Monday, December 31, 2012

Catching Up and Farewell 2012

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind here.  Preparation for Christmas took an unexpected detour when I was in a car accident.  Thankfully I am doing fine, just sore, though my car is not.  Reminds me that stuff is just that, stuff.  So we tweaked some of our week before Christmas plans, simplified some to-do lists, fit in some visits to the chiro, and spent a lot of time leaving messages for insurance people. 

We spent a number of wonderful days with family over the holidays, with two trips out of town, multiple celebrations and a few other visits, consumed more food than I want to think about, and were blessed by wonderful memories and loving gifts.  There is nothing like Christmas with a child -- the pure anticipation and excitement, he was even excited about the socks in his stocking! 

My husband and I even managed to get a special night away to celebrate our 11th Anniversary to fit in (thanks to my parents for hosting a sleep-over for our little boy and my husband's parents for paying for the night at the resort -- both great presents in our book).

We are getting ready for New Years Eve celebration at home.  The movie is picked out, mint candy cane ice cream is in our ice cream maker, and most of the prep is done for our fondue supper tonight.  This year we are attempting to fondue with the kiddo in front of the tv.  Last year we waited until he went to bed to enjoy our fondue.  He's excited by the idea of eating in the living room since that otherwise doesn't happen. 

So Farewell 2012!  You have been a year of settling into our community and schedule, lots of learning, several great family trips, lots of outdoor fun, and so many wonderful memories watching our son learn and grow.  We took big steps to get our adoption home study complete and figuring out what being a waiting family means.  We are praying that 2013 will be a year of blessings, maybe even the blessing of a new baby, but we know with every blessing comes unique challenges and sometimes tough decisions.  While we don't know what the year ahead will bring, we are so thankful that the Lord will be there to walk the road with us.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Our Homemade Christmas

Homemade Christmas ideas

We've had a busy month of projects here but I didn't want to post them all before as many were going to be gifts for special friends and family who happen to read this blog :)  I was impressed by how much we were able to get done and it worked great to schedule some of our projects as special activities on our Advent Calendar.

Snowman Handprint ornaments (I saw this on a number of places on pinterest)
 - We painted the kiddo's hand and carefully put it on the ornament.  After it dried, I decorated the fingers to look like snow people with paint pens.  Then we put some paint inside and swirled (blue, white and gold).  I added a layer of mod podge to keep the paint from flaking off.  With the ornament is a small message that says, "These are not five ordinary snowmen, as you can see I made them with my hand for you to hang up on your tree. Now every year at Christmas you can look back and recall not so very long ago when my hand was just this small. Love, (Child's Name) Christmas (YEAR)"
handprint and snowmen ornament

Salt Dough Ornaments (source here)
- My little boy had so much fun with these so we did them twice.  He loved rolling out the dough and using the cookie cutters.  He also really enjoyed painting them.  They look great with a little glitter.  I coated them with mod podge to help seal them.  
salt dough ornaments, painted with glitter added

Puzzle piece snowflakes
- We didn't have any extra puzzle pieces so I cut them out, used glue dots to connect and then my son painted them white and added glitter.  On the back you can add a note saying "Thank you SNOW much".  I don't think we'll do this one again unless we have puzzle pieces to use -- maybe from a garage sale?
ornament made from puzzle pieces, paint and glitter to look like a snowflake

Snowman gifts
-These were super simple and lots of fun to give.
snowman gift - wrapped popcorn package, gloves for hat and snowman details snowman gift - wrapped chocolate bar, decorated to look like a snowman

Cute Christmas Tree Cards from yarn
- My son found some left over yarn from another project and asked to make something.  I'd seen tree pictures made from varying lengths of paper, so we tried it with yarn.  It took a lot of glue but it was good to practice ordering the yarn by length.  We added some glitter since it already had lots of glue. 

The Felt Play Stove (previous post)

Christmas Tree Felt Activity for the Busy Bag (previous post)

Wrapping paper and bags
- All through the month my son colored plain white paper to use as wrapping paper.  We also painted and used stamps on some.  He thought it was so much fun.  He also decorated some bags to use as gift bags with ribbon, Christmas stickers and a green triangle of paper :)

Wood Gifts from the Shop
Because my husband loves to use all his wood working tools and didn't have a heavy travel schedule this month, he made quite gifts as well: A birdhouse, Squirrel cafes, Kid Height Rulers (similar to this from hgtv but with family name on it too), and a unique candle holders.

It was so much fun to give a few homemade gifts to some special people in our lives!

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Felt Play Stovetop

My little boy loves to play with his toy food and little grill.  He really enjoys the toy kitchen at preschool.  I knew he'd love a toy kitchen but didn't want something that would take up so much space.  I found this idea on pinterest.  Inspired, I decided to give it a try.

I bought two sheets of 12" x 18" white felt that was stiffer (not sure what its really called), plus red and black felt.  I traced the black circles for the burners using sour cream container lids.  I traced the same sized circles on the red and drew the "burner curls".  Once I cut one I liked, I traced the rest.  Then I glued it all using my hot glue gun.

The knobs were a challenge.  I really wanted them to turn.  I had visions of putting a hole into plastic lids, attaching them top down with a brad or sewing a button inside maybe, and using a hot glue gun to attach a slightly larger plastic lid right-side-up over top.  I tried to describe this to my husband, and he just gave me a strange look.  Instead he made cute wooden knobs in his shop that could be attached with a bolt and washer :)  Much easier.

I glued a pair of ribbons to one end to allow us to roll/fold it and tie it.  Then I attached the second big sheet of white felt to the bottom to cover the back side of the knobs, etc.

I really enjoyed making something for my son for Christmas!  I can't wait for him to open it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Snowmen Thank You Gifts

We made some simple snowmen gifts for my son's preschool teachers and Sunday school teachers.  I first saw the idea via pinterest from (the site includes a free printable to create the snowmen, but we did ours on our own).

We wrapped a package of popcorn and a chocolate bar in white paper, added google eyes, nose, mouth, buttons, etc. The glove hats added some fun detail and a nice gift for preschool teachers who are outside for recess in the cold.

Here's another variation we did with just a wrapped chocolate bar, paper hats and a ribbon scarf.

On the back was a note that said "Thank you SNOW much".

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Quick Felt Tree for the Busy Bag

Saturday I was working on another project and ended up with a bunch of felt scraps.  I was thinking about Sunday's church service, with last weekend's snow storm the little kids Christmas program was being combined with the adult choir cantata.

I thought something new would help my little boy make it through the extra long service. This was the result.

Its simply a plain 8x11 blue piece of felt, a green triangle, and then a variety of shapes to create a Christmas tree to decorate.  I rolled it up in the blue felt and tied it with ribbon.  It took less than 15 minutes since many of the pieces were in my scrap pile.  An easy stocking stuffer or fun surprise for a Christmas Eve service.

The best part -- he played with it at church for nearly 45 minutes!

Many times the tree looked something like this :)  But tree creatures that keeping him busy make this momma smile!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Giving an extra hug

Dad and son are creating a mystery lunch in the kitchen, so I sat down to write... keyboard and Kleenex.

I struggle for words after the events on Friday. 

So many little lives lost.  Tragedy in an elementary school.

Tears fill my eyes just thinking about it.

We know so many little friends, nieces and nephews who are 5, 6, 7 or 8.

The pastor at church this morning mentioned that there were pastors discussing whether they should still light the Advent candle this Sunday, often called the candle of Joy, given Friday's events.  What he said next resonated with me.  There will always be suffering in this world.  The Christmas season will always be a tough season in this hurting world for many.  Advent point us to the Savior, to the coming Kingdom instead of this world, and the Joy of the world to come.  And so we light the candle of Joy.  Eternal Joy to give us hope in this hurting world.

Just five Advent seasons past, we lost a little one in a miscarriage, so tiny but yet known by the Father.  There are still Christmas songs that remind me of that pain. 

I can't even begin to fathom all those parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends who are struggling with such a huge painful loss from Friday.  A school and community that will never be the same.  I hope they know so many are praying for them.  I pray they feel the Father's arms wrapped around them, knowing He holds them as they weep, and hears the prayers of their hearts when they are without words.

So I give my precious boy extra hugs this weekend, like so many other parents, with tears filling my eyes. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Morning of Thanks

Yesterday wasn't a bad day, in fact it was mostly good. 

But last night as I thought through the day, I was overwhelmed.
   There were many words I wished I'd picked more carefully.
      Situations I'd wished I'd handled a little (or alot) differently.
        Time I'd wished I'd spent more wisely.
           Stressing entirely too much about to-dos, things, mess, future events I can't control,
               and not enough about truly caring for others and the opportunities to show His love.

Forever thankful for a new day and the Grace to try again.

(took this photo standing at my front door)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Winter Fun (Part 2)

I almost feel foolish for having posted about all our snow fun on Saturday... a few hours after posting I heard that a big winter storm was headed our way, with over a foot of snow and a blizzard warning.

The snow in our yard now is nothing like the few inches on Saturday :)  Its everywhere and deep.  Church was cancelled Sunday (including the little kids' Christmas program) and the plow didn't make it to our gravelly road until mid afternoon.  We played in the snow LOTS while Dad cleaned the driveway and pushed snow away from the house (he was playing some too). 

Luckily it wasn't as windy as they were predicting so we don't have tons of new drifts or that much more snow to clear today.  Schools are closed and it is bitterly cold.  So glad we did our playing yesterday!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Winter Fun!

Between yesterday and last night, we got a couple inches of snow so we've been playing outside in the snow. Shovelling, exploring, a spray bottle with water and food coloring, a few attempts at a snowball fight and some sledding.  All sorts of winter fun!  Of course there's plenty of hot chocolate when we come in to warm up :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Is it really once upon a time?

Almost every time we get a new book, my son asks "is this a once-upon-a-time book?". On nights that Daddy reads his bedtime story, its not uncommon for me to hear my son call down "Mom is it really once upon a time?"  It always makes me smile.

Its not that my son doesn't like fairy tales.  He does.  Its not about distinguishing real from make-believe stories.  While he knows I generally read the story like its written, he's found out that Dad does some improv.  Dad is the storyteller who adds voices and sometimes embellishes the story, generally adding an extra "once upon a time" :)

Sometimes that means that a cowboy book is read with a strange French accent.  Or the character's name changes.  Or the story just changes completely.  The silliest was the day we brought home Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Snow White books.  When Dad was supposedly reading the first book, he told the story from the second and vice versa.  We were all laughing!

I love that my son is making so many special memories of reading with his Daddy.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Dad!

Yesterday was Dad's birthday.  We had a fun day celebrating together as a family.

Last week while Dad was out of town, we wrapped his gift in plain white paper and my little boy decorated it.

The activity in our advent calendar said "Make something yummy for others to enjoy" and we did!  We made some Christmas treats that Daddy enjoys -- "bacon and eggs" (pretzels, almond bark, yellow M&Ms), pretzels with melted Hugs and M&Ms, and dipped pretzels.  Then we made some crazy cupcakes (added food coloring after filling the cupcake tins and swirled).  I think I'm going to freeze some of the cupcakes for Christmas, to enjoy after we can sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.

Then we went out to eat and he opened presents.  On the way home from the restaurant, we stopped a large local Christmas lights display (the kind that are coordinated with music).  It was such a fun evening.

I am so thankful for my wonderful husband and father to our son.  This morning our little boy woke up and asked "is it still Dad's birthday?".  I think he had fun too!
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