am struggling.

I am in the midst of a difficult place. I am my own biggest critic.

I will never be the wife I want to be.

I will never be the parent I want to be.

I will be the homeschool mom I want to be.

My house will never be Pinterest perfect.

I will always fail my family and friends.

I will never be as "holy" and "righteous" as I desire.

I have slowed down, even stopped blogging for times... I mean, do I really have anything to contribute?

My emotions are raw and vulnerable. I have closed out people I once considered friends. I no longer felt safe in relationships.

It is in these times of doubt that I must cling to Truth, whether I want to believe it or not. Satan desires nothing more than self defeating talk to immobilize us from doing that which God has called us to do.

He has called me to be a wife.

He has called me to be a mother.

He has called me to homeschool.

He has called me to be a friend.

He has called me to Himself.

There are no qualifiers in the call. No ratings I must reach. I know I must take my eyes off of the failures and onto Christ alone. He has called me and He is sanctifying me. He is aware of my shortcomings and has still called me.

I may not be living up to my own expectations, but I am living up to His. He accepts me where I am, and is constantly molding me more to Himself. I am oh so glad he does not give up on me as easily as I give up on myself.

I don't always believe the "truth." I am struggling with that today. I know it is truth. I believe it. I do. But sometimes I doubt...

When you doubt...stop listening to yourself. Instead, cling to truth.

Deep breath, dear friend. His mercies are new every morning.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Pre-Preschool-- Getting started

Tomorrow is the day.

I have promised my little one she gets to start "school" this semester. Part of me is excited for her, and part of me thinks I have lost my mind.

I already have such a hard time fitting everything in, I can hardly imagine squeezing in another "thing." But that's just the "thing." She is not a "thing." She is my child, a precious, vivacious, joyous preschooler who deserves some of mommy's time.

No, time doesn't have to mean academic work, and I am not even saying it always will. But as sad of a parent as is makes me, I am choosing to schedule one on one time with my 3 year old because she has been slipping through the cracks... and I am not ok with that.

We started a few things here or there but have not been very consistent, so tomorrow starts a fresh slate.

J will be 4 in February. Sheesh that blows my mind. My baby isn't a baby. OK...OK, I'll dry the tears and move on.

Here is the Pre-Preschool plan--

I plan to do "school" with J 3 days a week. Probably in the range of 30 minutes a day on Tuesday/Thursday/Friday -- the "less" hectic school days for my two older ones.

A few things we have planned:

All About Reading: (pre-level)
I recommend the Basic package, but if you can add Ziggy, we love him!
We have already started this and J loves it! Ziggy the Zebra always brings a smile to her face. It has been awhile since we have done it so the plan is to start over with it this week.

Handwriting without Tears 
We plan to start the preschool book going VERY slowly, mostly focused on the manipulative play-- playdough, chalk, the iPad App "Wet Dry Try" that she loves!

Hands on Math

Right Start Abacus/cuisenaire rods

We will begin basic counting and place value using the abacus and Cuisenaire rods  (Education Unboxed has some great videos on how to use C-rods.) We will probably use this free printable book for Cuisenaire rods.

Sonlight reading lists (we don't buy the cores, just use the books lists as library lists)

P 3/4
P 4/5

A few activities we enjoy--

Melissa & Doug Alphabet stamp set
Wikki Stixs Alphabet Fun Cards
Busy Bugs Learning set
Alphabet Puzzle Cards (we don't have these, but we have similar ones)
Preschool Pinterest board of ideas

My goal is to play with her...Lots of games, lots of stories, and only when she is interested. The goal is relationship and giving her face time. If she learns something along the way, great! I want her to enjoy the learning process, and enjoy the relationship with me. I am looking forwards to playing games and enjoying her. Aside from trying to get to All About Reading regularly, I will allow her to guide the learning process. She is at such a fun age and I want to be more available to her.  Bring on Pre-Preschool!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Challenges, Successes, and New Approaches in the New Year


Fresh beginnings.

Though not the beginning of our school year, January still offers a new start after a much needed break. The semester break offers time to reflect on the first semester and make any necessary changes to make the rest of the school year the best it can be.

The New Year brings a time of reflection-- a time to reassess our challenges and rejoice in our successes.

Fall Challenges

E-- Probably our biggest challenges with E are writing and lack of free time (which actually has more to do with my challenges than hers!) She is doing amazing well! We are not prioritizing writing as much as I would like, and that is one change we will make in the spring. E has been complaining recently that she only gets to "play" on the weekend. The reason for this is three-fold. 1) We are starting too late (my fault) 2) We are not as scheduled as we need to be (my fault!) and 3) She spends 13 hours a week at gymnastics (this one is all her!)

New Approach:
For writing, I plan to create a new routine and stick with it. Also, I want to have a writing focus on Fridays to work on Brave Writer projects I have not been great at fitting in. As for free play, as long as she chooses to remain in gym this won't change a lot, but I plan to do what I can in the scheduling area to maximize time.

C-- C's biggest challenge is his distractibility. He is amazingly smart, but really works best in short bursts. Since it is easier to just sit down and "knock out" all of his schoolwork, I have a hard time with this.

New Approach:
My plan is to approach schooling C differently in the spring. Focus on his strengths, and split reading into two shorter sessions a day instead of one long one. I also need to work on my own frustration and keep it positive at all times.

J-- J biggest challenge is simply that she just needs more time with me. Finally old enough to play independently, it is all too easy to send her away to play and she all too often gets ignored.

New Approach:
I have promised J she can start "school" in January. She is almost four, so instead of waiting for the new school year, we will begin her "pre-K" year. This is really less about academics and more a recognition that I need to spend more one on one time with her. Since she begs to do school, this should be a good change in our routine and grant her the time she needs.

Fall Successes

E-- E's diligence and character constantly amazes me. I am so pleased with her work ethic and continuing independence. She is about to begin Math Mammoth 4 and is reading amazingly well. She is really a delight to teach, and I am so grateful for her.

C-- C is such a hard worker with a tender heart. He is so eager to please, and cares deeply about others. He is reading well, and about one third the way through All About Reading 3-- slow and steady in his progress. He just started Math Mammoth 2A and will start spelling in the spring. He is progressing well and loves to play.

J-- J brings so much joy and laughter to our home. She is full of energy and can often be found upside down following in her big sister the gymnasts footsteps. She is showing readiness of learning to read and already has a great grasp of numbers and counting. She loves to pretend to read and be read to. Finding enough things to keep her busy mind and hands occupied is always a challenge!

Curriculum Challenges 

Bible was a bit of a fail this year. We love Bible Study Guide for All Ages, but the primary pages were no longer enough and the intermediate was too much. I now understand the need for the primary pages they are developing, but they don't currently have them for year three. Our plan for the spring is to just read through the Egermeiers Bible Story Book, use the BSGFAA Bible Summary cards, and dust off our children's catechism book we haven't used in awhile.

Curriculum Successes

I am amazed at E's progress in piano, and her talent in drawing is amazing. C's math intuitiveness constantly amazes me, as does Journey's constantly growing vocabulary and sass.

I am enjoying history more this year than ever before. Making our own plan has been well worth the effort.

Science-- Education Exploration has been a major blessing. It has been so easy to use, and the kids can do most everything by themselves.

E's favorite subject is Art, but handwriting is a close second. Amazingly, math is gaining ground. She loves reading as well

C's favorite is "copywork, then reading, math, science, and history." (His answer when asked the question!) :)

J's favorite remains Ziggy Zebra (from All About Reading). I just need to kick it into gear and get it out more! 

This year is progressing well. The last 3 weeks of break were very needed! The kids and I needed that time, and we are (almost!) ready to get back to it on Monday!

Friday, December 13, 2013

December Traditions

November brought fun traditions, activities, and events my kids look forward to every year. December brings more of the same.

I think last December was one of the firsts I can really remember since starting to have kids. Life was so hectic for years-- pretty much survival mode. But last year? I finally felt things start to slow down 
just enough to enjoy the ride a little more.

This year we continued some of the traditions of the past, were unable to do some, and added a few to the traditions list. Some are silly and some are heartfelt.

My family sees the entire month of December as Christmas preparation. The birth of our Savior gets a month of celebration, not a day! I absolutely loved to hear my 8 year old say the other day "I love Christmas!" We are making memories centered around Christ and His birth. 

The beginning of December brings the decorating of the tree...

New Christmas PJ's (bought from Target Black Friday of course!) 

Last year we compiled a Christmas "Bucket List." The kids begged to do this again! 

Baking, Christmas stories, Christmas movies, hot chocolate, apple cider, crafts, Christmas lights, and more! A great collection of activities to make great families memories!

Last year, one of the bucket list items was to make Christmas ornaments, and another was to make Christmas cards for the nursing homes. This year we combined those two and brought both the ornaments and the cards with some friends to do some Christmas caroling at the nursing home. 
 Service is such a gift to the servers! 

Another new tradition we added was the Advent Event. I absolutely love this! It is a short lesson each day leading from Creation to Revelation complete with hand motions and sounds telling the story of redemption. It has been a wonderful addition to our Christmas month long celebration. 

It is our goal to do a family mission trip each Christmas, but it did not happen this year. We are hoping to be able to take a family trip this summer Lord willing.

Celebrating Christ the King all month long. We love December!!!
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