Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Last Straw Again

Several years ago, I bought a book called "A Candle in the Forest" which is a compilation of Christmas stories by Joe Wheeler. (click on the title of the blog post for a link to the book) One of the stories is called, "The Last Straw" by Paula MacDonald and is about a family whose children can't stop bickering and fighting. The Mom remembers a tradition her Grandmother told her as a child. Each person in the family writes their name on a piece of paper and then they each draw a name and play "Secret Angel" for a week. Each time someone performs a kindness, like making a bed or does another's chore secretly, they can place a straw in the nativity to prepare a place for Jesus when he comes on Christmas Eve. Thus, their home is transformed from a place of bickering and anger to a joyous home where each member places each others needs first.

Each year, I read this story out loud and then we draw names each week for several weeks during the Advent season. We have a basket and strips of fleece that can be placed (secretly) in the basket every time we do a kindness for another family member. Then on Christmas Eve, after everyone has gone to bed, Scott and I place a "baby Jesus" in the basket and put the basket under the tree.  Signifying that we are preparing for Jesus' coming in our hearts and our home.

We have found this to be a great way to prepare our hearts and home for the coming Christmas celebration. It's one more way to have "J.O.Y". (Jesus, Others then Yourself)

***Edited later to add: If you have older children "who are getting too smart for their britches" as my Grams says, you might want to state that they are not to purposely try and figure out everyone's Angel. It does not bring love and harmony to a home - trust me.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Making Christmas Memorable

I have two articles published in the Homeschool Handbook. In the current edition, check out my article, "Making Christmas Memorable".  In the July/Aug issue check out "Helping Children Love to Learn".  I find it so exciting to have the privilege to share one of my passions - homeschooling. Thanks to all of you who have read my ramblings through out the years.  Many of these blogs are the first go at many of my seminars and articles so all of you have been my guinea pigs!  I so appreciate all of you.

thehomeschoolhandbook.com or click on the title of the blog to take you to the magazine.
Making Christmas Memorable

To show that I actually do what I say I do, here's a few pictures of our Christmas Unit Study of Hanukkah. Boy, that's an odd sentence, a Christmas Study of Hanukkah.  Anyway, we learned about Hanukkah and celebrated all 8 nights of Light.  We even went to a Hanukkah parade, had latkes, the best and biggest homemade doughnuts I have ever seen and sang Hanukkah songs with a local Rabbi.  It was freezing cold but totally worth it!

I loved lighting and the candles and doing the readings as so much pointed back to the Father of Lights.  We learned that Jesus celebrated the Feast of Dedication ( or Hanukkah) in John 10:22.  Some scholars also believe that John 8:12   "Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” was spoken During Hanukkah which adds even more dimension and meaning to what Jesus was saying.

Did I also mention that traditionally you make and eat fried foods during Hanukkah?  It's a WONDERFUL  tradition!

Making a Menorah with our Beloved Friends

The Finished Product

 A Lego Menorah and the Hanukkah Parade, so amazing!

 Homemade Applesauce, Potato Latkes and Eggs.  A Traditional Hanukkah Meal - so delicious!

 Playing Dreidel, Dreidel.  Collin is a serious player!
Categories: parentingMaking Christmas Memorable

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The Thanksgiving Tree

We started this last year and loved it so much we left it through the holiday season.  During this season, I wanted my kids to focus on our blessings each day.  Big and little blessings, actually, I wanted us to focus on more of those little blessings that we take for granted.  The blessings that if they were taken away would affect us greatly.  Like quiet moments reading out loud or the blessing of a dog who snuggles on my lap.

I Thess 5:18 says, "in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."  It is God's will that we are to give thanks.  To help remind us, I got window markers and drew a tree without leaves on our sliding glass door and put this verse on it.  Each day we each put one "leaf" on the tree with the thing that we are thankful for.  By the end of the month, the tree is quite full and we can count our blessings one by one.  I can also point a kid to the tree when they are being unthankful or greedy.  It is a great visual reminder of the countless blessing God gives us.  As a bonus, the kids love to draw on the window!